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Define Spirituality
Posted: 08 April 2005 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Spirituality to me follows both ...

Iisbliss:

that feeling of being “connected” to something greater than oneself.

And fencesitter:

I would tend to elaborate on that a bit and say “connected” in such a way that makes one feel or believe that they somehow belong and whatever happens, happens for a reason, and that everything is going to be OK

.

I would just add that a spiritual ‘connection’ might be possible with anyone/anything that is alive - people, animals, plants, the planet - along the lines of the Native American teachings and their attributing a spirit to not only people and animals, but trees, the wind, fire, etc ...  Maybe that’s why nature, its tranquility, ferocity, and grandeur, are so in tune with our emotions and can so easily calm, terrify and inspire us. 

My personal philosophy follows exactly what Fencesitter wrote up there.  Since leaving the Church and letting go of any preconceived ideas about spirituality/god, I feel a sense of calm and go-with-the-flow mentality that the hard times point to a lesson(s) to be learned.  Rather than being a punishment from God, they provide an opportunity to learn an important lesson, the more difficult the situation, the more important the lesson.  And the good times, I see that they are a welcome break from all the (mental) work, so make sure you notice and appreciate them. 

I also feel that if you are approaching life with as much integrity as you can muster and are truly looking for answers and willing to do the hard work, the spirituality part kicks in and the ‘connection’ with others supports your search for answers.  Somebody new will come into your life or someone you already know will say something to get you thinking in a new direction towards solving your problem.  I would call that spirituality in motion.  It’s a process that I have absolute confidence in at this point and feel reassured, just as Fencesitter wrote, that everything’s going to be OK.

Guess this definition’s a little too long for Webster’s ... smile

Susan

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Posted: 08 April 2005 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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A poetic definition of spirituality… both an acceptance of the mystery of life and our illusions of what it might be.

A more scientific definition… a consciousness of self as an integrated part of a greater whole.

I personally like to view spirituality as an expression of spirit; spirit explained as one facet of the idea of trinity - body, mind and spirit.  I arrive at a definition of spirit by first defining mind.  Mind is created as the output of brain activity by which we process sensory input within our parameters of reality.  We use this development of mind to define the physical nature of life.  It provides an inward understanding of who and what we are as sentient beings and interprets the physical world around us.

Spirit, on the other hand, results from the mind’s attempt to understand and define our existance outside of physical sensory input.  Mind views effects without having adequate input to explain cause. Mind as spirit becomes experiential rather than conceptual, and seems to transcend both body and mind. It forms a realization of being an inextricable part of a larger pattern of existence, and not apart from it.  We realign ourselves from a sense of self as separate to a sense of oneness with the whole. 

Spirituality is a transcendence of ‘normal’ reality which can be triggered by many experiences… an intimate connection with nature (as mentioned by landulf and fencesitter), by meditation, by religious experience or tribal ceremony (as in candlelight vigil for the pope), or by whatever presents itself as significant to an individual’s sense of wonder.

These ideas represent my way for the moment.  Tomorrow, they may change, for our sense of spirituality is an individual and highly personal experience.  It changes as we experience life, and especially, as our mind stretches and broadens while seeking answers to the questions.

Maggie

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Posted: 08 April 2005 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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Hi Rasmussen. 

I like your post very much, but I don’t think Mr. Webster would have hired either one of us!  =)

M.

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Posted: 10 April 2005 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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If not Webster’s, how about the World Book Encyclopedia?  We could even add a picture or two ... smile

I appreciate your viewpoint, especially the point you make about ideas changing.  I agree that our understanding of the intangibles, (spirituality/god to name a couple) will change as we experience life.  The more change, the more growth.

Thanks for your thoughts,
Susan

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Posted: 10 April 2005 04:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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Rasmussen… add a picture or two?  You might have something there.  Most people would process visual images much better than verbal ones.  Emotional and awe-inspiring images do tend to convey those intangibles.  I believe a good example is the extensive use of image by the church.  Who isn’t affected by sunshine through stain glass windows?

I didn’t follow the pope’s funeral on television, but I did accidently catch a brief interview with a woman attending the viewing.  She was ecstatic and emotional, but her thoughts were not about John Paul II himself.  She was commenting on the spiritual aspect of being at the Vatican and the pomp and circumstance of the situation.  The entire scene was awash with ritual and emotion, and for her, that seemed to create an overwhelming sense of spirituality.

It made me wonder what percentage of mourners were there for just these reasons, and not necessarily because of religious beliefs or love/respect for the pope.  I believe most people do seek out spiritual experiences wherever they may find them, not to mention those who simply want to be present at a significant historical event.  The answers could be quite revealing.

Maggie

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Posted: 11 April 2005 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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Maggie wrote:

I believe most people do seek out spiritual experiences wherever they may find them

Your post made me think of two things ...

