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Nature And Spirituality


Deva
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I have recently started taking little trips to parks every weekend and these experiences have helped me very much in ways I can't really express. 

 

A birdwatcher since I was 8 years old (I am almost 56 now), I laid this hobby aside for about the last 8 years. I think the pressures of having a career and "just making it" did something to me and in the stress of it all I forgot how beneficial it was to me to just be out in the woods alone. Well, since I now live in Florida, its wetlands and scrublands. And I have to drive several miles to get there.  Depressed, I didn't want to get in the car and go - didn't think I could afford the gas. Now things are better so I can go. 

 

Is this real spirituality for me? Very possibly. What I see in nature is just the opposite of what I see in religions. I just see how things are, and not how people would like them to be.  Religion seems so artificial and man-made.  It is a product of the human mind and imagination. Wild creatures are all about finding food, mates, nesting and surviving. That is mostly all they are all about.  What has natural selection done to make our brains so darn complicated that we can't just do this?

 

One of the little parks I visit is right across the street from a church and there was a sign on it saying something like " Not knowing God is like a dull pencil, you are missing the point to your life."  Why does life have to have a point to it? Why do we need to torture ourselves about meaning? What is wrong with us?

 

Today, I saw crows eating something off of the road. They were inches away from the front of cars that had stopped at a red light. Did they know the light was red and therefore they were safe? I think so.  The light changed and they flew. I see things like this where I think most people are completely unaware. 

 

Anyway, sometimes I take pictures of some of the birds I see if they are close enough. Like this purple gallinule:

DSC_0735.JPG

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We certainly do over-complicate things, don't we?  I think that most people take life too seriously.

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Yes, we take life too seriously. I will include myself in that group.  Too much xian indoctrination as a child or it also may be innate.

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I echo your feelings for nature. I used to meditate by lying out in the rain with my eyes closed, trying to "see" my surroundings by listening to how the sound of the rain was different on the rocks versus the grass and puddles. Very calming. I find myself yearning for that again. The closest I found in recent years was floating on my back in a shallow ocean bay in Canada for a couple of hours. Seemed like 30 minutes at the time. I felt like I had gone into a different state of mind, because all I could hear with my ears under water was my own breathing. It was wonderful!

 

I feed peanuts to crows at work. They are indeed clever, and fly out to meet me when I go to my car.

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What you describe is to me the heart of all true religion. It is to find ourselves as part of the world, rather than conquerors of it, or merely observers of it, or seeking to escape it in some imagined utopia beyond it. It is knowing the flow of the world and your connection with it, knowing that flow and ease within yourself. Silencing the mind allows the world to be seen, and in those moments in nature when we simply look and see and not try to think about it, not try to understand or categorize the world, we open to ourselves and find ourselves alive.

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Crows are awesome. I got obsessed with them for a bit lately and read the science about how smart they are, watched funny videos of them playing games just for the sake of having fun, and read about them in various mythologies. They mean a lot more to me now when I see them in person.

 

I keep trying to get out in nature more. Been sick a lot lately and haven't been able to make a consistent habit out of it. It always makes me happier and calmer. Sometimes I'll end up just sobbing out emotions I hadn't even realized I was trying to ignore, and afterwards I feel ok; when that happens not in nature, I often just feel empty. I get a lot of peace from watching the vast intracies of all the other living and non living things around me, and knowing that I'm not the center of the world so it's really not that big of a deal if my own life isn't perfect. Sometimes when I'm too stressed to be very good at sitting meditation I can go outside and it doesn't take long at all for the chatter in my brain to shut up.

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I needed to become a pagan to get back in touch with nature, and myself as a part of it… not an outsider or an observer alone. That was my stepping stone. Now I have shed most of the 'ritualistic' and 'religious' trappings of paganism… mostly  ;)   but nature and aligning myself with the cycles and reality of nature cleansed me of much of the dogmatic mindset I had… yes… the NEED to have a point, a 'purpose'. Nature is it's own purpose and it's okay to be one small part of it… I feel honoured to have the opportunity and ability to appreciate the experience. I find myself meditating naturally when I am in tune with nature.

 

It's ego too… you can't be egotistical with nature. She will kick your ass!  :D  but seriously, to really touch that I found you have to let the ego go.. and watching the critters go about their daily thing, and really opening yourself to it is humbling - but not in a bad way. 

