WE NEED TO REINVENT OUR OWN RELIGIONS




By Leo Rivers


We must simply find the courage and the self honesty to create stories that are worth living our lives by.

I think that all religious institutions are made of people who pass on the culture and lore of what had been said and passed on before. But those people need to look around them in the world and then look in the mirror.

Don't the stories you live by need to be rewritten from the point of view of living eyes?

The religions of the Indian subcontinent, Hinduism in all its diversity and Buddhism and the religions of Palestine rooted in the traditions of Israel, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all of these need to be remade in the flesh of the world such as we know it to be today. After all, the people of these traditional cultures all shared a common trait and that was that they were 99% illiterate and 90% of the people who follow those religions never went more than 20 miles from their home village. The picture you had of the world and the place of human beings in the world was created with in that envelope of a life lived birth to death in which your community was your world and almost everything that happened to you came about from forces operating with in the world you knew and could see. There were no lines of trade in essential items from over the horizon that carried with them an intimate knowledge of the wars and cultures of the peoples over those horizons. There was no challenge presented by a witness to the obvious family relationship yet evolutionary development between the various religions in separation and path.

The greatest challenge that the study of history of science presents to the traditional religious mind is a rupture of the worldview in which that religion was created. While there may be some discussion about whether the universe but we can see is somewhere between 15 and 40 billion light years across as a great bubble of space, the vastness of the universe has been well-established beyond doubt and the fact that every star is its own center of light and planets makes it obvious that our earth is not the center of our solar system and that our solar system is but a grain of dust in a vast arm of stars and dust in the Milky Way. And the Milky Way is but one of trillion such flowers strewn across the black waters of space.

And gazing deep into the sides of mountains we can see fossils demonstrate the great rivers of life dividing and forking into other forms of life and we can see our place in a branch with the great apes and chimpanzees.

While there is much discussion of genealogy here in science as it is in almost every dinnertime conversation the broad establishment of our species as one of many species of life all the children of life on earth is beyond doubt.

The uncertainty of details in the results of the scientific method of investigating nature is that of a refinement of certainty the closer you look at those details it is nothing like the uncertainty when one has to accept or reject the pronouncements of a religion which must be accepted on faith.

Yet we live our lives guided by the stories we tell about who we are. And it is patently the truth that the fictional nature of the story does not undercut the truth of that story as telling the truth of who we are.

If I was to tell you a Buddhist story in which a little monk, confronted by a violent band of bandits became a great elephant whose presence of mind and certainty of posture back them down and scatter them in the wind the reality in history of both of that monk and the factual rally the of a monk turning into a big elephant is not the issue. In fact, the ability of a monk turned into an actual elephant adds nothing at all to the point of the story.

The point of the story is that character transforms the human heart into the presence in the character we see in elephants.

I want to repeat that. The actuality of a story meant to teach a ethical lesson is irrelevant to the means of getting the point across with that story.

But I would argue that we must rediscover the needs that we have as human beings that are not just rational creatures. I would argue that the kind of rational argument that makes it possible to build a machine or predict the weather is not the right vehicle for creating a piece of information that a community of people can go to and share in the sense of “putting them all into with each other”. They can make a constitution and that as well that they should. That Constitution and the laws based on it should govern their intercourse. But because we live not only in the outside in our public conduct but from the motivations of our hearts towards each other you also need a story which is like a tuning fork that brings us all together. And we have to have enough respect for that story for it to be something that we share in that sacred community way.

There is a reason that all institutional religion diminishes the modern sciences of the physical's investigation of the universe and academic historical study. Both of these claims undercut something perceived as a central to religious dogmatists who base their prestige and their income on assertions about the actuality of their stories and the continuity provided by their lineage.

Modern science undercuts the worldview that their stories were created within. The study of history undercuts the oral tradition of their lineage.

But just the way politicians hide behind the reputation of their military when puffing themselves up individuals who work for it religious institutions pretended that undercutting the original cultural context of their stories and their lineage damage the spirituality of personal path and the community provided by those religious cultures. The naked truth is it is those who would earned their reputation and power from blind faith in the worldview and the lineage of their religion that is threatened, not the spiritual insights or community whole list provided by their religion.

The individual conscience always is the road to spiritual depths. And the sharing of all of the major landmarks of life are always the road community wholeness.

We must all have the courage to understand that the stories we create as maps of meaningfullness for this great mechanism of the universe are stories that we make ourselves. But this means that we must struggle to build them of all that is best in us in honesty and an effort. We build a house for our family, yet we are human beings who fall down and fail. Yet that house serves to be a home for our family. Being mortal and finite does not mean what we build is not built with the strength sufficient to serve our spirits and our humanity.

All that being real about creating the origin stories and stories that define but people does is free us from those who have no power over us lest we blindly believe that they are some special species who have the power to hobble us before the relics they wave over our heads and the books they chain to a podium only they are allowed to stand behind.


We create the maps of meaningfullness for this mechanism of an open universe. Such mapmaking makes Angels out of all that would make devils in us.

 © Leo Rivers 2013