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Friday, February 11, 2022

Creating New Mythology for the 21st Century - A suggested pathway. (6)

 To develop a new mythology, we need to celebrate the sacred object with a special image, a special day, special rituals, special ethics, and special prayers. How do we operationalize the idea of sacredness of Mother Earth?

Here are my suggestions. After making Mother Earth as our shared sacred space, may I suggest that all of humanity set aside one day a year for celebrating “Our Shared Sacred Space”. Instead of designating another special day, we can make Thanksgiving Day or Mother’s Day special for this purpose. Let us appreciate the world we live in and pay our gratitude to her on that day, all of us together.

An image we can use for this universal day of gratitude and thanksgiving can be a picture of this blue planet from space. Or, a picture of the milky way taken by the Hubble Telescope, or picture of a supernova. May be, all three?

 We need new rites of passage (called Samskara in Sanskrit). It is particularly important for children entering adolescence. This should be more than a graduation party or giving them a car key or cell phone. But it should be a day when the parents tell their children words such as : “you are ready to enter adult life; Go find your hero; go find your inner bliss. I am here to help you” as suggested by Joseph Campbell.  We need a new motto such as “Find your own path and let others find theirs” and “Love, everyone, unconditionally; Share; Forgive; Be Humble; Seek: Be Brave.”

For personal ethics and morals, Gert’s list of 10 should do (Gert B. 1988).  They are: Don’t cause death, Don’t cause pain, Don’t cause loss of ability, Don’t cause loss of freedom, Don’t cause loss of pleasure, Don’t deceive, Don’t cheat, Keep your promise, Obey the law, Do your duty.

For universal ethics, re-iterate what all the saints have said, common to all traditions:  Universal love, Compassion, Peace, Forgiveness, charity, Humility, Truth and Justice.

 Rituals to follow on that special day can be borrowed from a popular celebration in each society. It could be a day to visit temples and monuments.

Actions to be undertaken on that day could be some sort of service and acts of gratitude – like feeding the poor, planting a tree, cleaning up the mess we have created, creating new habitat for plants, birds, and animals.

Prayers and Readings for that day can be based on teachings from personal and local traditions which emphasize universal welfare, the commonality of life, sacredness of all lives, peace and harmony and the Golden Rule of compassion.

We need to examine areas of discord and develop a common pathway to reconciliation as suggested by Gautama Buddha. He knew that human nature is such that when there is a community of people, variations in personalities lead to conflicts and clash. Indeed, this happened during Buddha’s life among his disciples. Buddha’s early students (bhikkus) came up with seven steps to bring harmony in the Sangha. These steps are applicable even now and are needed more than ever.

They are: Sharing common space (home and land); Sharing essentials of life; Observing the precepts together; Using ONLY words that contribute to harmony; Sharing insights and understanding; Respecting other’s viewpoint and not forcing others to follow our viewpoint.   

The first step in reconciliation is acknowledging the problem and be open to reconciliation. we must stop calling others with derogatory and demeaning names. We must stop speaking harmful things and spreading misinformation and rumors. We need to speak the truth. We need to respect each other. We should respect other's viewpoint and their right to have them. We should convince others with facts and reasoning, not by bullying and shouting.

We should remember that we belong, to the same humanity, to the same community of nations. We need to compromise to get things done. We must think for ourselves and not be led by propagandists and “word-smiths.” We must follow the Golden Rule. We must share these thoughts and more with future generations, so they grow up with respect for their own tradition and at the same time respect for other traditions; so that they live in harmony with nature and with others and other live forms in a peaceful world.

I end this series with parts of my introductory remarks. This series of essays is probably the most important message I have for children of the future, and I consider this as my legacy for the future generations. It is to introduce the idea of shared mythology for the entire humanity and a suggested pathway to get there.

This is not a policy statement but a wish list. It is not for policy-making or political actions – but for individual efforts. It should be a spiritual effort. I hope each one of you will develop your own plan, implement it, and share the message with the younger generation.


 Ash, T G. 2017. Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Attenborough D., Hughes J. 2020. A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future. Grand Central Publishing.

 Athreya, B. 2020. Cooperation, Collective Welfare, Common Good and Common Purpose. Blog site. Wilmington, DE, June 19. Accessed December 19, 2021.

 Athreya B. 2017. Our Shared Sacred Space. Wilmington, DE: KDP - Amazon.

Bak-Coleman, Joseph B, Mark Alfano, Wolfram Barfuss, Carl Bergstrom, and et al. 2021. "Stewardship of Collective Behavior." Proceedings of the National Acaddemy of Sciences.

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Gert B. Morality: A New Justification of the Moral Rules. 1988. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Thunberg, Greta, Adriana Calderon, Farzana Jhumu, and Eric Njuguna. 2021. "This is the World left to us by Adults." Opinion Column. New York: New York Times, August 19.



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