posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 10:12 PM
Look at Hinduism or Buddhism for the fantastic intellectual flowering that can take place when people are allowed to use their common sense and
curiosity, as well as personal experience, to explore the divine (there are monotheistic strains in Hinduism so that right there is evidence that
montheism without reliance on a single text is possible).
Now, the examples above certainly have sacred texts, to be sure...gigantic libraries-full of them. But (with a VERY FEW exceptions, like Nichren
Shoshu Buddhism) they don't claim to have a SINGLE TEXT that is seen to be THE ONLY WAY. Nor, usually, are they obsessed with parsing every sentence
and word at a micro-level to tease out the "real" meaning. Rather, they accept at the outset that words are slippery, especially when talking about
the divine realm. They acknolwedge the need for a loose, common-sense approach. Buddha said don't believe a word he himself said if it counteracts
your own experience. "Many roads, one mountain," the Zen people say, in refefence to the fact that there is a divine summit to be reached, but there
is no single correct way to get there.
Conspiracy angle: The obsessive involvement of the Abrahamic religions with their sacred texts and the insistance that there can be only one "right
way" to the summit is an attempt by a priestly caste or class to foist its power onto the population. In the East, many religions were allowed to
flourish side-by-side as long as they acknowledged each other's validity and prayed for the wellbeing of the Emperor, Maharaja, etc., as well as for
the nation. Their function was less overtly political in most cases, and their roles were more well-defined relative to secular warriors and kings.
In the West and Middle-East, you have a different story. The division between political and religious power was not so clear-cut. In Judaism, the
Rabbis wrote the Law and were the leaders of the community dowen through many ages. In Islam, the power of the state was tied up with the duty of
Jihad and the Caliph (or Imam, for the Shiites) was looked to as a secular as well as a sacred leader. In Europe, you have popes playing frankly
political roles down through history, and the Christian Right continues this tradition.
So a picture emerges: Rather than having a clerical caste clearly "under the thumb" of a Chinese or Japanese emperor, for example, the separation
between the "Law" or politics and pure religion has been much less clear-cut in the West and Middle-East. The result is that
Talmudic/Biblical/Koranic scholars have acted for centuries as "lawyers" or "judges," ruling on specific moral and politcial cases in society to a
great extent as well as looking for the Kingdom of Heaven within. It doesn't have to be this way...the early Christian desert Fathers and medieval
mystics were interested in fleeing the world and seeking their own "interior castles" through meditation and contemplation, rather than parsing
texts and making pronouncements presumed to have a bearing on society at large, to pick one example.
[edit on 10/13/09 by silent thunder]