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roadrunner

Ex-Christian Spirituality

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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?

 

Ravenstar,

 

Metaphysics are extremely impossible issues.

 

I'm convinced as we proceed to redefine, retrofit, modify and jettison meaningless metaphysics our attempts to convey meaning with terms that are less prone to misunderstandings follows suite.

 

I'm not saying that we can define the undefinable nature of things, only that can be individually tasted not described or defined, a be only alluded to.

 

What I'm saying is that if our best effort in conveying reality is spoken or written in notions that portray reality as some kind of independently existing structures 'out-there'-- apart from the con-structures of the knowing subject--objects or 'things spiritual' outside the structures of human consciousness-- we are doomed never to getting beyond

defending the illusions which our choice of words convey to another.

 

In this Integral Age a massive “refitting job” is taking place. We have much to learn!

 

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

 

Bingo

 

Always!

 

When one realizes this he/she seeks ‘how’ can it be different. Missing the ride does get your attention especially when the climaxes wane.

 

I suppose it could be said that we are born with needs, but we are not born with a knowledge of the needs and of how to satisfy them. Our simpler, vegetative body-maintenance needs are satisfied automatically by our internal organs. But the broad range of our more complex needs--all those needs which require the integrated action of our total entity in relation to the external world are not supplied automatically.

 

Missing the ride focused on the destination ,INMO, fits into the category of ‘complex need.’

 

‘Spirituality’ seems to fit into that category also. If so don’t we owe it to ourselves to understand ’how’ that is without having to fight to be understood!

 

Implicit differentiation--the process of finding the derivative of a dependent variable in an implicit function by differentiating each term separately, by expressing the derivative of the dependent variable as a symbol, and by solving the resulting expression for the symbol--is a necessary when it comes to understand 'spirituality.'

 

When I read your posts I'm encouraged by how you describe the indescribable!

 

Your efforts do not insult my sensibilities! thanks.gif

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I do understand that people may seek to experience an existence higher than this or a life after this yet wishing this, or acting as it is the case does not make it so. It appears that for some (possibly emotional) reasons people have discarded one comforting belief and leaped to another that gives purpose and comfort. I will even agree that it may provide some health benefits.

 

I guess in a broad sense (and not to sound condescending) my two questions are...

 

"Why act spiritual at all?" and

 

"What reason to you have to be pantheistic or spiritual that you cannot apply to traditional religions?

 

 

I admit I went through a stage where I found myself seeking Spirituality. I explored some of the mystic alternatives. At some point I found myself wondering what it was that I was seeking. Was I attempting to connect with the Sacred or maybe I was just seeking a new community. Then I had to ask myself if I really wanted to be spiritual or was this seeking of the spiritual just some remnant left over from my former Christian beliefs?

 

I eventually determined that I was just attempting to fill a void and that I was probably looking for something to replace organized religion in my life. I’m not against anyone being spiritual but I decided I was forcing something that I really wasn’t interested in. In time I may be drawn to something that strikes me as being spiritual but that clearly isn’t happening in my life right now.

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I wonder if attempting to be spiritual is just another way of trying to cover all the bases…..just in case this God of the Bible thing turns out to be true?????

 

"Being safe" was one of those Church of Christ phrases that I often heard. That basically meant following the Bible as literally as humanly possible even when doing so made absolutely no sense whatsoever, just to make sure you didn’t accidentally tick God off.

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I do understand that people may seek to experience an existence higher than this or a life after this yet wishing this, or acting as it is the case does not make it so. It appears that for some (possibly emotional) reasons people have discarded one comforting belief and leaped to another that gives purpose and comfort. I will even agree that it may provide some health benefits.

 

I guess in a broad sense (and not to sound condescending) my two questions are...

 

"Why act spiritual at all?" and

 

"What reason to you have to be pantheistic or spiritual that you cannot apply to traditional religions?

 

 

I admit I went through a stage where I found myself seeking Spirituality. I explored some of the mystic alternatives. At some point I found myself wondering what it was that I was seeking. Was I attempting to connect with the Sacred or maybe I was just seeking a new community. Then I had to ask myself if I really wanted to be spiritual or was this seeking of the spiritual just some remnant left over from my former Christian beliefs?

