- Religion and Philosophy
THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY: HUMANISM
Fast! Faster! Not fast enough! Hurry! Almost there! This is what we are told from the time we are able to understand and comprehend words. We are, without volunteering, admitted into a global race to be “successful,” and told what “successful” is. We are told to run after our dreams, but for many of us, those dreams are either not realized and if realized, not ours. Very soon, we lose purpose and forget to work for our happiness. That is what the religion of Humanism teaches.
The “ultimate concern” of Humanism is to attain true happiness and a state in which each day seems like an opportunity to learn, grow, enjoy, and most importantly, to be happy. That is the goal towards which each Humanist directs his or her attention towards. This concept stems from the last words of Buddha. “Work out your own liberation.” Humanism teaches that we all must realize the path towards our happiness on our own, as it is unique for each person.
Happiness itself is the sacred of Humanism, and therefore it is what all humans must seek, according to Humanism. The state of true happiness allows for a person to respect the world and appreciate and love everything in this world, from a tiny living ant, to the giant nonliving sky. In the state of happiness, all seems beautiful, as the green leaves look greener, the blue sky looks blue-er, the red rose looks red-er, and so on. The state of true happiness is very similar, if not the same, as nirvana, in which one has a true sense of calm, peace, joy, and bliss. The reason that true happiness is so sacred is because happiness is the manifestation of God, and humans can experience God through God’s manifestation that is available to them: happiness.
In Humanism, God is pantheistic and immanent in this universe. The universe is God, and God is the universe. Every living and nonliving thing is God, and because of this, the manifestation of God (happiness) is available throughout this world. This gives each human a chance to grasp his or her own happiness and experience God by finding that true happiness.
As stated earlier, happiness is everywhere and must be created by one’s own chosen path or one’s own chosen way. Afterall, happiness is not found, it is only created. The path to attaining happiness are divided into, but not restricted to, two different categories: self-based and world-based. Self-based refers to being on a path of finding happiness that is mostly based on, or focuses on, one individual’s own interests and passions. Since an individual also is God, true happiness is also deep inside a human’s intangible heart. One example of a self-based path can be a certain career. For some people in this world, true happiness is achieved by doing what to them is their passion: their job. Someone can be a dancer, and for them, dancing can be the means through which he or she finds happiness. For them, they merely exist to dance, and their passion for dancing can be their self-based path that lets them access the inner true happiness. There are many people in this world who enjoy what they do because that is their passion that gives them happiness, including dancers, singers, actors, artists, musicians, and countless others who find their passion and use that passion to understand themselves, realize themselves internally, and experience that true sacred happiness that is hidden inside. Meditation is another self-based path towards true happiness that lets one understand himself or herself and truly experience the happiness inside, as it allows for self reflection and the potential of acquiring intuitive knowledge that the Eastern religions taught about. The second category of the paths, the world-based paths, are the paths that people choose to express their love and compassion towards others. Since God is everything in this world, including the animals and humans, choosing a path that shows love and compassion for others can also access the happiness manifestation to experience true happiness. One example of someone who has taken this path would be Mother Teresa, who created happiness by helping others. Other examples can be some vets and doctors, who genuinely care about the health of others, and feel the happiness by providing service.
What is the importance of finding true happiness in the first place? Humanism’s end goal is based on the idea that one day we will all face death. During that time, Humanism ideally teaches that people feel a sense of completeness, contentedness, and peace during that moment. When each individual is lying on the green grass at the age of, lets say, 90, one will look at the blue sky and think to him or herself, “What have I achieved in life? What was the point of living? Where have I gotten myself working daily?” Humanism is structured so that during that last moment, one can answer, “I have lived fully, achieved happiness, and am ready to go wherever is next as my life purpose is complete.” That is what every Humanist should strive for. If an individual is successful in attaining that true happiness, then and then only will the manifestation of God, being happiness, take over the whole body, and let the essence of the individual be absorbed into the pantheistic God, similar to how a soul is absorbed in God in Sikhism. Until this absorption is achieved, one continues to be reincarnated as a human, until he or she realizes that heaven is on Earth, and that Earth is the heaven.
However, how does one become aware of his or her own path towards attaining true happiness? That answer must be realized by each individual. Since it is unique for each individual, the answer to finding the path lies in the heart of each individual. Each individual has his or her own personality, passions, and interests that one must consider sacred. He or she must acknowledge those, and respect those. Both the positive attributes and negative attributes are equally sacred and by embracing one's individuality and by truly knowing him or herself and by listening to what the heart says and letting the heart lead the way, true happiness can be achieved. The reason for that is that deep in the the intangible heart, internal true happiness is kept. Following the heart will lead one to fully unlock the happiness so that it takes over every aspect of life, and lead to absorption with the pantheistic God.
Now, returning to the point made in the introduction, the fundamental problem of the human condition is losing or forgetting the true meaning of life and humanity. In this dirty race to be successful, we often lose ourselves. The quest we are sent out on by, lets say, parents, makes us so occupied in fulfilling the quest that we forget the purpose of the quest. For example, many people are programmed by the society to strive for money and wealth. They run around, wasting their whole lifetime, trying to acquire wealth through every means accessible to them, that they forget to live and be happy, which is most important. In this fast paced world, it is too easy to get lost in the mechanical motions that we have been taught, and that itself is the fundamental problem of human condition that distracts a being to live for wealth and such worthless materialistic dreams, no matter how much pain it inflicts, instead of concentrating on working to create true happiness. And the cause for this fundamental problem is hatred and negativity. Hatred and negativity leads a person to not realize the pantheistic God in himself or herself and not realize the happiness ready to be accessed internally and externally in the world. The negativity is very contagious, that not only makes one individual feel negative, but easily spreads to the surroundings. The negativity and hatred layers over the true happiness, making it even harder to access and making a person think that true happiness is not a priority. Because of hatred and negativity, one forgets the goals made by the individual, and starts to hate the sacred life when no goal towards which to work towards is seen.
This leads me to my next point: do no harm as taught by Buddhism. A person has the liberty to choose his or her own path to happiness, but that path is only justified if no harm is done to the individual and others, meaning other humans and living things. For example, to create true happiness, the passion for drugs and alcohol is not justified, because it harms the individual. This violates the “do no harm” rule and therefore Humanism prohibits a person from consuming too much drugs or alcohol to such a point where it is harmful to others as well as the individual. Furthermore, the “do no harm” rule also extends to all living things. The pantheistic God is present everywhere, and therefore the manifestation of God (true happiness) is also present everywhere and in everything. This makes everything sacred. That is the reason that harming another living this with disrespect and without compassion is prohibited. Like in indigenous religions, if everything is potentially spiritual, then all life must be lived as a ritual. Considering everything sacred including oneself, respecting everything including oneself, and having a positive view towards life is the way to achieving the sacred happiness.
This is the principle that is applied to all ethical and social issues to determine the Humanistic views on contemporary issues. “Do no harm” makes Humanism a pacifist religion that prohibits war, killing, and violence. No matter what the cost, killing is not moral, as it disrespects the sacredness of another and spreads hatred and negativity, and therefore peace is strongly encouraged. In addition, any use of trickery or deceit to attain peace or happiness is also not allowed as it can harm one mentally. Humanism allows for free interpretation of individual’s ethics as long as two commandments are kept. The first is that all life is sacred and should be treated so, and the second is to do no harm with bad intentions. Keeping these commandments in mind, one can freely decide if an act is moral or not. Citing one issue, the ecological crisis, according to Humanistic view, is a serious danger, and all of humanity must unite in order to save the sacred life endangered on Earth and to stop the harm being done to Earth.