Coping: The “Mechanical Side” of Religions

As you may know (or at least I think I mentioned) that one of the upcoming articles planned for our site has to do with the use of the Chinese art of feng shui in order to “influence” luck and good financial fortune.

As usual, I like to begin a project like this with a good series of readings in the field of study.  In the case of feng shui that means reading one of the outstanding books in the field An Introduction to Feng Shui (Introduction to Religion).

Author Bruun is not a quickie study of the field, at all.  It’s a serious academic work that not only goes over the religion aspect of feng shui, but it also lays out how many of the precepts of the art have been incorporated in other religions.

Then it hit me:  Religions (and credit for Bruun for thinking this way) seem to have two aspects to them.  One part being the pure “spiritual” side.  The other – and this is my phrasing of it – tends to be the “mechanical side.”

Since I wasn’t able to sleep past about 3:30 AM today, that was the topic of a “mental review” of what I know about various religions and the process of dividing them up into their spiritual components and their “mechanical side.”

Led to some interesting observations.

For example, there is one religion in the Middle East that still believes in “stoning people to death.”  It doesn’t get much more “mechanical” than that.

But here’s where this mental exercise gets interesting:  What is the action that such behaviors are trying to achieve?

It’s not all that different from the Western extremist Christians went through in Salem, Massachusetts, when you stop to think about it. 

What drove the witch trials (and more recently stonings) seems to be an intolerance for behaviors outside of a kind of Bell curve defined by the religious bureaucracy. 

There is  — as I noted as long ago as 2001 in “The Future of Islam” (in the Peoplenomics library – see the Master Index) there seems to be something that happens to a major religion about the 1,200-1,500 mark in its history:  It goes through something of an internal “purification”  process.  In the early days of Christianity, it was the Spanish (and other) Inquisitions.  This is where virtually everyone was forced to “believe” and those who failed to show enough belief were punished, with often fatal results.

We can almost make out an echo of this process on-going in modern Islam which is coming up (or is already in) this “purifying process” now.  Those who “don’t believe enough” become targeted by more extreme elements – and with familiar results.

Although the West likes to put on airs about such things, we need to remember how long ago our own Salem Witch Trials were:

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. The trials resulted in the executions of twenty people, fourteen of them women, and all but one by hanging. Twelve other women had previously been executed in Massachusetts and Connecticut during the 17th century. Despite being generally known as the Salem witch trials, the preliminary hearings in 1692 were conducted in several towns: Salem Village (now Danvers), Salem Town, Ipswich and Andover. The most infamous trials were conducted by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692 in Salem Town.

You might want to check my math on this, but wasn’t that just 325 years ago?  Consider this: The Witch Trials were only 84-years – about three generations – before the founding of America.

While stoning people to death in the Middle East shows up from time to time in the press as abhorrent and such, our own past transgressions to purge those of other opinions is seldom, if ever mentioned.

The point of this morning’s ponders was not to pick a side and throw stones, it was to take up Bruun’s distinction between types of process. 

So here is another one of my musings on point:

In Christianity, there is huge emphasis placed on “being forgiven” – and this in turn allows a person to “forgive themselves.”  Yet is this a mechanical process that could be orchestrated or guided by a good psychologist?  I suppose so.

And this is where I started to make notes on the popularity of feng shui – it is first a semi-religious set of practices, but more purely on the “mechanical side” and since it has been adopted by others, such as Daoism and so on, it has become a one off kind of mechanical art.

I will spare you the details of how all this evolved over 5,000 years of Chinese history – Bruun’s book is marvelous reaqding on this score – but when I was confronted with some of his ideas (a different way of slicing the religion cake) I found it to be absolutely engaging.

Now this has nothing to do with feng shui– except that it does as most religions have “mechanical sides” to them, but consider:

    • In Voodoo, people use dolls and likenesses and then imbue them with a particular aspect or character.  A pin through a leg is seen as causing a leg pain, a practitioner might intend, and so when a broken leg happens, is that a result or coincidence?
    • In other ancient religions, there are Mudras, or “hand signs” that purport to convey all kinds of mystical powers, including limited “invisibility” and so forth.  Not that a person become physically invisible, but their presence usually felt or noticed by others is obscured such that in a very real sense they are “Not Seen.”
    • Prayer is another one:  Any non-religious practitioner of modern positive mental attitude studies will readily agree that “Attitude is everything” and that humans manifest in life that when they deeply intend to manifest.

