"Spiritual but not religious"

path_of_one

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LOL- I think it is funny because I can't really imagine being a mystic without some belief in the supernatural... or at least the supramundane.

I think people think the idea of mystics is cool, and if it's a famous mystic then people of a certain crowd get gung ho. But I find that being an ordinary mystic type doesn't buy me much. A lot of Christians think mysticism has something to do with being New Age and are completely oblivious to Christian mysticism.

I never had something to call it until I minored in religious studies. Then, I was given a very practical and simple definition of mystic- someone who has personal experience of the Divine. I thought- ah-ha, so I'm a Christian mystic.

I think like most religious stuff in the States, it becomes one more label that gets slapped onto stuff and sold to somebody in some way or another.

The thing is- I know that what I get from Druidry and Buddhism is there in Christianity somewhere. The problem is accessibility and the current trends in Christianity in the States. For example, contemplation and centering prayer seems to be resurging in some circles of Christianity, but it is perceived as being some New Age or Buddhist thing and rejected by other circles. I think I grow weary of trying to figure out where people put the boundaries around the Christian label. While I love Christ and try my best to follow him, and I love going to the Anglican/Episcopalian church, I just don't find the depth I'm looking for there. There aren't enough people desiring the type of extensive study and practice I want unless perhaps you're near a cathedral where more is going on. Additionally, there is still division and if there is one thing I really want in my life, it is peace.

I find more inclusivity in Druidry and Buddhism at this time. I don't have to claim to be either for people to embrace me and study alongside me and talk to me about it. That part of it is really refreshing to my spirit and heart, whereas the divisions (often vocal and rather harsh) within Christianity just makes me depressed. But I love Christ and the Christian tradition... so I kind of bounce from that to what currently refreshes me and restores my optimism about the human condition.
 

lunamoth

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LOL- I think it is funny because I can't really imagine being a mystic without some belief in the supernatural... or at least the supramundane.
That is my take on it too.

I think people think the idea of mystics is cool, and if it's a famous mystic then people of a certain crowd get gung ho. But I find that being an ordinary mystic type doesn't buy me much. A lot of Christians think mysticism has something to do with being New Age and are completely oblivious to Christian mysticism.
A good point. Thomas is one who knows quite a bit about Christina mysticism.

I never had something to call it until I minored in religious studies. Then, I was given a very practical and simple definition of mystic- someone who has personal experience of the Divine. I thought- ah-ha, so I'm a Christian mystic.
That is a good definition and puts me in the camp of mysticism too. I think that we usually associate mysticism with contemplatives who are very intentional about approaching the Divine through prayer and meditation.

I think like most religious stuff in the States, it becomes one more label that gets slapped onto stuff and sold to somebody in some way or another.
Yup.

The thing is- I know that what I get from Druidry and Buddhism is there in Christianity somewhere. The problem is accessibility and the current trends in Christianity in the States. For example, contemplation and centering prayer seems to be resurging in some circles of Christianity, but it is perceived as being some New Age or Buddhist thing and rejected by other circles. I think I grow weary of trying to figure out where people put the boundaries around the Christian label. While I love Christ and try my best to follow him, and I love going to the Anglican/Episcopalian church, I just don't find the depth I'm looking for there. There aren't enough people desiring the type of extensive study and practice I want unless perhaps you're near a cathedral where more is going on. Additionally, there is still division and if there is one thing I really want in my life, it is peace.
I guess I've been lucky in the Episcopal communities and Priests I've known. Most of the communities have people who are interested in depth and a contemplative approach. For depth I've been involved in a four-year seminar course called Education for Ministry that goes very in depth (for a lay person) into theology, history, ethics, and Scripture. As soon as I have time I am also going to doCursillo. At my last home church I was able to connect with a Spiritual Director, but so far I have not had time to pursue that either.

I find more inclusivity in Druidry and Buddhism at this time. I don't have to claim to be either for people to embrace me and study alongside me and talk to me about it. That part of it is really refreshing to my spirit and heart, whereas the divisions (often vocal and rather harsh) within Christianity just makes me depressed. But I love Christ and the Christian tradition... so I kind of bounce from that to what currently refreshes me and restores my optimism about the human condition.


