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roadrunner

Ex-Christian Spirituality

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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've always see spirituality as closely related to ethics and wanted to use religion to help me learn to be nicer to people. Christianity didn't help much with this, but some versions of Eastern religions did. Here's a few of things I've gotten out of it:

 

- If you're going to regard all beings as worthy of love, you have to include yourself. It is hypocritical to do minor nice things for other people at great cost to yourself if you really believe in loving every being.

 

- Loving other people isn't necessarily about sacrifice and denying yourself. It's much more effective to love yourself first, then extend that feeling to people you like, then to people you're neutral towards, then to people you dislike. You don't have to quit valuing yourself to do this. In fact, the only way to think nice things towards awful people (even if it's just "I'm pretty sure they're such an awful person that they're pushing away all the people who want to care about them, and I wish for their own sake that they'd quit being such a jerk") without it doing damage to you is if you balance it out with love for yourself. And it's totally ok to enjoy the warm fuzzies you get from being nice; the fact that you get something good out of it doesn't negate the good you're doing for others.

 

- Sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves and our worries that we don't notice other people's needs. Lovingkindness meditation is a way to practice caring about people so that you do notice more.

 

- You can't do much to help other people if you're a mess yourself. Gaining self control and self sufficiency and being responsible for yourself allows you to have more energy left over to help other people. Spirituality helps me with mental/emotional stability so that I don't have to keep leaning on other people for support (which hurts them a little when I dump all my negative emotions on them and make it their problem).

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

Higher existence?

 

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.

I think you're mixing up "spirituality" with a supernatural belief, and that's why we have a hard time understanding each other. Spiritual in the sense I'm talking about is not a supernatural or even really addressing a "spiritual" world at all, at least not in the traditional or religious sense.

 

You have a consciousness. Yes? No?

 

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

 

Thanks for dealing with the terrible analogy

No problem.

 

If you first start with contemplating what the word "consciousness" means and what it really represents. Do you have a consciousness? Even if you argue that it's ultimately is the result of atoms and nature, is your consciousness exactly just that or more than just that?

 

Put it this way. You consists of xyz gram water, xyz gram carbon, xyz gram this or that. If I took exactly those elements, in exactly those measurements, and threw it all together in a pot, would that goo be conscious? Why not if it's exactly the same? You are the result of a process of all things being in a certain structure through time and space and interaction with your environment and other consciousnesses. So you're more than just a bag of atoms. You're a process and a result of history too. In other words, you're more than just atoms.

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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.

 

You are going the wrong direction roadrunner (meep meep...had to do it). You start by making the assertion that "spirituality" is an empty plate, but there is something there. It is a collection of rituals, practices, and wisdom- to keep with the analogy there is food on the plate (we've already demonstrated how one can be spiritual and naturalistic). So even your expanded question reads like "Why eat Mexican food when we all got food poisoning at Taco Bell?"

 

What can be said to defend one's eating Mexican food when the Taco Bell experience has soured you on it? I'm not sure how much clearer it can be. People continue to practice some form of spirituality because they have found a method that works for them, they like it. Just like whatever it is you are into works for you right now.

 

There is an ingredient missing, however. You do not have to be like me nor do I want you to be. I don't feel threatened by secualrists, skeptics or whatever. If you are interested in the specifics, you'll ask. Otherwise we shoot the shit like we are doing now.

 

Maybe, just maybe that is what I have gained from my spirituality and why I keep going back to the buffet. :)

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........

If you first start with contemplating what the word "consciousness" means and what it really represents. Do you have a consciousness? Even if you argue that it's ultimately is the result of atoms and nature, is your consciousness exactly just that or more than just that?

 

I do but my consciousness leaves when my brain ceases to function. This is evident by getting hit over the head really hard and losing consciousness but being alive. Consciousness is contingent on the physical. Antlerman and I had a discussion similar to this earlier this year. We know all about endorphins that are produced in the body to cause euphoria. I agree the brain is miraculous but I'm not sold on consciousness being a state of existence as much as it is a product of existence.

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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.

 

You are going the wrong direction roadrunner (meep meep...had to do it). You start by making the assertion that "spirituality" is an empty plate, but there is something there. It is a collection of rituals, practices, and wisdom- to keep with the analogy there is food on the plate (we've already demonstrated how one can be spiritual and naturalistic). So even your expanded question reads like "Why eat Mexican food when we all got food poisoning at Taco Bell?"

 

What can be said to defend one's eating Mexican food when the Taco Bell experience has soured you on it? I'm not sure how much clearer it can be. People continue to practice some form of spirituality because they have found a method that works for them, they like it. Just like whatever it is you are into works for you right now.

 

There is an ingredient missing, however. You do not have to be like me nor do I want you to be. I don't feel threatened by secualrists, skeptics or whatever. If you are interested in the specifics, you'll ask. Otherwise we shoot the shit like we are doing now.

 

Maybe, just maybe that is what I have gained from my spirituality and why I keep going back to the buffet. smile.png

 

OK so the empty plate analogy sucks. LOL. My point is its a "product" that only avails itself to some people sometimes. Sort of like the emperors new clothes. You have to be on a certain level to see it.

 

So when the method works, what are the results?

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Consciousness has degrees... I think of it as awareness. We've all known people who exist in the most material of worlds; it's all sensation and physical gratification and a way of moving through the world that is crude—they tend to react in overt and violent ways, they don't think things through and tend to go with the crowd.. subtlety is completely lost on them.

