Archivo de la etiqueta: Hoggar

The logical ballerinas: “Religion”


In the photograph you can see the Hoggar mountain range (Algeria). Many years ago I went there on my motorcycle. And suddenly, one afternoon, while the sky was slowly being filled with silent white fires, I felt something extraordinary: everything around me (sky, mountains, rocks, desert, wind) was transformed into ‘someone’: ‘Someone’ with a superhuman and truly unbearable beauty -almost lethal- that was looking at me, and lets say loving me.  The whole cosmos became presence… I say ‘someone’ because I felt that ‘that’ was aware of himself. And aware of me too.

I felt something similar again two years later in Lyon (France), just walking, alone, prosaically, around the airport. Once again, suddenly, everything was ‘someone’. A presence exploded into my consciousness, an unbearable presence that, now, I can only qualify as sacred. Why sacred? Because it emanated omnipotence, feeling, closeness, attention, magic, sublimity… and love.

Now, almost thirty years later, and I do not know how many dozens of books read since then, I think I can say that those two phenomena were religious. And they were so because I felt a bond, a religation, with something great, infinitely bigger and more beautiful than me and than any imaginable thing.

By the way: That ‘thing’ told me nothing. It just was there, sublimating the whole reality, and my whole existence.

“Religion”. Another logical ballerina. Lets see how does she dance.

There are two etymological interpretations of the word “religion”. The first is based on the Latin verb religare: to tie, to bind, to link.

Link with what? Do those links really happen? Why? Can they be artificially propitiated? Can they be socially institutionalized, regulated, theorized?

The second etymological interpretation comes from the Latin word religiosus, synonymous with “religens”, which would be the opposite of “negligens”. José Ferrater Mora says in his beautiful  Dictionary of Philosophy that in this second interpretation “being religious is equivalent to being scrupulous, that is, scrupulous in the fulfillment of the duties that are imposed on the citizen in the cult of the gods of the State-City.”

I suggest the following readings in order to approach the logical ballerina “Religion”. Just three powerful books:

1.- Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling. Here we find the radical recommendation of jumping into the lethal, inhuman abyss of God. Religion as a lethal, annihilating link.

2.- William James [See here still in Spanish]: The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. This is a classic study on the radical human experience of God´s presence, of God´s sudden apparition. 

3.- Michel Hulin [See here still in Spanish]: La mystique sauvage, PUF, Paris 1993. This is a work that deserves to be read. It studies the non-civilizational, radically private and free religious experience. It should be translated into English. Any volunteer? 

And I share some philosophical reflections now, caused in my mind by the logical ballerina “Religion”:

1.- Considering a cosmos not as the totality of the existent things but as the totality of things (lets say values, relationships, structures, models of life and death and after death, possibilities) we have been told that are real (in summary, considering a cosmos as a story, as a legend we take as real and in which we believe we exist), I see too kinds of religious links: intra-cosmic and extra-cosmic: free thinking versus enslaved thinking, free love versus robotized, narrowed, civilizationally focused love.  The intra-cosmic religions might foster an auto-confinement in a dogma, in a logical/civilizational product: that link offers certainty and successfully harmonizes individual lives within human societies. It can also become a way of making money. This religiosity can be very useful, and even also healthy, but only if it is not assumed too seriously: it can easily degenerate into fanaticism (stupidity, hatred). It truly provides certainty and can even help to channel superavits of fear and envy and frustration, but it always presuppose blindness, and smallness. The extra-cosmic religious link, though, might connect us with the abyss, with the infinity, with something that expands our eyes and hearts, that pushes us to love more, to study more, to question more, to create more too. Surprisingly, we can also find this kind of open religiosity in the most powerful religions of our civilization. For instance, in Christianity we find a philosopher like Gianni Vattimo [See here still in Spanish], the creator of the “weak thought”, who affirms that to be a real Christian implies to be “a bad Cristian”. In Islam we find Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Averroes, Avicena… In Hinduism we have the Upanishads, which point out the absurdity of the sacred texts in which they are included (the Vedas) and also of any rite or ceremony. In Marxism we find Horkheimer [See here still in Spanish]. In Judaism we have the jewel of Levinas [See here still in Spanish]. Within the religion of Science we can find a man like Stephen Hawking [See here still in Spanish] thinking that, when we try to understand the origen of the universe, the ideas of Saint Augustine of Hippo have the same epistemological value as the ones of the Big Bang theory. We find this shocking ‘confession’ in his book The grand design (Bantam Books, New York 2010), written together with Leonard Modlinov:

“Model-dependent realism can provide a framework to discuss questions such as: If the world was created a finite time ago, what happened before that? An early Christian philosopher, St.Augustine (354–430), said that the answer was not that God was preparing hell for people who ask such questions, but that time was a property of the world that God created and that time did not exist before the creation, which he believed had occurred not that long ago. That is one possible model, which is favored by those who maintain that the account given in Genesis is literally true even though the world contains fossil and other evidence that makes it look much older. (Were they put there to fool us?) One can also have a different model, in which time continues back 13.7 billion years to the big bang. The model that explains the most about our present observations, including the historical and geological evidence, is the best representation we have of the past. The second model can explain the fossil and radioactive records and the fact that we receive light from galaxies millions of light-years from us, and so this model—the big bang theory—is more useful than the first. Still, neither model can be said to be more real than the other”.

