The Use of Spirituality

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Jaiket, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. Jaiket

    Jaiket Token Atheist

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    I've tried on several times to comprehend the meaning of 'spiritual' but it isn't happening (for now at least). I'm skipping ahead, is there a use for spirituality?
     
  2. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    The use of my spirituality is to make me of more use to God and all creation- humans and non-humans alike. It is also to bring me closer to God and help me grow toward being a more compassionate, loving, and peaceful person. And, out of grace, God blesses me with comfort, guidance, and the occasional bit of wisdom, experience of the Divine, and kick in the butt toward right action (sometimes separately, sometimes all together!).
     
  3. Nitai

    Nitai Well-Known Member

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    Answers in codes.

    * spirituality is different from materialism.
    * there is spirituality mixed with materialism
    * materialism and spiritualism go ill together
    * mixed spiritualism don't give the ultimate result
    * REASON: material attachments and desires
    * RESULT: keeping lust, illusion etc.

    * Pure spirituality is dear to god
    * it completely purifies the soul
    * its unmotivated, everlasting, increasing the joy
    * its meant to understand three basic things
    * the soul, God, and ones eternal relationship with God
    * all these three are eternal

    FORMULA OF SUCCESS - Chant the holy name of God and be happy
    Hare Krishna
     
  4. Bandit

    Bandit Well-Known Member

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    Jaiket, try looking at MIND as SPIRIT. Your thoughts are invisible, emotions are invisible, our inner ways of reacting to physical circumstance are invisible, but they are real.
    sometimes this teaching of mind & spirit being the same thing helps people understand it better.
    spirit is a different dimension & can only be seen in spirit.

    i think there is a use for it. it helps me understand better who I am.
     
  5. Nitai

    Nitai Well-Known Member

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    Hare Krishna

    S. Your thoughts are invisible,
    A. There is a say "the face is the mirror of the mind". There is an art of reading the face of people and thus understanding their thoughts, nature, and even the future. Experts can even make a diagnosis by looking at the face.
    ## there are 4 levels of activity
    ## thinking, feeling, willing and action
    ## your thinking about something will develop feelings for (let say going to church)
    ## then you develop desire and ultimately you walk to the church
    NOTE: this is only one example

    CONCLUSION:
    # thinking (what is subtle level of action) will develop into activity (a gross level of action)
    # by the activities of the person you can easily understand where are his thoughts, feelings, and willing.
    # one can understand whether one is a spiritualist or materialist

    S. emotions are invisible,
    A. In the Vedic literature there are descriptions of external bodily symptoms by which you can understand that somebody has deep emotional love of God.
    # similarly the emotions of the materialists are very visible on bodily platform,
    # actors are expert in showing these emotions in body language

    S. our inner ways of reacting to physical circumstance are invisible, but they are real.
    # This hidden reaction is possible only for a very self-controlled person who can control the urges of mind, anger and speech.
    # usually materialist are very uncontrolled and you can immediately see what's going on with them
    JOKE: I believe that your reaction to physical circumstance will be invisible when you find yourself in the midst of a big fire
    # especially when the fire is over you will be really invisible.


    S. spirit is a different dimension & can only be seen in spirit.
    # this is a perfect understanding. Very good.
    # you can see the soul or God only with the eye of your spirit soul
    # now our spiritual eyes of our soul are not yet developed and so we cannot see the souls nor God.
    # However, we can see the presence of souls in different bodies by the eyes of knowledge
    # all living entities have a consciousness
    # consciousness is the symptom of the soul

    PROCESS: by chanting the Holy name of God one can attain the ultimate purpose of spirituality - self-realization that includes God-realization.
     
  6. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant Well-Known Member

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    To me.. not having my spirituality would be like walking around half alive
     
  7. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Why would it need to have a use? Spirituality is just to BE.

    How are you today?

    lunamoth
     
  8. Nitai

    Nitai Well-Known Member

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    The Vedic scriptures describe three important things to be known by one who practice spirituality or spiritual life.

    * sambandha - this is knowledge about 1) soul; 2) the material world; and 3) God.
    * to understand the relationship between them also belongs to sambandha.

    * abidheya - this refers to the knowledge about different types of processes for attaining spiritual perfection, the human life's ultimate goal that is called

    * prayojana - this ultimate goal is self-realization that includes love of God and returning to the spiritual abode of God.
    * the knowledge about God's activities, pastimes, qualities, associates etc. are also included in prayojana.

    # All three topics - the sambandha, abideya and prayojana are very big.
    # they all increase ones faith and lead one to the ultimate perfection.
     
  9. Jaiket

    Jaiket Token Atheist

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    Well. I've decided that I've either got this spirituality and don't understand it or I don't have don't need it.

    I appear to be doing fine whichever it is.
     
  10. Nitai

    Nitai Well-Known Member

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    Hare Krishna

    Before making a serious decision one should thoroughly understand the existence of soul and God.

