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The Virtues of Religious Faith

 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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24 September 2012 14:00
 

I am very fond of Ram Dass.  He and I have grown up together.  I feel sort of the same way about Jane Fonda, although she has always been a bit pathetic in my mind.

Anyway, I listened to this talk given by good ole Ram on ZenCast.  He’s been yakking about this stuff for decades & he is a polished speaker, in a Zenish-folksy kind of way.  I could quarrel with his belief system…he’s one of those guys who believe in reincarnation. Y’know…the “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we’re spiritual beings having a human experience” type of guy. 

However, when I listened to this talk, I felt so inspired, I wanted to run out and find a few orphans and widows to feed.  He awakened a passion for “goodness” in me that has been absent ever since I lost my faith.

It occurred to me that THIS is the virtue of religious faith.  We all know…even the Christians on this site…the disastrous consequences of unquestioning religious convictions, but, when the ideas presented in a belief system are beautiful,....well, they often bring out the beauty in us. And this probably occurs a million times a day to quiet, inconsequential people who gather flowers for God in the little gardens of their lives and offer them to others in small deeds of kindness and service.

Anyway….here’s Ram Dass.  If you listen to it for 15 minutes or so, you’ll get an idea of his tone and approach, but the lecture is much longer than that.  I loved it. 

Except the “Karma is Your Dharma” part was a little icky. 

http://zencast.org/zencast_90_serving_the_beloved_part_1

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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24 September 2012 15:19
 
saralynn - 24 September 2012 12:00 PM

It occurred to me that THIS is the virtue of religious faith.

I will listen later from home.

However, I think you’re making a mistake if you want to claim philanthropy as a virtue of religious faith.
I’ve never been religious and I dedicate a significant amount of effort on philanthropic endeavors, and there are many atheists out there who do the same.

 
 
SkepticX
 
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SkepticX
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24 September 2012 17:01
 
saralynn - 24 September 2012 12:00 PM

It occurred to me that THIS is the virtue of religious faith.  We all know…even the Christians on this site…the disastrous consequences of unquestioning religious convictions, but, when the ideas presented in a belief system are beautiful,....well, they often bring out the beauty in us. And this probably occurs a million times a day to quiet, inconsequential people who gather flowers for God in the little gardens of their lives and offer them to others in small deeds of kindness and service.


Yup ... when we re-define “faith” to mean [something/anything that makes us happy], it makes us happy.

Of course it has precisely nothing to do with actual faith, but it makes us happy.

Standard issue “rhetoricizing” faith into existence in a form that believers can believe in, and that they can also pull off without having to violate their fundamental sense of integrity, unlike actual faith (as in Hebrews 11:1, for example). Remember that it’s absolutely critical for believers to have faith according to the Bible (without it we can’t please the Grand Poobah), so those with too much integrity can’t pull it off in any significant degree. That’s to their credit, but they’ve been sold on the idea that it’s the end all, be all to human worth, so you gotta have faith faith faith ... . So we have all kinds of “rhetoricized” forms and theories of faith that pointed have nothing to do with faith according to the Bible, and according to what we see when it’s cited or employed—it’s faithification for cheap, easy affirmation.

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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24 September 2012 17:05
 
saralynn - 24 September 2012 12:00 PM

I am very fond of Ram Dass.  He and I have grown up together.  I feel sort of the same way about Jane Fonda, although she has always been a bit pathetic in my mind.

Anyway, I listened to this talk given by good ole Ram on ZenCast.  He’s been yakking about this stuff for decades & he is a polished speaker, in a Zenish-folksy kind of way.  I could quarrel with his belief system…he’s one of those guys who believe in reincarnation. Y’know…the “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we’re spiritual beings having a human experience” type of guy. 

It occurred to me that THIS is the virtue of religious faith.  We all know…even the Christians on this site…the disastrous consequences of unquestioning religious convictions, but, when the ideas presented in a belief system are beautiful,....well, they often bring out the beauty in us. And this probably occurs a million times a day to quiet, inconsequential people who gather flowers for God in the little gardens of their lives and offer them to others in small deeds of kindness and service.

