Why a New Religion?
Religion provides basic answers about life and the universe to billions of people. The basic questions that believers want answered by religion are how to understand the universe around us, where we come from, where we go after we die, and how we should live. All of the major religions have attempted to answer these questions.
Christianity and Islam have basically the same answers. The universe and human beings were created by the One God, and by following God’s commands we go to heaven or paradise after we die; if we do not, we are condemned to hell. However, these beliefs beg the question of why God, the perfect being, felt the need to create imperfect beings only to test them with a rigid set of rules, disobedience of which would lead the created beings to eternal damnation. According to these religions, God gives us human beings choice, but if we make the wrong choice we are doomed forever. Any intelligent person has to feel uncomfortable about any religion that teeters on such a fatal Occam’s Razor, or a God that puts human beings in such a precarious situation.
Hinduism tells us that we create karma by our actions and by living the right way we will reincarnate into better circumstances. However, many people felt unsatisfied with this endless cycle of existence. Siddharta, while born into relatively comfortable circumstances, still felt that reincarnation does not free us from the pain of being born, growing old, becoming sick, and dying. Therefore he strove to find a way to escape from the pain, and to reach the state of Nirvana. While this works for some people, Buddhism’s biggest flaw is teaching us, or at least the common people, that life is pain that we must all try to escape from. Life is not only pain; there is love, there is the joy of creating something, and the universe can be a beautiful place. By emphasizing escape from pain as the primary objective, Buddhism has the unfortunate effect of detaching human beings spiritually from the material world itself, making them passive.
The Old Religions have failed us. Whether it is the Crusades, persecution of the Jews, the Spanish Inquisition, Islamic terrorism, countless religious wars, prosecution of science and individual freedom, the harm caused by the Old Religions over human history outweigh any benefit they provide. The New Religion explained here is an attempt to provide answers to the primary questions of existence, based on scientific theory, which avoids the critical shortcomings and inherent intolerance of existing religion.
The Basic Ideas of the New Religion
According to quantum physics, the universe, stars, planets, mountains and even human beings are all composed of energy. At the most basic level, the universe is a continuous fluctuation of energy. All matter, at its core, is energy. Sometimes the energy is used in a positive way, the way a light bulb is used to illuminate the darkness. Sometimes, tremendous energy released from matter is used as a destructive weapon, like a nuclear bomb. The Prajna Paramita Sutra, one of the essential teachings of Buddha, tells us that form is void and void is form; while there are many interpretation of what this means, one way to understand is that matter is energy and energy is matter. This was more succinctly put into a one of the most famous mathematical equations in history, E = mC2 , more than two thousand five hundred years later.
Koreans believed that Ki (or Chi, 氣), which is energy, underlies all things. There are material Ki as well as spiritual Ki. A human being is born when the material Ki is combined with the spiritual Ki, which is contributed by the parents as well as the surrounding Universe. When a human being dies, his spiritual Ki escapes from the body and gets absorbed into the Ki of the universe. The body disintegrates and the Ki that formed the body of a human being also gets absorbed into the universal Ki.
While the spiritual Ki dissipates and gets absorbed into the Ki of the Universe, the Kis that formed the spirit of a human being tends to maintain certain features and characteristics that are common to such Kis and are likely to become Kis of human beings. Again, this is not due to any conscious action of the Ki; the Ki does not think. It is more of a natural reaction, a built in (but probabilistic) affinity and tendency to cluster.
The Ki, in its ideal state, is stable and peaceful. We can call this type of Ki “good” Ki. This is not a moral judgement, since the Universe is neither good or evil. We could call it “positive” Ki. However, the Ki, due to some external or internal violence may change its characteristics; we may call this “evil” Ki, or “negative” Ki, as a matter of convenience. Unlike electric charges, where same charges repel each other, the positive Ki tend to gravitate to other positive Ki; negative Ki gravitate towards negative Ki.
The Universe affects us, but we also affect the universe. According to quantum physics, all particles, and all underlying energy composing such particles, are inextricably linked. An action on a particle in one edge of the Universe will have an effect on another particle billions and billions of light years away. However, such action is not “determined.” There is only a probability that such effect will take place as predicted by scientific theory. Sometimes the probability is close to 1 (or 100%), and in some cases close to zero. However, in quantum physics, that probability is never exactly 100% or 0%. Therefore, in a physics sense and in a mathematical sense, the Universe affects us, but we also affect the Universe, and other people around us.
Side Note: Do Ghosts Exist?
