Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Discussions toward a better understanding of LDS doctrine, history, and culture. Discussion of Christianity, religion, and faith in general is welcome.
Post Reply
Apologeticsislying
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:18 pm

Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Post by Apologeticsislying » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:58 pm

Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality
By Kerry A. Shirts

In the field of space-time we have opposites. This is the field of relativity which means relationship, relatedness. “…there is tremendous interconnectedness of everything. You see that everything goes together, which is what we mean by relativity. Relativity means relatedness – fronts go with backs, tops goes with bottoms, insides with outsides, solids with spaces. Everything goes together.”(1) There is no absolute truth here. There is, however, in the realm which is beyond categories.

Here in space-time, with we humans which use language, words cut apart, delineate, categorize, and separate. We must experience the absolute, not talk about it. Words cannot get us to the absolute anymore than reason can.

We need to take heed and be careful of those who claim certainty, especially certainty with truth, for it will stifle our own spiritual growth. Now that seems like a hard thing to say, but hear me out. The Buddha said “Stop, stop. Do not speak. The ultimate truth is not even to think.”(2) The Zen Masters realized after long experience that “words cannot open another’s mind.”(3)

The reason religious apologists cannot have the truth is because they talk all the time about how to attain it and they share evidences, and argue, and continually assault verbally all others. They justify their choices of beliefs through reason. Reasoning isn’t about finding the truth, it is about justifying your choices. “One reasons to support one’s emotional reactions.”(4) They reason, as most in any group does actually, to confirm what they already believe in, which strengthens their own confirmation bias. Because they are accountable to higher authority, they “pursue socially strategic goals, such as guarding our reputations and convincing other people to support us, or our team…”(5) The reality of what makes apologetics tick is that “they search for reasons to convince themselves that they have made the right choice… conscious reasoning is carried out largely for the purpose of persuasion, rather than discovery… our moral thinking is much more like a politician searching for votes than a scientist searching for truth.”(6) We are literally driven more by what people think, according to several new psychology tests, than by us possessing truth. What others think, especially leaders, having authority over us, matters.(7)

The problem as John Dewey knew – “Adherence to any body of doctrines and dogmas based upon a specific authority signifies distrust in the power of experience to provide in its own ongoing movement, the needed principles of belief and action. Faith in its newer sense signifies that experience itself is the sole authority.”(8) One’s personal “…sensory activity has been used as a means of participating in the sacred and attaining to the divine,” which through our personal experiences and senses, all incursions of the sacred and cosmic environment are our religious experience.(9) Joseph Campbell realized after visiting gurus and studying the ancient myths the enlightening concept that “we are to say ‘yea’ to life, not because it is ‘nice,’ or because we are lucky enough to have certain advantages in it, but because there is an innate affinity between the soul and that which it encounters in the field of space and time. Experience is the food of the soul.”(10) Another shocking conclusion based on experience of thousands of Zen Masters is that “no authentic wisdom can be imitated. Each man must find it for himself, because there is really no other way of putting it into words, of reaching it by any specific methods or directions.”(11)

In so very many ancient myths and ceremonies from every corner of the globe, for millenia, “the initiation of each adolescent, one is present at a new cosmology… everywhere one meets with the mysteries of initiation, and everywhere… they include the symbolism of death and a new birth.”(12) In the early Jewish religious ceremonies of First Temple Judaism, “the function of the sanctuary, [Solomon’s Temple] where the initiate has once come to be ‘wedded’ to God’s light and wisdom,” scholarship has discovered “it was through his ‘marital’ fusion with man that God became incarnate in the midst of his people…” The symbol of the ultimate union of God and man, the union of opposites, in earthly terms being a man and woman, was the ancient cherubim above the Mercy Seat, in the ancient Jewish temple, which were known to have been in a sexual embrace, as a male and female cherubim.(13)

This Godly union is not rejected or inaccessible to individuals either. Ralph Waldo Emerson describes a simple walk in the woods, or a night of watching stars – “Standing on the bare ground – my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space – all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”(14) Albert Einstein noted “The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center [of] true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the ranks of devoutly religious men…
A human being is part of the whole… he experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures, and the whole of nature in its beauty.”(15)

