Affirming an alternative religious approach

25 Jan, 2015 - 00:01 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

This week, reluctantly, my religious perspective is the subject.

For the avoidance of doubt, this author is a “theist”, i.e. one who acknowledges and recognises the existence of the Divine.

To me, the Divine is a rational possibility and reality of consciousness. This is not a matter of faith (i.e. unquestioning acceptance without facts and evidence), intimidation and scaremongering by merchants of fear.

Theistically, I am not a sceptic, doubter or agnostic. Relatedly, I don’t consider sceptics, agnostics or atheists as less human or incarnate of the devil. I happily share “common humanity” with all human beings, religious and non-religious.

As a “theist,” I am of an “internalist perspective”.

This means for me, the Divine is an impersonal, sexless, external and infinite cosmic force or energy. The Divine is the collective term for the breath of life, energy and intelligence within (“Mwari mweya, simba uye njere mandiri”) and does not require human fervent pleadings for anything, attention or compulsive supplication.

The Divine (“Ain Soph/Ein Sof” or “Absolute Infinity”) is that cosmic faculty that evolves along with humanity, and reflects the very advances that humankind achieves in the sciences, arts and humanities.

Thus the Divine reflects and evolves along with humanity’s self-conception and achievements. (Rabbi Sanford Drob, 2001)

Consequently, this provides anyone with a sense of human purpose and a path to cosmic consciousness or self-knowledge and actualisation underpinned by the Law of Causation.

For me, the Divine is not a giant, humanoid male being somewhere “out there” separate and apart from humanity and who dictates every human waking moment.

For an internalist, there are no revealed facts straight from the mouth of the Divine.

This “helps nurture personal autonomy and independence and encourages (one) to critically look at and consider events and actions and to co-operate with others (based on common values and shared aspirations) to improve the society’s well-being”.

Human beings’ life purpose is to discover fullest potential, actualise full capacity and live a life of abundance, contentment and helpfulness. To imagine or perceive the Divine in human terms is itself idolatry.

It is comical, bizarre and absurd to perceive the Divine as a humanoid or an anthropological being ready to reward or punish humanity at whim.

An internalist relationship with the Divine harms and injures nobody, deprives and obstructs nobody of a truthful life, health, property and a virtuous well-being, exercises coercive power over nobody, seeks no racial, ethnic and sexual favour, grace or blessings, and diminishes nobody’s faculties or powers of human agency (i.e. reasoning, discernment and causation).

An internalist perspective “is not dogmatic in its pursuit of truth. It embraces knowledge and intelligence.

Hence, it is neither unnerved or weakened by scientific inventions and discoveries, but will increasingly find approval and validation from the progress and advancements made in science, at least in its vital and deeper philosophical assertions”. (V Jayaram writing about the advanced form of Hinduism, “Creation in Hinduism as a Transformative Evolutionary Process”

Religion should be about experiential, experimental and explorative meaning of life from within oneself not “docility, receptivity, and obedience” but through developed “observation, knowledge and judgement.” (John Dewey, 1938).

Based on “Please respect my religion!” by S Acharya, (December 9, 2011), an internalist religiosity:

1. Every human being is an individual bearer and diverse vehicular expression of the Divine. Therefore, there is an acceptance of the innate dignity of every human being without regard to race, religion, ethnicity or culture. Every human being is free to believe or disbelieve at any given moment, as opposed to being forced to adhere to a particular religious persuasion through threats of alienation, violence and hellfire.

Is based on knowledgeable consciousness, not uncontested faith or beliefs. Refrains from mental manipulation and control.

Does not bully people to believe blindly and without scientific facts and evidence in supernatural “saviours”, “prophets” or “avatars” of a particular race, ethnicity or culture. There is valuing of scientific observation and humane morals, not unquestioned belief and unrestrained fanaticism. Avoids a rigid system that discourages questioning and dislikes some answers.

Objects to invasion of privacy, any form of discrimination and cruelty in the name of the Divine. It does not allow for hate speech against and death or other punishment for apostasy or blasphemy, etc.

Prohibits child marriages and other forms of forced marriages. Treats children with loving kindness and affection, not beating them and teaching them hatred of others.

Considers the public square and workplace prayers as anti-social, hostile and obnoxious to others. Objects to loud ringing of bells and shouting through loudspeakers, tormenting the peace and calm of neighbours and causing social disturbances and nuisances.

Exhorts people to expose and speak out against any form of oppression, discrimination and human-rights violations and animal abuse wherever they may be found.

Calls for people to object to claims of medical healing and religious beliefs that are dehumanising, financially manipulative and worsens a medical condition.

Encourages creative and critical thinking in education. Prefers multi-faith and robust comparative learning in religious studies.

Encourages singing, dancing, joy and general freedom to love life and live happily.


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