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post #21 of 38
I'm involved in a "debate" as it were in another (real life) forum about the necessity of baptism for salvation (Christians).

I am one who _does_ believe that certain things (that would be considered to be "religious" as opposed to "spiritual" within this particular discussion) such as baptism are required for salvation. Many Christians believe that baptism is required for salvation--the Bible shows that everyone who became a follower of Christ followed Christ's example of being baptized. Now, I'm not here to continue this "debate" with others--I'm just trying to point out that even within Christianity, there are different people who believe in differences.

This discussion doesn't seem to necessarily be a discussion about an afterlife, as such. But I have to say that there really is not a line for me between "religion" and "spirituality." The religious acts enhance my spiritual relationship. I believe that they are necessary, so I'm not going to "try" to be spiritual without them. Reading scripture enhances my spiritual relationship with God, even "good acts" and being kind to others enhance. All these seem somewhat outward in appearance. But I can't comprehend my spirituality without them, because I _do_ believe they are intrinsic to my relationship with God.

I have known people who _are_ religious but not spiritual, and occasionally not even interested in a spiritual relationship with God, and I have known people who are spiritual but not religious, and for them there is a "line", but the "religious acts" manifest spirituality for me. Some people would even consider "having to pray" a religious act, when I consider that an opportunity to commune with God, tell Him my troubles, and be buoyed up in my sorrows and share my joys.

This is a really interesting discussion. I posted too long, as usual.
post #22 of 38
Originally posted by Chaka Falls

These types of statements seem prejudiced to me, which is why I don't understand what religion and spirituality have to do with one another. What is a "right relationship with God"? Why does what anyone else thinks is "right" matter more than what I might know in my heart? And, why would any Creator give ppl the tools to think for themselves, and then expect to be followed like a shephard? Humility, I understand, but it, too, denotes a sense of inferiority. And, who decides what God to follow? I see this type of religious thought as devisive, and spirituality is not about division.
Wow, these are the deep questions! I wasn't answering the right thing, was I?

I see religions--that is, systems of ritual and practice that help people to act out their beliefs-- as filling a deep human need. They include folkways and music and food and all kinds of good stuff. Religions address our deepest good impulses with liturgy and theology. I think on some level I must agree with you that our good impulses--"what I know in my heart" as you put it--are inherent in us. Some might say, God-given.

Religions are also powerful tools for enforcing social conformity that can be abused by people with political power to create unjust societies, to justify violence and social inequity, and to be generally abusive.

I realized when I finished writing to this thread last night that I am incredibly fortunate that my religion was never a location of abuse for me, but always a place where I could find those good paths to spiritual, or even just social and cultural, connection. It could have been so different! I can't think of a single religion that hasn't abused someone, just as I can't think of a single one that doesn't have some beauty or truth to it.

This is all to say that I think religion in general is a human response to what God gives us. Of course you personally have both the right and the obligation to decide whether a given religious practice is putting you in the "right relationship" with God. You can choose to be guided by other wise people--the cool thing about religious traditions, to my mind, is that they enable you to connect with people across time and space, to create a common language for discussion. Yeah, that is entering into someone else's pre-judgements for you--but in the end, you have to engage them and evaluate them and make decisions about what's right or wrong. Or that's what I think, as an individual who is trying to do that with a religious tradition!
post #23 of 38
why would any Creator give ppl the tools to think for themselves, and then expect to be followed like a shephard? Humility, I understand, but it, too, denotes a sense of inferiority.
Chaka, I understand what you are saying, but this question made me think, so induldge me as I answer it for myself if nothing else.