........

I dropped spirituality once i lost faith. I never felt like I had a need for it and felt a little silly attempting to do it even while I was religious but I was amazed at the number of spiritual atheists.

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I wonder if attempting to be spiritual is just another way of trying to cover all the bases…..just in case this God of the Bible thing turns out to be true?????

 

"Being safe" was one of those Church of Christ phrases that I often heard. That basically meant following the Bible as literally as humanly possible even when doing so made absolutely no sense whatsoever, just to make sure you didn’t accidentally tick God off.

 

It may be. It seems a lot of people spend some time in the deist camp before losing it altogether. Once you a deist you may as well quit religion since you can't go from "there must be something out there" to "I need to thank whatever it is for my food"

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Feeling silly... yup. I always felt silly and phony when I tried to apply my sense of the sacred or spiritual to a metaphysical anthropomorphic figure. I tried to hide that feeling because those around me seemed to be able to do that, and I couldn't *(and still can't) understand how people can really think of 'spirit' (or in my case the mystery and awe of life, consciousness and nature) like that.

 

Communication is hard.. and language is an imperfect thing. I am an atheist when it comes to 'gods'... as they are commonly thought of.. I just can't believe in anthropomorphic creator(s) because when you understand the scope of the universe, well, it's just silly to think of a big man with a beard in the sky. It's primitive. I'm agnostic with deism and pantheism... I don't know if there isn't an underlying 'something' in our reality that includes consciousness somehow—the jury is out on that one—I do know that life itself and consciousness is not well understood and some of my own (albeit subjective) experiences have led me in the direction that interesting things can happen when the 'spiritual' is embraced (as in the development and integration of the psyche and it's interplay with and within reality and our experience here)

 

So.. 'spirituality' is the best word I can think of to describe those interesting things (example: the benefits I receive from meditation)

 

But you bring up a good point about 'hedging our bets'. I will have to explore that.

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I can certainly find myself in awe of nature, the universe, and the existence of life. Deism is attractive to me because I’m not fully convinced that creation was a natural occurrence. I can’t completely shed the idea that our reality isn’t all there is. Deism is simply a way of acknowledging that there may be more, but I’m not associating my Deism tendencies with spirituality either. So, I’m just kind of wondering around in this scientific theoretical Deistic no man’s land of what might or might not exist.

 

If there is a more or other realities I don’t envision that including life forms or whatever as deities or anything that requires worship, or something that supernaturally intervenes in the lives of humans. Even on the Deist boards the question is asked if Deism is just a normal progression to atheism. Right now atheism isn’t an option that I’m considering, but don’t ask me why because I don’t know. It just isn’t any option for me at this point in my life.

 

If Deism is my security blanket then I’m just going to have to hang on it to it for now, but being spiritual or seeking spirituality doesn’t appear to be part of my journey at this point in time.

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I admit I went through a stage where I found myself seeking Spirituality. I explored some of the mystic alternatives. At some point I found myself wondering what it was that I was seeking. Was I attempting to connect with the Sacred or maybe I was just seeking a new community. Then I had to ask myself if I really wanted to be spiritual or was this seeking of the spiritual just some remnant left over from my former Christian beliefs?

 

I eventually determined that I was just attempting to fill a void and that I was probably looking for something to replace organized religion in my life. I’m not against anyone being spiritual but I decided I was forcing something that I really wasn’t interested in. In time I may be drawn to something that strikes me as being spiritual but that clearly isn’t happening in my life right now.

This raises an good question in this thread that I don't know if anyone has really fleshed out here yet. What really is it that makes someone compelled to find a spiritual connection in their lives? I'll explain what I mean.