I’ve always wondered about the power of music, how it manipulates our emotions and speaks to something inside of us.  What is it about certain sounds and how they are strung together that they can have such an effect on us?  A friend once wondered if the type of music and our favorite songs/pieces of music said something about ourselves.  For me, the right music/song often makes me feel understood, that whoever wrote the song or is playing/singing it, feels the depth or height of my sorrow or happiness.  I would count music as a ‘spiritual’ tool.

The other thought I had went to something a minister friend once said.  I was at a religious family camp back in the day and he was talking about attending church and he understood church to be wherever you found yourself in the company of friends.  The example he used was for a guy whose wife had just died who received little help from his congregation but a lot of support from his friends at his local pub.  The pub was the guy’s ‘real’ church according to this minister.  Now that’s my type of guy !

Either of these two thoughts follows yours that spiritual experiences or feeling connected/understood, can be found in many-a strange place.

Thanks for your thoughts ... smile

Susan

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Posted: 11 April 2005 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Yes, Susan, I agree about music, and I found it interesting that you should describe it as a tool.  I remember when I was first introduced to ‘new age’ music.  I loved the ethereal feelings it envoked.  I’m reminded of church spirituals, too, and how many people I’ve known for whom they were a primary factor for attending church.  Perhaps that is a reason for church “singings”.  Don’t know about the rest of the country, but here in the bible belt, gospel concerts(singings), particularly those with local talent, are a primary source of evangelism. 

What is it about certain sounds and how they are strung together that they can have such an effect on us?

That makes me think of Enya’s music and it’s universal popularity, even with people who normally prefer a totally different sound.  I’m sure many people of all ages and musical preferences would describe her music as spiritual.

Your thoughts also struck me that spirituality seems to be divided into two types of experience.  I had described it as an introverted type of feeling, one where an individual connects with, for lack of a better thought, higher consciousness.  Just as the example I referred to of landulf and fencesitter finding spirituality when totally alone in nature.  (Enya was involved there too.)  A great many people who reject organized religion refer to nature as being their true church. 

You spoke of spiritual feelings of being connected/understood on a more social basis.  I have heard many people express that thought in relation to spiritual/religious experience.  Many of the churches in this area promote attendence in this way.  They advertise their services as “a place of belonging” and build congregations on a basis of fellowship.  BTW, that does also sound like a promotion for a pub, doesn’t it?  smile

So what I’m getting at is the idea that as personalities tend to be divided into catagories of introvert/extrovert, perhaps they perceive spirituality in some of the same ways.

Any ideas? 

Maggie

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Posted: 11 April 2005 03:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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You spoke of spiritual feelings of being connected/understood on a more social basis.  I have heard many people express that thought in relation to spiritual/religious experience.  Many of the churches in this area promote attendence in this way.  They advertise their services as “a place of belonging” and build congregations on a basis of fellowship.  BTW, that does also sound like a promotion for a pub, doesn’t it?  smile

My experiences with fellowship in a church always made me feel that what I was doing was very corney and pretentious. For example, during the sermon the pastor would suggest that everyone stand and go around and shake hands with each other and say good morning. I sincerely hope that I wasn’t the only one just going through the motions, feeling like I was being judged. Even upon arrival, the designated “greeters” would act so happy to see you, it was like they haden’t seen you in years. I still don’t know why they try so hard. Felt like I was at Walmart.
As for the pub, if I wanted to feel welcomed anywhere (besides my parents place) I would go there. Besides the “heat n’ music” and of course the beers, nobody has sweaty palms, nobody cares how your dressed, nobody cares about much other than that fact that you’re there, and they’re genuinely happy to see you.
I’d feel more genuine fellowship in a coffee shop, than in a church, or even at church functions for that matter. Although, at church I always like to sing the hymns, everyone seemed to, I didn’t care what the lyrics were or even meant, I just liked the music. Not sure of the relevance of all of this but it’s an interesting topic.

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Posted: 13 April 2005 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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Maggie wrote:

So what I’m getting at is the idea that as personalities tend to be divided into catagories of introvert/extrovert, perhaps they perceive spirituality in some of the same ways.

Speaking of introvert/extrovert, I’ve never been able to settle on one or the other for myself.  I see that I’m equally both.  On the one hand, I’m a self-motivated, entrepreneurial-type, get my strength, and find my passion from somewhere within me kind of person, hence my preoccupation with organizing.  On the other, what do I like organizing best?  Parties and special events.  I equally search out time to myself – I regularly go out to eat or to the movies or have even travelled by myself – as much as I search out the company of others – I’m out atleast once if not twice a week for dinner or a party with friends – sometimes one, oftentimes another couple, or small group of friends.  Am I introverted or extroverted?  Beats me.

On this token, I would bet that spirituality can be perceived in as many different ways as there are different personalities.  I have had moments of ‘connectedness’ either quietly sitting alone or listening to soft music, and then there have been other moments, at either hockey or football games or concerts, when the whole noise of it all is what moves me.  The right noise or the right quiet can do it for me. 

