the human quest

a reflection on the human approaches towards the transcendental dimensions
At present you can choose in Munich approximately between 10 different Buddhist groups, at least 20 different schools with a Hindu or Yoga background, some Sufi people, some resident and a lot of visiting Satsang teachers, shamanic practitioners and lots of syncretic groups, which are combining various traditions. Many of them are promising you immediate results or quick help that make you feel better, without really exploring deeper into your original quest. Add the hotchpotch of offers from the media and you will get a confusing variety of possibilities, where the danger of getting sidetracked is immanent.
Says the Bhutanese lama, filmmaker, and writer Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche in an article on his facebook page "...Even more dangerous are the self-made gurus who use mindfulness and other Buddhist practices to turn the essence of the Buddhist path into techniques for increasing our love of samsara. By doing so, they utterly destroy the entire purpose of the Buddhadharma, which is to liberate suffering beings from samsara. If this perversion of the Buddha’s teachings is not demonic—the ‘devil incarnate,’ as Christians might say—what is?"
Personally I wouldn’t go as far as to say that “liberation from samsara” is the good solution and “ increasing your love for samsara” the bad one. But these two approaches are indeed the main antagonists on the spiritual path and one has to be clear, which one to follow, or one will end up in trouble. Trying to follow both directions simultaneously will get you into frustration and confusion, no matter how noble your causes may be.
Misunderstandings are in the nature of our subject, as we are talking with a mind of limited possibilities about the realms beyond mind and language. So you are welcome to ask any questions to the author via e-mail: Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!.
First we look at the historical development of the human quest with its various transformations in time and space. Later we shall try to get an overview of the present situation and finally we shall see how things might unfold in the future.

1. overview

A diagram displaying the main matrices and systems, which emerged within the collective human quest:

flowchart

We are dividing the human quest into matrices, which are defined by some common fundamental concepts. Within a matrix we are defining certain systems and within the systems we are talking about subsystems, movements or streams. As an example: the Abrahamic matrix divides into three main systems, Judaism, Christianity and Islam and within Christianity there are Catholics, Protestants and so on as subsystems.
Animistic and shamanic matrix: we are looking at a time from about 100000 years ago to about 10000 BC. This period is widely regarded as part of the stone age and humans were living as hunter/gatherers. Naturally the quest of our ancestors from this period was a very practical approach. It is highly unlikely that a person from this period would find the time to think about some hidden meaning of life, when you had to be constantly on the lookout, whether something edible came within your reach, or another being came along, who classified you as edible for them. Besides, a consideration of the meaning of life would require a developed abstract language, which from all we can guess only slowly develops during this period. But certainly the search for entities existing beyond the sensual perceptions starts and ideas of spirits, ghosts and other supernatural entities are passed on verbally from generation to generation. The step from animistic to shamanistic practice happens, when some humans develop the ability to see and contact these entities and manage to influence them in favor of their tribe or members of their tribe. These people become specialised as healers, mediators, spiritual leaders and general advisors. Originally shaman was their name only in Siberia, but by and by the term was used globally.
Polytheism: When some nomadic tribal bands form larger groups and settle in villages or cities, human interaction is getting more organized for practical reasons. In these early cultures the first forms of organized religion with emperors and priests creating their own polytheistic pantheon with special local protective gods emerge.
Abrahamic matrix: While the majority of humans in their environment worship either shamanic or polytheistic deities a rebellious shepherd in Mesopotamia called Abraham declares a new concept with a single almighty god and moves with his small tribe to Judaea. Henceforth the system created by him and his descendants is called Judaism. Later this system is reformed by a son of a Jewish carpenter into Christianity and another six hundred years later it is further developed by an Arabic camel caretaker into Islam.
Non dual matrix: In various areas in Eurasia some exceptional beings start researching within themselves and in some cases impress their fellow human beings so much, that they attract large followings.

2. early movements

Chart of the early human migrations between 100000 and 10000 BC.

migration

Even though our knowledge about this period is based solely on archeological and genetic researches, which are sometimes contradictory, we can safely say that the first ideas about an existence beyond the material phenomena occur in this period and lead to the original forms of animism and shamanism. Movement happens for various reasons: climate, overpopulation and the migration of the prey are likely motives. The map only shows the main first time moves, but a lot more movement happens in reality. .
Migrations out of Africa across the Sinai peninsula occurs definitely a few times and perhaps quite frequently. There are also traces of reverse movements back into Africa. .
Also the crossing of the Bering Strait is done more than once.
The central Eurasian steppes offer great possibilities for hunting, so many nomadic tribes move around between today's Ukraine and the Lake Baikal region.
Some transcontinental sea journeys take place, even though we do not know exactly how and when. Our main consideration here is that a lot of migrations happen in the paleolithic period. When tribes or groups of tribes move, they take their knowledge with them, so by 10000 BCE animistic practice is spread over all continents. Myths about the creation of the world, the creation of gods and their relationship with each other and humans are formulated and passed on by word of mouth. So within a few generations a myth might undergo considerable changes, but traces of new abilities like the use of simple symbols (circle, triangle etc.) appear globally. The scientific estimate for the whole world population around 10000 BCE is between one and ten million, so they would fit into Europe easily. But these few millions are spread over all continents.

