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A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO RELIGION – Part 7 Print E-mail
Religion
El-GrecoA challenge for religions and people to serve need
The Lord's Supper, the Resurrection, and sustainable religion

The consuming fire liberates us from our alienation, and the outer fire is our alienation – that is why it is 'outer'.
We are the 'feeders' of this fire in our everyday life, which we make unlivable, as we empty our personality of the powers of happiness, chasing after the ghost of prosperity in paths of greed, considering whatever we have as insufficient and claiming the boundless, being unable to serve, seeking alone to be served.

We turn the world into outer fire and empty our personality of the experiencing of the soul, of eternal life, and of the Presence of Being, of the body of glory, which is free of alienation in the charismatic authenticity of creation, of life, and empathy.

There is as between man and nature a perpetual element of the tragic. It is obvious that those prophecies which spoke of a co-existence without hurt are not capable of direct realisation. Nevertheless, we are at the beginning of a road and, first and foremost, the road for us is connected with overcoming fear of death as a motive which possesses our life and leads us to a greed which is both metaphysical and materialist.
The harmonisation of our life with the true, the beautiful, and the good shapes our consciousness at the height of the body of glory, which is free of the outer fire, and in the depths of the inwardness which is untroubled in the face of events and desires that lack meaning. It is from this field that the church congregation is shaped, and it is from this field, as Gregory of Nyssa said, that the author of Ecclesiastes speaks.
With this thought that, in the end, it is in the Lord's Supper that the touchstone of sustainability is to be found, in this ontological protecting comradeliness, we conclude this  narrative of sustainable religious spirit and religion, and –why not– of the religion of sustainability and of the religious nature of sustainability.

In order for the world to be conserved, it needs precisely that superabundance of soul expressed by the spirit of service in the Lord's Supper. In the spirit of the Lord's Supper is the mystery of sustainability, of continuity, and of conservation. It is in this voluntarism of Existence, existential voluntarism, that the spirit shows itself, only we must have in mind that the Lord's Supper is not available for theatrical movements and lack of discrimination. Every experiential apportionment of the transcendental has within it the temptation of totalitarianism and of intransigent authority. Such a road does not lead to humility; this is why it has been said that spiritual egoism is a major problem, as it indicates self-centredness and not an identity without ambition. The more refined selfishness is, the more difficult it becomes to trace, and so the more dangerous it is. For this reason, we need a disarmament in communication, so that we are able to enter truly into the spirit of the Lord’s Supper.

Priority goes to the moral example. But over and above this, our responsibility is to equip religion with all the truths and not with what we consider to be truth. It is a fact that no higher religion can be found than the truth. This is a poetic truth; it is not given as scientific totalitarianism. Religion cannot be superior to the good and the beautiful. Spiritual communication can be liberated and is being liberated increasingly, together with every other form of communication. It is up to us to choose a path of communication and reciprocal collaboration for the renewal of the feeling for religion; we do not necessarily say renewal 'of religion' or 'of religions', because the first and foremost thing is that we should see, both in terms of communication and in practice, the deficits which there are, and make them good. It is true that other spheres contribute much more morally, experientially, and spiritually to modern man than religions, which revert to memories of the ages in which they enjoyed power.

Religion should no longer be content with a preaching of love without content and imagination in action, without life, in an age when the issue of the will for the good is beginning to become very clearly apparent as a dominant one. Will for the good also exists as a recognition of the providence of the plan and of time, as a dynamic factor which is linked with sustainability. The new spirit of religion which looks towards the sustainability and contribution of service of religion must stand as a constant seminal Logos for the progress of humanity, for the recognition of the Logos in the universality of the planet and the development of a sustainability plan.

It should do this by organising a meeting of this seminality, as well as a meeting of the discourse of topicality, with the Logos of the future, with ecumenical celebrations which will not be primarily religious, but cultural acts of the spirit of religion. We need channels and communication networks, and it could be said that we are being led by initiatives of the leaders of the great churches to the introduction of international ecumenical and inter-religion networks of encounter, as these are developing in Constantinople, at Assisi, and elsewhere. We believe that in the future there will be points which will not be exclusively inter-religion meetings but between different spheres of interest, of the world spirit, at which religion will be able to meet with politics, the economy, science, art, and cultures.

