Religions and Worldviews – the intimate connection
Posted on November 16th, 2012

R Chandrasoma

The word ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”worldviewƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ ( in German Weltanschauung, Sinhala Chinthanaya) denotes the fundamental orientation of a society or civilization in dealing with the problems and challenges of the world ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” its basic attitudes on how man ought to interact with his fellows and the world so asƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  to ensure general beneficence for the living andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  protection for the environment that supports him and his fellow-creatures. In translating this professed lofty ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”philosophyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ into practical action, what is deemed good for some may multiply misery for others. This is the great challenge for mankind in our current age.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

There is no universally agreed worldview ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” a source of great misery for mankind. It is a well-recognized fact that the Abrahamic Religions ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” Christianity, Islam and Judaism ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” prescribe a worldview (or incorporates this in their Gospels as a foundational assumption) that has the necessary implication that the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”World was made for ManƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  It follows from this ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”thesis of bequeathalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ that he (mankind) has ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”custodial statusƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ so far as the Earth and all its goods are concerned. Contrast this ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”viewƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ with the modern scientific understanding that our Planetary abode is, in every sense, prior to man andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  and indifferent to his pretensions of glory.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  His true status (arguably) is that of an intruder out of harmony with the inalienable rhythms of nature

That this grandiose posture ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” the Abrahamic encounter with the world ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” has brought civilization to a crisis is now acknowledged by all impartial thinkers. It is clear that we will stagger from crisi to crisis if present trends continue. Not only will our Planet and the life therein succumb to a thousand crises of this ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”anthropogenicƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ kind but horrendous misery will prevail worldwide when this unfortunateƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  human ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”adventureƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ draws to a close.

That there are other worldviews ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” notably the Buddhist ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” that offer hopeƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  and generous living for mankind ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” is known abstractly by a few but has no ascendency in shaping a globally dominant worldview. Contemporary Buddhist nations practice an Abrahamic realpolitic even if its citizens are ritualistically devout – as they lack the power and the momentum to change a world moving inexorably under the force of a world-order that has the ruling monotheisms deeply entrenched in the agenda of political action.

Indeed, it is the helplessness of those outside the Abrahamic tradition to influence the course of global events that is the greatest tragedy of our day and age. While Buddhism as a healing spiritual force is known to the compassionate elite across the world, this force is still outside the frame of global politics.

That ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”opponentsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ are wicked and must be punished is the prevailing ethos of the Abrahamic worldview. Relations between nations are modeled on the Abrahamic understanding of interpersonal relations ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” that some are good while others must be punished ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”for disobeying GodƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. The concepts ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Evil EmpiresƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Pariah StatesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ arise from a worldview that is hardly tenable today.

How can a Buddhist rethink on these fundamental matters be be actively canvassed by those who hope to influence the wielders of Global Power? How can a new worldview work its way into the minds of a rulingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  elite brainwashed over long centuries to ignore the enlightened and compassionate teachings of Eastern Religions and to hew to an Abrahamic tradition in world affairs that has caused so much misery to mankind?

The answer is simple ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” even if its practical realization seems at the moment to demand a measure of luck and foresight that seems unattainable given the asymmetric distribution of power in our world. We must have exponents of a Buddhist world-view sitting ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”cheek-by jowlƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ with Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Western Imperium that currently steer planetary affairs. A Senator of the caliber of Edward Kennedy in the US Senate expounding to his Nation and the World on the need to fundamentally rethink the Abrahamic underpinning of the global chaos we witness would have been a great leap forward for mankind. Thinking on these lines we note that there is now a newly elected Senator in this august assembly that can ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” perhaps – play this role.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Is she wise enough? Is she learned in the Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha? Above all, has she the drive and the charisma to lanuch the ideological revolution that will change the world for the better? Surely a great miracle and unsurpassable gift to mankind if all these questiona can be answered in the affirmative.

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