    There is a say - 'religion without philosophy is sentimentalism and philosophy without religion is fanaticism.
    Some people are only sentimental in their religious practice and speak only about love, peace and how God is good. Of course this is better then the fanatic atheistic speculative philosopher or scientist.

    However, the wise condemn blind faith either in God or in atheism.

    Therefor, in the beginning of spirituality cultivation of knowledge about God and Soul are of great help. But whatever you decide success.
     
  11. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    That's probably the best attitude. :)

    Spirituality is one of those weird things you got to feel like you've experienced, before you can understand what it is, or may be.

    I'd like to suggest that spirituality is a natural transcendental attitude - a consideration of things beyond this material world, not necessarily because of any conscious effort or intellectual consideration, but simply because that attitude feels right.

    Perhaps another way to reference spirituality is as like an intuitive response towards things, rather than intellectual - appreciation through "feeling", rather than any specific conscious rationalisation.

    I should say that there are spiritual moments that anyone can feel, whether they label them as spiritual or not - such as a sense of longing from looking out across a landscape from a high point of view, or looking at a sunset and simply appreciating it as a piece of beauty, or else any number of serene moments in the company of others - these perhaps can be termed spiritual moments.

    Of course, just because something is said to be spiritual does not mean that it is understood - merely appreciated. :)

    Hope that helps.
     
  12. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Hi, Peace to All--

    Lots of good stuff being said here, so I will just add that to me, "spirituality" has to do with a connection I feel, some kind of stirring inside that responds to (or rejects) something around me. Like the sunsets Brian referred to--I feel connected to a higher Something (for me, that Something has a Name and stuff, but that is not true for everyone, and it doesn't have to be.) Many times, I feel so moved by, say a work of art or a song that I can only explain it as this connection--I become part of it, and it becomes part of me, even for just a moment. I feel connected to creatures and plants and heavenly bodies and the push and pull of the tide--but through some way I cannot really explain. Is it useful? Yes, it brings a depth to my life that I cannot imagine being without. Maybe I don't always know what exactly the "use" is at the time, but I think often it is part of what we call "inspiration" or "meditation", even "prayer."

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  13. Nitai

    Nitai Well-Known Member

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    Hare Krishna,


    interesting post Brian. I would like to give some comments. I hope you will continue to be peaceful.
    You made some good points. Others are reflecting, as the Vedic wisdom would say, the mode of goodness.
    # spirituality is a natural transcendental attitude
    * Correct, it is inherent in the soul and it have to be just awakened. When this spirituality is dormant you call that person atheist.

    # [spirituality is a] consideration of things beyond this material world, not necessarily because of any conscious effort or intellectual consideration
    * the first part of your statement, I would say is a half truth. When you develop a vision that everything in this material world have a relation with the Supreme Personality of Godhead then spiritual consideration of things beyond this material world is right here where you live at every step of your life. IOW you can see everywhere the hand of God, and everywhere are his various energies (since He is the origin of everything). And when one is all the time in love with God, that person all the time thinks how to use various things of this material world for the satisfaction of God. Just like a boy is thinking "with what I could please my girlfriend". We Hare Krishnas e.g. like to prepare nice vegetarian food and first offer it to Krishna for His pleasure. It is a way to express devotion and to simultaneously get blessings of Krishna to increase our devotion.
    * When I read the second part of your statement I remembered one experiment done in Russia. I will describe it briefly.
    20 infants were taken into one isolated area where no people were allowed to enter. They were supplied food by few man who would not at all stay with those infants but just quickly put food for them and then immediately leave. The purpose of this experiment was to see what will happen with the infants, to see how much they can develop without education and care, will they develop some language among themselves for communication. So, after 10-15 years they were observed to be on the same level like kids of 6 year age with a good care. They could not at all develop properly their speaking ability; their language was limited to more less 300 words (they made up for communication). All their activities were limited only to eating and playing. Anyway, this cruel story is an interesting example that material knowledge have to be received and what to speak about receiving spiritual knowledge. There is a Vedic mantra which say "I was born in the darkness of ignorance and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge." (Please, understand the torchlight symbolically.) So, as I mentioned somewhere already, in the beginning to receive spiritual knowledge will be helpful. If not, our spiritual understanding and development of spiritual emotions will remain crippled.

    # spirituality is as like an intuitive response towards things
    * The explanation of intuitive is "instinctive knowledge or understanding which stems from feeling rather than thinking". I would rather say that humans are thoughtful beings not limited only to instincts like animals. One interesting thing is that when materially conditioned on the level of material consciousness the feelings one have are usually guiding one toward enjoying the material world. This kind of feelings are explained, that they come from the material senses. In this way they don't have anything to do with spirituality. Just because one experience some nice feelings toward material things that doesn't mean there is spirituality in that.
    * So, what is then a spiritual feeling? It is a feeling which is experienced on the level of the soul in relation to God. Without God there cannot be any spiritual experience for the soul.

