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The 77% Weekly
The 40/52-weeks-a-year, quick-reading, thought-lingering, spiritual-religious newsletter.

Religion-Outside-The-Box (rotb.org) is a donation supported not-for-profit empowering adults to find and be with (the) God (of their understanding).  

14/40
From the desk of Rabbi Brian

Religion?

If you are pressed for time and don’t have time to read all of today’s article,
skip the beginning and go
straight to the section towards the end entitled,
“What Real Religion Ought to Be.” — RB

There is no real, official history
as to the origin of religion. So, here’s my
version:

You are
in a cave. It’s raining. You are scared. Really scared.
Thunder.
Lightning. You
are terrified. Those with you huddled
around the fire are
also worried,
distressed, and anxious.

Someone
suggests asking the tree outside the cave for help;
since this
makes as much
sense as anything else, you do.

Together,
you beg the tree that seems unaffected by the
deluge to make
the water stop
pouring down from the sky.

And,
miraculously – or by coincidence (it’s hard to tell which)
– the rain
lets up.
The tree, it seems, helped.

As a
symbolic way of thanking the tree (and perhaps to curry
favor with
the tree in
the future) you place ashes from your
fire at its base. This both
nurtures the
tree and keeps you
remembering the importance of gratitude.

The next
time it rains, you know what to do.

Religion is born.

Note: As a reader of the ROTB newsletter, you probably already know this, but it bears repeating: There is a difference between religion
(connection with the holy) and organized

religion
(a set of goals and paths to the holy).
The easy way of spotting the difference is that the later includes  the word organized.
 

The view that the origins
of religion is based in totemism was
put
forth by 20th Century Polish anthropologist Bronisław Kasper
Malinowski.
He theorized that as societies mature, what once was
considered magic becomes
religion. He continued to say that what
once was considered religion becomes
science.

And, I think he is right.

I would also offer that
we live in society so removed from the
origins of religion that we frequently
lose sight of the magic
in our lives.

Religion Defined

From the short tale about
the tree above, we can learn what
religion is really about. Religion, when you
boil it down, is about
a goal and a path to that goal.

I know that might seem
too easy an answer, but it’s true.

·      
Religion = Path –> Goal

Religion is about a goal
and a path to that goal.

This is what people mean
when they say, “She exercises religiously.”
The goal is physical
fitness, the path is physical activity like
jogging or tennis or skiing.

And, right away we notice
something. There can be more than one
path to the same goal. If your goal is
physical fitness, you can
do many things to achieve it.

Moreover, let’s examine
the goal of physical fitness itself. For some
the goal of physical fitness is
bulking up and looking buff. For
others, the goal of physical fitness might be
having a healthy
heart. For others, the goal of physical fitness might be
flexibility.

Let me present an example
where (I think) the path and goal are
clear: this newsletter. The goal of The 77% Weekly is: “To
encourage
you to take your religious life into your own hands –
helping you create paths
and goals that fit your lifestyle – in
order to help you find and be with (the)
God (of your
understanding).” The path: “this e-newsletter of
something
spiritual-religious to think about, delivered 40/52 weeks a year.”

Now, let’s look go back
to examine the story of the rain and the
tree. The goal was “keeping it
from raining” and the path “pleading
with the tree.”

Or, the goal might be
“finding comfort” or “being less frightened.”

And, the path could be
“imagining results” or “petition prayer.”

You can begin to see how
what was at first simple, actually is
open to interpretation.

Triggers

There is one more element
we need to add to our definition that
religion is about a goal and a path to
that goal. We need to take
into account triggers.

Chronologically, a trigger
is the first element of any religious path
towards a goal. A trigger reminds
you of a path and points you
towards a goal. It’s what triggers you.

In our example about the tree,
the trigger could be the rain or
feeling the sense of fear.

Triggers are either sense
or time related. The former start with
sensations: seeing, hearing, etc. The
latter start with an event:
every new moon, at meal times, in winter, etc.

Almost anything can
qualify as a trigger event: picking up your
keys, touching money, getting into
bed, eating something larger
than the size of an egg, seeing a string you tied
to your finger,
April 15, the last Thursday of the month of November, turning
on a light switch, hearing a car horn, seeing a rainbow,
feeling a twitch in
your hand, knowing that the calendar says
Tuesday, being scared, etc.

So, to review, triggers
remind you of a path and point you towards
a goal.

Numinosity

Of course, the word
religion usually has something to do with the
numinous, which is just a fancy
word for “of or relating to holiness,
spirit, and/or God.”

So, using what we learned
above, the goal of religion – most
of the time – is connecting with the
numinous – or, as I like
to write it – connecting with (the) God (of your
understanding).

The paths (including the triggers)
to that goal will vary with
the individual.

What Real Religion Ought to Be

Jiddu Krishnamurti,
the 20th century writer and lecturer wrote in
1929, “I maintain that Truth
is a pathless land.”

How true. How true.

The paths and goals of
religion are quite illusive and difficult to
define.

Nonetheless, I am going
to offer some definitions that I like.
Hopefully they can help us remember the
goal of our spiritual-
religious lives.

Real religion is:

  • [Real religion
    is…] seeking the face of God, striving both to live in God’s
    presence and to
    be holy. Arthur Green

  • Real religion is
    surrender. Muhammad

  • [Real religion is…]
    recognizing our inherent connectedness
    and knowing that we belong to the drama
    of the universe. Larry Hoffman

  • False religion is about
    how to get to heaven and how to avoid hell… real
    religion is about how to get
    through life once you’ve been through hell.
    Author unknown

  • [Real religion is…] is not about self, but
    rather, about self-transcendence.
    Linda Thal

  • Real religion ought not
    shackle or limit people in their coming to an
    understanding of reality, God, or
    themselves; true religion sets people free.
    Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer

 

Now, try adding a few of your own statements or favorite
quotes.

Add your own:
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With love,

 

Rabbi Brian

The 77% Weekly


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