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What Form Of Spirituality Do You Study/practice These Days?


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If I had to label myself, I would say I'm a Buddhist. I've a touch of paganism as well, but Buddhism is what resonates in my spirit at this juncture in my life.

 

Some of my favorite lines that Ajahn Brahm (my favorite Ajahn) uses are in this video. He's a British monk. Discussing freedom of religion, he says there should be freedom FROM religion. Also comments that Buddhism is a religion only for tax purposes. ;)

 

 

What are you currently studying/practicing? One thing that I love about being an ex-Christian, is the freedom to explore my spiritual self, without fear of hell, or guilt of betraying my "God."

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What are you currently studying/practicing? One thing that I love about being an ex-Christian, is the freedom to explore my spiritual self, without fear of hell, or guilt of betraying my "God."

 

I love that too! There's so many different ways to approach the world than just through the Christian view.

 

Lately, I've been getting a lot out of Yoga (as in the Yoga Sutras and meditation, not the exercise stuff) and Buddhism. The Yoga Sutra commentary I'm reading says that yoga is not a religion, though it can be part of a religion. I like the focus on personal responsibility instead of waiting for an outside force (like a god) to make you happy and live ethically, and the insistence that humans are basically good (my paraphrase, since the yoga stuff doesn't use the christian good/evil dichotomy), and we just need to work to uncover our true selves. It's a great antidote to the aspect of Christianity that messed me up the most.

 

I think the biggest difference between the way I see sprituality now and how I did as a Christian is that I am now directing my efforts into understanding myself, where before I was trying to understand the Christian god.

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When I first left, I gravitated to Wicca/paganism/New Age. Then to zen and later to Aghora tantra. I also learned Reiki. 15 years ago, I was initiated into The Golden Dawn. 10 years ago, I became an initiate of the Ordo Templi Orientis. And now, I guess I've moved away from esoteric systems altogether. These days I'm more interested in observing how people worship or stimulate their spirituality. I started attending church services at a Church of Christ recently and although my old complaints against organized religion still stand, I'm fascinated by the people who attend. They see the same hypocrisy and double standards I see, but they feel compelled to continue going. Any suggestion their religion is misleading them is met with fierce resistance. Is it brainwashing or some other form of conditioning at work? Absolutely! But there is no denying that it works. At every service, I stand in awe if how deeply manipulated these people are. If only I knew how to influence people so profoundly, I'd make them all think for themselves against their own will.

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I tend to be on the rational side of things. The only spirituality I ever sought out actively was in christianity. Needless to say, it didn't feel very spiritual most of the time. The spiritual experiences I have are when I am pondering strength, greatness and achievement, or when I am trying to comprehend the magnitude of our universe.

 

I wholeheartedly agree with VacuumFlux on using spirituality as a tool to understand oneself. To me, it is just that. Or in the words of the legendary Bruce Lee, "All type of knowledge automatically means self-knowledge."

 

These videos illustrate what spirituality means to me :)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seR3NVyy148

 

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I don't practice any form of spirituality that I'm aware of.

 

I know that spirituality is a part of the human experience- it's 'real' at least in that sense. But whatever part of my brain would be engaged by spirituality seems to be either broken or inaccessible to me on a conscious level.

 

I went to a Unitarian Universalist church for a little while trying to see if I could engage something spiritual, but it didn't work. The whole getting up on Sunday Morning, driving there, listening, paying money... just seemed like too much trouble for what I got out of it.

 

I used to think Buddhism sounded interesting. But after reading some about it, I dunno- it strikes me as an artificial structure. Just another set of sermons, things to know, rules to follow, etc. I've tried meditating (probably not doing it right), and it IS a pretty effective way to fall asleep.

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Vajrayana Buddhism for about 4 years now....and if I am there in another two years it will be some kind of record for sticking with a philosophy/religion outside of Christianity.

 

I really like Bruce Lee. He studied the teachings of J. Krishnamurti, as I did. He really grasped what Krishnamurti said, and he also studied philosophy in college.

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What are you currently studying/practicing?

 

This may seem strange, but spiritual study/practice for me is Mother Nature in all her various expressions, and music. Nothing else comes close. The more I learn and experience, the more I am in awe.

