The human society has been running on fumes – the fumes of pleasure, reward, gratification and charm. And while walking on this illustrious path, they have constructed illustrious ideals without thinking about their practicality and actual implications in the society and have tried their best to stand up for those ideals, despite the fact that these so-called ideals have nothing to do with genuine everyday human existence whatsoever. On this disorderly path of delusions, humanity has organized its religions – it has developed its methods of education – and to watch over all these structures, it has developed its so-called governments on an illustrious ideal of democracy. Democracy – that is what it’s called, when a huge population of sapiens are made to think that they are competent enough to choose the individual or individuals who would essentially be in control of their lives in the society.
Democracy is supposed to be a system of government constructed by the people, for the people. Now here is the question? Do people really construct the government! Democracy of today’s society is dictatorship without the bitterness. At the current mental maturity of the human species, democracy is as barbarian and degrading as dictatorship – it just doesn’t feel that way, because of the illusory sense of control. Please don’t freak out or think of me as anti-democratic. I am not anti-anything, except anti-fundamentalism and anti-sectarianism. We are just beginning our journey of investigating the actual implications of the so-called system of democracy upon the human society. And this is not going to be a criticism of democracy. I despise criticism, because it brings out no positive outcome in the society, but only makes one waste time and energy. Criticisms and revolt do not solve a thing, what does, in actuality, not in theory, is awareness of the reality. And the reality is democracy can be effective, productive and progressive only in a society where people live with the awareness of the self, beyond the labels of traditions and ideologies. But in the current mental state of the human society, though superior to tyranny in terms of comfort of the masses, democracy is actually inferior to dictatorship, because of its hypocrisy and its manipulative nature.
Join Dr. Alise Cortez and Abhijit Naskar on Voice America Radio as they have a delicious conversation on “How understanding Neuroscience can improve our lives“.
Today we are going to talk about perhaps the most significant element of human existence – the most significant part of human life – that is religion. You know about religion – you have heard about religion – perhaps you have been taught by your traditions to be religious in a certain manner through various rituals and various methods – yet all those rituals and methods vary throughout the world – they are not exactly universal – yet they talk about something universal – they talk about something ultimate – they talk about reaching an ultimate truth. All of the so-called advocates of religion talk about different religions being different paths to the same truth. I’m afraid they are not exactly right on this – they are partially right. I wonder whether they have any idea of what religion really is!
Now before we continue I need to ask you something – I need to ask you to at least try to turn all those predominant ideas, notions and perceptions about religion off, because none of my statements is going to make sense if you try to find meaning in them by using your own predominant perceptions, notions, ideas, thoughts and opinions about religion. Traditions throughout the world have distorted religion – they have dismantled the very fundamental basis of religion – they have distorted it to such an extent that today’s humans deem rituals, orthodoxy, dogmas, doctrines, set of ideals, beliefs, imaginations, illusions, prejudices and stereotypes to be synonymous with religion. As a result the whole world is being burnt in the fire of religious violence. Perhaps most of the terrible violence on planet earth are actually occurring in the name of religion – it’s not my opinion – you know it as well as I do.
Now one wonders why? Let’s go deeper into this why. It is because, apparently devout religious people think by standing true to their own dogmas, traditions, orthodoxy, beliefs, ideals and set of doctrines, they are actually walking on the path of right religion. But that’s not right religion – that’s precisely the wrong religion – be it Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or anything else. Any religion that has to do with dogmas and doctrines, and does not evolve with time is only the most immature form of religion – it’s only the most barbarian form of religion. Now I’m not specifying any religion. I’m not going to say Christianity is barbarian – Islam is barbarian – Hinduism is barbarian. You can look at it yourself – we don’t need to conclude anything – we don’t need to belittle one religion and glorify another. All religions one way or another have committed great evils because they wanted to stand true to their doctrines – because they held their doctrines and dogmas to be more significant, valuable and holier than life itself. This has caused immense bloodshed.
So, now we must inquire – what is religion? The term religion means to unite – it refers to something that unites all of us. Now let’s look at it – don’t conclude – don’t be hasty please! I urge to you – don’t be hasty – let’s think over it – what is it that makes us unite! Is it our dogmas! No – because various regions of the world have their own unique dogmas – they have their own doctrines – they have their own scriptures – and because all of those scriptures came from humans, (yes they came from humans – no God gave them to humans – humans created the scriptures) all those scriptures have both good and bad elements just like their creators the humans do – we all have good and bad elements in us.
So books, scriptures, dogmas and doctrines cannot – just cannot – unify humanity. They can unify the humans of a certain region, which was probably the feasible and productive thing to do in the ancient times when humanity was not a global species, but now we have advanced a lot – we have come a long way since our ancient times. When we were barbarians, we needed to stay in groups, but that’s called “tribalism” which proved effective in the jungle – in the desert, but now is it necessary? Since, this tribalism is no longer necessary, why should we just give it a pompous name such as “religion” or “nationalism” and glorify it – and be proud of something like that – which is basically an over-glorified tribalism!
