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Some Social Implications of Fundamentalism

What often is not well understood is how fundamentalism can shape society and entire civilisations by conditioning the economic and political structures in such a way that collective irresponsible behaviour becomes the norm which so many take for granted.

Present day materialism, which not only results in unnecessary suffering of millions but also endangers our entire planetary eco-system, is the result of both religious and scientific fundamentalism. An interesting insight can be obtained by looking at how orthodox religious and scientific ideas work at the level of an ordinary man, rather than a priest or a scientist. A scientist is usually an idealist who cares about the Earth, but the average person may not find that science inspires altruism. This is illustrated by interpreting the idea of the selfish gene to mean that we are meant to be selfish, even though Richard Dawkins advocates that we must rise above that which he only metaphorically calls the selfish gene - not literally! Similarly with religion, one can interpret religious doctrines in a very literal way and use these interpretations to guide ones actions and the sentiments that stem from them. However this attitude is not confined to the individual, but also conditions attitudes in business, political and even educational structures until our entire civilisation is enthralled in a matrix of illusion. However -

"The darkness of ages cannot shroud the glowing sun; the long kalpas of samsara cannot hide the minds brilliant light." ~ Mahamudra

In our encounters with people, we hear many opinions that sometimes are an expression of fundamentalism in both implicit and explicit forms. Many times we find ourselves having to question these opinions as we begin to realise that we are not just arguing with another person but with an entire system of thought or the entire collective that somehow is talking with powerful energy through the individual in front of us.

There are two major theological fundamentalisms that happen to fuel the materialism we live in, these are: religious fundamentalism and an ideology called mechanistic materialism, which pretends to stand for science. Without going too deeply into why philosophical materialism may not necessarily be an unsound theory of reality, it has to be stressed that mechanistic materialism, which postulates that matter is inanimate, is in utter contradiction with the real world where life, consciousness and feelings do exist even though they cannot be derived from physics and mathematics which only perceives the world in terms of inanimate entities.

In this analysis, our attention is directed towards the impact of fundamentalism upon our culture. In the examples below, we can see the usual rationalisations from these two major types of fundamentalism as well as the possible responses from a spiritual viewpoint. Note that the use of the word God in the esoteric outlook below is to denote Spirit and the One Life - hence it is not equivalent to a theological notion of God. These dialogues are here for illustration only and in no way attempt to limit or over-define any particular philosophical outlook.

Mechanistic Materialism
(some rationalisations)

Esoteric outlook
(possible response)

Man only lives once, therefore I must survive and compete to get satisfaction - earth resources are limited. After all, the genes are selfish and I am only following human nature.

Man is a reincarnating soul; hence quality of life is more important than mere survival. If everything in Nature would only compete, the world would break apart into chaos; cooperation is more essential than competition - even genes must have realised this by now.

Since there is neither God nor Karma, what does it matter if I am good or bad? Morality is only a cultural construct.

There is karma, and whatever we do to others we do it to ourselves, for others are an aspect of ourselves. Our actions define what we are, they liberate or imprison us, and in the fullness of time we will have to resolve all actions which have limited our or someone elses creative potential.
One might not be able to prove if there is a God, but there is Love.

If the world continues like this, in 50 years this planet will become so polluted that our children will not be able to live, but it is their problem Ill be dead by then anyway

Generally, one keeps reincarnating on the same planet. Who would like to reincarnate on a polluted toxic planet?
We like to say that we love our children, if so, shouldnt we provide them with a healthy planet?

Imagine we go mad and blow up this planet with our Nuclear Arsenal. Well how sad that will be, but we will be all dead and death is nothingness, so I wont know a thing.

Nobody ever ceases to exist; if we destroy the earth the human souls would have to reincarnate on a planet with extremely bad living conditions. Humanity would inherit such bad karma and such a deep sense of guilt that it would take aeons of suffering to recover to where we are now.

Criminals, homeless and poor people - well something must be wrong with their genes, they are either mental or lazy.