Sounds like you are doing exactly the right thing for you. I have to tell you that I shared some of your insightful comments on this forum with my priest during one of our efm classes and his reply was "Is she a member of the Episcopal clergy?" :D So, yeah, communities of people can be places of conflict and exclusion no matter how great the theology might be, and congregations often are 'behind' the clergy in terms of progressiveness...but your take on things spiritual fits in pretty darn well with the Episcopal church. Wherever your path takes you I hope you find a community that brings you joy. :)
 

path_of_one

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That is a good definition and puts me in the camp of mysticism too. I think that we usually associate mysticism with contemplatives who are very intentional about approaching the Divine through prayer and meditation.

I guess I also fit the bill through your definition. I'd like to be more consistent in practice, and if I could find some guidance in Christian contemplation I'd be a very happy girl. Maybe I should ping Thomas for suggestions and talk to my priest when I return to CA.

I guess I've been lucky in the Episcopal communities and Priests I've known. Most of the communities have people who are interested in depth and a contemplative approach. For depth I've been involved in a four-year seminar course called Education for Ministry that goes very in depth (for a lay person) into theology, history, ethics, and Scripture. As soon as I have time I am also going to doCursillo. At my last home church I was able to connect with a Spiritual Director, but so far I have not had time to pursue that either.

That four-year course sounds awesome and precisely the kind of thing I'd enjoy. What I'm looking for is a combination of careful and deep study of Christian history and scripture and a community, even a small one, in which I could learn and consistently practice Christian mysticism- through contemplation, meditation, and prayer. I am afraid that I live in a rather boring area in CA as religions go. It is fairly conservative in that immediate pocket and not much going on. But I do love the priest and mass there. The congregation is divided and perhaps this is why there is not so much going on in terms of classes. I was there for a year but there was not even the introductory class, probably because the priest was at that time interim. Hopefully when I return, more will be going on. The Cursillo thing sounds very interesting as well, though I imagine I would need to go through the new member classes first, if they ever get going! LOL I read everything in the Book of Common Prayer and read on the website, which helped a lot and let me know that as far as churches go, Episcopalian/Anglican (my church does one mass for each) is about as close as it gets. I have some oddball theological views, but then so do a lot of Episcopalians I meet.

I suppose I should talk to the priest when I return about these various options, but I feel a little odd waltzing in and asking questions after a two-year disappearance and having never been a member. But at the same time, I am really longing to find a sort of community with which to practice and discuss. I would absolutely adore a little interfaith group that would want to study scriptures and various spiritual writings in depth from the varied religious perspectives, but that may be a pipe dream. The closest I may get is inquiring with my old university's religious studies dept, who I have worked with before, if I could do something for them in exchange for hanging out in various classes for the learning experience.

Sounds like you are doing exactly the right thing for you. I have to tell you that I shared some of your insightful comments on this forum with my priest during one of our efm classes and his reply was "Is she a member of the Episcopal clergy?" :D

LOL. I have been carpooling for the last 9 months with a Lutheran pastor and the conversations have been interesting. I think he finds the same divisions that the Episcopal church does, and feels occasionally as beleagured about trying to wade through an often volatile crowd through his ecumenical work within Christianity. I think it's hard for any of us, no matter what our theological and denominational stance, to not feel a bit run-down by the divisions, which is so antithetical to Christ's message and life.

So, yeah, communities of people can be places of conflict and exclusion no matter how great the theology might be, and congregations often are 'behind' the clergy in terms of progressiveness...but your take on things spiritual fits in pretty darn well with the Episcopal church. Wherever your path takes you I hope you find a community that brings you joy. :)

Thanks, Luna. I will always be grateful for your encouragement. You probably do not realize how often it has made me feel welcome in Christianity and encouraged to try again in church.

I think you will enjoy "In God's Name"- it is an excellent documentary that involved interviews and a "day in the life" of 12 of the world's most influential spiritual leaders, Rowan Williams among them. It demonstrates your point, more broadly to all religions, that the clergy are often more subtle, nuanced and forgiving in their interpretations of their faith and closer to respecting others and recognizing a common grounding in all religion than we often see in the laity.
 
