Forgotten Religions: Including Some Living Primitive Religions

Forgotten Religions: Including Some Living Primitive Religions

Forgotten Religions: Including Some Living Primitive Religions

Forgotten Religions: Including Some Living Primitive Religions

Excerpt

Two factors lie at the very basis of man's religious response. Without them he would never be religious; with them, he is always potentially religious--whatever his station in life, whatever his culture or environment.

In the first place, it is the most natural thing in the world to be religious because man is psychologically conditioned or equipped for that kind of response. As a psycho-physical organism he has the ability to adapt himself, to adjust himself to whatever comes within his reach and ken. His sensations, his whole bodily responses, his mental reactions are so many instruments by means of which he gets on in his world. He is fundamentally an adjusting organism. Without this ability, he would have perished long ago. To see ahead, to forearm himself, to prepare, to guess what is coming--these are also of the frame of his nature as an adaptive being. He differs from the animals in the superb way in which he holds together so much of his experience and then uses it to further his way for more, to anticipate events and to prepare to cope with them. Man not only concerns himself with the immediate, with the things close by; he reaches out to experiences unborn, to distances beyond his measure both in time and space, There are horizons in his world and, at times, these claim as much of his attention as the things which are in focus only in his immediate surroundings.

Man, in other words, is biologically equipped to pay attention to shadows, to perspectives far beyond his grasp. It is this psychological ability and its expression by thought, by word or deed, that characterizes the religious response. The religious man always takes hold of things that reach out beyond his heres-and-nows, things which seem to hold sway in wider spheres of existence. The ability to react to just such wider environments constitutes the first basic factor of the kind of response called "religious" and makes it normal, widespread and natural.

Older students of psychology, comparative religions and anthro . . .

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