So what makes us unite – the whole humanity – not just a group of people thinking that they’re modern yet in their mind they’re so barbarian and foolish that they want to stay cooped up in their tiny little tribes! Humanism makes us unite – humanism as in the quality of being human – the fusion of all human elements – goodness, kindness, empathy, sympathy, love, compassion, strength of the mind and all these vivacious fundamental elements of civilized humanity – these are the elements that unify us – these are the elements that unite all humanity and these are the elements that can – that do – and that will – construct the foundation of right religion. That religion has no label – it’s not a Christian religion – it’s not a Jewish religion – it’s not a Muslim religion – it’s not a Hindu religion – it’s just the religion of humanity – “humanity” which is defined and unified by one quality, that is being human. And being human is the right religion – it doesn’t need any name – it doesn’t need any label – it doesn’t need any over-glorified title of an uncivilized barbarian tribalism. Being human is what makes us a civilized species and being human is our religion – the religion of whole humanity.
Neuroscientist, Author and Speaker Abhijit Naskar addresses the world on Peace and Harmony.
You know what humanity is best at! It is best at distorting stuff – distorting thoughts, ideas, and more specifically words. Among these distorted words lie terms like religion, philosophy, science, faith, and others. But the one term that we are interested in, in this piece, is the term “humanism”. Humanism is next in the line of distorted words, right after the word “religion”. To be very articulate in brief – the terms “humanism” and “religion” are essentially one and the same thing, yet a whole so-called human lifetime is not enough for most humans to actually fathom this simple mortal revelation. Most humans neurotically perceive religion to be the system of following doctrines and humanism to be a pompous philosophy of the intellectuals.
In reality, religion is not a system of following doctrines at all. If anything, it is about not following any doctrine and finding out things for yourself. And, humanism is no more a philosophy than love is. Love is not a philosophy, neither is humanism. In fact, if we go underneath the layers of words and labels, we would see that love is essentially plain, ordinary, everyday humanism – it is as simple as that – there is nothing more for me to tell you about humanism. I don’t really intend to tell you anything about humanism in this piece. Rather, let’s find out together, what humanism is not.
For starters, it’s not a pompous philosophy or an ideology for a bunch of people to discuss over a cup of coffee. As I have said in “Principia Humanitas”:
“Humanism is not a pompous philosophy to be talked and debated about by a handful of intellectuals – it is the purest form of moral compass, which defines the civilized heart of thinking humanity.”
Humanism simply means to be human. Now you may wonder, what does “to be human” even mean! Does it mean you need to wear a specific sophisticated label that makes you appear as a smart and over-glorified intellectual! Does it mean, you need to talk sense all the time! Does it mean, you stop believing in anything that does not fit your ship-shape limited logical perception! Does it mean, that you have to be the smartest person in the group and make more sense somehow than all others around you! Does it mean, you have to be a so-called non-believer or atheist, and have to defend that atheism, at all costs, like the religious fundamentalists do with their own beliefs and delusions, above all humane fundamentals!
Let me go straight ahead and say it – No. You don’t need to do any of it – as in, none of it – you don’t even have to call yourself a so-called humanist – because most of the so-called humanists are not actually advocating actual qualities of being human, rather they are advocating radical rationalism – radical logicality. One recent incident comes to my mind in this context – it is their support for corporations that forbid their muslim employees to wear a hijab at work-place. Full-body burqa with niqab that covers the whole face of a woman, may surely be a sign of uncivilized cultural barbarianism, because it basically exudes a clear implication of segregation against all humans, but not a simple hijab, which is basically a scarf that one wears around the head. So, advocacy of banning basic cultural elements, is not a sign of progress or being human. This kind of radical attitude may not look as immediately dangerous as radical fundamentalism does, but, it is nevertheless, as harmful as that. In fact, radical rationalism is nothing but atheistic fundamentalism or logical fundamentalism. As I have said in “Principia Humanitas”:
“Fundamentalism of any kind, be it religious, atheistic, political or educational, is the greatest threat to human excellence – it is a threat to progress – it is a threat to greatness.”
The whole business of fundamentalism, which is basically an extreme sense of either romanticism or logicality, is unavoidably destructive and needs a bit of scolding from the real humans – by real humans I don’t mean intellectually superior humans, for intellect has very little to do with this real human thing – it has to do with acceptance of weakness and rejection of hatred and extremism. This extremism as we see more and more today, does not always rise from the obvious so-called religious sides. It can rise from any side – and it will keep on rising, as long as sides appear to be more important to humans, than human life itself.
We have this remarkable thing called “life”, yet somehow, quite disgracefully, it has become less glorious and significant, in front of the fake glory of labels and ideologies. This is what advancement without conscience does to a species. We have advanced externally, before we actually truly evolved internally. Biological evolution is a fact, and that very biological evolution led to our so-called psychological evolution – I am saying so-called not because it is false. We have evolved psychologically indeed and through this evolution we have gained extraordinary psychological capacities, that basically are not possessed by any other species on earth, yet those capacities are not utilized at their fullest and most productive potential. It’s like having money and yet wasting it on unhealthy non-sense like alcohol and expensive cigars, while your neighbor is starving in front of your eyes.
Correct application of the mental faculties cannot be taught to a whole species – it automatically starts when the species gets an actual grip over its true necessities. Earth is necessity, not Mars. Food and water are necessities, not alcohol and cigarettes. To be human is necessity, not being a believer or non-believer. Now comes the real question – what are you?
Principia Humanitas, 2017
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Dr Diane Hamilton, MBA Program Chair at Forbes Business School, Interviews Abhijit Naskar on Neuroscience, Religion and Social Issues.