Episode:Evolutionary Religion—Shamanism (Part 3)

From Symmetry of Soul

The essence of the ritual is the perfection of its performance; among savages it must be practiced with exact precision. Man’s slowly evolving mind early came to believe that the technique of ritual was the decisive factor in its efficacy. Therefore, it was inevitable that the shamans should sooner or later evolve into a priesthood trained to direct the meticulous practice of the ritual.

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Keywords: Urantia, Religion, Shamanic Medicine, Rituals, Priests

Summary by Kermit

Commentary on the Review

In this episode we finished the Shamanism series of our Evolutionary Religion arc. Central to this entire arc is the fact that evolutionary religion is predominantly concerned with the outer life and man’s attempt to inveigle, hoodwink, or otherwise compel the ghosts, spirits, and gods to soften the harshness of this material existence and secure safe passage to an afterlife. The powerful urges and impulses of our natural material existence all but drown out the inner still small voice of the divine beckoning us to think and act unnaturally and follow its leading up to live lives of enhanced meaning in a quest for supreme values.

The modern day widespread practice of what primarily amounts to primitive religion reinforces the superficial conclusions of skeptics that a religious path is a fool’s errand. Yet, pause to consider which individual presents with greater initial cosmic potential: the primitive religionist or the sophisticated materialist?

90:4. Medicine Under the Shamans

In our careful reading and unpacking of the first two paragraphs of our text we attempt to elucidate possible mechanisms whereby the mobilization of the superconsciously spiritualized mind of the primitive in devising effective methods of treatment for many of man’s ills, notwithstanding the erroneous foundations of their theories of disease and death produced actual cures. Even when the higher mind endowment centers for reason, logic, and faith are deposed by scientific dictation, social usage, and religious dogma, the holistic engagement of the personality is sufficient for the fundamental primacy of mind over matter to manifest healings in the experience of the believer. So it is that even an erroneously anchored faith can be a powerful remedy. When such healing is attributed to God, is the recipient more or less inspired to pursue the God who is Spirit? In this way captivating and compelling beliefs which appear to bring desired results serve to arrest the quest for the real God. Even in error the sovereignty of personality can wield mind over matter.

In light of apparent success, shamans began to connect the dots and develop actual beneficial material methods of treatment of man’s ailments. It has only been very recently (speaking in anthropological terms) that the Greeks evolved truly rational methods of treating the sick. Many secret remedies were effective. Curiously when these remedies became known they lost their healing power, illustrating the principle of mind dominating matter. The 5th ER presents us with the three-fold cosmic framework of reality. From our arc on Religion in Depth we recall the revelators’ comments about man understanding much about health and sanity, but not so much of happiness, all of which suggests that the inner life where this happiness is to be found remains for so many unrecognized and elusive. Imagine what it would be like to add the spiritual dimension to the mind over matter dynamic.

90:5. Priests and Rituals

Still focusing on the outer life, rituals became increasingly complex and so did shamans evolve into a priesthood specializing in the precise practice thereof. In today’s secularization of religion the concept of rituals and their associated priesthood must be expanded to include other domains of human activity as civil administration, education, and science, etc. This final section delivers some serious criticisms of modern day religion wherein the adherence to forms of ritual risk becoming a substitute for religion.

And as we’ve come to see evolution is a double edged process. At one and the same time priesthoods and their myriad rituals have done much to delay scientific development and hinder spiritual progress while contributing to the stabilization of civilization and the enhancement of certain kinds of culture. Further that as a counterbalance to the detrimental aspects of priests true religious leaders have been invaluable in pointing the way to higher and better realities.

Notes by Brad

  • The 2014 tornado that ravaged this author's mom's small southern hometown.
    • A lot about immediate concern for material environment.
    • It's natural for religion to gravitate to the outer life. Only responding to revelation can he inner life be stimulated.
    • If you can't learn by looking, you might be grown--learn by living.

  • Notice the curious and elevated language in the first paragraph in Section 4.
    • Faith. Wholehearted. These are high words!
    • The key is remembering error and truth's proper definitions.
    • An error is holistic and encompassing.
      • So faith and wholeheartedness can exist within a sphere of error such as this.
    • A relationship to truth exists only in the upper domain in the hourglass analogy of mind.
    • Taking ahold of your mind, personally, in a wholehearted and effective manner, even in error, mind will dominate matter.
    • Sincerity. And outer life sincerity, but sincerity nonetheless.
    • Even "faith as unquestioning belief" can, as Jesus said, make you whole.
    • Even if it boat anchors you to the outer life, this is immensely useful to the evolution of the planet.
    • And curing yourself using your mind might yield more self-control. More maturity. And make you of more use to the cosmos, if you stay humble.

  • Can you (your mind) even rise to the level of serving two masters?
    • Can you serve more than just the material master we all naturally serve?
    • It is sad to record that so few persons on Urantia really serve two masters.

  • Does your pricey massage improve you? Is that placebo (aka your mind)? Yes, probably.
    • But that's okay. Because without it and your wholehearted belief in it, you won't be healed.
    • As they say, a little knowledge is truly disconcerting [195:6.3]
    • All fancy parlor tricks. None of it is religion. None of it is God.
    • Hot tubs are fine. Just don't confuse them with God--it's natural to do so.

  • Why did "plant beat animal" in primitive constructs? Plant remedies for animal-caused ailments?
    • Because plants are more primitive. More foundational. Faulty thinking, on common display these days.
    • We're still up to a lot of shamanic medicine these days.

  • In an erroneous frame of mind (all of section 4), the word "value" can be used to describe cocoa and quinine.
    • It's not being in a strict scientific "it's a spirit word" style here. Clever and quite sophisticated writing.
    • Easy for more or less distortion of meaning.
  • We are very prone to ritual. From priests, to accountants, to certified project managers.
    • The material outer life makes this easy. A ball dropped from a certain height also is quite precise and predictable.

  • See [157:4.5] for the true story of Peter, the rock, and the keys (to the outer kingdom, not the inner kingdom).