 

Then there are those who are a bit more aware... they think in abstracts and can process their emotions with moderation, they show some self-control and can care for others than their immediate relatives or partner.

 

Then there are those who are mainly altruistic or filled with agape. They may not be geniuses but they have a natural affection for all life. They are peaceful and giving and would rarely harm anything.

 

These are VERY skeleton descriptions and leave out the myriad levels and variations in between - but it's obvious that we don't all operate on the same level of consciousness.

 

To use my own experience.. hmm.. spirituality is my connectedness with myself, others and the universe. Though certain pursuits or practices the results are more tolerance, understanding and compassion... as well as peace and personal growth. I find that the pursuit of spirituality (for lack of a better term) helps me to become the person I envision myself to be.... I don't 'follow' any particular method though...(and definitely eshew gurus) I try things out, if they work for me and support my need for sense and logic and are not harmful, either to myself or others, i may adopt them.

 

Example: Meditation is an extremely useful and effective method and doesn't require me to suspend my analytical mind, or my ethics. I don't need to believe in the unbelievable to get the results. (Which is actually backed by science-so that's cool too) Yoga is another discipline that has tangible, real world 'spiritual' results.. for other people rituals do this... no need for ghosties and ghoulies and deities though.

 

I guess, for me, spirituality is the development of my inner self, my consciousness/awareness—self-actualization... and with that also that sense of connectedness with the world around me.

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........

If you first start with contemplating what the word "consciousness" means and what it really represents. Do you have a consciousness? Even if you argue that it's ultimately is the result of atoms and nature, is your consciousness exactly just that or more than just that?

 

I do but my consciousness leaves when my brain ceases to function.

Yes, your consciousness leaves your body. I don't believe it exists as "you" after you cease to exist, but... there is a you, right now. That you is not me. That you is experiencing and to you, that you is real.

 

If consciousness is an illusion only. And if this world, particles and all is nothing but an illusion too (according to physicists), then who are "you" observing and experiencing all these illusions? If you're not real, and nothing else is real, then what is real?

 

This is evident by getting hit over the head really hard and losing consciousness but being alive. Consciousness is contingent on the physical.

Absolutely. And I didn't say it was. Your consciousness comes from the processes, history, time, space, etc from this world, reality, nature. Which means that this world can produce such a thing called a "consciousness". It's a property of reality. It's an effect of nature. It's not just nature, it's the result of nature. Output, in a technical way.

 

Antlerman and I had a discussion similar to this earlier this year. We know all about endorphins that are produced in the body to cause euphoria. I agree the brain is miraculous but I'm not sold on consciousness being a state of existence as much as it is a product of existence.

I see it as a product of existence too. A product is not it's just it's components, but also it's process.

 

What is an output of a calculator? The numbers you put in? The formula? The calculator? The batteries? The "inputor"? The display? What is an output if not the sum of all things and it's more than just its single parts. It's also it's history and interaction with the world it is in.

 

You are more than atoms. You are also the output of the experience of the world in your specific timeline and a result of all the interactions you specifically have had in the past and are having right now.

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Consciousness has degrees... I think of it as awareness. We've all known people who exist in the most material of worlds; it's all sensation and physical gratification and a way of moving through the world that is crude—they tend to react in overt and violent ways, they don't think things through and tend to go with the crowd.. subtlety is completely lost on them.

 

Then there are those who are a bit more aware... they think in abstracts and can process their emotions with moderation, they show some self-control and can care for others than their immediate relatives or partner.

 

Then there are those who are mainly altruistic or filled with agape. They may not be geniuses but they have a natural affection for all life. They are peaceful and giving and would rarely harm anything.

 

These are VERY skeleton descriptions and leave out the myriad levels and variations in between - but it's obvious that we don't all operate on the same level of consciousness.

 

To use my own experience.. hmm.. spirituality is my connectedness with myself, others and the universe. Though certain pursuits or practices the results are more tolerance, understanding and compassion... as well as peace and personal growth. I find that the pursuit of spirituality (for lack of a better term) helps me to become the person I envision myself to be.... I don't 'follow' any particular method though...(and definitely eshew gurus) I try things out, if they work for me and support my need for sense and logic and are not harmful, either to myself or others, i may adopt them.

 

Example: Meditation is an extremely useful and effective method and doesn't require me to suspend my analytical mind, or my ethics. I don't need to believe in the unbelievable to get the results. (Which is actually backed by science-so that's cool too) Yoga is another discipline that has tangible, real world 'spiritual' results.. for other people rituals do this... no need for ghosties and ghoulies and deities though.

 

I guess, for me, spirituality is the development of my inner self, my consciousness/awareness—self-actualization... and with that also that sense of connectedness with the world around me.

Ravenstar, for all my overly verbose explanations, at its core is everything you said here. If anyone wants to know how I see all of this, read this above. This is it.

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I'm so glad I was able to explain it in a way that can be understood... because so much of it is really non-verbal—a sort of 'knowing' and 'oneness' that isn't easy to convey to another. Except for the scientific studies that have been done on the real world effects and benefits of meditation (one particular method)... it's all very subjective.

 

I think the problem begins with the concept.. or maybe even the word 'spirituality'. When one has been indoctrinated in certain definitions, spirituality becomes a very narrow thing—when in reality it is an expansive concept. It is abstract not concrete, personal—not something that can really be agreed upon through dogma, or defined into a box—it is boundless and fluid. By it's nature it will mean different things, manifest differently to each individual depending on their experience, temperament and mental matrices.

