The New Sciences of Religion: Exploring Spirituality from the Outside In and Bottom Up

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Email address :. Phone number :. Please wait. Belum ada barang di keranjang belanja Anda Pilih produk yang Anda inginkan, dan rasakan kemudahan belanja barang luar negeri sekarang juga! Richardson, As the Cold War has ended and inter-ethnic conflicts have re-emerged in many parts of the world, it has indeed been a popular thesis of different writers to argue that these inter-ethnic conflicts often have a religious component. Following UNESCO's lead in holding two conferences on "The Contributions of Religions to a Culture of Peace" both held in Barcelona, Spain, in April and December , and other interfaith dialogues between different religions that are occurring in a serious way around the planet--including the World Parliament of Religions, in Chicago, August ; 1and the ongoing work of the World Council on Religion and Peace--this paper will focus instead on how religious and spiritual traditions can contribute to creating a more peaceful world via an exploration of the foundations for both inner and outer peace in the twenty first-century.

The paper will have four parts:. Part I begins by providing a framework for looking at all the world's religions as having a potential spectrum of perspectives, including: the external, socially-learned, cultural or exoteric part --including different religious organizations, rituals, and beliefs, which are passed down from one generation to the next, and the internal, mystical, direct spiritual experience or esoteric part. In considering the external aspects of religion, principles from the field of intercultural communication are used to explore the creation of tolerance, understanding and valuing of diversity concerning different aspects of socially learned behavior or culture, including religion.

Fundamentalism or religious extremism or fanaticism--when religions claim their version of religion is the only one--are seen as an extreme form of the socially-learned aspect of religion and one not conducive to creating world peace. In considering the internal or esoteric aspects of religion, it is noted that all the world's religions began with someone who had a mystical enlightenment or revelatory experience, which they then tried to share with others, leading often to the formation of new religions--even though this was not the intention of the original founder.

Parallels between new scientific paradigms and ancient mystical traditions from the world's religions are then noted to illustrate how contemporary dynamic, interconnected, whole systems ways of experiencing and viewing reality can be seen as providing necessary conditions "within the individual" for creating an external global culture of peace in the world. Part II continues the exploration of the inner and outer aspects of religion and culture. Part III traces the evolution of the concept of "peace" within Western peace research, including the recent development of more holistic definitions of peace that are consistent with the ideas explored in Part I of this paper.

The conceptual shift involved in moving from peace as absence of war through peace as absence of large scale physical and structural violence negative and positive peace respectively to more holistic definitions of peace that apply across all levels and include both an inner and an outer dimension, represents a substantial broadening of the peace concept in Western peace research.

Part III then uses the above evolution in the concept of peace as a framework to explore different dimensions of "a culture of peace," as well as different dimensions of "nonviolence. Part IV argues that Western peace research has focused almost entirely on outer peace, but that in future it needs to deal with both inner and outer aspects of peace in a more balanced way.

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In order to do this, it is suggested that peace research elaborate on the different dimensions and levels of inner peace, just as it has done for outer peace, and that it expand its methodology to include other ways of knowing besides social scientific methods only. Finally, peace research needs to redress the inbalance between negative and positive images of peace by exploring not only what it wants to eliminate, for example war and starvation, but also what it wants to create in a positive sense.

Please note that this paper is an ongoing project that will become a book. At present, some sections of the paper are developed more than others, but the basic framework is here. Please contact the writers in the future for later elaborations of this writing. We offer this version of the paper with humility, aware that further revisions and elaborations are necessary.

Before considering the external and internal aspects of religion, it is important to note that within any religion, there is a potential spectrum of possible perspectives on the teachings of that particular religion or spiritual tradition, including how those teachings relate to world peace. First, there is religion as socially-learned behavior, i. When religious beliefs take the form of rigid dogma, and the believers' beliefs and behavior are known to be right, while those of non believers, or other religions--or even different variants within one's own religion--are known to be wrong, this leads into what has been variously called "fundamentalism" or "fanaticism" or "extremism"--a global trend in almost all of the world's religions today.