 

What you describe is what I can relate to myself as wishing to find a new home for all the things that went along with being part of a church community, which included the need for ritual. I think those are important needs and to lose those leaves a 'hole'. I relate to that. But for me, the spiritual hole existed even when I was in the church. That desire was there before church, and it was there after de-conversion. I remember a number of years ago while a member of this site working out all the debunking of literal mythic belief, learning about evolution and building my rational base away from the domination of Christianity, that even in the midst of all that positive gains and benefits, I would sit out back in my yard, a gust of wind would blow, I'd pause and breathe into me this deep connection with the world which I called "God" while I was in the Church. I felt like a hypocrite! Seriously!

 

I would ask myself if this was some programming or something, but the answer was clearly no. Not at all. I went into Christianity seeking to understand and grow my knowledge of that in myself. I had experienced spirituality before Christianity, in a profound way. But I had no home for that in what I was building for myself as an atheist in how I was approaching it, which was in fact very positive for the time. I called myself a 'spiritual atheist', but that personally never worked for me (it is a fine term however). Now I can go on and talk about where I've come from then to now, but it's beside the point of the question I want to ask.

 

For those now in their ExChristian pursuit of spirituality, was there any defining event in your life that happen that turned you inward, towards the spiritual, and if so what was that? To those who have a hard time seeing the attraction to spiritual pursuits, have you ever had what can be called a moment of spiritual awakening, a sort of pulling back of the curtain that shifted how you look at the world? Or was religion all an external thing? Was there ever any connection on a deeper personal level beyond things like 'fellowship' and ritual? To be absolutely clear, there are no judgments of value placed on any of the answers. It's to help look at understanding where we are coming from and why we may see things as we do.

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For those now in their ExChristian pursuit of spirituality, was there any defining event in your life that happen that turned you inward, towards the spiritual, and if so what was that?

 

I was raised Christian from birth, so this is a hard question. I can remember really questioning things in Christianity and the church around age 13 on. Perhaps even earlier, but there was an extremely hard pull towards the otherworldly. I am not entirely sure if it is due to my upbringing or if it was always there. It really seems like it was always there.

 

I remember one moment in the Baptist church while the sermon was taking place and the preacher was saying something I thought was mean or wrong, I can't remember what it was - and it probably wasn't the first time. My thought was "God is not here". Not that God didn't exist, but that God had nothing to do with the place or what was being said. This was maybe 40 plus years ago and I still remember it. Because it was so forceful an insight, I think that it did have some effect on me and it might have been why I turned to other ways of understanding God.

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Good question

 

"It really seems like it was always there." me too.

 

I wasn't raised religious, at all. So I can't put it on my upbringing.

 

I just always had that sense of awe. That need. I may have been born with it—who knows. I've always been a very curious person though. Fascinated by everything, "why? how does that work? why does this do this? how does that happen? why do they do that? does it apply in my life? etc..." FILLED with questions and a need for answers and it's never stopped, I'm also very abstract and holistic—I am insatiable when it comes to knowledge and wanting to understand, it's my nature. I probably should have been a scientist or something. (but noooo... I took art, psych. and history)

 

and yes.. that sense of wanting to be 'home'.. haven't found it yet, really. That 'hole' i still with me—though it's not as big anymore.

 

I've had numerous 'moments'... the 'clicks' and the light bulbs and sometimes, experiences that have been more profound.

 

My final moments with xianity began shortly after my husband passed away, my daughter was 2 months old at the time... the grieving process was like a flame really—it purged me of my magical thinking (not right away—over time—I went through a deconversion to paganism/new age.. then to trad witchcraft, then to pantheism... now—I no longer really have a label for what I am... but the loss was the catalyst) I was stripped to the bone, emotionally, and while trying to make sense of my loss I could not bear to be dishonest with myself anymore. Reality has a way of slapping you upside the head from time to time.

 

I was a bit of a woowoo up until that point in life, denying my innate sense of logic and rational ability... not sure why though. Now I still feel that sense I did when I was a little kid... but am discarding all the crap I gathered in the meantime.

 

It's been interesting.

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Good question

 

"It really seems like it was always there." me too.

 

I wasn't raised religious, at all. So I can't put it on my upbringing.