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I don't practice any form of spirituality that I'm aware of.

 

I know that spirituality is a part of the human experience- it's 'real' at least in that sense. But whatever part of my brain would be engaged by spirituality seems to be either broken or inaccessible to me on a conscious level.

 

Maybe I'm like Rank Stranger and am broken or something, but I'm also not sure spirituality is real at all. This is the forum on this site that I read with great curiosity, but I have zero impetus to seek out "supernatural" experiences, forms, or practices. I do believe that people believe they are experiencing things through wicca,paganism, buddhism, whateverism...i just have never seen any evidence to suggest these things are any more real than the jebus they left behind in their past. It all seems to me like trying to fill a void, or in more extreme cases, still rebelling against Christianity to piss off their old friends (or jebus?). I don't mean any offense to those who have found something, it could very well be the case that it is ME who is broken and not participating in something that is innately human. I just don't get it at all.

 

But then again, I'm a little twisted, because I also don't really believe romantic love is real. I think we are basically animals and there is lust, attraction and friendship (comrade-ship) and that "falling in love" is essentially a construct of the human mind, a self-created delusion that soon dissipates. I also think romantic love is held up in the secular realm as some sort of "higher" experience that isn't really real. However, like religion, it can be a nice delusion.

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It all seems to me like trying to fill a void, or in more extreme cases, still rebelling against Christianity to piss off their old friends (or jebus?).

 

Nope. That's not it. Are you completely satisfied with life and at peace? If so, I congratulate you.

 

But then again, I'm a little twisted, because I also don't really believe romantic love is real. I think we are basically animals and there is lust, attraction and friendship (comrade-ship) and that "falling in love" is essentially a construct of the human mind, a self-created delusion that soon dissipates. I also think romantic love is held up in the secular realm as some sort of "higher" experience that isn't really real. However, like religion, it can be a nice delusion.

 

I don't believe in romantic love as a way to live my life. It may be pleasant, or painful, but that is brief and transitory, like everything else.

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What are you currently studying/practicing?

 

This may seem strange, but spiritual study/practice for me is Mother Nature in all her various expressions, and music. Nothing else comes close. The more I learn and experience, the more I am in awe.

 

It isn't strange to me. I could have written this maybe 10 years ago. Except for music, substitute the visual arts. Art was the only real reason for going on as far as I could see. I was still Christian but my real feeling was for art. The feeling of awe is an integral part of spirituality.

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Based on some of the responses, I can't help but wonder if spirituality simply means different things to different people.

 

For example, Buddhism has nothing at all to do with a higher power, in the least. Simply a know-thyself kinda deal, in a way - or to me, essentially a deeper psychology. But then at the same time, perhaps it's simply an INTEREST thing. I feel like our spirit is our true self, the one free of prejudices, societal influences, etc. Perhaps it's more than that, but eh.. it doesn't really matter, truthfully.

 

My husband isn't interested in psychology or philosophy or religions or spirituality, in the least.

 

Thankfully he does believe in romantic love, and thankfully not at all in the way that people consider romance (more fakeness, IMO).

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For example, Buddhism has nothing at all to do with a higher power, in the least. Simply a know-thyself kinda deal, in a way - or to me, essentially a deeper psychology.

 

It deals with a higher self, the notion "God" exists in all creation representing our higher aspirations and our greater genius. Western Esoteric tradition recognizes the enlightenment of the East as the equivalent to dialog with one's Holy Guardian Angel. Culturally, such ideas have a plethora of expressions, but ultimately, the idea the universe is perfect as it is, the power that created it resides in all life, and when we attain enlightenment, this higher self, this greater genius awakens.

 

In other words, there is a higher power and it is already alive inside everyone.

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Depends on the Western culture. If you're Rosicrucian, Hermetic, Coptic, or Gnostic, or another pantheistic belief system, God is in everything and is everything. The "external entity" is an unrealized part of God to be awakened.

 

If you're a Christian, Jew, or Muslim, then no.

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Based on some of the responses, I can't help but wonder if spirituality simply means different things to different people.