 

I get more joy out of my bird feeder and my garden than I ever did in church. And isn't true simple joy and serenity, spirituality? It's the closest thing I have ever felt to being what I think spirituality actually is.

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I just say that the connection to nature I developed as a child was probably what saved me from being a fundamentalist Christian.  What I saw contradicted in every way this harsh doctrine of death, sin, and eternal damnation.

 

It seems so much simpler in nature. I have seen birds die. It just isn't a big deal for them if they get sick. They just sit there and eventually either fall over or something gets them. 

 

Nature is just impartial. No individual creature is favored. That is another human fantasy.

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Is this real spirituality for me? Very possibly. What I see in nature is just the opposite of what I see in religions. I just see how things are, and not how people would like them to be.  Religion seems so artificial and man-made.  It is a product of the human mind and imagination. Wild creatures are all about finding food, mates, nesting and surviving. That is mostly all they are all about.  What has natural selection done to make our brains so darn complicated that we can't just do this?

 

Whenever someone says “spirituality,” I have to ask what they mean by that. Here are some answers I have given for myself in other forums:

 

An answer to a question about atheist spiritual practices:

 

  • Meditation
  • Listening to music
  • Stargazing
  • Reading
  • Total solar eclipse chasing—expensive, but worth it!
Whether or not atheists can be spiritual depends very much on the definition of spiritual. If it entails belief in the supernatural or a dualistic soul, then the answer is obviously “no” for atheists with a materialist philosophy (i.e., most Western atheists). But some people—Einstein and Sagan come to mind—understand spiritual in an emotional sense, entailing (for example) wonder, peace, enrapturement, or a sense of oneness.

 

 

N.B. I do not consider Einstein to be an atheist. Panentheist would be a better label for him.

 

My commentary on a list of various “spiritual” practices compiled by an antitheist:

 

 

  • Reading lists of folks that ought to be killed in a religious text—done that. Reading, that is; not actually killing anyone. I didn’t find it “spiritually” uplifting.
  • Standing in a redwood forest—done that.
  • Visiting the Grand Canyon—been there.
  • Inventing an invisible sky monster—nope.
  • Hearing about an invisible sky monster—all my life, although I rarely felt “spiritual” about it.
  • Find spiritual fulfillment in other aspects of their life. Here’s my Best Answer to a question on Yahoo! Answers.

 

Humans seem to have an innate need for something bigger than themselves, which I think is an outgrowth of our social nature.

 

Spiritual” practices I have indulged in, in lieu of certain horrifying “spiritual” acts by Christians who have lost their minds:

  • Spending time in deep forests in California, Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, and the Virgin Islands.
  • Visiting the south rim of the Grand Canyon
  • Lying out under the Milky Way at Lake Titicaca and in rural South Africa
  • Viewing a total solar eclipse
  • Going to the top of a mountain
  • Growing a garden

For indulging fantasies:

  • A good movie
  • A good novel
  • A Las Vegas magic show
  • [edit]Write your own.[/edit]

Today, I saw crows eating something off of the road. They were inches away from the front of cars that had stopped at a red light. Did they know the light was red and therefore they were safe? I think so.  The light changed and they flew. I see things like this where I think most people are completely unaware.

 

 Sounds plausible. Not only are crows intelligent, but they have color vision, and can probably tell red from green. This would come in handy in Florida, where I see a lot of traffic lights oriented horizontally. (How do colorblind motorists keep those straight?)

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Hey Cousin Ricky thanks for the input. Spirituality is a hard word to define.  I guess to me its a sense of wonderment, and with it a feeling of transcendence over the limitations of feeling trapped in a body, if that makes any sense. I want freedom and joy. I don't want worry and anxiety. 

 

Yes I think the crows knew very well that they could get so close to the front of the cars at the red light. Although the drivers also might not want to run them over, they did get up and fly right after the light changed. Many people I know don't care if they hit animals. It not being a real lab experiment I can't say for sure, but it seemed like the crows were really aware.

 

Your list of spiritual experiences sounds great.  Who could compare any of them with sitting in a church week after week hearing some guy give you his interpretation of the Bible? What could be more of a waste of time in comparison?

