"Smorgasbord" Religion, Being of a Faith, and the Personal Journey

Tao_Equus

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Hi PoO, and peace to you each and every day :)
I never said I was a Christian.
Maybe not solely Christian. But you do go to church. And I only mentioned in reference to the thread title, and its OP's invitation. I did so after watching your discussion with Nick and thought I perceived quite a strong bias toward internalising monotheistic doctrinal arguments. I just thought I'd point it out. Maybe the problem is mine in finding it difficult to see how you manage to embrace the seeming diametric opposites of Christianity and Panentheism.

If the universe is quite amazing enough and there is no time or need to ponder the validity of faith, why do you do so? You seem to spend a lot of time pondering the validity of my own and others' faith, and the validity of your avowed lack of faith. Conversely, while I ponder what it means to be faithful a great deal, I rarely if ever ponder the validity of my own faith.

As my mother used to say to me... "Dont do what I do do as I say" ! :rolleyes::D;)

I think validity is an irrelevant issue.

!! :eek: !!
 

greymare

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Hi PoO, and peace to you each and every day :)
Maybe not solely Christian. But you do go to church. And I only mentioned in reference to the thread title, and its OP's invitation. I did so after watching your discussion with Nick and thought I perceived quite a strong bias toward internalising monotheistic doctrinal arguments. I just thought I'd point it out. Maybe the problem is mine in finding it difficult to see how you manage to embrace the seeming diametric opposites of Christianity and Panentheism.



As my mother used to say to me... "Dont do what I do do as I say" ! :rolleyes::D;)



!! :eek: !!

as a mother, I have a similiar saying... " do as I say, I gave you life and I can take it away. ":D;)

(yeah, it has no effect whatso ever. but still...) LOL
 

path_of_one

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St Francis and the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change and the human legacy is what it is.

When I speak of transforming the human legacy, I speak of transforming myself and being willing to reach out in love to others.

I cannot "fix" all our institutions, societies, unsustainable and cruel lifestyles. But I can fix a lot of the way I interact with them and with individual beings.

I like the Ghandi idea: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

I suppose I could come into some applicable terms such as, druid, celtic, apostolic, deist, humanitarian, native american, and like you, not in terms of following it as an over inflated hot air religion. I keep coming back to this post because it makes the most sense to me.

I only have one god for me and we might have the same god. I have no problem with there being other gods. I am aware of other gods but they aren't the same as mine. Not a real big deal to me.

Yeah, more or less. I can use words because I'm trying to communicate with people, but my point is that spirituality is not about words and labels. And my search for community is not a search for a religion or a label to belong to. It's a search for the power, the energy found in a sincere community that is devoted to a path of love, joy, and peace.

It is really irrelevant to me if someone is a Buddhist, a Pagan, a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, an Atheist. So many ideas, labels, whatever. All irrelevant to the real work to be done, to the real excitement and purpose in living. What is relevant to me in community-building is transformation, which then is self-reflective and open, that is real love and joy and peace, not just the false kind that happens when life is rosy and everyone nods their heads at the same time.
 

path_of_one

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Hi PoO, and peace to you each and every day :)
Maybe not solely Christian. But you do go to church.

Oh, the horror! :eek: It may amuse you to find that I also do Druidic ritual, go to New Age/New Thought services sometimes, and have on my list to try out a Buddhist temple. I've done a fair bit of dabbling and I don't go to a church because I feel it's a label I claim. I go because at the particular church I attend, when I attend (am in California), I find meaning in the ritual and process.

Liturgical church service in that old Episcopal church is for me a moving meditation and so far the closest thing I get to a group meditative practice that isn't really far from home. Plus, the bonus is the priest goes to lots of interfaith dialogues and conferences and brings back interesting bits of conversations between himself and all sorts of practitioners- rabbis, monks, imams. It's fabulous information given out in a lovely setting with flowers and incense. I like these sorts of things- my home is also full of candles, incense, rocks, glass, and so forth. I enjoy the aesthetics of it all, and ritual holds meaning for me.

You don't have to think the same as everyone else to participate together with them. You don't have to have some pre-set notion of what a ritual means to make it meaningful.