Of course it does. It's all about perspectives. The world understood by a child is different than the world understood by a teen, and then by a young adult, and then by a middle age person, and then by an elderly person. It is all still the world.

 

You wish for a single definition? All of the above.

 

For example, Buddhism has nothing at all to do with a higher power, in the least.

It really depends how you're looking at it. From a dualistic perspective God is higher than the self. As you realize your self is an illusion, your identity is with that higher Self, and God is not 'higher'. You are That. Even now, you have a lower nature, one of base appetites that you bring into your higher self which dominates your life and self identity. You act according to that higher nature instead of from that lower one which would just as soon take what it wants, all others be damned. Now just extend that beyond even where you are at now - to a yet higher nature, a higher power you can grow into.

 

Yes, a higher power exists. It is our Potential which can in fact be realized.

 

Simply a know-thyself kinda deal, in a way - or to me, essentially a deeper psychology.

Simply? Yes and no. Yes, in that when you see it, it becomes as apparent as clear day. It's opening a door that you realize was actually never even there. No, in that you have to unlearn what you imagine is reality. That, the latter is far more difficult than you realize. It basically involves you dying to everything you think you know, including who you think you are; your very self-identity.

 

I feel like our spirit is our true self, the one free of prejudices, societal influences, etc.

Bingo.

 

Perhaps it's more than that, but eh.. it doesn't really matter, truthfully.

If you experience it, it isn't a question anymore.

 

 

To answer your initial question, it's hard to put a label to my approach. I am all religions. I am none. Experience. One Taste.

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Maybe I'm like Rank Stranger and am broken or something, but I'm also not sure spirituality is real at all. This is the forum on this site that I read with great curiosity, but I have zero impetus to seek out "supernatural" experiences, forms, or practices. I do believe that people believe they are experiencing things through wicca,paganism, buddhism, whateverism...i just have never seen any evidence to suggest these things are any more real than the jebus they left behind in their past. It all seems to me like trying to fill a void, or in more extreme cases, still rebelling against Christianity to piss off their old friends (or jebus?). I don't mean any offense to those who have found something, it could very well be the case that it is ME who is broken and not participating in something that is innately human. I just don't get it at all.

 

I do not equate spirituality and the supernatural. I'm a materialist atheist who find a lot of good things in meditation and the associated philosophies. I do not believe that there is anything "out there" for me to connect with. I'm not even sure that the inner/higher self I'm looking for exists yet. But the practice of meditation and looking for a part of me that is calm and centered and... all the things I want to be, even if that doesn't exist, the process of trying to find that inside of me changes me and perhaps creates the "me" that I want to exist. The concepts of removing illusions, of seeing fear and anxiety and such as clinging to something that isn't permanent or trying to push away something I can't be rid of, helps me be honest enough with myself to be capable of forming a useful action plan or a healthier attitude towards life.

 

Right now, I really don't care if there are some aspects of the philosophy that I disagree with because the practices have been incredibly useful to me. For me, it's not about the supernatural. It's about living this one life I've got the best that I can. The one thing I have the most control over is me, so changing myself if the most effective and efficient way to make my life better. I'm pretty sure that I'm "just" changing my material brain chemistry and neural pathways, but since those are both the physical storage of my mind and physical source of all my future thoughts, those physical things are the core of my being. I grew up being told that Christianity was the path to becoming a better person, but that didn't work for me. Becoming an atheist was a big step in understanding the truth about the world, but a lack of belief in and of itself didn't do much to make me a better person either. Debating ethical systems kinda helped, but I still found myself repeating the same mistakes over and over even when the logical side of my brain told me I was doign it wrong. Meditation lets me work with the emotional parts of my mind as well as the logical, reprogramming some of my instinctive habits, so that doing the right thing come naturally instead of being something I have to constantly (and often unsucessfully) fight for. It makes me feel like more of an integrated whole. It gives me power over my own life, so that I'm not stuck being a helpless miserable victim.

 

But then again, I'm a little twisted, because I also don't really believe romantic love is real. I think we are basically animals and there is lust, attraction and friendship (comrade-ship) and that "falling in love" is essentially a construct of the human mind, a self-created delusion that soon dissipates. I also think romantic love is held up in the secular realm as some sort of "higher" experience that isn't really real. However, like religion, it can be a nice delusion.

