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Thread: What constitutes authentic spiritual expression?

  1. #1
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    What constitutes authentic spiritual expression?

    I canít help but wonder what makes a valid individual spirituality.

    Iíve seen so many people say that Christian Pagans should be left alone, that Faery traditions should be left alone, but they can be the first ones out to ridicule more recent spiritual paths such as Jedi, Twilight and the people who might treat Elvis as a god... calling these people sadly deluded fans.

    My problem with this is that I do not see what it is we're using as a measuring stone for what is an acceptable personal spirituality or not. I'm an atheist, which means I have no belief in Gods or Goddesses. I see them all as psychological constructs.
    The only difference I see here is the number of followers and how long a mythology has been around.

    Is that the only difference? More people believed in the Greek Pantheon, so that myth is more acceptable than the fiction about the Cullens?
    More people believe that Jesus rose from the dead, so the myths about Elvis aren't true because more people believed in the Jesus myth?
    Or is it because of the age of the myths?
    That they've been around for so long?

    I'm extremely fascinated by what is an acceptable spirituality and what is not. Because the message seems to be that you can't criticize someone for mixing already accepted myths however they want. Because it's a healthy and authentic expression of individual spirituality. But if you chose, personally to have "The Cullens" as your personal pantheon, you're deluded and sad?
    Where do you draw the line?

    Jedi seems to be very similar to Pantheism., just with a spin.
    The Twilight as a pantheon seems to be just as diverse as a lot of older pantheons.

    If you accept one, and demand others accept one, but then you don't accept the other yourself... why is that?

    And why is it okay for one person to consider "Twilight" an unacceptable expression of spirituality, to make fun of those who do and then turn around and get highly offended if an atheist laughs at their spirituality?

    Once again... where do we draw the line of what is and what isn't an authentic spiritual expression?
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    One consideration might be the origins of the "pantheon" in question. The Cullens, and Mace Windu for that matter, are quite clearly documented as fictional creations designed as part of a business venture. Now, we can certainly regard, say, Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, from the standpoint of literary criticism, or regard them as fictional characters, but there is clear distinction between personalities which are now regarded as fictitious and personalities which have blatantly fictitious origins.
    JFGI

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    I think the difference is that the Cullens, for instance, are clearly fictional characters constructed to sell novels - we know this, because we live in this time, we know the origin of the characters because the author has a website anyone can access. Greek myths, on the other hand, are in a murky area between fiction and belief because though people did once (and still do, perhaps) believe them to be fact, a lot of people see them as simply stories.

    I'm not saying that if someone did truly believe in the Cullens as deity, that wouldn't be valid. I'm saying that it's very easy to see why others would see that as a gimmick or even as delusional. That is supported perhaps by the fact that the gods in the Greek myths were designed to be deity - Jedis and the Cullens were not.

    I see the same in pagan circles sometimes; people arguing over whether or not you can worship Morgan le Fey or Lilith because they were never described as deities in their origins.

    I have to say, if someone told me they were a Jedi I would assume it was a joke as that's how the "religion" was created - through humour. Authentic spiritual expression, to me, is about true belief and serious thought; if I ever did come across someone who was serious about their Jedi or Twilight religion, I would have to consider whether or not I thought they were genuine.

    I don't think its necessarily age that has anything to do with it, but the intent behind the creation of the work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Njorun Alma View Post
    I canít help but wonder what makes a valid individual spirituality.

    Iíve seen so many people say that Christian Pagans should be left alone, that Faery traditions should be left alone, but they can be the first ones out to ridicule more recent spiritual paths such as Jedi, Twilight and the people who might treat Elvis as a god... calling these people sadly deluded fans.

    My problem with this is that I do not see what it is we're using as a measuring stone for what is an acceptable personal spirituality or not. I'm an atheist, which means I have no belief in Gods or Goddesses. I see them all as psychological constructs.
    The only difference I see here is the number of followers and how long a mythology has been around.

    Is that the only difference? More people believed in the Greek Pantheon, so that myth is more acceptable than the fiction about the Cullens?
    More people believe that Jesus rose from the dead, so the myths about Elvis aren't true because more people believed in the Jesus myth?
    Or is it because of the age of the myths?
    That they've been around for so long?

    I'm extremely fascinated by what is an acceptable spirituality and what is not. Because the message seems to be that you can't criticize someone for mixing already accepted myths however they want. Because it's a healthy and authentic expression of individual spirituality. But if you chose, personally to have "The Cullens" as your personal pantheon, you're deluded and sad?
    Where do you draw the line?

