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What does it mean to be spiritual? (1)


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Have you ever noticed that as you age your mind returns to distant moments in your life, events that seemed unimportant at the time, but when viewed in retrospect take on significance? Perhaps it was the first time you met your spouse. When my mother was 11 and my father was 10, they played sandlot football against one another. My father was running down the field, sprinting toward a touchdown, anticipating the glory that awaited him, when my mother tackled him, causing him to fumble the ball and be covered in shame. Tackled by a girl at the age of 10 in 1943. He lie on his back, staring up in the Indiana sky, wanting to die. I would love to have been there, to have reached down and helped him to his feet and whisper in his ear, “That girl who just tackled you, Gloria Quinett, you’ll marry her in 1955 and have five children and you’ll never get the best of her, so get used to it.” But how was he to know that then? How do any of us know, when something happens to us, what it might later mean?

When I was 14, I woke up one Sunday morning and told my mother, “I’m not going to church. I don’t like it. I don’t get anything out of it. I’m not going.” Then I braced myself, expecting an argument, but didn’t get one. My mom just looked at me and said, “I can’t make you be spiritual. From now on, it’s up to you.”

I didn’t understand the full implications of that at the time. My only feeling was one of elation that I had escaped the dreary embrace of religion. But I still remember those words, “I can’t make you be spiritual.”

What does it mean to be spiritual? I sent an email to our meeting last week asking you to define the word “spirituality,” and was inundated with your responses, which I appreciate. Remember when you were a kid and your schoolteacher would mention that something was going in your permanent record? Those of you who responded will be pleased to know I’ve made a note of your diligence in your permanent record. Your comments will be informing this sermon series, which I’m calling “What Does It Mean to Be Spiritual?”

It is common these days to hear people say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” Some people are dismissive of that. They say being religious is the same as being spiritual, but I believe a finer distinction should be made. When someone is religious, it means they participate in the rituals of a belief system, that they’ve made a formal, often public, affirmation of faith, and have some type of membership or affiliation with a religious organization. It usually means they’ve placed themselves under the authority of a leader, doctrine, or book, and depending on the religion, any deviation from that authority can be met with shunning, penitence, or some other penalty.

While religions usually require many and various rules, spirituality requires only curiosity, open-mindedness, and grace. Spirituality imposes no penalties on those who doubt or question. It demands no pledge of faithfulness, no public assent, no bowing to authority. Other people, whether our parents or government or culture, can demand our allegiance to a religion, but no one can require us to be spiritual. That is our decision and ours alone.

Because religion can be compelled and spirituality can’t, it is possible to be religious one’s whole life without ever being spiritual. All that is required for someone to be religious is their adherence to the customs and standards of a religion. Religion requires no change of heart, no joy, no commitment to love. It requires only our obedience, which it often confuses for faith.

Can religion and spirituality exist together? Of course, and happily so, just as long as religion remembers that belief and love can never be compelled. At its best, religion nurtures spirituality, and serves as a greenhouse to fledgling faith. At its worst, it enslaves the spirit, restricting its movement and expression.

Here’s is a story analogous to that. Several years ago, I met a woman who had been in an arranged marriage. Her parents had been approached by the parents of her husband-to-be when they were quite young and arrangements had been made that when their children came of age, they would marry.

The arrangement couldn’t be questioned. The weight of family and cultural traditions required compliance, so the couple married. Sometimes these things work out, sometimes the couple grow to love and cherish one another. But other times the experience is tragic and because arranged marriages are more common in patriarchal cultures, the women suffer disproportionately. In the instance of the woman I knew, as soon as she and her husband moved to the United States to pursue his education, she fled the marriage, which had become abusive, and filed for divorce.

Religion can be like that. At its worst it says we must love God, we must obey God, we must obey the priest or the iman or the rabbi. Religion at is worst is an arranged marriage gone bad, it is one adult telling another what to do and who to love. Spirituality is our right to find our own way, to seek our own truth, free from compulsion and control. Unhealthy religion attempts to manage that which can never be managed—the movement of Spirit and the mystery of love.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, it was a pivotal moment when my mother loosened the chains of religion so I could begin my spiritual journey. For several years, I had other priorities and passions, and contented myself with small matters and smaller thoughts. But when my best friend died at the age of 20, I found the words of religion unhelpful, even as I discovered a Spirit who spoke to the deepest corners of my heart.

