R is for Religion, Reality, Relativity and Randomnity
R = Religion, Mythology, Metaphysics and the Occult.
THEOLOGY & PRACTICES
Religion, sacred engagement with that which is believed to be a spiritual reality. Religion is a worldwide phenomenon that has played a part in all human culture and is a much broader, more complex category than the beliefs or practices of any single religious tradition. An understanding of religion must take into account its distinctive qualities and patterns as a form of human experience, as well as the similarities and differences in religions across human cultures. In all cultures, human beings make a practice of interacting with what are taken to be spiritual powers. These powers may be in the form of gods, spirits, ancestors, or any kind of sacred reality with which humans believe themselves to be connected. People interact with such a presence in a sacred manner-that is, with reverence and care.
Religion is not an object with a single, fixed meaning, but rather an aspect of human experience that intersects, incorporates, or transcends other aspects of life and society. It is a part of individual life and group dynamics that includes patterns of behavior, language, and thought. It assumes innumerable cultural forms.
History of Religious Study
The first recorded Western attempts to understand religious phenomena were made by the Greeks and Romans. The systematic study of religions, however, did not emerge until the late 19th century. The groundwork was laid in the three preceding centuries, as Western knowledge of other cultures increased dramatically through trade and exploration. Beginning in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the scriptures of many non-Western traditions were translated and published, and archaeological excavations revealed new features of previously obscure religions. In the mid-19th century, German scholar Friedrich Max Müller undertook a critical, historically based investigation of world religious traditions. Soon scholars were making religion an object of systematic inquiry and posing basic questions about the origin and development of religious ideas.
Religious life reflects an individual’s attempt to live in accordance with the precepts of a religious tradition and is given form both by social traditions and personal experience. In addition, mythic language and ritual serve as a focus for religious experience. French sociologist Émile Durkheim proposed that the basic distinguishing mark of religion is the existence of sacred objects, symbols, and beliefs that must be preserved from violation because they represent the traditions and moral values of the community. A different approach, emphasizing individual experience, was developed by German theologian Rudolf Otto, who argued that the experience of spiritual power is the distinctive core of religiousness. Such experience is marked by a sense of awe in the face of the mysterious other reality that dramatically intersects humanity’s limited, vulnerable existence.
For many people, religion is best understood at the level of individual spiritual life. American philosopher and psychologist William James documented hundreds of cases in which individuals reported that they had experienced contact with something divine or transcendent and that their lives had been changed decisively, often by sudden and unsolicited experiences of spiritual unity or insight. Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade emphasized that religious people experience the ordinary world as a sacred place. For Eliade, mythology provides powerful accounts of the actions of gods and founders and the guidelines they set down for human life, while ritual times and places create opportunities to come into contact with the sacred.
Patterns in Religious Life
Most religious systems are organized around certain past events and models that are preserved in carefully maintained oral traditions or sacred writings. Religions provide for continual renewal by setting aside special times for observances that celebrate and display their fundamental commitments and that intensify and renew the spiritual memory of their followers. Religions not only create sacred times, they also establish special places that localize the sacred in ordinary space. These may be places of natural beauty, sites that commemorate religious events of the past, locations where spiritual appearances are believed to have occurred, or shrines and temples built to house the gods or their symbols.
Religious cultures generally ascribe spiritual significance to all parts of their worlds. Through ritual, each major change in life is incorporated into the domain of the sacred. Many religions have detailed rules of purity that bear on every aspect of behavior. In this way, the religious reality is acknowledged to be the true and proper basis of all life. Religious cultures provide their members with established, patterned ways of interacting with spiritual beings. Perhaps the most widely practiced forms are prayer, offerings and sacrifices, purification and penance, and worship. The gods, in turn, are believed to make their will, power, or presence known to humans in a variety of ways. Relationship with the divinity can also be expressed in terms of moral behavior, by adhering to precepts for conduct and standards of spiritual life.
Ritual is a form of communication in its own right. Rituals involve performance and symbolic actions, displayed in a tangible, visible way. They have the power to focus experience and intensify the sense of the sacred. Some religions use rituals to great effect, while others assign them a lesser role. Where ritual is central, there is usually a priesthood (see Priest). Religions differ in their use of images. Some religions prohibit images of God. But images of holy persons or of the deity are important objects of veneration in many religions (see Idolatry). Religions typically hold that human beings have a higher nature that exists in tension with a lower nature. Religions offer ways to redeem the former from the latter. All the historic religions address the need for individual holiness in some form and can point to saints, mystics, or spiritual exemplars who embody the ideals of their traditions.
