Hluboká lidskost. Náboženská dimenze

Roel Stemmer
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Deep humanity: The religious dimension

2007-08-31 07:59:23

Roel Stemmer

To make more explicit what in my view the core of sustainability is, in this article I try to introduce deep humanity. Earlier in this series I considered, apart from our appreciation in life and the teacher–student relationship, sustainability as an integration of the three P’s of People, Planet and Profit by Pneuma. I will deepen the social dimension of People in imitation of deep ecology as the ecological dimension of Planet and deep economy as the economic dimension of Profit. In coherence with deep humanity I came to an end in the preceding article why the other will also be described with a capital.

Because of the fact that this approach is very personally, considering the religious dimension, in the next article I hope more precisely to declare that this implies also a tension between people concerning dualism and unity.

Of course your reactions are also now very welcome.

Roel Stemmer, chairman Enviro-Net



The word deep summed up something in our thoughts that gives us a feeling that the analysis has gone so far that it reaches something like the bottom of the heart, the mind and the soul together. Especially I call those three dimensions of our existence in one expression, so that with integration it should be clear that the experience has to do with a unique unity in ourselves as a reflection of total life.

In a former interview I met some thoughts of the philosopher Arne Naess, founder of deep ecology. He said to live in unity, thought that love is the common name for very positive relations with caring as a direct link, but we are not able to look on the long run and are insufficiently full-grown. In this interview in my view nature gets a kind of holiness and Buddhism is for him the only religion in which he could possible feel at home.

Parallel to deep ecology Hans Dirk van Hoogstraten wrote a book Deep Economy (2001), in which he analyses the economy from a theological perspective. One of the conclusions in this book is that a wrong captivity of the Christian Holy Trinity we find back in the secularized world, namely the invulnerable trinity of the Father as the Economy, the Son as the Politics and the Holy Spirit as the Environmental Ethics. An enslaving God, the Economy, gets finally a clear way by the Politics and the Environmental Ethics.

As petrified religions are caught in dualistic thinking so it is in the secularized world. In any way the counting economic system seems to be holy and everybody seems to believe in the belonging free market. More strongly, everyone in the world does not escape this system, is part of it and therefore to have critics on it, it seems to be ‘cursing in the church’. At most by paratactic measures there is talk of social economy, but it seems to be forbidden to think about the belief on which the system is based. The way in which we are involved in competition with in principle no place for caring relations, in which we are autonomous ‘free’ acting non-related persons.

Sometimes people ask me why I always speak about the economy. In the first place it is the overwhelming structure in the world that has the greatest impact on our behaviour, it influences literally everyone and it is determining for the different sharing of the means to live over the whole world. In the second place we saw that the ideology of the free market has gradually taken the place of religion and in this way it has a very strong position. 

An example

A few weeks ago a student, knowing me as having a drive, asked me: ‘Roel, last time I try to understand why I have such a drive in doing many things for society. But I have no answer. Can you tell me where such a drive comes from?’ Spontaneously I told him the following: ‘Some days ago we took leave a friend of us. She had made a mandala and the farewell was organised around this mandala. (Your own mandala will for instance say to design a special circle that helps you to get contact with your feelings.) There were tributes of her husband, her daughters, varied with beautiful sorts of music, a toccata, a song etc. Everything together depicted exactly who she was in life. I came home and said to my wife: “It was a nice farewell. She was done justice in who she was, but still I have an empty feeling. There was no connection with before her and after her, there was no hope.” I think this has everything to do with the drive we are talking about.’ He looked at me, nodded and said: ‘I do understand you. I have to think about it and to find my own words.’

Apparently those student understood that for unity we are not only related in the nowadays situation (horizontally), but also inexpressible before us and after us (vertically), principally impossible, and in respect to everyone forbidden, to further appoint it. 


Obviously within our inner relationship there are different things that play a role and could vary from the stage of consciousness towards youth experiences and from willing to live towards denying our ephemerality. In the western world the logical reasoning is nowadays after the Enlightenment an important thing and this, joint to negative experiences with a punishing God for instance and the liberal idea that we are only autonomous people, bring us easily towards denying connection and resistance against everything that smells to religion, while the religious impact of the economy is not distinguished. In my view unity however has to understand from bridging everything that is able to frustrate this unity. 

