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7 - The Emotive and Spiritual Odyssey of Mary


In the year 2350, amidst a world propelled by advanced technology, Mary, a brilliant scientist, embarked on a journey unlike any other. Equipped with a revolutionary time-travel device she had meticulously developed, Mary's mission was to witness the very beginnings of the human species.

With a mixture of excitement and apprehension, Mary activated the time machine and was instantly transported back in time to the Pleistocene era, approximately 2 million years ago. Stepping out of her spacecraft onto the rugged terrain, Mary found herself surrounded by early hominids, the distant ancestors of modern humans.

Over the course of several weeks, Mary observed the primitive lifestyles of these early hominids, witnessing their struggles for survival in a harsh and unforgiving world. She marveled at their ingenuity in crafting rudimentary tools and shelter, as well as their communal bonds that fostered cooperation and protection within their tribes. She also witness the hostility and competition between tribes.  The tribes that survived were loving and enriching within their group, but ruthless when it came to foreign tribes.  Often a tribe consisted of about 200 members.  This allowed several hunting parities to be hunting at the same time, and thus the supply of food was more consistent.

In the ancient world of primitive man, oral tradition was paramount. Without the luxury of written language, knowledge was passed down from generation to generation through the art of storytelling and song. These songs, often lasting several days, served as the library of knowledge for primitive societies, encapsulating the entirety of their understanding of the world.

Within these epic songs, every aspect of their environment was meticulously described and celebrated. Spirits were believed to dwell within rocks, trees, and animals, each possessing unique powers and significance. These spirits were revered and honored through rituals and offerings, ensuring harmony between humans and the natural world.

In addition to spiritual beliefs, practical knowledge was also encoded within these songs. Descriptions of what was safe to eat and what could cause illness were woven into the verses, serving as a crucial guide for survival in the wilderness. Techniques for manufacturing clothing from animal skins were meticulously detailed, providing protection against the elements and ensuring warmth during harsh winters.

Furthermore, these epic songs served as invaluable guides for practical skills such as building traps and starting fires. Each verse contained wisdom passed down through generations, offering insights into the subtle nuances of constructing effective traps and harnessing the power of fire for warmth, cooking, and protection.

For primitive man, these songs were more than just entertainment; they were the repository of their collective wisdom and survival strategies. Through the power of oral tradition, primitive societies preserved their knowledge, ensuring the continuity of their way of life for generations to come.
As time passed, Mary's journey took her through the epochs, spanning the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Classical period, and beyond.

In the Paleolithic era (approximately 2.6 million years ago to 10,000 BCE), Mary encountered early Homo species such as Homo habilis and Homo erectus. She observed their use of primitive stone tools and witnessed their struggles against formidable predators in their quest for survival. Mary also witnessed the emergence of early spiritual beliefs, as evidenced by burial rituals and cave paintings depicting scenes of hunting and fertility.

Transitioning into the Mesolithic era (approximately 10,000 BCE to 5,000 BCE), Mary witnessed the gradual transition from nomadic hunting and gathering to a more settled way of life. She observed the development of more sophisticated tools and weapons, as well as the beginnings of art and symbolic expression. Spiritual beliefs became more complex during this period, with the emergence of animistic religions that revered nature and believed in spirits inhabiting natural phenomena.

In the Neolithic era (approximately 5,000 BCE to 2,000 BCE), Mary witnessed the dawn of agriculture and the rise of the first permanent settlements. She marveled at the emergence of complex societies, characterized by the development of pottery, weaving, and the domestication of animals. Spiritual and religious values played a central role in Neolithic societies, with the worship of fertility deities and the construction of monumental megalithic structures like Stonehenge serving as focal points for communal rituals and ceremonies.

Moving into the Bronze Age (approximately 3,300 BCE to 1,200 BCE), Mary encountered advanced civilizations such as Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. She marveled at the architectural wonders of these ancient civilizations, from the pyramids of Giza to the ziggurats of Sumer. Spiritual beliefs were intricately woven into the fabric of society, with elaborate pantheons of gods and goddesses governing every aspect of life, from agriculture to warfare.

As Mary journeyed through the epochs, she witnessed the rise and fall of empires, the spread of religions, and the evolution of human thought and culture. From the philosophical teachings of ancient Greece to the spiritual enlightenment of ancient India, Mary gained a profound appreciation for the rich tapestry of human history.

Finally, as Mary returned to the present day, she carried with her a newfound understanding of the journey that had led humanity from its humble beginnings to the heights of technological advancement. She knew that the story of human evolution was a testament to the enduring spirit of exploration, innovation, and resilience that had propelled our species forward through the ages. 

She wanted to study in more detail how religion influenced ancient civilizations.  Her time machine was refurbished so it could complete a second journey back in time.  She adjusted the machine to bring her during the peak of the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley, circa 3500 BCE. In Mesopotamia, Mary witnessed the rise of complex polytheistic belief systems centered around deities such as Enlil, Marduk, and Ishtar. She observed how these early religions intertwined with daily life, influencing everything from agricultural practices to social hierarchies.