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On another forum, I know someone whose signature contains the following strap-line:

"The voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of the birds, the rippling of the mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers. If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan."

 

I think this comes from the following:

 

Author and activist (Yankton Sioux) from "Why I am A Pagan," 1902


A "Christianity" pugilist commented upon a recent article of mine, grossly perverting the spirit of my pen. Still I would not forget that the pale-faced missionary and the hoodooed aborigine are both God's creatures, though small indeed their own conceptions of Infinite Love. A wee child toddling in a wonder world, I prefer to their dogma my excursions into the natural gardens where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds, the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers. If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan.
 
 
If we ignore the "pagan" label (on the basis it really doesn't matter whether you identify with any given label or not) and accept some latitude as to what is meant by "the Great Spirit" (on the basis that is, itself, a matter of conjecture), this appears to be whereabouts you are coming from...
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Wonderful thread Deva. I have also been finding myself to becoming 'one' with all of nature. I'm not sure if that spirituality or not? I've been really observing everything including the sky at night. But I can definitely see how everything interacts now, including the trees, plants, etc. It all seems to interact.

 

I'm not sure where the dangerous animals fit in here? We might be all in this together for survival? But there are so many beautiful things that work together, isn't there? I ate my first piece of meat the other night in a long time and I couldn't do it, even though humans are meat eaters. Why don't I feel the same way about eggs and fish? If it wasn't for some of these questions - even the ones about the devastation of nature, I would definitely believe that being 'one' with nature is a beautiful spirituality. Maybe Keith might be able to help me..... I would love to have some kind of spirituality.....

 

I by no means am trying to start anything here because I love the concept of being 'one' with everything. Except for those few damn questions I still have....

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I have also been finding myself to becoming 'one' with all of nature. I'm not sure if that spirituality or not?

Anything that allows you to move beyond your small isolated self into the greater world is spirituality at its heart. You're not one in isolation, but one beyond yourself in connection.

 

I've been really observing everything including the sky at night. But I can definitely see how everything interacts now, including the trees, plants, etc. It all seems to interact.

Follow that insight, immerse yourself within it and see how deep it goes.

 

I'm not sure where the dangerous animals fit in here? We might be all in this together for survival? But there are so many beautiful things that work together, isn't there? I ate my first piece of meat the other night in a long time and I couldn't do it, even though humans are meat eaters. Why don't I feel the same way about eggs and fish? If it wasn't for some of these questions - even the ones about the devastation of nature, I would definitely believe that being 'one' with nature is a beautiful spirituality. Maybe Keith might be able to help me..... I would love to have some kind of spirituality.....

This is funny, I felt drawn to respond to your post without having read you mentioned me in it until just now as I was already responding. Interesting. So to respond to the "dangerous animals" point, one of the things you come to understand is as the Buddhist speak of the impermanence of life. To put it in my words our suffering is caused by clinging to our separate self sense. We self-identify as this form, this body, this personality, etc. All these "things" is what we look at as "me", and subsequently seek to defend and preserve this "me". But because life is impermanent, we struggle to protect and preserve that self-aware self against life and it creates anxiety and stress upon a foundation of fear.

 

What you describe in feeling that Oneness, or connection with the world relieves that fear for a moment, because you release yourself from that isolated self and see yourself as more than just this little meat-sack. The world is in you, and you are in the world. The animal is your brother, and you its. We are all the same, but in many forms. The stars in the sky are part of you, and you part of them. Your mind, your thoughts, your emotions extend to them, and they penetrate you. For this moment, you are living beyond yourself, your small separate self of you "in here", and the world "out there".

 

So as I said, as you follow that feeling, that sense, that actual conscious awareness and sense of being as far as you it takes you (this is where practice comes in), you begin to release this unhealthy hold of your small self and see that you are impermanent. Of course you seek to preserve yourself to live life, but you no longer cling to it emotionally out of fear and release yourself, more and more, until you are at peace with life and death and life. You really don't ever die, as you are the world itself in you. Your separate self rises and falls, lives and dies, but who you are beyond this Is. It is is knowing yourself as That, that you are at peace in life and death. There is a difference between pain, which is part of life, and suffering which is caused by clinging to life. Hold life with an open hand, let it come to you and release it to itself again through you, adding who you uniquely are to it, in this beautiful cycle of being. If we live like this, we are free.

