Why religion is bad for aging brains
Posted on December 20th, 2013

R Chandrasoma

It is now well established that just as limbs and joints must be regularly exercised if they are to remain supple and effective organs of locomotion, the brain must be used and challenged if is to be an efficient organ of mentation in adulthood. Children and young adults do exercise their brains as part of the routines of education that are forced on them by long tradition. There is no comparable tradition for adults – and their ‘mental improvement’ remains largely their own affair. This lackadaisical attitude to adult education has had a severe impact on the ‘flexibility’ of aging brains in this country where tradition and routines are honoured but ‘out of box thinking’ is regarded as a dereliction of some kind. While rich households have large TV systems and opulent furniture we rarely see books on display. Even rarer is a discussion on a learned work recently read and digested. This mental apathy of the grown-ups is a tragic

development in Sri Lanka and it is coupled with a rising belief in Astrology, Folk-Medicine and ancient hocus-pocus. This public and widespread weakening of cognitive powers is manifested most markedly in grown womenfolk of Sri Lanka. It is sad to see the vivacious young woman of yesteryear turning into that milddle age dullard listening apathetically to a religious discourse delivered ex-cathedra by a robed know-all.

It is about robed know-alls that more must be said. The audience is largely female and they all have a glazed look that betokens an absence in the seat of intelligence. What is said by the monk is said with an authority that brooks no challenge – indeed the brain is asleep while the droning message from the Immaculate Authority fills the air and faintly rouses the distracted ear. The pilgrim forgets all when he leaves the religious sanctum. It is not my business to speak on the substance of what is said in these seances but to speak of the damage done to the aging brain. May women in our country have no place other than a ‘religious auditorium’ (bana salawa) wherein anything approaching profundity is discussed – and it is this very place that stultifies the brain by boring repetition, hortatory nonsense and tales that a child of ten would find hilariously untrue. Yet this is the intellectual fare that our backward masses are forced to endure

since intelligent and honest dissent is equated with impiety. Some may find these observations constituting a veiled attack on the Ruling Religion of our land – this is not my intention. It is, rather, a concern for the dumbing down of the intelligence and vitality that a widely-practiced soporific religious praxis has on the people of Sri Lanka. Brains lose power when they are force-fed that which wilts under the broad scrutiny of an intelligence that is free, fair and untrameled. Alas, our historic religion has been stripped of these virtues in the hands of a monkish oligarchy that is willfully blind to its own weaknesses. The reign of fools is not far off.

5 Responses to “Why religion is bad for aging brains”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    But as people age they become MORE religious!

    They want to go to heaven or nirvana, not hell after death.

  2. mjaya Says:

    Yes, it is a sad thing to see the intelligent aspects of Buddhism being replaced by non-Buddhist mumbo jumbo.

    But the main reason for this is demand.

    Old people need this type of assurance to face their inevitable demise. They find it comforting. That is the reality.

  3. Nanda Says:

    For Arahants no religion is needed. All others do some bad things in their life and near the death they get scared. It will be the same for Chandrasoma , I guarantee , assuming he is not an arahant. The only way out is to work towards becoming a “taintless” person, if you like. Can you , Professor Chandrasoma ? The brain can make you a professor but the degree of wisdom will make you a bloody fool (professor).

  4. douglas Says:

    Mr. R.Chandrasoma: Well said. On the whole (of all religions) the ultimate destination is the “Life After Death”. This has created a “mortal fear”, in everyone, excepting a very few percentage of men and women. This fact of “Fear of Death” and “The life After Death” have been “Enigmatically” deployed and used by the “robed”, as well as other so called scholars for various purposes, including of being to be an “AUTHORITATIVE” figure of all religious teachings. This “AUTHORITATIVE” presence and the “KNOWLEDGE” demonstrated at various discourses have prevented the larger segment of the men and women of the population from getting engaged in a “TRUTH FINDING MISSION” of their own on the very principles of the teachings of the religions.

    On the one hand these “AUTHORITATIVE” figures have to prevent the masses from getting involved in “Truth Finding Mission” without which their own survival is lost. Then on the other, the people too are not “self motivated” to “see”(learn), “question”(examine) and most importantly to “experience”(practice) and see for themselves the “REALITY”. For example, just think of the “Eight Fold Noble Path” taught in Buddhism. Do the “Authoritative” figures direct the people to “experience” this path in their day to day life activities? Do the people themselves make an attempt to “adopt” that path as a part of their life style and experience the benefits? NO. Another example of Christianity: Jesus Christ said “Eat my flesh and drink my blood”. How do the “Robed” authorities practice this and present this to the ordinary masses? It is made a “huge ceremony” conducted on special days and events of the congregation. The whole meaning and the intended teaching have been completely forgotten and taken away from the masses.

    So if these “TEACHINGS”( all of those experienced by the TEACHERS) are presented in their TRUE SENSE, I am confident that “WISDOM” will dawn on everyone. Then this world will be very different to what it is today.

  5. Senevirath Says:

    Buddha dhamma is not a mere religion like Hinduism or Christianity. Buddha dhamma has helped Sinhalese to build up a great civilization . so we all need it

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