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Mon Jan 23, 2012, 07:33 PM

 

Buddhism, based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama

Quotation by Siddhărtha Gautama (Buddha):

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions simply because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."


Why is this not a tenet of Christianity? I think it would lead to more tolerance, don't you Christians on here agree?

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Reply Buddhism, based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (Original post)
MarkCharles Jan 2012 OP
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #1
MarkCharles Jan 2012 #2
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #3
ZombieHorde Jan 2012 #15
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #22
ZombieHorde Jan 2012 #23
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #24
ZombieHorde Jan 2012 #25
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #26
ZombieHorde Jan 2012 #27
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #28
ZombieHorde Jan 2012 #29
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #30
kwassa Jan 2012 #31
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #32
kwassa Jan 2012 #33
skepticscott Jan 2012 #4
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #5
tama Jan 2012 #7
skepticscott Jan 2012 #9
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #10
skepticscott Jan 2012 #16
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #17
kwassa Jan 2012 #11
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #12
kwassa Jan 2012 #13
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #14
tama Jan 2012 #18
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #19
tama Jan 2012 #20
GliderGuider Jan 2012 #21
Odin2005 Jan 2012 #6
Ron Obvious Jan 2012 #8

Response to MarkCharles (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 07:45 PM

1. Because then it wouldn't be Christianity any more...

 

It would be Buddhism. Or it would be if you could get rid of that pesky god-like character with the attitude.

The aspect of Buddhism you allude to here has a lot in common with the mystic traditions in many theistic religions, though: rely only on your own direct, unmediated personal experience to show you what is true.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 08:00 PM

2. Yeah, I'm sure this is how Christians will see it. They can only be SO...

 

open-minded and liberal, when it comes to politics, or science, they cannot sacrifice what they had been taught by their religion. They would not be Christians or Jews or Muslims anymore, if they question what others have taught them and they need to believe.

Buddhism opens the mind, much like atheism does, but Buddhism is respected, by most other believers, not so for atheism, go figure.

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Response to MarkCharles (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 08:07 PM

3. Buddhism looks like a religion to Westerners, but most schools of it are not.

 

Tibetan Buddhism might be an exception, though. I'm more of an anarchistic salad-bar Buddhist with a side order of Osho.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 02:28 AM

15. Buddhists label themselves a religion, and receive the nice tax breaks.

Religion is supernatural answers to life's philosophical questions; e.g., what happens when we die: reincarnation.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #15)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 12:13 PM

22. "Religion is" a bit more than just that, though.

 

IMO:

Religion is an organization that controls the dissemination of dogma regarding selected supernatural answers to life's philosophical questions in order to achieve social or cultural goals.

Many schools of Buddhism are religions in that sense. Fortunately, the lack of any requirement to believe in a deity makes many aspects of Buddhist teachings a little more accessible to atheist heretics like me.

Edited to add: In that way Buddhists are a bit like the Eastern version of Unitarians...

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #22)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 01:27 PM

23. Including dogma excludes religions such as Thelma and New Age. nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #23)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 01:41 PM

24. New Age isn't a religion, IMO

 

It's an amorphous, incoherent pastiche of spiritual misconceptions.
Except for the parts of it that I follow, of course.

Under your definition, would all spirituality qualify as religion?

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #24)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 08:41 PM

25. I don't think a religion's practices have to be coherent or logical to outsiders

in order to qualify as a religion. The aspects of New Age religion; e.g., tarot cards, astrology, meditation, yoga, etc., are not held has truth by all practitioners, so it can seem amorphous, but I think the same can be said about mainstream religions, such as Christianity. Not every Christian believes in every part of the Christian Holy Bible. The religion's perceiver dictates which parts should be believed, if any.

I am not sure what spirituality is, which is why I made this thread. Some posters have created some interesting, indirect definitions for me to ponder. Perhaps spirituality is like pornography in that it is hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #25)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 10:01 PM

26. Most religions have a central obligatory unifying belief, usually their god-concept.

 

Last edited Tue Jan 24, 2012, 11:55 PM - Edit history (4)

I don't see such an obligatory unifying belief (one that must shared by all adherents) in New Age. There are some common themes, like manifestation or angels, but as you say they're not held as truth by all practitioners. I regard the things you mention - tarot cards, astrology, meditation, yoga - as spiritual technologies. They're like communion or confession or baptism in the Christian religion, expressions of the belief system rather than its core defining elements.