This Spirit demanded nothing of me before it would help. It required no holy perfection, no surrender of freedom, no oath of allegiance. It wanted only to give life and not take it. It gave me peace, and understanding, so that I could say, along with the Quaker James Naylor, “There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things…” In that Spirit I discovered a companion for my journey, a light when the world grew dark, a guide when my way was lost.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll be thinking about what it means to be spiritual. Let’s begin our journey by reminding ourselves that whenever religion compels, spirituality invites. It speaks of a God who is not our Lord or Master, but our Light and our Friend.

Phil Gulley

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I must admit Paul all this leaves me feeling a little despondent. It strikes me as pablum, almost in both senses of the word.

I don't know what spirituality is for other people, but for me it is when rest of the universe seems to merge with me. Only lasts a few moments and happens rarely. For me it is a sense of awe.

Apparently for about two thirds of the population this sense of awe is seen as something positive (true for me) and for the other third it negative or frightening.

Anyway here's a bit about a study of awe ... Cirque du Soleil unlocks the mysteries of AWE | Cirque du Soleil 

I am reminded of the parable of Zaphod and the total perspective vortex, for a more humorous take.

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17 hours ago, romansh said:

I must admit Paul all this leaves me feeling a little despondent. It strikes me as pablum, almost in both senses of the word.

I'm sorry to hear it makes you feel that way, Rom.  Admittedly it is not the most intellectual article, but I like some parts of it.

17 hours ago, romansh said:

I don't know what spirituality is for other people, but for me it is when rest of the universe seems to merge with me. Only lasts a few moments and happens rarely. For me it is a sense of awe.

Apparently for about two thirds of the population this sense of awe is seen as something positive (true for me) and for the other third it negative or frightening.

I liked the quote used from Quaker James Naylor, “There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things…”.  If that's what feels like spirituality to some people, all power to them I say.  

And as Gulley went on to say "In that Spirit I discovered a companion for my journey, a light when the world grew dark, a guide when my way was lost" - I can see how that sort of spirituality gives hope and purpose to many.

17 hours ago, romansh said:

Anyway here's a bit about a study of awe ... Cirque du Soleil unlocks the mysteries of AWE | Cirque du Soleil 

I am reminded of the parable of Zaphod and the total perspective vortex, for a more humorous take.

 Fascinating article on awe.  Thank you.

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8 hours ago, PaulS said:

I'm sorry to hear it makes you feel that way, Rom.

I apologize ... a little hyperbole on my part. But to me it does demonstrate that Sophisticated Theology is a fairly broad stepping stone with a broad spectrum of beliefs even for this one step.

8 hours ago, PaulS said:

There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things

"Spirit" is such a nebulous term that it is almost meaningless, it ranges from a pattern of behaviour to some transcendental state. Of course I side with older Biblical interpretations which encourages us not to think in terms of good and evil and the New Testament not to judge ... and here we have Naylor doing exactly the opposite!

As to the Gulley quote ... I don't know Paul ... I find it far from convincing. I think Joseph's take on being accepting of the world a better guide. Though I think understanding of the world is better for me. Understanding the world might be harder work for some intellectually, and accepting of the world, harder work emotionally for others.

And as to awe... I originally heard it on (Canadian) CBC radio. Here's a link, it gives slightly more detailed look at awe. I can attest to this kind of awe. But that is for another post.

Edited by romansh
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16 hours ago, romansh said:

I apologize ... a little hyperbole on my part. But to me it does demonstrate that Sophisticated Theology is a fairly broad stepping stone with a broad spectrum of beliefs even for this one step.

No apology required.  Yes, I'm sure Sophisticated Theology comprises of a broad spectrum of beliefs.  I think Phil has described before how he once was  a 'bible-believing evangelical'.  Having been raised in Christianity, I think maybe he finds it hard to cut ties completely with his beliefs and still holds onto spiritualty, where for others the same sort of emotions could be completely outside of what Phil calls spirituality.  

16 hours ago, romansh said:

"Spirit" is such a nebulous term that it is almost meaningless, it ranges from a pattern of behaviour to some transcendental state. Of course I side with older Biblical interpretations which encourages us not to think in terms of good and evil and the New Testament not to judge ... and here we have Naylor doing exactly the opposite!

I didn't read Naylor as quite so dualist.  I took his words (rightly or wrongly) to think that to do no evil meant to treat others how we would want to be treated.  Less dualistic and more positive/fulfilling relationship type stuff.

