The Spiritual Path

Thomas

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"I am spiritual, but not religious"
This is repeated so often, it's accepted as axiomatic of an authentic position.

Sadly, it is not.

The attempted separation of the two is relatively modern, and would make no sense at all within the context of an authentic spiritual tradition ... 'reigion' is the outward form of the inward immaterial and formless essence. No religion, no spirituality.

Personal psychism, yes, but that is not what we're talking about — although often, this is precisely what is assumed to be a 'spiritual breakthrough' ... when in reality, it's nothing of the sort.

Authentic 'spirituality' has no shape, no form ... it expresses itself in and through the religious dimension, in the same way the soul expresses itself through its body. It's not experienced directly, and there is a large body of literature to suggest that the 'transports' of the mystics, of which the West seems significantly more prone than any of the Eastern Traditions (although the antics of certain gurus in India, in pursuit of media exposure, show how far and how corrosive the tendency can be) can be liked to 'reactions' or the 'side-effects' of a process, and are completely ancilliary to the process itself.

The Greek Orthodox, for example, are deeply suspicious of the sensible and sensual writings of some of the Western mystics, which they see as overtly experiential, and thus dubious. Perhaps so, but then I suggest they read Symeon the New Theologian...

In meditation training, for example, the aspirant is told to ignore all phenomena. Such phenomena is invaribaly the product of the person themselves, either to derail the practice, or to allay the boredom ... whatever the cause, the focus on the phenomena 'breaks' the practice.

Development of one's spiritual life is impossible, indeed dangerous, if not undertaken under the discipline of the master, known by various names — guru, guide, geront, staretz, director, adviser, anamcara.

+++

From whence then, did this notion originate? To be honest, I am not sure. The term 'spirituality' emerged in the 17th century, and was initially used in quite a contemptuous and perjoratoive sense. In time however, as the self-referential ego began to get a grip in western psyche, the epithet started to make its appearance.

Not only is the concept untrue, it is also counter-traditional, that is, counter-spiritual.

It is promulgated (knowingly) by those who wish to isolate the individual from the collective ... because it's easier to beguile the individual than it is to beguile someone who belongs, and who practices, a given tradition. What is not generally realised is that the Traditions actually offer a very real and necessary spiritual 'cover' for those who follow in its way, and for those who follow in its way, their engagement would be, under any other circumstance, precarious, if not actually dangerous.

In fact the spokespersons of the Sophia Perennis, perhaps the only authentic voice of traditional esoterism and metaphysics active in the West today, state it quite explicitly — There is no spiritual advancement possible, in any real and meaningful sense, outside the Great Traditions.

To separate spirit and religion is akin to trying to separate soul and body, and as the Scripture says: "And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

Listen to the Shema Israel:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself" Luke 10:27
Such a love demands the engagement of the whole person, nothing less will suffice.

The counter-spiritual meaning of this epithet cannot be stressed above. So please let me repeat.

It seeks to divide the soul from the body;
It seeks to divide the person from the community;
It seeks to remove the spiritual from the sphere of the everyday, the outward life, the communal life, so that, in the end, true religion, that is true spirituality, ceases to exist in the world at all ...

The Pali texts of the Buddhist says:
Buddham saranam gacchami (I go to the Buddha for refuge)
Dhammam saranam gacchami (I go to the Dhamma for refuge)
Sangham saranam gacchami (I go to the Sangha for refuge)
To assume the refuge of the Sangha has no dimension as deep nor as infinite as the refuge of the Buddha, is, I suggest, a blindness.

God bless,

Thomas
 
Luke 3:8-9
8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’(I) for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 9 Even now the ax is ready to strike[j] the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”(J)
 
I strongly disagree. When you sit down with members of an indigenous religion, you will find an underlying acceptance of differences in myth and dogma. Like “gee, that is a heck of a creation story, I take it as true for you; but let me share mine”. The point is, there is something shared beyond what you are limiting “Religion” to. Same thing when you get into Daoist or Buddhist or Jainist circles. They may disagree (they have very distinct “Religions”) on ideology or outer form, but they all mutually agree to the core. Or read how Parahansa Yoginanda interprets Chr!st (The Second Coming of Christ) or Sufis (Wine of the Mystic). Quite coherently he sets forth a framework which is extra-Religious (this is quite typical of Vedantic thought, I have heard) but spiritual.

I am afraid one example is enough to bring down your intellectual house-of-cards. Yes, I know that quite a few Catholic and other mystics do agree with you. But in terms of empirical evidence, just one example of “spirituality” that is not rooted in a specific “Religion” in contraindicative.

Why are you so enamored with the role of “religion” in “spirituality” (and I am not talking about the flash-in-the-pan modernists or newagers you use as examples). There are long and well documented schools which blend and meld and moosch “religions” into spirituality (try zen or Ghandi’s blending of Hinduism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity).
 
"I am spiritual, but not religious"
This is repeated so often, it's accepted as axiomatic of an authentic position.

Sadly, it is not.

The attempted separation of the two is relatively modern, and would make no sense at all within the context of an authentic spiritual tradition ... 'reigion' is the outward form of the inward immaterial and formless essence. No religion, no spirituality.

Religion is simply the socio-political manipulation of spiritual philosophy.

At no point does being "religious" and going through the motions of religious observations make one "spiritual".

To myself, someone who claims to be "spiritual" is doing so because of their own *personal* experience of the mystical.

It is absolutely true that someone who is spiritual may find refuge in religion - but it is absolute nonesense to presume anyone who claims to follow a religion has therefore had spiritual insight.

After all, that's the entire point of religion, isn't it? To try and organise and formulate what may or may not be spiritual experience, insight, and revelation so that those without may be provided with a glimpse of what it may be?
 