To use somewhat kinder terminology than in my previous post, New Age is an extreme example of syncretism, especially when you throw in things like psychedelics, biodynamic farming, transpersonal psychology and channeled writings like the cosmology of Seth Speaks.

As far as I can tell after having been close to it for a few years, the only feature of New Age spirituality that's shared by everyone who self-identifies as such is the idea that the ordinary material world isn't all there is. That puts New Age ideas into opposition with modern materialism, but isn't much of a differentiator from other, more traditional religions - all religions (not to mention some slightly more "respectable" cosmologies and philosophies) share that idea.

My definition of spirituality is something like, "The feeling one gets from direct, unmediated contact with non-ordinary dimensions of reality." It shares that quality with mysticism, though most people understand mysticism to be that experience within the context of a more traditional god-centered religion.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #26)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 06:17 PM

27. The unifying belief of New Age religions is people can use religious technology,

such as mediation, to improve themselves, and become happier, more fulfilled individuals.

I agree New Age is syncretic, but that is how new religions often begin. Syncretism can still be seen in Christianity; e.g., Christmas trees. I often see people refer to Tibetan Buddhism as being syncretic.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #27)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 06:44 PM

28. Does the use of the technology make it a religion?

 

Especially if it's for self-improvement. Is going to motivational seminars and repeating self-affirmations in front of a mirror a religion?

What this points out is that there is a grey zone between religion and spirituality. Ultimately we each need to make up our own minds about where our personal dividing line falls.

Or not worry about it. Is the distinction important?

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #28)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 09:10 PM

29. Very few New age groups use seminars. Ramsey's School of Enlightenment does.

They were involved in putting out a recent, semi-popular video called What the Bleep do We Know?

New Agers' belief in an afterlife does make it make it a religion. A religion with many sects.

What this points out is that there is a grey zone between religion and spirituality. Ultimately we each need to make up our own minds about where our personal dividing line falls.


When people use the word "spirituality," I assume they are trying to communicate something. I am interested in what they are trying to say.

Or not worry about it. Is the distinction important?


Importance is a reaction to perceived stimuli. It comes from us, and not the subject.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #29)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 10:07 PM

30. My definitions of spirituality and religion

 

I've already given my definition of the word "spirituality" in a previous post. However, all things considered, I think the Wiki definition is comprehensive and accords with my own experience:

[div class="excerpt" style="border:solid 1px #000000"]Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop an individual's inner life; spiritual experience includes that of connectedness with a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self; with other individuals or the human community; with nature or the cosmos; or with the divine realm. Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life. It can encompass belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world.

The fact that the definition of spirituality is multi-faceted may be why it's hard to determine exactly what people mean when they use the word.

When I use the word "religion" I mean this (in my own words):

"A group of people organized around a common belief in a god or gods, gathering under the umbrella of a secular organization that is built around that belief; an organization that controls the dissemination of dogma regarding that belief in order to achieve social or cultural goals."

Religion generally has the connotation of an organized system. Again in the worlds of the Wiki-god:

[div class="excerpt" style="border:solid 1px #000000"]Most religions have organized behaviors, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural), and/or scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #30)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 04:35 PM

31. I like the definition of spirituality, but disagree on your definition of religion

When I use the word "religion" I mean this (in my own words):


"A group of people organized around a common belief in a god or gods, gathering under the umbrella of a secular organization that is built around that belief; an organization that controls the dissemination of dogma regarding that belief in order to achieve social or cultural goals."



The god or gods part is not necessary; clearly Buddhism is an example of that. Also, the organization built around that belief is not secular, but religious, of course. There are also religions that are relatively non-dogmatic, or possess no dogma at all, like the Unitarians, if they can be considered a religion.

here is a dictionary definition
re·li·gion   /rɪˈlɪdʒən/ Show Spelled[ri-lij-uhn] Show IPA
noun
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #31)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 04:44 PM

32. You know what? I'd completely forgotten about those pesky Unitarians.

 

Which is more than a bit funny, because my parents founded a Unitarian fellowship in Canada and I was a Unitarian until I was about 18. Sheesh.

Unitarians: no dogma, no gods, and the fellowship I was a member of wasn't even spiritual - in fact most members were atheists. OK, I'm going to have to rework my definition. Thanks!

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #32)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 12:03 AM

33. I grew up in the Unitarian church, too.

Also until about 18. I got over it.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 09:03 PM

4. The key word is "simply"

 

(or merely), and the message isn't to trust your own personal experience above anything else (except for things that apply only to you), but rather to not take any one source as authoritative and final on matters that are more universal.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #4)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 09:43 PM

5. From a different perspective

 

Everything applies only to you. You only experience the universe through your own perceptions and experience, after all.

