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roadrunner

Ex-Christian Spirituality

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It would be extraordinary to do "when I eat, I eat" and "when I sleep I sleep." That means ONLY eating when hungry and then fully engaging in that activity. ONLY sleeping when tired and then fully engaged in that. Who does this?

 

When we are eating we are thinking of a million other things, often watching a video or doing something else at the same time. When we are sleeping we often just rehash stuff that happened in the past in our dreams, if we even can sleep.

 

Spirituality is understanding who or what you are; and being aware of what you are doing is part of it. Or, maybe all of it.

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Yes... the experience is expressed well in the Buddhist concept of 'Be Here. Now.' "Live in the now..etc... when the clutter of your mind, and all the details of living, and distractions falls away as it does during flow, or meditation... there is a sense of peace and a clarity of mind that is effortless. Maybe this is the 'higher self'—the part of us that is connected with not only our mental and emotional selves (without the fears) but also with our intuition. It feels like something separate at first because we aren't used to being so integrated. A-man describes it well.. because it is a state we can learn to maintain to one degree or another. It's learning awareness that we don't normally have.. or hasn't been developed.

 

Experiencing something (eating dinner, a walk in nature, sharing with your partner, sex... whatever) fully... being completely in the moment is what I now define as spirituality. Mindfulness meditation is a more direct way, if harder for some to achieve. There is not just an inner clarity but also the sensation of expansion.. of feeling more connected to one's environment and others as well.

 

I find this psychological state also fosters compassion and tolerance. I don't know why, but I get less ruffled or reactive, in general. I also never feel lonely when in flow, or unfulfilled or even bored.

 

Modern life is all about distraction and outside stimuli...about avoidance of the inner life, I think. A sad state of affairs... there is one scripture I always liked, "Be still, and know that I am God", though I interpret it differently now.. more like, "Be still and know thyself". Like Deva says, it's all about awareness, personal growth and self-knowledge. (hope I got that right Deva)

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....I experience a certain phenomena, well-documented, of 'flow' when I am creating something (I paint, draw, etc...) or am immersed in deep work—usually something creative. Time is suspended, a sense of joy permeates my being, and peace too, sometimes I lose touch with my body... something similar happens when I meditate. The interesting thing I find with 'flow' is that I am more in touch with the 'higher' (smarter?) part of myself. I come up with better solutions and make better judgments when in flow.

 

Actually that did make sense. Personally, I think a lot of the problem is that we do not define "spirituality" but I think you did an excellent job of clarifying. But considering what you said, my question to you (and the others) is why do you attribute what you describe to a "higher part of yourself" and not just simply "yourself"?. Of course we can get technical and say that the "higher" part of you is you, etc. but, doing that nulls my question. I guess Im saying why does that have to be a higher part of you? Why can't that just be deep thought, a temporary and healthy denying of the world around you? A simple experiencing of "euphoria". Thanks again for jumping in.

 

I don't always define my "I" as the whole of who I am. Sometimes, "I" am just the itty bitty part of my mind that is my consciousness. When I'm talking to other people, I tend to refer to myself in the singular, but when I'm talking to myself I'm often plural. Like when my brain is busy with a fun project and really doesn't want to let go, my body starts yelling that it (my body) really really wants to eat. When I have conflicting desires, I get into fights with myself. Other times, I'm going along with life pretty unaware of something... when suddenly my subconscious mind throws a full-formed complex thought at me. My conscious mind is pretty narrow and limited, and much of my brain power is spent running in the background, filtering the sensory information so that I don't go into overload, and letting "me" (my little consciousness) know about anything unusual or important that comes up.

 

There are a lot of activities that you have to get in the mood for for them to work right. Like if I'm trying to do weight lifting, since I'm not very good at it yet, if I start thinking about my day at work I'll forget to have good form and might do something dumb and hurt myself. A different aspect of me has to be in control during that time than at other times. Same with visual arts and music; there's a subset of me that needs to be in charge to do that stuff, and I have to turn off some things and turn on others to get there.