When you sit down with members of an indigenous religion, you will find an underlying acceptance of differences in myth and dogma.
I don't dispute that, in fact I argue in support of that very point.

What I do argue against is the idea that the 'myth' and 'dogma' and (more important than either of these) the symbols of the great religions are essentially meaningless and disposable.

The point is, there is something shared beyond what you are limiting “Religion” to.
I fundamentally disagree ... I would suggest that one has a false horizon in mind if that is the case.

There is, of course, 'something shared' on this side, the exoteric side, of the great Traditions — man is man after all. The core of the Tradition, its esoteric aspect, is unique to itself, and correspondingly, the Way of each Tradition is likewise absolutely distinct, and utterly self-contained.

The issue is that people look at the exoteric form, that's all they see, and make judgements accordingly. They don't see the interior aspect at all, and assume it's missing, or defective, and thus assume that they, personally, area superior to any given tradition, in that they are greater than it, rather than the other way round.

The contemporary critique of 'religion' was signalled a long time ago by René Guénon. The 'error' is the cultural notion of 'progress' and the idea that a 'civilised society' has no need of religion at all.

This plays into the hands of the counter-tradition, by relegating religion to the periphery rather than its rightful centrality in life; it becomes a matter of personal taste and sensibility, rather than any notion of the Real, the Absolute and the Transcendent.

... Quite coherently he sets forth a framework which is extra-Religious (this is quite typical of Vedantic thought, I have heard) but spiritual.
The aim of religion is union — a state of Oneness and All-in-All, in whatever way that is addressed. Anything extra-religious can only be lesser and the exoteric.

In fact spirituality is defined by and determined by religion, not the other way round.

But in terms of empirical evidence, just one example of “spirituality” that is not rooted in a specific “Religion” in contraindicative.
Example?

Why are you so enamored with the role of “religion” in “spirituality” ...
Religion is spirituality, spirituality is religion ... it's only modernity, with its flawed notions of the Real, it's focus on the absolute materiality of things, its consumer-nature, that sees a difference where none exists.

Basically, 'spiritual but not religious' means I want the benefits, but none of the effort.

I remember when Buddhist chanting was all the rage ... and there the guy was on TV, promoting the virtues of the practice, because he had chanted for a new Porsche, and he got one!

God bless,

Thomas
 
Hi Brian —
Religion is simply the socio-political manipulation of spiritual philosophy.
Sorry Brian, but that's a definition which utterly fails to comprehend what a religion actually is.

Certainly modernity would reduce 'spirituality' — which I would call a way of being according to the Real/Absolute/Transcendent — to a philosophy which is utterly relative and self-focussed, if not self-centred.

At no point does being "religious" and going through the motions of religious observations make one "spiritual".
Actually it can, although 'you can lead a horse to water ... ' religious observation actually puts one in contact with that which lies beyond one's personal psychism.

On the other hand, it is axiomatic that at no point can one claim to be 'spiritual' (beyond reducing that to individual psychism and a set of personal ethics) without adherence to a Traditional religion.

To myself, someone who claims to be "spiritual" is doing so because of their own *personal* experience of the mystical.
The realms of religion are meta-personal and meta-experiential. What you're alluding to is your own personal psychism.

Religion is not about the survival of the (spiritual) fittest, it's about the salvation of all.

It is absolutely true that someone who is spiritual may find refuge in religion - but it is absolute nonesense to presume anyone who claims to follow a religion has therefore had spiritual insight.
I'm not saying that. I would say that it's quite possible that someone who follows a religion has a closer union with the divine — unexperienced and unrealised — than many who assume they have a direct line because of their experience.

I do affirm that, for many, religion has opened a Way to the spiritual far beyond that which they could have achieved without it — I have yet to read a 'Mystic' who decries his or her own Tradition, for example.

And many who glibly say that the mystic transcends the bounds of religion would be hard pressed to find a mystic who supports that claim. Certainly the Eckharts, the Rumis et al are all profoundly attached to and embedded in their respective traditions.

After all, that's the entire point of religion, isn't it? To try and organise and formulate what may or may not be spiritual experience, insight, and revelation so that those without may be provided with a glimpse of what it may be?
No. That's a modern material/consumerist view.

God bless

Thomas
 
The following, Thomas, is a loving comment about your last two posts here. A dialogue to try to explain my views of your views of my and Brian's views.
I would argue that myth, dogma and symbols are instead the essentials of the religious tradition and, as such, are never meaningless. On the other hand, the experience “pointed to” by them are the essence of the tradition.
I do read Guenon, but am a doubter. His packaging and intellectual insights are interesting in the same way others of his ilk are. However, I strongly disagree that he or Yogananda or Ueshiba (or name your favorite cross-pollinator of traditions here) denigrate religion in the manner you speak of. The difference is that while Guenon and other Westerners (we know of whom I am speaking) may hypothesize progress leads us beyond religion, some (perhaps naively, I admit) believe that G!D is the source of all theology (in the classic sense), all religious experience, all Religions. One can be modern (or even post modern) and not fall for the Scylla of ideological intolerance (one way or the highway) or the Charybdis of scientism (the source of your comments about Guenon and counter-tradition). No, one can experience the Real, the Absolute, and the Transcendent absolutely without a tradition (see George Fox’s Journal, Matthew Fox’s 95 Theses, The Art of Peace by Ueshiba Roshi, or The Platform Sutra of Huineng).
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Spirit or Religion? You vote for Religion, I for Spirit. Again, in terms of empirical understanding, the experience (spirit) comes before the idea (G!D). In terms of experiential understanding, the experience (coming to G!D through the H!ly Spirit) comes before the trappings (this or that tradition).
I hvea provided several examples of spirituality not rooted in a specific Religion many times. Try those of Mahavira, Gautama, Laotzi, Chuangzi, Muhammed, Huineng, George Fox, Ghandiji, Yogananda, Ueshiba, Merton, Matthew Fox, Krishnamurti. I am not saying they experienced G!D without a context (hard to do if you are born human and raised in any society). But their experience (as I read them) is inclusive of all manifestations of religion, hence spiritual.