 

I think I could put at least one trait on it though—a sense of spirituality, the practice of methods to achieve it, or a quest for it even, should ultimately be expansive and inclusive, of others, life and the universe. It should facilitate appreciation for life.

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Absolutely beautiful. Next time people aren't 'getting me', I'll just point them to you. :HaHa: The one thing I wanted to add briefly, and it ties into what you say, that to me what defines the spiritual experience is that it is an interior discovery of our being. It can't be defined by a religion or anything else. It is not an exterior object that one attains. "There, now I'm spiritual", can't happen. We all already are. How much we realize that in the experience of our individual lives is the only factor. I was just trying to express that talking with my mother saying you can't find what we already have. It's like telling someone to go look for their nose, and I pointed out to the yard as if to give them 'direction'. We can't see out there what is already on our faces. It's just that it's not an object to find, either out there, or "in here". It's who we already are. It's not an object. (I'm getting too wordy again).

 

The only last thing I'll add is that because it is who we are, the more we shift our self-sense into that 'beingness', it moves from just an inner awareness to every aspect of our lives. It's who we become. Our very bodies, our relationships, our minds, our emotions, everything moves 'up' into that. It boils down to self-identity. Where is the seat of that? Our bodies? Our egos? Or the experience of being? It includes everything.

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Wherever you go, there you are. Yes. It isn't something you 'get', it's an unfolding of who you are, without the defense mechanisms, ego and fear... ultimately.

 

I think that is what Jesus meant when he stated, "The kingdom of Heaven is within you". And what Buddha meant when he said "if you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him" (it's not outside of yourself) These were hints that what we need is not something we can find on the outside—we need to go within and honor and nurture ourselves.

 

The biggest problem I see with the idea of spirituality in most organized religions is this idea that it's 'out there' somewhere... and that it isn't an innate part of who we are. That's the lie. It needs to be developed (brought forth—there's a term for that I can't remember at the moment), not acquired.

 

'god' or 'spirituality' (for lack of better terms) is not separate from us—we are it. (a part of the whole—and somehow the sum is greater than it's parts—hence a sense of meta nature = spiritual) But the human race are storytellers, and we embellish all of our thoughts and feelings, especially the difficult ones—we are creatures of metaphor and allegory. However.. 'lost in translation' happens a lot, and those with a need for power over others use these stories to gain that power.

 

When a physicist or a cosmologist, any scientist really... looks at nature and asks the questions, sees with awe the nature of existence...and wants to discover it—that's spiritual. When we appreciate the wonder in a child, or in a loved one—that's spirituality. (there's a million more examples but..) seeking that place within which senses and wonders and appreciates... and developing that—that's spirituality.

 

So I think what we may define as non-religious people 'spirituality', is very far indeed from the common usage of the indoctrinated. I think it's scary for a lot of people because no one can answer these questions for another, or do the work. There's no easy 'spirituality', no manual... no parent to guide one. Laws and instructions really do nothing more than point the way... maybe.

 

There is also personal responsibility... and from what I can see the majority of humans are allergic to it. They are lazy... in their thinking, in their actions and choices—if they attempt to decide for themselves at all. The religious look to outside sources for their 'rules'.. like a child looks to his/her parents for boundaries—knowing inside they are not ready to take care of themselves that way. They really don't want to accept the consequences of their behaviors... again, like a little kid who blames his sibling for a broken lamp to avoid punishment.

 

hmmm.... makes me wonder if it isn't just a matter of maturity.

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I used to view spirituality as the wonder diet pill of the soul, the ground floor investment scheme, the "get out of jail free" card. Now I am deeply suspicious of any spiritual tradition that places the individual at the apex of the pyramid, that posits that gods or wonders seek communion with that individual, that place that individual's desires above those of everybody else. When I discovered Zen Buddhism about 5 years after deconverting, it was astonishing how its valuation of meditation and mindfulness placed me firmly on the same level as others, how it brought me to internal places of acceptance and even embracing of life's inevitable changes and turmoil, how it centered me. I was no longer atop the pyramid, the very pinnacle of creation, the merrybegot of some fickle god, which is I realize now quite a lonely existence, not to mention being one that clashes completely with reality. All that time I'd wanted a daddy who could protect me, give me pretty things, and have a home I could consider mine forever. Obviously, such a being is nothing more than the construct of a wishful childlike mind. But when I moved away from that, I became part of humanity; my suffering was not unique or remarkable in the long scheme of things, but far from making me feel devalued, realizing this made me see that I was truly part of a vast, innumerable brotherhood. I don't wear that label anymore, but a different one, because what I learned there dovetailed into other paths I wanted to pursue. I could go on, but the main question was: why do I keep going back to the spiritual buffet? My answer then: because I feel it has lessons for me. The lessons I need to learn are almost certainly not the lessons someone else may need to learn, and that's okay.

 

As long as someone's spiritual endeavors don't bring them into conflict with others' rights, I don't care what they call themselves or how they pursue it.

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So I think what we may define as non-religious people 'spirituality', is very far indeed from the common usage of the indoctrinated. I think it's scary for a lot of people because no one can answer these questions for another, or do the work.

There's something I want to add to this that maybe might help a lot of people in their own struggles, post-Christianity. What the system in its most insidious form does to all of us is to teach us God as some Authority in the sky, that we not trust ourselves, that the devil is leading us astray, to not listen to our inner voice and instead submit our minds and hearts to a truth as defined by how they read a book they call scripture. The impact of this is to further a distrust of our own internal guide; to further not know ourselves. In leaving Christianity the response is often to continue to look outside ourselves for a more 'reliable' authority. I know this as that is what I did too.