    Jedi seems to be very similar to Pantheism., just with a spin.
    The Twilight as a pantheon seems to be just as diverse as a lot of older pantheons.

    If you accept one, and demand others accept one, but then you don't accept the other yourself... why is that?

    And why is it okay for one person to consider "Twilight" an unacceptable expression of spirituality, to make fun of those who do and then turn around and get highly offended if an atheist laughs at their spirituality?

    Once again... where do we draw the line of what is and what isn't an authentic spiritual expression?
    I personally follow the Greek Pantheon, however, I would NEVER put another path down as being inferior. I believe IF you have a TRUE spiritual connection to who or whatever you call your "higher power" then Bless You. IF your path works to make you the person you were meant to be then, Bless You on your path! I DO NOT care what you call your god(s)!
    I hope this helps.

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    I feel that in the name of fairness I, personally, cannot say what another person's authentic spiritual experience is. How am I supposed to know? Maybe...*wince*...the Cullens have Deep Spiritual Meaning to them. (Oh, that hurt. It hurts, precious.) Even if I think it's blindingly stupid and will go away quietly to laugh like a fool later. However:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberias View Post
    One consideration might be the origins of the "pantheon" in question. The Cullens, and Mace Windu for that matter, are quite clearly documented as fictional creations designed as part of a business venture. Now, we can certainly regard, say, Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, from the standpoint of literary criticism, or regard them as fictional characters, but there is clear distinction between personalities which are now regarded as fictitious and personalities which have blatantly fictitious origins.
    Yeah, this. From a literary standpoint, the Bible, the sagas and eddas, the Vedas...and Twilight...they're all treated the same. I can sit down and dissect them and the same tactics and tools of analysis are used. However, sacred texts and Twilight serve[d] different functions in the time of their writing. Twilight was meant to be a story and possibly a soapbox for Mormon morality. Sacred texts were intended for other purposes.
    The possibilities are endless.

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    Is the question really about intent though, or is it about personal spiritual expression?

    If someone decides that they wish to follow a spiritual path close to that of the Jedi, is it the intent of the creator of the fiction or the intent of the individual that matters?

    For me, I don't see that big of a difference. I think all paths are constructed around fiction. If we were to unearth proof that any of the widely accepted Pagan pantheons were in fact just meant as fiction to begin with, would that make the people who worship said pantheons less spiritually authentic?

    A work of fiction is quite often based on dreams, on ideas and sometimes even on actual humans. Much like I would imagine the myths of old were.

    I suppose it might be because I am an atheist that the ideas baffle me. I seem to be missing what is okay to make fun of and what isn't. What's okay to deem as invalid and what isn't.

    There are plenty of holy texts that began as tales designed to express morality, which is at the foundation of a lot plain fictional literature. They also had a good dosage of cultural commentary, just like modern fiction.

    If I write a piece of fiction with a made up pantheon in it filled of moral stories, is it a spiritual text or is it plain fiction? Are we giving the authors intent the power of deciding what is valid or not?
    And if we do, why aren't the same rules applied to the mixing and blending of spiritual paths, such as the Christo-Pagan paths?
    Last edited by Aeon Flux; December 7th, 2010 at 07:29 PM.
    Previously known as Njorun Alma


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    Quote Originally Posted by Njorun Alma View Post
    Is the question really about intent though, or is it about personal spiritual expression?

    If someone decides that they wish to follow a spiritual path close to that of the Jedi, is it the intent of the creator of the fiction or the intent of the individual that matters?

    For me, I don't see that big of a difference. I think all paths are constructed around fiction. If we were to unearth proof that any of the widely accepted Pagan pantheons were in fact just meant as fiction to begin with, would that make the people who worship said pantheons less spiritually authentic?

    A work of fiction is quite often based on dreams, on ideas and sometimes even on actual humans. Much like I would imagine the myths of old were.

    I suppose it might be because I am an atheist that the ideas baffle me. I seem to be missing what is okay to make fun of and what isn't. What's okay to deem as invalid and what isn't.

    There are plenty of holy texts that began as tales designed to express morality, which is at the foundation of a lot plain fictional literature. They also had a good dosage of cultural commentary, just like modern fiction.