    # there are spiritual moments that anyone can feel, whether they label them as spiritual or not - such as a sense of longing from looking out across a landscape from a high point of view, or looking at a sunset and simply appreciating it as a piece of beauty, or else any number of serene moments in the company of others - these perhaps can be termed spiritual moments.
    * Yeah, what you are describing is called the experience in the mode of goodness. In goodness one see everything in this material world to be nice. He don't see bad things. One doesn't need to be a spiritualist to have this kind of experiences. But there is one interesting thing. This mode of goodness is just next to the pure goodness or spiritual platform. How to attain it? Very simple. Just by adding God into our vision and life, chant His holy name etc. It is said when one constantly remembers God such a person is considered to be constantly on the spiritual platform and can constantly experience the spiritual bliss of love of God.

    * So, spirituality is there only in relation to God and it is meant to elevate our material consciousness to spiritual consciousness in which we are constantly aware of God's existence because of our fully developed love for Him.
     
  14. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Hello, Nitai. Yours is an interesting perspective. There are points of agreement between your own spiritual perspective and mine, noted in blue below.

    And when one is all the time in love with God, that person all the time thinks how to use various things of this material world for the satisfaction of God. Just like a boy is thinking "with what I could please my girlfriend". We Hare Krishnas e.g. like to prepare nice vegetarian food and first offer it to Krishna for His pleasure. It is a way to express devotion and to simultaneously get blessings of Krishna to increase our devotion.

    I agree that when one loves God, one wants to be a good steward of all the blessings God has given him/her (nature itself, one's intellectual and other gifts, money, time, etc.). However, I would offer that all people are unique and the way they will express devotion will therefore be different. I also think God doesn't have any needs, and desires only our love (both for Himself and for each other), so anything that is done in love is an offering, be it your offering food to Krishna, my offering worship and prayer to my God, a Jew following their laws, a Muslim offering a pilgrimmage, a neo-Pagan offering mead to one of their gods/goddesses or even to the earth herself, or even an atheist offering loving service to fellow humans or the environment. I think all this actually comes back to God as worship and praise, since all done in love is bringing us closer to God, who is the source of all love. Hence, even all nature glorifies God and feels His Presence, for there is love in nature as well. How much people realize this process consciously is another question, but I would argue such self-consciousness is not distributed according to religion, but rather varies in all religions on an individual level.

    "I was born in the darkness of ignorance and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge." (Please, understand the torchlight symbolically.) So, as I mentioned somewhere already, in the beginning to receive spiritual knowledge will be helpful. If not, our spiritual understanding and development of spiritual emotions will remain crippled.

    I disagree. As an anthropologist, I think there is a big difference between acquiring social knowledge and acquiring spiritual knowledge. The human brain has a window of opportunity when we are small children to acquire the basic socialization necessary for reaching our highest social potential. However, the soul is not confined to our nervous system. It is, in my opinion, an entirely different kind of mind, if you will. There is no window of opportunity for the soul to experience spirituality.

    Furthermore, my own beliefs are entirely at odds with the idea that we are born in ignorance. In my belief, we are born into social ignorance, but not spiritual ignorance. I'll preface this by saying this is only one Christian perspective (hearkening back to the early Celtic church, Quakers, and some mystics), and there exists a totally opposing view among some other Christians (hearkening back to Augustine). I believe that there is divine light, the breath of God, the inner yearning for connection with the Big Something in every one of us, and it has ever been there since our creation and ever wil it be, no matter how depraved we get. We can follow this inner longing and light, leading us home to God. Or we can pile darkness on top of it with wrong-doing and selfishness, and in time forget it is there. But it is still there, just waiting to be uncovered. I believe that spiritual masters, as you speak of, and my own Lord, Jesus Christ, are not giving us knowledge, but rather awakening what is already within us, inherent in our deepest nature from the moment we were created by God. Indeed, I like the second part of the saying- for the torch-light of spiritual teachings can part the darkness for those who have forgotten their inner divine light, helping them remember their true nature. I like to think of Jesus as a lighthouse, parting through the fog of wrong-doing and self-centeredness until the light of Christ meets the tiny lights of our soul- our ship- and the two unite to guide us home to God. Thus, Jesus saves us by calling us back to God when we are in the confusion of storms, and lost. But he does so not by giving us knowledge we never had, but rather reminding us of what we always knew. There is a passage in our Bible that the "Word is written on their hearts," that is, that in our deepest nature we are spiritual creatures. We are born, I believe, good and knowing God. We then spend much of our lives unlearning this, only (hopefully) to rediscover this core of ourselves.

    Furthermore, in my own tradition of Christianity, it is not knowledge that we seek. This may be a basic difference between your own religion and mine. The mark of spirituality for a Christian is not knowledge, or even a quest for knowledge, but rather love and a quest for love. All goodness stems from loving God and loving one's fellow people as oneself. One can be utterly unknowledgeable as a Christian- for example, if they are handicapped or have a low intelligence- and still be completely saved by the grace of God and as good and advanced a Christian as the most learned Biblical scholar. Because it is devotion and love that is key, it is the "fruit of the Spirit," not knowledge about God. I myself study scripture, but it's purpose for me is not to understand God (which I believe is an impossible endeavor), but rather to help me understand what is the path of best action in my life and, even more importantly, to guide me into experiencing the mystery that is God. Rather than knowledge, I seek experience. I imagine you seek this as well, but also wish to know, as you put it the pastimes/activities/etc. of God. This may point out a different conceptualization of God, because I would think it impossible and unnecessary to understand such things about God.