Again... I look for community, not religion. I look for meaning, not answers. There is a difference in how you and I approach religion and what our purpose is with it that affects what we get out of it.

I did so after watching your discussion with Nick and thought I perceived quite a strong bias toward internalising monotheistic doctrinal arguments.

Can't say- maybe I do. It is, after all, all around me in our culture. And aside from this... it is all around you, too. I've pointed out before that your own writings tend to ascribe God a monotheist, Western basis. Why wouldn't it be so? That's our "roots."

But I would be happy to know any internalized monotheistic doctrinal arguments that you found, specifically, as I would find it helpful for me to ponder what I actually think about them and recognize these in myself, if they exist. But the way you are currently speaking about it, it makes your observations too vague for me to know what you're talking about.

I just thought I'd point it out. Maybe the problem is mine in finding it difficult to see how you manage to embrace the seeming diametric opposites of Christianity and Panentheism.

Well, the lack of my strong stance on Augustinian Christian doctrine helps. :) Tao, there is a long history of Panentheistic Christianity. I'd recommend looking into the Celtic Christians. "Listening to the Heartbeat of God" is a nice short book that outlines some of the ideas. Basically, according to Catholic-centered (including traditional Protestant) doctrine, I am a heretic. But since I don't insist on claiming a non-heretical status, it really doesn't bother me.

As my mother used to say to me... "Dont do what I do do as I say" ! :rolleyes::D;)

:D


Was that surprising, disturbing, or other? LOL
 

path_of_one

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Hi Path and Happy Easter


And Happy Easter to you!

I agree that in many ways they do but there are ideas and there are ideas. Thee are great ideas which make people aware of the human condition of being in Plato's Cave. Such ideas are necessary for awakening. This is the idea behind sacred text. Can we awaken to the human condition and human potential without some form of ideas is a good question but I believe they are as necessary as both physical and emotional experience.

I can see the value of ideas in functioning like a koan, but the problem is that people tend to make ideas into just one more division between "me" and "you" and then put all kinds of emotional baggage into it. Like most things, the way these things should ideally function isn't what happens. I don't know that ideas are necessary to begin the process of awakening, since many seem to be initiated into a path of transformation through mystical experience that is beyond idea and language.

That's a whole other issue- that ideas are tied to language, which causes a lot of limitations and difficulties in transmission from one person to another.

It is the intellect that has the responsibility for awakening our capacity for "feelings" to regain their rightful place that is normally denied by our corrupt emotional states.

On first blush, I'd say I don't think so. I think our spirit awakens our capacity for both our intellect and our feelings to work for our consciousness rather than on their own. The consciousness directs the intellect, which works through how to interact with the feelings. In fact, the consciousness is necessary to even be fully aware and honest of our own feelings.

I agree and that is a topic in itself. God the "Word" is actually vibration or sound from which the process of creation initiates and begins the process of involution or the ONE into the many. Cosmology is based on Pythagoras' Law of Octaves. The universe is a giant octave where the notes are cosmoses.

That's a nifty idea. I just came to the God as sound metaphor after actually experiencing God as sound. I haven't really looked into mathematical or other ideas behind it. It just seemed fairly straightforward as an experience. The sound/vibrations actually created illusion of form, also, but that is a more complicated thing to try to express.

If we exist as a plurality, it stands to reason that we are incapable pf the sustained experience of inner unity.

Why cannot plurality be unified? Is that not a microcosmic process that reflects the macrocosmic process?

The fact that we have the potential indicates our greatness, Yet the human condition in relation to it reveals our wretchedness.

I think why I like learning from Buddhism is it doesn't stop at the observation of our usual state. It provides a process for transformation that can be verified to work by the individual. Otherwise, we wind up simply saying to ourselves "I have potential, but I am wretched." Which doesn't go anywhere without a next step to cultivate the potential.

Modern education ignores these things since politics doesn't allow for supporting such individuality. Consequently we end up with the robots you refer to.

