This article is graciously provided for republication by the author, Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati (Dr. Christa-Maria Herrmann), German by birth, naturalized British, originally studying Theology, her university studies soon expanded to Education, Psychology, Philosophy and Art and Design (Ceramics). Different teaching jobs (in colleges and universities) in various countries followed. At the center of her studies (as well as her teaching) was always the subject of 'Self-awareness'.
Per definition religion (Latin: religare) means "to bind together"; the joining character of the word is expressed in the word ligament, the structure that binds together muscle and bone.
When we look at the world we live in today, what is it, that "binds us together" what binds us together as a global society?
Last month, we talked about the term religion as covering two aspects, that which binds us to our own mental memory store by which we interpret everything; ---- or the laws and dogmas someone else made and which we are bound to "believe." Either way really, we see and experience our world... through our senses and by what our mind interprets from this input.
For example, if we are brought up with the mental input that there is a God, outside the world, that created the world in seven days and he lives in heaven. We look through this paradigm .. .and consequently see the world our sense perceive as something someone outside us has created, hence it is "his business" and we are not responsible for his creation. Hence God is outside 'in heaven;' at best we have a certain relationship with him, but our relationship is with him- not his creation! We are "above it".
On the other hand, if we learned that the world consist out of atoms and particles in primary school, we look through this paradigm ... and the world our senses perceive is made of particles, objects, matter, that we can use, manipulate exploit.
Such base assumptions, which include such base ideas as time and space, are called Paradigms. We are tied to these base paradigms. In other words the information our senses take up, are interpreted on the back of what we learned from our environment/school/society , we take it on board and it becomes our base truth! Consequently it's the matrix on which we base our life; it's a belief... a religion that we are bound to. All our perceptions rest on such beliefs...
Now let us look at the bigger picture: Human beings have always been aware of two interlinked paradigms. There exists the gross material world which we perceive through our sense and the subtle, what is beyond us. We can call these two aspects: Spirit and Matter. The relationship between the two has changed frequently in human history. Sometimes the bias is more this way, sometimes more that way. Sometimes there were civilizations where the two were so close, they were almost One; Other times the pendulum sstressed Spirit ... sometimes Matter .
In the modern times, nearly all of us however are brought up with Paradigm that it is matter that matters. Which means we live in an era where these two aspects, spirit and matter have been split apart.
Especially for the western world, it all started with Plato and Aristoteles, yet the real crux came in the middle ages and onwards through the power of the Churches, i.e. the official religion organisations of the Western world; their power games facilitated the split between Spirit and Matter. As it did so, God moved further and further away into the heavens, leaving the manifest world; the idea's about matter to gradually became hard physical science. As science grew into an independent power it became the official "truth holder"; with this Science became the New Religion.
Now (rather than the church/ a religious belief system) Science was claimed to have the absolute immutable knowledge! From then on, anything that does not fit into the scheme of material science could not be allowed. This is no different from the inquisition, when nothing was allowed to be believed that did not fit into the dogma of the church.
One calcified, religious structure, simply replaced another. Both excluding Spirit i.e. the other dimension of existence.
What is the meaning of science? Science evolved by developing a method/ a technique - which allowed only that as truth which can be measured, from which a hypothesis is formed, and then that very hypothesis can be verified by experiments that prove and attest to the hypothesis... i.e. scientifically valid is only that which produces a predicted result. Predictability and shared agreement became the hallmark of scientific truth or what is deemed a "fact". Now please understand, what has happened is that a frame was established...of what knowledge could be allowed. This is no different from a religion (of which ever faith) that sets out a dogma, a way of life, rules to live by and then forbids, rejects, even kills anything or anyone that does not share the frame.
Early scientists could only work with what they could see, touch and measure... so there was still a possibility for something existing, that could, may-be not measure, i.e. Spirit. So there remained at least a tolerance of that which was "beyond". It also meant that study was limited to that which could be touched seen etc... i.e. matter. What cannot be measured... was better left to the "other religion" - ... that of pure belief. Gradually the split widened and science made its own philosophy: which became the idea of the universe being a machine, working like a machine. Planets, Stars , plants, humans.. . even societies - all parts of a universe worked like "clockwork". The split was complete: Science ruled the physical world of matter and religion /churches/ all manner of faith including Spirit became less important , less true. In this way Science replaced, or rather became the new religion.