    Well, in each of these examples, there is something to be learned about the mechanics of things:  In the case of Voodoo, is this a special kind of “intention” and while we’re on it, is that why the Christian side has taboos on the  creation of idols?  Could that be because focused intent really works?  Perhaps so.

    And similarly, what is it in Mudras (hand signs) that gives us power to manipulate and control?  I mean literally without the other person being aware of the manipulation most of the time.

    And last, is prayer merely a “toll road path” to focused intent?  No, I don’t mean its original embodiment – that was likely “clean.”  But in the current world we live in, to what extent are toll roads to spiritual growth erected in lieu of the free sharing of human advancement?

    These are all intriguing questions, one may note, but what do they have to do with UrbanSurvival?

    Well, think of this as a psychological aspect of MOUT (mobile operations on Urbanized Terrain).. A special hoo-rah to the US Marines for having their MOUT handbook online here.

    We each live life very much as an “order of battle” and in reference to our own UrbanSurvival, we make daily decisions whether to attack (our job, where to live and other decisions which position us) or to withdraw (as we have to a ranch in the Outback of East Texas).

    The key part of the MOUT manual is really the last chapter (7) where there is an in=depth discussion of Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW).

    Going through life, we each “conduct daily operations.”  If you are a successful campaigner, you come up with “more wins than losses” and you “advance” – however you want to define that.  But if you do not understand the Urban Terrain, and in particular all of the distractions in life (the analog to Military Operations Other Than War), you will spend a lot of time involved in mop-up operations that may not advance your own cause.

    Is this a crazy and inappropriate way to look at the world?  Yes, in some ways it is.  But the analog of Life to Urbanized Conflict is a good one, and although seldom stated overly, it’s some of the glue that holds our thinking together.

    Now Scale That Ridge

    In keeping with the life as combat operations mindset, we all have access to far more “intel” than we give ourselves credit for.  When viewed from the personal campaign perspective, we can see how limiting our beliefs really serves little purpose other than to cut us off from great intel.

    An example is what I touched on earlier this week in looking (ever so briefly) at astrology.  Again, it is a type of intel that you may – or may not – deem useful.

    Yet here is a summary from our consulting astrologer about what may lie ahead in the next few months – through June:

    April through mid-June is going to be an intense period astrologically. With the two major financial planets, Jupiter and Saturn in a 90 degree angle to one another, the financial world will be rocked, and not in a good way. In the past, this configuration also tends to manifest as a down market.

    The last time Jupiter and Saturn were in a 90 degree angle WHILE Saturn was also in Sagittarius was in 1986-7 when we had the Boesky and Milken insider trading scandal along with the fall of Burnham Lambert.

    Regardless of Jupiter’s location, because Saturn is in the Truth-at-all-costs sign of Sagittarius, expect more revelations like the Panama Papers …. until Saturn moves on into Capricorn in January 2018.

    While Jupiter/Saturn is happening, Pluto in Capricorn opposite the US Sun in Cancer is continuing to work under ground to ultimately revolutionize not only our political system but other heavily bureaucratic entities like medicine and education. In 2024, when we finally emerge from this intense death-and-rebirth cycle, we won’t recognize ourselves!

    Think caterpillar into butterfly level of transformation.

    Right now we are in the dark-of-the-cocoon, which is the “dissolving” phase between the old and the new. It will take hindsight in order to see how all the steps lead to the final reveal; however, trust me, they ARE going on all around us now!

    Last note: Your parallels to the 1920’s are still valid. [So, which candidate will be the “New Hoover”?]  

    Now to me, astrology doesn’t define the entire map of the Urban Theater.  However, it is one of an amazing number of maps we each construct on a daily basis that define how we “do battle” with Life.

    We might look at a weather map, a map of stocks (a stock screener program) and so forth.  This would be in addition to a housing map, grocer store specials, and all the other Mapping information that is fed into us.  Astrology is yet-another map.

    And so – back to point – a fine series of ponders is brought up by this study of feng shui – what are the mechanical parts to religion and belief?  And how do we conduct ourselves at better warriors for personal and Universal truth?

    And here we could launch into an even longer discussion:  Is Life really like a War?  I mean Death is an unseen enemy, time is an enemy, as is disease, poverty, and so on, is it not?