At the same time, one of the greatest religious issues is the development of man and his passage from the stage of blind impulsiveness, of enforced and compulsive regulation, to a conscious regulation which truly gives pleasure by creativity, transubstantiates the compulsiveness of the market both of work and pleasure into a field of creativity which advances  to an experience of the world of meaning, while at the same time creating, and enjoying creation and reflectiveness, and then progressing to the transformation of the personality, within a framework of non-ambitious identity and group spirit. This is the process of ascetic initiation into Being.

In reality, we need to organise and achieve a culture of spirituality, alongside the society of communication and cultural inflation. Man will now become adequate, a counterbalancing and complementary factor to chaotic inflation, the communication, information and action networks of globalisation, so that he can live with himself as the centre without being egocentric, so that he can shape a fervent neighbourhood within universality, can achieve self-realisation in a liberating way, without being marginalised or excluded and without seeking recognition.  

These processes and the methods of evolution are bound up both with the development of inwardness and with the development of service, or serving, of the spirit of sponsorship and of voluntarism. The steps of development which are turned into symbols in the Birth of Bethlehem and in the Baptism in the Jordan are steps which must be understood on terms of the psychological, social, and creative development of man. The best potential of mankind must be devoted to these efforts for spiritual development.

If we need a spiritual experience, it is that of the Resurrection of Christ. We have to put an end to this second death, the second crucifixion of Christ which we have carried out with so much ease and so much sacrilegious arrogance, overshadowing his message in inactivity with verbiage and egocentric approaches. Over and beyond our narcissism, then, we can feel that inherent in the attainment of an identity without ambition is the Resurrection of Christ, the realisation of Him and His presence, and not in empty talk and materialistic formalism.

Great thinkers who look within themselves and ministers of the spirit of service who have expressed themselves in all fields can and must, in the present and future age, present their work together. Their complementariness must be apparent as it functions constructively, like a bridge linking East and West, North and South, problems, needs, and solutions in the spirit of the great freedoms, the great quests and collaborations. This should not be regarded as a purely political undertaking; it must also be a religious one.

One wonders at the non-existence or the absence of such actions in all the religions; in fact, these have forgotten any concept of mission, and are interested in every aspect of domination. Nevertheless, whatever critique is applied, let it not become censure, and let it not underestimate the capabilities of love with regard to the specific reality and situation.

Love, in the end, will divert enthusiasm in the expression of the Spirit of Peace, which is so necessary for the future of mankind. This Spirit of Peace is contrary to the divisiveness, which has brought so much suffering upon humanity and the spirit, and is so contrary to the love proclaimed.

We always, however, stress that love must have its self-preservation through discernment. In the end, it must be made subject to the power of the will for good and guide it further. The subjection of discerning love to the will for the good will automatically produce sound values, confirmed by dialectic and dialogue, sound speech, sound reasoning, soundness of life or a sound way of life, sound thinking, sound proclivities and quests, correct behaviour, correct endeavour, and sound aspiration. Soundness and freedom will form a duality of vitality which is free of any imposition and any fear.

There is a necessary mixture required for the salvation of modern civilisation, and its progress to result. This lies in the Renewal of the Enlightenment with greater effectiveness and more supports of emotional recognition and development in the formulation of the spiritual unity of Christianity in a spirit of renovatory vitality in cultural and communications creativity. Naturally, such undertakings of substantiality and substantialisation cannot prosper unless we reach a form of catharsis, as that marks to some degree the closure of tragedy, which must be healed before the foundations of new creation are laid. This is apparent both in the modern world and in contemporary man, in his everyday existence. For man to embark upon a renewed cycle of life, he must be liberated from whatever ties him down, even if that tying down is progressive. Being tied down in the vicious circle of the tragic is an obvious obstacle to the passage to the post-tragic situation. Catharsis will be achieved both by the powers of reason, which led to such a marvellous theatrical rendering of the mystery of theatricality, and, finally, of the religious spirit in classical antiquity, and by the renewal of the soul's hypostasis. The renovatory reasoning and the renewal of the soul's hypostasis form the portal for the transition to the post-tragic.

We have become dangerously familiar with words, and the term 'renewal of the psyche' does not mean much to us, or the fact that compassion is not a quality but is the law of laws does not mean much to us. We have lost the imagination which invests and creates words, and the apprehension of the soul which brings out the full significance and the literary meaning of such a phrase. In reality, catharsis is to be found in this path – the necessary demonstration of imagination – and is created in the fundamental expressions of existence, such as compassion.  Compassion is the starting-point of affective genius, while at the same time it brings us to the heart of hypostasis and to the heart of transcendence. Love as hypostasis and transcendence is the life of resurrection. Otherwise we approach resurrection without love, when God Himself is love. Do we perhaps expect to become something greater than God through our divisiveness?