Eventually, (to stay for a moment in Western cultures) the power of persuasion of the Religion of Science was so great, that the world of spirit, the subtle realms were down right pushed out;now even spiritual inclinations, values and tradition identified with formal religions were side-lined... and the spiritual awareness of people actually , in terms of the masses - was drowned, forbidden and even persecuted ! In the extreme, schools, educational institutes did not allow children anymore to be taught so called religion; impoverishing generations, and eventually the world at large creating societies for whom only matter mattered. The result is a generation that has lost touch with their soul and finds refuge in drugs and alcohol.
This we can observe the world over; it's the result of adopting the new religion of Materialism. And no part of the globe - in the wake of globalisation, seems exempt form it.
This material perception of the universe included of course the human being. Especially since Charles Darwin became the base for understanding humans and their evolution. What followedwas the understanding that we were nothing but a conglomeration of particles, set out in a predetermined DNA, which only through long term exposure and mutation eventually changed; ultimately evolving into what is called human beings. What governed the changes in the Gene-chain was the survival of the fittest.
People believed! They believed because it fell on the background of material science , this new religion. And the odd thing is: we still do!!!Yet on both accounts: that the DNA is a fixed map, as well as the survival of the fittest governs our human evolution have both long proved wrong. Yet for a while, the power of this religion was/is so strong, that it influences all parts of society. Schools and educational institutes taught competition above all- since only the fittest survives. The economy was governed by the same law, the fittest and the biggest is the winner! All exploitation and environmental destruction can be traced back to the adherence to this New Religion. However slowly change started in the West, with Wilhelm Roentgen ..(X-Rays) the first gap appeared in the view of the material; but even though that is more than hundred years ago - the acknowledgement that matter is actually not what it seems... takes a long time, so powerful is its persuasion.Gradually through research by Max Plank, Einstein , Heisenberg and many others, the tiny whole in the power was enlarged. Now even science knows of course that the world consist of permanently changing energy - that behaves intelligently!
Yet humankind is slow to learn, we know... yet we adhere still to the religion, of materialistic society! We do not live, see, act from the new insights, even though with this new science - the original considerations... of the play interconnectedness of Spirit and Matter comes back into the forefront, and especially so, since it is supported, with what the wise ones of old, have known all along: the universe is nothing but one whole, interdependent field of moving energy, that acts, that moves according to intelligence, consciousness; call it what you may.
Now why am I drawing this picture. We contemporary beings by enlarge still consider the world consisting of Matter! We experience and live as though matter is all that matters. We stick like the fundamentalist to a religion that is out-dated, and wrong, but we are so used to its "truth", so indoctrinated, that we cannot even perceive the world as an ever moving, energy field moved by spirit/consciousness.
After all my body is real! I can feel it see it, touch it, get excited about it! And yet we know that it is not so! We stick to our indoctrinated truth.. like a dogma of an old religion; like to an old paradigm. We must leave the reductionist so called scientific understanding behind, it's a prison! Get out...only then has humanity a chance to survive and grow. We have to leave : the old religion of Materialism behind! But what do we do.. we want more matter...more material wealth... and the consequences of that wrong paradigm, that wrong religion that binds us.. is the destruction of the planet, that gives us our very life! The material universe, that we can see touch hear, is in fact only a mirage of our limited perspective, limited because the instruments we see , hear and perceive with are still stuck in "the middle ages". If we dare to accept that every owl can see better, that there are now ways to see the smallest particle acceleration according to cosmic laws... then we know that there is nothing constant, nothing fixed, nothing solid... no dogma, no limitations, but all of existence is "an invisible field of intelligent energy, which the ancestors called Spirit"; and which the Yogis called Brahman.