In thinking about this I thought of my dogs and my children. I want them to be thinking for themselves (more so the children than the dogs ) but I do want them to follow my lead. Now with children I think the analogy falls short as they will grow up and eventually won't follow me, although as little children their safty is dependent on me. Now with my dogs....they never grow up and will be dependent on following me all their lives. Should they decide that I'm not so wise or important they might think my rule that they stay in the yard, or close to me on a walk, is nonsense and take off only to be hit by a car, or lose their way. It is important for their own safety and well being, that they follow me and the rules I have made for their benifit. On the other hand, I want them to think for themselves, (especially my children!) What good would unthinking robots be? It would be like this computer. Even dogs wouldn't be much fun or of much use if they didn't think for them selves.

Now that I have a healthy (or unhealthy) god complex, I can see that I would only want the freely given love and devotion, not blind followers. I want creative, thinking individuals that choose to give their respect and devotion to me and follow my lead out of that choice and their desire to be closer to me.

Am I making any sense here, or have I gone off the deep end with this god complex I've suddenlly developed? I'm sure I'll never look at my dogs in the same way again!

post #24 of 38
Thread Starter 
:LOL I understand, barbara.

I'm thinking. I'll be back and re-read these posts. I have posed these questions as much to you all, as myself. I have entered into another phase in my spirituality, and the questions are numerous and badgering. I'm not quite sure if I'm being honest with myself, or following a misguided wish.

Thank you all for taking the time to join me in my neuroses.
post #25 of 38
I do not have a relationship with a god. I do not think one/any exist. To me what really matters is what kind of person you are not wether you believe in a god which is a subjective. I do think some beleive in their religion and a god in a way that is spiritual for them. I also know some are spiritual (me being so) w/o believing in a god or following any religion. They are not intertwined. They can both sustain with out being connected.
post #26 of 38
I have a question for those of you that consider yourselves spiritual but do not believe in Diety. I'm not being flip here, I sincerely want to understand, because in my mind God and spirituality are entertwined, so I have trouble understanding a spiritual rhelm whithout the concept of Diety. Can you enlighten me as to how you view spirituality?

post #27 of 38
Thread Starter 
barbara, it's possible that your question is not directed toward me, but I'm not sure. I don't believe in diety as some all-knowing creator force that we must acknowledge and worship/praise. Dieties, IMO, are just creations to help us guide our energies and interpret the energies of others. hmm...there's more, but I find it difficult to put into words. That's the gist of it, though.

So, do I feel that dieties are necessary for everyone? No way. I actually admire ppl who don't feel a need for diety in this life. Perhaps they are better able to channel their thoughts and energies than I.

Therefore, dieties are simply contraptions to aid spirituality. I know I am not this body. What I am uses this body to learn, experience, grow. I am (very simply) energy, aka spirit. And, all around me is energy, aka other spirit. But, we are all derived from and composed of the same energy, aka spirit. Therefore, all around me is myself, and certainly, I don't need diety to see and understand that, but sometimes I forget, or there are so many things going on that I won't see what's obvious, and that's where dieties are helpful.

I think this is different for all of us, yet so similar. Diety necessary? Certainly not. It is simply an aid. A lot like a breadmaker. Can I make bread w/o one? Indeed. But, it will take some time and effort, which I might not have at the time I crave bread. So, an easier and less time-consuming way to bake bread is to put all the ingredients in my breadmaker and go do what I need to do. The problem w/that is that I might not appreciate or enjoy the bread as much since I didn't put much time and energy into creating it. Also, it makes it easier to shift blame for crappy bread onto something else. And, it probably won't taste as good.

I imagine life, if truly enjoyed, is much better w/o diety.
post #28 of 38
Wow. Chaka. You're the coolness.

So what is prepackaged white bread?

Don't answer that.
post #29 of 38
whoops. double post.
post #30 of 38
Chaka, you explained that so beautifully!

I don't even think I can add anything to it, let me think about it a bit and see if I can.
post #31 of 38
I wandered into this thread "accidently" (if I believed in accidents, that is!), and it makes my head swim. I think many of you/us are talking about different things using the same words, and talking about the same things using different words! No wonder we're confused! "Salvation," "God," "afterlife" ... for one thing, I think (I could be wrong) you're all talking about Judeo-Christian variations on a theme, which leaves out huge huge masses of people on this planet, of spiritual, religious, and combination spiritual/religious persuasions!

