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Asuran Religious Beliefs?


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#1 Zeglo

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 02:33 AM

Of course religion is actually what many Asura devote themselves to (i.e., researching the Eternal Alchemy). However, I cannot find anywhere lore which explains the Eternal Alchemy system in detail. Do Asura have funerals, burials, religious buildings, entities, etc.?

And if the humans do indeed have The Six, what do Asura think of the Human Gods (Other than that they are part of the Eternal Alchemy? Obviously the Asuran goal is to find the great answers, but I was wondering if anyone knows specifics or progress which may not be blatant in-game.

#2 draxynnic

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 03:00 AM

Strictly speaking, the Eternal Alchemy is more of a philosophy than a religion per se - it's a way of looking at the universe and how everything in the universe fits together.

While there are no beings that the asura worship per se (except themselves...) they do acknowledge the presence of religious figures that have been shown to exist and posess the power attributed to them, including the Spirits of the Wild and the Six Gods. However, these are viewed as essentially being cogs in the Eternal Alchemy - important ones, to be sure, but no more worthy of worship than the bookah across the street.

There is an example of an asura funeral (of the 'dispersing the ashes' kind) shown in Eye of the North, although what we see of the ceremony is fairly brief:
"Spoiler believed in the Eternal Alchemy. We are all part of a larger equation." "And so we commend Spoiler's remains to that greater equation." "Spoiler's ashes return to the universe, but Spoiler's knowledge remains with us."
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#3 Trise

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 03:09 AM

My friend, you need to meet Vekk.

The Eternal Alchemy is the great mechanism by which the universe and all the things in it operate, the "god machine"; the highest possible application of physics. Everything in existence is a cog in the great machine, including the Human gods. (Naturally, some cogs carry greater force and influence than others... again, like the Human gods). Like all machines, once you understand how it works, you can manipulate/control it. The Asura seek not merely to find "great answers" in the mechanics of the universe, but to understand the Eternal Alchemy's mechanisms and eventually control it.

Asura do hold funerals and remembrances of the fallen. Vekk himself holds a funeral ceremony (minor spoilers... the full video is on youtube) that certain special humans happened to attend and record. They do not have dedicated religious buildings per se. However, every building, laboratory, research facility, college... every Asura building is ultimately dedicated to studying the Alchemy, and as such could be considered a religious building by... "lesser species".

Edited by Trise, 07 January 2013 - 03:13 AM.


#4 Zeglo

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 04:50 AM

Very interesting. I was wondering from a role-playing perspective and also curiosity. It seems the Asura are by our human terminology very "religious", but they do not treat it in the same sense we do. It is there implied goal. In addition, if all energy is connected in the Eternal Alchemy, in a sense, all beings which ever lived are sort of "still alive" or in existence through some small cog or means.

Edited by Zeglo, 07 January 2013 - 04:51 AM.


#5 draxynnic

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 11:11 AM

Well, another way of looking at the Eternal Alchemy is that it's essentially their equivalent of the scientific method. If you poke cog X, then Y happens - if Y isn't what you expected, then obviously your understanding of that aspect of the Eternal Alchemy is incomplete.

There are a few non-scientists out there who claim that science is a religion just like any other - the asura are probably an example of a culture where that has truly become the case.
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#6 BuddhaKeks

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 01:16 PM

View Postdraxynnic, on 07 January 2013 - 11:11 AM, said:

There are a few non-scientists out there who claim that science is a religion just like any other - the asura are probably an example of a culture where that has truly become the case.

Yes, it's called Scientology. ba dam tss

On a related note, on the grand piaza in LA you can find a human argueing with an asura about their "religion". The asura sees it more as a way to make money, while the human is shocked by such blasphemy, IIRC.

#7 draxynnic

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 11:15 PM

I don't think you're being serious, but just on the odd chance you are, the only connection between science and scientology is that the latter is science fiction... and pretty soft science fiction at that.

I've come across that exchange, but I don't recall it beyond the human's line "Don't you guys believe in some Eternal Alchemy?" It probably is fair to say that that particular asura is one that views it more as a process than a religion, though.
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#8 Konig Des Todes

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:40 PM

From what I remember, that asura says Eternal Alchemy is a philosophy rather than a religion. But it kind of is both, whether the asura as a race accepts it as a religion or not.

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#9 Majic

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:14 PM

Just remember: there is no profit in the Eternal Alchemy. :P

#10 raspberry jam

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:43 PM

View PostMajic, on 11 January 2013 - 12:14 PM, said:

Just remember: there is no profit in the Eternal Alchemy. :P
I find this statement to be inaccurate. Assuming that the the full understanding of the Eternal Alchemy would be like a Grand Unified Theory of the Tyria (2.0) universe, individuals may profit from that understanding.

#11 MazingerZ

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:17 PM

Cepha's Constant ranks the races of Tyria in order of importance in the Eternal Alchemy.