    If I write a piece of fiction with a made up pantheon in it filled of moral stories, is it a spiritual text or is it plain fiction? Are we giving the authors intent the power of deciding what is valid or not?
    And if we do, why aren't the same rules applied to the mixing and blending of spiritual paths, such as the Christo-Pagan paths?
    I think it's at heart a spiritual matter. The worshipper has to believe in those gods spirits or whatever. I know Sheogorath is a fictional god, so that would be in my head if I were to try to offer him gems and stuff, I'd know that I'm commiting a fraud. There is no Sheogorath, thus nothing to to worship.

    Jesus is a real figure, so are Iove and Iuno. Combining real beings is legit, it happened all over the ancient world. Greco-Roman, Greek-Egyptian, whatever. It happened.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Njorun Alma View Post
    I can’t help but wonder what makes a valid individual spirituality.

    I’ve seen so many people say that Christian Pagans should be left alone, that Faery traditions should be left alone, but they can be the first ones out to ridicule more recent spiritual paths such as Jedi, Twilight and the people who might treat Elvis as a god... calling these people sadly deluded fans.
    Using this standard, folks can claim to be followers of the Transformers, the Cult of Dragonball Z, or the Indomitable Faith of Justin Beiber. Seriously, this is where this line of thinking can lead.

    My problem with this is that I do not see what it is we're using as a measuring stone for what is an acceptable personal spirituality or not. I'm an atheist, which means I have no belief in Gods or Goddesses. I see them all as psychological constructs.
    The only difference I see here is the number of followers and how long a mythology has been around.
    Ah...well therein lies the difficulty you are having with this.

    You believe that all deities are psychological constructs and therefore one psychological construct is as good as another. If you are correct, which I don't for one minute believe to be the case, then I would have to say that you would be right.

    In that case, I would imagine a fictional character such as Gandalf would make as acceptable God of Magick as Isis for example. Maybe even moreso because he is far more relevant to our culture, broadly speaking, than Isis.

    I don't however see them as psychological constructs, not in the way you do anyway. I see the deities of mankind's religions as the place where man's spiritual needs and the creativity of Deity intersect. Mankind's beliefs and yearnings summoned forth, out of the Infinite Mystery, beings which mankind could relate to. They reflect our cultures because, in a very real sense, our yearnings as a species summoned them from the eternal unity of the Divine Mind.

    Because we are human the gods are, microcosmically speaking, within us. What they represent exists naturally within the human condition. Macrocosmically they exist both as independant beings and as shadowy reflections of the Divine reality out of which they arose.

    Is that the only difference? More people believed in the Greek Pantheon, so that myth is more acceptable than the fiction about the Cullens? More people believe that Jesus rose from the dead, so the myths about Elvis aren't true because more people believed in the Jesus myth? Or is it because of the age of the myths? That they've been around for so long?
    The difference is that those involved in Cullen worship either know or can learn from the author that they are a complete fiction. They may choose not to acknowledge this, but the truth is available to them. In regards to other mythology, well pedigree is part of it of course. The weight of a few milennia will do that for better or worse.

    It's important to note that some of the greek philosophers knew that the myths were metaphors for transpersonal realities that were far greater than the literal stories. Esoteric Christians know, generally, that the resurrection of Jesus was a metaphor for a spiritual reality. Most sophisticated believers in many traditions know that the stories of their gods represent mysteries to be plumbed and experienced and not literal events.

    There are no Cullen mysteries because the author had no intention of relating spiritual truths in regards to writing these novels.

    I'm extremely fascinated by what is an acceptable spirituality and what is not. Because the message seems to be that you can't criticize someone for mixing already accepted myths however they want. Because it's a healthy and authentic expression of individual spirituality. But if you chose, personally to have "The Cullens" as your personal pantheon, you're deluded and sad? Where do you draw the line?
    The Twilight Saga isn't a myth it is clearly pop literary fiction. The stories reflect certain psychological realities of the human condition (exaggerated for a tween/teen audience) because the author is a human being, but Twilight has no transpersonal dimension because that is not its purpose.

    To be fair to Twilight, there is a whole dicipline of magickal practice caled Chaos Magick in which fictional characters such Luke Skywalker and Mickey Mouse are evoked and used toward practical ends. However such magick is known to work superficially at best in regards to spiritual transformation as it only engages superficial levels of the psyche...the place where Mickey Mouse dwells. Having said that, most Chaos Magick is higly practical and has pretty much no thought toward things like enlightenment or self-realization. Many chaos magicians don't even believe such things exist.