 

I by no means am trying to start anything here because I love the concept of being 'one' with everything. Except for those few damn questions I still have....

I think the best medicine is to simply practice being in that place, again and again, and then the questions resolve themselves. It's not something you can penetrate by thinking about it, and no amount of thinking about it will bring that understanding. But being within it does.
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I'm not sure where the dangerous animals fit in here? We might be all in this together for survival? But there are so many beautiful things that work together, isn't there?

 

Our human bodies are constantly in a state of death and rebirth. Few of the cells in our body at birth are still a part of us by the time we die. We as a whole organism would not survive without the smaller pieces of us dying all the time - billions of them a day.

 

In the part of the US American Midwest that I live in, we killed off all the wolves. We didn't like being afraid of them or them eating our cattle. So what happens now? The deer are way overpopulated, eat so much of the plant life that they starve to death, run in front of cars all the time injuring them and the humans in the cars, etc. Can you image the sort of overpopulation that would happen if nothing ever died? That's always bothered me about the Garden of Eden story. If there was no death, at some point the command to "be fruitful and multiple" would have to stop. So I don't see death and predation as working against life; I see it as a very necessary part of keeping the entire ecosystem in balance. (I still mourn my dead and feel sad when I see dead animals. It may work out best for The Whole in the long run, but that doesn't mean the small piece of it that is me has to be happy about it right now.)

 

Even saying that, there's still plenty of things working together while alive. Take the human body again - if you're counting the number of cells of different types, our symbiots outweight the human cells (but the human cells are much larger, so they do make up a lot of our mass/volume). We can't digest our own food without the help of our gut bacteria. Many plants couldn't reproduce without polinators. Social animals live in groups. The eusocial ones, like bees and ants, even end up at the point were, unlike a human, most members of the group could survive nor reproduce alone. Then there's lichens, a composite organism made up of a fungus and something that can do photosynthesis. Wikipedia says that 20% of the fungus species work this way (or at least have the ability to). And of course, there's always the carbon dioxide/oxygen exchange between plants and animals.

 

To me, the sad parts of The Earth aren't a reason to stop trying to identify with nature. I'm already a part of it anyway. I may live in a suburban house that separates me from that truth, but when I flush the toilet it still goes to the processing plants and then out into the waterways that animals drink from and fish swim in (and go to the bathroom in), that is part of the cycle that rains down the water that I get when I get a drink from the tap. I breath in the oxygen that plants have excreted when they take in my waste carbon dioxide. I am a part of nature, the beautiful and the ugly, whether I want to be or not. I don't try to become one with nature, I try to recognise the truth that I already am.

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Thank you Margee.

 

I agree with Antler that thinking doesn't really do much to get you in that place of being one with everything.  Yes, it is profoundly true that you are in everything and everything is in you.

 

Nature brought us forth and will one day take us apart. The Hindus and Buddhists have a much better understanding of this than what we usually see in the west. The best expression is in the imagery they use. The Goddess Kali is called the Mother and is the force of destruction (also she is Shiva), but still we see one of her hands out in a gesture of benediction and we see depictions of very wrathful and fierce deities in Tibetan Buddhism who embody compassion. These symbols show these two sides of creation and destruction in harmony. I also think of Shiva in a dance of destruction.  There is a famous statue of Shiva as Nataraja in the dance. Reality  in its destructive aspect is represented as a dance, and that is an image that is helpful to me..

 

Of course one has to be willing to just view these images and not think that the image is actually the thing.

 

Yesterday I went out to the local nature area and actually saw otters! They were playing among the tall reeds. Its a wonderful thing to see wild creatures seeming to enjoy themselves, just playing around, although maybe they were hunting as well, I  don't know.

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I'm not sure where the dangerous animals fit in here? We might be all in this together for survival? But there are so many beautiful things that work together, isn't there? I ate my first piece of meat the other night in a long time and I couldn't do it, even though humans are meat eaters. Why don't I feel the same way about eggs and fish?

