Religion or Spirituality?

“We need to distinguish between two crucial terms: religion and spirituality. The word religion has many meanings; in particular it implies a concern with the sacred and supreme values of life. The term spirituality, rogerwalshquoteon religionon the other hand, refers to direct experience of the sacred. Spiritual practices are those that help us experience the sacred for ourselves.

For thousands of years wise men and women from all traditions have sung the praises of the many benefits that flow into the lives of practitioners as they progress along the spiritual path.

Gradually, the heart begins to open, fear and anger melt, greed and jealousy dwindle, happiness and joy grow, love flowers, peace replaces agitation, concern for others blossoms, wisdom matures, and both psychological and physical health improve. Virtually all aspects of our lives are touched in some way.

Within ourselves we find our deepest self, our true Self, and recognise that we are not only more than we imagined but more than we can imagine. We see that we are a creation of the sacred, intimately and eternally linked to the sacred, forever graced and embraced by the sacred. This is the greatest of all discoveries, the secret of all secrets, the priceless gift that is both the source and the goal of the world’s religions…

These traditions suggest that the [primary cause of human suffering] lies in our false sense of identity. They claim that we are separated from the sacred and thereby unaware of our true nature. This separation is described in various ways. In Judaism and Christianity it is called “the fall.” In Hinduism and Buddhism it is specifically a fall into the semiconscious state of maya, while in Taoism it is the apparent deviation from the Tao.

But whatever it is called the underlying message is the same: in falling into illusion we have forgotten our boundless spiritual nature. Consequently, we underestimate ourselves terribly, believing we are merely little egos isolated in our fragile bodies, and that we are fundamentally deficient. How could we feel otherwise when we have constricted ourselves so terribly and torn ourselves away from our Source?”

~Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.
Essential Spirituality: The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart & Mind

 

 

On Wisdom, Compassion, and Mindfulness

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I don’t describe myself using any religious term like Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Taoist, Gnostic, etc.  I am simply me, and I see the world through my own eyes and filter the world around me through my own senses using my personal, internal computing system in all its limitations.

Not aligning to a particular religious belief allows me unfettered consideration of how various religions tend to view the world and try to make sense of people’s lives. I find that some aspects of various religions seem to have a ring of TRUTH to them, but often their stringent rules and doctrines of required adherence for qualified “believers” of that particular religion, will quickly turn me off to it.

So I can stand here on the outskirts of all religions and simply admire what I like about certain ones. In truth I do like Buddhism for its psychological approach to the subject matter of why we are here and how we should be conducting our lives in non-judgmental full awareness of every moment.

And as I understand it standing on the outside, there are different forms of Buddhism, one of which is the Zen approach, which is appealing to me in many ways because its focus is on helping people to see life as it simply is and live your life from the purest form of moment-by-moment awareness.medalionfor peacereligions.jpg

I see the value in this approach to life just as I see value in certain aspects of other religions. What this condensed article is describing is pertinent to the human aspirations I most admire: Wisdom, Compassion and Mindfulness. And according to this author, that is the point of Zen.

But I also know that Zen is considered a fathomless concept, and none knew it better than D. T. Suzuki. So if anyone is truly interested in studying more about Zen, he would be a good starting point.

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The quotes listed here are from the blog article: The Way of Zen – Wisdom, Compassion & Mindfulness  .    Posted on October 24, 2014 by Christopher Chase (https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/the-way-of-zen-wisdom-compassion-mindfulness/?fbclid=IwAR1baYMA9UAfRnPJliTnIjB7QWR4GUQAegOKV126aTsQV_vwmLMV1pXMY5g)

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“Much has been written about Zen, but there are 3 essentials that are especially important. These insights and practices flow from the Buddha’s teachings yet can be applied by people of all religious faiths.