16 hours ago, romansh said:

As to the Gulley quote ... I don't know Paul ... I find it far from convincing. I think Joseph's take on being accepting of the world a better guide. Though I think understanding of the world is better for me. Understanding the world might be harder work for some intellectually, and accepting of the world, harder work emotionally for others.

Yeah, I prefer 'accepting' our world too, but I was just saying I can see how people believing in something guiding them toward or in a more fulfilling life, gives many purpose and hope.  But each to their own, of course.   

16 hours ago, romansh said:

And as to awe... I originally heard it on (Canadian) CBC radio. Here's a link, it gives slightly more detailed look at awe. I can attest to this kind of awe. But that is for another post.

I hope to maybe read about that one day.

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

No apology required.

Depends on your take on free will ;) Semantic joke!

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

... how he once was  a 'bible-believing evangelical'.  Having been raised in Christianity, I think maybe he finds it hard to cut ties completely with his beliefs and still holds onto spiritualty

Yes in a no free will world, it is perfectly understandable. Do you know what he means by the word "spirituality"? I have mentioned before, I went to a funeral service to a pastor friend of mine. I am sure some of the congregants had worked themselves up into a "mental state" that was likely rewarding from a brain chemistry point of view. Is this what we mean by spirituality?

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

I took his words (rightly or wrongly) to think that to do no evil meant to treat others how we would want to be treated.  Less dualistic and more positive/fulfilling relationship type stuff.

And yet he specifically used "evil". If he meant no harm, fair enough. Is he choosing his words carelessly or playing to a particular audience, or saying what he means?

10 hours ago, PaulS said:

Yeah, I prefer 'accepting' our world too, but I was just saying I can see how people believing in something guiding them toward or in a more fulfilling life, gives many purpose and hope.  But each to their own, of course. 

This belief in something ... leads to a huge variety responses. Now it could be argued that atheism also leads to a variety of responses. Here I think understanding trumps belief and acceptance. If we succeed in understanding accurately how the universe ticks (not even in great detail, just that it does) then our responses should align to some degree. And of course agnosticism is pointing out to tread carefully as we can't be sure.

It was a relatively short article on awe :) 

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13 hours ago, romansh said:

Depends on your take on free will ;) Semantic joke!

😜

13 hours ago, romansh said:

Yes in a no free will world, it is perfectly understandable. Do you know what he means by the word "spirituality"? I have mentioned before, I went to a funeral service to a pastor friend of mine. I am sure some of the congregants had worked themselves up into a "mental state" that was likely rewarding from a brain chemistry point of view. Is this what we mean by spirituality?

I don't know for sure what he thinks spirituality is, but I tend to think he believes spirituality is being in touch to some degree with something of a spirit in a sense, so to speak.  If I remember some of his other sermons,  he doesn't commit to surety of an external 'force' but 'thinks' there is more to life than what we think we know.  Maybe his next sermon will reveal his thoughts more precisely.

13 hours ago, romansh said:

And yet he specifically used "evil". If he meant no harm, fair enough. Is he choosing his words carelessly or playing to a particular audience, or saying what he means?

We'd have to go back to the 1600's to understand what he actually meant.  Possibly he did mean straight out duality.  I didn't read it that way, but that obviously could be me and not him.

13 hours ago, romansh said:

This belief in something ... leads to a huge variety responses. Now it could be argued that atheism also leads to a variety of responses. Here I think understanding trumps belief and acceptance. If we succeed in understanding accurately how the universe ticks (not even in great detail, just that it does) then our responses should align to some degree. And of course agnosticism is pointing out to tread carefully as we can't be sure.

But I think you will acknowledge that the issues often aren't our lack of understanding something that can be understood, but that they seem to arise when we can't understand something, yet.  Like, what do we understand about before the big bang, about what caused it?  Maybe that is 'limited' understanding, but nonetheless, it is yet to be thoroughly explained and/or understood.  So in that sense, belief and acceptance can't be trumped by that which is not understood, can they?

13 hours ago, romansh said:

It was a relatively short article on awe :) 

And I liked it.  I especially found it interesting that a quarter to a third of experiences of awe are negative.  They fill people with dread and a sense of alienation or meaningless.  Interesting that one person's awe can be another's awe-ful.  And also interesting about the exploitation of awe by politics and religion.

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

On 2/13/2022 at 10:22 AM, PaulS said:

Anyway here's a bit about a study of awe

Interesting article.

