We've all heard about Harris' scathing criticisms of religions of all flavor, including Buddhism. In this 2-part talk at You Tube he defends meditation and contemplation and criticizes the atheist community for throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In my atheistic mind this is indeed a step towards re-visioning the great traditions by nourishing the baby while also pulling the plug on the dirty bathwater.

Also of note is that he echoes kennilingus in claiming one must take up the injunction of meditation before one can criticize its phenomenal experience. He does qualify that one can certainly criticize based on reason alone the metaphysical accoutrements of those who have such experiences. Yet the experiences themselves cannot be refuted by reason alone. And that such experience must be translated into postmetaphysical terms shorn of religious dogma to be of pertinent use in today's world.

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This is the voice of tomorrow's religion.  My only reticence concerns the somewhat fantastical notion that "the West" identified God with a particular personality or entity.  This problem is all over and has more to do with the developmental altitude and relative cultural health of local zones than with a mythologized notion about half the planet.  

The quote from Gerard Hall is similarly contaminated in the sense that it perpetuates the totalized sense that monotheism and atheism have characterized "Western thought".  If the number of dissenters and alternative approaches that have existed in Europe and America over the last 2500 years are added up it would quickly seem rather superficial to accept the monotheism/atheism conversation as the historical norm for these geo-political regions.  We should not be overly swayed by the appearance of official doctrine for then we ourselves "fall in line" with the bad habit that we are critiquing. 

Only when non-theistic Mystery shines forth as the authentic and definitive and ongoing nature of "God-Talk" are we actually stepping past the assertion-reaction complex which inhibits (but does not necessarily characterize) many levels of many "Western" communities. 

So, Zizek gets a pass for making generalized and totalizing statements about Buddhism or Western Buddhism but Panikkar does not for making such statements about Western theism?

"Western Buddhism" ought to be taken code for something very particular -- Green Level Social Exploitation of Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu concepts.  It is not particularly Western.  He would be of more use if he could isolate the thought and feeling patterns which underlie it and divorce them from the particular manifestation.

Panikkar/Hall (only insofar as quoted above) are using far too wide a embrace to locate any particular social phenomenon.  Saying "Western theism" is like saying "The level Russia is at". 

Zizek is saying less and less profoundly -- but he is saying it about a more existential grouping.

I am interested to read this:  Waking Up

Recall this post (and a couple following) earlier in the thread about the new book.

Yeah, I thought it must have been mentioned already, and looked over a couple prior pages of this thread to find it prior to posting, but obviously I missed it!

Sammy on Israel: 

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/why-dont-i-criticize-israel

I'm sympathetic to most of his points but he is omitting- as far as I can tell- the recent history of the global corporatocracy within Muslim lands .i.e . resource control . I'm horrified at what these corporations are doing to good ole B.C. ( he mentions us in the blog) and it doesn't take much to imagine how Islam feels about the takeover of their lands by corporate imperialism . 

Let me be quite clear that in my own desolate island of spiritual loneliness and isolation ( as outlined in the Noah thread) that ALL religion as codified into institutions is a massive delusion on a global scale. NO ONE , imo, should attune themselves to these global religious institutions of deceit and deception. 

BTW: it would be for that reason I'd vote for Ferrer's 4th way as religion should only be personal and never codified into institutions . I'd vote for secular charters that guarantee personal religious freedom while curtailing public and political shows of religious affiliation.

And yes, tribal bloodletting religious power mongers should not be allowed to run rampant over the earth. But the social libertarian west has to --at the same time-- curtail its financial hypocrisy (global neoliberalism).

Some facts to back up my points: 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/america-s-dependency-on-middle-east-oi...

Tony Blair speaking for the global corporatocracy," we've never done anything wrong or dubious in the world."

Of course you haven't Mr Blair! It seems the bigger the lie the more its believed……..

Hi Lay - I'm appreciating this thread that has been going on for some years, as I back into it at this point. (theurj to balder referenced back to this May date, from a more current date.)

There is a small point of personal interest to me that allows me to connect more with what is being said. I'll ask you about it. I seem to understand some of the broad strokes of your comments from May and probably if I studied it more carefully I wouldn't feel a desire to ask you to translate my point/question into your slant on the current discussion about religion and non-theism/a-theism. Yet I do.

