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Myth vs. Religion

December 7, 2016

 

There comes a point in time when one must begin to question his own beliefs about God and the afterlife, and to a larger extent, the beliefs of the society within which he lives. Where do our individual beliefs stop and our collective begin? How is it that we can be so diametrically opposed by religious preference on one level and so aligned by common humanness on another? How does society remain intact?

 

It would seem that, particularly in this day and age, a society based on a mythos (a philosophy that honors free-thinking and archetypal engagement) far outweighs one which honors dogma and restrictive thinking; such as that of religion. But, why such a distinction between the two? For weren't the Mithraic cults of Rome and the mystery schools of Osiris considered religions?  

 

The distinction between the two paths of Myth and Religion can be found when one considers the level of empowerment afforded by their respective followers.  

 

Ritual has been a part of human society for millennia. Our culture is based upon the intrinsic human necessity to repeat our actions. Repetition gives our actions validity. Subconsciously, we arise in the morning to a ritual of preparation for the day because we have proven to ourselves that it is an effective way to maintain a state of being which is complimentary to society's view of a well-adjusted individual. We must actualize this image of ourselves; engage in this preparatory assembly of imagined procedures to become the 'persona' by which the world knows us. Arranging our lives in this way is comforting and conclusively necessary for our well-being. 

 

Let's take a look at worship. Again, this is a common human indulgence; an unconscious drive to bring validity to the world around us. We instinctually develop degrees of worship in all of our relationships, finding comfort in the attachment they bring. We worship our pets, our mate, our friends, our family, our political leaders, and our beliefs (large and small). We give homage in conversation to our dead-set beliefs of the way the world functions. These worshipful beliefs are our safety nets from complete dislocation from the "normal" reality we've created in our minds. We worship these things and others because they have control over our sense of well-being. 

 

But, what if we were to look at a wider range of ritual than just the brushing of our teeth, the performance of push-ups, or the application of make-up products? What if the examination of our unconscious worship of the minutia of our lives could be expanded to reveal unhealthy attachments to our concepts of God or the afterlife? 

 

Religion is described as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, such as a God or gods. A concept which, at first glance, sounds much like a mythos, or a societal narrative which dictates the actions and belief structures of its inhabitants to such a degree that it influences their morality. On the surface, these two ideas seem very similar; both contain worship, both contain ritual, which again, fulfill basic human needs for validity and well-being. But if we look deeper, we see that the opposing concepts of morality are the defining factors between the two belief structures. 

 

Mythology separated from religion unveils a loving core waiting to nurture its dedicated seekers. Interestingly, organized religion was born of 'myth' when we consider the classical interpretation of the concept. Myth overtly displays a narrative of intertwining dramas which provide parables for self-dissection and development, much like religion. Myth, as inter