tisdag 8 augusti 2017

Is shamanism a religion?

K: börjar du inte bli ofokuserad? (Aren´t you losing your focus now?)
Viveca: Jo! (Yes!)
K: Bra att du ser det själv (Good that you can see it yourself!)
K: har du ingen blogg där de där religiösa funderingar hör hemma? (Don´t you have any blog where those religious thoughts belong?
Viveca: Jodå (yes)

That was a comment that I got after having written the text Our New Heaven.

How interesting!
 Now I just have to think more about that!
I start where I am and then I will see where I end up.

OK I was writing about religion and not specifically about the Talking Stick. But as the Talking Stick is a tool for introspection and for telling others what is really going on in the mind and for understanding what the emotions are based upon and how they have been created, how they get triggered and how they can be changed, the Talking Stick can not be separated from those other disciplines and theories that are focusing on the same thing and they are many. There are innumerable approaches to the study of the psyche and we can take looks into many of them and get the same answers, but they are presented with different words and names. Some disciplines are called religions, some are just called methods and some are called shamanism and we have psychological schools, esoteric orders and so on and on and on..... they were started by introspective people who were interested in looking closer at our inner reality, formulate theories from the discoveries and teaching them to others. But a method can be taken over by people with other interests.

The Talking Stick has appeared to us in the form that is invented by the Red Indians (with pearls, hide and feathers and so) and their culture is accepted by us, much because we think that it is ”not a religion”. Some call it shamanism and they see shamanism as an opposite to, or at least a good escape from ”religion”.
The Sioux Indians get really angry when we (outsiders) claim that they ”have shamans”. They answer: ”We have Medicine Men and not shamans! A shaman is something else!”

So... how is it?
Is shamanism a religion or is it the opposite to religions and thus being able to save humanity from all those religions? According to what i read here shamanism is a religion.

Tengrism is a Central Asian religion characterized by shamanism, animism, totemism, poly- and monotheism and ancestor worship. It was the prevailing religion of the Turks, Mongols, Hungarians, Xiongnu and Huns and the religion of the five ancient Turkic states: Göktürk Khaganate, Western Turkic Khaganate, Great Bulgaria, Bulgarian Empire and Eastern Tourkia (Khazaria).
"Unlike the shamanism of former times, Tengrism is a monotheistic form of religion with a cosmology that is suitable for the modern world. It is firmly based on trendy ‘green’ or environmental concerns and believes that humanity should live in harmony with the natural world."

It is a religion, "but without dogma, prayers or a priesthood".

But the main god (Sky Father) is not alone. There are the Fire God, the Wind God, the Sun God, the Moon Goddess, the Water Goddess and many, many others, so it is quite polytheistic.
Christianity is also not really monotheistic when you also worship and pray to a lot of saints and angels. It is just to play with words.
If Tengrism has rituals instead of dogma, deities instead of gods, songs and drums (and talking with spirits) instead of "prayers" and shamans instead of priests....where is the difference? Maybe just that it has not yet been taken over by the "power people". It has not become a church. It has not yet been transformed into an institution.

Maybe it will be taken over by the music industry and focus on a performing art on stages? And in time it will just be a name for a certain kind of folk music and dance? 

There is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion so people have different opinions about it. I would say that there is also no consensus over what shamanism is. It is often used in a generalised way to describe all kinds of indigenous magical practices in a wide range of cultures worldwide. The essence of the real, old core, shamanism has been lost into deluted, more romantic forms that can suit people in the cities. So the word is losing it´s meaning. Many abstract words lose their meanings!

Religion is a Latin word and to many languages it can not be translated because these languages do not have any equivalent term for it. Not a wonder! Of course it can be impossible to translate a word if you do not even know the meaning of it! We also use the foreign word shaman because we cannot translate it. The first western people, who met with shamanism in Siberia, called it ”devilish rites”. 

According to Wikipedia religion is:
Any cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, ethics, or organizations, that relate humanity to the supernatural or transcendental. Religions relate humanity to what anthropologist Clifford Geertz has referred to as a cosmic "order of existence".

I make it shorter: a religion is a cultural system of ingredients that relate humans with the supernatural.

In that case all old cultures had such systems. It was so common that it was looked upon as reality and not something that could be named. "Shamanism" is a word that we put on their systems. Shamanism is also a cultural system of ingredients that relate people with the supernatural, but it is a religion that is focused on co-working with (the spirits of) nature, instead of just using and killing it.
One can wonder if our Christian religion really "relates humanity to the supernatural". At least it does not relate us to the supernatural in general. Shamanism is much more designed to do so and following that thread it cannot be wrong to claim that shamanism is a religion but Christianity is not.

