"Is there anything truer than truth? Yes, Legend." - Kazantzakis
"These things never happened, but are always" - Sallust
"We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth." - Picasso
As I promised last time, my personal thoughts on religion. Posting these to help explain why I'm comparing certain religious teachings to myth.
There is only One True Religion. It goes under different names depending on whom you're talking to. Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Tao, Wicca, atheism and a million more. Why people can't recognize this I don't know. Sometimes it seems they just don't want to. All the faiths have one core truth:
"There is vast Mystery in the universe and we are all part of it, so we should be kind to each other."
That's it. Everything else, everything else, is details.
Religion and myth not only tell us the same truth, they are identical. Their stories tell us that, despite our "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" (1) we all dream in common. That we are worthy, that dragons can be slain, evil powers humbled, death outlived.
We can use the power in myth as long as we remember to name it myth. It's when myth gets confused with literal truth that we get in trouble. People can start believing that only their myth is true, that they are special or Chosen, and they can feel free to put down other people. But worst of all, literalness brings in dogma and ceremony and robs them of the true meaning of the stories. Christianity is just a new myth that perpetuates elements of older stories. There were virgin births, crucificions and resurrections for thousands of years before Christ. Nearly every religion teaches the same Golden Rule. The new religion incorporated those old, powerful images the same way it took over the ancient pagan holidays.
Personally, I prefer Zen with its lack of gods, or Wicca, whose followers admit that the gods and powers they invoke may be just tools to focus thought.
I'm not saying all this to antagonize anybody. Just to set down my take on religion and to explain why it's necessary to consider religious myths along with pagan and Eastern and even pop culture myths. Religion is not "just another myth." No matter what you call them, myths hold powerful truths. Just look for the truth beyond the dogma. As Bruce Lee said in ENTER THE DRAGON, "It's like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all that heavenly glory."
I'll discuss two of the most profound myths next week, in the Tree of Life, and Death.
(1) IDIC: The Vulcan philosophy of STAR TREK by Gene Roddenberry