Sunday, December 13, 2009

From Inter-faith to Exit-faith

From Inter-faith to Exit-faith

"The psychic aberration of man is the danger. Everything depends upon whether or not our psyche functions properly. If certain persons lose their heads nowadays, a hydrogen bomb will go off."
Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams & Reflections, p. 132

It's time to stop talking so much about interfaith religions. As the world shrinks and cultures mingle, parochial religions must fade away if the world is going to keep from going mad. Good religion solves a common problem with common images. Jewish images, Muslim images, Christian images, Hindu images, etc. are cozy for those who still identify primarily with these sectarian ghettos. In my opinion, they are too limited for our current world.

It is time to find a new common image. I propose, for lack of a better idea, Psyche or Soul. This image is found in every language; the aspects of Psyche are pretty much universal, always with plenty of room for debate and discussion. Jesus asked, "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" Genesis teaches that "man became a living soul." Soul is universal. Soul is common to all -- men and women, all races, all nations.

Psyche can never be contained or corralled, but it can be made central. All humans know and are known by Psyche. Of course this will not happen overnight, and I am not suggesting a 'new religion,' but a new religiuous image that unites humanity, regardless of culture, race, gender, politics, etc.

Religions are always morphing, sometimes gradually and other times quickly. Rituals and stories combine, transform and shift. The Christianities we see today are not the same as the first three centuries after Christ. Those who quote Paul's epistles, pro and con, are not hearing Paul as he spoke nearly 2,000 years ago. The Vedic Hindu religion shifted from rites, chants and sacrificial fires to a more interior spirituality. The same is true of Levitical religion, moving from temple sacrifices to prayer and study of Torah. The various religious reforms involving Buddha, Lao Tze, Plato, Luther, Saint Francis, etc. must continue. Each came at a time when the old religious images and forms were doing more harm than good. Jesus asked, "Was man made for the Sabbath or the Sabbath made for man?" What a great questions! Today we must ask, "Was man made for Islam or Islam made for man?"
"Was man made for Judaism or Judaism made for man?""Was man made for Christianity or Christianity made for man?""Was man made for Hinduism or Hinduism made for man?" The answer to each is that these religions with their Sabbaths, rituals, stories, doctrines and ideas were made for mankind's soul-making -- an experience critically necessary for all developing humans. That is what Jung was saying fifty years ago, "The psychic aberration of man is the danger. Everything depends upon whether or not our psyche functions properly. If certain persons lose their heads nowadays, a hydrogen bomb will go off." Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams & Reflections, p. 132

If the Muslim, or Jew, or Christian, or Hindu is unconscious and disconnected from his own soul, it doesn't matter how much religious education he has or how often he prays -- his psyche is retarded. We know who we are. We attend religious services, debate for our beliefs or unbeliefs, take pride in our well defended positions, and then spend our days and nights feeling chronically sad, depressed, afraid and angry at the world. Or we are puffed up with religious or irreligious superiority, with spiritual arrogance, thinking our conservative Catholic, progressive New Age or skeptical Materialist ideologies are better than those of the morons on the other sides. Conscious evolution toward becoming a wiser soul is an idea, not an abiding experience. And I am not talking about 'living in sweetness and light,' but about moving through heavenly and hellish experiences in order to make soul; births and deaths, sickness and healings, poverty and abundance, pleasure and suffering.

Soul follows certain universal principles. There is no Christian gravity. There is no Jewish aerodynamics. There is no Muslim Periodic Table of Elements. There is no Hindu theory of relativity. These are universal truths. So there are universal truths of soul. To find ways to become conscious, to deal with our bullshit, to tell the truth about ourselves, admit our failings and secrets that shame and suffocate us, face our hidden fears and secret doubts -- to work toward a 'properly functioning psyche,' is the aim. Only insofar as our religions are doing that are they working. And to gather in our ghettos is not functional.

This universalizing of soul has happened to some extent with political democracy. Gradually more and more people around the world are moving in that direction. There are many variations, but there is a common idea that more people can have more freedom, justice and greater opportunities - 'liberty and justice for all." Of course there are variations. There is American democracy, Indian democracy, European democracies, etc. Some are more democratic than others. But there is a center - democracy. The differences are recognized but not made central.

A religion that relegates the cultural cultic trappings to a secondary place, making the universals primary, is the way of the future. This is not the 'One World Church' of the book of Revelation. We already have 'two' of those, Christianity and Islam. We don't need more culturally focused religion that argues over culturally generated issues, ignoring the larger dynamic of soul-making. I am talking about a religious focus which strives to educate people in order to evoke the innate numinous in each human being, making each responsible for taking care of his or her own bullshit. Face it -- each of us knows our weaknesses and 'sins,' our addictions and annoying behaviors. If you don't, ask three family members, three friends and three associates. If you can't find nine such people, you are in big trouble.

Our problem is that of being unconscious and disconnected from a 'better' self -- call it God, Allah, the Buddha Nature, etc. The solution is getting reconnected. This is Psyche, or soul-making. Jesus taught it, but it was turned into a religion; this religion often did much good and still does, but it is not what Jesus taught. Jews, Muslims and Hindus do the same thing. They elevate their own God or Gods, teachings or rituals, ideas or ways. Even the so called liberal or open minded folks of these religions are to blame. They speak of unity while developing their little cult followings and parochial rituals. Again, this may be a necessary interim method, but more must begin moving out of their sectarian ghettos.