2.- We could also speak of purely logical religious-links versus pure silent religious-links: religiosities derived from the spells of the goddess Vak. Here would be theism, atheism, etc. Just wars of names (or wars of Gods): “Nature”, “Life”, “Universe”, “Knowledge”, “Science”, “Human rights and dignity”, etc. All of them require the installation and updating of symbolic constructs: books, sermons, indoctrinations.

3.- The religious bond, if fully successful, triggers an irruption of energy: it is as if the ‘connected human being’, suddenly, received an energy that was not available to him until ‘the connection’. There are various energizing cosmos, various energizing religions essentially incompatible with each other in many cases. How is that possible? Perhaps it could be argued that certainty, and the end of doubts and fears, and also the feeling of being part of a closed and protected community, might give strength and peace, which altogether might trigger exceptional flows of energy inside human body and mind and whatever. Are energy and peace and certainty the ultimate goals of human existence? 

4.- Philosophy, when you try to practice it seriously, must be radically empiricist: we should not be tempted to eliminate facts or sensations even though they do not fit into some of the paradigms that struggle to be the home of the whole in the whole of our mind. The religious feeling is something very serious. Very big. Too big maybe. Philosophy can nor ignore it.

5.- We also should be able to accept the possibility of the existence of a very serious, very close and loving bond with some minor god, as Salvador Paniker seems to yearn in that refreshing work that is entitled Asimetrías (Debate, Barcelona 2008). I made a book review that can be read [here].

6.- If we, with Schopenhauer [See here in German], endure the thought -and the feeling- that we are the secret directors of the theatre play of our lives, it must be possible to affirm that the religious bond would be something like a communication, a vibrating cable, set between our creative self – natura naturans, the Great Wizard-  and our created self (natura naturata).

7.- We should consider the existence of  a prodigious dreamer who, conscious and omnipotent inside his dream, inside his created dream, could love an individual person, a concrete picture, dreamed-drawn by him. Dreamed-drawn so prodigiously that the picture could also love back its dreamer, its draftsman; even if that “picture”, that creation, could not see his creator, not even successfully think or speak about him. 

Inside the created world it might only be possible to feel him (I mean the Dreamer/Draftsman), and even to feel his feelings, occasionally, like I maybe did almost thirty years ago, in the mountains of Algeria.

David López

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Las bailarinas lógicas: “Religión”.



En el cielo de este texto aparece un paisaje del Hoggar (Argelia). Hace muchos años (1989) fui hasta allí en moto. Y de pronto, una tarde, mientras el sol convertía el mundo en fuego seco, y mientras aquel cielo se llenaba de silenciosas hogueras blancas, sentí algo descomunal: todo lo visible (cielo, montañas, rocas, desierto) se transmutó en “alguien”: “alguien” de una belleza sobrehumana e insoportable— casi letal —, que se dirigía a mí. Que me amaba. Todo el cosmos se convirtió en presencia… de “alguien”. Digo “alguien” porque yo sentí que aquello era consciente de sí mismo. Y de mí también.

Volví a sentir algo similar dos años después en Lyon, dando un absurdo y prosaico paseo por los alrededores de su aeropuerto. Otra vez, de pronto, todo era “alguien”. Irrumpió en mi conciencia una presencia que, ahora, solo puedo calificar como sagrada. ¿Por qué? Porque emanaba omnipotencia, sentimiento, cercanía, atención, magia, sublimidad…

Casi cuarenta años después (y no sé cuántas decenas de libros leídos desde entonces) creo que puedo decir que aquellos dos fenómenos fueron religiosos. Y lo fueron porque yo sentí un vínculo, una religación, con algo grandioso, con una belleza que podría ser calificada como infinita.

“Religión”. Otra bailarina lógica. ¿Nombra algo fuera de sí misma? ¿El lenguaje ha sido capaz de crear un símbolo para dar cuenta de vínculos con lo que ya no es lenguaje, con lo que ya no es social, convencional, gramatical?

Hay dos interpretaciones etimológicas de la palabra “religión”. La primera se apoya en el verbo religare: un símbolo del latín con el que se compartía un concepto que en español estaría ahora simbolizado con las palabras “religar”, “atar”, “vincular”.

¿Vincular con qué? ¿Ocurren de verdad esos vínculos? ¿Por qué? ¿Se pueden propiciar artificialmente? ¿Se pueden institucionalizar socialmente? ¿Cabe no estar vinculado con la totalidad del Ser?

La segunda interpretación etimológica parte de la voz latina “religiosus”, sinónimo de “religens”, que sería lo opuesto a “negligens”. Dice José Ferrater Mora en su (por mí tan amado) Diccionario de Filosofía que en esta segunda interpretación “ser religioso equivale a ser escrupuloso, esto es, escrupuloso en el cumplimiento de los deberes que se imponen al ciudadano en el culto a los dioses del Estado-Ciudad”.

