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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Religion- Opium or Salvation?

Since 2004 I have made four trips from my home in Texas to Southeast Asia. Each had a "spritual" aspect and each one was interesting and rewarding but not the life-changing experience I had envisioned. I studied meditation techniques at a Monastery in northern Thailand and learned to focus my mind quicker and easier. I spent a month in Nepal and learned a great deal about Tibetan Buddhist practice and the Dharma and discovered that not withstanding Gautama Buddha's instructions to the contrary, many apparently intelligent practitioners that I met tended to ascribe divine powers to the Buddha and their teachers and worship them accordingly.

Now, I find myself in India at an international community known as Auroville where the founder insisted in her teachings that anyone, from anywhere in the world, could find the path to wisdom and enlightenment, providing they were willing to leave their religion behind. An idea that I found personally appealing and eminently sensible but discovered that the Aurovillians I have encountered have merely traded their "Old time religion" Christian, Buddhist, Bahai whatever, for the worship of "The Mother" and Sri Aurobindo. Today, I found a four page printout of songs, poems and writings extolling the divine virtues of the founder and her Guru.

The almost completed heart of Auroville is a six story golden spere with the world's largest crystal ball illuminated by a giant "sun tunnel" that is a ostensibly a meditation center (and would serve that purpose very well) is treated by the staff and the Aurovillians as the inner sanctum, the holy of holies.

Recent research on the evolutionary development of the brain would seem to suggest that man could be genetically prewired for religion and a belief in some divine being. Students of religious history wlll also confirm that there is a strong tendency for those associated with any new spiritual movement to try to create a hierarchy and complex dogma around the initially simple and universally admired messages of Great Teachers like Lao tse,Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ and Mohammed.
Apparently "Great Ideas, like the Sermon on the Mount, the Sutras etc" are not enough unless they are packaged with "mystery", divine inspiration, miracles and other evidence of supernatural, "divine power"

1 comment:

Vagabonde said...

Continuing reading your posts I can’t believe you have been to Auroville. I never met someone who went there. When I was little I had a stamp collection and I traveled to many places because of this collection. Actually I talk about this in my last post about St Pierre et Miquelon, you can read it if you like: Living in San Francisco in the 60s I started being interested in Buddhism. I went to Thailand twice, last time with my youngest daughter, to Chiang Mai and also to Laos. We are both, how shall I say, kind of Buddhist, but on a general Humanist way. My oldest daughter is more like my French family was, a secularist. But I always wanted to visit Pondicherry which is near Auroville as you know. I may still go to Chennai one day and visit that area. What did you think of Pondicherry?