It is time, then, for a second resurrection of Christ. This will be a resurrection of message within us so that we can continue a long tradition as to the true religion, as Augustine once did. This is a religion which existed from very ancient times, before Christ, and took the name of Christianity, and this is the correct relation of man with man, with God, with nature, with everything. On this path, priority must be given not to acquisition by way of results, but to the right 'sowing', to the correct causes. The causes are much more important than the results, and this we shall be able to accept only when we enter upon a road which will have not expectations from soundness, but will enjoy soundness itself; it will not have self-interest from results, but will have dedication through causes.

The principle of sustainability tells us that we have borrowed the world from the future, and we shall have to render it up to the future. It also tells us that what we are doing is a loan. Some people, of course, are thieves of loans, they appropriate them, and we are rightly reminded of them by the parables of Jesus.

It could be said that on the road of recompense we have constantly a responsibility towards the future, and that sustainability resides in the positive causes and not in the coercive results. Sustainability is to be found on the road of love and not of hate, it is to be found in humility of spirit. A humble spirit does not feel that it has acquired the truth and that it has formalised it into dogmas, but feels constant transcendence towards every human conception and word. There is no road to humility if deify our ability to contain Uncreated Ideas within words. Acceptance of the soul beyond the mechanical or the mechanism, or beyond the bearer, is a post-tragic and tragic need of man. We must, at last, liberate this faith, and by a method of friendly investigation seek after this knowledge – a knowledge which, of course, involves intellectual experiments, and not only those which take place in a laboratory.

A religious spirit can be built up only on the basis of acts of acceptance which constitute a way out from the tragic to the non-tragic such as these through correct motives which give emphasis to causes and not to results and lead to the unselfishness of service and to intelligent and loving wisdom. Through the correct motive and by the wisdom which will shape sound thought we will be led to a shaping of reality through the determinism of action which accompanies thought, and, as we would say in more modern terms, follows information.

The subjective worlds are what the other areas of subjective development of our biosphere contain within them – a dynamic of energies, motives, and developments which can surprise us if we really orientate ourselves towards being an antenna of communication and of shaping reality by the law of invocation and of attraction.

We can truly contemplate the world if only we believe in it and act in accordance with it, and do not have the expectation of being liberated from the expectation, but orientate ourselves towards the cause, the shaping of a liberating body of causes structured by love and harmlessness.

This dedication requires a group consciousness which transcends divisiveness and shapes a liberating field of open horizons and expressions of the power of freedom and, at the same time, unity through collectiveness, collective consciousness, and collective life. In practice, it is the analogue of a conquest of collectivity of the microcosm, in the formation of the bodies of our life. This can happen, on a broader scale, in a much looser way which will lead us to a world of greater cohesion, solidarity, expression of brotherhood, and, certainly, rejection of divisiveness and its representatives. We should not forget this.

There are powers of divisiveness which refuse unity and powers of totalitarianism which refuse freedom. There may be a discreet pragmatist dialogue, but, first and foremost, there must be a complete rejection of them in the field of consciousness. In this way the strategic opposition of the two forces, of progress and of reaction, will take shape. Within the forces of reaction we also have the forces of a progressive advancing fixation which sham progress, but tie it down at points of secondary perspectives and potential, thus depriving it of its broadness and depth.

Since God is love, he is also will. Love is the unfolding of a will which reveals unity, the identity of all things, and joint identity. Through this will, purpose is revealed as a psychological hypostasis of the Whole and of every integrity, and the plan as an ecological dynamic, the dynamic of historicity and complexity, of fluctuation and of branching of all the forms of life towards its cohesion and wholeness. There is a revelation of the logos and the idea which combines immanent with transcendent divinity, the ideal of the Ego with the Super-Ego, which has been liberated from the images of tyranny and coercion. This is the field where our apprehension can encounter profound and lucid impressions.

We can encounter the Whole and the manner of existence of everything in anything and so experience our relations through our transcendental religious spirit, with a consciousness which is liberated within an active and vital calm. Our religious spirit is a progressive cycle of invocation and attraction, a feast… of development of good will, an encounter with the prismatic refractions of time in the music of the spheres, an orchestration of our soul, a melody which liberates the consciousness from the prosaic and the mechanical, which transforms even machines into in a celebration and a dream of existence.