    * So, what is then a spiritual feeling? It is a feeling which is experienced on the level of the soul in relation to God. Without God there cannot be any spiritual experience for the soul.

    I disagree. I think spirituality is about, as In Love offers, connection. Spirituality can be felt as connection to God, but it also can be felt as connection to the earth (as in nature, the wild- hence, all those indigenous peoples' spirituality), connection to one another (this is why secular humanism can be spiritual, even though it is not theistic), connection to the All/Ultimate Reality, etc. It is a feeling of connection to the Big Something, in any of its many aspects. The inner feeling that we are all united in some way- as In Love says, that I become part of the other- be it God, a sunset, or my horse when I'm out riding. I do not think spirituality is limited to experiencing God, because I've there are lots of very spiritual Taoists and Buddhists and indigenous shamans, and many don't believe in God. Furthermore, I also think we definitively say if animals and other life experiences God's Presence, nor can we imagine what this would mean to them. I think it is an article of faith to assume that only humans can feel the Presence of God, and it also begs the question of what happens spiritually to people born with mental handicaps, or people who, at the end of their days, develop Alzheimers, strokes, or other things that reduce brain functioning. I do not think these people are any less subject to the grace and love of God, or feeling God's Presence, even if they can't articulate it in ways we understand. I believe that consciousness of God is an internal journey, and the external communication of it is bounded by our bodies and brains, but that constraint is irrelevant to the internal experience.

    * Yeah, what you are describing is called the experience in the mode of goodness. In goodness one see everything in this material world to be nice. He don't see bad things.

    In my experience, this isn't seeing everything in the material world to be nice. I'm always aware there are things in this world that are not nice. These moments, for me, feel like a momentary union of heaven and earth, of God and me, and of me and what I call the "Song of the All," the great symphony of all creation. In this moment of unity, I feel eternity and infinity touch my life. It doesn't mean that I see everything in the material world as good, but rather I recognize the immanence of God and heaven, in myself and in all creation. My mind is opened to the greater Reality, rather than ignoring it. In those moments my heart-soul remembers the potential and origin of myself and each unique creation, and rejoices in that hope.

    Peace to you,
    Path
     
  15. Nitai

    Nitai Well-Known Member

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    Hare Krishna

    Interesting points. I have again some comments and I hope you will be not offended by them. So, let me analyze what you wrote.

    * all people are unique and the way they will express devotion will therefore be different.
    # there are basically 9 ways to express devotion to God, by hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering prayers, carrying out the orders of the Lord, making friends with Him, and surrendering everything to Him.

    * I also think God doesn't have any needs, and desires only our love
    # He is complete, perfect and self-satisfied. If you say He desires or needs our love it would turn out He is not complete, perfect and self-satisfied. But He likes to reciprocate devotion what is the only source of happiness for the individual soul.

    * all nature glorifies God and feels His Presence.
    # This is your speculation. (Sorry for the words) Moreover, you cannot proof this statement. If under the nature you think about beasts and plants etc. I already explained they are aware only of their bodily existence and look only after how to survive. Their feelings and affection is on the bodily platform and so have nothing to do with soul or God. Therefore, from all the symptoms how sensually they live it is obvious that they are forgetful about God. This is confirmed in the Vedas and by the self-realized people. Anything else is just a sentimental, whimsical speculation.
    But anyway, I don't think it's worthy that I repeat these things. Despite of all evidences an explanation you will just think the same as you would be better than the scriptures and God's words.

    * I think there is a big difference between acquiring social knowledge and acquiring spiritual knowledge.
    # Spiritual knowledge is even more difficult to get than any other type of knowledge. You can get it only from one who knows who God is what is the soul and what is the soul's eternal relationship with God. He should also be able to give guidance in practicing pure unalloyed devotion to God; not mixed devotion to God, mixed with material enjoyment or speculations. These things are very difficult to know for the materially conditioned soul therefor a spiritual master is of utmost necessity for the sincere spiritual seeker

    * we are born into social ignorance, but not spiritual ignorance.
    # this statement is valid only when one already practiced spirituality in his previous life. Actually, one only continues activities from previous life. That's why there are so many different inclinations, interests of the people in the society. In one of my posts I sent a link where you can read scientific researches of Ian Stevenson about reincarnation. My above statement is also confirmed by his researches.

    * I believe that there is divine light, the breath of God, the inner yearning for connection with the Big Something in every one of us
    # Yes, this is correct. However, if you would never come in touch with somebody who told you about it you would never be aware about it.

    * We can follow this inner longing and light, leading us home to God
    # As I mentioned before only the spiritually advanced person can have such connection with God from within (not light; light is part of Him; depends on ones degree of realization of God).

