Atheist Mysticism

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Cino, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    I had to sleep on this one, but woke up very early this morning and wrote this, for better or worse:

    My most powerful experience of it happened some years back but that certainly changed both my life and my outlook on religion and love forever. Attempting to leave out as much religious language as I can here, I learned that when the need is great and the circumstances call for it, love might flow powerfully through even the most unlikely of creatures to another, and vice versa.

    Difficult to explain or describe, I would call it deeply sacrificial in nature, an exquisite pain, a compelling passion which puts the other above it at all costs. If the other is deep in darkness, it will go deeper, if in pain, it will suffer more. There is no bottom to it.

    In the "flow" if you will, it is like the love is not yours but it is yours at the same time. You cannot turn it on or off like a light switch, it does not perform on demand. The source is a free agent and will not be commanded or for that matter, hindered. It can put a tremendous strain on the body, but you don't mind. Nothing is too costly, you don't want it to stop.

    When the time comes for it to end (and it will come) it will feel like you just stopped living. There is no recognition in the eyes of men, no reward. Forget it. At best you will just be regarded as weird and depressed. Someone might come along to pick you up, seemingly by spiritual appointment. This happened to me, and I am grateful to that person. Gradually things return to something like normal, but now you know you are not fully alive. You know what can be, and now nothing else will do.

    The little moments come, seemingly too far apart, the fleeting glimpses of love, the open doors which you will now walk through without hesitation. This is the extent of your free will, to move as doors open for you. You are now being compressed into that action which is actionless. A prisoner of sorts, but a willing one. You wouldn't have it any other way. To stray from it now brings swift reproval.

    That brief "knowing" of love changes your outlook on everything. The depth of what flowed through you makes you question things. There are veils that protect against the savage power of pure love, and that is a mercy for now. You see the veils, you accept them instead of working against them.

    Some hopelessly scattered thoughts on what (I think) love has revealed to me up to now.
     
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  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Thank you, that was very clear and deep. You have a gift to express this stuff, @stranger! Are you not perhaps lost in the light (rather than the night), to refer to your tagline?

    (Divine/True) Will vs free will, that is one of the struggles, yes, I recognize it.

    (Self)-sacrifice, yes!

    Longing for the return, the removal of the veils: yes! And yes to the protective functions. A tought: do the veils protect our impurities? Are the impurities what makes us individuals?
     
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  3. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Cino, thank you.

    You might be on to something with the veils...
    If you have any further thoughts on the impurities and veils please feel free to share, I'd be interested.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
  4. ScholarlySeeker

    ScholarlySeeker Active Member

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    In some ways, everyone are atheists, just atheists of others' God. When we really think of it, we absolutely all are going to hell, someone else's hell for not accepting their religion. Lol......You aren't Baptist? See ya there in hell amigo! Oh... you aren't Seventh Day Adventis? Then you will be thrust into hell, etc.

    There are myriads of interpretations of God that i simply don't and cannot accept, but does that make an atheist or just a difference of understanding about an interpretation from a human view?

    Cino said
    To my mind, you have it upside down. Some have a desire towards the divine. Some of them may find God and are awed and inspired. Others, like me, find No God, and are awed and inspired. So I would agree that this is not dependent on the Divine.

    Yes, I think Einstein basically had it this way. And actually if the starry night sky does not awe you or the photos of the space telescope, I think you need to be concerned with your psychology. Cino appears to have Einstein's stance. Now Einstein did mention the word God a lot, sure, but it has nothing to do with the Christian interpretation. He said his was Spinoza's God, but Spinoza was definitely not religious, but was more of an "awe"-some man (get it? Come on, that was good.....)

    Awe, I would agree with Cino that awe is not dependent on God. Atheists obviously have awe, I mean Dawkins and Biology can be used as proof on that. No one appears more in awe of biology than Dawkins.

    Good discussion here.
     
