Role of Religion
by Michael Ellis

 
 

Erich Fromm , the psychoanalyst and great commentator on social affairs and Psycho history made the point that religion is a universal form of orientation and devotion. It is a spiritual practice, which has the aim of creating unity and a sense of belonging in the community. Religion and spirituality are essential parts of the human domain. Despite the rise of science and consumerism, faith continues to play an enormous part for the millions of people on the planet.

As Eric Fromm, pointed out the way society functions and moulds itself is markedly related to the historical forms, and markers of culture, and these markets are inevitably, spiritual and based on religion. It is the authorities,Chiltorn Pearse, and Greg Braden who have pointed out that the The First Council of Nicaea, held in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey), convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325, changed the course of history through eliminating almost 50% of the Christian Gospel. Both writers emphasise the way the history, may have well been different If the essential message and emphasis within the hidden gospels on the power and quality of heart and compassion within the individual human being had been proclaimed . This they believe was the essential message of Christ, rather than the externalisation of Divine Providence within the hands of an external God.

Within religion, there always seems to be an institutionalised external message and an internal esoteric teaching, which is based on the individual soul of each human being. These internal esoteric teachings, have a commonality in all religions, no matter their source. and are a vast repository of understanding of the essential compassion and wisdom within the human heart and all teach the notion of the oneness of all existence, and all humanity.

Many of the clashes between nations we see this day on the planet, are due to fundamentalist positions taken by enormous groups of people following different religions. Just as we see fundamentalism in apocalyptic Christianity in the States, we also see the controlling aspects of Islam . Islamic fundamentalists hold that the problems of the world stem from secular influences. Further, the path to peace and justice lies in a return to the original message of Islam,. It is often essential conflicts caused by parochial and patriarchal institutions of religion, which are the ground work for the preservation of the illusions of scarcity, separation, judgment and guilt.

It is here that we see the origins of the notion of poverty , of the acceptance of inequity and the hidden acknowledgement that in fact, humanity is not equal, and is born unequal, unless saved by the particular doctrine, which the religion teaches. This of course, is an imposed dogma whose aim is to keep people in their place, by playing on their infantile impulses and desires before a God or an eternal authority, which has to be appeased.

It seems that we are now on the verge of civilization conflict precipitated by competition for scarce resources and ecological friendly habitat. The very survival of life as we know it is at stake. Many institutions are failing dramatically in their ability to meet the changing life conditions.


The following questions may serve as catalysts for thinking.

  1. It seems that we are on the verge of civilizational conflict precipitated by competition for scarce resources and ecological friendly habitat. The very survival of life as we know it is at stake. Many institutions are failing dramatically in their ability to meet the changing life conditions. What is the nature of this crisis? How do we redress the gaps in inequity? and How do we deal with the various life conditions who are trapped in restrictive cultural settings?
  2. What are the capacities and democratic responses that will be required in order that human beings meet these new life conditions? What is a practical response?
  3. Are the religious traditions practiced by the vast majority of human kind in their current forms able to recognize the change in the dramatic nature of life conditions we are in? and Are they in a condition to be ready, able and willing to respond to them?
  4. What are the spiritual, ethical and consciousness dimensions of the responses to the dramatic change that are occurring in life as we know it?

The media at large have not portrayed the crisis as we know it as specifically global and effecting every single human being on the planet. There are literally thousands of organizations round the world devoted to peace and who wish to make a difference A person searching through the vast range of references for a solution or a master plan is likely to go into information overload unless we ask the right questions and perceive the basic principles underlying the complex change occurring.

We all know complexity theory as for example within the dissipative theory of Pribogine. A new higher order of complexity can occur as a system becomes more disordered and chaotic. This systemic change is evidently occurring at the moment and will include and impact all the many political, environmental educational, economic and spiritual institutions on the planet.

The significant evolutionary context of the crisis is rarely articulated or even understood. The fact remains that we are now on an extinction curve of biodiversity the same as the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The loss of biodiversity and the enormous repercussions of climate change effect the very survival of the human species. WE are basically at the point of singularity where humanity holds the balance of power and evolution of biodiversity on the planet. Obviously for some the next great evolutionary leap is in understanding the nature of human consciousness and how this relates to our relationship with the planet and the biodiversity upon it.

As Collective Humanity we need to understand the necessity for co-operation, interdependence and compassion. Ghandi has used the term Satyaghra which means, taking action from the soul. The soul is the integrated inner self which brings together mind, body and spirit and integrates the greater self with the social and living environment.

Practically there needs to be a redistribution of 'intelligence' and coping mechanisms in order that the population is able to handle these very complex issues. There is also as we know from the major wars and also environmental disasters around the world a major need for redistribution of resources, top down and bottom up.

The universe is an exquisite point of balance based on compassion and bonding in which a whole series of uncertain events created the quintessence of life as we know it. We are now at the turning point.

The following points may help to further our discussion.

-----Most of the monotheistic religions were formed when the world population was 1/2 billion or less. The religions formed in tribal communities or Early Empires were responding to social and Human scenarios vastly different to the societal and ecological milieu we exist in today I believe that Religious traditions are not focused and not able to recognize the crisis as it is. They weren't designed for this crisis.

There is however within all esoteric and mystic knowledge found in the Great religions and Great Spiritual paths resources essential for dealing with human crisis in terms of insight and activity.

-------The problems are many spelled out as either ecological, spiritual and do not encompass the creation of a new world model of reality equivalent to a paradigm shift.