 

I just always had that sense of awe. That need. I may have been born with it—who knows. I've always been a very curious person though. Fascinated by everything, "why? how does that work? why does this do this? how does that happen? why do they do that? does it apply in my life? etc..." FILLED with questions and a need for answers and it's never stopped, I'm also very abstract and holistic—I am insatiable when it comes to knowledge and wanting to understand, it's my nature. I probably should have been a scientist or something. (but noooo... I took art, psych. and history)

 

and yes.. that sense of wanting to be 'home'.. haven't found it yet, really. That 'hole' i still with me—though it's not as big anymore.

 

I've had numerous 'moments'... the 'clicks' and the light bulbs and sometimes, experiences that have been more profound.

 

Early on in my pursuit words like home coming and the phrases like "break through to already," "coming to our senses," became substitutions for the dead and hollow ideas coming from theology.

 

I've come to understand that the hallmark of a healthy home coming

 

is delight in the action of one's mind, the desire for the new, the unexplored, the challenging, a refusal to accept on faith the platitudes of elders, an insistent use of the word “why?,” a boredom with routine, an indifference toward the undemanding, an obsession with questions, a hunger for that which will invoke and necessitate the fullest exercise of one's powers and thus allows one to achieve and experience the growing pride of self-esteem.

Above all, a person comes to understand that they are the originator of their own goals. He/she does not look to others to tell her what will give her enjoyment; he does not expect and does not wish to be told what to do with his time, what to admire, what to pursue—and,what career to select. She desires and needs the help of her elders in providing her with rational guidance and education, but not in providing her with ready-made goals and values. In the selection of values, he is a self-generator—and he welcomes, he is not frightened by, the responsibility.

~an adaptation of Nathaniel Branden's words found in
The Psychology Of Self-Esteem
(New York: Bantam Books, 1971), pp 173-174

 

Once I "tasted" home coming as an "event from within" I become a lost cause for the theists. The successes I've experienced through 'coming to my sense' have been life giving! If that is an element of the phenomenon 'spirituality' then so be it--I'm not offended.

 

I course corrected from theism toward non-theistic existentialism.

 

I wish my journey were as simple as the generalities I have mentioned!

 

My final moments with xianity began shortly after my husband passed away, my daughter was 2 months old at the time... the grieving process was like a flame really—it purged me of my magical thinking (not right away—over time—I went through a deconversion to paganism/new age.. then to trad witchcraft, then to pantheism... now—I no longer really have a label for what I am... but the loss was the catalyst) I was stripped to the bone, emotionally, and while trying to make sense of my loss I could not bear to be dishonest with myself anymore. Reality has a way of slapping you upside the head from time to time.

 

I was a bit of a woowoo up until that point in life, denying my innate sense of logic and rational ability... not sure why though. Now I still feel that sense I did when I was a little kid... but am discarding all the crap I gathered in the meantime.

 

It's been interesting.

 

I regret your loss and pain Ravenstar!

 

My own pain and suffering has strangely hollowed me out and transformed my sense of efficacy. On my better days I'm less stunned and shattered by the harshness of life.

 

It helps "when I want what I have and care not for what I don't have." "I ain't much babe, but I'm all I got" as Jess Lair would say.

 

It's going to be interesting to see how things continue to develop!smile.png

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OMG that's it! ^^^ exactly! all of it...... thank you... it's a gift when another says something that describes your experience as if they were in your head and heart through it all. It's a form of sharing that's rare and amazing.

 

 

Thank you

 

wow... that is a communion that i would most definitely put in the 'spirituality' category.

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Thanks for your thoughts and your willingness to share your experiences guys. Your encouraging words are much appreciated.

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For those now in their ExChristian pursuit of spirituality, was there any defining event in your life that happen that turned you inward, towards the spiritual, and if so what was that?

 

Not a defining event, but there were things about me from pretty far back that pulled me this way.

