Re: MD quality religion

From: Jim Ledbury (
Date: Sun Mar 21 2004 - 14:14:09 GMT

  • Next message: Steve Peterson: "Re: MD quality religion"

    Hi folks,

    I apologise if this observation has been made before (it will be a
    little while before I digest the MD archive - certainly not at one
    sitting), but maybe the distinction between mystical and religious
    experience is that a mystical experience is an transcendental individual
    relationship with the cosmos whereas a religious experience is a
    trancendental relationship with humanity (and perhaps via that to the

    The mystical can often bypass the human and can at times seem profoundly
    anti-human (thinking of Dao De Jing #5 "Heaven and Earth are not
    humane,//And regard the people as straw dogs.//The sage is not
    humane,//And regards all things as straw dogs.") whereas the religious
    will try to promote an integration with a human ethic. By human ethic I
    mean much more than simple social level morality, but an ethic which can
    inform the intellectual level and arguably a meta-intellectual level.

    Although I can't help David in his quest to find transcendance within
    the context of a particular Christian (or other) denomination, although
    technically atheistic myself I do find that I have a deep sympathy with
    the some aspects of Christianity, which I don't really find with other
    religions. Perhaps this is related to having being brought up as a
    Christian and relates to David's Jung quote "...if we desert our own
    foundations as though they were errors outlived...", although I have had
    some similar sympathy with aspects of Buddhism and Daoism.

    In particular I can find a profound peace of mind in relation to some
    church buildings. This is partly aesthetic, but there is an accord with
    their being used, possibly for centuries, in devotion to a human ethic
    (discounting the abuses of authority practiced is the past). This is
    of a different quality to the quality of mind I find on say hilltops and
    I would put it down to this human aspect. But also I find a peace of
    mind when I consider the sublimation of tradition into humanism (for
    want of a better word) that Jesus had in the 1st century CE. I find
    that this cannot be simply understood in intellectual terms, and that
    such a reduction degrades the quality of the understanding, although
    simple intellectual considerations would make me question any belief
    with regard to life after death (which I can feel to only mean
    integration with the ongoing human ethic), raising of the dead (a
    metaphor, or perhaps a simple consequence that without medical
    certification, many people have been considered dead, only to come back
    to life again) or reject biological absurdities (virgin birth). I find
    that in consideration of this human ethic one can find an immense solace
    in one's problems. I would think it is this aspect that allows people
    with drug dependencies to be cured and for people in a state of despair
    to find hope.

    I can only feel that it was his discovery of this transcendental human
    ethic that gave Jesus his strength to go to the cross. I can find very
    real meaning in the concept that "he died for our sins". I can find
    similar resonances in all aspects of profound self sacrifice to the
    human ethic. The manner and moral authority of Nelson Mandela derive
    from this. More ambivalently, the devotion of Mother Theresa to the
    dying of Calcutta (the object of her devotion was the Roman Catholic
    Church which to a degree taints it).

    As I said above, it would be a mistake to identify this with simply
    social level morality, although it has fairly obviously informed it down
    the ages. It certainly can't be encapsulated by the intellectual
    level. There are some aspects of DQ there to be sure, but I am
    unconvinced that it is DQ pure and simple because some of it is possible
    to be explained in terms of high quality religious thought (the 4 noble
    truths and the eight fold way are examples, so are many samples of
    Christian prayer and biblical psalms). But you probably do need a
    sympathy with them before the quality in these words becomes evident,
    and one cannot simply treat them as intellectual propositions and expect
    the same effect. It is in this manner that one could I guess experience
    transcendence in a Mass.

    It's in this regard that I am uncomfortable with such thinkers as
    Richard Dawkins: although I think he is spot on in his attacks on
    creationism and superstition, his intellectual SOM cannot grasp this
    example of religion and so he attempts to destroy it as well.

    Oh well, it's a nice sunny day, which would be a crime not to take in
    some of the limited natural aspects that one can in London.


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