 

I currently see romantic love as close friendship plus lust. I am capable of forming intimate platonic friendships with either gender. Romantic love for me is when I feel that sort of friendship, plus a desire for that intimacy and affection to be expressed through touch, plus plenty of selfish lust, plus all those feelings being reciprocated (I think I'm slightly unsual and lucky in that lack of interest in me is a turn-off, so I don't have much experience with unrequited love). So I believe in romantic love; I just think it's silly and annoying when people try to pretend it's something special and pure and noble when they're really just horny. What's so wrong with feeling lust towards someone as long as you're not creepy about it and respect their boundaries? What's wrong with two people feeling lust towards each other as long as they're responsible about what they do with it? I'm not sure if it's different outside of America, but it seems to me that our stupid ideas about romance are part of our unhealthy hangups about sexuality. I think if we admited that we feel lust, and that lust comes and goes, we'd be more equiped to tell the difference between someone we're temporarily lusting after and someone who'd be a good long-term match worth investing the effort of building and maintainging a healthy relationship with.

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Maybe I'm like Rank Stranger and am broken or something, but I'm also not sure spirituality is real at all. This is the forum on this site that I read with great curiosity, but I have zero impetus to seek out "supernatural" experiences, forms, or practices. I do believe that people believe they are experiencing things through wicca,paganism, buddhism, whateverism...i just have never seen any evidence to suggest these things are any more real than the jebus they left behind in their past. It all seems to me like trying to fill a void, or in more extreme cases, still rebelling against Christianity to piss off their old friends (or jebus?). I don't mean any offense to those who have found something, it could very well be the case that it is ME who is broken and not participating in something that is innately human. I just don't get it at all.

 

I do not equate spirituality and the supernatural. I'm a materialist atheist who find a lot of good things in meditation and the associated philosophies. I do not believe that there is anything "out there" for me to connect with. I'm not even sure that the inner/higher self I'm looking for exists yet. But the practice of meditation and looking for a part of me that is calm and centered and... all the things I want to be, even if that doesn't exist, the process of trying to find that inside of me changes me and perhaps creates the "me" that I want to exist. The concepts of removing illusions, of seeing fear and anxiety and such as clinging to something that isn't permanent or trying to push away something I can't be rid of, helps me be honest enough with myself to be capable of forming a useful action plan or a healthier attitude towards life.

 

Right now, I really don't care if there are some aspects of the philosophy that I disagree with because the practices have been incredibly useful to me. For me, it's not about the supernatural. It's about living this one life I've got the best that I can. The one thing I have the most control over is me, so changing myself if the most effective and efficient way to make my life better. I'm pretty sure that I'm "just" changing my material brain chemistry and neural pathways, but since those are both the physical storage of my mind and physical source of all my future thoughts, those physical things are the core of my being. I grew up being told that Christianity was the path to becoming a better person, but that didn't work for me. Becoming an atheist was a big step in understanding the truth about the world, but a lack of belief in and of itself didn't do much to make me a better person either. Debating ethical systems kinda helped, but I still found myself repeating the same mistakes over and over even when the logical side of my brain told me I was doign it wrong. Meditation lets me work with the emotional parts of my mind as well as the logical, reprogramming some of my instinctive habits, so that doing the right thing come naturally instead of being something I have to constantly (and often unsucessfully) fight for. It makes me feel like more of an integrated whole. It gives me power over my own life, so that I'm not stuck being a helpless miserable victim.

 

But then again, I'm a little twisted, because I also don't really believe romantic love is real. I think we are basically animals and there is lust, attraction and friendship (comrade-ship) and that "falling in love" is essentially a construct of the human mind, a self-created delusion that soon dissipates. I also think romantic love is held up in the secular realm as some sort of "higher" experience that isn't really real. However, like religion, it can be a nice delusion.