 

Spirituality is to me to meet that voice in us, that doesn't speak in words and theories and models and reason. It is coming to know yourself, coming to love yourself, and coming to trust yourself. You can't look outside to find yourself within. We can find that deep and abiding peace because it rests in that self-knowledge; a self-knowing that is one of trust with yourself, and through that we are then able to be at peace and release love. To me, that is the number one struggle coming out of a system that teaches us to distrust ourselves. And so what happens in religion is a term I heard coined that I think is perfect. It's called "Spiritual Bypassing", it's where we become all religious in some belief to fill that gap within us that comes through not knowing ourselves, and consequently not trusting our selves. That "God shaped hole" is us not knowing ourselves. It's us crying to be know by ourselves! "Know thyself", is spiritual awakening, in my opinion. We know ourselves, we trust ourselves, we love ourselves, through which we are then able see and love others, from within that place of inner peace.

 

What's wrong with Christianity? Just that. Not beliefs in supernatural myths, that's incidental actually, but blocking the path of our very inner awareness. That's its true failing.

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I'm so glad I was able to explain it in a way that can be understood... because so much of it is really non-verbal—a sort of 'knowing' and 'oneness' that isn't easy to convey to another. Except for the scientific studies that have been done on the real world effects and benefits of meditation (one particular method)... it's all very subjective.

 

I think the problem begins with the concept.. or maybe even the word 'spirituality'. When one has been indoctrinated in certain definitions, spirituality becomes a very narrow thing—when in reality it is an expansive concept. It is abstract not concrete, personal—not something that can really be agreed upon through dogma, or defined into a box—it is boundless and fluid. By it's nature it will mean different things, manifest differently to each individual depending on their experience, temperament and mental matrices.

.......................

 

Thanks for that response. I feel like I do everything that you've mentioned with regard to emotions and not "shooting from the hip" or letting my innate tendencies live themselves out without carefully acknowledging the consequences. I feel like I have a good understanding of myself and my emotions in that I can experience life in a way that my emotions don't lead to destructive behavior like depression, hedonistic behaviors, and wrath. Also this realization does help my relationships with others in that I am now more understanding of their struggles.

 

Personally, my quest for this insight took me out of spirituality so I'm still curious how and why you make the leap from physical to a more "hybrid" state that ventures outside of the physical. Ouroboros is getting me to understand (sort of) here.....

 

 

 

Yes, your consciousness leaves your body. I don't believe it exists as "you" after you cease to exist, but... there is a you, right now. That you is not me. That you is experiencing and to you, that you is real.

 

If consciousness is an illusion only. And if this world, particles and all is nothing but an illusion too (according to physicists), then who are "you" observing and experiencing all these illusions? If you're not real, and nothing else is real, then what is real?

 

I am everything that my physical experiences and personal insight have molded me into. Its all I know. All I am is me. I was nothing before me. and I dont have a reason to think that I am or will be anything else after me. While here, I interact with the realm that I evolved in. I can understand and rationalize the realm that I evolved in. To assert that there is another realm that I can interact with (us as a physical human experiencing euphoria and replicating it over and over) is to make a giant assumption (IMHO) that this is more than human emotion and awareness. I completely understand and acknowledge awareness but how to you get to this awareness being the essence of "you"? How can one claim that the temporary time spent in this "higher state" is beneficial to the "lower state" that it left behind. I know there are benefits but I personally attribute these benefits to what is going on in this "lower state" like mental rest, relaxation, brainstorming, mental preparation from a brief period where your brain isn't focused on ambient sounds and light or anything extraneous.

 

A similar experiment is when you're zoned out at the TV and some one may be calling you and you don't hear them. Your brain is occupied so your ears don't acknowledge the sound of your wife telling you to do dishes even though its at an audible volume. Another example is the invisible gorila expirament (for time sake, just google it). Or a child tapping you on the leg while you are reading and you dont feel it. These are all period where you brain is "occupied" and basic faculties perform in a degraded state. Now imagine what happens when you get in a mode where you deny all of your senses where your brain can run loose like a wild horse. I'd imagine that it may seem euphoric.

 

Absolutely. And I didn't say it was. Your consciousness comes from the processes, history, time, space, etc from this world, reality, nature. Which means that this world can produce such a thing called a "consciousness". It's a property of reality. It's an effect of nature. It's not just nature, it's the result of nature. Output, in a technical way.

 

Exactly. Output. Output cannot be constructed or conjured. Output is formed by and is a direct result of the input.

 

I see it as a product of existence too. A product is not it's just it's components, but also it's process.

 

What is an output of a calculator? The numbers you put in? The formula? The calculator? The batteries? The "input"? The display? What is an output if not the sum of all things and it's more than just its single parts. It's also it's history and interaction with the world it is in.

 

You are more than atoms. You are also the output of the experience of the world in your specific timeline and a result of all the interactions you specifically have had in the past and are having right now.

 

I see what you are saying. But this "output" while I guess it would be me by this definition is not something that I can interact with, control, form, or conjure. Its the equivalent of lost heat from a science experiment. Its residual, nothing can be done with it.

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That "God shaped hole" is us not knowing ourselves. It's us crying to be know by ourselves!