However, when I listened to this talk, I felt so inspired, I wanted to run out and find a few orphans and widows to feed.  He awakened a passion for “goodness” in me that has been absent ever since I lost my faith.

Anyway….here’s Ram Dass.  If you listen to it for 15 minutes or so, you’ll get an idea of his tone and approach, but the lecture is much longer than that.  I loved it. 

Except the “Karma is Your Dharma” part was a little icky. 

http://zencast.org/zencast_90_serving_the_beloved_part_1

Sitting, stoned, in an apartment in Tehran, 1972 reading Be Here Now.  Alternating between “Yeah!  Right on!” and “Oh, shit, this is scary stuff!” 

“It occurred to me that THIS is the virtue of religious faith.  We all know…even the Christians on this site…the disastrous consequences of unquestioning religious convictions, but, when the ideas presented in a belief system are beautiful,....well, they often bring out the beauty in us. And this probably occurs a million times a day to quiet, inconsequential people who gather flowers for God in the little gardens of their lives and offer them to others in small deeds of kindness and service.” 

Beautiful.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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24 September 2012 17:28
 

I’m in full support. Guys like this represent what I wish religion to be. Positive, informed (in its way) plural, non-invasive and as far as I can tell non usurious. The Dalai Llama doesn’t represent my worldview but what he and I can agree on is that its ok. That we can agree to disagree and still live in peace. Still respect one another boundaries.

 
SkepticX
 
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24 September 2012 18:34
 
Brick Bungalow - 24 September 2012 03:28 PM

I’m in full support. Guys like this represent what I wish religion to be. Positive, informed (in its way) plural, non-invasive and as far as I can tell non usurious. The Dalai Llama doesn’t represent my worldview but what he and I can agree on is that its ok. That we can agree to disagree and still live in peace. Still respect one another boundaries.


I agree, but it is unfortunate that it has to be cloaked in re-defined faith, perpetuating the genuine article’s veneer of legitimacy and ultimate virtue.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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24 September 2012 19:05
 
saralynn - 24 September 2012 12:00 PM

However, when I listened to this talk, I felt so inspired, I wanted to run out and find a few orphans and widows to feed.  He awakened a passion for “goodness” in me that has been absent ever since I lost my faith.

Sounds like you found yourself a new charismatic guru.

 
 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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24 September 2012 20:21
 

Answerer: Sounds like you found yourself a new charismatic guru.

Nah.  It made my heart flutter a bit, but it really is true that you can’t go home again. 

This isn’t to say I may not build a new house, but it will be different.  For one thing…it will by MY house.

 
santhosh
 
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santhosh
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24 September 2012 20:35
 

.

[ Edited: 21 January 2013 17:11 by santhosh]
 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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24 September 2012 21:04
 

Star: Ram has had such an impact on the way I carry myself as a nurse and look at others it’s very easy to understand how you would come sway with a desire to open yourself up, Saralynn. He certainly makes a good case for doing so. In the lecture he really hit it out of the park for me here..

I thought of you when I heard that part of the lecture and was hoping you would listen to it. 

Star: Saralynn, now that he’s inspired you, what are you going to do with that fire?

Be here now. I mean, now.  And now.  Now.

Damn…as usual, I can’t think about being here now and be here now at the same time.  Maybe I’ll take up surfing.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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24 September 2012 22:04
 

So it comes down to you having to figure out your own philosophy.  You read, you listen, you converse.  Then believe what makes sense to you.  Ram Dass compassion—yes.  Ram Dass reincarnation—no.

The problem with any O-fficial religion/philosophy is when they start trying to answer every question, especially those impossible ones like life after death or THE BIG PLAN.  I haven’t heard of a religion yet that says, yeah, we have no idea whether you have a spirit that continues after you die.  It seems to be the QUESTION THAT MUST BE ANSWERED before they get your stamp as an O-fficial religion.

So pick the flowers in your garden, and the meadow down the road, and your friend’s’ gardens, and make your own bouquet, much more suitable than the standard-issue PICK-ME-UP bouquet offered by the traditional florist.

By not picking any one religion, you reserve the right to take the best and leave the rest within each dogma.  Plus, there’s less cognitive dissonance.  I finally opted out of religion when I realized I was avoiding thinking about niggling questions because I didn’t want to question my faith.  I could only do that so long.

