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Thread: What constitutes authentic spiritual expression?

  1. #41
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    I just want to sparkle in the sunlight.

    On a serious note if the people in question feel that some fool story (modern or ancient) fulfills something in their lives then more power to them.

    It is my position to point at them and laugh.

    My wife is my goddess. She is real, warm, curvy, beautiful and right here.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokabrenna View Post
    As an avid reader of fantasy fiction, I've come across religions that I would be a part of in a heartbeat. D'Angeline religion from the Kushiel's Legacy series is one that I think would appeal to many Pagans (especially Christopagans), and not just for the sacred prostitutes! I've adopted the commandment "Love as thou wilt" into my own personal philosophy of life. It seems like a sensible bit of advice.
    "Love as thou wilt" sounds like it owes a debt to Aleister Crowley!

    "Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will!" - The Book of the Law

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twinkle
    Psi abilities (and tarot could be argued to be precognitive or seership) would fall under science.
    You can classify psi abilities as "science" only if you don't mind them falling into the same category as intelligent design. I've personally experienced things that I can't scientifically explain, but I don't feel a need to prove my personal gnosis.

    Faith is easy -- until the moment you actually need it.

    "Since when are facts subjective?" - Athena_Nadine

    "Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all convictions, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity."

    Ė W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix Blue View Post
    But the calculations of which you speak are based on mathematics. If the proof is sound, then the conclusion is just as valid as 2+2=4, if more complex.

    Mathematics is limited. It can only calculate one possibility of how things may have happened, or how might work based upon our current level of understanding. It does a really good job of weeding out many of the wild and crazy ideas people have had over the years, but it doesn't "prove" a hypothesis right. It proves it can be right, barring the future discovery of any contradictory data.


    So-called "Intelligent Design" is demonstrably false.
    Really? How so? Because one or two possible theories of an intelligent designer have been proven false? Can you prove, with any of the abilities of Man, that at no time during the formation of this solar system, or during the evolution of life on this planet, that NO intelligent being of any sort did any action to intentionally help life to evolve into sentient creatures?

    If all you are claiming is that a handful of Creationist failed miserably in their attempt to make Christianity into a science, then I have no argument. But if you think their failure translates into some sort of permanent "win" for the side of "chance" as the only unchallenged possibility... <head - meets - desk>

    We interact with spirits. They affect change in our lives. Think back in time; why would they not have done the same way back when? If an angel saves my life by miraculously moving my car two feet to the right, science will most likely fail to acknowledge anything happened. If the random act of chance that caused the mutation creating the first human, was indeed not a random act of chance but an act of intelligence... it would still look like chance to most of our prestigious scientists even if they just happened to be watching it under a microscope.

    We don't know how the pyramids were built, nor Stonehenge nor the statues on Easter Island. But the presence of Man in each of these locations causes us to assume people played a part. Remove man from the equation, and suddenly we have proof of aliens or some other ridiculous assumption. In the same way, science blunders ahead, completely ignoring the testimony of millions that we are not alone on this planet. "We don't need God", they say. "The chances of it happening are 100%, because it did happen!" Which is perfectly logical, but circular thinking!



    Now, if you're doing science right, it can be artistic. But that doesn't make it art: in art, there is no objective true or false -- what's true for one person might be false for another.
    It depends on if we are talking about the essence of science, or including everything else that we tag along with science. The essence of science is calculation. But to calculate, you must first form a hypothesis. Once you prove certain facts, you then are at liberty (apparently) to state whatever wild ideas you wish as your own personal interpretation of those facts.

    How many planets have we found circling other stars? None. Zero. Zip.

    We have found many stars that wobble and dim, but the conclusion that we have found other planets is a deduction from reason. We calculate the star moves, we jump to the conclusion that we have found a planet. The true science is the calculation. All we have is a calculation. It's probably true that there is a planet there causing the star's movement, but if some other factor is discovered that rules out the possibility of a planet being there, the calculation will still be true.
    Tobias



    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

    -Dwight D Eisenhower

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokabrenna View Post
    Now, having said that, I've also encountered a group of people who seemed to sincerely believe in daemons from Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy.
    Now that I think of this...

    A man walks through a desert and, near death, falls into a deep sleep. He has a vision, he has a dream, he meets a god. He survives the desert. He writes of the god. He writes the inspiration the god told him. He sees himself merely as a vessel that the god speaks through.

    A man has many dreams. He writes them down. He creates the original myths. He speaks of the original gods. He sees himself merely as a vessel that the gods speak through.

    A man stares at a turtle for awhile. He decides it's a wonderful shape for a god, and his village could do with some faith in the divine - it tends to make the entire thing run a bit more smoothly. He creates a turtle god.

    A man dreams of a world. Feverishly he writes about it. As he writes the characters almost come alive. They start doing things he didn't expect. He speaks of the story as if it's alive, as if he's the mere vessel the story has told itself through.

    A man is plagued by nightmares. He writes them down and they become best sellers.

    These men differ - how?

