Inspired in part by an excellent Project X Presents meeting last night in which we discussed possible narrative structures, I found myself thinking this morning about the evolution of spirituality through the ages and ways it can be categorised. From my limited knowledge so far, the progression seems to go something like this:
Animism, polytheism, monotheism, deism, atheism, individualism …. universalism.
In animism, ancient peoples saw consciousness and purpose everywhere, in each tree and rock. Polytheism perhaps emerged from that, particular entities crystallising through the passing on of myths and legends – to what extent these ideas were passed on intentionally as metaphor and misunderstood as reality or how much their proponents believed them would presumably vary.
Monotheism offered a uniting force, recognising the similarities at the core of the diverse belief systems and acting cohesively. As the presence (interference?) of God in our daily lives became less apparent, Deism offered a more down to earth way of continuing to invest in beliefs such as the Creator and a universal morality.
Recently atheism has become quite prevalent particularly in some parts of Europe and America as people reject received wisdom altogether and embrace developments in modern science and psychology.
The danger with atheism is “throwing the baby out with the bath water”, yet it is that levelling of the playing field which has enabled Individualism in which people are looking for their own answers, in terms of their own pragmatic experience, taking bits of teaching as they find them from a range of sources.
Finally in the future, perhaps consensus can once again be reached and a universal spirituality achieved, but first surely, we have to embrace and accept any attempt by anyone at spiritual development by whatever means or language and look for synergy with and inspiration for our own chosen path.