Being someone who feels enormously spiritual, but who has a strong bias against organized religion, particularly most sects of Christianity, my initial reaction to some of the posts has been negative. However, once I stop myself from jumping to conclusions and itching for an argument, I find these participants trying to be very respectful of one another, which I find quite refreshing and I very much appreciate. (Thanks!) Still, the assumption that your goals (back to "redemption/salvation" etc.) are the same as mine stilts the conversation.

Then, Chaka, just when I think you're phrasing what ^I^ believe as a spiritual person (I am spirit/all around me is spirit), then you jump to a conclusion that I can't follow: that life without deity is "better."

Please understand: I'm not saying that we all need to believe in some Higher Power that is greater than ourselves. Coming back around to the "all is spirit" concept, I believe that Jesus, for example, is no more God than I am. Granted, if we can believe the stories were actually about a single, real person, he was an amazingly enlightened guy. He had alot of things right, in my opinion.

But organized religion, particularly variations of Christianity, is man's (and I do use that in the masculine, as opposed to the generic, sense) way of keeping tabs on large populations of people. I think "church rules" fall into three categories: (a) certain practices, such as fasting, may assist meditation and therefore communication with Spirit, (b) rules against murder or stealing, or suggestions to help the poor, for example, are good general societal rules that allow people to live in community more easily, and (c) rules such as those preventing eating certain foods on certain days of the week were created more arbitrarily, maybe for reasons of commerce or other needs for control. In short, (c) is the input of Man that has nothing, really, to do with Spirit ... other than that Man can then judge and condemn people who do not practice (c) as a way of controlling masses of people.

I hope that made some sense.

Then, Chaka, I found your breadmaker analogy particularly interesting, but I don't follow your assumption that life without a deity is necessarily better. Different, sure, but why better? Are you saying that people who believe there is Nothing, no spirit, even, are better than those of us who believe ALL is spirit?

I mean, if you're truly operating under the principle that All is Spirit, within and without, above and below, then I am also the breadmaker, aren't I, and the wheat and yeast and water? As well as the electricity that runs it? And there's nobody but ME to blame if the bread is crappy! Whether I appreciate it or not has nothing to do with the breadmaker, or, for that matter, if its crappy. Appreciation, in your definition, is attachment to a judgment about "good" vs "crappy." A Buddhist, or at least someone who practices mindfulness, might suggest that nonattachment provides the opportunity to appreciate the bread, period, without judgment. It just Is.

Okay. Now I don't pretend to even BE a Buddhist, so I can't speak for that tradition, but I do try to practice mindfulness. That, to me, is a large part of my spiritual practice, which, in effect, is my "religion."

But I don't practice in any community, so am I really part of a religion? (I wish sometimes that I were in a community, since I grew up Catholic and I REALLY miss some of the positive aspects of ritual and community, but that's another post. Maybe.)

I'm talking in circles now, I need to go to sleep. But I wanted to step into this conversation today because ... well, my mindfulness tells me to pay attention to this thread and participate, and then see what I can learn!

Thanks for bringing up and participating in such a thought-provoking thread!

post #32 of 38
Thread Starter 
Luci: Hi! Just to clarify, what I wrote is solely my opinion and feeling on the matter. If you agree, you agree. If you don't, you don't. (blunt, no bitterness) I imagine life w/o diety would be better, b/c we are fallible human beings. Diety is so often used to divide and conquer, that it's sickening. I suppose it is to be expected, but I don't like it. Diety, being a human-concocted scheme, is subject to being misused by those same humans.

Are you saying that people who believe there is Nothing, no spirit, even, are better than those of us who believe ALL is spirit?
Nope. I was speaking only on diety. Or, the lack-thereof. I, certainly, would not entertain the notion of anyone being better than me.
post #33 of 38
Sure, for those for whom a Higher Power is unnecessary, or has brought sorrow, life is better without.

