Many religions take their answer for granted, then try to re-explain your problems in a way that matches up.
I prefer a religion that takes the essential problem as its starting point: who are we, and how do we live a meaningful life? An honest investigation of that question never leads to doctrine. It’s the starting point of philosophy, and the foundation of good religion.
I may not have a name for such religion, but thanks to a reader I do have a very eloquent explanation of how it works. This comes from Dave:
My religion is one which seeks meaning by recognizing one’s place in the proverbial grand scheme of things. For me that is… best realized on a deep, internal level in an experience which can only be described as numinous.
My definition for numinous might be “in the presence of something greater, provoking one to awe, wonder, and sometimes terror.”
By realizing this experience in the natural world I think that necessitates a relationship between the individual and nature, realized as being both an individual within and in harmony with nature and in relationship to nature as wholly other and transcendent (in the sense of greater than self).
My religion seeks to address what comprises a good and worthwhile life. For me I need not just to understand, articulate, and act on my values to achieve this. I also need to be in good relationship with others… and cultivate a sense of purpose.
(It’s worth reading his whole comment.)
In the context of our other discussions, I’m reading Dave’s beliefs wholly without supernatural elements. When he says “the presence of something greater” I read that as the stars, the ocean, or the beat of a drum.
This to me is the oldest religion, the experience that predates doctrine and myth. It is also the future of religion.
People are losing interest in religions that use faerie tales to explain the world. But these same folks will find they have profound experiences in the presence of the numinous. Such experiences are moving and haunting. To seek them out is natural, to contemplate them is helpful.
I use adventure as a tool for finding and implementing experiences of the numinous, in the self. And as a tool for finding one’s purpose, for deciding your own Fate in the world.
How do you experiences the numinous? Does religion need anything more than this?