 

I used to always have an incredibly strong sense of "I don't belong here". I wasn't sure where my home universe was, but I knew this wasn't it (even if I didn't believe that knowledge, I felt it with an unshakable certainty). I would watch Dr. Who and wonder when the Tardis would show up and take me home. If not home, at least elsewhere. I nearly started crying at the end of Mad Max and the Thunderdome because that (slightly spoilers here) moment of being lost then finding home resonated me with as something I needed but didn't have. I don't think there was anything particularly bad about my home life that made me want to escape, so I'm not entirely sure was that was about. (Nowadays, I tend to associate that with a feeling of loneliness and make an effort to be more grounded in this world, in this reality, and in the people around me that I call friends.)

 

I was meditating or something for a while before I knew there were words for it. Every time I was upset I'd put on a record with a strong, not too fast, bass rhythm and let it become the world until my body faded and I was inside my head. I'd get vision-like experiences welling up from my subconscious that helped me work through my emotions, but would always fade before I was ready to let them go and that loss was always painful. Eventually I realized that this sounded a whole lot like a set of occult practices that were supposed to be evil and let demons in. I realized that was silly, but I also recongised that that meant I couldn't share this part of me with anyone else (at least no one that I knew at the time).

 

I am highly empathetic. I get excessively upset whenever someone around me appears to be unhappy. I used to be desperate to make sure that everyone around me is happy, but it was as much for my own benefit as theirs, just so that I could stop feeling their pain. I eventually learned that this isn't a healthy way to live and that I need to set up some barriers to keep other people's thoughts (or at least what I guess their thoughts to be) out of my head. But I still want to be learn how to be nice to people for good reasons, and to know when my urge to help is really for their benefit and not mine, and know when to back off because I can't or shouldn't do anything in that particular situation.

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I want to add something to this regarding the question of what is spirituality. To me spirituality is freedom. It is freedom, a liberation from all those things which constrict us, which keep up locked inside ourselves, bound up inside our minds, looking at our navels, rather than releasing ourselves into the world. Anxiousness, worry, concerns, regrets, shame, angers, resentments, and all those things which keep us from seeing who we are free from judgment. It's not an escape from these things, an avoidance of them, but rather going directly through them, facing them, embracing them, and releasing their power to hold us. In that freedom, peace is realized. Not peace that is tied to an object, a circumstance, or an emotion. But freedom of ourselves in our being. It is a timeless, complete liberation from that constriction, released into self-knowledge beyond how we see and judge ourselves as this or that.

 

Spirituality is the pursuit of knowing and living that in ourselves. Freedom.

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I just read a blog post that I think might be relevant to this thread.

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/10/25/the-meaning-of-human-suffering-is-not-the-meaning-of-human-suffering/

 

Human suffering is not primarily a metaphysical problem.

...

The meaning of human suffering is never primarily The Meaning of Human Suffering. The meaning of human suffering is to be relieved.

...

Hunger, for example, is not a metaphysical problem. It is an acutely, urgently physical problem. The meaning of hunger is not to be found in theodicy or philosophy or mysticism. The meaning of hunger is to be fed.

...

This business of theodicy isn’t important for Christians because it may come up in the next debate with Richard Dawkins. It is important because when we encounter people going through misery, horror and pain, we don’t want to add insult to injury by responding with something glib or shallow or stupid.

...

For the hungry, the thirsty, the alienated, the naked and the sick, all of our metaphysical thumb-sucking is the evasion. They believe, rightly, that they have the more urgent claim.

 

This is from a post by a liberal christian talking about a catholic's post trying to explain the purpose of suffering to atheists. He says that the theology is nice and all, but it's missing the point.

 

I think this attitude, to abstract what's happening in the here and now and look for Meaning and Purpose and Answers, is how some people try to go about doing spirituality. This is, quite understandably, not very useful when you're in the middle of a bad situation. This is in fact one of the reasons I left christianity, though I'd never thought to phrase it that way. I've noticed this lately when dealing with grief - I don't care if there's some greater purpose or that the dead are in a better place far far away; I just care that right now, I miss them and it hurts. I feel pain. Don't try to tell me that I don't or shouldn't, don't try to magic it all away with a trite "jesus loves you".