Before I ask my question, I want to say that I like and mostly get your definitions of spirituality and religion as a consequence of surplus. I really like the energetic/erotic reference to how we sprout these two related phenomena.

I have been quite anti-religious as one major default position for much of my life. Integral theory and Ken has helped me to at least tolerate more, and these sorts of conversations and ideas have further helped me to befriend religion and some of the consequent value that religion has offered.

A while ago I watched most of a BBC series of DVD's called "Civilization" narrated and maybe produced by Kenneth Clarke. The theme of this presentation was the relationship, largely historo-cultural, of religion, architecture and art. This was such an extensive immersion of visualizable examples and explanations that I could not help but appreciate even mythic Christianity that often stood and flowered within an era of heirarchical dominations, corruption, hypocrisy, and other moral/ethical nastinesses, characterizations that might even include some of the individual designers and artists who created these beauties. These extraordinary architectures and arts I suppose are thoroughly palpable manifestations of surpluses of resonance, coherence, and meaningfulness as religion and sometimes as spirituality of individuals involved in the projects.

I guess I was wanting you to comment on this and thereby expand my understanding of your take and critique of jamming the meaning of "religion" into a small reified straw-man-like construct. I was, caught by your statement from an above post of yours, hooked particularly by the words, "need to robustly dissociate", "In actual fact if we want to be even minimally rational we need to robustly dissociate religious activity from both its primitive and pathological manifestations."

Maybe partly because on its face, "dissociate" seems to be the enemy of "integrate", I glitched. Yet I also get that this may speak to the difficulty of trying to elucidate what "to include" means (in 'transcend and include' and transcend), which seems to be part of the trickiness of inclusion - some stuff has to be left behind, particularly the pathological for the most part. Keep what's healthy and facilitative and jettison what is not. Yes, this seems to be a tricky part for me.

So, Lay, that is my entry into this topic. Any thoughts and elaborations? ambo

PS - I too have respected and enjoyed Harris's discussions on this general topic.



Layman Pascal said:

I'm a big fan of Harris.  His positions are more complex and more fair than many people assume.  And his attempts to explore toward toward non-sectarian, trans-rational spiritual practice make him a great ally of the present community.

Yet I am bothered by his persistent (and obviously marketable!) abuse of the conventional notions of Religion.  The popular notion of global warming does not adequately define the emerging climate realities.  The popular notion of evolution is inappropriate when talking with a biological scientists.  Even popular astrology is dismissed as bunk by "professional astrologers"!  So using the commonly debated referent of "religion" is extremely misleading and philosophically debased.

By taking the popular self-assertions of "religious people" as the definition of religion we end up with an unwarranted conflation of Organized Religion (in principle) with Mythic-Traditionalism and Pathological Pre-Rational Group Activity.  In actual fact if we want to be even minimally rational we need to robustly dissociate religious activity from both its primitive and pathological manifestations.

We need to assume responsibility for a proactive and generative stance toward terms.  There is something really ludicrous and pathetic about letting "them" define a word (to our great displeasure) and then going to work criticizing it.  That is reactive and self-limiting.  We already cede the battlefield to our opponents.  People we think are fools and villains get to keep religion and we retreat into the realm of "private spirituality" which is exactly where corporations would like to keep us -- alone with our preferences, not mobilized in socially-transformative collective spirituality.

The appropriate response to all antiquated and/or dysfunctional forms of religious organization is to actively deny them the right to call themselves "religious".  Religion must be defined to OUR satisfaction -- not theirs.  

So when Harris remarks that organized religion will be replaced by "everything and nothing" he is simply indicating the proper contemporary sphere where religious activity occurs today.  The entire species, the entire planet, all contemporary knowledge -- this is the background culture suitable for contemporary religion.  Sectarians are operating an inherited religious structure which may have been appropriate to a prior historical form of the implicit cultural background but that is simply no longer the case.  All real religion in the past simply did what real religion must do today.

It is only Religion if it operates to integrate, stylize & deify the total cultural realm which YOU and YOUR TIME/PLACE are experiencing.  The idea that "they" have religion (in opposition to us) is a complete mistake of the concept of religious organization.

