Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rational religion

See this prior post for reference. I also posted it in the IPS Harris thread and LP responded to it here. My response follows:

As for Harris shunning the word religion while favoring spirituality, it seems he equates religion with those who believe in a supernatural agency. Granted one doesn't have to, but there is no doubt that most religious people accept this tenet. Even those who are quite rational in other respects. The example of religious folk who do not is miniscule, and Harris does acknowledge them, but under the rubric of spirituality.

Earlier in the thread kela noted that this is the difference between esoteric and exoteric religion. In the former one can directly attain to some form of knowledge of 'It,' what it is. In the latter one must slog through all the dogma and supernatural nonsense. I will also grant that even exoteric religion might develop a healthy dogma and ritual within which to practice, and it is a goal of some integralists. But it will no doubt be a very elite affair of the creamy 1%, not likely to be generally accepted.

There are plenty of esoteric Buddhists, for example, who do the meditative or contemplative practices, achieve stable subtle and causal states,* yet still have magical and mythical belief systems and practices. To have the former and transform that latter is again a herculean task and one that will always contain about 1%. Unless and until societal structures change enough for that grand shift for many, and I don't foresee that anytime soon, perhaps hundreds or thousands of years into the future.

If we can survive as a species, that is. That is not at all certain, due largely to those regressive religionists in political power that deny climate change and want to see poor people starve because it's God's will. I wholeheartedly sympathize with Harris on his war on religion due to this obvious, odious and indisputable reality.

On the other hand, I do see Harris' emphasis on 'rational' spirituality as something achievable, since in developed countries rationality has become at least the stated norm. And if we can raise religion to this rational level that might indeed prevent global climate catastrophe. To do so may very well require a cleansing apocalypse of most all dogma and ritual, not to mention meeting the Buddha or God on the road and killing him. From those ashes perhaps a transrational religion can grow, but not likely until.

Btw, I see such rational Buddhism in the likes of Batchelor, and in the secular Buddhist movement generally, which are taking hold in rational westerners. This trend needs to be extended to the other religions to achieve the overall goal per above if we are literally to survive.

I.e., perhaps the best way toward an integral or transrational religion might be to first get it up to rational standards? If we accept that stages cannot be skipped why are we attempting to jump past this necessary goal? It's very much akin to thinking we can jump the P2P economic phase into some kind of integral economy. We end up ignoring the very real transition happening now on the ground (see Rifkin) and end up conflating an integral economy with conscious capitalism (see Wilber), since we skipped a stage. If there is such a chimera as an integral economy it 1) isn't conscious capitalism and 2) requires what it calls the green economy first. Same with rational religion. We need to focus our energies on the tasks at hand instead of dreaming of what might be and missing the obvious in front of our giant (and obstructive) integral noses.

* I didn't include the nondual here because I'm not at all convinced it is a state experience.

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