Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Beyond Religions

Originally posted on May 31, 2012

Book Review: Beyond religions: ethics for a whole world. By the 14th Dalai Lama. (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2011).
     Pleased to discover this book as it speaks to the beginning convergence of psychological literacy and what His Holiness calls “the education of the heart.” I think we need this and the book describes a goodly number of finer discriminations, such as between foolish anger, occasional useful anger, and always-destructive hate. Learning that emotional tendencies are not good or bad in themselves but rather in context and modulation is itself an important step in maturation. I’m pleased because the Dalai Lama has become a world figure in a number of realms. He won a Nobel Peace Prize, and he has been a champion of inter-spirituality. Now he is moving laterally to include a trans-religious frame.

I’m pleased because I think he resonates well with my idea that religion is the social organization of the spiritual impulse. Many people find that the framework of their religions have served them well, helping them to feel both more securely connected to their ground of being and offering them useful moral guidance. Others have found their own religious backgrounds lacking for various reasons. Yet pure science has not been an adequate substitute because it lacks the softer ethical elements of kindness, tact, empathy, and related subtleties that are based not on evidence but intuition.

I have long advocated a renewed synthesis of spirituality and everyday psychology. The latter offers a more secular foundation that nevertheless overlaps with spiritual-ethical teachings, as in a way this book does also. I am stimulated by the phrase, “education of the heart.” In another blog-post I comment on ways this might be done.

2 Responses to “Beyond Religions”

  • “Re-education of the Heart”
    Perhaps this is a better title for a book or, at the very least, focus for further contemplation.
    As children, I think we are born with an open heart and an open mind. The matters we, as adults, deem “matters of the heart” and have a profound importance to us have largely to do with what we are taught and how we correlate those teachings with our individual experiences. (What hurts us and what makes us feel good?)
    If we could re-learn how to process our experiences in the same way a child does we could be much more forgiving, more understanding, patient and compassionate; before we are stricken with matters of the “self” (ego, materialistic endeavors, etc.)
    What “hurts our feelings” and upsets our personal structure is what tends to separate, or disconnect, us from intimate contact with others. What hurts a child’s feelings is the disassociation they feel caused by obstructions to their innate sense of structure in accordance with what they know and feel.
    I think this can develop into a sort of “plague” for some adults who struggle to hold on to those childhood ideals. I think that with proper guidance people can recapture that “childhood innocence” learning to accept life for what it is, dealing with what happens to them on a “moment to moment” basis and making the best of every situation.

  • child education game…

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