 

I currently see romantic love as close friendship plus lust. I am capable of forming intimate platonic friendships with either gender. Romantic love for me is when I feel that sort of friendship, plus a desire for that intimacy and affection to be expressed through touch, plus plenty of selfish lust, plus all those feelings being reciprocated (I think I'm slightly unsual and lucky in that lack of interest in me is a turn-off, so I don't have much experience with unrequited love). So I believe in romantic love; I just think it's silly and annoying when people try to pretend it's something special and pure and noble when they're really just horny. What's so wrong with feeling lust towards someone as long as you're not creepy about it and respect their boundaries? What's wrong with two people feeling lust towards each other as long as they're responsible about what they do with it? I'm not sure if it's different outside of America, but it seems to me that our stupid ideas about romance are part of our unhealthy hangups about sexuality. I think if we admited that we feel lust, and that lust comes and goes, we'd be more equiped to tell the difference between someone we're temporarily lusting after and someone who'd be a good long-term match worth investing the effort of building and maintainging a healthy relationship with.

 

Yeah, I understand there are different definitions of the word spirituality. I just don't believe we have a spirit per se. I don't have anything against buddhism, medititation, yoga, or any other practices which fall under this umbrella. I don't have any problems with people who worship trees, nature, wicca, or satanism either. Personally, I just don't get it. It may just be me as I said before.

 

I brought up the tangent of romantic love as an illustration of something that is pretty universally accepted as an important part of being human, as is spirituality, which may also be an illusion or artificial construct.

 

 

It all seems to me like trying to fill a void, or in more extreme cases, still rebelling against Christianity to piss off their old friends (or jebus?).

 

Nope. That's not it. Are you completely satisfied with life and at peace? If so, I congratulate you.

 

Am I completely satisfied with life and at peace? No. But I'm satisfied with the fact that I'm probably not going to find peace in spirituality. I've already wasted enough of my life going down that road. If you find peace in your spirituality, i applaud you. I didn't come here to attack you, just trying to understand. I will bow out of the conversation if it offends people.

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I do not equate spirituality and the supernatural. I'm a materialist atheist who find a lot of good things in meditation and the associated philosophies. I do not believe that there is anything "out there" for me to connect with. I'm not even sure that the inner/higher self I'm looking for exists yet. But the practice of meditation and looking for a part of me that is calm and centered and... all the things I want to be, even if that doesn't exist, the process of trying to find that inside of me changes me and perhaps creates the "me" that I want to exist. The concepts of removing illusions, of seeing fear and anxiety and such as clinging to something that isn't permanent or trying to push away something I can't be rid of, helps me be honest enough with myself to be capable of forming a useful action plan or a healthier attitude towards life.

 

Right now, I really don't care if there are some aspects of the philosophy that I disagree with because the practices have been incredibly useful to me. For me, it's not about the supernatural. It's about living this one life I've got the best that I can. The one thing I have the most control over is me, so changing myself if the most effective and efficient way to make my life better. I'm pretty sure that I'm "just" changing my material brain chemistry and neural pathways, but since those are both the physical storage of my mind and physical source of all my future thoughts, those physical things are the core of my being. I grew up being told that Christianity was the path to becoming a better person, but that didn't work for me. Becoming an atheist was a big step in understanding the truth about the world, but a lack of belief in and of itself didn't do much to make me a better person either. Debating ethical systems kinda helped, but I still found myself repeating the same mistakes over and over even when the logical side of my brain told me I was doign it wrong. Meditation lets me work with the emotional parts of my mind as well as the logical, reprogramming some of my instinctive habits, so that doing the right thing come naturally instead of being something I have to constantly (and often unsucessfully) fight for. It makes me feel like more of an integrated whole. It gives me power over my own life, so that I'm not stuck being a helpless miserable victim.

Yeah, I understand there are different definitions of the word spirituality. I just don't believe we have a spirit per se.

I really liked what VacuumFlux has to say here. He is touching on exactly what happens within meditation. In a sense he is correct that there is nothing 'out there' we connect with. At the end there is no distinction between 'out there' and 'in here'. The 'out there' people see is that artificial construction of 'self' we look to and identify with that creates this sense of 'outside' us, that sense of separation. As we move in realization away from that little 'self' identity to a big Self identity, 'out there' becomes in here, and 'in here' becomes 'out there'. 'Heaven' or 'God' as expression of a sense of something vastly higher and beyond you in how you relate to the universe in dualistic terms is no more, but you become That in you. Heaven dissolves into simple Being itself.