It gets a little better in the university where there are at least freedoms to avoid "standards" that force everyone to do the same thing no matter what students actually need for progress. But since most of human life is positioning oneself vis-a-vis "others" and advancing socially, the university tends to mostly give students certificates so they can get jobs and the pressure to focus on building one's tenure and career is fairly enormous. To be honest, while I love to teach, I wish I could do it in a less stifling atmosphere than any institution that is primarily devoted to getting people degrees so they can make money. As long as that is the emphasis of education- economic advancement- it is hard to find students of quality (in terms of genuine desire to learn and grow for its own sake), time to devote to real learning (as opposed to cramming in information), and a structure that allows for maximum growth (dialogue and experience). I have a real passion for seeing people start to understand how they are interconnected with other beings and questioning their own assumptions and purposes... but I dunno. One has to get very creative to ensure these purposes are met along with the more traditional ones of getting students grades and information.

It has affected me but I've acquired a balance. My ego allows me to experiment enough but then says enough.

What do you think of those who do not seem to have that "enough" limitation? I look to some of these amazing people in any and every religion and wonder what happened...

What you call conscience I call conditioned external morality. Conscience for me is associated with consciousness and allows a person to experience the inner morality Plato spoke of. As a whole we've lost this ability and are guided instead by external culturally defined morality.

Where consciousness objectively knows, conscience objectively feels. Neither have anything to do with a conditioned reaction but rather have a far deeper origin than our personality. As consciousness develops within us, we can open to the experience of conscience which feels the value of higher consciousness and aids in our striving towards it.

So it seems we're just using different words for the same things here.

Here I would add that inner balance between the mind, body, and spirit, doesn't happen without the conscious endeavor to do so and achieve "presence." This oneness you refer to that can only be sustained through presence and requires a quality of conscious attention we don't have but can acquire. The trouble is that only a
few have the need to acquire such a quality of attention.


I am not sure how we acquire something we don't have. I tend to think it's a matter of awakening something dormant within. But again, that's more quibbling than anything else. I don't understand why more people don't have a need to cultivate this sense of oneness. I don't understand, when I really ponder it, why I have this need. It has always just been there.

I agree that the desire to comprehend God is normally just an expression of our egoistic need. However it is not always the case. There may be a need to experience but once we have experienced such a contact, how is it developed?

Why must experience be developed through comprehension? Why can't it be enough on its own? Experience can direct transformation without leading to ideas about or definitions of God. It could be just me, but comprehension always smacks of attempts to delineate, to form beliefs that then become too solid for us to be honest. The solidity and surity of our beliefs deceives us. I find that by focusing on the experience of a relationship with God, and seeing my beliefs as a part of the shifting, impermanent "me" that is probably inaccurate, I am able to be more honest with myself and mostly keep myself from falling into a trap of thinking I've figured it out. It allows me to focus on being in God rather than thinking about God. I used to get all out of whack "figuring it out," but then I just sort of saw myself clearly one day and began to laugh at myself. The laughter was the best way to express the truth of my ability to comprehend that I can think of- and it was truly joyful.

I suppose I can understand how you are operating out of a different definition for comprehension, but I still see that there is the danger that one's comprehension/understanding will actually be their conditioned thought. When we do not doubt our own capacity for comprehension, and the ideas that arise... we tend to come up with new belief systems that are really conditioned thought about our spiritual experience, which are then taken and made into new religions by other people or ourselves.

I find more solace in Buddhist ideas about no-thought, of a conscious "space" beyond this and that.
 

Bandit

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I find more solace in Buddhist ideas about no-thought, of a conscious "space" beyond this and that.

I like that as well. Kind of shallow and deep at the same time. A flat space like a pancake together with an endless ocean and free to swim, is how I describe it. Once I figured out how to do it, it can be very relaxing on the mind and body. Too bad they never taught me that in sunday school or public school.
 

Nick_A

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Hi Path

I share your concern in the way intellect is abused both with and without the intent to do so. It is how and why Christianity devolves into Christendom for example. But does that mean we just abandon the intellect?

I don't believe so. It is through the intellect that we acquire wisdom and advance in our qualitative experience of "meaning." The objective experience of higher meaning and purpose we are unable to live by now is an aspect of wisdom. Why deny it because we don't know how to use the tool of the intellect properly?