I am not talking about something “all the rage”. That is your context, your belief system. We have practicing Buddhists in Friends, and atheists. What matters is not “how you get to the Inward Light”, but that you listen to it, “experimentally know G!D”.


See, I see Religion as exoteric to the experience (not hidden, but none the less esoteric).

If one accepts that “religion” is required for “spirituality” and “religion” is a function of “Religious Tradition”, I do not see how one can overcome exclusivity. It would mean some one Religious Tradition “has it right”. After 5,000 years (or more) of bloodshed and genocide and hatred, I just cannot accept that. G!D could not be so capricious (jmho). If the L!rd is, I accept my sin on myself and can have it no other way.

Religion (imho) is just the exoteric, the trappings, the husks. The symbols, the experience are not reduced to scientistic gibberish. They are the core of what is spiritual. But by definition, experiencing the D!vine is a personal, not a public event (like thinking versus writing a paper or a dialogue making that thought manifest).
Spirituality has nothing whatsoever to do with the modernist notions of psychism or personal ethics. It is just a singular event witnessed by only G!D and the individual. As I have stated before, spirit is the font. One only meets G!D by first meeting the H!ly Spirit. And “Traditional religion” is a loaded term. Are all other forms of Christianity non-traditional save Catholicism? Is zen non-traditional because it is not rooted in the Pali scriptures? Is Hasidism non-traditional because (some not all) it can accept transmigration. Be careful of thoughts beginning with “All” or “None”.
Your concept of Religion may focus on “the salvation of all” and someone else’s may focus on “survival of the spiritually fittest”. Neither (correct me if I am wrong) Brian nor I accept either of those definitions, Religion is the public manifestation of a private event.
Your concept of Eckhardt and Rumi is also different from mine. I never said (and I would not agree with any who did say) they “decry their religion”. No, they have found one path (each) to G!D, there a billions of other paths. They do not really address the issues raised since the Renaissance and the Reformation, let alone since the advent of scientism. Yogananda, Ueshiba, Matthew Fox, and Ken Wilber are far better examples in the XX!st century.
Quote:
Originally Posted by I, Brian http://www.interfaith.org/forum/the-spiritual-path-15478.html#post269076
After all, that's the entire point of religion, isn't it? To try and organise and formulate what may or may not be spiritual experience, insight, and revelation so that those without may be provided with a glimpse of what it may be?

I quite agree, Brian. In the intellectual, empirical, real-world, hard core realist view this is the tradition all the way back to the original theology of the pre-Socratics. Thomas, for the first time I will state you are in error. Such a view has nothing to do with materialism or consumerism, it has to do with organized rational thought.
In Friendship, radarmark
 
Hi Mr R —

I would argue that myth, dogma and symbols are instead the essentials of the religious tradition and, as such, are never meaningless.
I quite agree. The myth/symbols especially make accessible those things which are often inaccessible. Apophatic theology leaves most people thinking 'what the heck ...?'

I do read Guenon, but am a doubter. His packaging and intellectual insights are interesting in the same way others of his ilk are. However, I strongly disagree that he or Yogananda or Ueshiba (or name your favorite cross-pollinator of traditions here) denigrate religion in the manner you speak of.
I think we've crossed wires here? I don't think Guénon denigrates religion, quite the reverse, he's trying to bring the authentic religious dimension into public consciousness. I would say the likes of Yogananda or Ueshiba are dependent upon, and a derivation of, Tradition (Ueshiba, for example, didn't invent aikido, nor did he invent Zen), whereas Guénon stands for Tradition as such.

No, one can experience the Real, the Absolute, and the Transcendent absolutely without a tradition ...
I disagree ... but I think our views of what constitues a religion/tradition arer quite different. I'll post on what I think separately.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Spirit or Religion?
That's the problem as I see it — it's not either/or — religion is the form through which the spirit becomes accessible. You can't have one without the other. It's like call and response ...

The divorce of religion and spirituality; the cultural marginalisation and relativisation of both, is, if I were speaking in a Christian context, the mark of the Antichrist. In Brahminic terms, its the Kali Yuga.

No traditional culture observes such a distinction, and no authentic Tradition points in that direction. The West is awash with modern commentaries that support the thesis, but then I'm with the Perennialists, in that such is the product of those for whom the esoteric dimension is occluded.

Again, in terms of empirical understanding, the experience (spirit) comes before the idea (G!D).
Philosophically speaking, yes — and I use the term 'philosophy' in its modern and secular sense. Traditional philosophy always had a theurgic dimension.

In terms of the Traditional realm, there is the experience, which is a response to the Divine call, and the idea, which is the veil of the experience, but the experience is itself a veil. The quest for 'experience' is itself part of the modernist (materialist/consumerist) illusion. That's where Tradition/religion comes into its own ... it goes beyond the empirical domain, and without it, the seeker would be completely at loss, indeed would assume nothing is happening. The assumption that God or the Holy Spirit has to be, or even can be, experienced is a false one.

Take the koan, it's a breakthrough ... but nothing has changed, and yet everything has. Take the old saw: 'Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water' — everything is the same, but everything is different. What is being experienced is not the Other, 'but self-in-relation-to' ... the Other is not, and cannot be, experienced, although it can be known, as every text implies, as 'a dark knowing'. The light comes when we dewal with our neighbour and with the world.