 

So to the word spirit, or spirituality. As I said before there are many perceptions and experiences from that 'place' within us, and in the world as well for that matter, that are not identified by any one thing. It is something not bound to an object, but transcends and includes all objects. Even mind is identifiable with thought processes, even though it itself is not 'matter' in the sense of merely chemical processes of the brain, but instead a world of cognitive realities we live within and function through - all our symbols live there, in that 'mental' space we call the mind. So in that we have 'mind' which is more than just body, even though body is foundational to the experience of it, and the way we explore the world of mind is through philosophy navigating the world of mental objects, so too we have that which we experience that transcends physical material objects and mental symbolic objects altogether. It is raw, undifferentiated experience itself, the state of simple being.

 

What is that called then? Since it is unbound, the word Spirit is used. The way we explore that space of 'spirit' within us, beyond using reason and philosophy which cannot penetrate into that space, is through contemplative practice. You move beyond reason into that inner essence of that unbound 'spirit', and in that experience a whole different order of knowledge is attained directly, in a transrational space. The take away is first that experience of the 'spiritual', which our rational minds then attempt to translate into our current frameworks of reality constructed in the mind through the symbol sets of our language and culture, personalities, life experiences, stage of personal development, etc. The knowledge of direct experience informs the rational mind, which itself cannot grasp what is in fact 'beyond' itself. If it is beyond reason, beyond mind, then what word fits better than spirit?

 

The whole problem exists in seeing things external to ourselves, or like little entities - such as our 'soul'. As I said before these are things people experience, and depending on where they are at in those mental developmental stages their symbolic frameworks see these in different ways. The cloud in the sky to a child is a literal person up there looking down on them. But the cloud still exists. To say the cloud doesn't exist is to not quite learning how to integrate reality, though it may be part of a process of shucking off earlier ways of thinking about it. Eventually as the cloud reappears into the field of vision, new understandings may open a greater appreciation for all that exists. To me, it's about moving past 'thinking as a child', into ever widening stages of understanding and inclusion into our experience as human beings.

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I really liked what VacuumFlux has to say here. He is touching on exactly what happens within meditation. In a sense he is correct that there is nothing 'out there' we connect with. At the end there is no distinction between 'out there' and 'in here'. The 'out there' people see is that artificial construction of 'self' we look to and identify with that creates this sense of 'outside' us, that sense of separation. As we move in realization away from that little 'self' identity to a big Self identity, 'out there' becomes in here, and 'in here' becomes 'out there'. 'Heaven' or 'God' as expression of a sense of something vastly higher and beyond you in how you relate to the universe in dualistic terms is no more, but you become That in you. Heaven dissolves into simple Being itself.

 

So to the word spirit, or spirituality. As I said before there are many perceptions and experiences from that 'place' within us, and in the world as well for that matter, that are not identified by any one thing. It is something not bound to an object, but transcends and includes all objects. Even mind is identifiable with thought processes, even though it itself is not 'matter' in the sense of merely chemical processes of the brain, but instead a world of cognitive realities we live within and function through - all our symbols live there, in that 'mental' space we call the mind. So in that we have 'mind' which is more than just body, even though body is foundational to the experience of it, and the way we explore the world of mind is through philosophy navigating the world of mental objects, so too we have that which we experience that transcends physical material objects and mental symbolic objects altogether. It is raw, undifferentiated experience itself, the state of simple being.

I also enjoyed what he said. I tried a little meditation this morning myself. I have never really tried it because of there being a little fear in me. I guess it's a fear of failure. The first time I tried, my mind keep racing and this brings up anxiety in me. The second time was a little different. For a split second the blackness no longer looked like the inside of my eyelids. I was looking into it. When I realized this, the back of my eyelids once again appeared and I could no longer look inside. I kept trying and trying to see back into it and that only made it worse. I would tell myself to stop trying, but I knew I was just wanting to stop trying so I could actually do it! I was trying to trick myself! Darn it. :)

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The first time I tried, my mind keep racing and this brings up anxiety in me. The second time was a little different. For a split second the blackness no longer looked like the inside of my eyelids. I was looking into it.

