The New Mindscape #12–8.
It’s time to look back at the journey we took in The New Mindscape.
At the beginning of The New Mindscape, I talked about the Human Operating System.
Your Operating system is the interface between your mind and your body, between yourself and society, between you and the world.
It’s what allows you to coordinate all of your powers and to function in the world. It’s also what allows the members of society to coordinate with each other.
A defective or broken Operating System can’t coordinate and interface. It connects some powers, functions, or elements in…
The New Mindscape #12–7.
How can we avoid the distortion of religion?
How can we avoid the corruption of religion by political forces?
How can we avoid divisions and conflicts associated with religion?
How can we build a healthy relationship between science and religion?
What is a healthy relationship between religion and spirituality?
One answer to these questions is simply to eliminate religion, or to restrict it as much as…
The New Mindscape #12–5.
I have been to Israel a number of times. A few times, I went to Jerusalem, which is the most holy place in the world for Jews and Christians, and the third most holy place in the world for Muslims. It is a highly sacred place for three of the world’s largest religions. There is a place called the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where the Temple of the Jews — their most holy sanctuary — was destroyed 2000 years ago. The only thing that remains of the holy temple of the Jewish people is this Wall…
The New Mindscape #12–6.
The Second Axial Age
Karen Armstrong and other scholars have claimed that the period we now live in could be called the “Second Axial Age”. Armstrong stated that
All over the world, people are struggling with these new conditions and have been forced to reassess their religious traditions, which were designed for a very different type of society. They are finding that the old forms of faith no longer work for them; they cannot provide the enlightenment and consolation that human beings seem to need. As a result, men and women are trying to find new…
The New Mindscape #12–4.
Another response to the crisis of religion is extreme individualism. When people are bombarded with so many philosophies and ideas, some people just stop thinking. They may acquire a sense of meaninglessness — exposed to so many different worldviews and systems of belief, people just give up on all of them, and live in their own, individual world. Or they may compose their own, totally private and individual spirituality. “I believe whatever I choose to believe, and nobody has the authority to tell me what to believe or not. I will just construct my own personal…
The New Mindscape #12–3
Responses to the crisis of religion
Since the late 20th century and up till today, the firm faith in materialism and modernisation has been subjected to doubt. Some people say we are entering a “post-materialist” era. Many people don’t want to be materialist any more. But if not materialist, then what?
“Post-secularism” is another term used by some scholars. Although we have become a secularised society, we don’t believe so deeply in secularisation any more. As a result, there is more and more search for spirituality, and religions are becoming more popular.
But this is not…
Is it even materially sustainable?
The New Mindscape #12–2.
In modern times, materialism had in a sense become the substitute faith: people believe in money, as if money were their god. Governments believe that economic development is the most important thing, above anything else: whether as an individual or as a society, the most important thing is to get rich and to assure one’s physical survival. Once that is assured, you are free to believe in whatever you want — whether it’s Santa Claus, God, or nothing. …
The New Mindscape 12–1
In The New Mindscape #11–2, I discussed how through the centuries, the religious traditions and institutions associated with the axial figures, such as Jesus, Mohammad and the Buddha, gradually became completely embedded into the socio-political structures of their societies, and into the social divisions of different societies.
Thus, by the 17th century, the world’s Axial religions had lost the “revolutionary”, innovative and critical edge that had characterised them at their origins. As Karl Marx commented, “Religion is the opium of the people” — by the 19th century, it only offered spiritual solace to the poor and…
The New Mindscape #11–2.
In The New Mindscape #11–1, I wrote about the critical self-reflexivity made possible by the Axial figures. But in spite of that, their teachings gradually became social conventions within the religious traditions — Confucianism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and so on. They became traditions that people merely followed out of habit or self-interest. Gradually, new ideas, interpretations and practices evolved that had little in common with the original teachings.
Later on, some people within those traditions started to criticise these customs and ideas, that often had little to do with the teachings of the Founding figure…
The New Mindscape #11–1.
The famous sociologist Robert Bellah, in his book Religion and Human Evolution, introduced four modalities of knowing — the unitive, the enactive, the symbolic and the conceptual. According to Bellah, each of these four modalities of knowing appeared at different stages in human evolution.
The unitive modality refers to a sense of oneness and undifferentiation between self, other, and cosmos. If we look at the history of humanity, it would be impossible to know when the unitive modality first appeared. The enactive modality of knowledge refers to knowledge that is enacted ritually, through the…
I’m an anthropologist who’s passionate about exploring different realities. I write about spirituality, religion, and worldmaking.