My General Religious Orientation

In my view, religiosity and spirituality serves a purpose to unite all the knowledge in the world, an easy heuristic to attribute all known things and unknown things to a single conceptual entity in order to help us face the uncertainty of the world.

In short, the ones I use for my religious/spiritual worldview are: secular humanistgnostic-atheist, with strong leanings to Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and Confucianism.

To make coherent sense, I predominantly identify with any ideals that promote and empower human welfare and reject organised religiosity. I also do not believe in God or any sort of anthropomorphic deity that governs us, and I am rather confident that God(s) do not exist and have no relevance to me (I score very high on the Dawkins Scale). I also fervently reject decisions and ideas that are formed on the basis of scripture and doctrine, and is of the opinion that such conceptions are of lower, if any, intellectual value. A more extreme position of mine is that I think that pure Theology (no single religion in particular) is not a valid area of academic inquiry, and can be entirely replaced by Religious Studies, social sciences, and Metaphysics.  Not all human thinking is equally valid, despite our equal right to think. 

At the same time I identify with a the core values and philosophies of Taoism, Zen, and Confucian Ethics, but do not practice any rituals and treat the relevant metaphysical mythology as children tales. I merely habitually think about the world in a Taoism-informed manner, (try to) use Zen approaches as a to manage my thoughts, and believe that Confucianism for the most part is a more pragmatic source of morality, ethics, and most importantly, being human, compared to Abrahamic religions. As a psychology student, I find that all three Chinese schools of thought have significant relevance to what I study and they provide substantial resolutions to contemporary issues and ethical dilemmas.

I have always felt that the Eastern way of thinking about how the world works: the Zen of Buddhism, the Tao of Daosim, and the Jen (Ren) of Confucianism, have always been more pragmatic and humanistic (compared to Abrahamic ones) ways of thinking about the world and organizing knowledge. Despite their differences, many of my readings (in Chinese, from non-fiction to fiction) have led me to see that they lead to the same end when disassociated from ritual. The Tao is the natural order of the world at large, Zen is the ideal state of mind, and Confucian values serve as the ideal cornerstone of nobility in human society. I believe that all three can come together to provide coherent explanations for the human condition.

At the same time, I allow my decisions (and my reflections) to inform these ideas and values, rather than the other way around. In some sense, the three ideas coupled with humanism and atheism is liberating for me. If I ever lose hope or meaning (or rather, score low on the Beck’s Cognitive Triad test), its because I lose sight of these values. Admittedly, they have not been well-ingrained in me due to my dismissal of them by my adolescent rebelliousness, although I am rather certain about that they are unlikely to be replaced by any other religion.

Further reflections: It might have been my own remnants of ethnocentrism that predispose me to embrace all three major Chinese thought while thinking lesser of others’, but I have no intention to dismiss them even if I dissociate from my Chinese roots.

Disclaimer: I try to avoid labels, because labels are pretty much preferences that are subject to arguments (for example, should your labels be chosen by the individual, or by what society sees fit, how is one going to unite the two?). People with vastly different labels still can very easily see eye to eye on certain issues, and people with similar labels can likely be in argument (due to their heightened expectations for each other to agree). But they are still rather necessary, at least as starting points to clarify one’s value orientations.

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