 

The idea of a "higher self" is that there's a part of me that would be really useful if I'd get into that mindset more often, but I'm really bad at accessing it. (I've even had some meditation/vision sort of experiences where I found a part of me asleep in a cocoon, waiting for it to be time to wake up.) A good analogy might be that it's like I've got writer's block and spirituality is just the tools I use to work past that and get back into the groove. But I tend not to think of it as a higher self so much as a more integrated whole, of being able to switch between mental states more easily so that I'm in the right state of mind of the activity I'm trying to engage in right now. That's how I tend to think of mindfulness - it's turning off all the parts of my brain that are interfering with my ability to do a good job of the task at hand. Sometimes those parts of my mind are scared of letting go and it feels like dying and I'm afraid I'll never come back... meditation helps me accept changes in my concept of self and realizing that those deaths aren't really the end of anything. Getting that realization of the "higher self" or whatever feels like the committee meeting in my mind has come to an agreement; it's the process of realizing that We are One (where "we" = bits and pieces of me). There's a lovely stillness when my various desires quite fighting for supremacy. Or it's being able to separate immediate and transitory urges like "I want a slice of pie" from the bigger goals, like "I want to not cause suffering to those around me", and associate my core sense of self with the "big things" instead of with whatever temporary thoughts are going through my mind right now.

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Oops.. forgot something. Prayer, meditation, chanting, dancing, drumming and other ways of altering consciousness are WAYS to try to achieve this state of feeling 'connected'. Sadly a lot of methods are abused and the methods and their effects become the end in themselves.

 

Ecstasy is a peak experience, I doubt anyone could maintain it for long... the feeling from flow is different, it's joyful but peaceful... not ecstatic. The experience of ecstasy is addictive... and addiction is the farthest thing from 'spirituality' I can think of. In flow there is freedom... there is no freedom in addiction.

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....I experience a certain phenomena, well-documented, of 'flow' when I am creating something (I paint, draw, etc...) or am immersed in deep work—usually something creative. Time is suspended, a sense of joy permeates my being, and peace too, sometimes I lose touch with my body... something similar happens when I meditate. The interesting thing I find with 'flow' is that I am more in touch with the 'higher' (smarter?) part of myself. I come up with better solutions and make better judgments when in flow.

 

Actually that did make sense. Personally, I think a lot of the problem is that we do not define "spirituality" but I think you did an excellent job of clarifying. But considering what you said, my question to you (and the others) is why do you attribute what you describe to a "higher part of yourself" and not just simply "yourself"?. Of course we can get technical and say that the "higher" part of you is you, etc. but, doing that nulls my question. I guess Im saying why does that have to be a higher part of you? Why can't that just be deep thought, a temporary and healthy denying of the world around you? A simple experiencing of "euphoria". Thanks again for jumping in.

 

I don't always define my "I" as the whole of who I am. Sometimes, "I" am just the itty bitty part of my mind that is my consciousness. When I'm talking to other people, I tend to refer to myself in the singular, but when I'm talking to myself I'm often plural. Like when my brain is busy with a fun project and really doesn't want to let go, my body starts yelling that it (my body) really really wants to eat. When I have conflicting desires, I get into fights with myself. Other times, I'm going along with life pretty unaware of something... when suddenly my subconscious mind throws a full-formed complex thought at me. My conscious mind is pretty narrow and limited, and much of my brain power is spent running in the background, filtering the sensory information so that I don't go into overload, and letting "me" (my little consciousness) know about anything unusual or important that comes up.

 

There are a lot of activities that you have to get in the mood for for them to work right. Like if I'm trying to do weight lifting, since I'm not very good at it yet, if I start thinking about my day at work I'll forget to have good form and might do something dumb and hurt myself. A different aspect of me has to be in control during that time than at other times. Same with visual arts and music; there's a subset of me that needs to be in charge to do that stuff, and I have to turn off some things and turn on others to get there.

 

The idea of a "higher self" is that there's a part of me that would be really useful if I'd get into that mindset more often, but I'm really bad at accessing it. (I've even had some meditation/vision sort of experiences where I found a part of me asleep in a cocoon, waiting for it to be time to wake up.) A good analogy might be that it's like I've got writer's block and spirituality is just the tools I use to work past that and get back into the groove. But I tend not to think of it as a higher self so much as a more integrated whole, of being able to switch between mental states more easily so that I'm in the right state of mind of the activity I'm trying to engage in right now. That's how I tend to think of mindfulness - it's turning off all the parts of my brain that are interfering with my ability to do a good job of the task at hand. Sometimes those parts of my mind are scared of letting go and it feels like dying and I'm afraid I'll never come back... meditation helps me accept changes in my concept of self and realizing that those deaths aren't really the end of anything. Getting that realization of the "higher self" or whatever feels like the committee meeting in my mind has come to an agreement; it's the process of realizing that We are One (where "we" = bits and pieces of me). There's a lovely stillness when my various desires quite fighting for supremacy. Or it's being able to separate immediate and transitory urges like "I want a slice of pie" from the bigger goals, like "I want to not cause suffering to those around me", and associate my core sense of self with the "big things" instead of with whatever temporary thoughts are going through my mind right now.