At the other extreme are mystical traditions which are based on direct inner spiritual experiences. Here, such mystical, revelatory, or enlightenment experiences rather than socially learned behavior and beliefs constitute an important part of one's spiritual life. Such spiritual experiences have also occurred in mystics from all the world's religions throughout the ages. Indeed, the founders of the world's religions were themselves usually mystics, i.

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Given these considerations, it is possible to look at any religion as having a potential spectrum of different forms within it, each discussed separately in the paper, as follows:. It is interesting that mystics of all religions can usually communicate with each other and appreciate the spiritual or God force operating within each other--no matter what religious tradition the other mystics come from.

Organized religion is often tolerant of different religious traditions, as seen in ecumenical movements around the world, but there can be misunderstanding between religions based on differing beliefs and practices. These misunderstandings can be lessened by educational programs focusing on the appreciation and understanding of cultural and religious diversity.

But fundamentalism often stresses how one particular interpretation--of religion, scripture, and religious practices--is right and other interpretations are wrong. This difficulty of fundamentalists, from any religion, in dealing with diversity in a tolerant manner presents a major problem for peaceful relations and understanding between religions and cultures and hinders the creation of a global culture of peace. If the whole world were mystics--who tend to honor the mystical experience in people from all the world's religions--world peace would be easier to achieve than it is today.

But mystics are a very small percentage of the world's population and so misunderstandings, conflicts, and wars have often resulted historically, in part at least, over different religious interpretations of what constitutes proper beliefs, practices, rituals, and organizational forms, i. This section of the paper will look at exoteric or outer forms of religion, i.

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One way of looking at religion is as part of culture through socially learned behavior. In this way, religion is shared by a group of people, learned and passed down from one generation to the next, and is clearly reflected in both religious organizations and beliefs. The agents or institutions of socialization include language, a factor individuals are often least conscious of , politics, economics, religion, education, family, and media.

While Anthropologists have often studied one culture, including its institutions, in depth, others have undertaken cross-cultural, comparative studies. While cross-cultural studies deal with comparing some aspect of life, such as religious institutions and beliefs, from one culture to another, intercultural communication deals with the dynamic interaction patterns that emerge when peoples from two or more different cultures, including religions, come together to interact, communicate, and dialogue or negotiate with each other.

There are general principles of intercultural communication. There are also studies of particular cultures interacting, based on a belief that when persons from any two specific different cultures come together to interact with each other, that they will create their own dynamic interaction process, based on the underlying values of both groups, just as any two individuals will also create their own dynamic interaction process.

A significant problem with organized religion and belief, as this relates to peace and conflict, is individuals and groups often confuse the map their socially-learned version of reality or culture or religion with the territory or ultimate reality , as elaborated below. Thus people believe that their personal or subjective version of reality or religion is valid, while other views are invalid. Instead it can be argued that the many maps are different, but possibly equally valid interpretations and attempts to understand the same underlying reality or territory.

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Fundamentalism seems to be a trend in almost all the world's religions today. The term "fundamentalism" had its origins in "a late 19th and early 20th century transdenominational Protestant movement that opposed the accommodation of Christian doctrine to modern scientific theory and philosophy. With some differences among themselves, Christian fundamentalists insist on belief in the inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth and divinity of Jesus Christ, the vicarious and atoning character of his death, his bodily resurrection, and his second coming as the irreducible minimum of authentic Christianity.

For example, radical Islamic groups, such as Islamic Jihad, are seen as examples of Islamic fundamentalism, although a different term is preferred. In the Islamic tradition the word fundamentalism, when translated into Arabic, has a completely different and positive meaning. In Arab countries the appropriate word for describing literal religious fanaticism is "extremism. Because fundamentalists in any religion turn the beliefs of their religion into dogma, and also tend to interpret the scriptures of their religion in a literal way only, thus missing the many subtle levels of meaning as well as analogies with teachings from other world religions, they can end up stressing primarily how they are different from other world religions, and even from different interpretations within their own religion, rather than stressing any commonalities they might share with other world religions.