3. the emergence of polytheistic systems

Within the first human civilisations various polytheistic pantheons come into existence at different times and locations

migration

When the groups of cohabiting people become bigger, new forms of organization evolve and the forms of our communication with the metaphysical world change as well. Generally speaking the term "polytheistic" applies also to the shamanic matrix, as it simply means "with many gods", but we are using the term here especially for polytheistic systems, which include deities created by humans and having human appearances with special powers and abilities. The animistic deities like sun gods, moon gods or animal spirits are still worshipped, but new gods, like Isis in Egypt, Indra in India or Zeus in Greece, come into being and gain superior influence. Some shamans are turning into priests and oracles, who are mediating between gods and humans. Cities and empires often have their own special protector gods and sometimes kings claim to be of divine origin to justify their leadership. Around the year 1 the polytheist religions were dominant in most densely populated areas around the globe. Only India had turned Buddhist after emperor Ashoka the Great converted to Buddhism in 258 BC.
The world population estimate at the time of Christ is about 150 to 300 million, that is about fifty to hundred times more than 10000 years earlier.

4. the emergence of the non dual matrix

Some exceptional individuals have new insights about the transcendental realms and change the gestalt of the human quest:

migration

Besides the rise (and fall) of civilizations and their countless gods, we have testimonies of special beings, who leave a lasting impact on their fellow human beings. We don't know, if all of them really existed or if some are completely or partially myth. Most likely additional legends were attributed to each of them. Yet we can safely presume, that starting from the iron age there were humans at various places, who had extraordinary realisations, which gave their appearance a special radiance. In some cultures they were called mystics, in Greece philosophers and in India rishis or yogis. Probably not all of them went public and many were probably forgotten soon after their physical disappearance, but a few like Buddha or Lao Tzu started big traditions, which still are practiced widely today. Similar to the shamanic traditions there are men and women likewise, who are questioning the common beliefs and crossing the border into the transcendental realms. In the eastern half of Eurasia the focus of these wise people is on the inner search. Individuals like Mahavir, Chuang Tzu or Shenrab Miwoche start to to share their wisdom with words or nonverbal transmissions. Their sayings are memorized by their followers and become the substratum for the non dual matrix.

5. the emergence of the abrahamic matrix

The Fertile Crescent and the surrounding Middle East deserve some special attention as all three Abrahamic religions originate there:

migration

The area between Egypt and modern day Iraq can be seen as the area of the first traffic jams in human history, as all of the early migrations out of and back into Africa had to pass through this area. Additionally this region , which is called the Fertile Crescent because of its shape and natural richness, offered excellent conditions for domestication of animals and cultivation of plants for food production. So it is not surprising, that the first bigger human settlements and empires are developing here . Since the early days until today the area has been highly disputed between various religious and ethnic groups, who are all claiming these lands as their ancient homelands. While the ethnic heritage is still present with the present populations, the ancient religious traditions have been swept away by three men of low descent, who rebelled in their respective times against the established belief systems.
Abraham: According to the bible Abraham originally lived in the area of Ur, which was one of the ancient fortified cities. He is a simple shepard and apparently not happy with his environment. From Ur he is leading his small tribe to Haran and later to the land of Canaan. According to the Koran he rebels against Nimrod, a legendary Assyrian king, in Urfa, which is close to Haran. He is frequently instructed by a heavenly being, who claims to be the supreme god. Abraham convinces his people to worship this god, which they do after god performs some miracles for them. As we don’t have any other sources besides the Old Testament and the Koran he might just be a myth and perhaps he never existed as single physical being. But nevertheless he stands out as the original symbol and the main inventor of monotheism and the main founder of Judaism.
Jesus of Nazareth: Some centuries later, when the Jewish people are quite unhappy with the Roman occupying forces, Jesus is born to a carpenter's family, claims to be god's son and attempts to reform the Jewish belief system. His message is widely rejected in his homeland, but after his death the new faith is spreading to Asia Minor and a becomes the state religion of the Roman empire a few hundred years later. From Rome and Constantinople Christianity spreads to central and western Europe and Russia and from there with the colonization of America to all areas of the new world.
Muhammad: Around 600 AD in Mecca on the Arabian peninsula a new prophet appears , who claims to get direct messages from god. His proper name is Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim, but to the world he becomes known as Muhammad. He, too, is initially not very popular with his fellow citizens. But already during his lifetime he gains a big following and unifies Arabia. Within 150 years his successors conquer a huge empire from Spain to Kyrgyzstan and spread the new religion to South East Asia, Central Asia, parts of Africa and Europe.