    Jedi seems to be very similar to Pantheism., just with a spin. The Twilight as a pantheon seems to be just as diverse as a lot of older pantheons.
    Jedi is watered down Buddhism. If one wants the jedi code but with depth one should go to the real thing. Real Buddhism has a track record of 2,500 years of creating spiritual masters. Jedi has a track record of keeping male practitioners virginal for the rest of their lives....LOL...I kid of course....but only a little.

    If you accept one, and demand others accept one, but then you don't accept the other yourself... why is that?
    For the reasons expressed above. Unfortunately, because you are working fully from a psychological perspective...which is ultimately entirely materialistic...you will not be able to see the difference. From your perspective, those differences simply do not exist.

    And why is it okay for one person to consider "Twilight" an unacceptable expression of spirituality, to make fun of those who do and then turn around and get highly offended if an atheist laughs at their spirituality?
    Some things are funny because they are so patently ridiculous that laughter is initially the only option. After the giggles subside, I am concerned that something like the Twilight Path will take someone so far off the path of authentic spirituality that they may never make it back or that after fandom loses its hold on them they will think that all of spirituality is nonsense just because their prior path was.

    I don't believe anyone should be mocked and no matter what path someone chooses that they should be treated with respect and compassion.


    )o( Blessed Be,

    Sundragon
    Last edited by Sundragon; December 7th, 2010 at 08:11 PM.
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    Jedi v Twighlight

    I'm thinking authenitic is something internal that becomes part of a person's personal 'story of self' , but.... on the whole 'made up religions' issues... a thought or two.

    1. all religions are MADE UP... and even defining WHAT a religion is is fraught with danger... for instance... do you have to believe in god(s) to be 'religious' (Does this then make Buddhism a philopsophy and NOTa religion?) For my purpose... I define religion as a "set of moral/ethically based rules and practices that are designed to lead to higher spiritual development, the belief in supernatural entities may or may not be a part of this")

    that definaition taken on board.....

    While the Jedi are fictional characters, they subscribe to a set and fixed moral/ethical codicies... to take on such a code could become a real and authentic 'practice' of a religious (ethical) belief system. The same I suppose could be said for practitioners then of Bene Gesserit Witchcraft.

    The Twilight novels on the other had offers not particular moral or spiritual practice, and so, IMHO.. FAILS as even remotely approaching a religious practice and is simpy an expression of appriciation for a (dubious) literary series with supernatural entities.
    Mitakuye Oyasin

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    Quote Originally Posted by Njorun Alma View Post
    Is the question really about intent though, or is it about personal spiritual expression?

    If someone decides that they wish to follow a spiritual path close to that of the Jedi, is it the intent of the creator of the fiction or the intent of the individual that matters?

    For me, I don't see that big of a difference. I think all paths are constructed around fiction. If we were to unearth proof that any of the widely accepted Pagan pantheons were in fact just meant as fiction to begin with, would that make the people who worship said pantheons less spiritually authentic?

    A work of fiction is quite often based on dreams, on ideas and sometimes even on actual humans. Much like I would imagine the myths of old were.

    I suppose it might be because I am an atheist that the ideas baffle me. I seem to be missing what is okay to make fun of and what isn't. What's okay to deem as invalid and what isn't.

    There are plenty of holy texts that began as tales designed to express morality, which is at the foundation of a lot plain fictional literature. They also had a good dosage of cultural commentary, just like modern fiction.

    If I write a piece of fiction with a made up pantheon in it filled of moral stories, is it a spiritual text or is it plain fiction? Are we giving the authors intent the power of deciding what is valid or not?
    And if we do, why aren't the same rules applied to the mixing and blending of spiritual paths, such as the Christo-Pagan paths?
    I do understand your position (and am really enjoying your points, by the way), but for me it's as simple as intent - of both creator and follower. When a character is designed to be deity (by which I mean deity in the real world, not a fictional one), that in itself has inherent psychological effect on those who come across that character - whether they believe in that deity or not.

    The fact that a fictional character, such a Edward Cullen, is designed to be just that - a fictional character, devoid of religious connotation - and that fact being known by everyone who comes across it, negates any kind of true spirituality because we're all aware that the character has been designed for a certain purpose. How can you be authentic about something someone has been very clear about creating to be fiction?

    I'm not saying it's impossible and in theory, I agree with some of what you're saying, but I've seen no evidence of any serious spiritual belief in the examples you're offering.

    I suppose certain characters could be applied to the process of forming a god-form, as like you I do believe to a degree that the deities we're aware of, while very real, are also human, psychological devices (or at least represent them); but personally I'd feel like a fraud doing that, knowing the purpose and lack of spiritualism behind creating such characters.

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