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This more limited interpretation of their scripture can then lead to dogmatic views that their interpretation of religion, and reality, is correct and everyone else is wrong. An interesting and important question for peace research and future studies is why there is such an upsurge in fundamentalism in so many of the world's religions in so many different parts of the world today? Of the many possible explanations for this phenomena, two hypotheses will be explored here.

The most obvious hypothesis would argue that people are overwhelmed by the increasing pace of change today, and are desperately seeking something that they can believe in as a mooring to help them through all this change in the outer world which is uprooting their lives and creating great insecurities in their lives. In the case of fundamentalism, this can involve returning to some over-idealized vision of their religious roots, which may never have existed in the idealized form that they remember, and trying to literally enforce that interpretation of reality on all the members of their group.

In such situations, people may need time to try to go back to a stringently defined earlier way of life and see if they can make it work, and only when they see that the world has changed too much to return to the past will they then be ready to move forward into the future. This hypothesis is consistent with the view that any religious or spiritual tradition needs to be constantly adapted to the world in which it finds itself--if it wishes to remain a living, breathing, spiritual force that people experience in their lives, rather than become an outdated institution based on dogma or rules.

A second related hypothesis, to explain the rise of fundamentalism in the world today, relates to the dual trend towards both globalism, as well as localism. The globalization process of the last 50 years has led to a dramatic increase in global governance structures, including an expansion of the multi- faceted United Nations UN system, an increase in scope of regional economic and political organizations, such as the European Community EC and the North American Free Trade Area NAFTA , and the continuing proliferation and development of International Governmental Organizations IGOs.

The growth in IGOs and the increase in size and scope of United Nations activities, such as the expanded scope of United Nations Peace Keeping operations, has had a major impact on international relations. A similar expansion of activities can be seen in the work of various international scientific, educational and cultural organizations, as indexed by the continued growth in International Non Governmental Organizations INGOs. Millions of individuals are routinely engaged in the work of INGOs, whose activities span the whole range of human experience, including agriculture, art, communications, economics, education, environment, health, music, politics, religion, sport and transportation.

Additionally, the world has witnessed the growth of an increasingly integrated global economy, as manifested in interdependent national economies and the evolution of multinational corporations MNCs and transnational corporations TNCs operating in just about every country worldwide. Many of these companies are economic giants, dwarfing all but a few of the world's national economies.


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An apparently contradictory worldwide trend towards local identity and ethnicity has also emerged as a major factor shaping events in the world today. In the wake of the end of the old East-West Cold War confrontation, we are witnessing a worldwide increase in local ethnic conflict, sometimes nonviolent but too often violent and very bloody, and often involving a religious dimension. These "local conflicts" are often proving to be intense and intractable, embedded in centuries of mistrust and hatred, and too often crystallized around and sanctioned, implicitly or explicitly, by particular religious institutions.

This localization process is every bit as profound as the overarching trend towards globalization, and in fact it is perhaps best conceived as neither in opposition to, nor separate from, that process. Globalization and localization are so interconnected and interdependent that localization is best conceptualized as an essential complement of the globalization process.

This view suggests that the integration of the big system, the creation of a new world order, requires a sense of meaning at the local level, requires human beings to experience coherence and balance within the local socio-cultural context. The rise of fundamentalism, it can be argued, is associated with this interdependence of the globalization and localization processes and the resulting pressures to achieve coherence at the local level in the face of the vast scope of the global supersystems.

The coherence in individuals' lives is, to a greater or lesser degree, associated with culturalization, with what the world means and how meaning in life and death is interpreted. Multicultural interpretations of the globalization - localization interdependency argue, as a consequence, that religion should not be the same in all societies, that it will and must have personal, local and global dimensions that manifest themselves in a rich variety of cultural forms and expressions.