About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Forgotten Religion

There is an alternative take on religion, a completely different religious world from what is generally perceived as religion today!
    I realized it as I entered Ke‘ekū Heiau at Kawa Bay of Hawai‘i Island. I tried to visit this open-air worship space for a number of years and had been always prevented by high tides and strong surfs. Now I finally stood by the entrance and it was clearly an active place of worship and also undisputably closed! As I stepped over two crossed wooden poles, I knew I was trespassing! Intellectually, the visit and assessment of the shrine was uneventfully routine, but my guilty conscience triggered in me something deeper. I became painfully aware of an alternative religious paradigm. While my own religion and all modern religions try to pull people into their churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, gurdwaras... there clearly was a type of religiosity, which wanted to keep people out!
    From that April Monday last year I have been brooding over it. I refreshed some of my old academic readings, I searched some new religious and anthropological literature. And I formulated for myself a tentative typology of this old/alternative form of religion: 
  • As mentioned earlier, this is not a missionary but stewardship religion. (In other words its primary goal is not to multiply believers but to safeguard and preserve its essence.)
  • In consequence this is a religion with strong internal, not external validation. (While missionary religions measure themselves by numerical success, this religion aspires for inner faithfulness and integrity.)
  • This religion is in its essence oral over and against textual. (Stories and laws of this religion are passed orally rather than fixated in writing and worshiped as this or that holy scriptures.) 
  • It is a religion of immanent deity instead of transcendent deity. (Put simply: God/s in this religion is present in the world rather than above and beyond it.)
  • It is a religion which concentrates on orthopraxy rather than on orthodoxy. (This religion is not about doctrines and teachings and what to be believed, but it is primarily about how its followers are to live out and practice their religion.)
  • This religion is not anthropocentric but rather ecocentric. (Humans in this religion are not the center of the universe and measure of everything, they are an integral part of the ordered network of existence.)
  • This religion is also primarily about terrestrial rather than celestial salvation. (This religion is about helping people find harmony in this world and this life and not pointing them to heaven and to afterlife.)
  • As result of the previous points the theology of this religion is primarily inclusive over and against exclusive theology of many current religious systems. (Modern religions and confessions antagonize each other based upon minuscule differences in their doctrines.)   
I confess, this is a highly schematic typology. There have hardly ever been these extreme types in their pure form. But I am convinced that all current religions grew up from the old type, and in one form or the other preserved some traces of it. The old style might be largely forgotten, rejected, suppressed, even persecuted against by modern forms of religion - but what I call here the old religious paradigm represents our shared roots. I think that in our times of growing religious antagonism and intolerance, it might be important and spiritually enriching to become aware of it and search for the remnants of our forgotten religion buried deep in the traditions of our own faith.

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