That's a good description, looking into it. That's where it begins. As you learn to still and quite the mind, soon an open field appears. You begin to look into that and become that Witness. Thoughts arise from the subconscious, but they are not distracting thoughts you get sucked into engaged in 'thinking about them. They are just images from the mind. After all, you're brain is simply reflexively only doing what you ask it to all day long. At that moment however, you are a dispassionate observer of them, not wrapped up as a participant. It moves on from there to further states as you go deeper into that stillness.

 

As far as anxieties, those are the first thing you need to shed in order to go within. Here's a couple things I do that help whenever feelings of frustration with my mind doing that 'monkey brain' things, chattering and won't calm down, is number 1, do not get upset or anxious! Be gentle, by kind with yourself. Simply, calming tell yourself you're not trying to stop or halt your thinking, but rather gently say 'be still, I'm simply suspending my thinking about these things for right now. I'll get back to those later." That's what I did at first and believe me being gentle works better, whereas taking the 'conquering Western mentality of grab that sucker by the throat and throttle it," absolutely will not work!

 

Second approach, and this works even better is as you are calming, gently setting your thoughts into a quite space, as those distracting thoughts arise, think of others everywhere in the world struggling as you are trying to still their turbulent thoughts along with you, extend a mind of compassion towards them, encouraging them to relax, be calm, release all their anxieties and move into that calm. That has a double effect, one it is helping you focus on what you need to do yourself, by you helping them, and secondly it opens up that deep voice of the spirit within you where compassion arises from, bringing it to you from that deep. You move into it, it moves into you. Very effective. Always be kind, free yourself of anxiousness.

 

As it arises occasionally once you are in that 'open field' as I call it, it becomes much, much easier to still it because you are already one step removed from that place of self-identification with those impulse and thoughts of the mind. You are the Witness, simply seeing them as impulses of the habitual self. Recognize them, and once again simply smile and gentle still them, setting them down as you progress. Rinse and repeat, and down you go, deeper and deeper within, experiencing greater depths. What you find is yourself arise to you, your subconscious mind manifesting to your observing waking consciousness, through the superconscious mind. It is a place of seeing what is inside and in highly symbolic patterns, they speak to you of things hidden, which have now be manifest to your waking mind.

 

As you finish meditation, always remember to ground this into the present world as you move back into your daily life, taking it's 'lessons' with you into the world. You will begin, rapidly to be first healed, then transformed in that 'higher self', that deeper reality free from the obstructions we mask and build to create the illusion of protection from the unknown, terrifying word we hid ourselves from, freeing ourselves from all these anxieties we have over maintaining this illusion. So, no, in no way is this about 'escaping' the world, it is about exposing the truth of it and responding to it in our True Nature, compassion, wisdom, insight, and calm, unafraid any longer. It anything be delusion, it is a full head on confrontation with reality destroying the illusions we create. It is facing that Void and emerging in Light.

 

 

When I realized this, the back of my eyelids once again appeared and I could no longer look inside. I kept trying and trying to see back into it and that only made it worse. I would tell myself to stop trying, but I knew I was just wanting to stop trying so I could actually do it! I was trying to trick myself! Darn it. smile.png

I'll share the keys to the kingdom here with you. Yes, it is correct you don't "try". The more you try, the harder it becomes! But what does that mean??, one would ask. If you don't try at all, nothing happens. If you try, it gets harder.

 

This is something that is always present for me and I find it is the way that always works to 'pass through that veil'. First of all, you do have to have your mind relatively quite. That's reaching into the pocket and locating the keys to open the door. Next, to move into that open space beyond your own eyes, so to speak, you have to something that is like flipping a switch. It's easy to say, and once you do it you will see how simple it is. But it requires doing the reverse of everything we tend to want to do. Here it is...