 

I really like the way you described that. The psyche is a complicated thing... and sometimes it does seem like a committee meeting. Integration is the key I think. Not always easy though! lol

 

Reminds me of Jung's stuff on the 'shadow' as well.

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Modern life is all about distraction and outside stimuli...about avoidance of the inner life, I think. A sad state of affairs... there is one scripture I always liked, "Be still, and know that I am God", though I interpret it differently now.. more like, "Be still and know thyself". Like Deva says, it's all about awareness, personal growth and self-knowledge. (hope I got that right Deva)

 

Pretty much right about the self-knowledge and awareness, but I would just say that I think that "be here now" is actually impossible. I think Ram Dass came up with that idea, although I could be wrong.

 

The brain can't do a completely "now" moment, despite what some might say. Its always the past or the future. It must bring in the past in order to interpret what is in the present and then brain studies show that the nervous system is always late. I think that has been established. I think the best we can do is shift our focus, and that is learned through meditation. Being quiet is good -

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It would be extraordinary to do "when I eat, I eat" and "when I sleep I sleep." That means ONLY eating when hungry and then fully engaging in that activity. ONLY sleeping when tired and then fully engaged in that. Who does this?

 

When we are eating we are thinking of a million other things, often watching a video or doing something else at the same time. When we are sleeping we often just rehash stuff that happened in the past in our dreams, if we even can sleep.

Except when you have a food orgasm. :HaHa:

 

I've had food at a few occasions that were... more than extraordinary. I took a bit, and suddenly, all other food paled quickly and dramatically in comparison. When each bite gives you a chill through your body, you don't think of anything else but that bite.

 

Spirituality is understanding who or what you are; and being aware of what you are doing is part of it. Or, maybe all of it.

Agree. And when we can enjoy life and each part for what it is, life is more enjoyable in general.

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The brain can't do a completely "now" moment, despite what some might say.

I think this is true in the sense that we need to function in a world of time and activities, which require us to think in terms of future and past, but you can experience 'no thought' in the sense of a timeless present, just pure observation, the pure witness as its called. I think the real thing challenge though is to look at what is the dominant place you are at at the time. Are you living inside all your future or past thoughts, or are you simply using them as tools for a task? It's when we get lost in those, that we lose clarity of all that is right before us everywhere, and our living in the moment with that. We lose ourselves inside that world of thoughts, future and past. That's when all that other distracting stuff obscures that freedom of living. That's why they call it a "practice". It's retraining how we think and perceive and live. Makes sense, doesn't it? smile.png

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"Now" is an illusion. :)

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"Now" is an illusion. smile.png

Well, that's true if you think of it. ;)

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"Now" is an illusion. smile.png

Well, that's true if you think of it. wink.png

Yes. Even on a scientific level. At the higher levels of physics, time is just a construct, and theoretically, all time exists simultaneously (or something like that).

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Edit: making it easier to read

 

I think this story gets at the root of what some of us mean when we say "spirituality".

 

Bankei opened a Zen school not far away from another Buddhist school. Over a few weeks, many students from the other school began to attend Bankei's lectures. Eventually the other school's Master called on Bankei, who was in the middle of a lecture. The other Master scolded his students for abandoning his school, and yelled at Bankei, saying that *his* teacher could perform miracles such as walking on water and signing his name from the other side of a river. Bankei replied, "My miracle is that when I'm hungry, I eat, and when I am tired, I sleep."

 

 

Thanks. Statements like these are part of what I refer to in my OP. I think its a thought provoking statement and if left alone to analyze I would take away from it that people prefer human normality over the miraculous but taking a step back it doesn't really say much other than "I regularly meet my basic needs" which IMHO doesn't invoke any sort of spirituality. Please put me on the same page as you with the analysis of this statement since it has evidently flown way over my head.