 

I think that modern Christianity wants people to be uncertain how to know themselves; its survival depends upon them having to be told who they are, what they are, how they are to behave, and upon dealing with the inevitable fallout of the clash between idealistic fantasy and blinding reality.

 

Many years ago I sat in a tiny Kansas town in a bar-and-laundromat (it makes more sense in person than in telling) sipping a Shiner and waiting for the dryer to finish. Outside it was cold, the remainder of winter as the flat golden land lurched toward spring's rebirth, but inside it was warm on the picnic table I sat at as I updated my journal. I'd had this journal for many years; it was beaten-to-shit, a mud-colored brown leatherbound book that fit just barely inside my flight jacket's roomiest pocket. I was thumbing through past entries in the journal. One, from midway through my conversion, this lament: "I just wish I could find my true home." Another: "I wish someone would just hold me and tell me everything would be okay." Another: "Fuck, I wish there was some guru somewhere at the top of some mountain so I could climb to the top of it and ask questions and get solid answers."

 

And a revelation, as I looked up at the dryers without seeing them tumbling every stitch of clothing I owned in the world besides what I was wearing right then: I am the person who can hold me and tell me it'll be okay. I am the guru sitting at the top of the mountain who can advise me. I am home wherever I go.

 

I tried not to weep as I felt a sudden gust of air inside my heart. I felt like I was walking into a house that had been long disused, like I was pulling free the dustcovers had covered all the furniture, like I was opening windows that'd been shuttered for far too long. I was home.

 

Later that day I bought a mortar and pestle and a silverware set for the cheap little apartment I'd rented. I'd been hanging cliffside with bated breath waiting for someone else to hand me answers, for my travels to find somewhere perfect to live, for a person who could fill a hole that I'd only just realized could not be filled by anybody but myself. How unfair it is to expect things to fall out of the sky and just plop into my outstretched hand like I was a toddler! Far harder still to learn that I was sufficient, and that I could go and get for myself the answers and things that I needed. If that isn't spirituality, I don't know what could possibly be. Christianity was the anti-spirituality, empty junk calories that feel nice but leave you crashing, despite its members' assertions, but what I found on that cold February morning was the sustaining food I'd desperately needed my whole life.

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I see what you are saying. But this "output" while I guess it would be me by this definition is not something that I can interact with, control, form, or conjure. Its the equivalent of lost heat from a science experiment. Its residual, nothing can be done with it.

You could by changing the input and the process. And you already have, most likely at least twice, by converting to Christianity, and then de-converting away from it. We're always changing (I don't believe in the "People don't change" excuse, we do change).

 

What I was trying to get to you was just the fact that consciousness is more than just the components. And I think you understand it, but we're just talking different languages.

 

For instance:

 

I am everything that my physical experiences and personal insight have molded me into. Its all I know. All I am is me. I was nothing before me. and I dont have a reason to think that I am or will be anything else after me. While here, I interact with the realm that I evolved in. I can understand and rationalize the realm that I evolved in. To assert that there is another realm that I can interact with (us as a physical human experiencing euphoria and replicating it over and over) is to make a giant assumption (IMHO) that this is more than human emotion and awareness.

I don't understand this part. You're talking about "another realm". To me it sounds like the idea of a spiritual world and/or supernatural world outside this world. That's not what I'm talking about at all. If that's what you're talking about, it goes to show that we're not on the same frequency while communicating. I'm not talking about something that is besides or outside this natural world. This natural world IS that world. You DO have a consciousness, which means that IT DOES exist in this world, which means it's natural, but it also means that the properties of consciousnesses is integrated into the actual realm of this very world, nature, and existence. Not outside. Being spiritual is not the same as believing in a spirit world. Separate those two thoughts and ideas. They don't have to go together. To make it easy, call it "consciousnessism" (just invented the word), or think if "spirit" as your "consciousness". You have a "spirit" (consciousness). It's of, from, by this world, not outside. But you still have it. Unless you are a walking zombie. :shrug:

I completely understand and acknowledge awareness but how to you get to this awareness being the essence of "you"? How can one claim that the temporary time spent in this "higher state" is beneficial to the "lower state" that it left behind. I know there are benefits but I personally attribute these benefits to what is going on in this "lower state" like mental rest, relaxation, brainstorming, mental preparation from a brief period where your brain isn't focused on ambient sounds and light or anything extraneous.

Higher state, lower state? I think you have to talk to Antlerman about that, because I'm not sure I really used that term at all. :scratch:

A similar experiment is when you're zoned out at the TV and some one may be calling you and you don't hear them. Your brain is occupied so your ears don't acknowledge the sound of your wife telling you to do dishes even though its at an audible volume. Another example is the invisible gorila expirament (for time sake, just google it). Or a child tapping you on the leg while you are reading and you dont feel it. These are all period where you brain is "occupied" and basic faculties perform in a degraded state. Now imagine what happens when you get in a mode where you deny all of your senses where your brain can run loose like a wild horse. I'd imagine that it may seem euphoric.

According to science, it's not just being "occupied" but it is different states of consciousness. Your awareness changes constantly. It's not even on from one second to the next when you think you're focusing. It flies around and different "foci" get different priorities, etc.

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That "God shaped hole" is us not knowing ourselves. It's us crying to be know by ourselves!

 

I think that modern Christianity wants people to be uncertain how to know themselves; its survival depends upon them having to be told who they are, what they are, how they are to behave, and upon dealing with the inevitable fallout of the clash between idealistic fantasy and blinding reality.