None of the major religions can explain ghosts. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism do not believe in a lingering personal spirit of ordinary human beings that are visible after a person’s death. There may be demons (or “legion” as called in the New Testament), jinns (in Islam, which is referred to as genies) and fallen angels, but these are not spirits of dead people. There is no reference in any of the Judaism based religions that can explain a “young girl ghost” (cheo nyo guishin), which figures so prominently in ghost stories. Even in Hinduism or Buddhism, there is no reference to a ghost. When people die, they reincarnate.
Traditional Korean religious beliefs, however, believe very strongly in ghosts. Also, despite whether you are a Christian or a Buddhist, everyone has seen a ghost or knows of someone who has seen a ghost. Then, do ghosts exist? What are ghosts? The New Religion can provide an answer to this: ghosts do exist. When a person dies, his spiritual Ki leaves the body and gets absorbed into the universe of Ki. When a person is alive, her spiritual Ki has a strong bond with the material Ki that composed her body, and even after death, the spiritual Ki has a tendency to linger for a short while with its former body. In most cases, like heavier gas that escapes from a container but lingers for a while then dissipates, the spiritual Ki will eventually dissipate. However, some spiritual Ki, which has a stronger bond to the body, will tend to linger more than others, and may even be visible for a while in a form similar to its former body. What we call “ghosts” are manifestations of a spiritual Ki that lingers, of course without any positive “thinking” by the spiritual Ki, close to its body after death.
This is just one example of how the New Religion can explain things that traditional religion cannot.
Evolution of the Universe
Inexorably, based on the mathematical laws of quantum physics, the spiritual Ki will interact with its body and the Universe, and will change. After death, the spiritual Ki will dissipate, unlike what we believe happens to a soul, which, based on the whatever religion one adheres to, will simply find another receptacle or go to heaven or hell to wander there forever. A more correct perspective is that a Ki of a deceased human being will retain some of its old Ki characteristics but there will be other Ki that will combine with it to form the spiritual Ki, or what may be referred to as a soul, of a new human being. Once the newly formed Ki combines with a new body, the combination may trigger some reactions that bring to the brain of the new person certain “memories” of the Ki’s past experience (what we call déjà-vue). However, Ki itself does not remember, think or feel. It does not love, remember or hate. Nevertheless, the brain’s formation and growth is affected by its Ki. Therefore it is likely, from a probabilistic perspective, that the new brain will develop and interact with its Ki in a manner similar to the brain of the former body, and may retain certain “memories.” Memories, after all, are electro-chemical reaction taking place in the brain. This is not a result of any plan or intent by the Ki; it is a probabilistic reaction.
As the Universe affects our Ki, so can our thoughts and actions affect our Ki as well as the Ki of the Universe. Any action or thought that disturbs the “peaceful” state of our Ki will disrupt the stableness of the Ki that surrounds us as well. This does not mean that an evil action will lead to a lightening bolt striking us immediately; it only means that the surrounding Ki is altered, which, in a probabilistic sense, creates a pool of more negative Ki around us, which will tend to affect us negatively. There is no divine justice, only probabilistic and long-term justice. Like the economic theorem, all things come to an equilibrium in the long run. However, unless one takes actions to correct any negativity in its Ki to bring it to a more positive or stable state, that Ki will continue to become more negative. Once a person with negative Ki dies, his spiritual Ki will tend to maintain its negativity for a period of time, which leads it to gravitate toward the more negative pool of Kis. Even after it is “born” into a new human being, certain negativity will creep in. Again, from a probabilistic perspective, the new person is not destined to be “evil,” but a proactive step is needed to bring it back to a positive state.
The Universe has existed for a long time, and it will continue to exist for billions of more years. The spiritual Ki that are in us now have existed as Ki since the birth of the universe and will continue as Ki until the end of the Universe, and perhaps even after the end of this Universe if a new Universe is born in another “Big Bang.” However, the spiritual Ki is special in that it has the inherent power to change itself and change the Universe in a more definite way. In a broad sense, the Universe is evolving, and our spiritual Ki is the driver of this evolution. Of course even a non-living river, by flowing to the sea, will change the Universe. A mountain that crumbles into rock, which then crumbles to sand and becomes a desert is also changing itself and changing the Universe. But our spiritual Ki, while still operating under the probabilistic laws of a quantum universe just like electrons, molecules, rivers and mountains, have a special place in the Universe in that the probabilistic variations available to our spiritual Ki are much more diverse and much less deterministic.
We cannot “will” ourselves or the Universe to become “good” or “better.” However, we have the power (if we have the desire) to change, and have the support of the Universe to effectuate such change, even if only at a probabilistic level.