On first blush, I'd say I don't think so. I think our spirit awakens our capacity for both our intellect and our feelings to work for our consciousness rather than on their own. The consciousness directs the intellect, which works through how to interact with the feelings. In fact, the consciousness is necessary to even be fully aware and honest of our own feelings.
This assumes our ability to discriminate between spiritual and emotional energy. This is hard but essential to do since our emotional energies are a product of the earth while The energy of the Spirit has an origin beyond the earth.

If the goal of man's evolution is beyond the confines of the earth, it is necessary to see how emotional energies support our attachments to the earth. there is an old truism that rat poison is 98% good corn. It is the same with a lot of modern New Age thought. It has 98% nice thoughts. However if its results just further being a prisoner of the world and loss of the potential to become oneself, it defeats the purpose of anyone with the calling for freedom from this psychological prison.

[SIZE=-1]
[SIZE=-1]"The difference between more or less intelligent men is like the difference between criminals condemned to life imprisonment in smaller or larger cells. The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like a condemned man who is proud of his large cell." Simone Weil[/SIZE]
[/SIZE]

This is why I believe that the realistic foundation for human evolution cannot begin with fantasy but first with the help of the Spirit not originating with the earth, with the impartial experience of the human condition, of what we are rather than what we think we are.

Why cannot plurality be unified? Is that not a microcosmic process that reflects the macrocosmic process?

I believe it can. If it couldn't then any spiritual work would be meaningless other than to feel good. But the process is double edged as it is with the intellect. We can either profit by it or hurt ourselves as we do with the intellect. That is why anything legit is always hidden. It must be so for the sake of people who will take things wrongly and hurt themselves as well as others.

I think why I like learning from Buddhism is it doesn't stop at the observation of our usual state. It provides a process for transformation that can be verified to work by the individual. Otherwise, we wind up simply saying to ourselves "I have potential, but I am wretched." Which doesn't go anywhere without a next step to cultivate the potential.

This is the premise of Jacob Needleman's book: "Lost Christianity." Christendom has adopted a blind belief approach. Dr. Needleman reveals that it is not the case and that there is a method to the aim of Christianity. From the preface:

What is needed is either a new understanding of God or a new understanding of Man: an understanding of God that does not insult the scientific mind while offering bread, not a stone, to the deepest hunger of the heart; an understanding of Man that squarely faces the criminal weakness of our moral will while holding out to us the knowledge of how we can strive within ourselves to become the fully human being we were meant to be -- both for ourselves and as instruments of a higher purpose.

But this is not an either/or. The premise --or rather, the proposal -- of this book is that at the heart of the Christian religion there exists, and has always existed, just such a vision of God and Man. I call it "Lost Christianity," not because it is a matter of doctrines and concepts that may have been lost or forgotten; nor even a matter of methods of spiritual practice that may need to be recovered from ancient sources. It is all that, to be sure, but what is lost in the whole of our modern life, including our understanding of religion, is something even more fundamental, without which religious ideas and practices lose their meaning and all to easily become the instruments of ignorance, fear, and hatred. What is lost is the experience of oneself -- myself, the personal being who is here, now, living, breathing, yearning for meaning, for goodness; just this person here, now, squarely confronting ones existential weaknesses and pretensions while yet aware, however tentatively, of a higher current of a higher current of life and identity calling to us from within ourselves. This presence to oneself is the missing element in the whole of the life of Man, the intermediate state of consciousness between what we are meant to be and what we actually are. it is perhaps the one bridge that can lead us from our inhuman past toward the human future.

In the writings and utterances of the great teachers of Christianity over the centuries, one may begin to discern, like a photographic image gradually developing before ones eyes, the outlines of this vision of what is called in this book "intermediate Christianity." But modern man can no longer perceive that vision or hear that language that has been associated with it. Words like "humility," "purity of heart," "contrition" are no longer understood to require the individual, existential struggle, for what the early Fathers called "attention in oneself." On the contrary, it is assumed that such qualities of character can be ours in the distracted and dispersed state of being that is more and more characteristic of life in the contemporary world. The result is self deception which masks, and perhaps even intensifies, our weaknesses and which inevitably leads to the disillusionment with religious ideals that has been one of the hallmarks of the modern secular worldview. Of course, the modernist attempt to establish ethical life without religion itself ignores the same lost element in human life that has been forgotten in the conventional understanding of religion. The result is often a sad ineffectuality under the name of rousing moral formulae - or, ironically, the decay of what began in opposition to perceived religious tyranny into its own brand of quasi-religious dogmatism and violence - as witnessed for example, in the fate of communist ideology.

