Self-inquiry
Posted: 16 December 2006 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Not all 'new age' spiritual ideas are based on wishful thinking. The distinction between religion and spirituality could be connected to the 'new age' cultural movement, yet is proving very useful. The spiritual (non-religious) tradition of self-inquiry has been a life-long creative process for me. 
I was in California during the 1960's and participated in all sorts of experimentation. Playing at superstition was our way of thumbing our noses at the technocrats. Somehow in the rich haze of smoke from incense, candles and weed, I discovered the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. Playing with Tarot cards soon became boring, while these teachings grew on me, cleared the smoke and led me to meditation.
The result, for me, has been an entrance into the aspect of experience I can only call 'spiritual' because it doesn't depend on ideas, emotions or what I used to think was ordinary perception. Now I see that ordinary perceptions always did include a spiritual dimension, but I was distracted by worries, insecurity, and ambition. These distractions are what give rise to religion if we're not careful. Finding your own true nature may take some guidance, but it certainly does not depend on belief. In fact, belief is the major obstacle to inquiry, especially our hidden beliefs about the self.

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Posted: 16 December 2006 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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It all depends on your definition of spiritual. You might as well call it personal, individual, neurosomatic, etc.

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Posted: 17 December 2006 03:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]Not all ‘new age’ spiritual ideas are based on wishful thinking. The distinction between religion and spirituality could be connected to the ‘new age’ cultural movement, yet is proving very useful. The spiritual (non-religious) tradition of self-inquiry has been a life-long creative process for me. 
I was in California during the 1960’s and participated in all sorts of experimentation. Playing at superstition was our way of thumbing our noses at the technocrats. Somehow in the rich haze of smoke from incense, candles and weed, I discovered the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. Playing with Tarot cards soon became boring, while these teachings grew on me, cleared the smoke and led me to meditation.
The result, for me, has been an entrance into the aspect of experience I can only call ‘spiritual’ because it doesn’t depend on ideas, emotions or what I used to think was ordinary perception. Now I see that ordinary perceptions always did include a spiritual dimension, but I was distracted by worries, insecurity, and ambition. These distractions are what give rise to religion if we’re not careful. Finding your own true nature may take some guidance, but it certainly does not depend on belief. In fact, belief is the major obstacle to inquiry, especially our hidden beliefs about the self.


Hey Pat,

Your post made me consider a downside of being the crusty, stone-cold atheist that I am.
After adolescence I started being very cynical and refused to entertain any notions of ‘spirituality’.
In hind side, I don’t think there is anything wrong with flirting with (new) ideas and thoughts and practices. Even if they turn out to be bogus, perhaps they serve other purposes like the one you mentioned about thumbing your nose at technocrats.

I have some very smart friends who, over the years, temporarily got invloved in chakra reading, Hindu mysticism, Eckhard Tolle and the like.
What I admire about my friends is that even though they have open minds they always remained grounded and never preached.
Even though none of them is still ‘clinging’ to the ideas they exposed themselves to I do think that it gave them a flexibility of mind. And they learned form them. I suppose it is the difference between surrendering yourself to a practice or philosophy and taking certain parts from them and incorporating that in your own worldview.

Hope this made any sense.

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“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling is for fools.
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From the autobiography of A.A.Mills, ‘The passage of time, according to an estranged, casual tyrant.’

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Posted: 17 December 2006 05:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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When we smell sagebrush wet from a light rain, that experience is personal, individual, neurosomatic, conscious and sometimes spiritual. We can’t define the fragrence, but we can talk about it. The first thing we would agree upon is the notion of interactivity, things coming together, molecules and sense organ and so on. The spiritual aspect is more difficult to pin down.
It seems to me that the spiritual aspect of any experience is where we are interacting with the source of all that is. However, that is just a concept, and perhaps you can say it better.
If someone denies the existence of sagebrush, I could send them a picture. They might tell me, “That’s not sagebrush, that’s (x),” and I could stand corrected. The spiritual aspect of experience needs the human organism. No other mechanism is able to capture it, as far as I know. Does that put it outside the realm of science? Even so, that doesn’t put it outside the realm of people who love science.
Especially people who write “don’t believe everything you think”.  Now there is fertile ground for both science and spirituality!

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Posted: 17 December 2006 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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When I hear the word “spiritual” I think “supernatural” and cringe.  Maybe we could unpack the word “spiritual” at some point.

I see my consciousness/mind as an extremely complex product of the processes inside my brain.

I am prone to nostalgia, and certain smells/music/sounds/sights bring back memories (false or otherwise) of people/experiences in my past.  I easily swim in reverie and experience profound feelings of love for certain people in my life. 

I have had more than few experiences of what Buddhists might call pure awareness or big sky mind, none induced by chemicals, all unexpected. 

It seems that my brain/mind/memories/consciousness/perception is quite wonderful and wondrous and beautiful. I don’t, however, call it spiritual, and maybe it’s just a matter of semantics that others do.

It is, to me, all part of the denying the supernatural.  I don’t know how my brain works, but I do know thats science has explained much, and, based on this research, will continue to do so.  To some, the idea of consciousness as being scientifically explainable might feel scary.  I myself want to say that I am MORE than just chemistry.  I MUST be!

But I’m not.

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Posted: 18 December 2006 07:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Yes, the word ‘spiritual’ has been dragged through the mud of ignorance, wishful thinking, delusion, grandiosity and all sorts of other human sidetracks. I really don’t care who uses it and who doesn’t.
Using this word has been an interesting part of my personal unfolding. I was a Buddhist for a big chunk of time, and very religious about it. I was trained in ‘nontheistic’ thinking, so if a word like ‘spiritual’ implies a ‘spirit’ that’s a big no-no. And of course ‘nontheistic’ conceptual thinking can be just as dogmatic as any other, which I learned the hard way.
The Buddhist training in observation proved to be more persistent than any dogma. I found I liked a self-inquiry approach very much, and the more I scaled down my ideas about ‘self’ the more I found some kind of ungraspable light entering into experience. So I threw in the towel and said, what the heck, let’s call it spiritual.
I could also call it ‘supernatural’...not in the usual sense, but with a more American slant on the ‘super’. So that, for example, instead of seeing tears form on a statue of a saint, the big deal for me is more like this: slicing cabbage with no impulse to get away or grasp the activity of slicing cabbage. No hurry, no concentration, no mind games, no separation of ‘person’ from ‘slicing cabbage’. Then it’s supernatural, and huge waves of fresh air, of life breathing life, can pass through the experience.  Herbert Guenther translated ‘sunyata’ as ‘the open dimension of being’. I just find ‘spiritual’ to be a more ordinary, and concise, term.

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