A pragmatic approach to religions and religious topics

I understand that for many, religious topics are for religions. They are a matter of belief and taking someone’s word for it.

For me, religious topics are for science.

Does consciousness, what we more essentially are, continue after the death of this human self? What data is there? What different interpretations of that data can we make? What can we say something about, and what’s unknown and/or speculation?

If a religion encourage certain beliefs, what are the effects of those beliefs at a social and individual level?

What are the effects of the different practices each religion offer or encourage? What practices works for different people, and different phases of the process? What are the drawbacks and things to keep an eye on? If we see practices as medicines for certain conditions, how effective are they?

And even…. how can we make use of the different cosmologies as a mirror? How can we use them as pointers to find what they refer to here and now?

This is how I personally prefer to relate to religions. I look at the effects of certain orientations and views. I explore the effects of the different practices. I take their cosmologies as a mirror for myself.

For instance, several religions and teachers talk about reincarnation. For me, that’s just what someone says and I put it on the “someone said it and I don’t know” shelf in my mind. I find the serious research into what may happen after this life, and reincarnation, very interesting. And I am interested in the different ways we can interpret the data they come up with.

I personally have what seems like memories from the time between lives and before this incarnation (these came in the form of flashbacks before school age), and I also have what seems like memories of certain past lives. (Especially one from Russia in the 1800s.) And these, I put in the “seems like memories but they are really just mental images and I don’t know” category.

Mainly, I use these images as pointers to find what’s here now. I can find the images here and now, and some sensations my mind associated with each of them. I can find what the images point to, here and now.

I can find what the images from between lives point to here and now – all as consciousness, a deep sense of being home, a gentle bliss, and so on.

And I can find what the Russian images point to – the kind-of-radical views, wanting to speak up against injustice, and feeling terrified of the possible consequences of speaking up. Whether or not those images were from a real past life, they certainly point to dynamics and issues in my life now and that’s more important.

In short, I prefer to take a pragmatic approach to religons and topics often found in religions. What’s the most honest way for me to see it? What can I say something about (typically very little), and what’s speculation? How can I make use of it? What happens when I engage in the different practices? What conditions is each one medicine for? How can I use the different cosmologies as a mirror for what’s here now?

And it gets a lot more finely grained than this.

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