Tuesday, October 13, 2015
'Religion Opium of the People'
In private discussion religion is often considered of little value. What is the need to pray? Nothing is achieved, and a persons' thinking powers are exhausted; a reason Karl Marx said religion was the opium of the people. One of the columnists who writes in the Peace Weekly on questions received from the readers, responds using the question: What is the spiritual psychological answer to religion is the opium of the people?
Pseudo religious' cults do great harm to a person's family and life. That is a fact. But to say this about all religions is like the blind man touching the elephant's legs and saying he knows what an elephant is--not very wise.
Even when prayer is not answered it has an importance in itself. In the evolution of man we developed from the reptile, to mammal to primate. When our hearts are not on the spiritual and magnanimous, we regress to an earlier stage of our development. When we can't control our thinking we are opening ourselves up to sickness of the spirit.
Our ancestors when a person did not act like a human they would say they were no better than an animal. They were alluding unknowingly to something that was true. We can regress to an earlier stage of our evolution that is less than human.
Prayer is something only humans can do and a sign of our humanity. When we pray we are lifting up our eyes to the heavens and are aware that God is looking at us because we are receptive, disciplining and cultivating ourselves. We can deceive others and end up not living like humans.
The columnist gives the second rebut to the opiate of the people. Sick people in great pain are given relief by the drug. Prayer, not like opium, has no side-effects, and many find it helpful. In prayer we express our faith, hope, and the hardships of life, the despondency, anxiety and conflict in our hearts are lightened and often healing comes.
Myanmar is a country that has suffered much at the hands of its leaders and with great poverty. Citizens have little of this world's goods but because of their Buddhist understanding of life they have one of the highest happiness indexes in the world. Unable to change what causes them suffering they do not fall apart or get mentally sick; their Buddhist devotion is a gift they have received and enables them to overcome their difficulties. This witnessing to the results of religion, just can't be shrugged off by condemning it as an opiate.
With their Buddhist faith the citizens are living the gospel life. They share, have concern for one another, they are poor and yet rich in what is important. On a trip when a person has an accident they stay with the person until what was intended is accomplished. We should reflect on what it is that makes us a developed country and it should fill us with shame.
We can't emphasize too much the importance that religion has in our lives. The Bible is not a book we use only within the temple but should be our directory for our daily lives. At present we determine development by income; a better standard for a truly developed country would be one judged with a happiness index. Christians would understand this as followers of the gospel index for development.