Asura scored the highest, of course.
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#12 draxynnic

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 12:09 AM

Sadly enough, apart from the asura being placed on top, Cepha's ranking is actually pretty close to the amount of attention and importance to the story ArenaNet gave to each of the races.
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#13 Majic

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 12:16 AM

View Postraspberry jam, on 11 January 2013 - 12:43 PM, said:

I find this statement to be inaccurate. Assuming that the the full understanding of the Eternal Alchemy would be like a Grand Unified Theory of the Tyria (2.0) universe, individuals may profit from that understanding.

It's a pun based on one of the stock phrases uttered by Asuran NPCs. ^_^

#14 kendro1200

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 12:51 AM

View PostMajic, on 11 January 2013 - 12:14 PM, said:

Just remember: there is no profit in the Eternal Alchemy. :P

Sure there is, just indirect profit.  Just like there is profit from NASA, but not direct profit.
In attempting to better understand the Universe (and how to eventually control it) the Asura have pushed lightyears ahead of other races in terms of technology.  That technological advantage has put them in a very lucrative place among all levels of many economies.  A handful of Asura have recognized that and have exploited their racial technology for profit (just go chat with some of the Asura scattered about Lion's Arch), but most are largely still interested in researching the mechanics of the Universe to better understand the Eternal Alchemy and merely interact with outside sources to get what they need to further their research.


All of that being said, at best you could like the Eternal Alchemy to a philosophy.  In no means I would consider it to be a religion.  To me a far better example is this:  The Eternal Alchemy is a puzzle; how and what do you need to control and understand everything?  The Asura are obsessed with solving the puzzle.  What many people tend to forget is that Asura are smart.  They aren't like "smart", like that kid in one of your high school or lower division general ed classes in college.  No these are creatures that tackle time travel, rip holes in space time, build fully functional AI's for robotics, and as children tinker with controlling the weather.  An average Asura is equal to Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger and Hawking all rolled into one, and then times two on problem solving scale.  They could ponder laps around those four furiously attempting to solve anything.  
So what do creatures with that level of capability do with their life?  Well their niche in evolution has been solving problems, the problem of everything, labeled as "The Eternal Alchemy" is something they just can't resist.  Now toss in that their socialization process from infancy, instead of "rich, beautiful, and famous makes people happy" they get, "The Eternal Alchemy is the greatest problem, whoever solves it is the best Asura" and you'll get a species hellbent on trying to solve everything.  Granted they go about their own methods to try and solve it, but most have a the goal of better understanding it at their forefront of objectives.

A good real life example would be like high energy physicists, the recent evidence towards the existence of the Higgs Boson, and the fields general research into understand what makes everything.  Would you call the drive of discovering (or you could call it curiosity) what makes stuff, a religion, a philosophy?  Would you consider the study of high energy physics a cult practice?  Was the building of CERN and previous colliders an act of building places of worship, like a temple, or church for people perusing the study of high energy physics?  No, not in any fashion.  There was a question, a puzzle, and some people found it interesting and thought they could solve it, so they worked at it.  For these people highly invested into the field, there is a desire to understand what makes matter, and how matter really works.  There is no irrationality that comes from faith or belief, just computations and pieces fitting together.  So tying the Higgs Boson back in to this, this particular Boson was first proposed back in the 60's iirc.  When it was first suggested, the idea was laughed at and largely ignored because it didn't fit in the puzzle.  Higgs himself, while thinking that it'd fix some problems with sub-atomic theories, did acknowledge that it was kinda out there.  Years later as puzzle pieces were re-arranged there was a suggestion in the data to re-evaluate the Higgs' Boson.  As more data was collected the suggestion became stronger, and thus we invested lots of time, energy and even built a new super collider (to bad the one in Texas never got built, stupid Congress and wanting to find "God" with a super collider) to find the missing piece.  There was no faith or fanaticism in that process though.


TLDR: So yeah, Eternal Alchemy, not really a religion, or a philosophy, but for the humans of Tyria, calling it such is something that could be easily related to.

#15 draxynnic

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 01:33 AM

View Postkendro1200, on 12 January 2013 - 12:51 AM, said:

What many people tend to forget is that Asura are smart.  They aren't like "smart", like that kid in one of your high school or lower division general ed classes in college.  No these are creatures that tackle time travel, rip holes in space time, build fully functional AI's for robotics, and as children tinker with controlling the weather.  An average Asura is equal to Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger and Hawking all rolled into one, and then times two on problem solving scale.  They could ponder laps around those four furiously attempting to solve anything.  
I think this is exaggerating things somewhat. Keep in mind that the asura have access to resources (namely, magic) that scientists in our world do not, and all of those achievements you mention involve magic in some fashion rather than the pure physics we need to deal with in the real world (to which, I'd point out, we know theoretically how to do all the things you've listed largely due to the work of the people you mentioned along with others, we just don't have the tools to make it happen, while the asura do). Plus, I've come across asura that are pretty stupid even by bookah standards.