 

This reminds me of the story Deva posted about "When I'm hungry I eat" and why that statement would be such a powerful one. Spirituality that doesn't deal with the reality of everyday life isn't very useful. A spirituality that acknowledges suffering and gives you tools to alleviate it (not just repress it, but actually face it head on and work through it) is much better. When I was younger, I don't think I understood the difference. I would try to be a person who was stable and strong and had their shit together, but I didn't know that it took a lot of work to get there, so I'd fake it by pretending like my problems didn't exist. The type of christianity I grew up with seems to encourage that unhealthy attitude, because a lot of adults are still stuck feeling ashamed of their emotions because they think that jesus is supposed to magic away all their pain if they only had enough faith. Exploring other spiritualities gave me permission and tools to approach life with a much healthier attitude.

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I want to add something to this regarding the question of what is spirituality. To me spirituality is freedom. It is freedom, a liberation from all those things which constrict us, which keep up locked inside ourselves, bound up inside our minds, looking at our navels, rather than releasing ourselves into the world. Anxiousness, worry, concerns, regrets, shame, angers, resentments, and all those things which keep us from seeing who we are free from judgment. It's not an escape from these things, an avoidance of them, but rather going directly through them, facing them, embracing them, and releasing their power to hold us. In that freedom, peace is realized. Not peace that is tied to an object, a circumstance, or an emotion. But freedom of ourselves in our being. It is a timeless, complete liberation from that constriction, released into self-knowledge beyond how we see and judge ourselves as this or that.

 

Spirituality is the pursuit of knowing and living that in ourselves. Freedom.

 

I feel your right on key here Antlerman.

 

A coming into our own where we feel healthy and alive living in our own skin.

 

For me the constant problem with 'spirituality' is when one deals with the meditative, contemplative, or mystical states of spiritual experience--most of which are non-rational--it might seem that all of the non-rational states are spiritual and all of the rational states are not spiritual.

 

Wilber points this out by one dividing the states into Dionysian (non-rational) and Apollonian (rational), and then identifying Dionysian with spiritual. But that conceals or hides the fact that there is not just "non-rational," but "pre-rational and "trans-rational." But once the pre/trans fallacy is made, it appears that anything that is not rational, is Spirit. Instead of pre-rational, rational and trans-rational, you only have rational and non-rational, and the trouble starts there.

 

If one does not believe in Spirit, then you'll take every trans-rational event and reduce it to pre-rational impulses and preverbal drivel, something insignificant or worthless.

 

If one is a grand reductionist you go collapsing trans-rational to pre-rational--reducing any experience of Spirit or spirit to a bit of undigested illusion and God is something you simply out grow if you keep trying.

 

By this bit of intellectual laziness, all genuine trans-rational realities are poo-pooed (that is if anything spiritual could be considered genuine, or for that matter, authentic).

 

If, on the other hand, one believes in Spirit and anything non-rational is Spirit then you have the problem of not reinforcing those notions which fight maturity.

 

Every Peter Pan piety is encouraged under the name of Spirit-- pre-rational is gloriously elevated to trans-rational.

This makes even my selfish, pre-rational, per-conventional impulses appear especially spiritual--yet they are not beyond reason,

but beneath it

~Ken Wilber I
ntegral Spirituality

 

That is what I see when we wade off into discussing things as 'spiritual."

 

Most of what I discuss with folks at first glance seems not to be of a spiritual or spirited nature, yet if you get below the the surface you understand they (the discussions) are deeply filled with matters of Ultimate Concern. Matters that make the difference in whether or not "I feel fit for life. "

 

If it takes a quart of rot gut, bottled "Spirits" (not just the type I physically consume) to live in my own skin, "something just doesn't feel right with that picture"-- at least, in the way that I perceive things at the moment.

 

When I hear someone passionately defending the 'spiritual' I pause and ask myself "What is it that they are still trying to convince themselves of?"

 

I've always wondered how it is that men and women of great depth and "'spiritual" presences somehow manages to "walk of the end of the pier" and do things that directly distort, sabotage and in many cases destroy any potential for understanding, harmony or success.