    If a work of fiction was inspired by some powerful dreams, isn't it possible that work was as much based on vision as a religion? There are many authors who claimed their stories took on lives of their own. Tolkien didn't know who Aragorn was any more than the Hobbits when he met them. Pratchett meant Vimes to be a background character. Several books about Vimes later - turns out he was a bit stronger than Pratchett expected. JK Rowling broke down into tears when one of her characters died.

    If a god is created because the village leaders recognize the need for a divine to keep things running smoothly, is that god any less than a one that is dreamt about, or met in a vision?

    If a fictional character is met in a dream or a vision, is that character any less than a god who was met the same way?

    Honestly, what's wrong with believing in fictional demons if they give you enough name and face to put to the spirits you're trying to work with? How did we learn the original names anyway?

    Everything fictional and everything religious once came from a human who was inspired.
    Last edited by DiscordianKitten; December 9th, 2010 at 04:03 AM.

    ~ Blog: Kitten of Discord ~ Twitter: @DiscordianKitty ~

    "Demons have existed [...] for at least as long as the gods, who in many ways they closely resemble.
    The difference is basically the same as that between terrorists and freedom fighters." Terry Pratchett, Eric


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  6. #46
     is offline I was not born under a rhyming planet.
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    I know this little rant isn't going to be very popular for some people, but I'm going to post it anyway.

    In some sense I think that we all have some form of psychologically constructed deities. Most of them based on real people, or the image of real people as well as fictional characters.
    People that we deify, internally.

    The person in my signature, for example, is a man whom many Brisbanites would hold in their inner pantheon as a god.*(1)
    Darren Lockyer, would to a lot of people, personify dedication, loyalty and humility.

    Some people hold their mothers in their inner pantheon as the personification of the perfect woman. As a goddess of love and nurture, home and hearth.

    For me, the idea of gods and goddesses has always been either fictional characters or real life characters we raise up to the position of an idol and strive to be more like and/or learn from, which is honestly what I think the gods and goddesses of most pantheons in established religion was supposed to be as well.
    Characters that described how we should or should not live our lives. Ideals and idols which to learn from.

    I am sure some people will argue that the pantheons they worship hold higher credence because they are independent beings of omnipotent power, but personally I disagree.

    Spirituality, for me, has always been the concept of individual philosophy. We all have our own take on morality, ethics, how the world works, and while most people would argue that the world spiritual and by extension spirituality is something that people who are in lieu with the so-called supernatural forces have a monopoly on, I disagree with that as well.
    Just because our spirit might be the combination of different chemicals and our life experience up until this point doesn't mean it's any less important. And things pertaining to the spirit would be the things that are about us, about the inner us and who we really are. Thus, an internal philosophy.

    I know a lot of people are going to have their sensitive feathers rubbed the wrong way, because they will feel that I am somehow making light of their interpretations and individual relationships with their believes, but if so, I will address that later.

    -------------------------
    *(1) Note that I am here using these dictionary definitions of the words pantheon and god:
    god: a man who has qualities regarded as making him superior to other men
    pantheon: the place of the heroes or idols of any group, individual, movement, party, etc., or the heroes or idols themselves
    Previously known as Njorun Alma


    "A mind of the calibre of mine cannot derive its nutriment from cows." - George Bernard Shaw


  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Njorun Alma View Post
    Spirituality, for me, has always been the concept of individual philosophy. We all have our own take on morality, ethics, how the world works, and while most people would argue that the world spiritual and by extension spirituality is something that people who are in lieu with the so-called supernatural forces have a monopoly on, I disagree with that as well.
    That's a fine personal definition of spirituality but you could have called your individual philosophy well...anything...to the exact same effect. I'm not saying you should or should not use the term spirituality. If I were an atheist/materialist I would choose another word because, generally speaking, the word spirituality has obvious supernaturalist/non-materialist connotations inherent in the very make-up of the word itself.

    Spirituality without "spirit" makes about at much sense to me as Christianity without Christ. Sure, anyone can call themselves a Christian but if they don't revere Christ then their Christianity is radically different from the assumed meaning of the term.

    To be fair, whatever one chooses to call themselves and their personal philosophy/aesthetic is their business. I really don't care. The only reason it came up here is because the term was part of a discussion.

    Also, I think people get their feathers too easily ruffled when someone challenges their use of language. It is to be expected that when someone uses a term in a way that violates the commonly understood definition of the term then they will be questioned about it. Especially on an internet discussion board.

    If I call myself the Fairy Princess of Narnia I shouldn't be offended if someone challenges me on it. I should be ready to explain why I consider myself to be a fairy princess when it certainly appears I am not.

    Just because our spirit might be the combination of different chemicals and our life experience up until this point doesn't mean it's any less important. And things pertaining to the spirit would be the things that are about us, about the inner us and who we really are. Thus, an internal philosophy.
    This is where you lose me. You are, of course, free to euphemistically call the chemical soup of neurotransmitters in your brain "spirit." but, like spirituality, the word spirit also carries heavy non-materialist baggage referring usually to an immortal aspect of the Self sometimes called the soul.