 

Many years ago I sat in a tiny Kansas town in a bar-and-laundromat (it makes more sense in person than in telling) sipping a Shiner and waiting for the dryer to finish. Outside it was cold, the remainder of winter as the flat golden land lurched toward spring's rebirth, but inside it was warm on the picnic table I sat at as I updated my journal. I'd had this journal for many years; it was beaten-to-shit, a mud-colored brown leatherbound book that fit just barely inside my flight jacket's roomiest pocket. I was thumbing through past entries in the journal. One, from midway through my conversion, this lament: "I just wish I could find my true home." Another: "I wish someone would just hold me and tell me everything would be okay." Another: "Fuck, I wish there was some guru somewhere at the top of some mountain so I could climb to the top of it and ask questions and get solid answers."

 

And a revelation, as I looked up at the dryers without seeing them tumbling every stitch of clothing I owned in the world besides what I was wearing right then: I am the person who can hold me and tell me it'll be okay. I am the guru sitting at the top of the mountain who can advise me. I am home wherever I go.

 

I tried not to weep as I felt a sudden gust of air inside my heart. I felt like I was walking into a house that had been long disused, like I was pulling free the dustcovers had covered all the furniture, like I was opening windows that'd been shuttered for far too long. I was home.

 

Later that day I bought a mortar and pestle and a silverware set for the cheap little apartment I'd rented. I'd been hanging cliffside with bated breath waiting for someone else to hand me answers, for my travels to find somewhere perfect to live, for a person who could fill a hole that I'd only just realized could not be filled by anybody but myself. How unfair it is to expect things to fall out of the sky and just plop into my outstretched hand like I was a toddler! Far harder still to learn that I was sufficient, and that I could go and get for myself the answers and things that I needed. If that isn't spirituality, I don't know what could possibly be. Christianity was the anti-spirituality, empty junk calories that feel nice but leave you crashing, despite its members' assertions, but what I found on that cold February morning was the sustaining food I'd desperately needed my whole life.

Perfect. Beautiful. All of it.

 

I particularly like the part of finding you are the guru. A goal in spiritual practice is to find the Inner Guru. It's where we learn to hear and trust the inner voice to guide us to true self-discovery and awakening. You're right, it's not an easy path.

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I particularly like the part of finding you are the guru. A goal in spiritual practice is to find the Inner Guru. It's where we learn to hear and trust the inner voice to guide us to true self-discovery and awakening. You're right, it's not an easy path.

I think that's very true. That's how I want to see "spirituality" today. It's about the journey I am making. It's a matter of just being able to keep on moving. Sometimes we like to sit down under the tree and not keep on walking, but I was never happy to stay in one spot. Christianity is a bit like a place where people are encourage you to stay and not move on. It's stops your personal progress. It's really anti-spiritual, as, I think, you've pointed out before.

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I see what you are saying. But this "output" while I guess it would be me by this definition is not something that I can interact with, control, form, or conjure. Its the equivalent of lost heat from a science experiment. Its residual, nothing can be done with it.

You could by changing the input and the process. And you already have, most likely at least twice, by converting to Christianity, and then de-converting away from it. We're always changing (I don't believe in the "People don't change" excuse, we do change).

 

What I was trying to get to you was just the fact that consciousness is more than just the components. And I think you understand it, but we're just talking different languages.

I think so too. Thanks for helping.

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I see what you are saying. But this "output" while I guess it would be me by this definition is not something that I can interact with, control, form, or conjure. Its the equivalent of lost heat from a science experiment. Its residual, nothing can be done with it.

You could by changing the input and the process. And you already have, most likely at least twice, by converting to Christianity, and then de-converting away from it. We're always changing (I don't believe in the "People don't change" excuse, we do change).

 

What I was trying to get to you was just the fact that consciousness is more than just the components. And I think you understand it, but we're just talking different languages.

I think so too. Thanks for helping.

I added to the previous post to see if I could clarify some points. Especially about the "realms" and "spirit" world kind of thinking. That's not what spirituality is for me at all. It's not about a separate, other world where our "spirits" or "souls" float around. Not at all. Your "soul", "spirit", "consciousness" is a result of this world, there's no denying of that (at least not for me). But that's what this world can do. It can produce consciousness. It's an integral part of the very fabric of reality, or we would not have it. "Spirit" of a person is just some other aspects of your consciousness, including awareness, memory, experience, feelings, ... and so on. It's about you reaching for tomorrow and the day after and finding new ways of living a better life.

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I see what you are saying. But this "output" while I guess it would be me by this definition is not something that I can interact with, control, form, or conjure. Its the equivalent of lost heat from a science experiment. Its residual, nothing can be done with it.

You could by changing the input and the process. And you already have, most likely at least twice, by converting to Christianity, and then de-converting away from it. We're always changing (I don't believe in the "People don't change" excuse, we do change).

 

What I was trying to get to you was just the fact that consciousness is more than just the components. And I think you understand it, but we're just talking different languages.

I think so too. Thanks for helping.

I added to the previous post to see if I could clarify some points. Especially about the "realms" and "spirit" world kind of thinking. That's not what spirituality is for me at all. It's not about a separate, other world where our "spirits" or "souls" float around. Not at all. Your "soul", "spirit", "consciousness" is a result of this world, there's no denying of that (at least not for me). But that's what this world can do. It can produce consciousness. It's an integral part of the very fabric of reality, or we would not have it. "Spirit" of a person is just some other aspects of your consciousness, including awareness, memory, experience, feelings, ... and so on. It's about you reaching for tomorrow and the day after and finding new ways of living a better life.