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It would seem some atheists consider themselves spiritual, but I am not sure how this "spiritual" would differ from "philosophical." If one doesn't believe in spirit of any type, then spirituality is just a sense of grooving on life? Or am I missing something?

I think that's pretty accurate. The term "spiritual" sometimes just seems like the easiest way to share the idea of grooving on life, kind of like how the word "God" holds such common courtesy even though exactly what's being described as God, or spirituality, always remains unspecified. Sometimes just the intricacy and cool thing-ness quality of something make it seem "spiritual." I think of my relationship with music as spiritual even though it has nothing to do with any sort of overt faith or belief. The right music can cause emotional states which feel, to me, exactly like how religious people describe their prayer activities.

Chris
 

path_of_one

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I can totally see that about music, Chris. My husband feels that way about all his music, whether it is talking about "spiritual" stuff or the stuff of life. I don't know that there is a difference in my own way of thinking, but then I think God's inspiration and creativity springs forth in life in general.

I do find it interesting that religion and spirituality have often been linked, in many cultures though often not in the States, to altered states of consciousness... which are often brought on or enhanced by music, drumming, chanting, bells, and dance.

Art also has this capacity for me. Sometimes a piece of art just gives me goosebumps and opens up that "WOW" feeling.
 
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I think that's pretty accurate. The term "spiritual" sometimes just seems like the easiest way to share the idea of grooving on life, kind of like how the word "God" holds such common courtesy even though exactly what's being described as God, or spirituality, always remains unspecified. Sometimes just the intricacy and cool thing-ness quality of something make it seem "spiritual." I think of my relationship with music as spiritual even though it has nothing to do with any sort of overt faith or belief. The right music can cause emotional states which feel, to me, exactly like how religious people describe their prayer activities.

Chris

I meant common currency.
 
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I can totally see that about music, Chris. My husband feels that way about all his music, whether it is talking about "spiritual" stuff or the stuff of life. I don't know that there is a difference in my own way of thinking, but then I think God's inspiration and creativity springs forth in life in general.

I do find it interesting that religion and spirituality have often been linked, in many cultures though often not in the States, to altered states of consciousness... which are often brought on or enhanced by music, drumming, chanting, bells, and dance.

Art also has this capacity for me. Sometimes a piece of art just gives me goosebumps and opens up that "WOW" feeling.

The music, ...it's so emotionally visceral, I guess is the way I'd try to describe the feeling. It just tears me up. Whatever in me is responding to the music, or in other ways other kinds of art forms, as you've suggested, I'd call that spirit. Not "my spirit", as it doesn't feel like it belongs to either of my selves (animal and symbolic), but just spirit like a mega bandwidth groove channel for all life... or something.

Chris
 

path_of_one

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I'd call that spirit. Not "my spirit", as it doesn't feel like it belongs to either of my selves (animal and symbolic), but just spirit like a mega bandwidth groove channel for all life... or something.

Chris

I like that. I tend to think of "me" as body (animal) and soul (symbolic), and spirit as a sort of universal all-pervasive inter-connectedness in God. God as force and imminant in all beings. When I am among trees in a mountain forest, or out in a storm, or standing at the edge of the ocean when the waves roll in... I get the same feeling as when I see certain works of art or hear some music. It is this feeling of inter-connection and wonder at life. When I let go of "me" then I can just sort of float off into spirit and that is all there is. I think that is probably the heart of my spiritual and religious life- to cultivate that sense of oneness and love for all beings. But of course, then the challenge begins to integrate it with the mundane.
 

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It would seem some atheists consider themselves spiritual, but I am not sure how this "spiritual" would differ from "philosophical." If one doesn't believe in spirit of any type, then spirituality is just a sense of grooving on life? Or am I missing something?

I do believe in a spirit -- one's conscious mind or "psyche". I simply don't believe that it can exist without a living body or survive after death. However, it is of profound concern to me.

