Saturday, December 22, 2007


According to Yoga philosophy, Dharma (sometimes translated as 'religion' but by no means the same thing) is an innate sense of morality, it is something built into human beings. It cannot be abolished without abolishing humanity itself. It is a huge part of what makes individuals and societies human.
It is easy to sympathise with Richard Dawkins and other scientists who are justifiably fed up with the irrational bigotry and deluded literalism peddled by most religious organisations. But perhaps rather than trying to abolish religion, Science should strive to discriminate that which is innate in religion from that which is an accretion of prejudices, that which has its origin in the Self from that which has been imposed on it. If scientists want to proscribe belief altogether they should practise what they preach and take doubt to it's logical conclusion, they should practise vichara (the yoga practice of stripping away everything that is not the Self through doubt/rejection of sense impressions/thoughts). There are so many fundamental things we all take on faith without evidence - eg. that individual selves exist, that time and space exist.
Perhaps there are good arguments for scrapping religion altogether and starting from scratch to discover our innate morality, but are we going to give up the culture which is intertwined inextricably with it? Are we going to toss out the baby of Bach, Michelangelo, or Blake, with the bathwater of the inquisitions, crusades, etc? These artists - prolific generators of culture - may have disagreed with the prevailing religious attitudes of their times but they were also deeply devoted to God (to the ideal of universal Selfhood).

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