 

I hope you don't mind my answering in the form of an essay. It has been a while since I have written one and I need the practice. wink.png

 

The Magical Mundane: Bankei's Miracle

 

In the story of Bankei's Miracle we see a confrontation between Bankei and an unnamed master. First you'll notice the hint of competition between congregations. The unnamed master has been losing students to Bankei. The number of students one had was a symbol of prestige and a source of income, so we can understand why the master is upset with Bankei.

 

The master goes to Bankei's school to challenge his legitimacy as a teacher of Dharma. The master claims that his own teacher was capable of miracles and lists superhuman feats such as walking on water and signing his name from across the river. The master makes these claims because of the principle of Dharma transmission. In order to win back his students, he implies that, by having received transmission from a master with supernatural power, his own teaching possessed a portion of that power. He indirectly challenges Bankei to demonstrate his power. Bankei responds with: “My miracle is that when I'm hungry, I eat, and when I'm tired, I sleep.”

 

Bankei's words, on the surface, demonstrate why his teaching is superior, because he is not imbued with some sort of supernatural power. He is an ordinary dude like any of us. He doesn't require the supernatural, because the natural is miracle enough. Mundane actions that we take for granted are miracles superior to walking on water.

 

What makes this “spiritual”? This particular understanding of ordinariness, the focus on this life and this world goes further than a simple intellectual understanding. It is a realization that shatters conditioned existential fear and the mental anguish that accumulates in the preparation for a “better world”.

 

Peace, acceptance and understanding of this life and this world is a thread that runs through Buddhism, Taoism, and Paganism. However, not every individual is suited to ritual and iconography or is inclined toward the study and contemplation of dusty old wisdom. We hear Bankei's echoes in “The Pale Blue Dot” or “We are all connected. To each other biologically. To the Earth, chemically and to the rest of the universe, atomically.”

 

You may ask why an ex-christian would turn to another religious or spiritual paradigm. I ask, why one would settle for “we are intricate and subtle molecular machines” when you can realize “WE ARE INTRICATE AND SUBTLE MOLECULAR MACHINES!”

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Wonderfully put. Good essay.

 

 

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The unique and special in the ordinary.

 

A quote I saw today: "If you're not enjoying the journey, you probably won't enjoy the destination." -- Anonymous.

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Probably a good idea to add that it is not a better way to view the world, just different. Better depends on you.

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Probably a good idea to add that it is not a better way to view the world, just different. Better depends on you.

Agree. It's better for you, but not necessarily better for someone else. But it doesn't mean it can be talked about or discussed. I think that's where the break-down happens sometime with communication, it's taken as "recommendation" or "commandment" when it's really about just "Hey, I like Mexican food, anyone else do too?"

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Not to belittle the curiosity that spawned the question but "Why spirituality?" really boils down to be similar to "why Mexican food?"

 

It's just a matter of personal taste. Some people do it, some don't. The world keeps turning.

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It needs to be right for where you are at, otherwise it is some forced thing and will never be what it really is or can be.

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Not to belittle the curiosity that spawned the question but "Why spirituality?" really boils down to be similar to "why Mexican food?"

 

It's just a matter of personal taste. Some people do it, some don't. The world keeps turning.

 

Rev that makes me think something Hugh Prather said.

 

I notice that when people trust themselves enough to state their thoughts as
their thoughts
,

I not only pay more attention to what they say, but it helps me look deeper into myself.

 

If you will tell me the way you see it

rather than the way it "is," this helps me

discover more fully the way I see it.

~from
Notes to Myself

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Not to belittle the curiosity that spawned the question but "Why spirituality?" really boils down to be similar to "why Mexican food?"

 

It's just a matter of personal taste. Some people do it, some don't. The world keeps turning.

 

I see what you are saying but its not the same. Its not a "taste" or "preference" its an indirect assertion made in describing the experience when its over and what its attributed to.

 

Ex. Mexican food is there. I can taste it. But, if I sat down in front of an empty plate and motioned with a fork like I was eating and say WOW that was better than any food you can see, that begs the question "what was I eating?" Its not I "prefer" invisible food. Its an indirect assertion that food can be invisible and I can nourish myself from it (providing I haven't lost weight).

 

I understand the whole "no harm, no foul" scenario. To elaborate on "why be spiritual I mean what makes you want to live this way and what makes you keep coming back to it.

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Not to belittle the curiosity that spawned the question but "Why spirituality?" really boils down to be similar to "why Mexican food?"

 

It's just a matter of personal taste. Some people do it, some don't. The world keeps turning.