The consequences of our adhering religiously to the matter aspect, is dire. We have only to look at Western influenced societies and the spread of it as globalization. We have given corporations and multinational giants supremacy over human life; matter over life. The growth of banks is more important than human dignity. Hence to make money is the new religion....devoid of Spirit. Children are indoctrinated to belief, they can't live without a Gameboy, iPad, iPhone or nowadays even their own PC (tailored to three year olds!). No different in principal from the past, when children were indoctrinated to go to Sunday-school, or obey the priests! Colleges and universities do not teach anymore to think or to question but to learn the rules of the materialistic Religion. People like R.Dawkins with his theory of the selfish gene make us belief, that all is determined by our selfish genes... and millions buy it... because they have accepted the dogma of the materialistic . But probably one of the worst consequences of this religion , is modern medical science. Thanks to 300 years of indoctrinating us with the materialist religion, we have come to see ourselves as biochemical robotic vehicles... and we spread this poor perception readily all over the world. When something is amiss - medicine follows the roles of mechanics...: repair, replace, remove. Of course allopathic medicine has made great strides in saving lives , yet in tune with materialistic orientationfrequently the mechanics are fixed, and the underlying cause of illness in mind and spirit is left un treated. Conventional medicine focuses, in tune with the materialistic religion (that only matter matters) on physical aspects, trying to adjust and manipulate the body's chemistry ... costing millions - and more important make billions for the pharmaceutical industry ... even though often energy-work, that treat the body as an energy field where everything is interconnected has often proved much more effective. Epigenetics, recognize that the environment, the mental psychological and spiritual intelligence of the body play a great role; infact they are now realizing that the biological process are driven by an intelligent process outside of the bio-mechanics; i.e.
intelligence that can be called Spirit, or even con-science..., consciousness. Conventional medicine ignores that the driver of all apparent matter is the mind, hence we as human beings with intelligent functioning minds, right down to the cellular level have responsibility. Or rather we are participators in the - gene-chain just as much as in health and wellbeing. In fact it seems that the whole idea of survival of the fittest, material orientated understanding of body is heresy in evolutionary terms. In fact intelligent energy, which is our so called material building block, has been shown frequently a more effective healer- than any allopathic medicine.
Clearly it is stupid to ignore the energy fields, purely because they can't be explained in the same limited way as matter. Conventional Science and Religion seem to do the same thing: Both exclude, both have a limited perspective that does not allow that which is not in its belief-system, to be acknowledged. Furthermore, if that intelligence is part of us, if we are also spirit - then the old way of science- to observe predicted results ... is simply not holding truth; as we know since Heisenberg, the observer becomes the participator. Meaning we are co-creators of the universe we see and live in. With that Sciences becomes anew; no more a religion - but it becomes part of an ever-changing universe; it moves closer to the principals of Spirituality- away from being a religion.
Experience, participation is the key to understanding the total interconnectedness. That means: no separation; i.e. no religion that binds and puts up fences of me and mine and thus limitsgrows. No more outer dogma, but inner strength , verified by own experience in response to the environment is what stands in the centre. Living then means acting in an appropriate manner fresh to each situation - this is a holistic world view, which has been known to the wise of all parts of the world... and Yes this is in fact Yoga.
Unfortunately, what had started in the western world, seems to have infected the entire Globe. A religion of materialism imbalances the globe; the limited binding to a partial, exclusive truth, that we call religion has spread like a virus around the globe and is wrecking havoc unbridled. This is just as bad, no worse, than the havoc the crusaders and missionaries of all religion have caused throughout history. Materialism over the last 300 years has not only become the new religion but has destroyedmore lives than any religious wars ever have; spreading like a wildfire
Feeding on the lowest instinct of man: greed - it has destroyed species of life, cultures and human beings - all by ignoring Spirit!
Our very survival as a human species depends on whether we manage to break out of the clutches of this religion, this fixation into a dogma that only matter matters. Any dogma, any binding into a rigid frame - excludes others, excludes ultimately Spirit, but on the ground level excludes other forms of life, other opinions, other perspective... it excludes wisdom -that looks beyond the prevalent doctrine.
We need to get out from under this religion, any religion!!!!!!!!!!! even of it costs us our lives. And that was what all the reformers, all the prophets have done.... they got out from the prevalent religious, dogmatic form of their times; be it Jesus the Christ, Gautama the Buddha... Moses , Mahavira - you name it. They experienced truth and found society wanting. They were reformers, not founders of religions! Their call was: WAKE UP.
We need such wisdom teachers, who share their experience and help us to experience - not limit us in organisations that turn experience into dogma that binds, stifles and presses wisdom into a religion. In this case, we need to Wake Up.. to the damage the religion of materialism does in our lives!
I rest my case!