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  5. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    I know what you mean, but that is just people's opinion. Suffering is very real in this world, and "going to hell" is not dependent on false dogma. Most people don't want to be incarcerated in this life, but nevertheless, many people are. It is people's behaviour that let them down.

    Exactly..
    We can all be philosophical. It is possible to be a Jew but deny the existence of "a personal god", for example.
    i.e. disagreeing with people being "chosen" on the grounds of their ethnicity
     
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    It's awfully kind and inclusive of you to pull me in like this. But I think we can both be inclusively human and differ on this point.
     
  7. ScholarlySeeker

    ScholarlySeeker Active Member

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    I cannot possibly find any good or valid reason for disagreeing with you....GRIN!
     
  8. Bellator

    Bellator Catholic. Formerly StarshipEnterprise

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    For clarity, do you hold scientific materialism, Cino? Usually the term atheism implies this, but I don't want to assume.

    I spent about a decade of my life pursuing some kind of atheistic (and scientific materialist) mysticism. In the end, I have come to believe this sort of thing is not sustainably compatible with human psychology. (this in itself doesn't disprove atheism of course)

    I pursued awe and wonder at the order of the universe through scientific knowledge. This worldview drove me to do well in school, but was ill equipped to inform other parts of my life, including my career after graduation. I studied electrical engineering, but always envied physicists, as they studied nature at the most fundamental level. I entered graduate school in the subfield of electrical engineering closest to physics, and took additional physics classes at the graduate level. The whole time, I was expecting that I would reach some point where I would unlock the secrets of the universe and reach some state of blissful gnosis. Eventually, I essentially became burned out by this pursuit. As I got to know professors in these fields, I could see they were normal people who happened to have a certain level of intelligence, and had developed skills in a narrow discipline. For a few years I ceased to pursue any higher ideal and lived hedonistically.

    Looking back with my new perspective, I would say that I sought the divine Logos but did not know how to pursue him. Logos is the singular underlying order of the universe, which we Christians believe to be incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. As an atheist I held a gnostic view of salvation without realizing it. I discovered that Christianity already described how to live a rightly ordered life. Intellectual pursuits are good for those who have the talent and the calling to pursue them, but cannot inform us in how to live most of our lives.
     
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  9. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    What do you mean by materialism, exactly?

    I'll try to answer: It is obvious to me that our consciousness is influenced by and dependent on neurology. I can test this easily by drinking a beer and paying attention to what the alcohol does to my cognitive functions.

    On the other hand, neurology like any science is a product of our consciousness.

    In other words, I think the garden variety forms of scientific materialism are too reductionist to be useful.

    I am a materialist in that I believe strongly that being, i.e. the conditions we find ourselves in, determines consciousness. To better understand and perhaps modify these conditions, science is so far the best aporoach humanity has come up with, in my opinion. Consciousness is not well understood scientifically, which is ironic, as science depends on consciousness.

    In short: I don't think the division between materialism and idealism is anything like either-or. But I do think that materialism has got the cause-and-effect relationship between material conditions and conscious ideas right.
     
  10. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    I still can't wrap my head around how inanimate matter becomes alive - the exact inverse of what it is not.
     
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  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Well, the idealist approach usually is to posit an explanation which is not then tested for evidence, because ideas are primary in this world-view. Examples of non-religious idealist approaches are, "it is natural that X be like that", where "it is natural" is the idea which is then not questioned or tested for evidence. The idea of "naturalness" has primacy in this view, and material conditions are consequences, contingent on this idea. Consciousness, and the ideas contained in it, precedes being, in this view. (A good deal of politics is driven by idealism: Our material conditions are determined by some political ideal)

    The materialist approach is to question and test ideas agains the material observations, to improve or change our ideas so they describe the material conditions more accurately. Observations of the material world are primary, and our ideas about them are consequences we draw from the observations. Being (the material world) determines consciousness (and the ideas contained therein).