Everybody is our brother and sister, a soul in incarnation, an aspect of us. Everybody should be helped and cared for. Sharing and solidarity is what makes us truly human.

There is nothing wrong in exploiting others - I have a bigger brain.

Nature and people respond to our beliefs and attitudes on all levels, so we will be treated as we treat others. By diminishing anothers quality of life we inevitably ruin our own future.


Orthodox Religion
(some rationalisations)

Esoteric Outlook
(possible response)

People of different religions than ours are not blessed and are not as worthy of life in this world as we are. We are special, for we interpret the holy scriptures correctly while others do not.

What kind of cosmic all-wise God would value people by their labels, e.g. Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or sceptic? Should not God judge people by their hearts and deeds, rather than by the naive doctrines they hold? Besides, all beings are sons and daughters of God, for everyone has an immortal soul. A good religion is made up of those people who are true to their divine soul and have compassion for all.

Though people of a different tribe, nationality or race to ours can belong to the same religion as we do, they are not as good or as godly as we are. God is English!

Maybe one should take some pride in ones identity, but it should not be forgotten that everybody is a unique representation of God or the Universe and therefore special.

Bad people will be punished and destroyed by the almighty God. So there is nothing wrong with taking this into our own hands and punish or destroy the bad guys whoever they might be even if it means destroying entire countries. They, the bad guys, they are evil, while we are good and righteous.

In the process of reincarnation everybody makes mistakes and accumulates bad karma, but mistakes can be corrected. So nobody will ever be destroyed, just delayed in his evolution. Since everybody is our brother and sister and we are all connected, we should show some compassion for those who make mistakes and not be too quick to judge out of fear or hurt.

Since there are many bad guys in the world it is prudent to have a more powerful army than anybody else.

This black and white division of good and evil creates an unnatural tension, which results in aggressiveness. Governments easily spend billions on arms, but their hearts cannot part with much money when they are asked to improve medical care or education. In such a dualistic good/evil world people are too macho, too combative to have enough sensitivity for female stuff such as quality of life.
If governments want to create a safe world then they should base it on trust among nations and will good - this can be helped by contemplating the idea that we all share the same divine nature expressed in a unique way.

This planet has fallen; it is populated by too many sinners. What is the point in fighting for a better world, equality and justice when such a world can never be achieved? A competitive and cruel capitalism is the best we are able to have at the moment. God will change this when the time comes.

Our planet provides us with a stage for our evolution. We are the ones who have to do the evolving. No gods, no angels, no Jesus Christs, no extraterrestrials can live our lives for us or come and make it nice for everybody. If change is to be made then it has to be done using our own initiative by our free choice. Better, more just human relationships will help create a society where people can express their greater creative potential - this is the natural course of evolution. Evolution is about self-expression and self-realisation, and society as a whole reflects this process.

God is all-powerful, and at the end of the world when all sinners are purged from existence, He will restore this planet to an ecologically perfect state with the snap of His fingers. There is no use in struggling too much for better environmental policies now.

If divine beings could solve our problems for us we would still be like little babies immature and dependent. The world is like this because we make it so, and though there might be spiritual beings that can help us, they have to respect our free will and wait for us to do the major part in cleaning and improving the environment.
It is our planet, our choice, our evolution who could possibly save us from ourselves?

Gold represents godliness, so get as much as you can. If not gold then money, it is always more pleasant to pray in a rich and safe environment. Poor and homeless people? Well they must be lazy, or God is testing their faith.

Yes, material richness is good, but why not help everybody enjoy it when there are enough resources on Earth? Why do some have castles while many have nothing? We are all a spiritual family and by realising this truth and feeling it in our hearts, we can share the wealth of the world never casting anybody out.

This all above sounds inhuman to you?
Well, you dont think you can understand the ways of God, do you?

If there is a God then mans reason derives from Gods reason. A God who behaves as many religious people describe would be rather mad. So, is an image of such a God a projection of our own sentiments?