The first is the awakening of wisdom, what Buddha called right view. It’s coming to see the impermanence and empty “self” nature of all that exists. Seeing through the illusions of compartmentalized thinking to a more holistic understanding of how every atom, river, planet, galaxy and living being in our Universe arise together and flow as one interdependent ever-changing whole. …

The second is ethical conduct and compassion, valuing love and life more than material things, power or wealth. Supporting others, seeking to reduce violence and suffering, cultivating greater kindness and equality in society. Prioritizing peace, love and compassion is at the core of what many wise beings have shared with the world down through history. …

Finally, Zen teaches mindfulness of the present moment, observing what is happening without attachment or aversion. Being aware of what we are doing right here, right now, where ever we are. The practice of seated meditation is meant to assist with efforts to concentrate and calm the mind, but it is moment-to-moment mindfulness in all situations that Buddha most strongly emphasized. …

These three essentials taught by the Buddha: wisdom, compassion and mindfulness—are linked together synergistically and interdependently. When we successfully prioritize all three each serves to strengthen the development of the others. Over time (and with practice) we become more compassionate, wise, mindful, loving, joyful and at peace.    –Christopher Chase”

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The Return of Primordial Light

Holiday messages are nice, and many received reflect the overall appeal and optimism of the season, no matter the faith.rbuckminsterfuller67-2x.jpg

I am not religious. I do not follow or prescribe any particular recognized religion.  But I write about the many aspects of spirituality that personally appeal, because to me spirituality means our personal connection to the energies around us and from which we have emerged. And that is how I relate to all of those different religious philosophies.

buckyuniverse68.jpgYou can call those philosophical energies “Universe” as Buckminster Fuller did, or you can call them The Tao as ancient Chinese philosophers did, or you can call them God or Yahweh as Judeo-Christian traditions proclaim, or you can simply call them the Transcendent Still Point of All Being.

Whatever you wish to call them, many believers feel especially close to key tenets of those religious philosophies this time of year—sending peace, love and good wishes to all.

I would say that the philosophy of the Shamanic tradition is a very nature-based, direct connection to life and the cosmos we inhabit, and as I watched that beautiful full moon setting outside my window on this winter solstice, I gave thanks for the view and for my part in the whole of this present earth-based drama. A few days ago Alberto Villoldo of Four Winds Society, sent out his winter-solstice, holiday email to all who subscribe. I found it pretty appropriate to our current situation, so I’ll share it here.

“From the bottom of our hearts all of us at the Four Winds Society want to wish you a holy and joyous Solstice on December 21, 2018.

We invite you to light a candle or a small fire in your backyard and join medicine men and women around the world who are gathering on the evening of the Solstice to pray for the “return of the Light.”villoldoenergyquote

This is not the ordinary daylight we all wish we had more of in the Northern hemisphere (and a bit less of in the South), but the Primordial Light.

Primordial Light is the creative power of the Universe which is available to us to create beauty in the world, and to heal ourselves and others. But to work with Primordial Light we must remember the way of the luminous warrior. We must live and act fearlessly, know the answer to “Who am I?” and the ways beyond death into infinity.

Like the shamans of old, we are luminous warriors. We dare to speak the truth, uphold universal values that honor all life, and perform daily acts of courage.

This is so important in this age of cowardice where half-truths are readily embraced as real.

We wish you the strength and steadfastness to continue creating the sacred every day and dreaming a new and healthy world into being.

In Beauty,    Alberto, Marcela, and the Four Winds Society team.”

And to that I would simply add that during this holiday season and throughout the year ahead, be at peace no matter the circumstance, be love no matter the degree of hatred all around you, be as courageous as you were always meant to be, standing tall in the midst of such cowardice in our governing bodies—stand tall and speak your truth.

This is what we do—this is who we are. We, as Luminous Warriors of Divine Primordial Light, welcome the return of the Light—the return to TRUTH as a Universal Standard for governance.

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Blessings to you and yours, and may the year ahead be full of love and laughter for all of us.

Let’s make it a good year for everyone!

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The Morality of Consciousness

“Everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is conscious: i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception…” ~ Helena Blavatsky

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Morality is one of those words that mean different things to different people. As Helena Blavatsky (of the Theosophical Society fame) stated above: We, as do all other things, have our own kind of consciousness, and that consciousness is based on our personal plane of perception.