So when a person insinuates that he is against all religions – what does he mean?
Maybe he means that he is against only our own religion, which might not at all be a real religion.
Maybe he is against the church (but in that case he would have said so?) Is he then against all institutions? Why not?
Maybe he means that he is against anything that should "relate us to the supernatural" as he claims that "the supernatural does not exist!"

OK! What is it that does not exist?
Supernatural? What is that? Super natura? Above nature. Above the material world = not visible to the physical eyes. Transcendental is another word for that and it is something that goes outside of, goes down through, and beyond nature, beyond the world, beyond materia, beyond the physical world. Beyond the world that we can see with the physical eye.

"Transcendental, i filosofi egenskap bortom tingens kategorier (till exempel godhet och skönhet)". Wikipedia  

So it can be something that belongs to dreams! Do dreams exist? Dream therapy or any psychological therapy would be dealing with something supernatural, but people would say that a psychological therapy exists and can work and have real and useful effects. Still it can be based on "only fantasy".

OK  Something supernatural is what we call an abstract noun!
Love, hate, beauty, anger, greed, happiness, fear are abstract nouns. Do they exist or do they not exist? No! Not in material form. They are more like spirits that can possess someone. It depends on how your language is made up. 

Most people would say that anger exists (because they can experience how it feels). It is just because they know what I talk about. If I called anger a spirit instead of a feeling they would say ”no”, because they have learned (from fairy tales and films?)  that a spirit is like a ghost, a real but invisible figure that is running around. They have decided to believe that it is something that they do not believe exists and then they deny the belief that they have created.

They also say that a spirit is just fantasy. But in that case it is something that people would say exists (as they do not deny fantasy) and then religion can be called fantasy therapy. What´s wrong with that? We already have that, but we use other words for it. It is just a playing with words.

The best way to describe such an abstract noun to children is to make a story where one person is always described as an incarnation of beauty, goodness, love, anger or greed. That figure becomes a symbol for a certain feeling.
Listening to these stories you can start recognizing all these figures within yourself. You can be full of love or full of anger. Then you can say that this figure is living in you, is using you to ”incarnate”. The next step is to consciously choose which feeling you want to be filled with by using your fantasy. That can be done by focusing strongly on the figure, that is in the story representing that specific quality, till you get into cohesion with it, you feel like it, identify with it.  Et voilà! You have a god!

That is a fantastic invention for psychotherapy and now we can start making a system out of it to teach the ignorant population how to do and how to think! We write down the rules for it. We create schools for that! We create teachers! It grows. Et voilá! You have a religion!

The teachers are called priests and the teaching a priest is doing in a tempel can also be called mind manipulation. But that goes for our modern schools too, so if we do not like ”religions” we should also not like our school system. "Religion" (the reading in temples and monasteries) was the start of our schools. That kind of repeated reading is today called plugga in Swedish.

Our modern definition of the word religion is not the old one. 
Cicero said that the word comes from legere, to read (to pick). Reading or listening (picking up knowledge) was (is) the first step in a learning process, but at that time it was focused on spirituality, cultus deorum (the worshipping of the gods). Those people who were honestly learning and taking part in the rituals in the temples were by him called religious (religiosi). The people who were offering in the temples many times a day only to please the gods (and not for learning) were called superstitious (superstitiosi) because their only interest was that their children should survive them (superstare = survive).

We get institutionalized and then we want to break free from that.
When a system grows big it attracts the psychopaths that want to use it to get power by taking over. Et voilà! We have the priests, that kind of priest that we say that we don´t like.

These priests understand that they can get more powerful by operating in groups, which can control bigger herds. If the groups come together the priests can get the whole population into the same institution and now there is a need for one person to be the alpha male..... Et voilà! They have created a church with a bishop.

Some seem to be convinced that these power people were products of something that they call religion, which would be something supernatural that had taken hold of those poor priests, who had been very good people if this transcendental entity called religion had not existed!
No, they use what the population is interested in, be it gods, health or money.

The ones, that we today call psychopaths, are just happy that we put that focus on the word religion (which we do not know the meaning of!!!) because they are not there any more. (Except for some wild Muslims that are still living in the medieval age, but they have no intention of hiding their intentions.)
Today our psychopaths operate through the political systems, Internet, Medical Companies, Food Companies, economy, war industri...... and we believe them and follow them.... but they have started to have problems with facebook and YouTube. I suppose they are busy inventing new algorithms that will fix the problem.

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