    * spiritual masters, as you speak of, and my own Lord, Jesus Christ, are not giving us knowledge, but rather awakening what is already within us, inherent in our deepest nature from the moment we were created by God.
    # Correct. There is a need for living spiritual master to who you can ask questions and be guided by him. By his mercy the inner spiritual knowledge and love of God can be awakened.

    * we are born, I believe, good and knowing God.
    # The soul has eternally love of God in itself. However, this is covered to different degrees even up to a degree when one is called a demon. So, even the devil has love of God deeply within himself. That love should be just awakened. When the child becomes a bit grown up it begins to manifest his acquired nature from previous life, devilish, saintly or whatever. So, not everybody is born good and knowing God.
    There is a theological explanation of the story of Adam and Eva. They did not listen God; they had to leave the paradise; they forgot God etc. Muslim theologians say all living entities - at least the humans - have the same story. That means the material world is for those souls who desire to forget God. In the spiritual world we will always remember God.

    * The mark of spirituality for a Christian is not knowledge, or even a quest for knowledge, but rather love
    # To come to love there are different stages one is going through. One is acquiring knowledge that helps spiritual development. Knowledge is a need. Like in the school you learn how to do different things, getting spiritual knowledge you learn who is God; His qualities; His pastimes; how does His abode look; who are His associates; the different processes of attaining Him; How to please Him; what does He likes the most etc. Knowledge about God is unlimited because He is also unlimited and hearing about it increases ones affection and love for Him. The knowledge related to God is not ordinary bla bla. Or let it put it like this, If you don't need knowledge why you read the Bible, why you are in forum? Anyway, religion without spiritual knowledge is only sentimentalism.

    * Rather than knowledge, I seek experience.
    # Good desire. But to know that your experience is bona fide and not only the imagination of your mind it is better that you have spiritual knowledge. This is called gyana in sanskrit. Vigyana is the realized knowledge or experience after you apply the knowledge in your life.

    * pastimes/activities/etc. of God. This may point out a different conceptualization of God, because I would think it impossible and unnecessary to understand such things about God.
    # Nothing is impossible. Especially not for the sincere, serious spiritual practitioner of spiritual life. God is the origin of everything. Many personalities originated from Him. All of them have forms and perform activities. Naturally the source of everybody God must also be a person who can perform different activities.

    * Spirituality can be felt as connection to God, but it also can be felt as connection to the earth
    # Well, only if you see the earth in connection with God. Otherwise your feelings toward the earth will be material. That means you will think the earth is something for you to enjoy. How you can enjoy the earth? with your material senses. Material senses produce material feelings. Therefor, spiritual feeling of the souls are awakened only in relation to God.

    * I do not think spirituality is limited to experiencing God,
    # Spirituality means there must be something that make the experience spiritual either God or the soul. So, once more. One have to learn to see God everywhere. That is spiritual consciousness or as we call it Krishna consciousness. As much more you will increase your love for God you will become more God conscious and then your present opinion will certainly change that spirituality is not limited only to experiencing God. When love of God is fully developed one don't want to forget God even for a second. A second of forgetfulness of God is like hell to him.
     
  16. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Hare Krishna

    Interesting points. I have again some comments and I hope you will be not offended by them. So, let me analyze what you wrote.

    Hello, somehow I missed your response a while back, so I'll now respond. And no worries about offending me; I am not easily offended. :)

    * I also think God doesn't have any needs, and desires only our love
    # He is complete, perfect and self-satisfied. If you say He desires or needs our love it would turn out He is not complete, perfect and self-satisfied. But He likes to reciprocate devotion what is the only source of happiness for the individual soul.
    I think perhaps this is a difference between how your religion and my own perceives God. We do not believe it makes God any less perfect or complete that He desires that His created beings love Him. Indeed, in this desire and His constant reaching out toward us, He is selflessly trying to provide joy for us, as it is in the embrace of God that one comes to know ultimate joy.