Even though Judaism, Christianity and Islam emphasize very different laws and rules, they share a lot of concepts and refer to a similar past, which is written down in their holy books. That's why they are often called "the book religions" or "Abrahamic religions". The basic theme of this matrix is the relation between god and the human beings, who were created by him, but never can become god themselves. That's why we are talking about dual systems here. As god is the stronger part in the partnership and decides about an individual's joyful or horrible afterlife, humans are striving for god's appreciation. The principles of life are outlined in the respective holy books, which cannot be questioned by the followers of the system. For example we read in Genesis 1:28: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth...” ."
In each tradition mystic schools are developing, like the Hasids in Judaism or the Sufis in Islam, who are trying to overcome the fundamental duality of the Abrahamic matrix. But they are small and often suppressed minorities within their traditions. The priests and leaders within the Abrahamic matrix tend to be much more controlling and strictly sticking to their monotheistic principles.

6. the main differences between the matrices

The fundamental concepts of the three main matrices about who we are, what life and the universe is all about and how to achieve lasting happiness, vary considerably. But we will start looking at the common ground. In most systems, that have been researched, there is a basic three tier model:
- the surface of the earth, on which the humans are dwelling, is in the middle.
- the below, which is deep in the ocean or under the surface of the earth, sometimes called hell. Often demons are living there.
- the above, which is high in the sky on or some unreachable mountains, sometimes called heaven. Mostly deities are living there.
I selected four models from the internet from various cultures and areas as an example, a systematic description from the Middle East, a drawing from the Chumash Indians, the Nordic universe and a Christian variation by Dutch painter Frans Francken:

Humans as the inhabitants of the middle region are facing challenges from the superior forces from above and below and have to find practical solutions for survival and successful procreation. In animistic matrix oriented societies life often goes on in circles. Each generation repeats the tasks of their ancestors. With the evolving of the Abrahamic matrix the concepts are changing. You get just one life and after death you are punished with eternal hell or rewarded with eternal heaven, depending on your sins and merits.
The cosmic models of the non dual matrix have a similar structure. One example is the Wheel of Life from the Buddhist and Bön system, which is found in many monasteries in Tibet and Central Asia. It includes three realms of the universe as above, but there is something extra, which is missing in the other models: You can attain liberation from the wheel!

The three tiers, which are present in the other models, are arranged in a circle (that's, why it's called "The Wheel of Life" or in Sanskrit "Bhavachakra") tightly controlled by Yama, the Lord of the Underworld. The additional element is a Buddha, who has managed to escape from Yama's grip through Self realization. For an individual it is possible to attain the realization with the support of the Buddha. But the solution cannot be found within the wheel. The idea of being a separate being creates suffering. All our actions without exception keep the roller coaster going. The clue is to detach from the ego and the dissolving of the I thought is liberation from Samsara. When the I disappears you realize that you are consciousness. You are the screen on which the universe is reflected. This aspect is hidden in the Abrahamic matrix and only rarely in secret schools it might be disclosed. The Abrahamic systems don't acknowledge a beyond. They remain completely in the illusionary realms and illusionary promises. Everything is based on the belief that the phenomena within the wheel are real. This actually applies to atheist systems like communism as well. They deny the existence of the realms of the gods and the demons. But they still declare the humans and animals as existing separately, so they are caught in the same illusionary bubble just like Jews, Christians and Mohammedans.

7. the present situation

If you like miracles, here's really a big one:

migration

The countries in yellow are all predominantly influenced by the abrahamic matrix, the red ones by the non dual matrix. The white parts are too sparsely populated to be taken into account. In many places shamanic and syncretic systems are practiced, mostly by indigenous people, but they are always in the minority compared to the followers of the main religions of a country. Countries that have been dominated by atheist systems for some time I am counting with the matrix, which was dominant during long periods of their history.

The spreading of the matrices in our time and the distribution of the world population:

migration
53 % of the world population lives within the marked circle. The columns list the countries within the circle and their population. Comparing it with the first picture we see that all of the area of the predominantly non dual influenced countries are within the circle. Just a coincidence?

8. the dynamics of change

The regularities of Samsara and the consequences:


At the moment the article is in preparation. In the meantime you might want to have a look at my favorite object for the observation of the dynamics of change...the clouds above Lake Walchensee in the Bavarian Alps.

- work in progress - chapters will be filled in by and by-