So to some people, morality may mean nothing at all because it would be counter to that person’s self-interest. You needn’t look farther than the news shows to see that demonstrated daily.

But for mutual understanding, what exactly is MORALITY?

I’ll list Wikipedia’s more expansive version of what morality means:

“Morality is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with “goodness” or “rightness”.”

Talk about subjective interpretations of morality in those personal planes of perception.

Perhaps my concepts of ‘goodness’ and ‘rightness’ are quite different than others. I know as I listen to Evangelical preachers on television harping on Christian morals and righteousness that I often wonder how their own stated hypocrisy over supporting such corrupt and vile government leadership can so easily skew their personal sense of righteousness and godliness.

To me, that seems very strange indeed.  Morality clarkquotemorality67.jpgfor them must be more transitive and dependent on their personal desires that coincide with standing before large groups of gullible people willing to be led in the preacher’s desired direction.  Isn’t that called manipulation rather than salvation?

I personally like Einstein’s concept of religious morality: “My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance—but for us, not for God.”

Morality?  Universal standards of rightness and goodness?  How does this compare to our present state of national affairs?

Seems a little off to me but then, who am I to judge?

I’m just an American voter.

 

Evolution and Transformation

I’m still considering the previous post with theworldreligionsnames.jpg “Evolutionary Tree of Religions” showing the known beliefs of cultures from our earliest documented origins to the present, when I assess my own life for my personal belief transformations throughout the years and decades of my own existence.

As children, we don’t have much say in how we are taught to perceive the world around us and view our place in that world. Those beliefs were thrust upon us by parents or religious leaders, or we were simply immersed into them by the religious community’s power in our birth location.

age of questionsWhen we reach a more questioning age, we start to have doubts about what we’ve been told to believe because we can then pit that prescribed belief against what we see for ourselves as occurring to us and around us—what we feel as opposed to what we’re told to feel.

That’s when the “WHY’s” start to accumulate within us, and we conclude there must be more to this world and to ourselves than what we have been previously told by others. That’s also when we start searching for our own answers to the deepest questions of WHY we exist and what we are supposed to do with our lives.

jimmycarterquotereligion.jpgThe biggest WHY I’ve always felt about organized religion in general is: Why are they trying to control my thoughts and my behavior, or trying to force me to believe what makes no sense to me?

Why are they insisting on placing blame on me for something I had nothing to do with that supposedly occurred thousands of years ago, or why are they trying to shame me simply because I am a woman?

So my own spiritual evolution has been as transformational as that chart showed, except mine happened in a considerably shorter time period. And amazingly enough, I find that the earliest form of religion known as animism, is still my basic belief because I’ve personally witnessed it through my own energy work and shamanic experiences.  Spirit is a conglomeration of energy, and it can take innumerable forms.

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“Animism is the worldview that non-human entities—such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects—possess a spiritual essence. Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of some indigenous tribal peoples, especially prior to the development of organized religion.” (Wikipedia)

I would hardly call my evolution of beliefs primitive, but I would certainly call most organized religions as such: primitive, judgmental, biased, misogynistic, deceptive, and meant to control the masses using psychological ploys with threats of physical harm to non-compliers.

Check out the chart again for the most recent dates of those religions mentioned and see when your own religion originated. See the branch that it grew from. See the root of that branch and the tree it connects to. Everything on that chart is simply a matter of a particular interpretation per region of what is happening to us and around us.

Every different religion is a particular perspective associated with an original founder’s perception or interpretation of life and how it developed.

Then others took that original perception and tweaked it to match their own interpretations for whatever reason they felt was valid.

Maybe God spoke to them. Okay.  Maybe God speaks to anyone who will actually listen. OR….maybe they interpreted whatever they “heard” or intuited as GOD when it might have been something else laying down rules of shoulds or should-nots.

sciencereligion.jpgBut again, why were these behavioral rules even necessary if not to control the masses and justify a self-appointed leader seizing control over a group of people?

