A Serious Matter

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by davidelkins, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    Hi Devil's Advocate.

    You red, me black.

    Admittedly it was an analogy, simplified for the sake of clarification. To be more specific, we all have a nature which contains the duality within us.
    Ah, gotcha. Many read that in Scripture as inferring duality. You and I see it the Hebrew holistic way, but the Hellenic dualism still permeates most thinking on the matter.

    The body-soul dichotomy is a persistent one, but false, according to the Traditions. Many Christians of all stripes see the soul as one thing, residing (willingly or otherwise, depending on how 'gnostic' you want to be about it) in a body, which is another thing.

    I would say the soul is the self-reflective being's sense of selfhood, and the body is the soul's act of being present in and to the natural world. They body is the physical manifestation of the soul, and in that sense they are one. Soul is essence of the being, body is substance of the being.

    It is more a sliding scale from one extreme to the other, rather than two points of absolutes. People fall on different points on that scale. The reasons are myriad, essentially fall into the two broad categories of nature & nurture.
    Agreed.

    People have an instinct, I agree, though not necessarily for what is right. Nor does everyone desire knowledge. That is more than obvious in the world today where all too many people choose to desire ignorance.
    Agreed. I would add this is in our nature, rather than a conscious decision. We see that choice as a moral weakness rather than an intellectual position, if that makes sense. Open a discussion on Original Sin ...

    Ascesis, however, is reserved mostly for the most ardent followers, not the religious population in general.
    I agree, as we tend to qualify it that way. But I would suggest even giving up sweets for Lent is ascesis. Forgiveness is ascesis. revenge is giving way to sin.

    And the nature of the self-discipline is at the core of where we differ. Self discipline is not as simple as a choice of 'just do not sin'. Would that it were. I perceive that as an over simplification.
    I think we agree in broad terms, but perhaps draw lines in different places?

    The saint, I think, has the ability to see things simply. To act, in humanist terms, altruistically, although altruism is central to Christianity. (Indeed, I think all religion.)

    Even the saint falls short however, simply because he or she is not omniscient. So they act 'for the best' in the hope of 'doing the right thing'. I don't see why they should have to contemplate the wrong thing, when it doesn't rise in them to do it?

    Then again, if I say the question is simple, I agree we make it enormously complex out of all manner of fallibility.

    For one, how does one decide what is the sin and what isn't. Yes, many of the time, it is clear to see. Just as often, the difference is much cloudier. And what of the choices where one must choose the lesser of the evils. There are no good choices, only levels of bad ones. They are all technically sin in this case, yet a choice must still be made.
    I accept all that except the bit about 'no good choices' in every instance. I believe in altruism.

    The above is a very orthodox point of view. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, mind you.
    I don't think it's wrong, either. ;)

    In my reality, though, our darker nature is not inherently evil.
    Ah, we could be into semantics here. I agree on this. We hold that human nature is inherently good, but corrupted. (OS again.) Sometimes we do the wrong thing out of ignorance, in which case, not a sin. I don't see light and dark, rather light and the absence of light. So it's not the case, if I may simplify, that my soul is light here, and dark there, but rather the light of my soul is constant, but some souls are lighter than mine, some are darker.

    Rather than light and dark, I would say light, and its luminosity?

    Take extreme anger as an example. We all have had such dark moments in our lives. If one takes that anger out on another, that is evil. If one takes that anger and uses it as a drive to make a meaningful change for the better, that is good. There is always the choice within each of us. It is how we choose that makes us good or not. This applies to both sides of our nature; the light and the dark.
    Agreed.

    Very cosmologist of you. ;) Yes, fundamentally, light and dark are but differences of the same state. The limited senses which we have to perceive them, though, means that they might as well be real. They are real to us as a species. And they affect us in real ways, too.

    Yup.

    We radically differ on this one.
    Not sure we do ...

    Suppressing the dark side is fueling it.
    That's what I meant.

    We see this in the world around us everywhere we look. Where is there the most sexual perversion? Where sex is suppressed ...
    I disagree ... what was considered perverse a couple of generations ago is now acceptable. Not suppressing our base tendencies means allowing them, surely?

    Is it a coincidence that it is the Catholic Church that has the most problem with sexual abuse of children?
    Sorry but I don't want to get side-tracked into this.

    Yes, the demon thing was unfortunate, my bad as much as yours ...

    I still think I'm not sure how you define 'dark'?
     
  2. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2014
    Messages:
    2,086
    Likes Received:
    378
    I've seen this dispute before, I suspect it has more to do what ascetic acts we are talking about. Fast was very common here not too long ago and still a big part of [insert volume] religious practice today. Cup O' Tea.

    I didn't see this post snuck in there before Thomas'. He mentioned something similar though so my response is to both of you.

    From my point of view you are both misusing the definition of ascetic and asceticism. Fasting for a holiday is not comparable with an ascetic act. Asceticism is much more substantial than that.