What's probably more accurate to say is that the majority of asura are scientists (with magic being one of the things they study). If you think of the culture of a research university spread across an entire civilisation rather than being a specific part of it, that's the asura - mostly researchers or research assistants, the top-level admin drawn from successful researchers among which half of which would rather just be doing research, those who were less successful academically becoming security officers and taking other supportive roles. This means that the average asura is probably about as smart as the average research scientist in the real world, which, don't get me wrong, is still pretty impressive and likely to have the effect you describe, but whatever they may claim they're not actually a race of Einsteins and Hawkings.
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#16 kendro1200

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 02:32 AM

View Postdraxynnic, on 12 January 2013 - 01:33 AM, said:

I think this is exaggerating things somewhat. Keep in mind that the asura have access to resources (namely, magic) that scientists in our world do not, and all of those achievements you mention involve magic in some fashion rather than the pure physics we need to deal with in the real world (to which, I'd point out, we know theoretically how to do all the things you've listed largely due to the work of the people you mentioned along with others, we just don't have the tools to make it happen, while the asura do). Plus, I've come across asura that are pretty stupid even by bookah standards.

Magic is often used as a power source, or a last ditch go to answer on the dev/lore department to explain how something works (when it comes to Asura tech), but isn't the end all difference between asura and the real world.  When you go through the technology there are matrices, relays, capacitors and the like, all of which indicate a higher order of organization behind each part.  I'd actually imagine magic being a bigger burden than boon to them, as apart from the laws of physics they also have to derive the laws that govern magic, and how the two interact.  Eventually they have to combine the two in a unifying theory as a step to reach the Eternal Alchemy.

As to your statement about us knowing how to "theoretically" do many of the feats the asura pull off.  Yes, we have some theories out there that attempt such things (rip holes in space time, time travel...sorta).  The energy/resources those theories predict needed to do those things suggests that the theories are going about it a very wrong way though.  Controlling weather and good robotic AI is still something we don't even have theoreticals around yet actually.

I do completely agree with your statement about the Asura being culturally similar to a research university spread out to encompass the entire species.

Still, my point was and still is:  Eternal Alchemy is by no means a religion, nor really a philosophy.  Eternal Alchemy is more of a puzzle that they're trying to put together as a species.

#17 draxynnic

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 11:56 AM

Magic does result in making a bigger puzzle, but it also provides more tools for understanding that puzzle and making use of it once you do understand it. Being able to directly manipulate the things that magic allows you to manipulate would allow the asura to pull off experiments - and, ultimately, develop inventions - that our own scientists even today can only dream of. Collectively move a whole lot of atmospheric particles in such a way as to generate a desired weather pattern? Can be done with magic, but really not practical through purely technological means. Using magic to bend the fabric of time-space directly would allow general relativistic manifolds resulting in timelike or spacelike wormholes to be generated without having to go through the medium of generating regions of negative energy, which is where most of the energy cost of these things come from. Sentient AI? There, the asura really are cheating, since according to lore interviews, golems gain their sentience through binding elemental or other spirits to the golem - part of what distinguishes the Inquest is that they'll kill sapient beings for this purpose.

The point is, you can't say something like "asura kids build simple weather control devices as their college entrance exams" as evidence that the average asura outsmarts the greatest minds in our own history. The average highschooler today has a much better understanding of the universe than Newton, let alone, say, the Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Pythagoras, and can do things that those figures likely never imagined was possible. Does that mean that the average highschooler today is inherently more intelligent than those historical figures? No, it just means they have access to learning and resources that were not available in those days.

To be honest, my general impression of the asura is that they're actually not that much smarter than everyone else, on average - it's just that they value intelligence and learning more than the other races, and thus put a greater focus on developing and making use of the talents they do have.
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#18 Zeglo

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 09:07 PM

There's not really a clear answer, but I wonder what the Asura think of death. Are they afraid? Obviously in the Eternal Alchemy, all things are just energy, connected and contributing. If that's true, the Asura may believe in some of conscious preservation or reincarnation (in that sense that in one way or another their energy stays around). Either that or just pride.

Edited by Zeglo, 13 January 2013 - 09:08 PM.


#19 dawdler

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 09:13 PM

View PostZeglo, on 13 January 2013 - 09:07 PM, said:

There's not really a clear answer, but I wonder what the Asura think of death. Are they afraid? Obviously in the Eternal Alchemy, all things are just energy, connected and contributing. If that's true, the Asura may believe in some of conscious preservation or reincarnation (in that sense that in one way or another their energy stays around). Either that or just pride.
Judging by the fact it seems to be pretty normal to be killed by rampaging golems, electrocuted, burned to death or possibly explode in some elaborate way, they dont seem to be afraid of death at all.

In fact I'm a little surprised there arent dead Asura littering their city. Guess they have golems to clean up the mess.

#20 raspberry jam

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:30 AM

View PostZeglo, on 13 January 2013 - 09:07 PM, said:

There's not really a clear answer, but I wonder what the Asura think of death. Are they afraid? Obviously in the Eternal Alchemy, all things are just energy, connected and contributing. If that's true, the Asura may believe in some of conscious preservation or reincarnation (in that sense that in one way or another their energy stays around). Either that or just pride.
I think that the only thing they are afraid of when it comes to death is dying before becoming known enough for their research (or whatever you want to call it).

#21 Raagar Deathclaw

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:18 PM

In my opinion the eternal alchemy almost seems like a tyrian version of taoism in that all things in nature (or the eternal alchemy) are interconnected.




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