 

I'm baffled by such in that I manage to do the same yet have no depth or spiritual presence.

 

I suppose, the words of an old mentor of mine might be the case; "The thing we can only really do is to help each other when we fall."

 

Excuse my rambling! Sometimes I get being 'spiritual' confused with being sentimental!

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.... Spirituality that doesn't deal with the reality of everyday life isn't very useful. A spirituality that acknowledges suffering and gives you tools to alleviate it (not just repress it, but actually face it head on and work through it) is much better. When I was younger, I don't think I understood the difference. I would try to be a person who was stable and strong and had their shit together, but I didn't know that it took a lot of work to get there, so I'd fake it by pretending like my problems didn't exist. The type of christianity I grew up with seems to encourage that unhealthy attitude, because a lot of adults are still stuck feeling ashamed of their emotions because they think that jesus is supposed to magic away all their pain if they only had enough faith. Exploring other spiritualities gave me permission and tools to approach life with a much healthier attitude.

 

Several factors that motivate (not necessitate) me to default on my responsibility of freedom and cognitive self-reliance.

 

Thinking requires an effort. My freedom begin the moment I start to think for myself. Nothing outside (aside from my pain) my self started my search for sanity, I decided. My search was a cognitive process. The heavens refused to open up and enlighten me. When I refuse to rely on my 'mental intelligences' (including all my senses) I default on responsibility; thinking is mental work and on my worst days I would rather someone else do for me especially if I'm not the 'expert.'

 

My favorite cop out is, "I do not want to go there." "Life is more that thinking," therefore I'll let 'something' or 'someone' else think for me Life is more than thinking and analyzing. But life is thinking until I convince myself that it isn't. I must be the one who goes beyond thinking and the analyzing, and I must do that in my own time and in my own way.

 

A second factor that motivates defaulting my freedom and self-reliant independence is my indulging in desires or emotions (there is nothing wrong with either desire or emotion ) that clash with my understanding and convictions (at whatever level of development I am). I can sabotage my actualization and integration by dishonoring my self respect. Early on in my unfolding I did not recognize how "dishonoring myself" felt until I 'tasted' the physical and emotional 'pay day' that such ignorance brings.

 

Another factor that motivates me to default on my self is that I am fallible; I can make an error at any step of my thinking process--and if I act in error, I may or may not suffer pain of defeat or destruction. It's anybody's guess as to where I'll end up, even my own. That's what makes deciding so dangerous--you do not have the results ahead of time when you need them most.

 

I suppose the greatest factor associated with defaulting on my freedom and self-reliance (who I am) is that my independent thinking (becoming my own guru) brings conflict with the opinions and judgements of others, which provokes disapproval and animosity. If I'm not careful I can dishonor who I am by dancing to the drum beat of another.

 

Life "ain't" easy and sometimes it a lot of fun and at other times it's just damn tragic. What I consider 'spiritual' keeps me resilient even when there is no ground upon which to stand.

 

Some say life is simple (sticks and stones and sacks of blood and bones),but it "ain't" easy!

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I want to add something to this regarding the question of what is spirituality. To me spirituality is freedom. It is freedom, a liberation from all those things which constrict us, which keep up locked inside ourselves, bound up inside our minds, looking at our navels, rather than releasing ourselves into the world. Anxiousness, worry, concerns, regrets, shame, angers, resentments, and all those things which keep us from seeing who we are free from judgment. It's not an escape from these things, an avoidance of them, but rather going directly through them, facing them, embracing them, and releasing their power to hold us. In that freedom, peace is realized. Not peace that is tied to an object, a circumstance, or an emotion. But freedom of ourselves in our being. It is a timeless, complete liberation from that constriction, released into self-knowledge beyond how we see and judge ourselves as this or that.

 

Spirituality is the pursuit of knowing and living that in ourselves. Freedom.

 

Yes, I see all of this. I see the space of freedom in the mind. Very hard to put into words. Knowing that these self judgments are not true. There is something beyond all judgment, all duality, all concepts. It is there.

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