In a recent post I decried Atheism, or the way that some approach it, for being absolute. However, as Cheryl reminded me, atheism or no faith does no necessarily equate to anything absolute, but rather the opposite.
My scattered thoughts emerged from ideas that have been brewing for a while.
At one point I would have considered myself an atheist of the sort I was describing – anti-religion, and this lead me to oppose many concepts. To me, the biggest problem with religion was reflected in our general detachment as a society. As a youth I could not believe our disinterest in mortality, in the moment, in our discomforts and insecurities. Now, I have a better understanding of how we become inured and conditioned to consent, to participate and produce.
Later, I reread a small tome on Zen, by DT Suzuki, who I will be posting much more of as I am having a bit of a personal Zen revival with the book The Gospel According to Zen. He spoke very deeply to my personal philosophy and direction in life. He adduced adherents of both Christian faith and Western philosophy, and in a way opened my mind to the notion that there is truth in all religions and approaches. Gandhi furthered this understanding by stating that the West indeed believes in God, but calls it Truth instead, a particularly Western insistence.
A friend led me to the notion of New Sincerity and compromise, which I then researched deeper especially through David Harvey and Frederic Jameson’s studies on postmodernism. Obama reinforced many of these notion by speaking sincerely, and compromised not so much in his ideas but his rhetoric. After that I began to question atheism, or any label for that matter, and realized that many “liberals” and “atheists” that I once considered very noble also mistaken, submitting to division and the superiority of understanding. Rationality is important, but cannot supercede our feelings, or shared experience, or justice and unity. Perception and logic must harmonize.
The Gospel According to Zen has deepened my understanding – that is where the Fromm essays came from. It contains also many quotes from the Gospel of Thomas, which is the most important dead sea scroll and the topic of at least a couple future posts.
The book most importantly opened my mind to a wonderful concept Satori which I think will be very useful for Active Philosophy.
Fromm’s definition of religion – A Religious Man – is delightful. It reminds me very much of the great American enlightenment thinkers and later the transcendentalists. In this sense Active Philosophy is absolutely a religious concern; focus on our own nexus of perception, concerned with the soul and its fickle nature – bearing positive implications for society and organic potential. It demands discipline, but with levity and clarity.