I suppose you could say that I am "philosophical", but being philosophical can be much more than what most people think it to be. My spiritual (and philosophical) path strikes me as having three main values: self-knowledge, self-actualization, and self-esteem. I am not simply interesting in having defensible positions on philosophical issues. I am interesting in seeing and experiencing life in a new way (that is, from an improved vantagepoint).

For instance, I find the sacred in the secular. It is not easy for me to convey this without showing you artworks. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "grooving on life", but I find that there is a great deal of meaning and inspiration to be found in this life and in this world. This is no less spiritual than finding such values elsewhere.


eudaimonia,

Mark
 

nativeastral

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I do believe in a spirit -- one's conscious mind or "psyche". I simply don't believe that it can exist without a living body or survive after death. However, it is of profound concern to me.

I suppose you could say that I am "philosophical", but being philosophical can be much more than what most people think it to be. My spiritual (and philosophical) path strikes me as having three main values: self-knowledge, self-actualization, and self-esteem. I am not simply interesting in having defensible positions on philosophical issues. I am interesting in seeing and experiencing life in a new way (that is, from an improved vantagepoint).

For instance, I find the sacred in the secular. It is not easy for me to convey this without showing you artworks. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "grooving on life", but I find that there is a great deal of meaning and inspiration to be found in this life and in this world. This is no less spiritual than finding such values elsewhere.


eudaimonia,

Mark

l haven't read much of Dawkins but your last paragraph sounds like him! [sacred as in awe and wonder at the intricacy and unique complexity of life rather than holy or divine l would imagine]
 

Eudaimonist

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l haven't read much of Dawkins but your last paragraph sounds like him! [sacred as in awe and wonder at the intricacy and unique complexity of life rather than holy or divine l would imagine]

Does it sound like him? I've read very little Dawkins.

BTW, I wasn't referring to the intricacy and complexity of life. Sure, scientific subjects have an "awe and wonder" factor. I love science. My father is a PhD research scientist. Many is the time I have looked at the night sky, or considered some scientific subject, and felt awe and wonder.

However, my spirituality is at core more humanistic than this. I feel inspired at the human potential (largely untapped) to live creative and productive lives, to actualize talents and character, to earn self-respect, and to find happiness on earth.


eudaimonia,

Mark
 

nativeastral

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Sure he's a biologist but a humanist therefore interested no doubt in human potential without as he would say superstition in an imagined deity; so a rationalist 'in the spirit of enlightenment' in that human reason has a higher potential than believe in something 'out there' [if l read him right]. As a polemicist against religion he does goes to extremes in that he does engage necessarily in religious language which doesn't do him any favours as a naturalist.
 

Tao_Equus

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I think something that can be overlooked is just how new structured non-belief is in public discourse. It may have its origins in ancient Greece and in early Vedic sects but throughout history it was a secret debate, one that could forfeit your life much of the time. The Enlightenment changed it because the Science of Europe had reached the point where it was casting aside some basic assumptions that the Churches had used to underpin their validity. But it took education to realise this in any meaningful way and the average education has only in recent decades become sufficient for widespread informed disbelief to gain ground. Being such a recent addition to the public consciousness and so contrary to the way people continue to be indoctrinated into belief as a cultural norm there are fundamental confusions that persist. I meet them all the time here. Believers trying to define atheism as a religion is a prime example.

It is not helped that it is so difficult not to be held prisoner with religious metaphor whenever you express any view contrary to the religious way of thinking. Religious people really do believe atheism is just another religion. They dont get it and use this very statement as though it was a religious style appeal to individual perception. It becomes so any debate is impossible. Many religious people do not seem to realise that you can reject religion because you do understand it and as their spirituality is so bound up in formalised religious thinking they cannot seperate the two for meaningful debate or pay lip service to it without really understanding the non-believers thinking. Those ignorant of what science is can also see it as a kind of school of theology. Especially amongst those below average intelligence and who do not understand the basic principles.