Deep humanity

The ahead mentioned farewell formed a detached fragment of a total reality. Finally it passed no connection with unity that caused me an empty sense. Oh yes, it has to do with religion. A word that is derived from the Latin word religare, what will say to connect. Now observe I have no condemnation to my friends, and I have of course no specific filling in for another. This is too personal, has to do with consciousness and experience and we have not to tell each other what we should believe or not. But denying the fact that we have to bridge good and bad, love and hate, spiritual and material, life now and life hereafter, and as consequence in practice also poor and rich, nature and ecological disaster, is another thing. That has finally to do with underlining dualism. People may say: ‘Life hereafter. That’s a religious remark and I have nothing to do with religion.’ That’s paradoxical however. Reacting from unity a paradox has the apparent dimension and always there will be a possibility for an escape. That in contrary with the dualistic world where is often not talk of paradoxes but of contradictions. Then the truth belongs to fragments and is not relational. In my view the paradox has to be brought back to the lived through personal inner and outer reality concerning experienced relationship.

The inner dialogue would have many sides, but when it is the personal reality to speak with The Other, it belongs to the personal intimacy and has everything to do with the integrity. When it is denied it feels like a deficit to unity. It is therefore very difficult to speak about it. When we go back to our Jewish roots there is only talk of The Unpronounceable, JHWH. Why? Everything you say more, every image you make, is a personal shortcoming towards the other, and so towards The Other, towards unity. Then it is the denying of the reflection of total life, of unity, because a part of this reflection is valid to everyone. So religion has everything to do with belief in the other and is not able to deny The Other. Then praying will say looking after confirmation and having patience, sometimes a life long. The answer from The Other always came by the other. In my view Buber could therefore finally say that the lengthened lines of the relations cut each other in the Infinite.

Are there signs that underline the here descript dialogue? I think yes. At the first place you need to be sensitive and impressible for it to detect and in the second place it will always be things that are ‘accidentally’. We have to distinguish the accident that belongs to the dualistic world on the one hand and this one that belongs to the spiritual world (of unity!) on the other hand. There also lies a difference in interpretation between an incidental and a structural event. From a dualistic view an incident is easily to wave aside, while an interpretation from unity does see it like an important sign in order to prevent frequent, mostly wrong, events that frustrate unity. So coincidences belong to dualism and interpretations to unity.

I spoke about ‘a personal shortcoming towards the other’. Surely you have to realize that often the other has a total different experience with The Other via other people, and more often than not the trouble is a painful experience. How is that possible? Because of the dualistic world and religions we are living in and with. Many times people are deeply spoken anxious, doubtful human beings and they think with using something like force to the other to redeem themselves and to create fellow-thinkers in a figurative way in order to rise about their own anxious etc. Yes, it belongs to the dualistic world. So if it starts in unity, praying underlines acting and people who do not pray are of course very well able to possible act in the same way of unity. That will say that the outcome is the same. That we have to respect. 

The core of religiousness

To come from dualism towards unity starts in ourselves by knowing that the base of life is to really know that we are confirmed and pours in the next statements:

  1. To persist and to abide with the other through situations of death experiences, so that people are able to grow towards one another and mentioned confirmation is moved about.
  2. To have the courage to analyse situations and systems to the bone of your own existence, your own vulnerability, always inclusively thinking.
  3. To persist and to lead in living during a total life what within and outside systems is to judge as really iniquitous and unfair to other life.
  4. To experience a principal sense of security unto beyond the borders of the death, in stead of a curious kind of imagination of a hereafter, and with the hope that’s inside us as a carrying force.
  5. The principal separation of the wrong deeds as for justice and righteousness with respect to all that lives and at the same time the appraising of the preciousness and dignity of every human being.
  6. To embrace from the above points the science and to interpret it in the light of unity.
  7. Therefore always, inclusively ourselves, everything placing and thinking through in the time-, context- and personal line of total life with the caring relation as a base. 

Why does it start in us? Because of the fact that total life reflects in everybody, that everyone represents an all the same part of The Other and all people together are plural forming the reflection of The Other. So we have not to speak about The Other as the Entity but as the Unity, because we all have to act. Entity has to do with existence and is passive while unity expresses our responsibility in behaving towards total life and is dynamic. It is in my view our assignment as human beings to unite everything that belongs to life, to contribute to a unity.

So we have to analyse our human deficiency. People who say only to be willing to speak about chances are trying to find a way to speak about everything outside them. We will for instance not think about eternal in terms of healable unity but in terms of time. I try to speak about all entities, that belong to the living and dynamic reality that are forming unity, contributing to total real life and in which human beings are responsible acting persons. These acting include dignity and are possible from the belief in each other, the hope that is within us and the love we are able to radiate.

In a next article I hope to continue with deep humanity in a more practical sense and to point out what it means for the organizations we are working in. 


  • VAN HOOGSTRATEN, Hans Dirk. Deep Economy : Caring for Ecology, Humanity and Religion. Cambridge : Ingram Pub Services, 2001. ISBN 9780227679654.