Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Divine Principle 2: General introduction - External and internal ignorance

Science fiction often portrays real religions ...Image via Wikipedia

Text from Divine Principle, General Introduction, second set of paragraphs:

To the grief of mankind, the ultimate solution to the problem of good and evil has not yet been reached. Regarding the doctrines of theism and atheism, if one of the two should be judged good, the other must be evil. Yet we have not reached a theory of an absolute nature concerning the problem of good and evil. Moreover, men and women remain entirely ignorant of the answers to many fundamental questions, such as: What is the original mind, the source of good desire? What was the origin of the wicked mind, which caused evil desire? What was the fundamental cause of the fall which permitted man to embody such a contradiction? Before being able to lead a good life by following the good desire of the original mind and repelling evil desire, it is necessary to overcome ignorance and be able to distinguish between good and evil.

Seen from the viewpoint of knowledge, the human fall signifies man's descent into the darkness of ignorance. Since man consists of two aspects, internal and external, or spiritual and physical, there are also two aspects of knowledge, internal and external, and two aspects of ignorance, internal and external.

Internal ignorance, in the religious sense, means spiritual ignorance; that is, ignorance of the answers to such questions as: What is man's origin? What is the purpose of his life? Do God and the next world exist? What are good and evil?

External ignorance is ignorance of physical reality; that is, ignorance concerning the natural world, which includes the human body; also, ignorance of such questions as: What is the basis of the material world? According to which natural laws do all physical phenomena occur?

From the earliest dawn of history to the present, men have constantly and earnestly searched for the truth with which to overcome this ignorance and restore the light of knowledge. Man has struggled to discover internal truth through the way of religion. Science has been the path taken toward the discovery of external truth.

Religion and science have been the methods of searching for the two aspects of truth, in order to overcome the two aspects of ignorance and restore the two aspects of knowledge. The day must come when religion and science advance in one united way, so that man may enjoy eternal happiness, completely liberated from ignorance and directed toward goodness, which is what the original mind desires. Then, mutual understanding will occur between the two aspects of truth, the internal and the external.

Man has been approaching a solution to the fundamental questions of life by following two different courses. The first course is to search for the solution within the material world. Those who take this route think it to be the sublime path. They yield to science, taking pride in its omnipotence, and seek material happiness. However, can man enjoy full happiness when he limits his search to external material conditions centered upon the physical body? Science may create a pleasant social environment in which man can enjoy the utmost in wealth, but is such an environment able to satisfy the spiritual desire of the inner man?

The passing joys of the man who delights in the pleasures of the flesh are nothing when compared to the happiness experienced by a devout man of God. Gautama Buddha, who left the glory of the royal palace, was not the only one who has taken the long journey of life in pursuit of the Way. His goal was man's lost home--his status before the fall, his permanent domicile--although he did not know where it was. Just as a man becomes whole and sane when his mind is in harmony with his body, so it is with joy. The joy of the body becomes whole and sane when it is in harmony with the joy of the mind.

What is the destiny of science? Until now, scientific research has not embraced the internal world of cause, but only the external world of result; not the world of essence, but only the world of phenomena. Today science is entering a higher dimension; it is no longer concerned exclusively with the external world of result and phenomena, but has begun to examine the internal world of cause and essence as well. Those who have taken the path of science are concluding that, without the truth that relates to the spiritual world of cause; that is, the internal truth, man cannot attain the ultimate purpose of science; that is, the discovery of the external truth, which pertains to the external world of result.

A sailor making a voyage on the sea of the material world under the sail of science in search of the pleasures of the flesh may reach the coast of his ideal, but he will soon find it to be nothing more than a graveyard to hold his flesh. But when the sailor who has completed his voyage in search of external truth under the sail of science comes into contact with the sea-route to internal truth, under the sail of religion, he will be able to end his voyage in the ideal world, which is the goal of the original mind's desire.

The second course of human endeavor has been directed toward solving the fundamental questions of life in the essential world of "cause". Philosophy and religion, which have gone this way, have made substantial contributions. On the other hand, both philosophy and religion have been saddled with many spiritual burdens. In their own times, philosophers and saints have pioneered the way of life, but their deeds have often resulted in placing added burdens on the people of the present era.

Consider the matter objectively. Has there ever been a philosopher who was able to end human misery? Has there ever been a saint who has clearly shown us the way of life? The principles and ideologies presented to mankind so far have given rise to skepticism; they have created many themes which need to be untangled, and numerous problems to be solved. The lights of revival with which the great religions illuminated their respective ages have faded out with the ebb of the age, leaving only dim, sputtering wicks glimmering in the falling darkness.

The truth that we all are searching, comes from God the Creator. All truth comes from God, that is internal truth as pursued in the realm of religion and external truth as sought by scientists. It is by overcoming ignorance on both the external level and internal level that we can learn to conduct our lives well.

The problem of evil, however, cannot be overcome only by learning the truth. The problem of evil is one of self-centeredness that is rooted in our heart of desires and that is also perpetuated by influences from the realms of evil spirits. Whatever truth we learn and understand, there is still the path to go of practicing God’s Will by expressing our heart of good desires through our mind and actions. When we attempt to do this, we are confronted not only with the evil desires that are rooted in our own self, we also need to overcome wrong influences from the spiritual world, as these come to us directly or through people around us.

Neither religions nor sciences of the past have managed to teach us how to build an entirely ideal world. Religions and science have followed diverse and often contradicting paths, but there are reasons for this.

On the one hand, scientists often have pursued paths of knowledge that only concerned the physical or material world. Many of them have denied the existence of God and of the spiritual world and they also often have neglected the working of the inner heart and mind. On the other hand, religions have often been restrained by the demand of their authorities to believe in certain rules and principles in a dogmatic way. Another problem in many religions is the belief in deities, competing with the only one and true God the Creator. Yet another difficulty of religions is that many of them have been more or less under the control of dark angels who posed as if ‘angels of light.’

It will therefore not be easy to bring back both religion and science under the banner of the only God the Creator. Although we can learn much that is good from science and from many religions, there also is the necessity to sort out what is not good. It is only true religion that can be united with true science.

The former blog in these Divine Principle series

The next blog in these Divine Principle series

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