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Mysticism VS Rationalism

Mysticism VS Rationalism

by Cat Farmer

Religion adopts two distinct and diametrically opposed forms: inwardly or outwardly focused, or “prophet versus high priest.” Religious hierarchies have generally considered the living prophet the most dangerous of rebels because prophets expose the deceits and pageantries of outwardly focused religion. The visionary draws prophetic ability from within himself, perhaps from his imagination (Aldous Huxley or George Orwell, for example). A prophet who ostensibly draws inspiration from intercourse with a divine spirit (Jeremiah or John the Baptist) simply exerts authority over himself: he shears the veils of illusion woven by priests and politicians who wish to exert lordly authority over the masses. The prophet’s keen observations, humble garments, and simple admonitions contrast starkly with the obtuse mumbo jumbo, ritualistic or regulatory hoopla, and pretentious attire of haughty priests who aim to gain authority, control, and wealth through confusion, superstition and intimidation.

Rationalism, like mysticism, appears to take opposing forms: one benign, and one that I consider treacherous. A person appropriately makes rational decisions on his own behalf, in light of his knowledge and experience, and exercises individual autonomy. However, if I apply my individual rational processes as a standard to judge the rational processes of other autonomous people I attempt to substitute my own inward authority as an unhealthy external surrogate for the inward authority of others. Religious and political strife appear primarily to arise from this insidious type of subtle, largely invisible aggression.

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