Sugiero las siguientes lecturas para aproximarse a eso que sea “la religión”:

1.- Ludwig Feuerbach: solo hay hombre y naturaleza. Nada más. De acuerdo, pero ¿qué es eso de “la naturaleza”? Creo que debe leerse La esencia de la religión (prefacio y traducción de Tomás Cuadrado Pescador, Editorial Páginas de Espuma, Madrid 2005).

2.- Kierkegaard: el salto suicida al abismo de Dios. Temor y temblor (traducción, estudio preliminar y notas de Vicente Simón Merchán, Tecnos, Barcelona 1987).

3.- William James [Véase aquí]. The varieties of religious experience. En español hay una edición de esta obra en  Península (Barcelona, 2002): La variedades de la experiencia religiosa,  a partir de la traducción de J.F. Ybars y con un prólogo, excelente, de José Luis L. Aranguren.

4.- Michel Hulin [Véase aquí]: La mística salvaje (Siruela, 2007; traducción de María Tabuyo y Agustín López). Es una obra que merece ser leída. Da cuenta de la experiencia religiosa no civilizacional.

Comparto ahora algunas reflexiones:

1.- Creo que cabe distinguir entre religaciones cosmistas (las que presuponen vínculo con un cosmos lógico, ordenado); y religaciones —o experiencias religiosas— metacosmistas (vínculos con lo que no es lógico, con lo que no se limita a ser un cosmos). Esta división podría hacerse quizás de otro modo: religaciones con el Dios lógico y religaciones con el Dios metalógico [véase Dios]. Aquí cabría ubicar eso que hoy está agrupado bajo el símbolo “experiencia mística”. El fundamentalism cientista sería  una forma de religación puramente cosmista.

2.- Cabría hablar también de vínculos puramente lógicos: religiosidades derivadas de las auto-configuraciones de la diosa Vak (la omnipotente diosa de la palabra). Nombres/divinidad: Dios, Naturaleza, Vida, Universo, Nación, etc. Símbolos que quieren nombrar el todo, pero que requieren las varitas mágicas que son los libros, los sermones, las verdades finales. Son muy eficaces.. El Verbo se hace carne.

3.- El vínculo religioso propicia una irrupción de energía: es como si el “conectado”, de pronto, recibiera una energía que no estaba para él disponible hasta ese momento. Soprende que haya diversos cosmos energizantes (incompatibles entre sí en muchos casos). Cabría sostener quizás que la certeza da fuerza y paz. También cabría sostener, desde el materialismo cerebralista, que determinadas propuestas religiosas —poesías en definitiva— propiciarían recorridos neuronales de los que se derivaría la secreción de hormonas capaces de alterar, y de sublimar en su caso, nuestros estados ordinarios de conciencia. [véase Poesía]. Sí. Pero estos discursos son reduccionistas. Se desarrollan dentro de una caja lógica. Están ciegos. Todo es mucho más grande y complejo. Y bello.

4.- Sorprende también que dentro de cada cosmos haya una relación directa entre la felicidad y la virtud (lo que sea virtuoso dentro de ese mundo). Parecería que hay muchos dioses dispuestos a dar energía y beatitud al hombre a cambio de su entrega y de su amor.

5.- En cualquier caso, y como sostengo al ocuparme de “Parapsicología” [véase], la Filosofía, cuando se intenta practicar en serio, debe ser hiper-empirista: no debe caer en la tentación de eliminar hechos o sensaciones que no quepan en algunos de los paradigmas que luchan por ser el hogar de la totalidad. El sentimiento religioso es algo muy serio. Muy grande. Demasiado grande quizás.

6.- Y cabría quizás un vínculo muy serio, muy cercano y amoroso, con algún dios menor, como añora Salvador Paniker en esa refrescante obra que lleva por título Asimetrías (Debate, Barcelona 2008). De ella hice en su momento una crítica que se puede leer [aquí]. Mi madre rezaba a San Antonio. Decía que rezar a Dios le parecía demasiado, que ella no se merecía tanta atención. Mi madre fue un regalo del cielo para mí. Un fenómeno religioso en sí mismo.

7.- Si se soporta el pensamiento (y el sentimiento) de que somos los secretos directores de la obra de teatro de nuestra vida, cabría afirmar que el vínculo religioso sería algo así como una comunicación, un sentimiento mutuo, entre nuestro yo creador (natura naturans, el Gran Mago) y nuestro yo creado (natura naturata): el personaje, esas frágiles máscaras que aparecen en mi texto sobre “Moksa” [véase].

8.- Podríamos también imaginar a un prodigioso soñador que, consciente y omnipotente en su sueño, pudiera amar a una persona soñada por él. Soñada de forma que ella pudiera también amar a su soñador; aunque no pudiera verle… ni pensarle siquiera. Un vínculo religioso…

Algo así sentí yo, hace casi treinta años, en las montañas que presiden este texto.

David López


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