I'd earlier said that I need to stop yakking so much on politics and current affairs. So that's my excuse to yak about other things. This IS my personal blog, after all. Even though journalists, civil servants and approximately other 12,000 people read it every month.
So today I feel like yakking about God, religion, spirituality etc.
Actually I'm very much into this topic. I should say - it is one of the passions of my life. I don't blog about it very much and in real life, I don't even talk to many people about it. Firstly because I view it as an intensely personal matter - everyone's spiritual life is his own, unique, and so is mine. Secondly, because I would creep many people out if they knew how deeply I have been, and still am, into this sort of stuff.
Let's put it this way - I'm not into religion/spirituality in what would normally be regarded as a conventional manner.
But don't worry. On this blog, I won't be creeping you out. I'll be selective about what I choose to say.
Anyway ... where shall I start?
I'll start by saying this - I think that most disputes about religion are started by small minds. Minds which are too tiny to comprehend the words that their mouths utter. (By the way, I'm no guru myself, but size is relative, and some minds are definitely smaller than others).
The problem, as I see it, is that the human mind is unwilling to accept uncertainty. This isn't just a matter of thinking about religion. It's a fundamental problem with the human mind, whatever it is thinking about (science, politics, world peace or the question of where to go for lunch).
Because the individual human mind cannot tolerate uncertainty, it creates constructs for itself. Every day, week, month and year, it takes idea and idea and idea, and it links them up and builds a mental framework around them. This happens over time. This is how the human mind establishes certainty - it builds its own concepts and understanding of what the world is, and then it tells itself, "THIS is how the world is, THIS is how the world works, THIS is how things are."
The framework is never completely static. As the individual goes through life, he encounters new experiences and new ideas, and the new ideas are all absorbed, assimilated and built into the existing framework. This however takes time, effort and energy. So much is invested into building a framework.
Then once in a while, the individual encounters a radically different idea. The idea is so radically different that it cannot easily be absorbed into the framework (for example, the idea that "the earth is not flat, it's round and it revolves around the sun"). The Radical Idea just doesn't fit. For its absorption to take place, huge chunks of the existing framework must be torn down and redesigned. Either that, or the Radical Idea has to be completely rejected (Copernicus, who dared suggest that the earth revolves around the sun rather than the other way around, was burned to death for that).
The tearing-down and the re-design is painful. So much has already been invested in building the existing framework. So much psychological energy would be wasted. So many minds would choose to reject the new idea, the one that can't fit into their existing framework.
And that's what I mean by the problem of the small mind.
Consider any real-life, heated argument. Very often, both parties have already made up their minds. They may believe that they are "discussing", but each of them, applying his own mental framework, has already reached his own conclusion and is merely trying to impose his framework on the other.
The alternative is too painful - to acknowledge that you could be wrong, to reexamine your ideas, beliefs, values and preconceptions, to tear down your framework and rebuild from scratch. It hurts too much.
Some people would rather die (literally) than to give up on their framework. Others would go to war for their framework.
For example, if their established framework tells them, "It's an honour to die for your own country" - it could be too psychologically painful for them to consider the alternative idea that "A country is a rather stupid thing to die for."
Alternatively, if their established framework tells them, "It's an honour to die for your religion" - it could be too psychologically painful for them to consider the alternative idea that "Your religion possibly has no need for you to die for it."
This idea of frameworks is not a Mr Wang original. It has been described and discussed in different ways, in different forms, from different perspectives. One example is in psychiatrist/Christian writer Scott M Peck's book "The Road Less Travelled".
Now, religion (any religion) is a particularly intricate framework. Firstly, there are all the teachings, handed down through the ages. Secondly, there are all the traditional practices in the temple/church/mosque/synagogue. Thirdly, all the teachings shape the individual's mental framework on a whole range of matters. Including society, morals, marriage, sex, money, death, life, afterlife, capital punishment, homosexuality, abortion, the rightness or wrongness of using a condom, what he can or cannot eat, and the creation of the universe.
So the average individual who staunchly follows a religion (any religion) ends up investing a lot of psychological energy building his framework.
And that's why he can get so flustered and angry if you challenge his framework with what, to him, is a Radical Idea. Eg "Your God is false. Mine's the real one." Or "Science says that THIS is how the universe was created. So your religion is wrong." Or "Maybe your Holy Scriptures are slightly wrong about this issue."
He cannot accept such a Radical Idea - never mind whether the idea is true or false or partially true or partially false - the psychological damage to his framework is just too great. Potentially he would have to readjust and revise everything he thinks and believes about society, morals, marriage, sex, money, death, life, afterlife, capital punishment, homosexuality, abortion, the rightness or wrongness of using a condom, what he can or cannot eat, and the creation of the universe.
He may rather prefer to kill you.
That's why I distrust religion. That's why religion is dangerous. There are too many small minds in the world which are unwilling or unable to revise their frameworks.
Now spirituality - as opposed to organised religion - that's another story.
Another story, for another day.
Good karma to you.