virus: Religion

Michael Moore (
Fri, 04 Jul 1997 12:44:50 -0700

Boy, you people really push my buttons. Not in a bad way,
but I find myself wanting to reply to every post. Since I tend to
choose my words carefully, and it takes me forever to choose,
the process could take all day so I ask myself, 'Do I really want
to take all day doing this?' No. But I do have something to say
about religion that some may find interesting.

A couple of people now have mentioned religion. One person
is making a study of religions. Others have made remarks about
Christianity. I want to address these.

Gurdjieff (or was it Ouspensky) said that to understand something
was to agree with it. At first this sounds wrong, but I don't wish
to debate it but suppose we take it as a prescription rather than
a description. Now, having accepted this, when I find my self
"disagreeing" with somebody I must instead say to myself that
I have failed to understand
that person. This puts the burden on me for further investigation.
The door stays open, rather than closed as would be the case if
I believed that I already understood, but simply disagreed.

To 'agree that we do not understand' each other has so much
more potential than to 'agree to disagree'.

So what did I really 'not understand'? In a word Islam. This
seemed to me to be the ultimate in 'whacked out religions'.
The challenge for me - Become a Muslim. Step out of my
world into something very opposite of what I believed myself
to be.

I have been working at this for three years now. In the process
I've discovered something I believe to be true of all religions.

1) Religions are complex.

I know that this seems like a trite observation but it is so
often ignored as witnessed by the propensity of people to
commit the fallacy of 'over generalization' when talking
about religion. How often do we see written that persons
of religion X are such-n-such a way or they believe such-n-such.
All such statements only server to diminish understanding and
lead us to comfortable illusion off "believing" we understand.

Religions are like deep oceans. Some people swim aground
on the surface, others dive down to various depths. We tend
to hear those splashing and playing on the surface. Could we
see those at the depths, we would see that they bare little
resemblance to those at the surface and indeed would consider
them to be of a completely different religion were they not using
the same language as those on the surface.

somebody will make a study of religion. He will fly over in an
airplane and take pictures. There is no harm in this provided
that he understands that what he has is 'pictures of the surface'.
If he really wants to understand a religion, he must get wet.
{{footnote - this model itself is overly simplistic }}
There is no other way, but be warned, this is dangerous!
Some memes do not play well with other memes. The danger
is that you might change. This can be very upsetting to your
friends and family.

How can I experience that other world without giving myself
over to that other world. One person cannot, but we are not
one person, we are a multiplicity. ( See Gurdjieff's doctrine
of multiple 'I's) So, for a time we can walk in two worlds
provided the ego, which prefers that you be a single integrated
person for survival reasons, does not object too strenuously.