People like Dawkins or Hitchens who try to have a rational debate are still not playing on a level playing field. I suppose that is the challenge for non-believers, to get a level playing field. To me my spirituality is a function of my conciousness. It is within not without. It is not bestowed but the result of the evolution of our minds toward conciousness. In a sense its a personal appreciation of being alive. No wonder we make gods in our image ;)
 

nativeastral

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Namaste all,

Nice contemplations.

na, What if that is G!d, 'the connectedness of everything'? (not everything, but the connectedness of everything) Interesting you included stars and warmth as life, intentional? 'nother thread topic I suppose.

I am a member of a religion. Christianity. I am a member of a subset of that religion. New Thought. I am a member of a nondenominational denomination of that religion, Unity, the people that print 'The Daily Word', and attend a local church regularly and teach Sunday school to 6-12th graders.

I used to say I was spiritual but not religious as I had not found a church home or a belief system that resonated. I now am quite comfortable following the teachings of Christ despite the fact that many other Christians call me a heretic and my understandings blasphemous.

Unity teaches us to study the teachings and follow the Christ spirit within, not to rely on the belief and dogma of any religion, including Unity. Unity requires that we prove our beliefs by the way we live our lives.

Of all the things I gave up to become a Unitic, I miss blame the most.

hi wil
of course intentional; its a scientific 'fact' that carbon came from stars and well the sun - :). You choose to use the word g#d and 'follow' a religion with all that entails to 'make sense' of that connectiveness and l do not as l find it hard to think of ultimate reality as a 'person' [in Christian talk, although l 'love' Jesus as a wayfarer to the truth that love is the 'way']. Saying that l suppose the nearest l come to is that the source, reason meaning and purpose is like an aristotelian statement like 'thought thinking itself' insofar as the human mind is concerned viz a viz a Universal Mind.
 

path_of_one

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I do believe in a spirit -- one's conscious mind or "psyche". I simply don't believe that it can exist without a living body or survive after death. However, it is of profound concern to me.

Do you find spirit and consciousness to be the same thing? I define these differently, but I am curious as to how they would defined by one who has no belief in any sort of supramundane (that is, anything that is beyond the material).

I have no personal opinion on whether the conscious mind or psyche survives death. I believe that we have spirit, and that it survives death, but my own spiritual experience leads me to doubt the survival of the egoic self (our personality, preferences, gifts, thoughts, and so forth). Yet my own experience suggests that somehow memory survives; however, I am not sure that memory is an individual mind-based phenomenon. I think perhaps there is a sort of total consciousness to which we each contribute while living, and that this field of information continues on though each of us as personalities does not.

I have rather complicated ideas about the self currently. It's a source of intellectual amusement, but I don't think it matters much in terms of what is. What is, is... whether I think accurately about it or not. ;)

I suppose you could say that I am "philosophical", but being philosophical can be much more than what most people think it to be. My spiritual (and philosophical) path strikes me as having three main values: self-knowledge, self-actualization, and self-esteem. I am not simply interesting in having defensible positions on philosophical issues. I am interesting in seeing and experiencing life in a new way (that is, from an improved vantagepoint).

That is reminiscent of Buddhism to me. I think the problem with the self is that if we see ourselves as our egoic selves (the temporary manifestation of personality, intelligence, and so forth all wrapped up in sociocultural packages), we never get to our full potential. We reify what is not really there, that which is fleeting. The idea of "self" is such a complex one and no doubt you have put much thought into it. But in the general populace, this does not seem to be the case and so people mistake self-esteem, for example, to be merely feeling good about one's own attributes.

I think I am getting an idea for another thread in the future... :)

For instance, I find the sacred in the secular. It is not easy for me to convey this without showing you artworks. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "grooving on life", but I find that there is a great deal of meaning and inspiration to be found in this life and in this world. This is no less spiritual than finding such values elsewhere.