 

It is helpful to me when I see myself as simply another animal on the planet. Bugs eat smaller bugs, birds eat bugs, cats eat birds, dogs eat cats (and poop, don't know why), sharks eat everything, and all will eat us. Bacteria and viruses aren't being malicious when they invade our bodies, they simply find themselves in a friendly environment and thrive. Symbiotic bacteria that live in our guts make it possible to digest and absorb food. Larger animals eat smaller ones because they are hungry. Life eats life, even herbivores. If I'm tossed off a boat and devoured by sharks, I'm just a happy meal to them. My philosophies, thoughts, and contributions mean nothing to them. If I have the fortune to die out in nature, all manner of creatures from bacteria on up will feast on me, poop, and enrich the soil. Nothing is wasted, and it all goes in a cycle making other kinds of life survive another season and able to make more of their kind.

 

Life itself is the curious thing. Why is it? Why is it driven to make more life or at least go through the motions? A planet could have water and rocks and sunlight and be barren. Why does life start?

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I cannot call myself an "atheist" because that term often implies a reductionism that seems dehumanizing to me.

 

I disagree. Here is a different perspective:

 

Why should it be degrading to view ourselves as made up of molecules, when one could equally well take the view that molecules must be amazing things indeed if they have the capability to produce beings such as us? —Adam Lee, “Life of Wonder”
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I'm not sure where the dangerous animals fit in here? We might be all in this together for survival? But there are so many beautiful things that work together, isn't there? I ate my first piece of meat the other night in a long time and I couldn't do it, even though humans are meat eaters. Why don't I feel the same way about eggs and fish?

 

It is helpful to me when I see myself as simply another animal on the planet. Bugs eat smaller bugs, birds eat bugs, cats eat birds, dogs eat cats (and poop, don't know why), sharks eat everything, and all will eat us. Bacteria and viruses aren't being malicious when they invade our bodies, they simply find themselves in a friendly environment and thrive. Symbiotic bacteria that live in our guts make it possible to digest and absorb food. Larger animals eat smaller ones because they are hungry. Life eats life, even herbivores. If I'm tossed off a boat and devoured by sharks, I'm just a happy meal to them. My philosophies, thoughts, and contributions mean nothing to them. If I have the fortune to die out in nature, all manner of creatures from bacteria on up will feast on me, poop, and enrich the soil. Nothing is wasted, and it all goes in a cycle making other kinds of life survive another season and able to make more of their kind.

 

Life itself is the curious thing. Why is it? Why is it driven to make more life or at least go through the motions? A planet could have water and rocks and sunlight and be barren. Why does life start?

 

 

Yes, I think life is a curious thing too. Why is there this incredibly complex system of molecules working together to survive? If the only reason is reproduction, why all the extras? By the extras I mean, especially in the case of humans, this incredible ability to imagine things that aren't even there; memories of the past and the ability project our thinking into a future time that doesn't exist, appreciate beauty, art, and nature itself? Then all that ability is destroyed.

 

It is as if nature has chosen to become aware of itself just because the laws of nature allow it. But there isn't any permanence at all to this. Sometimes It seems like an experiment that somehow took a wrong turn or overshot all necessity for protection--some kind of arms race of intelligence among rival primate species until we got this fantastic ability to be aware. I mean a life form that sees its own death coming and also has the capability to create atomic bomb? Really!?

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On one hand the "extras" might just be an extension of the human ability to think abstractly, which enables us to make tools, language, math, etc. Self-awareness may just be part of that package.

 

On the other hand (a very stretched hand), life in its many forms may be the extension of some kind of life-energy that kick-starts it on worlds throughout the universe. In Reiki, there is supposed to be a spark of life, or basic life energy that one can channel, and I've had some interesting results that make me go "Hmmm."

 

I explore both sides and really have no idea at this point, just conjecture. But it is fun to contemplate. Back to the nature part of this thread, there is a satisfaction that comes from immersing myself in the connectedness of nature, even while it is often merciless. I think that is one reason that these aspects of reality get personified in gods and goddesses like Kali.

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Yes, I am saying the "extras" do include self-awareness.

 

Is this good? I think of the antlers of the Irish Elk - now extinct.  Its antlers grew out of all proportion to anything useful.

 

I am just questioning whether self-awareness and all the other abilities of human consciousness have not become maladaptive.