I do think there's something fundamental about "awe" - tied up with consciousness and curiosity, and that without it we'd probably still be up in the trees.  

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On 3/3/2022 at 3:14 AM, John Hunt said:

I do think there's something fundamental about "awe" - tied up with consciousness and curiosity, and that without it we'd probably still be up in the trees.  

This is an area I question about our brains.  I wonder if experiences such as awe are just chemical reactions generating responses, or if there is something else behind (beyond?) such chemical reactions.  Do we maybe have a soul that 'remembers', perhaps instinctually, what real awe is?

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5 hours ago, PaulS said:

This is an area I question about our brains.  I wonder if experiences such as awe are just chemical reactions generating responses, or if there is something else behind (beyond?) such chemical reactions.  Do we maybe have a soul that 'remembers', perhaps instinctually, what real awe is?

 

I don't know. There are the peak experiences, described by Abraham Maslow as “the moments of highest happiness and fulfillment.” Awe seems like the pinnacle of consciousness, where we see ourselves in something else, or indeed lose all sense of distinction, when the boundaries dissolve.  These experiences might even lead to a state of self-transcendence. Sometimes, maybe just once or twice in a lifetime, we might have a breakthrough moment so strange and wonderful that nothing is ever quite the same again (and I’m not counting LSD trips here, though they can work in the same way; and ingesting entheogens could well be the oldest stimulus to religious experience, much as mind-altering practices like dancing, meditation, fasting, chanting, speaking in tongues, etc., are still part of the general tool-kit).

What most religions seem to agree on, if you look at it broadly, is that when you strip away everything that we tend to think of as constituting our lives – our possessions, home, health, friends, family, even our daily sense of self, the bundle of nerves and emotions that get us through the day – we get down to who we really are, and find there’s something there. We’re more than a bundle of molecules, more than science has yet described. If you dig deep enough there’s a spark, a spirit, rather than nothing. There’s “me.” Some describe this as the “soul.”

Maybe this is all nonsense, and it's chemical reactions, we haven't figured out how consciousness really happens. But I'm not totally ruling out the idea that mind comes before matter, rather than vice versa. A number of serious scientists have said this, eg- Max Planck (the originator of quantum theory, Nobel prize-winner, twentieth century AD) -

 I regard consciousness as fundamental, matter is derived from consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness. There is no matter as such; it only exists by virtue of a force bringing the particle to vibration and holding it together in a minute solar system; we must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. The mind is the matrix of all matter.

 

 

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On 3/6/2022 at 12:18 AM, John Hunt said:

Maybe this is all nonsense, and it's chemical reactions, we haven't figured out how consciousness really happens. But I'm not totally ruling out the idea that mind comes before matter, rather than vice versa. A number of serious scientists have said this, eg- Max Planck (the originator of quantum theory, Nobel prize-winner, twentieth century AD) -

 I regard consciousness as fundamental, matter is derived from consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness. There is no matter as such; it only exists by virtue of a force bringing the particle to vibration and holding it together in a minute solar system; we must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. The mind is the matrix of all matter.

It could all be nonsense, but then again.....

For me personally, if our existence is only a result of our brain growing and developing and having chemical reactions, to me that doesn't explain the 'why' we exist.  Why did our atoms decide to come together as they have to evolve to what we are today?  What drives atoms to do that?  Why do plants and animals want to exist?  Maybe it is consciousness that creates matter.

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On 3/8/2022 at 10:16 AM, PaulS said:

Maybe it is consciousness that creates matter.

A central Hindu thought is that when consciousness is focused it contracts, and the ultimate alpha and omega point is one of pure consciousness. The collective choices of all the bits in the universe make “mind,” Brahman, to which all our actions and thoughts, our share of this consciousness, atman, contribute in tiny measure. This, after all, is what Schrodinger thought. He was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose equations laid the foundations of quantum mechanics, and is best-known for the paradox of Schrodinger’s cat, which he developed in discussion with Einstein (a thought-experiment where a cat can be simultaneously alive and dead). In What is Life? he reworks the Upanishads:

 I – I in the widest meaning of the word, that is to say, every conscious mind that ever said or felt “I” – am the person, if any, who controls “the motion of the atoms” according to the Laws of Nature.

