Sunday, February 10, 2019


The ability to perceive the feeling of the sacred is a survival plus.  We are unsure whether it can be learned.  Some people never feel it -- maybe don't believe there is such a thing.  It is not the same as supernatural because it is perceived in the natural human.  One might reason that secure attachment, welcoming the future, and happy experiences would predict awareness of the sacred, but maybe not.  Some argue that these qualities, including empathy-enabled communication, are the source of our humanness and likely the best predictor of our evolution in the future. 

There is always a tension between the individual and his cohort, which makes a tradeoff, a sacrifice between one or the other, but this risks a crash of all survival.  Now we enter into discussion of one's cohort: family and friends, neighbors, genome category, nation, or ecosystem.  Would you die for a honeybee?  All honeybees?  Let your ag profit in your canola crop shrink by not using herbicides that kill bees?  But there is not much question about giving to one's children.

Everyone who exists has survived all those who came before.  Many of those who will follow are in your hands.  Your understanding of how to survive -- which derives mostly from the ecosystem and what it offers for shelter, food, water, and reproduction -- develops a pattern and opinion of how to survive.  Eventually this may be widespread and long-standing enough to become a pre-religion.  If there is enough wealth and stability to support writing, buildings and experts, then what we call religion appears, but religions keep the flavor of their birth, so the three warring brothers  (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) came to being in a time of ecostress which gave them deep awareness of competition. To them it means survival, access to the only oasis -- which is the monotheism.

When the ecosystem, either natural or fabricated, is hostile, we can sacrifice whole categories of people, and invent reasons.  Both nature and culture conspire to be hostile.  People too poor to live anywhere but on the street die when the temp goes to forty below and stays there.  People rich enough to build fine houses near the river are washed away because of Chinese coal power.  Cause and effect are not always obvious.  Industrial revolution gases are submerging entire nations.  Money replaces other people.  This is a recurring mistake of people who cannot feel the sacred.

Eliade and others have said that the sacred is best felt at doorways, transitions, transformations.  To resist change is to shut out the sacred.  And to endanger survival.  But change is also risky.  Ask the remnants of the neanderthal that is in some of us,

Most people find the sacred through harmony, love, arts and other aspects of life -- including time -- that we neglect.  Some people feel that the sacred must be lovely and happy, but sometimes it is overwhelmingly ghastly and destructive -- satanic.  Can the sacred be evil?  Can evil be sacred?  Certainly evil can be splendidly gorgeous, a sinuous bejeweled seduction.  But is it a biological snake from the local ecosystem, connected to other lives in a thousand small ways?  Or is it a version of your reality tunnel?  Roll the damned dice.

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