In the contemporary world, what must be expressed and enter upon the process of incarnation is synthesis. Without synthesis, the extent of globalisation may prove catastrophic. Without liberation and will for the good, the world potential cannot be balanced. What enters upon a process of incarnation is synthesis and liberation, together with love and will, illumination, the light of the logos, and, undoubtedly, the spirit of peace.

The time has come for us to begin to discern the ideas, the qualities, and the aspects of the existence of being which are entering upon a fuller incarnation. Such embodiments of divinity are personified in group or individual leaders. The most important thing is that these embodiments of divinity can be diffused through well-known historical events which have acted as a catalyst upon the development of modern civilisation: that is to say, through historical points of crisis which have brought about drastic developments in the confrontation between unity and divisiveness, or freedom and totalitarianism, and give expression even today to a world-wide dynamic. Important events such as the French Revolution and the Second World War are not simply events which are turned into news items by the mass media, but are world-wide forms of development.

Our religious spirit must hold good as against history. In this way, we should not exclusively approach the divine incarnation or the Presence through the perspective of 'respect for persons'. Of course, the element of leadership has always functioned, and in this sense there is always expression through the personality, and of the incarnated soul, of the incarnated spirit. Nevertheless, the idea of the Presence Everywhere imposes upon us a need for a decentralised apprehension of the drawing down of the divine being and of the divine ideas, of Approaches and Revelations, in the evergreen duration of being and of the world.

Religious ideas are in the process of generation. They are becoming more lucid and human, more adapted to everyday life, and now practicable 'for human hands and feet'. They are, in other words, simultaneously on a road of simplicity which does not imprison and which does not bind, and of action and lucidity which requires practised contemplation and insight. It is on this road of evolution of religious ideas that we must advance, whether we want to or not, if we do not wish to become involved in a faith without faith on a fruitless course whose end becomes an object of time's curse. Let us recall the parable of the barren fig-tree. The salt must not lose its savour. The secret lies in the essential nature of evolution and in the development of its transcendental powers, so that a symmetry is restored in evolution without moral backwardness, fixation, and inconsistency between the various aspects of human civilisation.

Progress reveals providence if we accept existence as a gift of God. It expresses love towards man and towards the world. In this sense, exclusion from progress and the refusal of progress constitutes a second Fall. 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.' 'A tree is known by its fruit', and what must predominate in our criteria is the spirit of truth and its distillation into practice, and not the formulation of thought in which the narcissism of the safeguarding of the truth has been invested.

The test of faith is in action and in life, and not in intellectual confession; it is in love and not in fear, as the Apostle John rightly explained in his epistles. It lies in the spirit of the Lord's Supper, which renews the souls and bodies of the second resurrection, which is the resurrection of Christ within us, the resurrection of the spirit in the world of ideas and of everyday routine: liberation from Christian idolatry, which in fact did not lead to the liberation of man, but to his enslavement, through events which touch upon hell, horror, and the monstrous, such as those of the Inquisition, of the wars of religion, of examinations and confessions. These have been shared by all the religions and all the denominations to a differing degree, and have revealed that man can err. If man does not accept this from the beginning, his arrogance and his narcissism will turn the most perfect understanding and acceptance of the nature of the divine into an instrument of perfect crime against God, as the Pharisees and Sadducees were able to do so well. Our frailty can become a path to our perfection. The arrogance of infallibility, however, can never lead to the mastering of the truth.

The semiotics of Bethlehem, not as a place, because we must disengage the spirit from the materialism of localism, and this is suggested to us by the Presence Everywhere, show us the power of anonymity. It is very close to nature, to weak and anonymous beings and the manger, to the corporeality of things, to matter and to spirit, and to ordinary people. The Spirit is signified by distant worlds, the transcendental, and heaven. At the same time, it is on the periphery of the world of publicity and power, it attracts the attention of students of the transcendental, of magic, or of spirituality. It is not, however, acknowledged by the heralds of spirituality. These semiotics are also a starting-point for the new approach to religion.

From the beginning to the end, the Pharisees were not present, they were only critics. Actually, they were not even present, still less participants; nor, in fact, did the stage of publicity play a part. Publicity does not provide testimony. Testimony is provided by silence. The tacit voice of silence is not provided by blatant publicity and the world of news.