Transitioning to ancient Egypt, Mary marveled at the grandeur of temples dedicated to gods like Ra, Osiris, and Isis. She learned about the intricate funerary rituals and beliefs in an afterlife, symbolized by the concept of the journey through the underworld and the weighing of the heart.

In the Indus Valley civilization, Mary encountered a rich tapestry of religious iconography, including seals depicting deities like the horned deity and the fertility goddess. She learned about the importance of ritual purity and the belief in cosmic order, as reflected in the layout of cities like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa.

As Mary journeyed through time, she witnessed the emergence of major world religions such as Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.

In ancient India, circa 1500 BCE, Mary delved into the teachings of the Vedas and the Upanishads, exploring concepts such as karma, dharma, and moksha. She marveled at the diversity of Hindu gods and goddesses, from Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva to Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Kali.

In ancient Israel, circa 2000 BCE, Mary learned about the monotheistic beliefs of the Hebrew people, centered around their covenant with Yahweh. She studied the Torah, the holy book of Judaism, and witnessed the importance of rituals such as circumcision, kosher dietary laws, and Sabbath observance.

Transitioning to ancient China, circa 6th century BCE, Mary explored the teachings of Confucius and Laozi, as well as the rituals and practices of Daoism and Confucianism. She learned about the concept of the Mandate of Heaven and the importance of filial piety and harmony in Confucian thought.

In ancient Greece, circa 5th century BCE, Mary immersed herself in the myths and legends of the Olympian gods and goddesses, as well as the philosophical teachings of thinkers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. She witnessed the rituals and festivals honoring gods like Zeus, Hera, Athena, and Apollo, as well as the mysteries of Eleusis and Delphi.

As Mary journeyed through the centuries, she witnessed the spread of religions across continents and the emergence of new religious movements and sects. She observed how religions evolved and adapted to changing social, political, and cultural landscapes, yet retained certain fundamental concepts and beliefs.

Throughout her journey, Mary encountered various taboos and superstitions, as well as misconceptions such as the belief in a flat earth. She observed how religious texts and holy books, such as the Bible, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Tripitaka, shaped the beliefs and practices of followers and served as sources of authority and guidance.

As Mary returned to the present day, she carried with her a profound understanding of the diversity and complexity of religious beliefs and practices around the world. She realized that while religions may differ in their rituals, doctrines, and interpretations, they all share a common human quest for meaning, purpose, and connection to the divine.

As her mind brimming with the wealth of knowledge she had acquired from her journey through the history of religions, she couldn't help but reflect on the profound implications of her discoveries.

One striking realization that emerged from her exploration was the pervasive influence of human perception on religious beliefs. She pondered how ancient civilizations, with their limited understanding of the natural world, had interpreted their surroundings through the lens of their senses and beliefs. From the concept of a flat earth to the attribution of natural phenomena to the whims of gods and goddesses, early humans had constructed elaborate mythologies to make sense of their existence.

However, as Mary delved deeper into the workings of the human brain, she began to recognize the intricate interplay between perception, belief, and reality. She considered how the brain, with its vast network of neurons and synaptic connections, constructs reality based on sensory input and cognitive processes. Beliefs, shaped by cultural, social, and religious influences, play a pivotal role in shaping this perceptual reality.

In her contemplations, Mary mused on the idea that the big brain of mankind requires a structured framework to manage the trillions of parts within it. She realized that just as the physical body requires harmony and balance to maintain health, the mind also craves a sense of coherence and meaning. Religions, with their rituals, doctrines, and moral codes, serve as frameworks for organizing and making sense of the complexities of human existence.  Since these structures are within the brain, there are no constraints on them.  They do not have to be true, but only functional.

Yet, Mary also acknowledged the duality of religious experience, wherein the outer gods – the divine beings worshipped in traditional religions – represent external forces that humans seek to appease and placate. Conversely, the inner gods – the psychological and emotional aspects of human consciousness – represent internal forces that guide individuals on their quest for self-discovery and personal transformation.

In contemplating the outer gods versus the inner gods, Mary recognized the inherent tension between external authority and internal autonomy, between religious tradition and personal spirituality. She understood that while external religious structures provide a sense of belonging and community, inner exploration and introspection are equally essential for achieving inner peace and understanding.

As Mary concluded her reflections, she realized that the journey through the history of religions had not only deepened her understanding of human spirituality but also heightened her awareness of the intricate connections between mind, body, and soul. Armed with this newfound wisdom, Mary resolved to continue her quest for knowledge and enlightenment, knowing that the pursuit of truth is a lifelong journey of discovery and growth.

1. New Truth, New God (new)

2. Tacking Complex Subjects

3. The Problems with Religion

4. Meditation and the Proof of the Core Self

5. The History of Consciousness (new)

6.  Deepermind and the Catholic Church (new)

7.  Mary and the Time Machine (new)

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