I agree. My own spirituality and religion, if I include the religious traditions from which I draw, emphasizes making all moments sacred. I think one of the problems in modern Western culture is that life is not sacred enough. We tend to compartmentalize, putting religion in one box and the rest of life in another. This is partially why one winds up with these non-sensical arguments of religion vs. secularism. I see the fundamental issue as being whether or not one is aware of the sacred that is pervasive throughout all beings and all moments. Whether a person thinks it is God or not isn't as important, in my opinion, as what someone does with it. If one is fighting all the time to divide and conquer in humanity and in life, whether one is atheist or not, one is stomping on the sanctity of the spiritual journey for all beings. The focus is on one's own beliefs and comfort, and the desire is that all people think as "I" think, so "I" don't have to confront my own shortcomings and assumptions and limitations. But when one is working toward peaceful understanding, toward freedom for each being to journey in their own way and time toward truth, one honors the sacred in everyone and everything. There is a realization that "I" am a rather limited, temporary sort of being and perhaps there is some value to all these other beings and their way of living... be it mineral, plant, animal, or other human being.

I think faith, for me, comes in where I am aware of all the chaos and limitation of human thought and all the suffering that humans cause, but I trust that for those that seek it, all will find love, compassion, peace, and joy... and for me, these states of being are God. I don't have faith in my own definitions of things or my views, but rather in the process of the spiritual journey. Because of this, I have faith that every being will one day be in communion with God... and I can accept that not everyone will interpret it or express it the same way I do. It is a faith that the spiritual experience is possible, and whatever lies beyond it is, though unknowable, also unnecessary to know. I can then have faith in a process that I have seen transform me continually without attachment to my own ideas about that process. I can find comfort despite honesty about what I do not and cannot know, with neither attachment to reifying ideas I might have nor attachment to tearing down ideas I disagree with. I am free to focus on the outcomes of ideas, their usefulness in transforming human beings into more loving, compassionate, peaceful, and joyful people... rather than my own conceptualizations of accuracy.
 

Tao_Equus

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. Yet my own experience suggests that somehow memory survives; however, I am not sure that memory is an individual mind-based phenomenon. I think perhaps there is a sort of total consciousness to which we each contribute while living, and that this field of information continues on though each of us as personalities does not.

.
I think you have to list 2nd stage Gaia theory as one of your beliefs then :)
 

path_of_one

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I think you have to list 2nd stage Gaia theory as one of your beliefs then :)

I have to look into Gaia theory more. I do see the Earth as a kind of person, an entity on her own. But in the way that God is a person, not the way we are people. LOL That's an expansion for another time.

I tend to think the Universe has a sort of memory and spirit as well, a sort of collective something-ness to it.
 

nativeastral

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I have to look into Gaia theory more. I do see the Earth as a kind of person, an entity on her own. But in the way that God is a person, not the way we are people. LOL That's an expansion for another time.

I tend to think the Universe has a sort of memory and spirit as well, a sort of collective something-ness to it.

:) why not this time? there is debate concerning 'person' over here as one Church of Scotland christian was castigating Anglicans for negating that term? l would be interested in your opinion and does it not fit in with OP?
 

path_of_one

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I'll briefly give it a go. If it's off-topic from the OP, I figure it's my OP. LOL I already went off on a tangent with Luna, so might as well head out again! :D

I think of "person" as some entity that has a consciousness or awareness to it, that operates as some sort of system with some sort of intelligence and memory. But that doesn't mean it's a human person or looks much like one.

One old Native Californian saying that I learned from an environmental anthropologist was they said: "Rocks are people too. Just slow moving, quiet ones." :)

I think when we dismiss personhood in entities, be it animal, plant, ecosystem, earth, or universe, we put ourselves in a privileged space and often fail to see other types of beings as worthy of our attention and love. Seeing an animal as a type of person, for example, causes many animist peoples to be sustainable and ethical in their treatment of animals. You don't do to persons what you would do to inanimate objects. Objects exist for use or possession or what have you. Objects don't have rights. Persons exist with rights, with a consciousness that demands respect, perhaps with thoughts, feelings, and/or will.

I don't like an anthropocentric vantage-point. I find that it justifies behaviors that are unsustainable and often cruel. Limiting how we define "person" means that non-persons are subject to less respect, fewer rights, less concern. I don't think that is the highest potential we have. Instead, I think when we expand the concept of personhood, we expand those beings to which we should behave respectfully. The extreme example of this are people who define other humans as not persons. This has been used to justify using slavery and genocide, for example.