    I know a lot of people are going to have their sensitive feathers rubbed the wrong way, because they will feel that I am somehow making light of their interpretations and individual relationships with their believes, but if so, I will address that later.
    I am just curious as to the need to euphemistically use words like "spirituality" and "spirit" when they are probably not the most accurate representation of the ideas your are espousing.

    I like this kind on conversation and if you wish to continue it, I'm game. However, don't for a moment think I am taking any of this personally enough to be "sensitive" about it. You can call yourself the Queen of Sheba for all I care and I'd support that decision on your part.

    However, don't expect me not to ask you why.


    )o( Blessed Be,

    Sundragon
    Last edited by Sundragon; December 9th, 2010 at 04:54 PM.
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    And that is the only worship of God there is."

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  8. #48
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    I canít help but wonder what makes a valid individual spirituality.

    You're onto a lot of big ideas in this post. I'd have to start with what "valid" could mean in this context.

    Does it mean "true", as in conforming to facts?
    Does it mean "internally consistent" as in a valid mathematical solution?
    Does it mean "conforming to standards" as in a valid result of proper experimental design?

    Difficult term...

    I'd be inclined to say that a valid spirituality is one that meets the spiritual needs of its practitioner.

    I'm an atheist, which means I have no belief in Gods or Goddesses. I see them all as psychological constructs.

    The Gods and Spirits *may be* psychological constructs (that's one model), but if they are, I'm still willing to worship them because I like the results.

    Is that the only difference? More people believed in the Greek Pantheon, so that myth is more acceptable than the fiction about the Cullens?

    Myth and fiction are different things. A fiction is a conscious invention of (usually) a single mind, compiled in a single source. The collected adventures of Sherlock Holmes come to mind.

    A myth is not like that at all. Myths arise organically inside of cultures, usually without any specific author, and without limit as to the actions and stories of the beings involved. By the time a living worshipper learns a myth, it has been filtered through thousands of nervous-systems for uncounted years. It isn't a fiction, any more than a tree is a sculpture just because people make sculptures of trees.

    Thus, I have a preference for spirituality based on myth rather than on fiction, because myth must be deeper and wider than any fiction can be. Tolkein and Lovecraft's gang did a pretty good job of including imitation myth in their fictions, but neither is as rewarding as a cultural mythology.

    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.

    This is actually a debate inside Paganism these days. Is it reasonable or useful (i.e. 'valid') to mix and match elements from disparate cultures? Is it good to pick and choose based on personal preference, or does that just lead to making a system that is an image of yourself, and from which you can learn little?

    Me, I tend to prefer taking a cultural pantheon whole, even (especially) the scary or disgusting parts, and seeing what it has to teach. That said, if a person's spiritual work is meeting their spiritual needs, then it's 'valid' by my definition above. Maybe some people don't need to be challenged and broadened by their spirituality...

    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.

    No characters about which there is only one version of story is likely to be as deep as a mythic character, about whom the stories vary from village to village, and about whom many stories are told. Remember, when you read 'Greek mythology' you are reading one book full of one version of stories that would have had wide variation in real Pagan religious places. A mythos is not a book of stories, it's a millieu.

    Once again... where do we draw the line of what is and what isn't an authentic spiritual expression?

    Now you've used a very different word. 'Valid' does not equal 'authentic'. Authenticity implies that a thing is actually what it says it is, and therein lies one source of the dispute inside Paganism. If one says one is Pagan, does one have to work to do what ancient Pagans "really did"?

    Now, if you say you're a "Hellenic Pagan", then there could be a standard of culture against which to measure authenticity. But to be a generic modern Pagan?... We barely know what that is, here some 50 years into the reawakening of the Old Ways.

    We could see the phrase another way, I suppose, and ask whether a person's path is an 'authentic' expression of their own spirituality. Really, only the practitioner could answer that...

    In general, when I teach students, I suggest they focus on mythic systems that worked for countless humans over centuries, and try to build a modern practice that benefits from what they learn from those Old Ways. I've known folks who have made working systems out of Tolkein's elvish or the Cthulhu Mythos, but they inevitably must use analogy to 'real' mythic systems to make their thing work. Why not just go to the original systems and skip the romantic modern imitators? But that's just me...

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charley Brown View Post
    I just want to sparkle in the sunlight.
    You can totally get a body lotion for that.

    ~ Blog: Kitten of Discord ~ Twitter: @DiscordianKitty ~

    "Demons have existed [...] for at least as long as the gods, who in many ways they closely resemble.
    The difference is basically the same as that between terrorists and freedom fighters." Terry Pratchett, Eric


    Respect is earned. So is disrespect.


  10. #50
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    I'm not one to begrudge whatever a touches a persons soul but twilight... well it's message is not good. I find the thing about spirituality or religions is that they have good intentions, it's about being the best you and helping others. Twilight doesn't even come close.

    As for worshipping a musician, I for one think music can be very spiritual but a musician is human and I just can't see myself worshipping another human being. I mean a person can learn a lesson from knowing what happened to Elvis perhaps make sure they don't travel the same path and perhaps look up to certain aspects of him but worshipping goes beyond that.

    I just don't think any human deserves worship but that's me.
    For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'

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    Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.

    Malcolm X

    The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.

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