That is why I stand against the marginalisation of religion to the personal and private — that's not it at all. We are here to sacralise the world by what we put into it, not experience something outside or beyond it, or fleee from the world into our own private interior domain ('the flight of the alone to the Alone').

In effect, people want the reward to justify making the effort. That's the crisis of faith, the real 'Dark Night of the Soul', when God expects you to be good because it is only right and proper — He shouldn't have to declare Himself first, or offer a reward, for us to be what we're supposed to be anyway. Look at the appeal of 'the mystical', and yet, if you said, 'absolutely nothing happens, other than knowing you're doing the right thing', then the appeal would wane significantly.

In terms of experiential understanding, the experience (coming to G!D through the H!ly Spirit) comes before the trappings (this or that tradition).
But even now you're talking in terms of traditional Christianity ... ?

I have provided several examples of spirituality not rooted in a specific Religion many times...
I think they're all derivative, even those that claim independence. Certainly none of them comprise a Revelation.

But their experience (as I read them) is inclusive of all manifestations of religion, hence spiritual.
I disagree. The assumption is that any given tradition is inadequate or incomplete in itself, that a superior 'enlightenment' can be attained through Buddhism plus bits and bobs from elsewhere, for example.

The notion that by a bit of this, and a bit of that, one can transcend the bounds of this and that tradition, indicates how misunderstood Tradition is, because traditions are in themselves boundless and inexhaustible, they require no external augmentation, nor can anything be added.

What results is an expansion on the horizonal domain, at best ... but usually what results is the lesson that one cannot ride two horses, or serve two masters, nor does sitting on the fence get you anywhere, either. The 'explanation' indicates that one is actually serving oneself, through half-understood aphorisms picked up from here and there.

What matters is not “how you get to the Inward Light”, but that you listen to it, “experimentally know G!D”.
Oooh ... talk to a Buddhist meditation teacher ... they might have a different view.

See, I see Religion as exoteric to the experience (not hidden, but none the less esoteric).
And I see the desire for 'experience' as not what religion/spirituality is about ...

I do not see how one can overcome exclusivity...
You can't. Authentic Revelation, by its very nature, is exclusive because it is a disclosure of the Absolute that allows for and needs nothing else, so every religion is exclusive in the sense that it is entire and complete in itself, and suffers no dependency.

It would mean some one Religious Tradition “has it right”.
Each one does have it right ... it's only the inflexible mind that cannot grasp this. Each and every religion 'has it right' with regard to its aim. So Buddhism has it right about Enlightenment, but that is not to say that 'enlightenment' is not a constituent of any other Tradition.

After 5,000 years (or more) of bloodshed and genocide and hatred, I just cannot accept that. G!D could not be so capricious (jmho).
But man is. In fact more people have died in the hands of non-religious institutions over the last century or so than any time previously, so the finger rather points to man being at fault, and for all his secular superiority, he seems to have utterly failed in that regard.

Religion (imho) is just the exoteric, the trappings, the husks.
I see quite the opposite.

But by definition, experiencing the D!vine is a personal, not a public event.
I absolutely disagree. This kind of thinking removes God from the world, and from human (and other) interaction. I would say the Divine is beyond experience, I would say if one wants to find God, find your neighbour.

Spirituality has nothing whatsoever to do with the modernist notions of psychism or personal ethics.
No it doesn't ... but the latter is what many pursue as 'spiritual'. I was a cult member for many years, and I led groups i
on intense Hermetic journeys. I've come face to 'face' with things I know by name but cannot explain, I've taken students into 'Merlin's Cave', I've done tarot readings that have left people asking how I can read their innermost secrets, I had someone ask why, when in lecture, one moment I looked like a 7-year-old kid, the next moment like someone utterly ancient ... but all this is in the order of psychic phenomena. Spirit? Nah ... the Holy Spirit doesn't go in for theatricals. I did, and I was bloody good at it...

As I have stated before, spirit is the font. One only meets G!D by first meeting the H!ly Spirit.
But surely, without the Christian tradition, you'd be lost for words?

Are all other forms of Christianity non-traditional save Catholicism?
No. The only 'non-traditional' forms are the ones that declare tradition to be void. I'd say the Reformation was the turning point, when man began to rationalise God to suit his own ends.

You must know that as a Catholic, I'm somewhat easy-going. If I were Orthodox, I'd say you're all talking about stuff you know absolutely nothing about. Theology in the Orthodox Traditions should only be thought about by those in Holy Orders. There was an Orthodox (Greek, I think) Monk in the US recently who basically said that outside the monastery and the close community, everyone else was lost.

Is zen non-traditional because it is not rooted in the Pali scriptures?
Are you sure it's not? (Guénon used to think that Buddhism amounted to nothing more than a 'Hindu heresy' (but then he was taught that by Hindus).)

Your concept of Religion may focus on “the salvation of all” and someone else’s may focus on “survival of the spiritually fittest”. Neither (correct me if I am wrong) Brian nor I accept either of those definitions, Religion is the public manifestation of a private event.
I absolutely disagree. Religion is fundamentally central to every culture, indeed its the root and cause and sustenance of many cultures. None of the great Traditions are 'private' in that sense.

No, they have found one path (each) to G!D, there a billions of other paths.[/quote]
Within the Way, each person walks his own path ... but Eckhart's is unmistakably Catholic, Rumi is unmistakably Moslem, and they would soundly refute the notion of a 'personal path' outside the Tradition.

Yogananda, Ueshiba, Matthew Fox, and Ken Wilber are far better examples in the XX!st century.
I think in many ways they exemplify everything that Guénon was warning of ...

... Such a view has nothing to do with materialism or consumerism, it has to do with organized rational thought.
So Religion is irrational? Is Augustine? Is Aquinas?

