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Non-religious but spiritual
Posted: 24 June 2017 03:40 PM   [ Ignore ]
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This seems to be a common label these days and I can relate. Clearly there is something at play more capable than ourselves. After all, something created us and that is far beyond what we can do. I don’t believe it was anything magical, but absolutely logical. That rules out most concepts of God which are really created in the image of religious men (rather than the biblical description of man created in the image of God). That kind of makes me an atheist but with an acknowledgement that there is something mightier than me - or any other human.
Pantheism comes close for me. The universe is the One. As such I am a part of the one, along with everything else and collectively, everything is the One. If we are evolving, the One is evolving. It didn’t stop on the 7th day - if it ever even took a rest. And I’m not sure how long a day is, since our planet with its 24-hour day wasn’t created until midweek! That’s a part of the problem with our world - we always put a human perspective on something that is so much grander than humanity.
My interest in being here is to explore the possibilities for a better world. Can we replace religious dogma with a universal logic that brings people of the world closer together and makes more effective world citizens of them. Can we find a justification beyond “it just seems right” to house the homeless, to feed the world’s hungry, to educate the world’s uneducated, to care for each other instead of fighting each other? I hope we can and in the process create a better world for all of us.

[ Edited: 01 July 2017 08:49 AM by JohnH ]
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Posted: 25 June 2017 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I feel it would serve you better to try to get beyond you thought that “something created us.”  As for “absolute logic” look to the laws of science and physics, nothing more, nothing less and there you may find logic.

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Posted: 25 June 2017 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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deros - 25 June 2017 04:44 AM

I feel it would serve you better to try to get beyond you thought that “something created us.”  As for “absolute logic” look to the laws of science and physics, nothing more, nothing less and there you may find logic.

There is a general notion that if something exists there was a process that brought it into existence. I.e. something created it. That is all I mean.
We seem to be some way to explaining that process in rational terms that we like to think of as science.. To me the natural processes suggested by science are awe-inspiring and worthy of reverence. In that sense, I don’t feel my spirituality has any connection to the supernatural which is what I assume you inferred from my post.
I recognize “absolute logic” a rather arrogant description of the scientific process, engendering the kind of attitude that has encouraged unfortunate consequences in the past (think child bed fever or eugenics).

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Posted: 25 June 2017 11:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I doubt that anyone can be “spiritual” without the belief that we, as humans, are above all other creatures on earth for some special reason, namely that a higher power created us with a supernatural plan in mind and that that we will never truly die. It’s the perfect example of self-delusion and the thought of being part of such a plan makes us feel all tingly.

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Posted: 26 June 2017 03:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It may help to draw a clear distinction between experience and interpretation.

Some practices such as meditation, public service, drugs etc are known to produce experiences often described as being “spiritual” in nature.  If we value these experiences for themselves, we rarely get in to problems. 

The controversies and illogical whirlwind begins when we start interpreting those experiences.  The entire process of interpretation, whether of a religious or atheist nature, is inherently illogical because when it comes to issues the scale of the most fundamental nature of reality (the scope of god claims) none of us on any side have the slightest idea what we’re talking about.  As example, 5% of reality is known to be made of atoms.  Science has little to no idea what the other 95% is.  It’s seems silly to start jumping to conclusions within such an environment.

The logical thing is to realize that while answers are unavailable for the foreseeable future, what some call “spiritual experience” is available today, and has been for thousands of years.  The important thing is to explore these experiences, whatever their true nature might be.  The unimportant thing is to get in to the interpretation game, and argue about how to label the experiences.

Are such experiences “spiritual”?  Who cares…

Are such experiences “mechanical”?  Who cares…

If a plate of food is found to be nourishing, the rational point should be to eat the food, not label or categorize the food.

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Posted: 26 June 2017 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Tanny - 26 June 2017 03:24 AM

It may help to draw a clear distinction between experience and interpretation. etc….

That’s a good way to put it.  I’m one of those “spiritual” atheists myself.  There are times when just walking, I fall into meditation and feel like I’m connected with whatever makes the biosphere work.  I remember one time after a long walk, approaching a pond where dozens of swallows were skimming around, chattering to themselves, taking absolutely no notice of me at all.  It was a “magical” experience.  At the time I felt as if I could have stood there for hours until I blended into the landscape and took flight with the birds.  Some would call that a purely “emotional” experience and they would ask why don’t I just label it as “emotion”.  But to me emotion doesn’t quite explain what it was.  Plus it has nothing to do with feeling like I was on some kind of higher plane, somehow superior to nature.  I probably couldn’t explain it to someone who has never had an experience like that.