Religion in the Modern World
Modernity has posed challenges to traditional religions, and for many people in modern societies, religion is simply irrelevant. These challenges to religion are partly a result of the prestige of science, which describes a universe without reference to deities, the soul, or spiritual meaning. Other factors include the presentation of religion as superstitious thinking, as a source of political control, as a confirmation of established patriarchal values, or as an emotional crutch. Another influence has been the loss of community and social commitment that has followed in the wake of an increasingly mobile society.
Despite all these factors, religion has been kept alive by adaptation to secular values, by the repositioning of conservative religion in direct opposition to secular values, and by the emergence of new movements that respond to contemporary needs. In many instances, religion has been able to adapt to modernity by accommodating the diversity of contemporary culture. For all its challenges to traditional religious identity, modernity has at the same time created new spiritual opportunities. Thousands of new religious movements emerged around the world in the 20th century, offering alternative forms of community to people otherwise removed from past associations and disenchanted with modern values.
It is of course the words and symbols that are not defined anywhere which I suppose is the constant reference to being trained in what all this means before the cryptic text can be adequately understood. I am not seeking special or mysterious powers or mysticisms anymore. Life itself being existence creation consciousness such as it appears to me is an utterly amazing experience and nothing more is really necessary to appreciating it other than increasing my understanding of these things.
I have run into many references to ac’s work and I desire to understand as best I can what I am reading ofit. But there is always the questions of personal responsibility as a political or moral compulsion that one is expected or required to participate with contributions to the common good and the progress of our race; or that we must adequately exchange for all that we have benefitted from others. So this too is a critical concern and part of my process.
I have had the opportunity (with a few pitfalls along the way here and there) to follow my instincts, curiosities and leadings as a natural way of life. A major part of that being study, research, trial and error, participation with various groups and activities and ever increasing my experience, understanding, and acumulating wisdom. It is my concern to share and pass that on as best I can to posterity. This is my purpose and I believe that it is as said “being on purpose” that is who I really am and the meaning and purpose of my life and which guides my way. I cannot imagine a better one, although I have made my fair share of mistakes along this way – it is still working.
I need some glossary/index for understanding ac’s writings if such is available and not too “circular” or cryptic to grasp without “special” studies. The main source of mystery in this world in my experience boils down to this paradox of not understanding or misunderstanding words and symbols. Once those are cleared up there is no more mystery!
In the special case of the prophets (such as….list….) who are designated as messengers of the gods – the medium of such communications must be understood in terms of the prophets reality/context of the times, culture and personal experience.
Abstractions=Technology=the “artificial” inventions/creations
The prophet’s mind is/was conditioned to their times. That the gods or “et’s” would communicate something to human beings in this way comes as no surprise to me now as I have studied this phenomenon intensely and have had my own run ins with this type of experience. The telepathic mode of communication involves and invokes mental images and impressions that the prophet must necessarily interpret or translate into the reality and language culture of his times and according to what is experientially “real” to them personally. Compare our technology and language culture of today – the artificial creations and images would be quite incomprehensible to someone living a thousand years ago. So too it would be with the et’s messages coming from a context so much more advanced beyond even our own today.
The story/movie “At First Sight” comes to mind…..
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist.
Philosophers, mathematicians, and others ancient and modern such as Aristotle, Plato, Frege, Wittgenstein, Russell etc., have made a distinction between thought corresponding to reality, coherent abstractions, and that which cannot even be rationally thought. By contrast existence is often restricted solely to that which has physical existence or has a direct basis in it in the way that thoughts do in the brain.
Reality is often contrasted with what is imaginary, delusional, (only) in the mind, dreams, what is abstract, what is false, or what is fictional. The truth refers to what is real, while falsity refers to what is not. Fictions are considered not real.
Reality, world views, and theories of reality
A common colloquial usage would have reality mean “perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes toward reality,” as in “My reality is not your reality.” This is often used just as a colloquialism indicating that the parties to a conversation agree, or should agree, not to quibble over deeply different conceptions of what is real. For example, in a religious discussion between friends, one might say (attempting humor), “You might disagree, but in my reality, everyone goes to heaven.”
Reality can be defined in a way that links it to world views or parts of them (conceptual frameworks): Reality is the totality of all things, structures (actual and conceptual), events (past and present) and phenomena, whether observable or not. It is what a world view (whether it be based on individual or shared human experience) ultimately attempts to describe or map.
Certain ideas from physics, philosophy, sociology, literary criticism, and other fields shape various theories of reality. One such belief is that there simply and literally is no reality beyond the perceptions or beliefs we each have about reality. Such attitudes are summarized in the popular statement, “Perception is reality” or “Life is how you perceive reality” or “reality is what you can get away with” (Robert Anton Wilson), and they indicate anti-realism – that is, the view that there is no objective reality, whether acknowledged explicitly or not.
Many of the concepts of science and philosophy are often defined culturally and socially. This idea was elaborated by Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). The Social Construction of Reality a book about the sociology of knowledge written by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann was published in 1966.