One thing you cannot do when you assess a religion’s origins is to take the personal motive out of them.

No matter the myth—no matter the story, someone said to others: “This is the world as I see it—This is the world as I was TOLD it is to be—This is how we live our lives—This is who we pay homage to and worship in specific ways—This is MY truth and it must also be YOUR truth because I said it is so—This is MY belief and it shall now be YOURs as well, because I am stronger and more powerful than you are—My followers are stronger and more powerful than your followers—We will crush you if you do not follow our beliefs because MY GOD IS GREATER THAN YOUR GOD!“  10powerfulreligions

Etc., etc., through the ages. Dominant religions were the ruling religions.

So if you take the human motives out of organized religion, there is little left to actually believe other than what one personally interprets for oneself.  I think that’s called subjective relativism.

Relativism is the idea that views are relative to differences in perception and consideration. There is no universal, objective truth according to relativism; rather each point of view has its own truth.” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Or that’s simply my opinion of organized religions: They seem to operate from their own concept of cultural relativism which tends to negate the opinions of others not within their circle of influence.

 

The SUM of Our Stories

We are the SUM of our stories.

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The world around us becomes the result of what we tell ourselves is happening.

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We interpret our lives and the doings we experience within the confines of our beliefs. And we make what we see and feel adhere to those beliefs.

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From our first attempts at understanding all of life and our relationship to it, we created tales—myths—origins for ourselves within the context of what we saw and felt and intuited about our situations.

This chart—“The Evolutionary Tree of Religion” is fascinating to study and contemplate—at least fascinating to those of us who find it as such.

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If you can’t quite make out the details, I broke it into 3 parts, but if you need a closer look, go to the Facebook address listed for HumanOdyssey.

The VICTIM or the WORLD

“So the question is fundamentally, do you define yourself as a victim of the world, or the world?”  – Alan Watts watts meaing oflife56.jpg

Here in this short video narrated by Alan Watts,  he asks “What does it mean to spiritually awaken?”

video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7blUYJm6i-c

“So then, here’s the drama. My metaphysics, let me be perfectly frank with you, are that there is the central Self, you could call it God you could call it anything you like. And it’s all of us. It’s playing all the parts of all beings whatsoever everywhere and anywhere. And it’s playing the game of hide and seek with itself. It gets lost, it gets involved in the farthest out adventures but in the end it always wakes up, and comes back to itself. And when you’re ready to wake up, you’re gonna wake up. And if you’re not ready, you’re gonna stay pretending that you’re poor little me.”   – Alan Watts

Alan Watts is always interesting to hear; and his take on enlightenment is more direct and sometimes more cutting than the often gentle approaches of Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra.  But Watts is usually pretty clear and concise in his talks.

watts univers quote.jpgHe gets to the point quickly, but with more ‘attitude,’ I guess you could call it, than the others. (Some might call it an ‘entertainer’s ego’. Others might say he simply loved to poke fun at others who claimed to be “enlightened,” as well as poking fun at himself for his “polished spokesmanship” on the many subjects that he discussed.)

His online biography is interesting and quite colorful. He died in 1973 at the age of 58, but his influence lives on in all the YouTube videos that are broadly shared throughout social media. He has presently entered a resurgence of popularity for his sharp frankness and critique of religious institutions in general.

His second video listed here is called “How to Wake Up”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAQ4FuKlY9g

I personally find it helpful to sample all the flavors of enlightenment that others offer to us. Perhaps our own personalities respond best to one over the others.

To me as an energy worker, the feel of listening to Watts is not as peace-inducing as Tolle’s more soft and gentle approach.  Watts affect is more like stepping naked onto the shower floor and then turning on the water—where the first blast sprayed from the showerhead is cold and shocking before the warmer water rises through the pipes.

But in the 1960’s and 70’s—during the rise of the ‘Flower Children,’ he was the man to hear.

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