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Customer Discussions > Religion forum

Why Religions Exist


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Showing 51-75 of 114 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012, 3:16:18 PM PDT
Harry Marks says:
Nancy Davison -

Like Moloch worship?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012, 3:18:06 PM PDT
Harry Marks says:
Nancy -

Needless to say, I consider karma to be, at best, a tendency. Considering that it has been used to justify the caste system, my restraint might be considered "grace", i.e. unmerited benefit.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012, 3:52:06 PM PDT
IFeelFree says:
HM: Needless to say, I consider karma to be, at best, a tendency.

IFF: That's because there is often a lag between the action and the reaction, the cause and the effect. Also, there are many karmic cross-currents in each of our lives, and so we cannot see all of the causes that go into each event in one's life. The Bhagavad Gita says, "The course of karma is unfathomable."

What we can say is that every action creates an experience, and the memory of that experience contributes to the mental impressions or patterns formed by repeated experience. These are seeds of memories both in our personal and collective consciousness as a result of past experiences. As these impressions aggregate and combine with each other, they generate latent tendencies for future actions. They are attitudes, inclinations and the seeds of desire.

Karma is conditioned response, the past influencing the circumstances of the present as well as our tendencies to act in conditioned patterns of behavior. We become bundles of conditioned reflexes constantly triggered by people and circumstances into self-limiting outcomes. Therefore, karma is considered to be a prison, a bondage. The goal of the spiritual journey is to escape the prison of karma.

HM: Considering that it has been used to justify the caste system, my restraint might be considered "grace", i.e. unmerited benefit.

IFF: That is really irrelevant. Often times truth is perverted to justify false ideas. Thus, for example, the teachings of Christ have been used to justify holy wars and acts of violence. This does not nullify the truth of what Jesus taught through his words and actions.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012, 4:59:57 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
A tendency? Well, to each her own, I suppose.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012, 5:01:37 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
No, not like "Molech" worship.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012, 5:59:03 AM PDT
Vicki says:
Dear Nancy,

You said :"Vicki, if you have studied the history of religion you'll find that the pre-axial religions were exactly as I've described."

I have taken religious studies and anthropology courses in college, as well as studied on my own. I haven't found your conclusion to be correct.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012, 6:35:25 AM PDT
Banished says:
I know Grace! She's not at all dangerous!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012, 6:37:07 AM PDT
Banished says:
"How it has been abused is not an issue for its validity or its value. "

But the fact that there isn't a shred of evidence that God exists certainly IS an issue related to its validity and value.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012, 12:09:10 PM PDT
Harry Marks says:
IFeelFree -
Apropos of karma -
"What we can say is that every action creates an experience, and the memory of that experience contributes to the mental impressions or patterns formed by repeated experience."

But Grace is the background, the light that allows us to see the shades of cause and effect. Almost all of us were born because of a desire and dream of a better life by two parents. Most of us were formed by undeserved, unearned care and provision. We were created by love. The fluctuations of life reacting to our degree of caring all add up to far less influence in our lives than this fundamental truth that we have not earned or deserved the bounty we have.

Before we can begin to say what life is for, or how to make it right, we must begin with the fundamental truth that life is, and life is good. That is grace. Furthermore we are called to contribute to the lives around us. This is not for any reward. It maybe true, as karma expresses, that the more good we do, the more good, on average, will happen to us. But if we are only doing good for the reward it will bring, we are not really doing good. Thus grace is at the essence of the action of God, the spirit of caring. If we only care as an investment, we do not truly care and our investment is nullified. We can only get a "return" when we act without believing in the return, for the pure sake of doing good.

If you insist on denying this, the deepest truth of human spirit, the result will be some equivalent of the caste system. You will end up having to declare that life is about doing things for a reward, and to maintain that it works, you will have to conclude that those with more deserve more, and those with less deserve less.

Don't go there.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012, 4:47:44 PM PDT
IFeelFree says:
HM: It maybe true, as karma expresses, that the more good we do, the more good, on average, will happen to us. But if we are only doing good for the reward it will bring, we are not really doing good.

IFF: I would say that whatever good one accomplishes in this case is tainted by the selfish motive to attain some merit for oneself. Thus, one creates a mixture of good and bad karma.

HM: Thus grace is at the essence of the action of God, the spirit of caring. If we only care as an investment, we do not truly care and our investment is nullified. We can only get a "return" when we act without believing in the return, for the pure sake of doing good.

IFF: Yes, I would call this enlightened action. Rather than acting out of conditioned response, or the impressions created by past thought and action, instead action arises as a spontaneous, innocent response to the need of the moment. The ego is not involved. Desire for some future gain is not the motivation. Such action does not create karma. It leaves no residue, no trace on you. You act but remain free. Action arises spontaneously from grace -- that which thought never touches. There is a complete lack of separation from the whole which is the very definition of selflessness and love.

Posted on Jun 9, 2012, 2:22:38 AM PDT
Harry Marks says:
IFeelFree

Your explanation of enlightened action transcending karma is so close to a modern presentation of grace that I wonder that the two have not actually intertwined.