Whether it is conventional religion or secular humanism, or any other modern program of morality or inner betterment, the question remains: Can there be any hope or our becoming what we are meant to be without first becoming fully and deeply aware of what we in fact are, now, here, in just this moment of our lives? Whether religious or not, is there any hope for man who has lost this capacity, or forgotten the need, to know himself and to be alive and present in himself?

The great ideas and ideals of Christianity continue to offer hope and comfort to the world, as do the ideals of Judaism and Islam -- and all the world's great religions. And as do the ideals of humanistic morality, with its passionate commitment to justice and to human rights. Yet we see, we see, we cannot help but see that now, as ever, something is missing, something has been forgotten about ourselves and in ourselves. Our children see it as clearly as we sometimes do; more clearly! The words of St.Paul never sounded more distinctly than they do now in the lengthening shadows of our civilization.

For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do......Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

-Romans 7"

But we are caught up in fighting so these ideas are far ahead of their time. But that is not to say there cannot be a minority willing to grab the bull by the horns and seek to explore this "undiscovered country."

What do you think of those who do not seem to have that "enough" limitation? I look to some of these amazing people in any and every religion and wonder what happened...

They have the need to be real. Prof Needleman asks if there is in us a love of truth that can be stronger then the love of pleasure? Perhaps in some like Simone they just jump in. I would need the approach of what Jacob Needleman describes as "Intermediate Christianity."

I am not sure how we acquire something we don't have. I tend to think it's a matter of awakening something dormant within. But again, that's more quibbling than anything else. I don't understand why more people don't have a need to cultivate this sense of oneness. I don't understand, when I really ponder it, why I have this need. It has always just been there.

We can acquire the ability to play the piano even though we don't know how. We can learn. Practice. It is the same with acquiring the ability for sustained impartial attention. We need practice. But a good pianist is celebrated and has quality sack time with the opposite sex so practice has good reason. Sustained attention to the living experience just leads to verifying the truth. Who wants that?

Why must experience be developed through comprehension?

Comprehension with the whole of oneself is what leads to wisdom. The question then is if we are attracted to the experience of wisdom. At one time philosophy was the love of wisdom. Now it is the love of winning an intellectual debate. But if one seeks the experience of higher "meaning" as described in the following by dr. Nicoll, then it will require comprehension with the whole of ourselves: mind, body, and emotions.

"At the beginning (of time) Meaning already was, and God had meaning with him, and God was Meaning." John 1:1

When a man finds no meaning in anything he has at the same time no feeling of God. Meaninglessness is a terrible illness. It has to be got over. It is the same as godlessness, because if you say there is no God you are saying that there is no meaning in things. But if you think there is Meaning, you believe in God. Meaning is God. You cannot say that you do not believe in God but believe that there is meaning in things. The two are the same, in that one cannot be without the other. God is meaning. If you dislike the word God, just say the word meaning instead. The word God just shuts some people's minds. The word Meaning cannot. It opens minds.

Meaning was before time began. It was before creation, for creation occurs in running time, in which birth and death exist. Birth and death belong to the passage of time. But meaning was before Time and creation in Time began. there is no way of describing existence in the higher dimensional world outside of time, save by the language of passing time - of past, present, and future. Meaning is - not was - before the beginning of creation in time. It does not belong to what is becoming and passing away but to what is above Time. if then, there is Meaning above our heads, what is our meaning by creation?

Does comprehension of higher meaning include an obligation. Socrates said it does as does Christianity and Buddhism which is aiding the awakening experience? If it does, can it be accomplished without the intellect without leaving society for a monastery or temple? I don't believe so.
 

path_of_one

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Wanted to give a brief update- I'm quite hopeful and excited, because I found out that as of late last year, there is a so California Druidic group starting up and an annual Druidic retreat beginning summer 09. So maybe I will get a community that fits after all- ya never know! Yay!:)

Nick- sorry- forgot to respond to this and will have to get back with you.
 
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