There is no outside agent, or God, that controls the flow of energy in the Universe and the course of its history. It is a combination of physical laws and the probability functions of the Universe that makes things as they are and will be. However, we are not pawns or objects that blindly react to the probabilistic laws of the Universe. After all, at a quantum level, we are not yet aware of a law that determines the movement of each particle. As the Universe is Ki, we, and the Ki that forms us, have the ability to change the Universe. After all, changing ourselves is changing the Universe.
There is no heaven or hell but what we make of the Universe. When people asked Jesus where the Kingdom of God was, Jesus answered that “the Kingdom of God is among you.” In original Judaism, there is no heaven or hell. In the Old Testament there is no reference to Hell in the Christian sense. What was incorrectly translated as “Hell” in the King James version of the Bible is actually closer to the “earth” or “grave.”
We, however, cannot directly control the Universe; after all we are still bound by the quantum laws of probability. There are so many possible variations, infinite variations. The biggest fallacy of religion is that there is a “personal” God that will answer our prayers, for a better job, for more money, for a beautiful spouse, for our kids to go to an Ivy League college. A God that listens to and grants our prayers cannot be a universal God because that God has taken a good job from someone else, made someone lose money, has given someone an ugly spouse and made someone’s daughter go to a community college. It is our actions and positive thinking that are important. We cannot “will” the Universe to be good or to work better for us. However, we know for sure that willing the Universe to be evil will surely reduce the probability that it will turn out to be good.
Dangers of Existing Religion
Any religion that teaches hatred or killing of other human beings ultimately cannot be a universal religion. There cannot be a separate God for the Jews, the Christians or the Muslims, a God that advocates its believers to slaughter others of different faith. When human beings had very little understanding of how the Universe worked, why lightening struck, why a volcano erupted, they may have needed a God to explain such phenomena. While such a concept of God eased the pains of many who were suffering, we, at this stage of intellectual development, cannot believe in God that will use natural phenomena to indiscriminately kill large numbers of people, including little children. Many times in history, the “Will of God” was in fact the “Will of the Ruler,” men of power, who have used whatever religion that will justify their plan of getting more power or wealth. Once the “Will of God” has been conveniently defined and packaged under the guise of religion, as in the Crusades or terrorism, it will be used ruthlessly and certainly in an ungodly manner. Some rulers, like Hitler, may call it Manifest Destiny of a certain race of people instead of calling it the will of God. Whatever they are called, actions taken under such guise will create strong negativity in the Ki of the people who take such actions, and while they may achieve their objective in the short run, their Ki will stay negative for a long time and will make the Universe a more negative place for all of us if their actions are allowed to continue.
Despite the advance of science and enlightenment, there is hunger for a personal god that will protect us, make us prosper and punish our enemies. However, those exact sentiments give us dictators. The spiritual need among the people of Germany in the 1930s that gave them Hitler also resulted in the Shoa (which is what the Jews call the Holocaust). This, interestingly, led even the Jews to crave earthly power; having their own country and a secular leader and an army to defend them against their enemies. Samuel, the great Jewish prophet, had great misgivings about anointing Saul as the King of Israel because he worried, and rightfully so, that a King would usurp the power of God and lead the people of Israel astray. When a personal god is seen as a failure in that it cannot protect the people that believe in him, then the people will turn to earthly rulers. Inescapably, after the Shoa, many Jews had doubts about their God, who would allow six million of them, including innocent children, to die a horrible death. A God that disappoints is bad enough, a successful personal god can be even more disastrous because he invariably causes suffering on the people who do not share the faith. The slogan becomes “believe in our God because he is the true God, and if you don’t believe in him we will kill you in the name of our God.”
Comparison with Buddhism and Hinduism
This New Religion, or world view, may seem similar to Buddhism or Hinduism. The valuable contribution of such religion is that they taught us that we do not have merely one life to live, and what we do in this life is not the be all and end all, and that it affect our future lives. However the critical difference between the New Religion and Buddhism or Hinduism is that under the New Religion there is no “reincarnation” of the same “soul” as in those religions. The “soul” does not retain its form and characteristics completely. If it did, then given the explosion in human population since these philosophies or religion were developed, i.e., from less than a hundred million to more than six billion, we must have imported a lot of souls from animals or plants. Of course one can reincarnate as an animal and vice versa under Hinduism or Buddhism, which of course would mean that animals (and even plants) have souls. However, it would be more reasonable to believe that a “soul” as we define it, really does not exist perpetually as a separate and discrete entity, with unchanging characteristics. Souls, as we usually define them, do not change or develop. Hence no one says that a soul changed or you got a new soul. Therefore it is misleading to say that “I” will have many reincarnations; the essence of “I”, which is composed of many different aspects, will not be completely transferred.