Anything which does cultural approximate "spiritual integration" relative to the current human social background (or persists in doing it in outdated ways) is quite simply NOT religion today. 

Hi Ambo,

My High School "Western Civ" course was entirely based on Kenneth Clark's book & TV series -- so your references resonate with me.  

When I say "robustly dissociate" it has a certain energetic flavor. I could equally have said "tease apart".  They both suggest the differentiation phase which is the necessary first step in the integration process.  We cannot effectively re-combine things in healthy and productive ways until we have first dis-embedded them from their conventional context.   

I'm saying that what people call "religions" (both in terms of what they affirm or in terms of what anti-religious people complain about) is currently a misleading concept.  The popular and academic discussions do not separate healthy and functional religion TODAY from primitive or pathological versions. We would not accept this lack of distinction in any other area of rational concern.  When I go to the corner store, I expect that "apples" necessarily implies non-toxic, up-to-date applies as far people can presently determine.  If they presented apples of mixed toxicity and applies from years gone by then, obviously, apples themselves would start to have a unjustly bad name.  And I might "robustly dissociate" from that store if they kept mixing in shitty apples with good apples (as if the former has the same right to the name as the latter).

We want religion to mean: "Good religion from our point of view today".  

That is what it meant in all the historical periods in which religion-civilization was rising and enhancing the mutual bio-cultural and spiritual realm of humanity.

Anything else represents a kind of straw man.  And the whole discourse of overcoming religions to create a new trans-religion or non-religious spirituality (while obviously being the right track) subtly keeps the straw man in place. 

 Both believers and non-believers believe in a world of believers and non-believers.  It is this vision of believers and non-believers that, I believe, characterizes the 'infidel' in any given context.  In a tribal or national context we expect everyone to be pre-included -- although opposed to those that fall outside of that context.  But we ourselves are not looking from that perspective.  We are, generally speaking, all aware of the planet and the total human culture regardless of our attitude toward it.  Rational approaches to religion must be based on a rational, worldcentric definition of religion and the inclusion group that goes along with that.  To center our thoughts on religions as if they were extensions of ethnocentric nations or sub-cultural dogma tribes is to import an outdated, pre-rational assumption about religion.  

Mythic religion is the religionization of mythic worldspaces.  And it contributed enormously to the art and culture of the great civilizations.  Your phrase "palpable surpluses of resonance" captures it very well. But I would go further and say that it IS the art and culture (and spirituality and science and rituals and pleasures and practices) of the great civilizations.  From a modern, post-modern or integrative worldspace the word "religion" cannot simply be owned by sectarian, ethnocentric cultists and politicized mystics.  What they meant is not what we mean.  Or rather our idea overlays and enfolds their idea -- just as we now assume that their bodies were made of molecules even they they did not think in terms of molecules.  We must now assume that their religion was one which meets our standards of understanding.

 

Yes, I am following you and something maybe is clarifying in me.

One part of my tracking has to do with ownership of words' meanings, as you point to with, "From a modern, post-modern or integrative worldspace the word "religion" cannot simply be owned by sectarian, ethnocentric cultists and politicized mystics."

This also touches on the broader idea that is implicit in your Xmastionary. That is - we are raised through our educations and the deeply assimilated nature of our seeming knowings, often invisible to us, as coming from the past. When we want to dialogue, we look up a definition in the dictionary and what we choose to emphasize among the various meanings becomes the solid footing for our arguments, premises to our logics. There is momentum to the past definitions, which were established by these prior groups like local ethnocentrics, and also inertia to allowing substantial change and growth in our language and thinking. We may know that there is a plurality of meanings, and may know the etiological roots and derivations that seem to insist on a certain logic for the meaning of words, but that is not enough to stay contemporary.

I would say that you are exemplifying a need to allow our words' meanings to fit with current circumstances and contexts. These meanings that words, ideas, and our creative imaginations serve for how to understand, articulate and organize our inner worlds need to be able to take flight a bit. This stance has felt quite strange, radical, and sometimes resistance-making to me

I'll try to find my way further into this. When speaking to someone about religion, say to some type of atheist or literalist Christian or fundamentalist Muslim, we ought simultaneously from the outset let them know that even though they are accustomed to fixed meanings and setting out those meanings, we can not buy into all of those, into those momentums. We slow down the conversation and question or point out, we converse some about it.