Both conceptual frameworks have some trouble dealing with this freedom of truly right action from any accounting as to whether action is right or not, or at least from any selfish pursuit of merit/reward. It is not easy to explain, although the difference between intrinsic motivation and external motivation, which has been explored by modern psychologists, may be the most important conceptual step. "action arises as a spontaneous, innocent response to the need of the moment" as you put it. "There is a complete lack of separation from the whole" is the statement that what had been represented in external terms has become completely an internal motivation.

It seems to me that the main difference is in practice, in which Paul's version asks people to find the freedom of grace "in Christ", that is, by being part of a practicing and spirit-filled community, while the more Eastern path asks people to find it by separating themselves from attachment. Two sides of the same coin, really, but Paul's version places the process fundamentally in a framework of forgiveness, so that a person need not become enlightened to experience enlightenment. Most of us are in transit, and that is what being in Christ means - to be on the Way with others who also see that the Way is where we want to be going.

In the church we say, "The journey is our home."

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 10:27:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 17, 2012, 10:35:30 PM PDT
M. Linoge says:
Vicki says:

But religion is a lot more than a source of explanations of the natural world. Religion tries to satisfy our need for transcendance, significance, purpose, and identity.
-

So, I take it you mean that people have neither of these things without inserting religion into their lives?

Either way, you just rehashed my point. Religion fills the void,( many, many voids) people seem to struggle with. Personally, I think it is a shade of greed. It isn't enough to be alive, free and healthy. Humans want more. Need it. All the time.
-----------
Vicki says:

Many atheists hope that religion is only about explaining nature, so that as science advances, religion will retreat.
-

Speaking only for myself. I have no hopes regarding the "explanations" of religion. Science is at best a series of theories supported by the tests we can make with todays degree of advanced technology. Science hasn't proven anything anymore than religion has. But objectively, between the scientists researching the physical world and priests reading dusty old books from the time women were property, the Earth was flat and slavery was a legitimate business, I admit to side with the white coats. But bottom line, I find most theories of both sides supremely irrelevant to practical matters since extremely few (if any) require a higher understanding of the world to function in it.

PS. Religion will never retreat. There will always be believers.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012, 3:29:06 AM PDT
yba says:
Linoge,

From earlier post: "So, I take it you mean that people have neither of these things without inserting religion into their lives?"

yba: Perhaps people insert religion into their lives because they have these things, not because there is a absence of them.
I can change one's viewpoint, or perspective, depending on exactly how one defines religion. Some viw it as being tied down or restrained from freedom. Others define it as being secured and connected, safe amidst the stormy seas of life that we all experience--if we choose to live life.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012, 6:25:37 AM PDT
Vicki says:
Dear M. Linoge,

You said :"So, I take it you mean that people have neither of these things without inserting religion into their lives?"

I'm saying that transcendance, significance, purpose, and identity are immaterial and cannot be addressed by science, but they are addressed by religion.

You said :"But bottom line, I find most theories of both sides supremely irrelevant to practical matters since extremely few (if any) require a higher understanding of the world to function in it."

But isn't life about more than just functioning in the world?
I see Jesus as someone who brings understanding to life, as well as offering a way of life that is fresh, honorable, and connected to God.
He answers my questions concerning transcendance, significance, purpose, and identity.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012, 8:39:13 AM PDT
Astrocat says:
M. Linoge, I don't know if Vicki is saying that religion is the only thing that satisfies "our need for transcendence....", but I think she's saying that that's one of the ways people seek to answer those questions. I can see that veery clearly, and while it may, in some people, be about "greed", that's certainly not the case for many. There are millions of sincere seekers who have turned to religion, just as there are many millions of people who have turned to science, or to mind-numbing drugs, for that matter. None of those ways is the "right" one, but each of them is a human attempt to achieve some desired goal, answer some burning question.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012, 7:47:34 PM PDT
M. Linoge says:
Vicki says:

But isn't life about more than just functioning in the world?
-

Depends on who you ask. Some believe it is, some do not. I don't. I think too many people in the world suffer for there to be any deeper meaning to it. (This is of course just a belief. I may well be wrong.)
-------------------------------
Vicki says:

I see Jesus as someone who brings understanding to life, as well as offering a way of life that is fresh, honorable, and connected to God.
He answers my questions concerning transcendance, significance, purpose, and identity.
-

Well, good for you. I only find it unfortunate that you need religion to inspire an honorable way of life, as well as significance, purpose, and identity. I was raised to find/define such things by my own character. Hence, I find it difficult to imagine relying on the otherwordly for answers/guidance.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012, 8:09:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 18, 2012, 8:19:02 PM PDT
M. Linoge says:
Nancy Davison says:
M. Linoge, I don't know if Vicki is saying that religion is the only thing that satisfies "our need for transcendence....", but I think she's saying that that's one of the ways people seek to answer those questions. I can see that veery clearly, and while it may, in some people, be about "greed", that's certainly not the case for many. There are millions of sincere seekers who have turned to religion, just as there are many millions of people who have turned to science, or to mind-numbing drugs, for that matter. None of those ways is the "right" one, but each of them is a human attempt to achieve some desired goal, answer some burning question.
-