    I think it is important to have a clear understanding of this distinction, especially because the idealist appeal to unchallengeable "natural" reasons is so often misunderstood (or even deliberately presented) as materialism.

    Applied to the question of the origin of life, I can't help but note that at its root there is the idea of life being a property which can be present or absent in matter. Of course, if this idea is assumed to be a priori and unquestionably true, then the question as to the origin of life is a puzzler, as is the exact boundary between inanimate and living matter.

    Biology has made great advances in the study of living systems like cells and their building blocks, but the definition of "life" is a vague collection of conditions like reproduction, metabolism, growth, responding to environmental stimuli, having some kind of internal feedback mechanism to control the various functions of metabolism, reproduction and so on... it doesn't sound like a property of matter like "mass" or "electric charge" but rather a higher order phenomenon like "information" or "consciousness".

    My take is that the question of "what is life" arises from the idealist stance that material reality must conform to our idea of life (by providing an exact counterpart to this idea), when material reality appears to be more complex and wonderful than this idea permits. I think the word "life" and the idea behind it is perfectly fine and suitable for everyday conversation, but like the notion of a flat earth, which works for an everyday understanding of our surroundings, it is not an accurate description of what is going on in our material world.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2021
  12. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    What are the incompatibilities you discovered?

    Your description made me recall a passage from The Lord of the Rings:

    In my own limited experience, the quest for the secrets of the universe tends to lead to revelations we cannot acknowledge, mainly about ourselves. I know this all to well, and I've spoken to a few people who also arrived at this point, no way forward and no way back, and nihilist hedonism seems to offer such a welcome a cop-out. Glad to hear you're back to doing the work. Keeping at it is the only way out that I know of. One cannot force grace, but one can train being receptive to it.

    Have you read Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha? It contains such a good description of the hedonist blind alley.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2021
  13. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Also along those same lines, "Narcissus and Goldmund" by the same author. A little different spin on that blind alley, but quite good. Just a quick mention, please carry on.
     
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  14. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    Your persuit was not correct and I do not agree to what happened later also - your going back to religion. You were in a hurry, wanted the answers in the schedule that you had set. It does not happen that way. Science will get to the 'holy grail' in a few decades time or in a few centuries. It is wrong to expect the answers to existence and non-existence today. I do not expect the answers to be available in my life-time, but that is no reason to accept fallacies. But sure, the choice is yours.
     
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  15. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    Just think about how an animate material becomes inanimate.
     
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  16. Bellator

    Bellator Catholic. Formerly StarshipEnterprise

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    Materialism (or physicalism) is the idea that only physical things exist. Based on this response, you seem agnostic on the issue. Do you believe in the existence or possible existence of disembodied spirits?

    I read it round about 2006 I believe. I mostly remember how little the man ate.

    Been quite some time since I read that, thanks for sharing!

    Reverence for divinity seems intrinsic to human nature. If there is to be an atheistic worldview that inspires all types of people to be disciplined and moral, it hasn't been discovered yet.

    Our mystical pursuits inform our moral framework for everything else we do. The question of what the basis is for morality under an atheist worldview must be seriously considered. Everything is determined by what one's highest ideal is. Various atheists have held different things as their highest idea, including pleasure, knowledge, power, peace, etc. When I was an atheist, I fell into a worldview where a certain type of knowledge was my highest ideal. It happened without me being fully aware of it.

    Whether or not atheism is true, there is a question that cannot be ignored about how it informs our actions. It is said "if there is no God, everything is permitted". I would sometimes scoff at this as an atheist, saying that I follow my subjective ethical framework the same as everyone else does, although I was ultimately a moral nihilist. Under atheism (or at least under materialism), there is no grounding for ultimate objective morality the same way there is under theism. Western athesists hold many of the same moral prinicples Christians do, but they rip away at the foundations for those moral principles. In order to achieve the things many atheists value, such as peace among nations and scientific achievement, human beings must aim higher than these things in themselves. The pursuits of civilizations are like swimming across a rushing river. If you aim straight at your destination, you will not get there. These things can only be achieved by aiming higher, aiming upstream from the thing to be achieved. This higher pusuit occupies the space in our minds of serving divinity, whether we like it or not.