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First a quick quote from John Bell ... died to early to get his Nobel award:

It would seem that the theory [quantum mechanics] is exclusively concerned about "results of measurement", and has nothing to say about anything else. What exactly qualifies some physical systems to play the role of "measurer"? Was the wavefunction of the world waiting to jump for thousands of millions of years until a single-celled living creature appeared? Or did it have to wait a little longer, for some better qualified system ... with a Ph.D.? If the theory is to apply to anything but highly idealized laboratory operations, are we not obliged to admit that more or less "measurement-like" processes are going on more or less all the time, more or less everywhere. Do we not have jumping then all the time?

I must admit I find little benefit at looking at ancient texts for what we consider true today. We seem to highlight the agreements with what we consider true. Personally I try to stick with our modern science. But that's me.

Also we get headlines in the news that seem to suggest reality does not exist.

Sabine I find provides an interesting critique ... Has quantum mechanics proved that reality does not exist? 

Personally I find it difficult to subscribe to philosophies of idealism.

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On 3/9/2022 at 10:13 PM, John Hunt said:

 

A central Hindu thought is that when consciousness is focused it contracts, and the ultimate alpha and omega point is one of pure consciousness. The collective choices of all the bits in the universe make “mind,” Brahman, to which all our actions and thoughts, our share of this consciousness, atman, contribute in tiny measure.

That's about the only way that I can imagine God - that somehow maybe 'we' are all part of God, that we are God experiencing existence.  I'm not saying that is the way it is, but I do wonder.

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On 3/10/2022 at 1:37 AM, romansh said:

I must admit I find little benefit at looking at ancient texts for what we consider true today. We seem to highlight the agreements with what we consider true. Personally I try to stick with our modern science. But that's me.

For me,  ancient texts point to the conundrum that I think has existed throughout the ages and through to now - the feeling, or is it just a question, about the being something 'more' to this earthly existence.  Maybe there is, maybe there isn't.  I do know there have been many things that science hasn't discovered until much, much later in our history, so maybe any concept of God might still yet to be answered by science.  Maybe science will discover God one day.  I do know that I have had 'spiritual' experiences in my life that I can't explain other than to say that maybe they are just chemical reactions in my brains that make me think I am experiencing something other than this physical world, but then again, maybe they're not.

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50 minutes ago, PaulS said:

That's about the only way that I can imagine God - that somehow maybe 'we' are all part of God, that we are God experiencing existence.  I'm not saying that is the way it is, but I do wonder.

Me too. The practice and growth of consciousness, the universe’s way of thinking about itself.

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On 3/11/2022 at 2:16 AM, PaulS said:

For me,  ancient texts point to the conundrum that I think has existed throughout the ages and through to now - the feeling, or is it just a question, about the being something 'more' to this earthly existence.

This Earthly existence isn't enough for you Paul? Surely some of our ancient texts point to solutions of being greedy :) My suggestion is to forget this more and concentrate on what we have ... and all we have is "now". In reality we don't have property or wealth. Evening our feelings of love, fear, hate. satisfaction, pride, guilt are just a blink of an eye in the tapestry of universe unfolding. 

On 3/11/2022 at 2:16 AM, PaulS said:

I do know there have been many things that science hasn't discovered until much, much later in our history, so maybe any concept of God might still yet to be answered by science.

Pantheism!

On 3/11/2022 at 2:16 AM, PaulS said:

I do know that I have had 'spiritual' experiences in my life that I can't explain other than to say that maybe they are just chemical reactions in my brains that make me think I am experiencing something other than this physical world, but then again, maybe they're not.

I can't speak to your spiritual experience, but I would be extremely surprised if it did not involve chemical reactions. It would be like saying life does not involve chemical reactions. But you are right in a sense, with respect to consciousness.  For me consciousness is a passive observer (if we examine it closely).

We might crave the dopamine experience. The chemical structure of "Ecstasy" is remarkably similar to dopamine. Of course we might not want an off-the-shelf experience of spirituality. Having said that, Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind talks in the latter half of his book on the benefits of careful use of entheogens. Yes entheogens is the new term for psychedelic drugs. ie drugs that allegedly induce the experience of God.     Interesting!

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On 3/13/2022 at 2:34 AM, romansh said:

This Earthly existence isn't enough for you Paul? Surely some of our ancient texts point to solutions of being greedy :) My suggestion is to forget this more and concentrate on what we have ... and all we have is "now". In reality we don't have property or wealth. Evening our feelings of love, fear, hate. satisfaction, pride, guilt are just a blink of an eye in the tapestry of universe unfolding. 