[ Edited: 24 September 2012 22:08 by hannahtoo]
 
fosal hossain
 
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fosal hossain
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24 September 2012 22:07
 
saralynn - 24 September 2012 12:00 PM

However, when I listened to this talk, I felt so inspired, I wanted to run out and find a few orphans and widows to feed.  He awakened a passion for “goodness” in me that has been absent ever since I lost my faith.

It occurred to me that THIS is the virtue of religious faith.  We all know…even the Christians on this site…the disastrous consequences of unquestioning religious convictions, but, when the ideas presented in a belief system are beautiful,....well, they often bring out the beauty in us.

This isn’t a virtue of religious faith, it’s a virtue of humanity.  One doesn’t need religious faith to do good. 

Forgive me if I sound like a downer, but why would you need someone else’s words to inspire you to do good deeds?  Don’t hide being good within a belief system, just believe in doing good.

One of the things I enjoy doing is taking hot chocolate to the Salvation Army bell-ringers (usually homeless people) around Christmas time.  I don’t do it for any reason of religious faith, I do it because I enjoy helping other people (that, and the looks I get when people tell me what a good Christian I am and then I tell them I’m an atheist).

You don’t need a reason to do good.  Just do it.

[ Edited: 24 September 2012 22:09 by fosal hossain]
 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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24 September 2012 23:26
 

Sciguy: Forgive me if I sound like a downer, but why would you need someone else’s words to inspire you to do good deeds?  Don’t hide being good within a belief system, just believe in doing good.

Oh, I do plenty of good deeds.  Being inspired helps me do those good deeds that I don’t feel like doing.  Personal sacrifice does not come easily to most people, including me. 

C’mon…we all like things that inspire us…no?  Sometimes it’s music; sometimes poetry, sometimes a speaker who says things that resonate with the best that is in us.  It can lift one’s spirits, which means a lot to those of us who are see the world through wistful eyes.

 
Jefe
 
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25 September 2012 00:00
 
saralynn - 24 September 2012 09:26 PM

...sometimes a speaker who says things that resonate with the best that is in us.

One doesn’t have to look to religion for this.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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25 September 2012 00:13
 
saralynn - 24 September 2012 09:26 PM

Sciguy: Forgive me if I sound like a downer, but why would you need someone else’s words to inspire you to do good deeds?  Don’t hide being good within a belief system, just believe in doing good.

Oh, I do plenty of good deeds.  Being inspired helps me do those good deeds that I don’t feel like doing.  Personal sacrifice does not come easily to most people, including me. 

C’mon…we all like things that inspire us…no?  Sometimes it’s music; sometimes poetry, sometimes a speaker who says things that resonate with the best that is in us.  It can lift one’s spirits, which means a lot to those of us who are see the world through wistful eyes.

Yes, people go to religious services to be inspired.  I love singing in a big group in a resonant room. 

But then there’s all those services where Christians talk about tithing and evangelizing your neighbors and supporting missionaries.  Tedious.  Those days I would have rather enjoyed driving up to the mountains and singing along with a CD.

BTW, I don’t believe that personal sacrifice doesn’t come easy to you.  You’re always talking about the people you tutor.  That kind of sacrifice is a joy.

 
EN
 
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EN
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25 September 2012 00:56
 
saralynn - 24 September 2012 09:26 PM

C’mon…we all like things that inspire us…no?  Sometimes it’s music; sometimes poetry, sometimes a speaker who says things that resonate with the best that is in us.  It can lift one’s spirits, which means a lot to those of us who are see the world through wistful eyes.

Religious faith can be both inspiring and inspired.  The idea of God, of a higher reality, has inspired some of the most majestic art, music, literature and architecture the world has ever seen. And those works, those expressions of faith, themselves inspire others. Religion finds its best impulses when it inspires people to look beyond, to look on a higher plane for meaning. Most of the early scientists were believers, including Newton, and that faith inspired them to look for a rational universe, a universe that had meaning, governed by laws.  It was the dogmatic church that inhibited learning, not religion itself.  A faith in a higher reality would stimulate inquiry, not squelch it.

 
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