„The religions begin by assuring us that if we could see the full picture we would find it more integrated than we would normally suppose.“

—  Huston Smith, Context: The religions begin by assuring us that if we could see the full picture we would find it more integrated than we would normally suppose. Life gives us no view of the whole. [... ] It is as if life were a great tapestry, which we face from its wrong side. This gives it the appearance of a maze of knots and threads, which for the most part appear chaotic. From a purely human standpoint the wisdom traditions are the species' most prolonged and serious attempts to infer from the maze on this side of the tapestry the pattern which, on its right side, gives meaning to the whole. As the beauty and harmony of the design derive from the way its parts are related, the design confers on these parts a significance that we, seeing only scraps of the design, do not normally perceive.
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Huston Smith29
Religious studies scholar 1919 - 2016
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„If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion what would they be if without it?“

—  Benjamin Franklin American author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman,... 1706 - 1790
Context: I have read your Manuscript with some Attention. By the Arguments it contains against the Doctrine of a particular Providence, tho’ you allow a general Providence, you strike at the Foundation of all Religion: For without the Belief of a Providence that takes Cognizance of, guards and guides and may favour particular Persons, there is no Motive to Worship a Deity, to fear its Displeasure, or to pray for its Protection. I will not enter into any Discussion of your Principles, tho’ you seem to desire it; At present I shall only give you my Opinion that tho’ your Reasonings are subtle, and may prevail with some Readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general Sentiments of Mankind on that Subject, and the Consequence of printing this Piece will be a great deal of Odium drawn upon your self, Mischief to you and no Benefit to others. He that spits against the Wind, spits in his own Face. But were you to succeed, do you imagine any Good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous Life without the Assistance afforded by Religion; you having a clear Perception of the Advantages of Virtue and the Disadvantages of Vice, and possessing a Strength of Resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common Temptations. But think how great a Proportion of Mankind consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc’d and inconsiderate Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great Point for its Security; And perhaps you are indebted to her originally that is to your Religious Education, for the Habits of Virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent Talents of reasoning on a less hazardous Subject, and thereby obtain Rank with our most distinguish’d Authors. For among us, it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots that a Youth to be receiv’d into the Company of Men, should prove his Manhood by beating his Mother. I would advise you therefore not to attempt unchaining the Tyger, but to burn this Piece before it is seen by any other Person, whereby you will save yourself a great deal of Mortification from the Enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of Regret and Repentance. If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion what would they be if without it? Letter to unknown recipient (13 December 1757) http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=473. The letter was published as early as 1817 (William Temple Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, volume VI, pp. 243-244). In 1833 William Wisner ("Don't Unchain the Tiger," American Tract Society, 1833) identified the recipient as probably Thomas Paine, which was echoed by Jared Sparks in his 1840 edition of Franklin's works (volume x, p. 281). (Presumably it would have been directed against The Age of Reason, his deistic work which criticized orthodox Christianity.) Calvin Blanchard responded to Wisner's tract in The Life of Thomas Paine (1860), pp. 73-74, by noting that Franklin died in 1790, while Paine did not begin writing The Age of Reason until 1793, and incorrectly concluded that the letter did not exist. Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, included it in They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), on p. 28. Moncure Daniel Conway pointed out (The Life of Thomas Paine, 1892, vol I, p. vii) that the recipient could not be Thomas Paine, in that he, unlike Paine, denied a "particular providence". The intended recipient remains unidentified. Parts of the above have also been rearranged and paraphrased: I would advise you not to attempt Unchaining The Tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it? If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be Without it? Think how many inconsiderate and inexperienced youth of both sexes there are, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual.

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„A brave world, sir, full of religion, knavery, and change: we shall shortly see better days.“

—  Aphra Behn British playwright, poet, translator and fiction writer 1640 - 1689
The Roundheads (1682).

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„Whenever we can trace back a religion to its first beginnings, we find it free from many of the blemishes that offend us in its later phases. The founders of the ancient religions of the world, as far as we can judge, were minds of a high stamp, full of noble aspirations, yearning for truth, devoted to the welfare of their neighbors, examples of purity and unselfishness. What they desired to found upon earth was but seldom realized, and their sayings, if preserved in their original form, offer often a strange contrast to the practice of those who profess to be their disciples.“

—  Max Müller German-born philologist and orientalist 1823 - 1900
Context: If there is one thing which a comparative study of religions places in the clearest light, it is the inevitable decay to which every religion is exposed. It may seem almost like a truism, that no religion can continue to be what it was during the lifetime of its founder and its first apostles. Yet it is but seldom borne in mind that without constant reformation, i. e. without a constant return to its fountan-head, every religion, even the most perfect, nay the most perfect on account of its very perfection, more even than others, suffers from its contact with the world, as the purest air suffers froln the mere fact of its being breathed. Whenever we can trace back a religion to its first beginnings, we find it free from many of the blemishes that offend us in its later phases. The founders of the ancient religions of the world, as far as we can judge, were minds of a high stamp, full of noble aspirations, yearning for truth, devoted to the welfare of their neighbors, examples of purity and unselfishness. What they desired to found upon earth was but seldom realized, and their sayings, if preserved in their original form, offer often a strange contrast to the practice of those who profess to be their disciples. As soon as a religion is established, and more particularly when it has become the religion of a powerful state, the foreign and worldly elements encroach more and more on the original foundation, and human interests mar the simplicity and purity of the plan which the founder had conceived in his own heart, and matured in his communings with his God. Even those who lived with Buddha misunderstood his words, and at the Great Council which had to settle the Buddhist canon, Asoka, the Indian Constantine had to remind the assembled priests that "what had been said by Buddha, that alone was well said;" and that certain works ascribed to Buddha, as, for instance, the instruction given to his son, Râhula, were apocryphal, if not heretical. Preface (Scribner edition, 1872) <!-- New York, Scribner p xxiii - xxiv -->

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„.. by getting as close to the true idea of religion, of spirituality as it is possible for us to get.... we would be in possession of the only tangible relationship tot the deity in things.“

—  Marsden Hartley American artist 1877 - 1943
letter from Paris to Rockwell Kent, August 22, 1912, Archives of American Art; as quoted in Marsden Hartley, by Gail R. Scott, Abbeville Publishers, Cross River Press, 1988, New York p. 44

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„The one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature.“

—  Barack Obama 44th President of the United States of America 1961
Context: The one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. For we are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best of intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.

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„The rose Religion grows on a thorn-bush, and we must not be afraid to have our fingers lacerated by the thorns if we would pluck the rose.“

—  Felix Adler German American professor of political and social ethics, rationalist, and lecturer 1851 - 1933
Context: By what sort of experience are we led to the conviction that spirit exists? On the whole, by searching, painful experience. The rose Religion grows on a thorn-bush, and we must not be afraid to have our fingers lacerated by the thorns if we would pluck the rose. Section 7 : Spiritual Progress

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