As you, Ken and many others have laid out in prior posts, the world is so different now, as with historical knowledge through archeology, geology, and science that we would be very remiss in not accounting for what we know now. To converse,  we are going to need a language that is flexible enough to account for more current realities. Even what "religion" means must be reconsidered. This of course is not easy for most conventionally educated and conditioned people, me included.

People don't know what they don't know; we don't understand what we don't understand. We think we are tightly justified in adhering to certain denotations/connotation and we become vulnerable to disorientations of identity, self-coherence, and basic ego investments when someone is insisting on continuing to talk funny about what religion means. We sort of can't do it, can't break the memetic gravitational pull. And so on.

Yet you proceed in redefining things regardless, at least here among fellow inquirers, because it's correct from the more enfolding perspective. And I may be doing so also, though not in such leaps and bounds.

I hope, Layman, that the idiosyncratically detailed way that I have been unwrapping this makes enough sense and hasn't drifted off the mark.

Spiraling in, or out, on meaning, ambo



Layman Pascal said:

Hi Ambo,

My High School "Western Civ" course was entirely based on Kenneth Clark's book & TV series -- so your references resonate with me.  

When I say "robustly dissociate" it has a certain energetic flavor. I could equally have said "tease apart".  They both suggest the differentiation phase which is the necessary first step in the integration process.  We cannot effectively re-combine things in healthy and productive ways until we have first dis-embedded them from their conventional context.   

I'm saying that what people call "religions" (both in terms of what they affirm or in terms of what anti-religious people complain about) is currently a misleading concept.  The popular and academic discussions do not separate healthy and functional religion TODAY from primitive or pathological versions. We would not accept this lack of distinction in any other area of rational concern.  When I go to the corner store, I expect that "apples" necessarily implies non-toxic, up-to-date applies as far people can presently determine.  If they presented apples of mixed toxicity and applies from years gone by then, obviously, apples themselves would start to have a unjustly bad name.  And I might "robustly dissociate" from that store if they kept mixing in shitty apples with good apples (as if the former has the same right to the name as the latter).

We want religion to mean: "Good religion from our point of view today".  

That is what it meant in all the historical periods in which religion-civilization was rising and enhancing the mutual bio-cultural and spiritual realm of humanity.

Anything else represents a kind of straw man.  And the whole discourse of overcoming religions to create a new trans-religion or non-religious spirituality (while obviously being the right track) subtly keeps the straw man in place. 

 Both believers and non-believers believe in a world of believers and non-believers.  It is this vision of believers and non-believers that, I believe, characterizes the 'infidel' in any given context.  In a tribal or national context we expect everyone to be pre-included -- although opposed to those that fall outside of that context.  But we ourselves are not looking from that perspective.  We are, generally speaking, all aware of the planet and the total human culture regardless of our attitude toward it.  Rational approaches to religion must be based on a rational, worldcentric definition of religion and the inclusion group that goes along with that.  To center our thoughts on religions as if they were extensions of ethnocentric nations or sub-cultural dogma tribes is to import an outdated, pre-rational assumption about religion.  

Mythic religion is the religionization of mythic worldspaces.  And it contributed enormously to the art and culture of the great civilizations.  Your phrase "palpable surpluses of resonance" captures it very well. But I would go further and say that it IS the art and culture (and spirituality and science and rituals and pleasures and practices) of the great civilizations.  From a modern, post-modern or integrative worldspace the word "religion" cannot simply be owned by sectarian, ethnocentric cultists and politicized mystics.  What they meant is not what we mean.  Or rather our idea overlays and enfolds their idea -- just as we now assume that their bodies were made of molecules even they they did not think in terms of molecules.  We must now assume that their religion was one which meets our standards of understanding.

 

The only apples that are not toxic today other than grown in your back yard are from small independent organic orchardists. Orchardists who balance income with concern for ecology. Apples from large commercial growers are not worth eating anymore, imo. Poisoned by chemicals, covered in wax, stored to go soft and brown in the middle when one bites into them. 

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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