Throwing flowers at the Ego: finding the heart of religion

Recently I was poking around on wordpress.com (the new home for the blogsite) and checking out other blogs about religion.  The introduction to the ‘blogs about’ section on wordpress.com for ‘religion’ has the following statement of purpose:

One of the many gods and goddesses the ancient Aztecs of Mexico worshipped was Cihuacoatl. Her temple was dedicated to soldiers and mothers who died in childbirth, which makes sense — both are warriors, in their own way. While the world’s most common religions tend to get most of the media’s attention (often for political or even violent reasons), the diversity and creativity of human spirituality is incredibly challenging to suppress. Our beliefs form our identities; therefore, we hang on tenaciously.

I like the emphasis on ‘identity formation’ as a core concern for what constitutes religious faith, but the emphasis on human beings is what I find increasingly troubling.  I mean, is the only reason (even the primary reason) that people have a religious faith is to figure out who WE are?

I suppose this brings us back to Immanuel Kant and his grand reversal of the subject – object.   Prior to Kant, human beings were the object of consideration of God what is the subject of all things – that which gives and sustains meaning.  Kant argued (rather successfully) that this the roles are reversed:  we as human beings are the subject that consider and ultimately sustain the reality of objects in the world of which God is one such ‘object’.  In this way, as with the definition above, we ‘hang tenaciously to the objects such as ‘God’ only for the sake of our so-called identity.   I just think there is more to it than that.  Sure, I am as much an egotist as the new person, but I have been awakened to a world much larger than myself and certainly larged than I can adequately reason and ‘even imagine’.

In the Hindu scriptures, there is a wonderful story of  the demon of egotism (Mamāsura) who had attacks Gaṇeśa Vighnarāja (the elephant headed God familiar to many).  In order to defend and overcome the onslaught of Mamāsura, Gaṇeśa Vighnarāja throws his lotus blossom at him. Unable to bear the fragrance of the divine flower, the demon surrenders to Gaṇeśa.

Perhaps we need to ‘consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air’ (Matthew 6: 25-33) as Jesus suggested in the Sermon of the Mount. a bit more time outside of OUR heads and perhaps we can realize that who WE are isnt nearly as important nor foundational as we think.

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