There are literally thousands of organizations round the world devoted to peace and who wish to make a difference

A person searching through the vast range of references for a solution or a master plan is likely to go into information overload unless we ask the right questions and perceive the basic principles underlying the complex change occurring.

We all know complexity theory as for example within the dissipative theory of Pribogine. A new higher order of complexity can occur as a system becomes more disordered and chaotic. This systemic change is evidently occurring at the moment and will include and impact all the many political, environmental educational, economic and spiritual institutions on the planet.

The Harvard forum of religion and ecology
http://environment.harvard.edu/religion/ further elaborates on these points Ten religions are referenced to including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism.etc
This Forum on Religion and Ecology is the largest international multireligious project of its kind. With its conferences, publications, and website it is engaged in exploring religious worldviews, texts, and ethics in order to broaden understanding of the complex nature of current environmental concerns.
http://environment.harvard.edu/religion/information/index.html

The commentary states

It is, however, with some encouragement that we note the growing call for the world's religions to participate in these changes toward a more sustainable planetary future. There have been various appeals from environmental groups and from scientists and parliamentarians for religious leaders to respond to the environmental crisis. In addition, there has been a striking growth in monographs and journal articles in the area of religion and ecology. Several national and international meetings have also been held on this subject. For example, environmental groups such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have sponsored interreligious meetings, such as the one in Assisi in 1986. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in North America has established an annual Environmental Sabbath and distributes thousands of packets of materials for uses in congregations throughout the United States and Canada. The Parliament of World Religions, held in Chicago in 1993 and attended by some 8,000 people from all over the globe, issued a Global Ethics of Cooperation of Religions on Human and Environmental Issues statement. International meetings on the environment such as the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders have been held in Oxford (1988), Moscow (1990), Rio (1992), and Kyoto (1993). These included religious leaders such as the Dalai Lama as well as diplomats and heads of state such as Mikhail Gorbachev, who hosted the Moscow conference and attended the Kyoto conference to set up an International Green Cross for environmental emergencies. Since 1995 a critical Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) has been convening conferences and publishing books on this topic in England. In the United States, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRP) has organized the Jewish and Christian communities on this issue. The time is thus propitious for a broad investigation of the contributions of particular religions to solving the ecological crisis, especially by developing a more comprehensive environmental ethic.

We need to find a common ground to all religion not reject but transcend and include all the various doctrines and ideologies especially determining the essential focus of equality in spirituality. in this respect a spiritual community can play a major role. An example is the Global Resonance Network

The new creativity occurring on the planet comes from social intelligence and is engendered by the internet. This is associated with what appears to be a grassroots movement in spirituality which is not aligned with conventional institutions or religions. In the States there are about 50,000,000 cultural creatives. This increase in knowledge and exchange of knowledge would appear to be enabling people to question old dogma and institutions which make up the old paradigm. The old paradigm is of course linear, logical, reductive and based on a distinction between the external observable environment and subjective experience.

However, the new way of looking at things has been developing since the theory of Relativity in the early 20th Century. So many technological devices now run on quantum principles and the basis of physics is no longer Newtonian physics but Quantum Mechanics in which the observer influences the observed.

What we are seeing here is an understanding that there is a spiritual interiority, a basic noesis or inner wisdom which is now being tapped particularly by those people in the developed world who are not desperately surviving from hand to mouth as half the world is.


In Conclusion

  • We need to begin to see what connects rather than separates us
  • This is a process of inner exploration
  • Each religious tradition has a part to play as they are uniquely able to cope with
  • evolution of consciousness in times of human crisis
  • The crisis now is Global
  • This has never in recorded history or in the past 60000 years happened like this
  • We need to think cosmically and act globally
  • In other words we need to think in global phase shift rather than in microphases
  • We require a new understanding of consciousness or Global mind change which
  • shows how we are all inextricably connected with one another and the biosphere
  • The new consciousness integrates the balance of nature with the new balancing factor of human evolution.
  • These kinds of understandings where interiority or Human inner experience is as important as external data need to be further understood as we see how our inner experience creates the reality around us
  • What we need is to talk rather than be fed excessive amount of diverse often indigestible information.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Dr Michael Ellis
Dr Michael Ellis Chief Editor and Creative vision behind The New Paradigm Magazine is an English trained Doctor with over 20 years of General Practice experience both in the UK and in Australia. He has higher qualifications in general medicine and paediatrics. He has a special interest in mind/ body medicine and in optimising the physical, mental and emotional health of the individual. As well as his medical qualifications, Dr Ellis also has qualifications in Literature, Arts, Philosophy and Social Psychology. He also has Naturopathic qualifications. He is Co Founder of The Centre for Change and The Medical renaissance Group Dr Ellis is a writer and author. Dr Ellis founded and convened an international conference - Conference Earth: Humanity and Planet Earth - 2001 and Beyond. This conference was held at and supported by Melbourne University on 17-19 November 1995 with 400 delegates, 50 workshop leaders and 10 international speakers attracting national media coverage. This series of Mindquest Conferences is now supported by the Research Institute "The Centre for Change" co founded by Dr Ellis in 2000 and he has since conducted regular seminars at Swinburne University, Melbourne on a wide range of topics related to the achievement of World Peace. His invited speakers have all been Leaders in their chosen fields. With Dr Pavel Kasyanov in 2002 he presented the paper entitled Transition to a Sustainable Civilisation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.