 

"Seek and you shall find". OK, what that means is this. You naturally begin going into that place because you want something. But in doing this you are actually focused on you. If you are focused on acquiring that for you, to make you happy, to make you feel good, you have "you" before you, not That. You do seek and find, but it is because you seek to know it for its own sake. You desire it for itself. Not for you. You treasure that, you wish to embrace that, you release yourself into that. Then, it engulfs you and swallows you into its Purity, its Beauty, its Light, for Itself. It is a dance and you its lover. Light meets Light. And so it begins...

 

 

I hope some of this helps you. As with anything, it takes practice to train your mind to do something you've never set it to do before. It is not some acquired knowledge like reading a book, but direct insights through direct experience. It cannot be gotten any other way than this. As you practice, moving into mediation becomes simpler as you learn what works for you. Don't let anyone tell you the 'correct' way to do it. Listen, experiment, but it is your path and yours alone as to how to learn to work with yourself through your mind and body into the place of your spirit, which you will in fact find.

 

Last thing, this helps me a great deal and has allowed me to go to depths I used to fear when I approached them:

 

“Wanting nothing

With all your heart

Stop the stream.

 

When the world dissolves

Everything becomes clear.

 

Go beyond

This way or that way,

to the farther shore

Where the world dissolves

And everything becomes clear.

 

Beyond this shore

And the farther shore,

Beyond the beyond,

Where there is no beginning,

No end.

 

Without fear, go.”

 

― Siddhārtha Gautama

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For me, meditation was similar to training for triathlon. At first, I was shocked at how little discipline I had and wondered if I was capable of completing the task. I struggled to find the time to squeeze it into my day. With more practice, it became less of a struggle. Eventually, I started looking forward to it and thinking about it throughout the day. After years of effort, it became so important to me, I began to build my entire day around it.

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Am I completely satisfied with life and at peace? No. But I'm satisfied with the fact that I'm probably not going to find peace in spirituality. I've already wasted enough of my life going down that road. If you find peace in your spirituality, i applaud you. I didn't come here to attack you, just trying to understand. I will bow out of the conversation if it offends people.

 

I wasn't offended so much as frustrated, not necessarily with what you said but with some of the baggage I have associated with those ideas. Due to the way I define spirituality, someone telling me that spirituality "isn't real" feels an awful lot like someone telling me I'm lying about my feelings. Or telling me that since there's nothing supernatural to connect with, that it is wrong to feel emotionally connected. Like every time a Christian says that if you don't believe in God you're missing out on a big part of what it means to be alive. My point is that I am not missing out on anything. Christians claim that there is a whole realm of experience that is higher and better than the material that I can't have access to. I claim that everything is material, that I have access to the full range of human experience, and that the material world itself is amazing and wonderful and not lesser.

 

After I wrote that long entry, I started shutting down my computer and realized "I just wrote lots of paragraphs arguing definitions with someone I probably don't disagree with!" That's why it was important for me to explain all that; not because I thought you were attacking me, but because I felt like we'd actually have a lot more in common if we had the same meaning for all the words we were using.

 

If I were to try to rephrase what you said into words that don't trigger all my personal baggage, I'd replace spirituality with mysticism (even though I may be using that term wrong, it's just the connotations I've got). I've got a fairly strong creatively trippy part of my brain that not everyone around me seem to have. I love math and science, but when I'm doing all that heavy logical stuff, I hit an altered state of consciousness, and when I visualize graphs in my head, I can taste them and my physical mouth starts watering. I've never done drugs to get high because I can reach altered states of consciousness without 'em. As a Christian, I felt excited when I discovered that my religion had some mystical traditions, because that meant I was allowed to access that part of me without making God mad. When I deconverted, I mistakenly continuted to associate those feelings with supernatural sprituality and thought I couldn't do that any more because I was an atheist. Then I realized that atheism isn't that sort of set of rules at all, and I was free to explore my own mind in any way I wished. So your statements reminded me of when I deconverted and thought the deconversion obligated me to loose a part of myself. I still find myself getting excited with I read statements in yoga or buddism that say that you don't have to be theistic for it to work out (and often that diety question is irrelevant to the topic), because it's amazing validating to me that other people also think I'm allowed to be an atheist and have that mystical/spiritual side.

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