Buddha is also said to have believed that the id, or the self, is not constant or fixed, but is always changing, like a burning fire or a running stream. This view, at first, may be seen as being similar to the perspective of the New Religion. However, it is not clear whether Buddhism believes that the self exists, but is in constant flux, or that the self does not exist at all. I can change my mind constantly, and my old cells can die out to be replaced by new self, but I still exist. If this is all Buddhism teaches, then you could argue that Buddhism believes that a “soul” exists, and we can identify whether that “soul,” although not identical to the old “soul” that was in the previous body, is in fact the same “soul” that has been “reborn.” This is not entirely consistent with the perspective of the New Religion. If there is no “self,” then it is difficult to understand what “re-incarnates.” If there is no reincarnation, the whole basis of Buddhist belief that Nirvana frees us from reincarnation is meaningless.
Another shortcoming of Buddhism is its concept that existence is pain, and the purpose of the dharma, or religion, is the avoidance of pain. Buddha thought that reincarnation, even if you were reborn as a prince, is still painful because you had to go through old age, illness, suffering and death. Remember that Siddhartha was in fact born as a prince; so for him, even the highest and most enviable life that a person could attain was still a life of pain. Therefore he thought that the ultimate goal was to avoid reincarnation altogether, attaining a state of nirvana.
But is life so painful? Is reading Shakespeare or John Grisham, listening to Mozart or the Beatles, watching the sunset on a tropical island drinking a mai tai and having wonderful sex with the person you love, or holding a child in your arms something to be dreaded? These are the things that make us truly human. To claim that they are illusions or worthless or sinful is missing the point of being alive. Is our life upon this earth and accident that has to be “cured” or just a test to see who will go to heaven or to hell?
Jesus and the New Religion
Jesus inherently understood the shortcomings of the parochial Jewish God, and tried to focus on the here and now, and giving people peace of mind while on earth. “Love your neighbors as yourself” is a teaching that is exactly in line with the New Religion. By loving one another, the Ki in ourselves and the Ki around us is elevated to a higher and superior state. Remember that Jesus was preaching to a people that had personally experienced “God” in their lives, and it would have been impossible to put the people on the right path by denying their God altogether. Jesus turned a vengeful and wrathful deity into a God of love, which is a testament to his true religious power and understanding. However, Jesus’ teachings were hijacked by the earthly rulers, both religious and secular, for their own benefits. It is curious that after Jesus, God has not directly spoken to human beings, at least not in a publicly acknowledged manner if you call yourself a Christian or a Jew. There has been no accepted Jewish or Christian prophet after Jesus. Of course, for the Muslims, there is Mohammed. But even Mohammed was not preaching a God of intolerance.
Conclusion: Religion Must Evolve
As anything, religion also evolves. Christianity evolved from Judaism, and Islam evolved from Christianity. Protestantism evolved from Catholicism, and Catholicism itself continues to evolve. As human beings evolve both biologically and mentally, religion must continue to evolve to provide meaningful support and worldview to people. Two thousand years ago, people in the Mediterranean region believed in Zeus/Jupiter, god of thunder. Such believers are basically non-existent at the present. When you are young, you may believe in Santa Claus. Your belief in Santa Claus may have helped you to be nice, well-behaved child. However, as you grow older, your faith in Santa will decrease dramatically. So is it with the human race. We have matured enough to discard Santa Claus.
This new Religion is not a dogmatic and intolerant religion, it is not a religion of helplessness or abject pacifism. Rather, it is a positive religion that gives us the knowledge and the willingness to change ourselves and the Universe for the better. However, it also teaches us that we cannot change the Universe instantaneously or can get instant gratification. We need to be engaged in an ongoing effort, not just in this life, but as long as the Universe and our Ki exist.
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Many leaders of Old Religion are not above killing even their own followers. Examples like the mass suicide by the members of People’s
instigated by their leader James Jones come to mind. More recently, a mother, who was part of a religious group which believed themselves to be Christian, called One Mind Ministries, let her son die of starvation, as ordered by their leader, , a 40-year-old woman who goes by the name Queen Antoinette. As reported by CNN, members of this religious group are accused of denying the child food after Queen Antoinette decreed the boy was a demon since he refused to say "amen" after meals. According to one member, the mother “would cling to him every day and try to get him to say 'amen.'" Eventually, Queen Antoinette ordered that the mother be separated from the child. The child, Javon, is believed to have died in December 2006, court documents allege. Following his death, the group members put the boy's body in a back room, and "everyone was directed to come in and pray," according to the documents. According to one member, "The Queen told everyone that 'God was going to raise Javon from the dead.' Javon remained in the room for an extended period of time (in excess of one week). The resurrection never took place." http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/03/31/cult.child.death/index.html