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Posted: 26 June 2017 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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LoisL - 25 June 2017 11:46 PM

I doubt that anyone can be “spiritual” without the belief that we, as humans, are above all other creatures on earth for some special reason, namely that a higher power created us with a supernatural plan in mind and that that we will never truly die. It’s the perfect example of self-delusion and the thought of being part of such a plan makes us feel all tingly.

Clearly, this isn’t my definition. As for self-delusion, can there by any better example than the quite common philosophical strategy of redefining a term used by one participant so that the new definition justifies argument (and perhaps ad-hominem attack) not justifiable in the original use of the term? Language is evolving, so is “spirituality” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_but_not_religious).

Tanny, you are correct, but in order to communicate we must use words that require that imperfect process of interpretation. I am more inclined to eat food that has been categorized as “good”. Given that misunderstandings occur, it seems to me that the recognition of the imperfections of communication and attempt to reach a mutual understanding are a critical first step before disagreeing - or even agreeing.

Advocatus, I hear you. I am fascinated by the notions of consciousness. How does an apparently unified image of the external world arise from the activity of a multitude of individual neurons, each processing their own little world of information? How does all that activity get put together as “consciousness”? Our current state of ignorance allows us to recognize it as something that may eventually be explained but for the moment remains somewhat awesome and “magical” (let’s see if this sense of “magical” gets redefined) though not removed from scientific inquiry. It is relatively easy to extrapolate our own consciousness to the human community and recognize that humanity is collectively more knowledgeable, more aware and capable of a much higher function (more conscious?) than a single human being, yet each individual component, like the neurons of our brain are not party to the information processed by the whole. We’re not directly communicating yet that global property exists. Is there any reason that whatever rational explanation underlies this remarkable functionality should not operate across a broader sample of existence than just humanity? It gives me great comfort to believe that I am a part of something far grander and more wonderful than myself - even if it isn’t “supernatural”.

[ Edited: 26 June 2017 09:46 AM by JohnH ]
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Posted: 26 June 2017 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Hi John,

JohnH - 26 June 2017 09:44 AM

Tanny, you are correct, but in order to communicate we must use words that require that imperfect process of interpretation. I am more inclined to eat food that has been categorized as “good”. Given that misunderstandings occur, it seems to me that the recognition of the imperfections of communication and attempt to reach a mutual understanding are a critical first step before disagreeing - or even agreeing.

One theory is that thought is a key obstacle to what some call “spiritual experience”.  If true, then communication, understandings and misunderstandings, agreement and disagreement are all largely beside the point.  As example, even the word “spiritual” begins the journey in to interpretation, so we could jettison that label right from the start.

If an “experience” has value in itself, then it’s really not necessary to try to interpret it.  Instead of interpretation, we have the option to reinvest those energies in to a further exploration of the “experience”.

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Posted: 29 June 2017 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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IMO, our spiritual experiences are a result of our “mirror neural system” which allows us to draw on previously acquired information and project it when we are placed in specific situations.
When we can recognize a specific fundamental aspect of the information received by our senses, the mirror system triggers a physical chemical response, which we then experience as being physically involved with the situation.  This is called empathy.

Empathy,
However, a series of studies, using a variety of neurophysiological measures, including MEG,[22] spinal reflex excitability,[23] electroencephalography[24][25] and N400 paradigm[26] have documented the presence of an overall gender difference in the human mirror neuron system, with female participants tending to exhibit stronger motor resonance than male participants.

[ Edited: 29 June 2017 09:31 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 30 June 2017 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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JohnH - 26 June 2017 09:44 AM
LoisL - 25 June 2017 11:46 PM

I doubt that anyone can be “spiritual” without the belief that we, as humans, are above all other creatures on earth for some special reason, namely that a higher power created us with a supernatural plan in mind and that that we will never truly die. It’s the perfect example of self-delusion and the thought of being part of such a plan makes us feel all tingly.

Clearly, this isn’t my definition.

What is your definition? We can’t discuss unless we can be sure we’re talking about the same thing.


As for self-delusion, can there by any better example than the quite common philosophical strategy of redefining a term used by one participant so that the new definition justifies argument (and perhaps ad-hominem attack) not justifiable in the original use of the term? Language is evolving, so is “spirituality” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_but_not_religious).