    Ah, but we have much work to do…and in the end it all comes down to UrbanSurvival until we don’t or we can’t.

    Write when you break-even,


    Coping: The “Mechanical Side” of Religions — 10 Comments

    1. Hi George, great column – very thoughtful. Good comments. Thanks to your astrologer – her timeline parallels what’s happening here. I had left this column open in browser & forgot to comment then! Thanks G. Get well. :-)

    2. Religion … the struggle to make acceptable, our existence, our purpose. To lend to hand and to mind, a weapon against the futility of slowing/preventing our demise. To give ourselves reason and permission for the effect our destructiveness has on creation itself.

      I choose Christianity, for in my mind, without His agenda, there is no reason, there is no purpose except that defined by each his own. And if so, we might as well satiate our basest desires.

    3. For the christian (I know you are agnostic in the best sense), life is a war field not a playground:
      For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)
      And certainly the only, exclusive way to salvation:
      Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.
      (John 14:6)
      Just my two cents

      • Just because a well meaning man says something, doesn’t make it so.

    4. Religions are based the life of a person who, at some point, develops the ability to perceive beyond the five senses. People attempt to emulate that persons life hoping for the same results. Religions continue after the end of that person’s life because individuals are drawn to the power of the priesthood. The priesthood always evolves because humans are genetically wired to follow an alpha, a trait very common to this dimension at all levels of sentient life. People kill to maintain that culture, because if a culture loses its values, it breaks down into chaos. Take a good look at the USA culture. And the satanic credo, do what thou Willst. How is that working out?

      Mankind becomes free when the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

      Things like feng shui are developed by humans who have the ability to detect or often see the energies involved. They are the ones wise enough to keep their abilities hidden so that no religion has an opportunity to sprout. Once you have a way to detect these energies, then these energies can be manipulated. And did I mention humans are genetically wired to deify that which they do not understand?

      For beginners, I recommend dowsing. It’s not a game, but it takes practice to become skillful. At a dowsing seminar, the instructor need a target so people could experience using different types of dowsing tools. He simply laid an energetic line across the floor with a wave of his hand, and when the trainee crossed that line, the tools would react. This guy was so good that he found a break in an AIR LINE under the PDX airport runway. Saved them millions by being able to just “dig here” and fix the problem. He could also move underground streams of water, and was able to turn dry (undowsed) wells into producing wells.

      Dowsing is a binary operation, and depends on the ability of the dowser to ask intelligent questions and to focus intentionality. And it takes courage, because the first time something happens that “simply cannot happen” most people run screaming from the room and never come back. Or you just might decide to become a priest.

    5. “It is not all of life to live, nor all of death to die; for one is the beginning of the other . . .
      (Edgar Cayce reading 2842-2)

      No, death is not the enemy, death is a transition. Edgar Cayce said that the significance of the empty sarcophagus in the great pyramid was to demonstrate that there is no death!

      No, Life is really like a journey, a process, an opportunity for growth and learning.

      “’Tis not the whole of life to live,
      Nor all of death to die.”
      ?James Montgomery

      Chief Tecumseh: “So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
      Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life,
      Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

      Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and bow to none.

      When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, The fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing, For abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

      When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

    6. That dang oxymoron – “good psychologist”…LOL!! I was taught that it is your own responsibility to educate yourself, and that when you stop learning you are beginning to shrink. There are so many religions – how can there be a “right one”? In the end, every religion puts whatever form of salvation back into the practitioners hands; in other words, you are responsible for believing and having enough faith to get you to wherever is promised.

      I think that single commonality is the key factor, and the rest is window dressings and tales to elucidate. The majority of religious teachings are control mechanisms, designed to place the religion squarely in control of masses of largely ignorant people. But there is a core in each of them worth knowing and understanding.

      Just my thinking, mind you, but if there was just one way to get there then after all these millennia I would think we would have found that particular path…

    7. Interesting – though I’m not sure I’d call an almost 400 page tome, a handbook . . . nonetheless, back some forty years, I found an old book (even at that time) that was useful – off the top of my head I remember it was called – ‘A Fire Chief’s Handbook’. It had some fine observations about life more ‘focused’ than any religious text . . . (Currently buried in my other books – I may ‘unearth it’ later.)

    8. You know you have crossed over when making an order is easier than following an order and you know you have crossed over when following in the order is easier than making an order