What is the core of religion?
I’m curious as to what you think about what religion is at its very core. After you strip away its rituals, traditions and history, what’s left? What is it that fascinates our species so much that the notion of religion gracefully survived the “Enlightenment?” There's something there, so what is it? I don't think its something found in any one holy book, but something extraordinarily immediate. As is said in Islam, "Allâh is closer to a man than his own jugular vein." (50.16) What is it that is so immediate and intimate to us? How do you account for or explain this?
According to Huston Smith, Buddhism rejected the following six elements of religion. After you pare these away, what’s left???
1.) Religion must be devoid of authority.
“Do not accept what you hear by report, do not accept tradition, do not accept a statement because it is found in our books, nor because it is in accord with your believe, nor because it is the saying of your teacher. Be lamps onto yourselves. Those who, either now or after I am dead, shall rely upon themselves only and not look for assistance to anyone besides themselves, it is they who shall reach the topmost height.”
2.) Religion must be devoid of ritual.
Is it the ritual that is effective or is it the mind of the person participating in the ritual? For example, the Upanishads came to be by internalizing the efficacy of the external rituals advocated by the earlier Vedas.
3.) Religion must be devoid of speculation/explanation.
“A man went to the Buddha insisting on answers…, but the Buddha instead put a question to him: "If you were shot by a poison arrow, and a doctor was summoned to extract it, what would you do? Would you ask such questions as who shot the arrow, from which tribe did he come, who made the arrow, who made the poison, etc., or would you have the doctor immediately pull out the arrow?"
"Of course," replied the man, "I would have the arrow pulled out as quickly as possible." The Buddha concluded, "That is wise, for the task before us is the solving of life's problems; until the problems are solved, these questions are of secondary importance."
4.) Religion must be devoid of tradition.
The fact alone that your parents did something or practiced something does not in any way imply that what they did was meaningful.
5.) Religion must be devoid of grace.
We are ultimately responsible for our actions. No person of god can intervene on our behalf and walk our path for us. Sure, a good teacher can tell us the best route and about what dangers to avoid, but ultimately we are the ones who ultimately have to walk it... alone.
6.) Religion must be devoid of the supernatural.
“It is because I perceive danger in the practice of mystic wonders that I strongly discourage it.” -Śākyamuni Buddha