I wrote the gist of this in a virtual forum, in response to a question addressed to me. One fellow member on the list replied : ” It must be one of your dumb days. This is making little sense to me.”
I was not surprised, even though I know him to be a fine, truthful man. None of that helps in parsing the science of our being. Its too vast, deep and infinitely subtle. And it needs a language with defined terms to map and expose the phenomena that happens without notice, that is inexpressedly more simple and unimaginably more free. The literary language or the one we use to present the physical sciences just prove far too inadequate to express it.
The question was about religion, symbols, rituals and ceremonies, and their utility to modern man. Here’s a summary of the post I had made in response :
To speak of “humans” is to bring into consideration unimaginable diversity with various analog measures of essentially three qualifying natures in our capacity and drive –
Tamas (T) : Inertia… dullness, sloth, stillness, unwillingness, regression, darkness, heaviness … Best symbolised by a rock and represented by a sloth.
With its predominance, the individual being is naturally aligned with id – ego.
Rajas (R) : Disposed to move and act… drive, curiosity, vitality, desire, daring, strength, power … Best symbolised by the boiling cauldron and represented by higher animals especially in heat and lust. alpha behaviour … aligned with ego – the vital mind.
Sattva (S) : Filled with calm… balance, freedom, focus, awareness, knowledge, light … aligned with superego – the bliss intellect.
The way these natures determine us —
I Long Term and Overall, by proportion of their nature in our being – drive and capacity to inform.
II Occasioned In Time, with the power to predominate over others at any one point in time.
For instance, a person with 70 : 15 :10 proportion of T-R-S combo would be lazy overall; but at a time when his vitality is on the flare, he will show unexpectedted zeal. Or, when his calm nature predominates, he will be surprisingly awake and receptive.
To answer the question at the start :
ALL things are useful and can become a means for our self-improvement as aid to memory, focus to gather ourselves around, activity to engage in so as to free our self from our own ill-thoughts and predispositions, and lay out a process to build up our concentration and conserve our vitality.
In particular, most people have a need of symbols and myths… a form to see, remember or imagine, in order to conceive of that which is intangible. Geometry uses a lot of it for space. The idols in temples or god-persons of yore are a means of reminding us of ourselves, beyond the piggish, mulish or cocky self we take on in our occasioned lives.
Rituals and ceremonies engage us, our vitality and mind, to a particular emotion or thought in our spirit. Armed forces in every military regularly make use of this form of engagement to keep the men anchored to certain values.
Ethics and morals are extremely intangible and tenuous matters internal to us. In addition, they are difficult to carry and institute in ourselves, to ensure we do not lose it in the heat of the moments. It is so much easier to be willful, to give ourselves away, or indulge.
Religion, as I was introduced to, was more in the way of propping us up by morals and ethics, beauty and happiness, compassion and freedom.
Once the the overall nature is transformed into being calm especially when needed, into being limpid, upholding our ethics and morals … religion is not of much use nor are the symbols and rituals needed.
Going by what I see in the news, however, and generally in life, that time is not yet come for most people on this planet. We need to build the capacity to remain steadfast in our self, in order to outgrow religion, its symbols and practices.
It takes the making of a new man to shed what served a purpose to the earlier being. Everything religious is mere superstition, really, but only to one who has woken up to his own power to choose and be responsible. It is foolhardy and impetuous of us to merely deny it before we are ready and resourceful enough within ourself.
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote Zarathustra in this urgent context …