What is Wrong With A Purely Secular Approach To Life And Living
Spirituality has been a part of human evolution from the beginning. Every culture since civilization began has incorporated some form of religion into the very fiber of their existence. It is one of the few consistent themes the world over and across time. Spirituality brings meaning to life and connects us in a way that could not exist on a simply physical level. It gives us commonality and a community bond. In working together, with a common understanding and goals, we can achieve more. Each member of the community provides a unique benefit to the group, and takes care of a particular functionality for the community as a whole. In this way the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts.
Now this might sound a bit like Communism, but it's not. Communism is a nice idea, but it doesn't work. Here's why. While the theory is similar, the practice is very different. In Communism everyone is considered equal, and everyone works for the good of 'the state'. Who is the state, and why should you work for them? Because someone told you to do so? Because the state provides for you? Well, you shouldn't, and they don't. Communism doesn't work because there is no benefit to the individual. It's not a community, it's not even a colony, it's a nebulous fabricated contrivance that stymies creativity and stifles ambition. There is nothing natural about communism, which is where the problem began.
In nature, there are plenty of example of communities that work for the greater good. In terms of people, we can look from the Bedouin tribes in Africa to the Amish in North America. These communities value each member, their abilities and activities. The better each individual does, the better it is for the community. The growth and success of the community relies on the growth and success of the people that comprise it. There is a direct relation, and it is tied closely to Nature and Spirit. In fact, that is another distinct difference between these groups and communists. Communists banished religion, yet every successful community is highly religious. So what is it about spirituality that brings a community together?
Let's think back to the days when people still lived in caves, before technology, even before the wheel. People lived in clans because one person simply could not do all the things that were necessary to survive. On their own, a single person would probably starve if he wasn't killed by a wild animal first. Thus began the first division of labor. Some would hunt while others would grow crops. Perhaps someone made clothes while another raised the young ones. It also made more sense in terms of protection. With animals we still see that predators will pick off the stragglers, leaving the unified group alone.
Now if we think what the world was like to these people, it must have been both wondrous and terrifying. With no scientific knowledge, they could not be sure that the sun would rise again each morning. They would have no idea when or if it would rain (some of our modern weathermen still don't). Some people would get well from illness, others would simply die. Some babies would be born healthy, others not. In an effort to create some rhyme or reason, there had to be an explanation. Since these things were not within their control, there must be something else controlling them. Something they couldn't see or hear, but something that was very powerful nonetheless. So they began to do things that they hoped would please this powerful force. The idea was, "if we are nice to it, maybe it will be nice to us". This is how rituals were born. Maybe they sang in the fields, and the next day it rained. Well, the next time they needed rain, they would go out to the fields and sing again. Once customs like these are established, especially if your life depends on it, it's difficult to change them even if they don't consistently work. The thinking is, "even if this doesn't work all the time, it does work some of the time, so we can't risk trying something new that might not work at all".
Rites of all kinds began to be developed; fertility, rain, a good harvest, health. Each different given the environment and circumstances of the people who created them.
One of the clearest places to witness this spirituality is in how various groups throughout history attended to the proper care of their dead. Every culture and civilization ever studied has three things in common relating to death and the disposition of the dead:
² Some type of funeral rites, rituals, and ceremonies
Researchers have found burial grounds of Neanderthal man dating to 60,000 BC with animal antlers on the body and flower fragments next to the corpse indicating some type of ritual and gifts of remembrance.
With no great psychological knowledge or custom to draw from, Neanderthal man instinctively buried their dead with ritual and ceremony. (FuneralNet - www.wyfda.org)
The charismatic people in these groups who claimed that they could communicate with the greater Power(s) became the spiritual leaders of the community. They were looked to for developing these rites, and for explanations when they didn't work. In this way, organized religion came into being.
To this day, there is not a culture on the planet that does not have some form of spirituality or religion. In the same way our ancestors did, we look to the spiritual realm to give meaning to things we can not otherwise know. As our understanding of the natural world increased, we learned why the sun comes up every morning. We know where rain comes from and why some people are healthier than others. No matter how much we know, however, there will always be mysteries to life. 'Where does our soul come from before birth', 'what happens to it after death', and 'what is our purpose while we are here' are three of the big ones. Perhaps the biggest is, 'what is a soul'. With all the wonders of modern technology, we still have not even come close to answering these questions. If for these reasons alone, spirituality will remain part and parcel with humanity because there will always be questions that secular science cannot answer.
Here's the interesting bit. One recent scientific advancement is in the area of quantum physics. As this area of study progresses we learn that the world that we thought we knew, might not be as it seems. Solids are not actually solid, and no matter how steady something seems, it is always in motion. In essence, everything we were so smug about knowing, may simply be an illusion of consciousness.
The concept is that 'energy is everything, and everything is energy'. We are all part of the Great ebb and flow, and as such are all interconnected. There is actually no 'you' or 'me', only 'us'. And that collective includes everything on the planet and throughout the universe as well.
Especially in light of this new information, the concept of living a purely secular life is almost comical. Not even 100 years ago, people scoffed at the idea of radio waves. Nobody but science-fiction writers could even conceive of modern marvels like the telephone (let alone cell phones), or television. Even today, many people have the distinct impression that the internet works by magic! To live a purely secular life would be saying, "there's nothing else out there. We know all there is to know". This is nothing more than intellectual self-gratification with a side order of bloated ego.
To fail to stand in awe of the ever unfolding wonders of the universe is nothing if not short-sighted. To think that there is nothing greater than us mere mortals is to be blind to the power of Nature. To think that the world exists to the extent of our senses is disproved on a regular basis. Many animals have sense abilities that far exceed our own. More to the point, if there is no higher power, then is everything simply chaos? Of course not. Chaos theory itself shows that given a broad enough perspective, even seemingly random elements correspond to a higher order.
This is a perfect example of the beautifully cyclical pattern of Nature. The more we know of science, the closer it brings us to faith. The secular belief that we are 'masters' of our world has been reduced to pompous ignorance. We are once again like 'babes in the wood' as the secular science we put on a pedestal no longer serves us. Scientists are now discovering what religious leaders and shaman have known for millennia. Physics is now proving metaphysics. Life is spiritual. The more we embrace this, the better we live. Anything else is meaningless illusion.
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