    Definition:
    characterized by or suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.

    My comments earlier were a reflection of this definition. Asceticism requires extreme self-discipline. Much, much more than the average person who goes to mass once a week (or even a couple of times per week) is willing to invest in.

    In other words, a modest asceticism is a contradiction in terms.

    Thomas, more on the Dark in a bit. There is some pondering to be done!
     
  3. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Messages:
    3,293
    Likes Received:
    555
    You should know that I see dictionaries as descriptive and not prescriptive, I think they try to describe complicated things in a neat and concise format and often lose the nuances that make up the world we describe around us. This often comes up here so be prepared.

    Wikipedia gives a broader and inclusive description that falls in line with what I was saying.
     
  4. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Messages:
    21,270
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    the little snacks entice us to want bigger meals... baby steps lead to walking, climbing, running...
     
  5. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2014
    Messages:
    2,086
    Likes Received:
    378
    Cup I understand what you are saying about dictionaries. Dictionaries are an artificial construct in the sense that they do attempt to distill down the nuances in favor of a solid definition.

    To my way of thinking both types of definition are important - the solid definition and the nuanced definition. They work together to give us the sum of the meaning.

    Where I would disagree with you is that your expanded definition really says anything different from the distilled definition. Asceticism, in your Wikipedia quote still says:

    a deeper level of satisfaction and fulfillment is to be found than that offered by sensual pleasures and therefore promote the value of abstaining from these common, ordinary pleasures in the pursuit of acquiring deep inner peace.

    This is not the practice of the typical modern day religious lay person. It is more the practice of the priest class. The genuine practice, to my way of thinking is those monks who live a truly monastic life. That follows the definition of asceticism most closely.
     
  6. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Messages:
    3,293
    Likes Received:
    555
    I haven't grown up with a lot religion around me so I wouldn't know. I also think we need to specify which group of religious practitioners you're talking about because I have the sense that religion has been somewhat watered down in some cultures. Adhering to religion out of tradition or without effort is not the way I see religion personally. Just quickly looking over my observed experiences of different religious practise preformed by devoted individuals I see a foundation of general abstinence. But it is a personal observation and I bow before an expert of the field.
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Messages:
    21,270
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    I went through some struggles and contemplation about entering into a monks life...focusing on the spiritual...letting the material, politic, and the rest go...

    And while my studies have got me in the process of paring down....I've lost the need for a big house and pool (well the kids have gone off to college) and I am looking forward to continuing to reduce the crap I own... I chose to live in the world.

    During meditations and contemplation on the topic I decided (it was revealed?) that I was born into 3d to experience it, to revel in it....and the challenge of utilizing the spiritual to enjoy it... for me it is the combination, the mixture of the two that is the blessing... it feels like separation, using the principles without the conflict of politics and war, and life itself is cheating a little... (emphasize FOR ME...others choices are their own and I am sure make sense to them)

    '
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    I suppose who's definition you go with. The trouble with those who pursue a 'severe asceticism' is that there's the very distinct possibility it's 'spiritual elitism' and 'the mortification of the flesh' can be taken to psychologically unhealthy extremes.

    I am especially dubious of those who insist on its necessity. Self-dsicipline, yes. Self-denial, yes ... but anything injurious to the faculties is suspect, in my book.
     
  9. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2014
    Messages:
    2,086
    Likes Received:
    378
    I agree. Humans have a habit of going to the extremes. In both directions of any topic. One can choose to reach the conclusion that there is no real definition to anything beyond what each individual decides that definition is.

    Personally, that approach is very distasteful to me. At the same time, all of reality is but an illusion. And it is the human experience that we all perceive the illusion of reality in a very personal way. Each one different from anyone else.

    This is something I struggle with as I am wired to prefer reality, including definitions, to be grounded in some way. That they are not is most exasperating to me. It is insane to have discussions on some topic when everyone in the group has their own separate definitions of the words being used to have that discussion.

    How can any useful discussion arise out of this? Yet there it is. It is what we do, whether I approve of it or not. Now my approval, in a just world, should mean a great deal. Alas it is not a just world.
     
  10. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Messages:
    3,293
    Likes Received:
    555
    I know people have problems with going outside the strictest definition, I have never had it myself, but perhaps I don't so much read the words as the intent. Take what Thomas wrote for example, if we assume he goes by your stricter definition of asceticism then it would paint a very skewed picture of the world. But what he intended to describe was something else and that message becomes lost if we focus on the one word. I'm not criticising here, I think we all read in different ways and other peoples ways if very alien to me.
     
  11. MysticMansion

    MysticMansion Interfaith Forums

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Evil exists because mankind has a free will and we are not God. God does not will evil. God does however permit evil and the evil that He permits exists because He alone can draw good out of evil. The good he draws out of the evil that He permits is also part of His plan for the saving of those souls that can be saved.
     

Share This Page