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The Nine Muses The Philosophy of the GOOD
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Philosophical Musings – Religion and Dogmatism

(The GOOD revisited)



"Everything is politics ..."

Anonymous saying



In the footnote to another essay I mentioned the fact that after the birth of the Christ a new perspective came over humanity – a perspective, which reflected the Good, which is buried in the hearts of all mankind. By this, I meant that this perspective began to be seen in the governments and the administrative offices of the officials who ran nations. All of this came about under the Empire, in despite of the actual rulers themselves (e. g.: Caligula, Nero, etc.). But then with the fall of the Empire came the Middle Ages, and instead of the progress that one would think would occur, came an even more severe decline. All the civilization of the Empire seemed to suddenly disappear, and truly darkness covered the world; unity was lost; individual nations grew, all of which were hostile to one another; Kings and warlords gained power, and the common people were again treated no better than slaves. And to top it all off, was the fact that Christianity had become the Religion under which all of this prospered. How could this be?

At least part of this was due to the barbarian invasions, and the subsequent loss of civilization they produced. But also a greater part was the spread of Christianity itself. Christianity, which had become an organized and powerful force in the world, had also become an oppressor of that very same free will that God had left in the hearts of mankind. By growing into a political organization, it also became just another earthly government that suffered from the very same things, which all the other governments before it had suffered from: power and greed.

It forgot the words of Jesus Christ himself: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” 1 . The Church had taken up the very same ways the tyrant Caesars had. It had narrowed the Good to serve its own purposes of self-aggrandizement and power. The Church had become dogmatic. Its dogmatism led to persecutions, inquisitions, witch-hunts, and general misery. In supposedly following the doctrine of the Christ it actually became the antithesis of what he was.

In proclaiming the Good to man, it forgot that the Good is not something that can be coerced on man, or that religion should not, and must not be held as an “accept this or else…” or even an “accept this and I will give you …” proposition. Punishment and reward are not what religion, or the Good, is all about.

The Good is a force (or drive) in the human that shows the human how it should live with its fellows. It must be individually accepted and reconciled by the human within itself. Its implementation is a code of conduct that allows the human to live its life with others in a society that is beneficial to all. It is the very communal instinct that makes a human, a human.

It is the antithesis of greed, and the power that results from greed. It, itself, is the final end of humankind; it is its own reward; it is the Kingdom of God; it is the most that can be attained in this mortal world. In practicing it, mankind can finally throw off all the divisions that throw this world into the misery and suffering it has continually experienced.

Its implementation is the code of the warrior. Not a code of warfare, but a code of conduct that the ideal soldier must follow to perform superlatively even in the harshest and most devastating of circumstances: War. It is laid out in the Ten Commandments, and the life of the Christ. And finally it can only be reconciled on faith.

In the time before, and partially coexistent with Rome, religion was used as a tool of government to make the citizenry population more compliant with its dictates (a prime example was Egypt, and also Eturia, which influenced Rome). Rome used it also as a societal tool, but mainly to enforce family life, and the production of loyal citizens who threw off all individual matters where the state was concerned. Later, Romans saw that in servicing the state they actually serviced all as individuals, and that they all had duties and obligations to each other; the Good began to influence their society. The rise of the Plebs and the formation of the Equestrian class at least showed that the Good was steadily gaining ground in Rome; but just at its peak of attaining the ideal, greed began to surface in a people who were wooed by the luxury that good society brought. The decadence that prosperity breeds, is the greatest threat to the Good. While a human toils hard, in partnership with others for its gain, it follows the path of the Good; its life has real purpose. When a human sets the design of its life in line with the Good it experiences the true joy of living, a joy of soul, that allows it to weather even the harshest of experiences; this is the meaning of the Tao, "The Way", the oriental equivalent of the Good. In the ancient Chinese book, the “I Ching”, 2 one line of hexagram number 2 says:


“Straight, square, great.
Without purpose,
Yet nothing remains unfurthered” 3


This describes the path of the Good. When mortality follows the ways of Heaven it attains perfection. It serves no one in particular, and in serving no one it serves all. It is the Kingdom of Heaven, attainable on earth. It is the mystery of the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. It is the answer to the old statement that: “the purpose of life is living it” – but in the right way, with the right attitude.

So in all this musing, I still see today that there is still much dogmatism in the world. That still, religions do not realize that division breeds contempt. Render to Caesar the things that are his, but keep religion in line with the Good. Christ drove the money changers out of the Temple, so our religions must drive the governments, administrators and corporations out of themselves. They are the hope that Christ nurtured for the revelation of the Good to all men, but, alas, today they merely splinter man into more and more factions with dogmatism. Faith is the one force in this mortal world that can both unite and save mankind from the course of final destruction it is bent on, through the forces of greed and power. Religions can instill that faith through focusing on the Good, the Kingdom of God here on earth, not on the trivial semantics of ceremony, or the rewards and punishments that only separate and divide humanity. Humanity’s redemption is contained in its mortal life, and the way the human lives it, and the attitude with which the human faces it. By focusing on the Good in this life of travail, religions can bring all people to face life in the right way, without contempt for others, but with resignation to work with all others to bring about a final spiritual unity in the world. Once this spiritual unity is achieved, then humanity will of necessity achieve the proper societal unity, for the Good is the ultimate force and glue that unites all society.



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FOOTNOTES

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1 "The Bible", King James Version, Matthew, 22:21.


2 "The I Ching or book of changes", Whilhelm/Baynes; 1950; Princeton University Press.


3 This line in the above book is in reference to the hexagram of the Earth (the YING force), mortality, which brings into fruition the creative potential of Heaven, without any purpose or design of its own. The YANG force is the design of Heaven, which is the instigator of all creation and the force which allows the combination of both to form the path of creation and the universe, the Tao. That which never changes is "Change" itself; hence the "I Ching" is the "Book of Changes" (the book of Life).


Originally Published:

October 12, 2007

Revised:

July 4, 2014