Since I can’t know what anyone means by “spirituality” unless someone defines it specifically. It’s unfair of you to accuse me of “redefining” the term when no one has defined it to begin with.  What is the definition you think we should use? Have we come to a clear definition of it? One that you and I and perhaps other participants can agree with? If no definition has been agreed upon you can’t rationally say I have “redefined” it. Redefined it from what? There has been no common definition proffered as far as I can see. You disagree with my understanding of it but you have offered no alternative definition. How about playing fair?

.

Tanny, you are correct, but in order to communicate we must use words that require that imperfect process of interpretation. I am more inclined to eat food that has been categorized as “good”. Given that misunderstandings occur, it seems to me that the recognition of the imperfections of communication and attempt to reach a mutual understanding are a critical first step before disagreeing - or even agreeing.

Advocatus, I hear you. I am fascinated by the notions of consciousness. How does an apparently unified image of the external world arise from the activity of a multitude of individual neurons, each processing their own little world of information? How does all that activity get put together as “consciousness”? Our current state of ignorance allows us to recognize it as something that may eventually be explained but for the moment remains somewhat awesome and “magical” (let’s see if this sense of “magical” gets redefined) though not removed from scientific inquiry. It is relatively easy to extrapolate our own consciousness to the human community and recognize that humanity is collectively more knowledgeable, more aware and capable of a much higher function (more conscious?) than a single human being, yet each individual component, like the neurons of our brain are not party to the information processed by the whole. We’re not directly communicating yet that global property exists. Is there any reason that whatever rational explanation underlies this remarkable functionality should not operate across a broader sample of existence than just humanity? It gives me great comfort to believe that I am a part of something far grander and more wonderful than myself - even if it isn’t “supernatural”.

[ Edited: 30 June 2017 10:21 AM by LoisL ]
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Posted: 30 June 2017 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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JohnH - 25 June 2017 08:07 AM
deros - 25 June 2017 04:44 AM

I feel it would serve you better to try to get beyond you thought that “something created us.”  As for “absolute logic” look to the laws of science and physics, nothing more, nothing less and there you may find logic.

There is a general notion that if something exists there was a process that brought it into existence. I.e. something created it. That is all I mean.
We seem to be some way to explaining that process in rational terms that we like to think of as science.. To me the natural processes suggested by science are awe-inspiring and worthy of reverence. In that sense, I don’t feel my spirituality has any connection to the supernatural which is what I assume you inferred from my post.
I recognize “absolute logic” a rather arrogant description of the scientific process, engendering the kind of attitude that has encouraged unfortunate consequences in the past (think child bed fever or eugenics).


I think it would be better to say “there was a process that brought humans into existence” and not use the contentious word “created,”  which implies a creator—at least as it’s used in Engiish in the 21st century. Most people don’t refer to evolution as “creation”. Let’s get our terms defined first. Start with how we came to be, then move on to exactly. What you mean by spirituality. It is apparently something more to you (and a lot of people) than awe. But few can define what they mean by it it more specifically. We can’t rationally discuss a subjective feeling that has not been defined. What does “spirituality” mean to you? What do you mean when you discuss it? Please be specific.

Lois

[ Edited: 30 June 2017 10:23 AM by LoisL ]
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Posted: 01 July 2017 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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LoisL - 30 June 2017 10:10 AM

What is your definition? We can’t discuss unless we can be sure we’re talking about the same thing.

I’m not interested in going down this path. This is an introductory thread in which I tried to briefly encapsulate who I am. If people don’t like who I am, that’s fine with me. I don’t need to sell them on me, or engage in the debates they wish to force.

LoisL - 30 June 2017 10:10 AM

Since I can’t know what anyone means by “spirituality” unless someone defines it specifically. It’s unfair of you to accuse me of “redefining” the term when no one has defined it to begin with.  What is the definition you think we should use? Have we come to a clear definition of it? One that you and I and perhaps other participants can agree with? If no definition has been agreed upon you can’t rationally say I have “redefined” it. Redefined it from what? There has been no common definition proffered as far as I can see. You disagree with my understanding of it but you have offered no alternative definition. How about playing fair?.

A convoluted game of words. I provided a little clarity in me OP. You responded with what you you felt it was not - an undefinition  maybe. Nonetheless, an attempt to put me in a box I don’t belong in to initiate a “discussion” that is irrelevant to me.