As for church, I count my time out with friends as my ‘fellowship.’  Sometimes its just all for fun and other times, one or the other of us uses the time to either vent our frustrations or share our troubles.  I would even count this forum as a form of ‘church.’  I would bet there is more soul searching being done on any given day among the members of this form than among the members of the average brick and mortar church ...

And as for music ...  One of the funniest experiences I had with music has to do with my second child.  At the time she born, we were living in NewYork and regularly, almost weekly, made the four-hour drive up the interstate to Montreal.  I had a two-year-old son who travelled really well and a newborn baby girl who wasn’t so keen on these long car rides.  How I stumbled on the solution, I don’t remember, but what ended up keeping her happy, was the Carpenter’s song, “Top of the World.”  Now I ain’t no big Carpenters’ fan (the CD belonged to one of my sisters…) but whenever she would begin to fuss, I’d play that song and as soon as she heard the intro, silence.  As soon as it was over, she’d fuss again.  I’d repeat the song sometimes up to a dozen or more times until she would finally fall asleep.  Of course, she wasn’t the only one braindead in the car by that time…  just goes to show one person’s heaven is another person’s hell!  I’ve always wondered what it was about that song in particular that she was so mesmerized by it. 

One of the other threads in this forum calls for war stories ... this is my contribution!  I survived smile !

Susan

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Posted: 13 April 2005 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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Sam says, [p43] We cannot live by reason alone. This is why no quantity of reaon, applied as antiseptic, can compete with the balm of faith, once the terrors of this world begin to intrude upon our lives ^20….”

[^20 “Witness John von Neumann—-mathematician, game theorist, savant of national defense, and agnostic—-converting to Catholicism while in the throes of cancer, See W. Poundstone, Prisoner’s Dilemma (New York: Doubleday, 1992)]

...I hope to show that spirituality can be—-indeed must be—-deeply rational, even as it elucidates the limits of reason. Seeing this, we can begin to divest ourselves of the many reasons we currently have to kill one another.”

When I first began to read that paragraph, I got the idea that he was at leaast an agnostic, and that he might be one of those who would say, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” I certainly disagreed with his example of John von Neumann as a his primary evidence. I can’t imagine ever converting to any religious belief, under any circumstances.

Yet the last part of the paragraph talks about spirituality (whatever that is) as being ‘deeply rational’. I wish Sam would let us know exactly what he meant by spirituality. I cant see it elucidating the limits of reason, can you?

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Posted: 13 April 2005 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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[quote author=“Dragon”]
Yet the last part of the paragraph talks about spirituality (whatever that is) as being ‘deeply rational’. I wish Sam would let us know exactly what he meant by spirituality. I cant see it elucidating the limits of reason, can you?

On some other topic someone pointed out that reason(ing) is a process that is useless without knowledge based on scientific or interpersonal understanding.  I’m betting that scientific knowledge of the brain will shed light on the origins of feelings of spirituality.  And hence will explain why the feeling of spirituality IS rational in an evolutionary sense.

For me, I have been thinking that my sense of spirituality is a combination of emotions and feelings along with a sense of appreciation for understanding how things work in nature (through science).  In other words, I have a “believable” explanation for the world and me - what, how and even, to some degree, why (evolution) - and I experience feelings of joy and content with these.  They help me understand why things are the way they are and that feels good.  All of this goes on in the material brain, and, I think, will eventually be explained in brain functioning.

No religion necessary.  Science and personal interactions with my fellow beings is my source of knowledge.  I practice a Buddhist form of meditation on positive emotions to enhance my feelings of completeness, of being a part of a wonderful, though still very mysterious (due to incomplete knowledge) universe.  I don’t have a need for an authoritarian, paternalistic church, savior or god. I just need experience and times of silence.

So I agree with Sam.  Spirituality as a human experience is rational in the evolution of a creature that can ask the kinds of questions we do.  But I also agree that beliefs in unsubtantiatable claims and authoritarian doctrine are just not needed to enjoy spiritual feelings.

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Posted: 13 April 2005 09:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Dear Guest, very well put.

In fact, I would go the extra step and say that “dogmatic” belief systems actually damage and impair spirituality.

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Posted: 17 April 2005 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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In fact, I would go the extra step and say that “dogmatic” belief systems actually damage and impair spirituality.

Your note reminded me of my grandmother, a ‘rabid’ Christian. For example: My mother, a teacher, had been taking a correspondence course in meteorology. Her mother, upon discovering her paperwork, threw it away. My mother talked to her, trying to explain what she was doing, and what it was about. Her mother exlaimed that God controlled the weather and fell to her knees, praying with all her heart with tears streaming from her eyes.

That is one person who would never experience the wonder of discovery about how the universe operates.

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