'Enough' in what sense, Rom?  Sure, it's enough for me in a day-to-day sense.  I don't stay awake at night in anxiety of not knowing.  But I am still curious and have an interest in what we don't understand.  Indeed the universe is unfolding - but I am curious if there is a 'why' to this unfolding.  Science shows us there was a big bang that initiated the existence of time and space.  Before that there was no universe unfolding.  So what was before the universe, space, and time, and why did the universe come into being.  Maybe there is a scientific answer, but I haven't found a satisfactory one as yet.

On 3/13/2022 at 2:34 AM, romansh said:

Pantheism!

Or possibly panentheism.

On 3/13/2022 at 2:34 AM, romansh said:

I can't speak to your spiritual experience, but I would be extremely surprised if it did not involve chemical reactions. It would be like saying life does not involve chemical reactions. But you are right in a sense, with respect to consciousness.  For me consciousness is a passive observer (if we examine it closely).

I think the odds are certainly in favor of these experiences being chemical reactions, but I simply can't rule out the 'other', whatever that may be.  I am curious.

On 3/13/2022 at 2:34 AM, romansh said:

We might crave the dopamine experience. The chemical structure of "Ecstasy" is remarkably similar to dopamine. Of course we might not want an off-the-shelf experience of spirituality. Having said that, Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind talks in the latter half of his book on the benefits of careful use of entheogens. Yes entheogens is the new term for psychedelic drugs. ie drugs that allegedly induce the experience of God.     Interesting!

Undoubtedly drugs and chemical reactions result in all sorts of experiences.  Are 'spiritual' experiences limited to these causes  - I simply don't know.

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16 hours ago, PaulS said:

 Indeed the universe is unfolding - but I am curious if there is a 'why' to this unfolding.

The question why? is bit of a blunt instrument. It (or can) begs the question so to speak. It assumes there is a purpose. Or in the case of unfolding is there a purpose? As a free will skeptic I have become suspicious of this and other concepts. But that is for a different thread. You are wise I think to ask if there is a why. So perhaps you might chase after your own personal whys and see where they might arise?

I think why in the sense of how is far more interesting, but that is just me.

16 hours ago, PaulS said:

but I simply can't rule out the 'other', whatever that may be.  I am curious.

Philosophically I think it is a sensible position to be agnostic in a Bertrand Russell way.  He said in effect he was an agnostic wrt Christianity in the sense he could not disprove the gods of Homer either. But to the man in the street he would describe himself as an atheist. Why not panentheism? Perhaps pandeism, panendeism? Then we have the revealed religions eg scientology? Or some cargo cult? Then we have the other great classics, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam. Time is short Paul.

Not knowing and not being sure (Russellian) I am all for. But at some point we have to admit somethings just don't make sense and move on with our lives. Technically I can't prove there is not a life after death, but the anesthetic I had for my appendix op two years ago is as good evidence as I'm going to get to not expect anything. 

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7 hours ago, romansh said:

I think why in the sense of how is far more interesting, but that is just me.

How is good too, but when it comes to the pre-existence of existence prior to the big bang, 'how' is just as unanswered as 'why' in my opinion.

7 hours ago, romansh said:

Philosophically I think it is a sensible position to be agnostic in a Bertrand Russell way.  He said in effect he was an agnostic wrt Christianity in the sense he could not disprove the gods of Homer either. But to the man in the street he would describe himself as an atheist. Why not panentheism? Perhaps pandeism, panendeism? Then we have the revealed religions eg scientology? Or some cargo cult? Then we have the other great classics, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam. Time is short Paul.

Well, like I said, I'm not anxious about finding an answer, more just curious, so I'm not feeling any stress about how long I may have to find out.  Indeed there is a plethora of religions, philosophies and other beliefs that are adamant they have answered the question.  I'm not aware of any that answer things for me at this point in time.

7 hours ago, romansh said:

Not knowing and not being sure (Russellian) I am all for. But at some point we have to admit somethings just don't make sense and move on with our lives. Technically I can't prove there is not a life after death, but the anesthetic I had for my appendix op two years ago is as good evidence as I'm going to get to not expect anything. 

Again, I don't think this thought process of mine is holding me back from moving on in my life.  A small percentage of my waking time may involve thinking about related matters, but to tell myself to 'stop' thinking about it seems more like quitting.  Probably like you, I don't expect much (if anything), but I'm not sure there's any issue with thinking about it.

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17 hours ago, PaulS said:

How is good too, but when it comes to the pre-existence of existence prior to the big bang, 'how' is just as unanswered as 'why' in my opinion.