To me, the Reformation (emergent nationalism trying to get out from under the yoke of Rome) shows what happens when man tries to rationalise that which transcends him ... he's left with a shell and a moral dressing.

In friendship,

God bless,

Thomas
 
thomas --

I think that people prefer to consider themselves spiritual, as opposed to religious, as all religions, no matter how perfect they seem to the faithful, have flaws and laws that the average Joe and Jospehine cannot comfortably and publicly accept.

Instead of disparaging them for the irreligiosity, be glad they exist. Be glad that, while they may abandon the outward manifestations of a single, specific faith, they still identify as "believers", in some way.

The door may look closed, to you, but really, it's ajar. That means there's hope... if God knocks... they'll hear him...

Unless a human lives in isolation, "spirituality" does have shape, and form -all that has come before is relevant, in it's historical context, in it's ability or inability to be relevant to today, and today's people, in how alike or different it is to what you, personally, believe. And, in spite of what you personally believe, spiritual experiences, big, all-powerful events DO happen to ordinary men and women, and we're not just talking in the sense of metaphors.

Personally, I am not religious. I have tried to be the archetypal devotee in many different faith groups, and I could not stomach, wholly, any of them.

Tastes so sweet in the mouth, like honey, but, in the stomach...

But I have still found... fruits. Had experiences that have been "extras". And, well, confusing, bewildering, so large and magnificent such experiences are that a human would be brainless not to try to find parallels between his experience and that of other peoples. I have. I see echoes of my experience in many diverse faiths and unfaiths, new traditions and old, and in lots of different places. I'm no big know-it-all, or a wannabe guru. I'm just an ordinary human being who's a bit odd thanks to God.

But, you're right in one respect-- these experiences are not the "goal" of practise, of course, but they do exist, and people stagger upon them pretty frequently (I surmise, based on my own ordinariness).

People are advised NOT to pursue such experiences, not because they are distracting, and not because they are not worth much, but because the majority of people do not have the... particular faculty to be able to ever have such experiences, and people will work for years to achieve something that is actually, for the majority, unattainable.

This psychicism is completely seperate to spirituality, and also religiosity, but without an appreciation of both, the psychicism means nothing...

I feel that your opinion, is that such "transports of the mystics" have no real intrinsic value, are inauthentic experiences because they do not come from "saints", but you do not have to uphold a certain faith to be able to appreciate it's merits, or indeed sample it's fruits.

Look at St Ignatius' spiritual exersises... Tried them? Powerful stuff. Didn't believe before? You will.

But is this process authentic? Have merit?

You might see that "spirituality was a perjorative", but your confusing the word spirituality with spiritualism, I think. It's true that original starters, the table tappers and the ectoplasmic vomiters -- they where all laughed at, and yet the spiritualist movement grew from such vaudervillian roots. People such as yourself may view such believers as ... cranks, or conmen, but.... although they too, like all faith groups, have imperfections, some of them are "authentic", and have... abilities.

Not everyone has them. Having them doesn't mean you're better, or more worthy than anyone else. It won't make you lots of money or give you fame, and no, it's not the goal of spiritual practise, spiritual practises may enable you to uncover such gifts and have them for yourself.

(In my ever humble opinion)

Thomas, you state: (although correct me if I'm wrong) that [going your own way, spiritually]...

"It is promulgated (knowingly) by those who wish to isolate the individual from the collective ... because it's easier to beguile the individual than it is to beguile someone who belongs, and who practices, a given tradition. What is not generally realised is that the Traditions actually offer a very real and necessary spiritual 'cover' for those who follow in its way, and for those who follow in its way, their engagement would be, under any other circumstance, precarious, if not actually dangerous".

--Some of this, I have to accept, and agree with. Orthodox religions DO contain ... "useful artefacts, and trainings" for people with undirected gifts, and can provide a sanctuary wherein people can develop such gifts in a supportive and structured way, but... there isn't just "one way" to uncover these fruits. It is... dangerous... to go it alone -- my own experiences testify to that, but... maybe that's the will of God, God's plan, etc. Maybe the world needs a few mavericks, to maintain equipoise.

There IS spiritual advancement available, outside the great Traditions. I have found it, and others have found it, too. It is not that there is status in it -- there is no visible fruits -- no bishopric, no mitre, no crozier, but, it's there.

Spirit existed before religion, before codified religion, before scholastic wisdom, people still believed in something, some unifying principles, usually some capricious, nature-beings who governed and ruled and needed to be propititated -- but they believed. As man becomes more sophisticated in his reasoning, so too does God advance, intellectually. Perhaps this general movement away from othodoxy benefits God, and is also part of God's plan... ?

How much easier it might be if we still all just prayed for sunshine and occasional rain....

Many spiritual people DO love the Lord, their God. The emphasis, though, on being "theirs". Maybe they err in this, but, at least they're still trying to love something, and it might be "religion-lite", but it's better than them all being atheists.

Complete devotion to anything is like a sickness. Neurosis, psychosis; these are psychopathological conditions. Unhealthy. We are humans, not Gods. We're imperfect, we like to have fun, we make art, and music. God doesn't mind. Becoming cloistered, until all we can see is God? That way lies madness...

More noble, and heroic, it is, to strive towards one's own interpretation, based on feeling, based on what seems to be good, and right, and, dare I say it, godly. The outcome, here, is perhaps not as important as the process, but I think God is big enough to not mind too much...
 
Commenting on the thread so far:

Consideration is the crystal of tradition. If you put aside anything for the good of someone else, that is a very tiny tradition; but normally Tradition represents the actions of numerous people and many such actions. It can also include a accumulation of wisdom, but this by itself is not tradition. Tradition is not a museum or a book. A tradition sees loyalty as superior to time, and in traditions, Zeus stands superior even to Chronos.

