What we are today comes from our thoughts of
yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind.
– The Dhammapada
It has been difficult for many westerners to understand the reaction of conservative Muslims to the Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad in unflattering ways. No easier to understand is how some Christian pro-life proponents defend those who kill
abortionists, or who blow up abortion clinics. One writer in a recent New York Times article suggested that some religious folk are like ants whose brains have been taken over by the lancet fluke–a parasite that infects ants’ brains and causes them to climb a blade of
grass over and over again until they can be eaten by grazing sheep or
cows. Once thusly consumed, they can flourish in the stomachs and intestinal tracks of their hosts and reproduce. (It is the mindless climbing behavior that is being flagged as similar to people that follow religious ideas, coupled with this overwhelming need to reproduce other mindless climbers.)
A rather dismal view of religious thought, wouldn’t you agree? But when you consider the crazy things people have done in the name of religion, it does stand to reason that some opponents would think that many religious adherents have lost their executive functions to ideological parasites that cause them to do stupid things. Let’s give Freud partial credit for being partly right. Some religious thought qualifies as delusional and can reside in people who appear quite well organized otherwise. How else would starry-eyed professionals in tennis shoes wind up dead on the floor in hopes of hopping the Hail Bob Comet to celestial glory?
I guess it all depends on which religious thoughts a person chooses to accent. For instance, the prophet Muhammad said that believers should “wish for others what they wish for themselves,” a thought that has often been compared to Christ’s admonition to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s a worthy religious concept for human beings to entertain and live. I could
see both the Danish cartoonists and the Islamic reactionaries being indicted by that thought. For the most part, that is what religions seek to promote: tolerance, respect, and mutual well-being. Most Muslims do not condone the killing of insensitive cartoonists who believe freedom of speech to be a license to communicate stupidity. Most Christians do not condone the killing of those who perform abortions. Most good people of faith wonder where these other people come from!
Perhaps if there is a lesson in the existence of such extremists, it can be found in the quote above. People are where they are today because of what they have thought yesterday; and what they are presently thinking will take them somewhere tomorrow. That being
the case, doesn’t it make real sense to be careful what thoughts you
entertain? At some point along the line, the accountants and teachers and normal folk who bought into the Hail Bob fiasco
saw the idea for the “three bars short of a concerto” sham that it was. At some point, if they had just stopped to do a reality inventory, or checked with someone, anyone, who had not ingested a lancet fluke, they might just be alive today.
There is a difference between healthy faith, which is virtue based, life affirming, and mind expanding, and unhealthy faith, which is selfish, identity denying, and creativity suppressing. Before you decide to hop on any guru’s blade of grass, examine the sacred cow that is waiting to eat you. Lancet fluke religion always has a
Glenn A. Robitaille