 

EDIT: for clarity: I understand. Your earlier explanation was sufficient. Even though I don't embrace or spend time on that aspect of existence, after hearing your and others' explanation, I can see why people do reach for that.

 

That "God shaped hole" is us not knowing ourselves. It's us crying to be know by ourselves!

 

I think that modern Christianity wants people to be uncertain how to know themselves; its survival depends upon them having to be told who they are, what they are, how they are to behave, and upon dealing with the inevitable fallout of the clash between idealistic fantasy and blinding reality.

 

Many years ago I sat in a tiny Kansas town in a bar-and-laundromat (it makes more sense in person than in telling) sipping a Shiner and waiting for the dryer to finish. Outside it was cold, the remainder of winter as the flat golden land lurched toward spring's rebirth, but inside it was warm on the picnic table I sat at as I updated my journal. I'd had this journal for many years; it was beaten-to-shit, a mud-colored brown leatherbound book that fit just barely inside my flight jacket's roomiest pocket. I was thumbing through past entries in the journal. One, from midway through my conversion, this lament: "I just wish I could find my true home." Another: "I wish someone would just hold me and tell me everything would be okay." Another: "Fuck, I wish there was some guru somewhere at the top of some mountain so I could climb to the top of it and ask questions and get solid answers."

 

And a revelation, as I looked up at the dryers without seeing them tumbling every stitch of clothing I owned in the world besides what I was wearing right then: I am the person who can hold me and tell me it'll be okay. I am the guru sitting at the top of the mountain who can advise me. I am home wherever I go.

 

I tried not to weep as I felt a sudden gust of air inside my heart. I felt like I was walking into a house that had been long disused, like I was pulling free the dustcovers had covered all the furniture, like I was opening windows that'd been shuttered for far too long. I was home.

 

Later that day I bought a mortar and pestle and a silverware set for the cheap little apartment I'd rented. I'd been hanging cliffside with bated breath waiting for someone else to hand me answers, for my travels to find somewhere perfect to live, for a person who could fill a hole that I'd only just realized could not be filled by anybody but myself. How unfair it is to expect things to fall out of the sky and just plop into my outstretched hand like I was a toddler! Far harder still to learn that I was sufficient, and that I could go and get for myself the answers and things that I needed. If that isn't spirituality, I don't know what could possibly be. Christianity was the anti-spirituality, empty junk calories that feel nice but leave you crashing, despite its members' assertions, but what I found on that cold February morning was the sustaining food I'd desperately needed my whole life.

<Standing Ovation> That belongs in a book somewhere. I feel like I was at the picnic table with you. I admire the part when you find that YOU are your own guru. I can very much relate to that. I have an image now in my head of a more mature, ex-christian version of me with an empathetic look of concern watching the confused frantic christian me searching for answers in the bible. Sometimes we get so focused on the destination that we miss the ride. Ironically, I just left a church (shut up......) where the gist of the sermon was just the opposite and reminded the sheep to focus on the destination not the journey.

 

Becoming an atheist gave me a better appreciation for the here and now what I can see, feel, hear, and interact with.

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That "God shaped hole" is us not knowing ourselves. It's us crying to be know by ourselves!

 

I think that modern Christianity wants people to be uncertain how to know themselves; its survival depends upon them having to be told who they are, what they are, how they are to behave, and upon dealing with the inevitable fallout of the clash between idealistic fantasy and blinding reality.

 

Many years ago I sat in a tiny Kansas town in a bar-and-laundromat (it makes more sense in person than in telling) sipping a Shiner and waiting for the dryer to finish. Outside it was cold, the remainder of winter as the flat golden land lurched toward spring's rebirth, but inside it was warm on the picnic table I sat at as I updated my journal. I'd had this journal for many years; it was beaten-to-shit, a mud-colored brown leatherbound book that fit just barely inside my flight jacket's roomiest pocket. I was thumbing through past entries in the journal. One, from midway through my conversion, this lament: "I just wish I could find my true home." Another: "I wish someone would just hold me and tell me everything would be okay." Another: "Fuck, I wish there was some guru somewhere at the top of some mountain so I could climb to the top of it and ask questions and get solid answers."

 

And a revelation, as I looked up at the dryers without seeing them tumbling every stitch of clothing I owned in the world besides what I was wearing right then: I am the person who can hold me and tell me it'll be okay. I am the guru sitting at the top of the mountain who can advise me. I am home wherever I go.

 

I tried not to weep as I felt a sudden gust of air inside my heart. I felt like I was walking into a house that had been long disused, like I was pulling free the dustcovers had covered all the furniture, like I was opening windows that'd been shuttered for far too long. I was home.

 

Later that day I bought a mortar and pestle and a silverware set for the cheap little apartment I'd rented. I'd been hanging cliffside with bated breath waiting for someone else to hand me answers, for my travels to find somewhere perfect to live, for a person who could fill a hole that I'd only just realized could not be filled by anybody but myself. How unfair it is to expect things to fall out of the sky and just plop into my outstretched hand like I was a toddler! Far harder still to learn that I was sufficient, and that I could go and get for myself the answers and things that I needed. If that isn't spirituality, I don't know what could possibly be. Christianity was the anti-spirituality, empty junk calories that feel nice but leave you crashing, despite its members' assertions, but what I found on that cold February morning was the sustaining food I'd desperately needed my whole life.