Tradition begins when you put others first: In modern times some families make eating together a small tradition, though food is prepacked and plentiful in many places. Each family member gives up eating what they like, and they eat the same thing for the benefit of their relationships. A family may choose not to put their aged members into a old folks home, sacrificing time for loyalty and family. Time is what modern people tend to value the most, but in a tradition this takes a back seat.

Thomas said:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself" Luke 10:27
Such a love demands the engagement of the whole person, nothing less will suffice.
Here also we have God included in a tradition like another family member. Apparently this tradition involves shared wisdom as well as shared effort.
 
"Spiritual" used to be equated the lack of organized structure, clergy and dogmatic hierarchy that churches invariably have to a certain extent.
A spiritual person does not accept and superiority or knowledge of an "anointed" clergymen based upon his schooling and fancy clothes and hat he puts on. He demands more. Some inner experience and perhaps magnetism that most clergymen clearly lack.
Of course nowadays, in spiritual circles we also have personified sacred cows, lecturers, pseudo gurus... what not - BUT at least this is emerged from an accepting base of followers not some clerical decision from the churches' hierarchy. More stench of money and business like behavior is demonstrated -more people turn away from them. The Spiritual and Church used to be run on a parallel course which has taken a turn where they are beginning to narrow and merge into each other.
 
"Spiritual" used to be equated the lack of organized structure, clergy and dogmatic hierarchy that churches invariably have to a certain extent.
A spiritual person does not accept and superiority or knowledge of an "anointed" clergymen based upon his schooling and fancy clothes and hat he puts on. He demands more. Some inner experience and perhaps magnetism that most clergymen clearly lack.
Of course nowadays, in spiritual circles we also have personified sacred cows, lecturers, pseudo gurus... what not - BUT at least this is emerged from an accepting base of followers not some clerical decision from the churches' hierarchy. More stench of money and business like behavior is demonstrated -more people turn away from them. The Spiritual and Church used to be run on a parallel course which has taken a turn where they are beginning to narrow and merge into each other.
Isn't it the journey that matters? The well-paved and weeded garden path or the haphazard path full of weeds and wildflowers? Is there anywhere Spirit can't be found?
 
I would say that the more we can learn about the Truth behind ALL religions, the less we will be concerned about how we are perceived ... as being spiritual but not religious, or in attunement with the Divine yet free from ecclesiasticism and didactics.

The number who fit this latter description may now be untold, as generation after generation is raised in one or another of the ~38,000 Christian denominations, then drops away to pursue the Road to Enlightenment and Salvation directly.

Most often we hear people speak positively for the Truths of the Gospel message as taught and demonstrated by the Christ, or the living example of the Buddha and other Great Ones ... yet seldom do we see anything other than a disconnect when someone insists upon this or that Holy Scripture being the "road to his or her Salvation," or "Deliverance being found *only* within the Church."

We know, because most of us here have already reached this stage and passed it, that Salvation, Liberation and Deliverance are essentially internal, personal and initiatory experiences, however well they may also illustrate Cosmic and Universal LAW.

When a person knows, from experience and from participation, that LOVE is the highest LAW, this leaves that person with a (growing) recognition that the spiritual life is not constituted, and not defined, by a participation within some one or another *particular tradition* ... but rather by the ongoing daily choice to belong to the ONE Tradition ~ which has ever existed since mankind first set foot (or took his existence) upon this planet.

It is only when one person tries to lord his own RELIGION over the heads, even the hearts, of another that we become divided, for every human being has the capacity within to instinctively, intuitively and inherently realize when EGO, to whatever subtle degree or for whatever shady designs has tainted the Gospel message ... of a Buddha, of a Christ, of a lofty Deva (Angel), and so on.

Thus, where Brotherly Love is practiced (and not simply preached), there too is Christ. Where the Group Spirit is allowed to flourish, and where the Greatest Good of the greatest number is intentionally, demonstrably held above the separative desires or preferences of the individual, there too is Buddha Nature. And where a Harmony is recognized as existing, and as needing to exist between inner and outer, between the subjective and the objective, between Humanity and our environment, there too is a Divine Harmony which is EVIDENCE OF the binding relationship between each individualized being and God, and shared between the latter and ALL creatures under God's Yoke.

This latter condition is what distinguishes true religion and practitioners from all pretenses to the same, including such ostentatious displays as putting on all the *trappings* ... while nowhere (or far less genuinely) lending evidence of the SPIRIT (of the Buddha, of the Christ and of the HARMONY which IS the Divine Spirit, and which also knows Itself) at the very Heart of All.

Consider that one of the most Spiritual, and one of the most Enlightened men of the previous century is best known not for his religiousity or his espousal of one particular relgious TRADITION, let alone over any other. Rather, Albert Einstein is known first and foremost in the Western world as a great scientist, and as one who taught us a great deal about the physical, material world which we all, unquestionably inhabit as our current home.

Perhaps a fitting testimony to the power of Truth over *all* illusion and over the ability of the modern world (with its religious diversity) to confuse and derail us (from our Soul's Holy Purpose, on this Journey we are all undertaking together) ... is the fact that many also know Einstein for the Saint and the Prophet, the Holy Man that he most obviously was ~ and remains. For without him, not only would we know far less about the Universe we inhabit, both local and distant, we would also be far less well equipped for some of the greatest discoveries - about ourselves - which lie ahead.

This, it seems, is what some of Einstein's greatest discoveries and contributions were: a witness to the boldness, to the Power and also to the humbleness of the human Spirit, itself subject to and undergoing the Human condition ... inescapably, for the most part and for the most of us, here on Planet Earth, at this time.

