I found the following video refreshing. It raises many valid points, and asks interesting questions, though actually I would answer them differently to the way intended.
It was animated by Jonathan Hodgson to the words of philosopher Alain de Botton. The notes read, “The debate between believers and atheists usually goes nowhere. The real issue is: what should fill the gaps created by the end of widespread belief? What should fill the God-shaped hole?”
Without wanting to spoil it all with a debate (indeed that would go nowhere), I would perhaps even ask different questions. Is there an end of wide-spread belief, or is the belief just manifested in ever-new ways? Where can one find God to fill the God-shaped hole? Could it be that He is already there in the hole, but we don’t realise it yet?
I don’t follow any religion, but as I see it, God is one’s highest self, one’s own hidden perfection. Whether the final objective is self-realisation or God-realisation, it’s the same thing. Either way, it can’t be found via the TV, the National Lottery, Disney Land or chocolate of any brand.
The film asks: what comes after religion? As I see it, not necessarily anything. A sincere religion, followed with sincerity, can lead to the highest goal. A sincere philosophy can lead to inner progress too. The important thing would seem to be forward movement towards the goal, since that’s the only thing over which we really have any control.
While I follow a path of spirituality rather than a path of religion or philosophy, different paths suit different individuals at any given time. As long as nobody gets hurt, I’m always glad to know there are others out there also struggling with big existential questions and striving for a more meaningful life, when they could more easily turn on the TV or open another bar of chocolate*.
Here are some quotes from Sri Chinmoy around the subject…
Religion plays a significant role in the life of the aspiring seeker. Religion is our spiritual home. We start in our spiritual home and then go to the Home of God. Religion is the home we live in until we enter God’s Palace and establish our conscious oneness, constant oneness with God.”
Flame Waves, part 9
Religion feels that there is Someone called God who is high above, in the sky or in Heaven or somewhere else, and that all peace, light and bliss are with Him. But spirituality will say that where I am is where light, peace and bliss can be found; where I move around is where truth is. Spirituality will say truth and I are inseparable. Religion does not claim that kind of oneness. Religion will say that truth is somewhere else, and only if we pray and meditate will we one day see the face of truth and light. But spirituality will say that I myself am the very thing that I am looking for and crying for; everything is already inside me, only I have forgotten it, I cannot recognise it or I have misplaced it. Spirituality tells us to discover our inner wealth and bring to the fore what we eternally have.”
My Meditation-Service at the United Nations for 25 Years
My message is not different from any religion. If it is religion, if it is spirituality, if it is philosophy, then there is only one message: discover yourself, what you would call self-discovery. If we can discover our true reality, then we shall not quarrel, we shall not fight; we shall have only the Kingdom of Heaven inside us.”
My heart’s salutation to Australia, part 2
* Yes I can be found doing either from time to time, and sometimes both at once, but I think you catch my drift.
Etching: La Philosophie by B. Audra, Wellcome Library, London