    * all nature glorifies God and feels His Presence.
    # This is your speculation. (Sorry for the words) Moreover, you cannot proof this statement.
    My proof is my own experience and God-guided interpretation of the scriptures of my sacred text, the Bible. There is also proof in the many religions and spiritual traditions through the ages, going back to the very first forms of human spirituality.
    If under the nature you think about beasts and plants etc. I already explained they are aware only of their bodily existence and look only after how to survive. Their feelings and affection is on the bodily platform and so have nothing to do with soul or God.
    Your proof is only your own interpretation of one religion's sacred text- the Vedas, and your own experience, just as my proof is also my intepretation of my own sacred text, other religions' sacred narratives, and my own experience. Spiritual things cannot be proven in the physical world, for they necessarily are subjective.
    Therefore, from all the symptoms how sensually they live it is obvious that they are forgetful about God. This is confirmed in the Vedas and by the self-realized people. Anything else is just a sentimental, whimsical speculation.
    Again, I think this is based on a misunderstanding of sensuality in life. Sensuality is, by definition, expressing or suggesting physical pleasure or satisfaction. It is notable that this concept relies on a clear boundary between matter and energy, physicality and spirituality, that is not present in many cultures and religions. However, even taking for granted that there is such a boundary, it is impossible to delineate between much of spiritual action, your own included, and physical pleasure/satisfaction. Research has proven that meditation, chanting, praying, ecstatic dancing, etc. produces bodily, physical changes in individuals, and releases hormones in the body that produce good feelings, emotional (which are still physical- they depend on hormones) and physical (reducing pain, decreasing healing time, etc.). Ecstatic trance states, entered through drumming, dancing, chanting, meditation, etc. are not just spiritual states, they are physical states- they produce alterations in heart rate, breathing patterns, brain waves, etc. They produce similar effects of many drugs, including hallucinogens. This is all proven by scientific research. Asceticism, including fasting, sleep fasting, exposure to elements, etc. accelerate the process of entering trance states. So even actions that seem ultimately to deny sensual experience, lead to feelings of physical pleasure or satisfaction- namely the euphoric joy that comes in ecstatic spiritual states. My beliefs are not fluff- they are based on extensive research and study of a variety of religions as well as my own and science, tempered always by my own experience intepreted through the Holy Spirit. I do not dismiss your beliefs as anthropomorphic, human-centered, or based purely on speculation- please be respectful and not dismiss mine (and the countless other people who are of earth-based and indigenous spiritualities) as whimsical, speculative, and sentimental. If you insist that only your religion contains spiritual truth, why bother having dialogue with others?
    But anyway, I don't think it's worthy that I repeat these things. Despite of all evidences an explanation you will just think the same as you would be better than the scriptures and God's words.
    Yes, I will, because my own beliefs are similarly based on scientific research, sacred texts, and personal experience. I do not believe I am better than the scriptures, but your scriptures are not my own, and surely you can respect that just as I respect your beliefs. I merely note how my own differ, but I am not saying that you believe yourself to be above sacred text. You follow Krishna, and I follow Christ. Your scriptures are the Vedas, and mine are the Bible. I doubt any brief discussions on an interfaith forum will change either of our minds, nor should it if our faith is strong in our own tradition.

    * I think there is a big difference between acquiring social knowledge and acquiring spiritual knowledge.
    # Spiritual knowledge is even more difficult to get than any other type of knowledge. You can get it only from one who knows who God is what is the soul and what is the soul's eternal relationship with God.
    As a Quaker Christian, I don't believe that one receives spiritual knowledge from any other but God. Sacred text and the Spirit of God speaking through those around us can lead us toward spiritual wisdom, but only through the Grace and working of God. I don't believe a pastor, guru, etc. is necessary, though they can be helpful if the Spirit of God leads you to them.
    He should also be able to give guidance in practicing pure unalloyed devotion to God; not mixed devotion to God, mixed with material enjoyment or speculations. These things are very difficult to know for the materially conditioned soul therefor a spiritual master is of utmost necessity for the sincere spiritual seeker
    Hence, following Jesus Christ. In having Christ, no other is needed, though God can give wisdom through dialogue with others. Most Christians believe that once a person gives their life over to Christ, Christ dwells within us and we are led by God Himself through the Holy Spirit. Even if one was completely bereft of other company, one would have God, through Jesus Christ, as his/her spiritual master.

    * we are born into social ignorance, but not spiritual ignorance.
    # this statement is valid only when one already practiced spirituality in his previous life.
    That is a tenet of your beliefs, but not many Christians. I think reincarnation does happen, but not the way it is proposed by Hinduism or Buddhism as a mechanistic process. Far more Christians do not believe reincarnation happens at all. So it's essentially a big difference between your religion and mine. I'm of the mindset of the Celtic Christians, all were created by God and all have the spark of God in them. According to the Biblical scriptures, humans were created in the image and likeness of God, and thus the Celtic Christians believe that all, in their heart, know God. Not all recognize what they know, and fewer still act on that knowledge.

    * I believe that there is divine light, the breath of God, the inner yearning for connection with the Big Something in every one of us
    # Yes, this is correct. However, if you would never come in touch with somebody who told you about it you would never be aware about it.
    I disagree. Human beings each have brains with rational thought processes and the capacity for aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual experience. We are tremendously social creatures and learn a lot from our cultures, but we are not slaves to society. We also can gather information from our own thought process and the world around us. The proof for this is people from cultures all over the world that wind up with tremendously different spiritual beliefs than what they should have, given their upbringing.
     