One can acknowledge [that] SPIRIT, even know something about how we are all related (thereby), past, present and future. We can also discuss the long tradition of Saviours and Apostles, Sages and Avatars which have come forth from the Divine to Minister to and to guide us (as well as the other Kingdoms, for God Loves His own, and only the blind fail to know these as existing all around us, `above and below,' and even constituting our very being, just as we constitute in our collective greater Being/s still).

But it is only in our ignorance that we fail to recognize the Divine, as the DIGNITY within every human being ... and feel the need and the urge to respond to such, to better the human condition (instead of denigrating each other, or slandering the very Prophets, vilifying God's Messengers out of envy, pettiness, or a most unholy wrath).

Jagganatha isn't into mind games, or ego justification, or religious conversions ... and God isn't worried whether you call yourself spiritual or not, or consider yourself religious, or even whether your friends do ~ or whether they perceive the good in you at all. The most that God would be concerned about, is what you are doing with what you have been given. As it has been said, "Ye who have been given the Light, what are you doing with it?"

Leave all other such questioning and judgments to the ignorant and to the vain. These love to speak of their accomplishments, of their egos, and of their reward. And certainly, they HAVE their reward.
 
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
"He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

Isn't it the journey that matters? The well-paved and weeded garden path or the haphazard path full of weeds and wildflowers? Is there anywhere Spirit can't be found?
 
myth, dogma, symbolism.....are completely disposable.... to some...

they are required....by others...

now those some, may find a time in their life where they feel the need to touch the hem of the garment.

and the others may find a time where their 'faith alone' is enough.

Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Lao, Tony Robbins.... (hey, I didn't say Jim Jones or David Koresh!) (oh, Ok I guess I did, but get over it) they are all our apparitions our Gurus, Prophets, G!ds that we believe we need.

And it is true....for some, but for others....

Just because I need/needed the teachings of Jesus, to develop my understanding does not mean everyone does.

When so many of us have changed and gained from various traditions, why do we think our latest and greatest is the be all and end all? And if one has only followed, only reveled and rolled in one tradition their entire lives, sometimes to the elimination of exploration of other beliefs, and some giving a cursory once over and discounting the faith of millions....

How can we continue to be so sanctimonious?

Do we always prefer to be right?

the love hate relationship of the ego continues.....
 
Bingo. I am not putting down anyone whose search is different from mine but it is right to point out that the road has many winding turns, dead ends and perils. There is a direct line from a->b or myriads of variants. I address those who seek the fastest route and I say to them ignore everybody and look within. It is ok to follow and gaze upon charlatans but in the end don't come to me crying :) because we all reap what we sow.....
wil, it is ok to look upon the masters (Jesus, Buddha, Moses, HPB(!) etc) but those who NOW claim to be special in their name - BEWARE.
myth, dogma, symbolism.....are completely disposable.... to some...

they are required....by others...

now those some, may find a time in their life where they feel the need to touch the hem of the garment.

and the others may find a time where their 'faith alone' is enough.

Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Lao, Tony Robbins.... (hey, I didn't say Jim Jones or David Koresh!) (oh, Ok I guess I did, but get over it) they are all our apparitions our Gurus, Prophets, G!ds that we believe we need.

And it is true....for some, but for others....

Just because I need/needed the teachings of Jesus, to develop my understanding does not mean everyone does.

When so many of us have changed and gained from various traditions, why do we think our latest and greatest is the be all and end all? And if one has only followed, only reveled and rolled in one tradition their entire lives, sometimes to the elimination of exploration of other beliefs, and some giving a cursory once over and discounting the faith of millions....

How can we continue to be so sanctimonious?

Do we always prefer to be right?

the love hate relationship of the ego continues.....
 
Hi SA —

But, you're right in one respect-- these experiences are not the "goal" of practise, of course, but they do exist, and people stagger upon them pretty frequently (I surmise, based on my own ordinariness).
I am not denying experience, nor its personal value, but I do argue that it's no objective measure nor expression of 'spirituality' nor 'religion' in the traditional sense. Up until the last couple of hundred years, the two words were synonymous. In Christian Russia, and the Christian East, they still are.

In short, it's a western invention, based on nothing but unfounded and often erroneous presupposition.

The separation of the two removes the union with God from the vertical axis to the periphery, in that it refutes its universal nature and renders it according to personal disposition. It removes God from the world, as it renders religious observance as something 'private' and 'interior' as opposed to 'real' and 'actual'. It removes God from the centre, and puts man in his place, in that man now determines the nature and character of the spirituality in question, according to himself, rather than shaping himself according to something transmitted (which is what tradition is). In fact in every sense, this most recent mindset is an inversion of that spoken of in every tradition, and I leave the implication of that as an open question.

Take the Sermon on the Mount ... it says it all.

Put the other way round ... are those who don't have 'experiences' non-spiritual? No. So there's no reason to assume that those who do have experiences, are.

So if someone is defining themselves as a spiritual person, according to their experience, then such experiences can be many things — a reaction of the physical faculty to an apprehension of the divine; a reaction of the physical faculty to an apprehension of one's own psychic nature; a product of an over-stimulated psychism, or even just an over-stimulated imagination. Even when the 'experience' is a reaction to the divine, it is a by-product, it is not the content of the communication. had there been no reaction, the experience would be no less valid for that.

Most traditions are very wary of 'experience', and of course secularism explains it all away completely. It is, after all, the most fallible element in the whole equation.

Even where 'experience' plays a significant part, such as in Native American and other shamanic traditions, it is never undertaken without guidance ... it's absolutely axiomatic that it has its place only within the guru/disciple relationship.

People are advised NOT to pursue such experiences ...
Which only argues that it's no part of an authentic relation to the divine. If it were necessary, it would be.

This psychicism is completely seperate to spirituality, and also religiosity, but without an appreciation of both, the psychicism means nothing...
I would rather say a flawed psychism produces a flawed view of religion and spirituality.