    Of course, many atheists have their explanations for why human beings are hard-wired for believing in God or gods. Dan Dennett speaks of taking the "intentional stance". When we hear a sound we first think "who's there?" rather than "what's that?". It is an aid in survival to assume there is a creature or mind responisble for things we observe in nature to err on the safe side. I came to this perspective before I believed in God. The thing is, one cannot be a mere observer of humans as everyone is human themselves. This was one of a multitude of factors brining me back to religion.
     
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  17. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Not at all, I hold strong views.

    If you count information and consciousness and our conversation here and the ideas we discuss as "physical", then you can count me in on your materialism.

    What's your definition of idealism?

    No.

    But what exactly do you mean by "disembodied"? No means by which to interact with its environment? Or rather, not localized, as a body would be? Or simply as an euphemism for "dead"? Or are you just ruling out gross material bodies, but allow for astral bodies and the like?

    Edited to add: What is your opinion on embodiment/incarnation/having a body: when I am dreaming or falling asleep or in deep meditation, and I experience voices or visions, are these embodied spirits which happen to share a body with me? Or do they represent different parts of my own, embodied spirit? What are your thoughts?

    To clarify, I do have my moments of belief, just as you might have your moments of doubt, and I love to study religious and esoteric material.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021
  18. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    What made you choose reverence for divinity over, say xenophobia as your moral compass? Both can be said to seem to be "intrinsic to human nature". There must be additional pluses on the side you chose. What are they?

    Let's see! "Enlightenment plus one dollar will buy me a can of soda". Your turn? ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2021
  19. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Hello Aupmanyav,

    This thought process you propose is not beneficial for me at all. The death of a human being or another living being - which is what you are talking about ("how an animate material becomes inanimate") - is not in the same category, for, according to atheists, the universe didn't start with anything animate and directional at all; it started with lifeless elements. Human beings encompass lower levels of being. At death the body becomes inanimate if something catastrophic happens to the system, wears out, and so on. What about higher levels of being such as the mind? It's the equivalent of the emergence of something from absolutely nothing. When we die, we don't disappear into nothingness. Our elements are dispersed and return to dust. In other words, we still exist in the material world. Our elements are transformed. According to atheists, consciousness is generated by aimless/random inanimate forces. Somehow inanimate matter overcame a qualitative difference. Some atheists embrace magic with theories of emergence and panpsychism. Reductionism is the only rational conclusion for an atheist as far as I know, so I find it baffling why Cino skirts the obvious end that atheism inevitably leads to. Since the scientific method can't explain consciousness, atheists must eliminate it and explain it away.

    Okay. It's useful, but this doesn't eliminate other explanations. My problem with the materialist approach is it excludes final causes.

    One can say the same thing about words like mind, intention, or thought. Realities like thoughts, minds, and intentions are but an illusion in the atheist's worldview. These words aren't an accurate description of what's going on in our material world. Such language, according to your worldview, belongs to a pre-scientific era. Yes, sometimes an idealist stance can go down the wrong road, but even a materialist approach can go awry and be problematic, as is the case when we approach solutions to psychological problems in the brain as complex chemical imbalances by prescribing pills.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021
  20. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Could it be that you have an idea about my worldview and now want me to conform to it? That would be a very idealist thing to do ;)

    If you read again what I wrote, pay attention to the parts where I described how we can change and improve our ideas as we learn more about the universe.

    Your idea about my world view seems to be one of postmodern arbitrariness.This is not the case, I think some ideas are more valid, beautiful, accurate, true, ethical etc than others.

    Given this, you could update your ideas about me to arrive at a better understanding of our shared reality.

    I'm not a psychiatrist (my wife is a psychologist), are you confusing me with someone else?
     

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