That is one of the underlying principles of Buddhism and other non-dualist philosophies. Christianity doesn't share that idea of course, which is what made it an ideal Western religion - especially once the Enlightenment rolled around and we decided that only the external was real.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #5)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 10:04 PM

7. "And then I realized I was the universe"

 

A quote from somebody I don't remember who. A conclusion to long and winding story entailing salvia divinorum, greys being bitchy about smoking dope and questioning their authority - quite brutally, etc.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #5)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 10:11 PM

9. Except that that perspective is wrong

 

The fact that you think Coke tastes better than Pepsi doesn't apply only to me.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 10:14 PM

10. But the fact that you think that I think Coke tastes better than Pepsi applies only to you.

 

It certainly doesn't apply to me. I "know" Coke tastes better than Pepsi. To me. I tasted it.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #10)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 06:52 AM

16. That fact may

 

but the one I mentioned doesn't. So your perspective is still wrong. Do you really need to have this demonstrated further?

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 07:46 AM

17. Thanks for the offer

 

Being wrong isn't that important to me right now, so I'll pass. Thanks all the same.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 12:30 AM

11. You hit the important point. The mystic tradition in many religions, including Christianity.

It is all about a direct experience of the divine.

Is God all things or no things? Immanent or eminent? Buddhism calls it no thing. Other traditions call it all things.

I recommend Evelyn Underwood's "Mysticism", about all forms, but mostly Christian mysticism.

The only true experience of God is the direct experience of God. That is what mystics know. None of these ideas are alien to Christianity.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #11)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 12:41 AM

12. I think the ideas may in fact be alien to mainstream Christianity

 

Mysticism is a little more mainstream in Islam, through Sufism, and in Hinduism via Advaita Vedanta. But interestingly enough, those groups are named sects. I wonder if having a recognized mystical sect makes the idea more acceptable to the mainstream of a religion. I'm not aware of any modern mystic sect in Christianity - it seems like all Christian mystics fly solo. Am I wrong in this? It would be nice if I was.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #12)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 12:55 AM

13. There is a greater interest now in contemplation in Christianity.

you are right ... there is no modern mystic sect within Christianity. They do fly solo, or within small groups or specific small churches.

most Christian mystics were Medieval or of the early Reformation, but modern Christians are open to many ideas, many completely outside the Christian tradition, or from much earlier ages in the Church.

I belonged to a Christian church that did three-day silent meditation retreats. I know of a local monastery where week-long silent retreats are offered. It is all about meditation/contemplation.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #13)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 12:59 AM

14. Very interesting! Thank you. n/t

 

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #12)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 09:19 AM

18. Gnostic Christianity

 

Texts hidden in Nag Hammad and found again around 1930 represent the esoteric Judeo-Christian traditions, with many parallels to hermeticism and what later became occult (ie. secret) interests, alchemy etc. Hidden most like because of the efficient progroms of the exoteric imperial traditions of power hierarchies.

Shortly, mystic sects of Christianity have been consistently slaughtered, that's why they are not so easy to find even today. But of course there are today many, Santo Daime is one that I have some experience of.

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Response to tama (Reply #18)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 11:08 AM

19. Do syncretic practices qualify as "Christian"?

 

I looked up Santo Daime just now, and found mentions of ayahuasca and animism along with Christian prayer. While I think syncretism is a great thing (in fact I think it's spiritually essential, and the core of my own work), I wonder how much of the Christian community would recognize Santo Daime and similar Christian/aboriginal fusions as "Christian".

I've read the Gospel of Thomas, and it makes Jesus sound like a Zen master. It was one of the first Christian writings that really spoke to me.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #19)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 11:38 AM

20. Depends on who qualifies

 

but Christianity is a syncretic practice to begin with.

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Response to tama (Reply #20)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 11:50 AM

21. The winners always get to write the new rule-book.

 

It's remarkable to be worming back though history, following all these rivers upstream.

I'm about to dive into a (hopefully) very subversive book called "Reality" by Peter Kingsley - about the contributions of Parmenides and Empedocles to the mystic foundations of Western civilization. More ancient Greeks to stoke the fire...

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Response to MarkCharles (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 10:01 PM

6. K&R

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Response to MarkCharles (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 10:05 PM

8. Sid Arthur

That pal of yours, Sid Arthur, knows what he's on about.

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