LoisL - 30 June 2017 10:10 AM

I think it would be better to say “there was a process that brought humans into existence” and not use the contentious word “created,”  which implies a creator—at least as it’s used in Engiish in the 21st century. Most people don’t refer to evolution as “creation”. Let’s get our terms defined first. Start with how we came to be,

The first definition of “create” in the Merriam Webster dictionary is.. “to bring into existence”. Ironically it uses a reference to God as it’s example of use. Similar definition in the Oxford dictionaries.I purposefully used the word to illustrate the current narrowing lay-interpretation of the word. I also expanded on what I meant in my OP.
In my OP I also noted:

My interest in being here is to explore the possibilities for a better world. Can we replace religious dogma with a universal logic that brings people of the world closer together and makes more effective world citizens of them. Can we find a justification beyond “it just seems right” to house the homeless, to feed the world’s hungry, to educate the world’s uneducated, to care for each other instead of fighting each other? I hope we can and in the process create a better world for all of us.

I suppose it could be argued that definitions are an important foundation of any rational discussion but are the responses here our best efforts to reach that goal?

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Posted: 01 July 2017 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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JohnH said,
I suppose it could be argued that definitions are an important foundation of any rational discussion but are the responses here our best efforts to reach that goal?

Question, how would you discuss this compilation of Aesop’s fables in context of spirituality? [quoteI The Perry Index is a widely used index of “Aesop’s Fables” or “Aesopica”, the fables credited to Aesop, the story-teller who lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BC.

Most of his fables contain great moral messages in metaphorical form.

[ Edited: 01 July 2017 03:01 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 04 July 2017 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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The universe is the One. As such I am a part of the one, along with everything else and collectively, everything is the One.

One road to being spiritual (but not religious) is to focus on exploring the experience of this oneness. 

If it’s true that all is one, why do we experience ourselves as a separate thing?  Why do we experience reality as a collection of separate things?

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Posted: 04 July 2017 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Tanny - 04 July 2017 04:09 PM

If it’s true that all is one, why do we experience ourselves as a separate thing?  Why do we experience reality as a collection of separate things?

It is a convenient method for processing our world.
Is our heart a separate thing from our lungs? Does that make us a collection of separate things? What about the atoms we are made of? - Bazillions of separate things?

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Posted: 04 July 2017 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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It is a convenient method for processing our world.

Yes, this division process is both the source of our genius, and our insanity. 

The genius is that dividing reality conceptually allows us to rearrange it in our minds, and thus we can imagine the ways reality might be different, and sometimes we can bring those imagined changes to the real world.

The insanity is that we experience reality as being divided between “me” (very very small) and “everything else” (very very big), a perspective which generates fear, which generates conflict, violence etc.

And so we are genius enough to be able to create nuclear weapons, and insane enough to actually do it.

Is our heart a separate thing from our lungs? Does that make us a collection of separate things? What about the atoms we are made of? - Bazillions of separate things?

Separation requires dividing lines.  My sense is that the dividing lines we perceive are largely inventions of our minds.  As example, when you drink a glass of water when does the water become you?  The dividing line between “you” and “water” can reasonably be drawn in any number of places depending on what’s useful in a particular conversation, which reveals the dividing lines are more conceptual than real.

However, even if such theories are entirely correct, they are still ideas, maybe even an ideology, which takes us back in the direction of religion.  As example, if you’ve ever spent any time on atheist forums you’ve probably met some folks who are really wound up about it in a manner which seems remarkably similar to religious excess.  Their ideology is completely different than religion, but the same phenomena which repels us about some religion is still there.

If we got rid of both religion and atheism and declared this post to the “one true way” the same thing would happen.  Some people, most likely starting with me grin would get all wound up about selling the “one true way” and pretty soon we’re right back in all the same old divisions and conflicts etc.

To the best of my knowledge, every ideology ever created has inevitably sub-divided in to internal warring factions.  Thus, even if one ideology triumphed over all others, the same old patterns would continue.  Seeing this tends to pull the rug out from under the assumed importance of ideological battles.

So what then?

If we set aside religion and other theories about the oneness of reality etc, we are left only with experience.  That’s one way to look at “spiritual”.  Not a movement from one ideology to another, but out of the ideological realm altogether.  Trading the symbolic world for the real world.

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