In the modern world there are epicentres of history which are poor in newsworthiness, which express the poverty of Bethlehem in terms of newsworthiness. There we can locate the birth of a new reality. The personal everyday life of each individual itself, without being an object of observation and our self-knowledge, contains such features, as Paul Valéry said: the important features are relatively indiscernible, they are details which make up the joints of great power and usually they are below the horizon of observation. We have, of course, adapted the words, but the meaning is basically this.

The quest for a new approach to religion, not in the direction of a 'religionless religion', or of a 'faith without faith', but of a concentration of poetic, psychological, and transfiguring potential in the face of our tragic motives, which make us divisive and egocentric, which bring narcissism to dominance, and which do not liberate the power of the Ego on sustainable terms, on terms of perspective, on terms of thankfulness, on terms which would turn it into 'We' and 'the Whole' is the content of the new spirit of religion, and this is open to mistakes and reasonable  risks through the quality of faith.            

Quality and quantity are wedded and linked through a transfiguring approach to the apprehension of the transcendental and the beyond which does not petrify concepts in words and doctrines, but liberates them in an on-going process of becoming; which is not based on an immortality which is first and foremost bodily, or a corporealisation of the transcendental, without nonetheless there being an alienation of spirit and matter.

There is a complexity in the conceptual world which precludes monochrome exaggerations even if there are dominant colours and radial aspects. Monochrome exaggerations which lead immature consciousnesses to destruction and ruin can and must be avoided. Otherwise, faith becomes part of the crisis, and, in the end, of the catastrophe.

In order to rescue faith, we must set it free in life, in relationships, and in our quest. The saving of faith alongside reason also leads reason to its salvation. Rationalisation may prove a tyranny and catastrophe if it is deprived of psychological generosity. As Edgar Morin has aptly said: the powers of reason, of joy, and of compassion may be regarded as being as wonderful and fruitful as the powers which can provide an ecologically developed civilisation with the energy of the sun, the wind, and water.

On the findings of life the new approach to religion can build solidly within everyday life, drawing for conclusions, dialectically and intuitively, upon the past of reality and aspiring towards the future, leaving behind post-modern melancholy to soothe like a   phenomenon of the weather the times, and civilisation, while allowing modern, traditional, and classic quality and worth to develop, and create islands of life and imagination in the archipelago of utopia which is within us, and in the heart of reality, which is one aspect of reality, together with that aspect which is the logos which has become dependence and which does not remain only undeclared.

The declared and the undeclared together with the utopian and the everyday confirm within consciousnesses the qualitative beauty of life. When we speak of utopia, we do not wish to exalt it into a beacon and guide of ideology and religion, but as another aspect of feeling and sensibility, so that feeling does not become a prison of consciousness. Just as imagination opens up paths to reality, so the formless constitutes an Archimedean lever for evolution. We are not fond of the term 'utopia', but we need to use it in order to complement our expression on the dimensions which we do not know, which liberate us and civilize us for boundless liberating Existence, with all the measure which is expressed in this boundlessness and all the proportionality, the credibility, and the robustness of the method.

We use non-localism as a form of asceticism – 'no-place' and space as a field of liberating ascetic method, of invocation, impression, and attraction. We have tried in this text to retain the sensibility and the decentralisation of the new and universal approach to religion, without becoming involved in quarrels about primacy and correctness. We have focused on the soundness and the spirit which were expressed in the Lord's Supper, and on the semiotics expressed by the resurrection and birth of incarnate divinity, of the Word which became flesh, and of the Word which turns its expression and self-realisation to the world of the spirit, as well as to the world of matter.

By this reasoning we have tried shed light on a field of understanding and development which does not offend the spirit and man, but at the same time does not insult the separated religions, but also does not violate the priorities which have been marked and ranked through their own referentiality.

It is possible for anyone to realise that the major moral example was given finally in the Lord's Supper. The major example and demonstration of life was given by the symbolism of the life of Christ, to the degree that this life remained far from proclamations of men and from approaches of arrogance, and remains, as it proclaimed itself, open to the future, looking forward to greater works than those already achieved.


Ioannis Zisis, Writer

You may also read:
A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO RELIGION - Part 1
A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO RELIGION - Part 2
A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO RELIGION - Part 3
A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO RELIGION - Part 4
A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO RELIGION - Part 5
A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO RELIGION - Part 6

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