And? Is this a problem that needs answering now? Is it a problem that we never will know some things?

But my point is: do we make possibilities up and perseverate about them eg panentheism?

That is why as a theology I like pantheism. God and the universe are one so to speak. Dawkins's sexed-up atheism if you like. We can be moderately sure the universe exists (though so forms of solipsism and idealism may argue against this). 

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9 hours ago, romansh said:

And? Is this a problem that needs answering now? Is it a problem that we never will know some things?

I don't see it as a problem, but are you suggesting inquisitivity should simply be shut down because it's perceived as not a problem that needs answering?

9 hours ago, romansh said:

But my point is: do we make possibilities up and perseverate about them eg panentheism?

That is why as a theology I like pantheism. God and the universe are one so to speak. Dawkins's sexed-up atheism if you like. We can be moderately sure the universe exists (though so forms of solipsism and idealism may argue against this). 

Well I guess one could perseverate until they determine an answer they find acceptable or explanatory enough.  No harm in proposing possibilities - but determining their accuracy is another challenge altogether.

You've obviously given it some thought yourself to land at a position where you 'like' pantheism as a theology.  I like it too, and panentheism.  Are either of these views accurate - I don't know.  Will I continue to mull it over and discuss it framed against any new information I receive or experience I undergo - probably.  Does is really matter? - I suspect not.  Will I ever answer it?  Who knows.

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14 hours ago, PaulS said:

I don't see it as a problem, but are you suggesting inquisitivity should simply be shut down because it's perceived as not a problem that needs answering?

I think inquisitiveness is great Paul. But where should I spend my time being inquisitive? Quite often I play a game how to handle the concept of pixies or fairies under my garden shed. Of course I discount an earnest search for these pixies. But I wonder what thought processes do I go through to discount these pixies. How rigourous am I being? I end up with Russell's agnosticism regarding these pixies. But I note that others had beliefs in fairies ... notably Air Chief Marshall Dowding. He eventually ended up joining the Fairy Investigation Society which eventually folded in the nineties. I have read that belief in pixies and fairies was not uncommon in Victorian times. My inquisitiveness wonders how do these beliefs form? (Answer's obviously chemistry. ;) )

So is a belief in fairies in some way similar to panentheism? Panentheism obviously is a bit more nebulous and nuanced. But what are the properties of this god in panentheism? Does it do anything?  Is it just a single aspect of existence, eg love as thormas would have it? I am reminded of Carl Sagan's dragon.

I'm not saying hide your light under a bushel Paul; but to unleash your inquisitiveness. 

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On 3/17/2022 at 1:48 AM, romansh said:

I think inquisitiveness is great Paul. But where should I spend my time being inquisitive? Quite often I play a game how to handle the concept of pixies or fairies under my garden shed. Of course I discount an earnest search for these pixies. But I wonder what thought processes do I go through to discount these pixies. How rigourous am I being? I end up with Russell's agnosticism regarding these pixies. But I note that others had beliefs in fairies ... notably Air Chief Marshall Dowding. He eventually ended up joining the Fairy Investigation Society which eventually folded in the nineties. I have read that belief in pixies and fairies was not uncommon in Victorian times. My inquisitiveness wonders how do these beliefs form? (Answer's obviously chemistry. ;) )

So is a belief in fairies in some way similar to panentheism? Panentheism obviously is a bit more nebulous and nuanced. But what are the properties of this god in panentheism? Does it do anything?  Is it just a single aspect of existence, eg love as thormas would have it? I am reminded of Carl Sagan's dragon.

I'm not saying hide your light under a bushel Paul; but to unleash your inquisitiveness. 

I guess you should spend your time wherever it suits you best, Rom.  But if we don't have free will, then perhaps you and I have no say in the matter anyway as to how we should spend our inquisitive hours.  Who knows - I mean the Fairy Investigation Society could have been on the cusp of a huge discovery if they had not given up! :)

Like anything in life, it's a balance.  I'm pretty comfortable with the amount of time I spend inquiring about this matter compared to where I am currently at.  Like I said, not having answered it doesn't keep me awake at night but I do have time to ponder a bit.

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On 3/17/2022 at 10:33 PM, PaulS said:

Like I said, not having answered it

What strategies have you tried to answer the question of the existence of panentheism?

It sounds a little like akay's omnipresent god but without some Islamic attributes.

 

Edited by romansh
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