I feel that your opinion, is that such "transports of the mystics" have no real intrinsic value, are inauthentic experiences because they do not come from "saints"
Not at all. I'm saying not all mystics were given to 'transports' — Eckhart wasn't, and he's regarded as a mystic in and out of the Christian Tradition — I'm saying the 'transport' is often a side-effect. And look at the Christian mystics who were supposedly given to 'transports' — secularism says they're delusions, or epilepsy ... and there's some truth in that ... and again, the East, both Christian and other, regard these mystics as subject to oversentimetalism.

Eckhart is interesting. Many assume that 'he must have' had mystical experiences, in the same way that many of my generation assumed Pink Floyd must have done LSD ... but the evidence says he never did, nor did he need to. There are other less famous mystics who have said no less than Eckhart, and who make it quite clear they are working according to a mode of unknowing, not according to the fruit of experience.

(And in fact the evidence is that when poor Sid Barrett did, his creativity went straight down the toilet. Same with Peter Green, who was crippled as a musician as a result of being spiked with LSD. So much for its opening the doors to enlightenment!)

You might see that "spirituality was a perjorative", but your confusing the word spirituality with spiritualism, I think.
Actually no. It was used perjoratively when the attempt was first made to separate 'religion' from 'spirituality'. Spiritualism, and worse spiritism, are just markers of an increasingly worsening condition.

It's true that original starters, the table tappers and the ectoplasmic vomiters -- they where all laughed at, and yet the spiritualist movement grew from such vaudervillian roots. People such as yourself may view such believers as ... cranks, or conmen, but.... although they too, like all faith groups, have imperfections, some of them are "authentic", and have... abilities.
Those abilities are part of the natural faculty, they do not depend on God at all.

There IS spiritual advancement available, outside the great Traditions.
Outside of the data of the great Traditions, how would anyone know? If there were, it would have its own language, lexicon, practices ... in effect it would be a recognisable tradition ... but there aren't. What is discussed is within the context of the language of tradition, by a majority who appropriate the terminology, but don't really understand it. Look at modern Theosophy, for example.

Spirit existed before religion, before codified religion, before scholastic wisdom, people still believed in something, some unifying principles, usually some capricious, nature-beings who governed and ruled and needed to be propititated -- but they believed.
No, spirit and religion were never separate ...

As man becomes more sophisticated in his reasoning, so too does God advance, intellectually. Perhaps this general movement away from othodoxy benefits God, and is also part of God's plan... ?
Not really, more it's man's plan for God.

The contemporary idea is born out of the thinking of the Enlightenment thru Post-Modernism. Man believed that he could determine nature througn science, and in this he thinks he can determine God through sentimentality. Now nature has come back to bite man in the arse ...

How much easier it might be if we still all just prayed for sunshine and occasional rain....
That is so very true.

Many spiritual people DO love the Lord, their God. The emphasis, though, on being "theirs". Maybe they err in this, but, at least they're still trying to love something, and it might be "religion-lite", but it's better than them all being atheists.
I don't dispute that. I'd simply like them to acknowlwdge that it is 'religion lite' and the 'sheep' and the 'camp followers' and the 'blind faithful' they dismiss so discurteously might actually be a long way further down the road than they are or will ever be.

Complete devotion to anything is like a sickness.
D'you think so? I tend to think otherwise.

More noble, and heroic, it is, to strive towards one's own interpretation, based on feeling, based on what seems to be good, and right, and, dare I say it, godly.
If that were true, then we'd burn everything we learn eacg generation, and styart from scratch again. Should we ignore the past, and invent medicine anew each generation? Or science?

God bless,

Thomas
 
Thomas said:
many of my generation assumed Pink Floyd must have done LSD ... There are other less famous mystics who have said no less than Eckhart, and who make it quite clear they are working according to a mode of unknowing, not according to the fruit of experience. (And in fact the evidence is that when poor Sid Barrett did, his creativity went straight down the toilet. Same with Peter Green, who was crippled as a musician as a result of being spiked with LSD. So much for its opening the doors to enlightenment!)
um, yes, but the trouble with this line of argument (and i'm really, really not arguing that drugs are a good thing) is that there's no evidence that hendrix's drug habits harmed his *creativity*; it was his *behaviour associated with drug-taking* - i.e. getting so off your face that you'd throw up in your sleep and asphyxiate. by the same token, since the red hot chili peppers were clean, they're also rubbish. back when they were good (up to approx. 1995) they were off their tits the whole time. i think the relationship between hallucinogenics and creativity is very, very complicated; so is the relationship between mental illness and creativity. and, consequently, so is the relationship between mental illness and ecstatic religious experience. just ask shabbetai tsvi or abraham abulafia. in short, i'm not sure we entirely understand the synergies - either potentially positive or potentially catastrophic. in these matters, careful study of the experience of the "four who entered PaRDeS" is instructive.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
"Spiritual" used to be equated the lack of organized structure, clergy and dogmatic hierarchy that churches invariably have to a certain extent.
I wonder if you could evidence that with references? I can't think of any such 'disorganised spiritual structure' off the top of my head. Spiritual was never used as a concept distinct from religious, as far as I am aware.

In my studies of those one might regard as spiritual, their lives were highly organised and structured, indeed the self-discipline of 'spiritual practice' is far more demanding than of the lay faithful, for example.

A spiritual person does not accept and superiority or knowledge of an "anointed" clergymen based upon his schooling and fancy clothes and hat he puts on. He demands more. Some inner experience and perhaps magnetism that most clergymen clearly lack.
Actually, I think the 'spiritual' person accepts the authority of the Tradition he or she follows, which transcends contingent factors such as this person or that ...

God bless,

Thomas
 
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