 

That is an awesome story. I always tell friends when they are down or are mad at themselves for making a mistake that becoming your own best friend and biggest fan is the best thing you can do.. we are all so much more capable and worthy than we give ourselves credit for.

 

Along those line I agree with A-man. Religion takes that away from us. It keeps us dependent, immature, insecure, fearful and feeling 'less than'. It disempowers us.

 

I have to agree with the others.. it isn't about a 'spirit' realm, or anything unnatural, but it can become transcendent. Again the idea that the sum is more than the parts. We are made of physical material and energy... but consciousness makes us so much more than those things. The results of spiritual seeking/practice is much different than daydreaming or zoning out. It's less tuning out and more tuning in... I didn't really 'get it' until I practiced meditation for 6 months solid, every day without fail... and found out for myself what the difference was.

 

In science the conscious has several states. Alpha, beta, theta and delta... we flow between these states constantly, sometimes in seconds... these states are different levels of awareness—like when you are driving a well known route and realize that you aren't even paying attention, you have been on autopilot and mentally drifted off—you've gone from Alpha to beta without even realizing it. Spiritual practices assist in being able to achieve and maintain certain states by will. You get to control it... and thus derive the benefits intentionally - so the output actually is something within our control. It also puts you intimately on terms with your inner voice... and strangely that voice has wisdom. I don't know how or why, it just does.

 

Yes.. I think the problem is the definitions. Your 'spirit' is the sum of you... and not some nebulous entity, 'out there' or separate. Spirituality is exploring that sum and the realization that the sum of you is related to the sum of that other person, or that ideal, or the forest...or the supernova, ultimately the essence is the same. (which science backs up) Hence the compassion that is the fruit of spirituality.

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I'm so glad I was able to explain it in a way that can be understood... because so much of it is really non-verbal—a sort of 'knowing' and 'oneness' that isn't easy to convey to another. Except for the scientific studies that have been done on the real world effects and benefits of meditation (one particular method)... it's all very subjective.

 

I think the problem begins with the concept.. or maybe even the word 'spirituality'. When one has been indoctrinated in certain definitions, spirituality becomes a very narrow thing—when in reality it is an expansive concept. It is abstract not concrete, personal—not something that can really be agreed upon through dogma, or defined into a box—it is boundless and fluid. By it's nature it will mean different things, manifest differently to each individual depending on their experience, temperament and mental matrices.

 

I think I could put at least one trait on it though—a sense of spirituality, the practice of methods to achieve it, or a quest for it even, should ultimately be expansive and inclusive, of others, life and the universe. It should facilitate appreciation for life.

 

I suppose, the problem with any definition of spirituality, "is how do you define a separate spiritual line of development in terms that do not use the other developmental lines of development, such as affect, cognition or morals?"

 

I seems to me what most people mean when they speak of spirituality as a separate line of development is actually a mixture of different elements of other developmental lines or waves of development, i.e..affect, or cognition or morals or consciousness or awareness or even instinct.

 

The confusion starts, at least for me, when one says spirituality involves awareness, cognition, morals, compassion, altruism, sense of self or drives , for these are already separate lines of development in themselves.

 

When one says the spirituality involves all lines or waves of development thing really get sidetracked. That is, I'm thinking developmental hierarchies when the idea is not about hierarchies (higher or better or superior attitudes or modes of existence) but about "sum totals," i.e. "the very highest capacities, the noblest movitives, the best of aspirations; the farther reaches of human nature; the most highly evolved, the growing tip, the leading edge--all of which point to the highest levels in any line of human development"--overall self, overall development which is not stage like.

 

Confusing!

 

The question in my mind is how can one's definition at least suggest the ("amalgams") the mixture of different elements that exist within the meaning of the word 'spirituality' and still be used effective and taken seriously without meandering into metaphysical religious mush or drivel? An idea that I would not be embarrassed by when used in "mixed company!" As of now I'm just as hesitant to use the word 'spiritual' and I am the word 'Go_sick.gif--forgive me, I can't bear saying it!

 

Until integral updates occur, the phenomenon of what we call spirituality will remain metaphysically dismissed by intelligent men and women, or reduced to the mythic-level of fallacy. Even more than, the word 'spiritual' ends up fragmenting and splintering its own practitioners.

 

I think this is what gets us off track and in to less than satisfying discussions concerning spirituality.

 

Spiritual treatises are mostly an endless series of ontic assertions about spiritual realities.

They are, in every sense, meaningless metaphysics, not only plagued with extensively elaborate myths of the given,

but riddled with staggering numbers of ontic and assertic claims devoid of justification.

~Ken Wilber

 

Before we though out the subjective altogether it might be wise to understand that many of the spiritual realities referred to by spiritual writers do in fact have all the requisites for converting them from meaningless metaphysics into something meaningful even for the 'flat lander.'

 

Seems to me if we are intent on discussing 'spirituality' or "spirit" shouldn't we know what we mean when we use the word i.e. understanding the latent elements that cause so much problem?

 

How best do we proceed?

 

If the term 'spirituality" is to have legitimacy thoughtful people will have to know 'how' not necessarily why. that is, if it is meant to motivate rather that to facilitate delusion.

 

I appreciate what you bring to the topic Ravenstar, thanks!

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"Sometimes we get so focused on the destination that we miss the ride."

 

Bingo

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Great points

 

There is definitely a lot of assumptions with the word 'spiritual'. It's loaded. This I think is where communication breaks down. Maybe we need a different word?

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