  17. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    * We can follow this inner longing and light, leading us home to God
    # As I mentioned before only the spiritually advanced person can have such connection with God from within (not light; light is part of Him; depends on ones degree of realization of God).
    The inner divine light is part of God- God immanent in us. But yes, God is more than this; any Christian would agree with that. I suppose Christianity is really more about equality. We operate with a radically different notion of the self and life than you are discussing. All are equal in the eyes of God in Christianity- we are all saved solely through the Grace of God. According to our scriptures, nature speaks of its Creator, so even those without the scriptural text have the book of nature to guide them to God, and our scriptures also say the "word is written on our hearts." Every person is equally able to connect with God in Christianity. We do recognize that different people connect with God differently- some through ritual in church, some through study of sacred text, some through mysticism, some through an inner journey toward the divine light of the soul, others through an outward journey toward God manifest in religion, some through service to humanity, some through simple living. Ideally, one connects to God in all ways. We don't believe, however, that there is an elite group that is "spiritually advanced." We all try to learn from each other, and we believe that God gives everyone different gifts and no gift is better than another. Some have gifts for scholarship and study, some for prophecy and divine inspiration, some for preaching God's word to others, some for practical service, etc. Basically, we all are born different, but equal, in Christianity.

    * spiritual masters, as you speak of, and my own Lord, Jesus Christ, are not giving us knowledge, but rather awakening what is already within us, inherent in our deepest nature from the moment we were created by God.
    # Correct. There is a need for living spiritual master to who you can ask questions and be guided by him. By his mercy the inner spiritual knowledge and love of God can be awakened.
    Yep. As a Christian, this spiritual master of Jesus Christ is generally seen as unique in all creation, but I'm flexible on this. We communicate with God/Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, the aspect of God that manifests as divine inspiration.

    * we are born, I believe, good and knowing God.
    # The soul has eternally love of God in itself. However, this is covered to different degrees even up to a degree when one is called a demon. So, even the devil has love of God deeply within himself.
    Most Christians would disagree, but I agree with you. I think what happens is if you envision this love of God, this divine essence within us, as light- if one clouds the light in a fog of wrong-doing and hides the light under a bed (as Jesus discussed), the light doesn't go out, but it is forgotten and remains a tiny flame. If one faithfully fans the flame of this light, and puts it where all the world can see it, God accordingly gives ever more light.
    That means the material world is for those souls who desire to forget God. In the spiritual world we will always remember God.
    I think the material world was created by God and so is inherently good, as my scriptures say. It is a place for people to serve God, if they so choose, and I think some people come back here in service to God and not because they wish to forget Him. I don't think being a spirit necessarily means we are in union with God or serving Him. Demons are spirits, but they actively work against God. If you mean, by "spiritual world" a concept of heaven- a place of unity of God and people who love Him, then yes, it is impossible to forget Him there.

    * The mark of spirituality for a Christian is not knowledge, or even a quest for knowledge, but rather love
    # To come to love there are different stages one is going through. One is acquiring knowledge that helps spiritual development. Knowledge is a need. Like in the school you learn how to do different things, getting spiritual knowledge you learn who is God; His qualities; His pastimes; how does His abode look; who are His associates; the different processes of attaining Him; How to please Him; what does He likes the most etc.
    Again, I think this is a very different idea about God in the two religions. Christians don't tend to see God as having pastimes or a house, at least many of us don't. Our scriptures say that knowledge can be a good thing, but knowledge is not necessarily wisdom, nor is it faith. One can be very knowledgable about the scriptures, but lack faith and devotion. Learning about God doesn't necessarily yield devotion, but devotion yields learning about God. It is common in Christianity to believe that a choice to seek after God- a step of faith- is the necessary first step, from which comes guidance by God Himself through the Holy Spirit.
    Knowledge about God is unlimited because He is also unlimited and hearing about it increases ones affection and love for Him. The knowledge related to God is not ordinary bla bla.
    Of course. That is why people's expression of spiritual wisdom is related in sacred narratives. They are sacred because they arise from people's experiences with and wisdom gained from God.
    Or let it put it like this, If you don't need knowledge why you read the Bible, why you are in forum? Anyway, religion without spiritual knowledge is only sentimentalism.
    Need is too strong a word, I think. I believe we have salvation only through the grace of God and that my knowledge has nothing to do with it. No amount of knowledge I could ever gain would be enough. However, through my love of God and of my fellow humankind (and all creation), I desire to know about my spiritual tradition and those of others, as well as desiring to study science, social science, and humanities to understand how I can apply spiritual wisdom to practical action- "loving neighbor as self" in the example of Christ- through healing, feeding, serving his lambs. The knowledge or wisdom I receive from God is a blessing, but it isn't what gets me to heaven. Some people are born without a high capacity to attain knowledge, and I don't think it makes any impact whatsoever on their salvation. When they turn toward God, as best they can, and love Him, they will gain what wisdom they can receive, and will be saved through God's mercy, just as I am. Neither of us, despite our differences in knowledge, will be higher in God's eyes. It is the action of turning toward God, both in our thoughts and our actions, that is the key. I would say that religion without action is sentimentalism. Jesus Christ taught that our lives- our actions- should be testimony to our relationship with God. We are called to love God, yes, but along with this in Christianity is loving one's neighbor as oneself. One cannot love another being equal to oneself if one feels superior to another, or does not serve others. Jesus was the perfect example of God's servant, and we are called to live in his example, which was a life of action among ordinary people, a life of service and giving and love. One certainly shouldn't neglect love of God, and spiritual practice is necessary for refreshment and guidance for the soul (Jesus said to come unto him, and he would give us rest, so we often spend time in prayer and study), but in Chrisitianity, the evidence of one's faith and devotion is in the "fruit of the Spirit"- love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. As you can see, any person can show the evidence of devotion to Jesus Christ, even a person who is severely mentally handicapped like my uncle. My uncle can't read the Bible, nor can he understand a lot of Christian theology, but he knows Jesus loves him and he loves God with much devotion and shows the fruit. A Christian would believe he is saved and is going to heaven when he dies, despite the fact that he has little knowledge about God, because though he lacks knowledge, he has faith and his life is testimony to this devotion. We are taught by Jesus that we must become as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, indicating that there is a spiritual condition of children that is good and right, despite their lack of religious knowledge.