No one would be happier than me if there were answers, actual evidence, to those burning questions. Then people could finally stop wasting time on arguing (killing each other) over which theory is correct.
But i doubt I'd spare the time to learn the "truth". Because whatever secrets the universe hides. Who/whatever created the universe. What meaning there is to life. How one defines good and evil. What happens after death... so on and so fourth, all the questions seekers and scientists search so desperately for.
Doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter because people will not change. People can be educated/terrorized to abstain from baser needs, like dogs can be trained. Still, a dog is a dog. Bad people will be bad people. Good people will be good people. Religion doesn't change that. Science doesn't change that.
Ergo, the search is meaningless. Even if you find what you're looking for, you still have to work to eat. The neighbors will still be a pain in the a**. You will still live and die, love, lose and hate and everything in between.
So why complicate life with endless quests for unattainable answers when there is so much to do and experience with the one and only life we're going to get?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012, 10:37:04 PM PDT
Vicki says:
Dear M. Linoge,

You said :"Well, good for you. I only find it unfortunate that you need religion to inspire an honorable way of life, as well as significance, purpose, and identity. I was raised to find/define such things by my own character. Hence, I find it difficult to imagine relying on the otherwordly for answers/guidance."

I have tried the defining-such-things-by-my-own-character route, but it didn't work for me. I think it had something to do with being so desparately finite, not to mention I kept 'shooting myself in the foot'.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 23, 2012, 8:17:09 AM PDT
Unlike her husband, George Burns, who used to give people horrible diseases on purpose with the second-hand smoke from his cigars.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 23, 2012, 8:28:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 23, 2012, 8:34:01 AM PDT
You've touched on an important issue here, Nancy. In the Christian way of looking at things, we should all be thankful that God doesn't give us the unwarranted punishment of the fires of Hell. In other words, just being born is a crime worthy of torture. No matter how Christians try to soften their doctrines, that's what they really mean. I'll give Muslims credit for one thing -- at least the nut-jobs are being honest. When the Koran tells the infidels they're gonna fry unless they grovel ASAP, the Koran means it. Christians mean it too -- it's the only rationalization they have for their dogmas -- they've just found it good politics to live lives of self-deception as to what their religion is really about.

And these people think Richard Dawkins is nasty, arrogant, irresponsible and insulting? Hmmmnn ... As I said to Mr. Marks on another thread -- the Eastern religions have an open-mindedness that the theistic religions would do well to emulate.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 23, 2012, 8:41:48 AM PDT
Astrocat says:
Daniel, I have many Christian friends, and I don't want to offend them in any way, because for the most part they live their lives as lovingly and compassionately as possible. However, it's my opinion, based on years of study and research, along with meditation and observation, that the orthodoxy that has twisted and distorted the story of Christ and his mission on Earth, has done them a great disservice. I blame it on the hierarchy of the Catholic church, especially Irenaeus and those who followed his lead, along with Augustine and later Aquinas. They turned the minds and hearts of the largely illiterate world away from a sense of unity with all of humanity and gave them, instead, a sense of privilege and superiority. This led, of course, to all the horrific excesses of the autos de fé, the Crusades, the pogroms against the Jews, the subjugation of women, the enslavement of many peoples, not just those who had darker skin, etc.

It's not the message of Christ that's to blame, it's the spin these people put on it, including whoever wrote the four so-called "gospels", and especially, among those, the writers of Matthew.

But I ramble.

Again, there are many

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2012, 11:59:15 AM PDT
Well said, Nancy. I've studied the early history of Christianity a bit myself, and I have to question whether the image of Jesus as a loving, Stoic preacher is accurate either. It's just as likely that he was a Jewish freedom fighter, sort of a Jewish "Braveheart," and this had to be hidden by Paul, who was Roman. Further, I suspect that everyone around at the time believed in the same "dualist" systems of thought. There were just different flavors of them, from the fairly pleasant -- the small "pagan" nature-cults around the Mediterranean: the Isis cult, the Dionysus cult, etc. -- to the really horrible one that came along later -- Islam. Of course, it's nearly impossible for people today to reconstruct the inner thoughts of semi-literates from a dark age on the other side of the planet, so I suppose any theory could have some truth to it. It's just a question of how one interprets conflicting documents, and then triangulates ; but then I'm not a professional scholar, merely a fairly well-read amateur.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2012, 12:18:14 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
Daniel, thanks for your thoughtful response. I realize there's little chance that the convinced "believers" will ever accept that their faith may be somewhat misplaced, but then, of course, my own understandings are not likely to change, either, so I'm left with the idea that there is no one-size-fits-all in religion or any other systems of thought. We each respond with whatever fits best to what's in our own minds and hearts, and there's really nothing wrong with that.

My concept of life in the human form is that each of us is seeing it from a slightly different facet of the diamond of "Truth", so that everyone is right, at least for this moment in time, and for the purposes of experience.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2012, 1:49:03 PM PDT
1Danny says:
You sound arrogant.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2012, 2:09:41 PM PDT
Bubba says:
But then you seem to claim that everyone you disagree with sounds "arrogant".
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