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^^^ I have had the same thought. Although it is neat that self-awareness exists in that we can discuss and contemplate these things sometimes it seems to cause a lot of problems. Nature has produced many life forms and most have not survived but have been replaced by other 'experiments'. (The Cambrian explosion is a fascinating study for this phenomenon) we are probably just one of these experiments and if the trait of self-awareness is not viable it will go the way of the trilobites, or dinosaurs… or change into something else.

 

Life is a river, always flowing and changing… with the same basic essence but never the same form or path.

 

I did like this.. and it has been my experience so far, "I don't try to become one with nature, I try to recognise the truth that I already am."

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I'm just trying to find a forum where I can freely express being "spiritual" and not have to agree with "atheism" and also not be rebuffed for stating that. Really, does somebody have to contend with my opinion about why I don't consider myself an "atheist."

I'm the first person to defend someone being able to discuss spirituality without being accosted for not being an atheist. I don't think that's what Ricky was doing. He simply pointed out that atheism does not automatically equate with being non-spiritual. There are very many "spiritual atheists". That's the only thing I saw him defending. I once referred to myself as a 'spiritual atheist', but I've since dropped the atheist term because it became irrelevant to me with where I'm at now. I can understanding these things in theistic terms, pantheistic terms, panentheistic terms, and atheistic terms. They're all simply matters of perception of the same thing. I find holding any single perceptive exclusively to be what becomes problematic and limiting. I for one certainly embrace your views, as well as others.

 

My comment was not directed at anyone else. I don't see anything in my statement that warrants rebuttal. Okay, molecules are spiritual. But that's still not atheism to me. What is this forum for? Am I in the wrong place?

Sincerely,

+ Human

I think what he was trying to say is that a scientific view of the world can be looked at through the eyes of spirit as well. I for one certainly find what science reveals to inspire the soul, but that is really up to the person. Some atheists are all about raw reason alone and wish to distance themselves from spiritual thought at all. And I believe this is not the forum for them, if all they wish to do is debunk other's points of view that differ from theirs. But there is certainly room for atheists who do find value in the spiritual. Wouldn't you agree with that?
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I don't know how to quote someone else in my posts.

Cousin Ricky quoted me above and replied to this statement I made:

 

I cannot call myself an "atheist" because that term often implies a reductionism that seems dehumanizing to me.

 

Cousin Ricky disagreed.

Cousin Ricky, which part of my statement do you disagree with?

That I cannot call myself an "atheist"?

That reductionism seems dehumanizing to me?

Both of those parts of my statement are subjective.

How could you disagree with my own personal sentiments or my personal opinion?

It is reductionistic to view humans as just a collection of molecules or parts.

That doesn't need to be a negative value judgment on the term "reductionist" but that is my personal opinion.

You can disagree.

But I am on this forum because it is about "Spirituality."

I am not an atheist.

That's why I am on this forum.

I believe in spirituality.

I am not an atheist.

Why do you seem to contend with my subjective statement?

I hope you don't want to debate my subjective views and sentiments on this forum, because that would definitely make me feel unwelcome here.

Or do you want me to consider that molecules are spiritual? I can do that. But I still am not an "atheist."

 

Would somebody please explain to me how to quote another post? I've tried the buttons, but they don't seem to work.

Thanks.

 

I disagree that atheism implies reductionism. Atheism is the absence of belief in any god, no more, no less.

 

Note that I said “I disagree.” I did not say “You are wrong.” One can disagree on anything, especially if it's subjective. Some people think beets are delicious. I disagree.

 

I'm just trying to find a forum where I can freely express being "spiritual" and not have to agree with "atheism" and also not be rebuffed for stating that. Really, does somebody have to contend with my opinion about why I don't consider myself an "atheist." My comment was not directed at anyone else. I don't see anything in my statement that warrants rebuttal. Okay, molecules are spiritual. But that's still not atheism to me. What is this forum for? Am I in the wrong place?

Sincerely,

+ Human

 

You are in the right place. However, I don't expect this forum to be free of disagreement; that is for religious forums. I do expect this forum to be free from acrimony (as Webmdave has made clear), but it was not my intent to be acrimonious. My disagreement was simply posing a different point of view, and not meant as an attack.

 

Antlerman gave an excellent response; he gets an honorary thumbs up.

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I have recently started taking little trips to parks every weekend and these experiences have helped me very much in ways I can't really express. 