For those for whom said Higher Power is necessary, or has brought joy, life is better with.

And some of us have lived with both world/energy views, and have moved between them without regret.

For me, life is better this way. But the great thing about it is you don't have to agree ...

My life, my choice. (Sounds like a commercial for a particular POV on a particular women's health political issue ... nah, just a coincidence. )

And Chaka, I love reading about your mental meanderings & neuroses. They're very thoughtful & eloquently stated ... and I can associate with a good deal of it, having been through very similar spiritual gymnastics myself.

Enjoy the search ...

- Amy
post #34 of 38
Chaka, thanks for your explination, it is beautiful. But I think I may have worded my question wrong. You say:
Dieties, IMO, are just creations to help us guide our energies and interpret the energies of others.
and I understand that concept. You acknowledge a spiritual rhelm and spiritual creations, just do not defer to any of them as one would a king or lord.

I was really reffering my question to those people that don't believe in Dieties at all. That don't see the existance of spiritual beings at all. That is my question, how does one conect with the spiritual, yet not recognize spiritual beings, or dieties. Does that make sense?

post #35 of 38
Thread Starter 
Ah, yes. I understand completely now.

post #36 of 38
Originally posted by lucimomster

(c) rules such as those preventing eating certain foods on certain days of the week were created more arbitrarily, maybe for reasons of commerce or other needs for control. In short, (c) is the input of Man that has nothing, really, to do with Spirit ... other than that Man can then judge and condemn people who do not practice (c) as a way of controlling masses of people.
I just wanted to say two things about this. First of all, I belong to a religious group that has "lifestyle guidelines" that seem to fall under this category, according to your POV.

Since this is your POV, understand that others have POVs. Such as, mine is that said lifestyle guidelines are given by God (Supreme Being) to a prophet (spiritual leader for believers) and then those people covenant (make a promise, with the promise back from God to receive blessings) to try and live by those guidelines. While there are some very specific guidelines, for the most part, it is for each individual to "interpret" those guidelines. The promises from God include physical endurance to call on when needed (not superhuman), and enhanced spirituality/connectedness with the Spirit, to more easily be able to call upon God, and have more ability to cope with our lives. In my POV, these are very real and tangible blessings to choosing to live by something that falls under your "category C."

When I have made the effort to eat healthy food, live a healthy lifestyle, it even affects my spirituality--and my ability to "tune in" to the spiritual nature of life--others' spirits, the feeling of the divine in nature, the divine in my children, etc. Many, many other people I have talked with both IRL and online have said something similar. I strongly believe in mind/body connectedness, but I think of it as more of "mind/body/spirit connectedness."

Just my POV.
post #37 of 38
Bekka, you're right, it is my POV, and thank you for being respectful in your response. I'm trying to be respectful, too, in my dissent. I hope I'm coming across that way.

I appreciate your position about how eating healthily enhances your life and your connection with Spirit, too. I just don't get how the God of one group of people says you shouldn't eat pork, for example, and the God of another group says you shouldn't eat beef, but it's okay to eat pork ... to me, that sounds alot more like the hand of man (who's got an agenda in there somewhere) than divine inspiration ... unless you believe that one religion is right and the other is wrong. Certainly, a healthy diet, appropriate exercise, sleep ... these things all help us be better humans in lots of ways. Alternately, a certain amount of ritual self-sacrifice and periodic hardship may even enhance our relationship with Spirit.

I don't want to come off as being anti-religion or anti-ritual. In fact, I'm on something of a quest right now related to finding or creating appropriate ritual to fill a need in me personally and in society. (At least, for the portions of society who are also seeking ritual: I'm not proselytizing "my way" or anything.)
So this thread continues to fascinate me, and I'm glad to participate in it with women who are so thoughtful and willing to share their opinions and experiences. Thanks!

post #38 of 38
Oops. Double post. Sorry.
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