Tao Futures: Philosophy and Religion, Buddha and Politics…

img_1661Predestination is, or at least WAS, the Holy Grail of all religion, primitive religion, false religion, to have it all figured out, planned out, whether past lives or Heaven and Hell, the threat of future punishment to keep you in line at the present, but the Buddhist belief in past lives creates life not proactive, but retroactive. Ditto Christianity with heaven and Hell. That’s the social function of religion, keeping us in line…

This derives from the time when religion was expected to explain everything, a job largely accomplished by Science now. And each religion had different explanations, of course. The curse of all traditional religion lies in trying to make amends with all others, not to mention Science and Tech. It’s a hopeless task. If karma is a thief in the night trying to steal your future and all your presents, then Hell is where you go to serve your sentence and repay your debts—supposedly…

But shouldn’t it be more than that? Isn’t that why religions are in such a sorry shape, and losing customers to dodgy New Age spiritualism, much of which, but not all, is merely the best of religion—motivational speech—repackaged for easy consumption? Aren’t our blessings like angels with gossamer wings, adding spice to our life and sugar to our sweets, and isn’t that more important? The main message for life is not to panic or give up hope, just wait to play another day—simple…

That’s the palliative function for the individual. This goes to the very heart or religion, in fact. Why do we need it? Religion is a belief system and comfort for the individual, but why is that necessary? It’s necessary because life is beset with suffering, the ‘First Noble Truth’ of Buddhism. The Second Truth is that this is caused by grasping and clinging—simple possession, nine-tenths of the law…

It gets worse. Buddha didn’t say everything. Not only is life full of suffering, but we are all alone. We grasp at others to alleviate the loneliness, but it is transitory and illusory. The most beautiful thing in the world—childbirth—is often reduced to a simple act of possession, so many boxes wrapped and placed under the tree, our children and grandchildren are…

In fact, our familial relations are the prime if not the only source of happiness for most people, that and as many goodies as the budget will allow. But do more children mean more happiness? Is a childless person necessarily unhappy? The absurdities and conundrums are endless. Bottom line: the planet is filling up rapidly. So the challenge now is to live alone, the supreme metaphysical and existential truth of our times: each of us is truly alone…

But why do we have this primordial need to breed and urge to merge? It may not be as self-explanatory as it seems, that nothing is more natural—true. But there were always those who were left out of that over-simplified equation. Going one step further: is happiness possible in a world without children, without family, without in-laws, without friends?

Up until now, success in this world has meant military success, Darwinian success, reproductive success, the success of numbers in a world growing smaller. Up until 1492 we were all equal, in power, and numbers, but now only equal in numbers, Europe and its derivatives with more than a cool billion, and nearly matched by China and India, Islam only gaining equality by crossing boundaries with religion…

We westerners like to think we’re superior, but mostly in numbers only, and then we build a religion to justify it, based on love love love, and f*cking like rabbits, so is that sanctity of life or world domination? Like any good conspiracy theory, it’s impossible to prove either way. But history shows us all emerging from the same primordial womb, going forth and multiplying long before we went forth dividing…

Is human history a Big Bang awaiting its Big Crunch? If so, then let’s shake hands and try to get along for the sake of the kids. But for each of us as individuals, I think there is a larger explanation: we need something other than ourselves to blend with, to lose ourselves in, to give our lives meaning over and beyond our basic bodily needs. And children can only fulfill a certain amount of that need. Beyond that we need more, whether politics, sports, art, philosophy or religion. Take your pick…

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