I believe that when you look at how much of the Western world treats other beings- animals, plants, minerals- the entire earth- we treat them as objects. We own them, we use them, we control and manipulate them. We think they exist for our benefit. We enslave all these persons to suit our needs. We commit mass murder against other beings to suit our needs. We make ourselves feel better about our actions by saying these other non-human persons have no feelings, no thoughts, no will, no consciousness... the same ways we make ourselves feel better about hurting other human persons.

The way I see it, I can't say one being is a person and another is not. From another being's perspective, perhaps they are persons and I am not. Mutual respect and compassion seems to be a more sustainable and ethical way, to recognize the potential for consciousness, memory, feeling, and thought in other beings even if it does not look like my own expression of these attributes.

I found that experientially, when I opened up more fully to this potential in all beings, I began to have experiences of other beings as persons, including the earth/Gaia as person. Different persons have different ways of expressing themselves and these may not be much like human ways, but that does not make them any less of a person or their communications less valid just because we often fail to grasp them. I find horses, for example, generally communicate in images and the images are often not the message, but eliciting the feeling or impulse behind the message. I find that places hold a certain memory and energy signature. There is a sense of the "spirit" or "personhood" of place.

To insist that my own expression of selfhood is somehow more valid than another being's just seems biased and limiting. Other beings may have attributes we lack, but it does not make us less of a person, and I believe that is also true for other beings.

Objects are for use. Beings are for learning from. When people see a tree as an object, they think only of its wood and carbon sequestration and what have you. But when I see a tree as a person, and sit quietly with a tree, looking deeply into myself and into the tree... I find that here is an amazing person that can teach me so much. Here is a being that patiently grows around burns, pruning, and pests. Here is a being that accepts its slow decay and demise with quiet resignation. Here is a being that harms no other being in generating life, and out of energy and soil and water yields all the abundance that is the basis for life of all animal beings. Here is the living garment of Gaia. The wind brushes the leaves, and I hear their whisper to the Divine.

Many would say I am simply imaginative and fanciful. But then, I suppose they have not yet had the pleasure of communicating with a tree. The way I see it, even if materialism is accurate, it isn't very useful. Materialism makes everything a cost-benefit analysis. Personhood makes everything sacred in its own right.
 

jackie cox

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lt has evolved into a phenomenon for the masses with the negation of the institutes of religion ['to bind'] since the rise of individuality [particularly in the west].
A reaction against dogma of religion and a realisation of mysticism or connection with All [therefore higher than the solipism and separation of the you]; so really another word for animism.
Not necessarily a belief in a g#d or 'super' natural entity or 'creator' but awareness of an interconnectiveness with all life, including the stars above on a dark night, or the heat of the sun whilst sun bathing 'in' it.
Like religion it is now becoming elitist in some spiritual 'circles' hence the hackneyed term has many meanings-polysemy.
l think lt means there is no boundries no 'right' way to realise the transcendence we intuit naturally.

Two syncrenitic words, whose meanings are as varied as the variable of the human mind, an endless discision of nothing at all, evading the realities of the effects our societies have become on the natural world as we descend into a world without our natural intelligence, we are playing out the movie "The Matrix" in real time, kind of, If you were unlucky to have been born as one of the other vertabrates, the you may well consider the human species as satanic, living out a selfserving, pseudo-pleasure filled lives, in the Human Garden for the chosen ones who control the trade routes and the fashion to be consumed and sold according to the newsmedia, living according to the laws as prepared by the predatory judicairy, that live in a world where the lawyers are like princes and heir judges are as kings, in a free world where you can vote for one of two lawyers, picked out by two gangs of lawyers, closely minitored by a pseudo-religious self serving criminal commercial gang living in a pseudo-scientific/quasi-medical/insurancefraud-academic caste system, rapidly approaching an end and an everdownward spiral in the quality of life, unless you believe the media is the all knowing, all seeing truth, living a life of the morning news, staying prettymuch drunk, thriving on basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, gambling, and the famous and infamous artists endorsed by the real rulers of this sorry excuse for an earth.
 
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