Introductory Remarks on Religion and Religio’
Religio’ is a latin word from which our word, “religion” comes from. The word itself (religio’) means to “re-connect, to re-bind” (with our source). I find it useful to consider that I am speaking to you and serving in the role of an educator by pointing to religio’ as well as religion as a concern and focus for my teaching and your edification. I think this is useful.
It seems to me that ALL religions occur within these two conditions and parameters; (1) at a certain period of time (3,000 y/a (years ago), or 2,500 y/a, or 2,000 y/a, or 1,400 y/a; and, (2) within a certain cultural heritage to give people the wisdom and the tools and techniques to be able to do that. In my way of thinking ALL religions are strongly influenced by this period of time in which they originate, and the culture in which they originate from. They are wisdom teachings that are designed to assist people who are seeking under–standing of HOW to re-connect with source. We could call source as “the God of our understanding.” This allows for great diversity of opinion.
Certainly there is also a central figure from whom the teaching was first introduced or revealed. Historically the examples include; but are not limited to: Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Lao Tsu, The Buddha (which is a title not a name). There is always central teachings by the founder; and there is always a book that follows in which the teaching or revelation is contained. This is where we begin to set the stage for controversy and contention. This is the fertile ground for arguments and religious wars in which everyone loses, in my way of thinking.
It seems to me that (for many reasons historically) we do not remember that. We all know that the religious conflicts go back 1000’s of years and have an enormous body of tragic interactions with others. There are many reasons for this.
In our post-modern frame of reference, even speaking about religion is considered naïve by many. Religion (like politics) can be a very controversial subject for discussion. We will want to avoid that at all costs within the classroom environment.
That is one of the reasons why I suggest to you the following thought: “No one is 100% right, or 100% wrong about anything.” That allows us to step aside from our self-righteous attitudes (a condition we encounter all too often in religious conversations) about our religion vs. other people’s religion.
We seek to listen to each other. If we disagree, we are slow to assert our opinion on top of another person’s belief system, or structure of thought. This is respect and speaks loudly to others about who we are. A little phrase that helps me to remember is the following thought: “Listen twice before speaking.” Think about what that means…. ‘to listen twice before speaking.’ It is a useful idea, I assure you.
Please see me as being a facilitator about religio’ rather than religion. I am interested in your growth as a person. Religion is a primary vehicle in which this development can occur. Other means to augment that in our lives may be thought of as psychological or spiritual methods or principles.
Allow me to suggest to you that there is something in us that seeks to become a better person. The difference is in how we consider that. Some want to be successful, or wealthier, or famous. Regardless there is something in us that is striving for a fuller and more comprehensive you. Something in you is seeking to evolve and emerge into higher levels of awareness, consciousness, understanding. The disagreement, it seeks to me, is in how and with what we are aiming at.
May I say also that I am reluctant to speak about what I refer to as, ‘the diety,’ with the word, God. Some of you may find that odd. Let me explain my thinking and seek to justify this to you. When we use the word God, it is all to easy to think that what I mean when I use that word is also what you mean when you use that word. Also, what are we to do when someone concludes that they do not believe that there is a God (as a Being who created the universe).
That idea is further complicated by the fact that our western science is hugely adverse to that supposition. Science can demonstrate quite nicely to itself that the agency of evolution (in the form of mother nature) over four billion years of trial and error worked it out. So our science is in large disagreement with our fundamental religious teachings. This is not a wise idea for a culture– to have your religion in conflict with each other.
Perhaps that is why many wise elders of other cultures have concluded that our present western culture is so obsessed, so driven, with so much inherent conflict, and lacking in direction. We cannot agree where we are going. We do not agree on fundamentals and foundations that are part of any integrated culture over time.
Nothing and no one appears to be ‘driving the bus’ (a metaphor I am fond of) except want, desire, the search for success and power. Certainly, there are people of great wealth and power who hold great influence; but this influence is self-seeking and in non-accord with the greater good of the culture all too often.
I suggest to you that the early years of the 21st century are marked by the need for direction, and authentic leadership