 

I see what you are saying but its not the same. Its not a "taste" or "preference" its an indirect assertion made in describing the experience when its over and what its attributed to.

Attributed to? Exactly what is an experience attributed to? Just wondering.

 

Ex. Mexican food is there. I can taste it. But, if I sat down in front of an empty plate and motioned with a fork like I was eating and say WOW that was better than any food you can see, that begs the question "what was I eating?" Its not I "prefer" invisible food. Its an indirect assertion that food can be invisible and I can nourish myself from it (providing I haven't lost weight).

I think you lost me. FrogsToadBigGrin.gif I'm not sure what you're saying.

 

If you're eating a Carl's Jr burger or a cajun seared salmon with garlic mashed potato in some fancy restaurant. You don't have different experiences? They're just food? One doesn't taste different than the other? Or are you saying that you're just imagining food to taste and that's when you're tasting it?

 

I'm lost. Wendyshrug.gif Can you explain a bit please?

 

I understand the whole "no harm, no foul" scenario. To elaborate on "why be spiritual I mean what makes you want to live this way and what makes you keep coming back to it.

Perhaps there has to be one unified idea of what "spiritual" means first. I think the traditional definition of "spirit" is something supernatural and outside of the body, but the atheist version if spiritual is a little different. It's above body, but it's not outside body. It's meta, not super. It's emerging from, not separated from.

 

Well, I should add: In my view or opinion. And probably my explanation isn't even complete to what I really mean either. And I'm certain that the other spiritual atheists will have a different perspective to it. :)

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I have discovered I have always had my own sense of spirituality, which is why I was often at odds with christianity. My purpose on the earth is to love, plain and simple. Sometimes christianity wanted to thwart me in that endeavour but telling me who was and was not worthy of love. Didn't work for me, and eventually drove me away because of their lack of compassion.

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Attributed to? Exactly what is an experience attributed to? Just wondering.

 

The spiritualist would attribute this to a higher existence or his "spiritual side

 

I think you lost me. FrogsToadBigGrin.gif I'm not sure what you're saying.

 

If you're eating a Carl's Jr burger or a cajun seared salmon with garlic mashed potato in some fancy restaurant. You don't have different experiences? They're just food? One doesn't taste different than the other? Or are you saying that you're just imagining food to taste and that's when you're tasting it?

 

LOL! Sort of....I knew invisible food analogy would be tough to grasp. By eating invisible food. I'm not saying "I prefer invisible food to visible food." I am indirectly saying. "You know food can be invisible, but that doesn't stop me from finding nourishment in it." So its not the preference that I'm hung up on as much as the assertion that its there and that you can interact and benefit from it.

 

Perhaps there has to be one unified idea of what "spiritual" means first......

 

This is my point. Is there a distinction between spiritual above body and simply "'euphoria"

 

Thanks for dealing with the terrible analogy

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I have discovered I have always had my own sense of spirituality, which is why I was often at odds with christianity. My purpose on the earth is to love, plain and simple. Sometimes christianity wanted to thwart me in that endeavour but telling me who was and was not worthy of love. Didn't work for me, and eventually drove me away because of their lack of compassion.

I like and agree with this. To be perfectly honest, this is just about identical to my purpose. My question would be where does spirituality enter the picture?

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I have discovered I have always had my own sense of spirituality, which is why I was often at odds with christianity. My purpose on the earth is to love, plain and simple. Sometimes christianity wanted to thwart me in that endeavour but telling me who was and was not worthy of love. Didn't work for me, and eventually drove me away because of their lack of compassion.

I like and agree with this. To be perfectly honest, this is just about identical to my purpose. My question would be where does spirituality enter the picture?

 

I think because of the kind of mindfulness it requires, the sense of others being as valuable or more valuable than yourself, of seeing the same value in everyone. It is a way of viewing life that is more than just worrying about status or power or money. It is the realisation that we are all connected, and that if we all gave a shit about each other the way I beieve we could, then the world would be a much more pleasant place for all of us.

 

I realise that this is easy for me to say, I am temperamentally other centred, but it appears most people are not. I was kind of born this way for whatever reason and it is not something I can ever turn my back on, because it is part of who I am. I used to think it came from god, but I realise now it is not the case. But whatever it is, it is more important to me than anything, it is the essence of a thing I cannot really name, but it has to do with who people can become if they let go of putting their ego first. Or something :)

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