    * Rather than knowledge, I seek experience.
    # Good desire. But to know that your experience is bona fide and not only the imagination of your mind it is better that you have spiritual knowledge.
    This is given, in Christianity, through the experience of the Holy Spirit, who guides us in our reading of sacred scripture. It is the Spirit that lets us know what is imagination and what is of God. Since the Holy Spirit is God Himself, manifest as divine inspiration and guidance, we believe no worldly teacher can be above this guidance.

    * pastimes/activities/etc. of God. This may point out a different conceptualization of God, because I would think it impossible and unnecessary to understand such things about God.
    # Nothing is impossible. Especially not for the sincere, serious spiritual practitioner of spiritual life. God is the origin of everything. Many personalities originated from Him. All of them have forms and perform activities. Naturally the source of everybody God must also be a person who can perform different activities.
    We don't think so. Most Christians do believe that God is a personal Being, but also much more than that. Furthermore, many do not believe He is a human-like person. By "personal" we mean He has thoughts and is not just a mechanical force in the universe (like electricity or gravity), we don't mean He is anthropomorphic. While God is the origin of all, we believe He is beyond the all as well, and so does not have form in his entirety, though He may assume form for the sake of communicating with us in a way that we understand. In our scriptures, sometimes the form is through a prophet and sometimes it is not (a burning bush, for example). As Christians we believe that ultimately He came in the form of Jesus Christ, either as an incarnation or a complete indwelling, and most believe that this event was unique. Christians do not confuse the bodily form of Jesus with the divine soul of God that dwelled in him. God, without form, came to rest in a human body, but God is not the form of a human body. God certainly does stuff, but we don't think of Him as being like a human, needing sleep or food or anything like that, though we can offer things like food to God in an act of love.

    * Spirituality can be felt as connection to God, but it also can be felt as connection to the earth
    # Well, only if you see the earth in connection with God.
    Many others would disagree, based on different definitions of spirituality. Overall, most people agree spirituality is a connection to spirit- to the More. Whether or not this is understood as God varies by culture, individual, and religion. Buddhists aren't focused on connection to God- do you deny they have a sense of spirituality? And if a person like the Buddha is spiritual, though not focused on God, why couldn't a Pagan person be spiritual through their connection with the spirits of nature? I did not mean the earth as a material collection of stuff- I meant the spirits behind that material collection.
    How you can enjoy the earth? with your material senses. Material senses produce material feelings.
    Actually, this isn't the case for most Pagans. If you believe there is a spirit world (or collection of Otherworlds) beyond the material one, overlaid with it- a shift of consciousness allows one to enjoy the earth as spiritual fellowship rather than materially. It isn't just about looking at a pretty sunset or sitting under some nice shade trees. Many Pagans would be simultaneously experiencing a dialogue with the tree spirits, and a sense of gratefulness for the sun's energy and light. Shamans walk in multiple worlds at once, and the earth is not just a material plane for them, even if they do not believe in God.

    * I do not think spirituality is limited to experiencing God,
    # Spirituality means there must be something that make the experience spiritual either God or the soul. So, once more. One have to learn to see God everywhere.
    Personally, I always saw God everywhere, as far back as I can remember. That's just how I experience God. I don't think I'm better than other people for it, though. God blessed me with this way of connecting to Him, and He blessed others with their ways of connecting to Him. But I didn't have to learn it- it was inside of me.
    That is spiritual consciousness or as we call it Krishna consciousness. As much more you will increase your love for God you will become more God conscious and then your present opinion will certainly change that spirituality is not limited only to experiencing God.
    Thank you for your opinion, but I do not think any person is qualified to tell another what their spiritual beliefs will be over time. That would be like me telling you that in time you'll come to know Christ and your ideas will change. Why do either of us need to change? We each are on a path that leads to devotion to God, spiritual development, and a consciousness of God in all that is (and thus a love for it). Why not just respect the differences and not presuppose there is a "goal" belief to which all will come? I already see God everywhere, but I do not suppose that people who do not are somehow below me in spiritual development. They experience God in the way that is right for them, and I don't think they are any less saved than myself.
    When love of God is fully developed one don't want to forget God even for a second. A second of forgetfulness of God is like hell to him.
    I agree.


    Peace to you on your path
     

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