Monday, December 23, 2013

Myths and Miracles

Around Christmas time, talk of miracles abound in Christian circles. According to the lore, Jesus Christ was born of virgin birth in a manger. But he wasn't the only wunderkind. Padmasambhava, the Indian saint who brought Buddhism to Tibet, was said to have be born from a lotus in the middle of a lake. These saviors constitute only two of a multitude of heroes (mythic or otherwise) said to have been born not from the egg and sperm of human beings but from a sacred power.

If one does a little research, it is actually astonishing how many cultures have similar heroes who come to save mankind, born of the gods, or from one God, or through self-manifestation. This plethora of eerily similar myths, codified as real scripture in different times and places, can be viewed in several ways.

Theory number one. Mankind has a collective memory that brings forth parables with culture-specific details in an attempt to humanize the source of all beingness; a way of anthropomorphizing an ineffable universal force. A process not unlike the development of language, alphabets may vary but the intent of language and the capacity for humans to learn language is identical in all societies. And so it is with religion. People perceive something very special occurring in their world and then weave that mysterious power into a mythology of their own making.

Theory number two. The residents of planet earth have a strong need to invent stories to make life bearable and orderly amongst chaos. This too smacks of universality, as tales of saviors born from the non-physical are too similar to be co-incidental. Homo sapiens must need reassurance that they are not left to their own egocentric devices and that a power greater than themselves will save them from their own stupidity and short-sightedness.

Theory number three. I have no clue why irrational stories generate unflinching belief by billions of people worldwide. That being said, I have seen the inexplicable with my own eyes, i.e. physical healings that no doctor could ever ever ever explain. Cancer, malaria, deafness, severe colon problems, mental illness, all gone within the twinkling of an eye at the hands of a person who applies a non-physical technique. What we call "miracles" do occur in the time/space continuum and they happen to ordinary people at the hands of many different healers, enlightened or otherwise. 

Given the above, it would be unwise to blindly follow the words of any scripture unilaterally. The new Catholic Pope recently stated that some aspects of the Bible refer to archaic cultural norms not relevant in the 21st century. The Dalai Lama has told his followers to look upon Buddhist scripture with a critical eye when it comes to cultural norms of the past that were laid into holy texts as dictates.

Wars fought over whose god is the best god become ridiculous when the evidence is examined. So amen and peace to all peoples with their multitudes of gods and goddesses -  or a simple belief in the large capacity the human heart. As Rodney King once said, "Can't we all just get along?"

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