 

A birdwatcher since I was 8 years old (I am almost 56 now), I laid this hobby aside for about the last 8 years. I think the pressures of having a career and "just making it" did something to me and in the stress of it all I forgot how beneficial it was to me to just be out in the woods alone. Well, since I now live in Florida, its wetlands and scrublands. And I have to drive several miles to get there.  Depressed, I didn't want to get in the car and go - didn't think I could afford the gas. Now things are better so I can go. 

 

Is this real spirituality for me? Very possibly. What I see in nature is just the opposite of what I see in religions. I just see how things are, and not how people would like them to be.  Religion seems so artificial and man-made.  It is a product of the human mind and imagination. Wild creatures are all about finding food, mates, nesting and surviving. That is mostly all they are all about.  What has natural selection done to make our brains so darn complicated that we can't just do this?

 

One of the little parks I visit is right across the street from a church and there was a sign on it saying something like " Not knowing God is like a dull pencil, you are missing the point to your life."  Why does life have to have a point to it? Why do we need to torture ourselves about meaning? What is wrong with us?

 

Today, I saw crows eating something off of the road. They were inches away from the front of cars that had stopped at a red light. Did they know the light was red and therefore they were safe? I think so.  The light changed and they flew. I see things like this where I think most people are completely unaware. 

 

Anyway, sometimes I take pictures of some of the birds I see if they are close enough. Like this purple gallinule:

I think anything that connects you to the world rather than draws you away from it is true spirituality. Spirituality being a connection to your world and being a citizen of the cosmos. After all, is there a greater hell than the thought of being locked in a white room alone for eternity. The irony is most religions wish you to separate or transcend the world. I think being worldly and connected may be the most spiritual thing there is. Recognizing the value of life instead of belittling or exploiting the environment and other creatures. To be a citizen of earth is to be a care taker, to find value, meaning, wonder, respect, and appreciation of where we are and what we experience. Now being connected to the world is a little different than becoming attached to things the way they are.. attachments lead to pain but if we are honest also thrilling pleasure. 

 

The main problem I have with all the world's religions is the rules. I have to agree with somebody about something-- and that makes it less personal and more political business. I always seem to head back to the philosophers table or just trust my gut. That a life where I can not be myself is not worth living. 

 

Lately Im interested in the Stoics. Learning to recognize what is in my control and what is not. It is a zen like philosophy at its heart. But a tool, one in which I don't have to agree with everything but it can certainly help me out of a mess. Epitetus comes highly recommended. So does Epicurus-- and they are at odds. Go figure. Epicurus is for pleasure and freedom of the fear of death. Life should be pleasurable to enjoy it, but some understanding and stoic knowledge can numb the pain when it arrives. And the good old meditational awareness connects us to what is important-- we are alive and one with the universe

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I think anything that connects you to the world rather than draws you away from it is true spirituality. Spirituality being a connection to your world and being a citizen of the cosmos. After all, is there a greater hell than the thought of being locked in a white room alone for eternity. The irony is most religions wish you to separate or transcend the world. I think being worldly and connected may be the most spiritual thing there is. Recognizing the value of life instead of belittling or exploiting the environment and other creatures. To be a citizen of earth is to be a care taker, to find value, meaning, wonder, respect, and appreciation of where we are and what we experience. Now being connected to the world is a little different than becoming attached to things the way they are.. attachments lead to pain but if we are honest also thrilling pleasure. 

 

Religions recognise that this life is temporary, and that attachments to things are ultimately futile. Their typical way or dealing with this hard truth is to devalue this life, and direct or encourge their members to detach themselves from possessions, and in extreme cases, even involvement in life. As Jesus said in his parable of the rich farmer (Luke 12:16-22), if you’re going to die and lose it all, why bother? Less drastically, you can lose it all due to misfortune, so again, why bother?

 

But this is all-or-nothing thinking! Jesus and other religious thinkers were right to be concerned about the dangers of attachment, but their solution is rather draconian. Why not take the view that I know it’s temporary, so all the more reason to enjoy it while I can? Jesus and the Buddha were concerned about our possessions possessing us instead of the other way around, Jesus because it distracted one from the kingdom, and the Buddha because attachments can cause real unhappiness. But I think that a balance can be achieved where we can enjoy what is around us without being enslaved to it.

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