Charles Darwin records a similar experience in his autobiography:
“In my journal I wrote that whilst standing in midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind,’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body.”(16)

The idea, according to Haidt, of what we are seeing when people express themselves in this way, is that “in nature a portal between the realm of the profane and the realm of the sacred,” is actual.(17) It’s not mystical woo woo, it’s a fundamental human experience. What awe does is “shut down the self, making you feel that you are simply a part of a whole.”(18)

Goethe said the baffling was the wonderful, and “the highest to which man can attain is wonder; and if the prime phenomenon makes him wonder, let him be content; nothing higher can it give him, and nothing further should he seek for behind it; here is the limit.”(19)

Spirituality can come from within groups, there is rather a lot of evidence for this. Spirituality can come for and in individuals as well. There is no one exclusive way or means to acquire the awe, the wonder, of reality. “…there is somewhere deep within us a yearning to contact the spiritual core of existence.”(20) The key is exhilarating for one who has lost her “group” as it were, for whatever reason. The person is not now cripple, wicked, apostate, or evil. We get to enjoy the experience of being alive. “…it is the living of your life in openness to the unseen world which is truly the essence of a religion, and not merely the piety that comes in accepting or articulating what someone says you should believe.”(21)

Spirituality is liberal for all, no matter who or what we are, to partake of and bathe in, if that is the individual desire. One does not need permission in order to pursue spirituality, one needs an openness to experience, which when properly paid attention to, opens one up to transcendence. If that can be accomplished through group or organized religion for a person, then do it. If it takes individuality, then proceed from that vantage point. Above all else, no one and no group can decide for a person whether they are worthy or not, or good enough or not to be spiritual. That is entirely up to each man and woman for ourselves. Once the heart is allowed to pursue the spiritual, the universe is the limit.

Endnotes
1. Alan Watts, “Out of Your Mind, Tricksters, Interdependence, and the Cosmic Game of Hide and Seek,” Sounds True, 2017: 124.
2. Paul Reps, “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones,” Doubleday & Co., No date, p. 128.
3. Reps, p. 112.
4. Jonathan Haidt, “The Righteous Mind, Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion,” Vintage Books, 2012: 29.
5. Haidt, “The Righteous Mind,” p. 87.
6. Haidt, “The Righteous Mind,” p. 89.
7. Haidt, “The Righteous Mind,” p. 89-91.
8. As found in Stephen and Robin Larsen, “Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind, The Authorized Biography,” Inner Traditions, 2002: 146. Hereafter cited as “Fire in the Mind.”
9. Mercea Eliade, “Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries,” Harper & Row, 1960: 74.
10. Larsen, “Fire in the Mind,” p. 101.
11. Alan Watts, “Become What You Are,” Shambala, 2018: 40.
12. Mercea eliade, “Myths, Dreams, & Mysteries,” p. 197.
13. Eugene Seaich, “A Great Mystery: The Secret of the Jerusalem Temple: The Embracing Cherubim and At-One-Ment with the Divine,” Gorgias Press, 2008:1. Seaich’s book covers extensive analysis of the cherubim and the shocking, yet incredible discovery of its symbolism. See also Rephael Patai, “The Hebrew Goddess,” 3rd enlarged edition, Wayne State University Press, 1990: Chapter 3.
14. Haidt, “The Righteous Mind,” p. 263.
15. Renee Weber, “Dialogues with Scientists and Sages: The Search For Unity,” Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986: 203. He describes meeting Stephen Hawking in his own study and seeing the quote on his wall.
16. Haidt, “The Righteous Mind,” p. 264. Haidt quotes from Wright, but I could not find it in Darwin’s son’s edition, “The Autobiography of Charles Darwin and Selected Letters,” Francis Darwin, Dover, 1958.
17. Haidt, “The Righteous Mind,” p. 264.
18. Haidt, “The Righteous Mind,” p. 264.
19. Watts, “Become What You Are,” p. 60.
20. Larsen, “Fire in the Mind,” p. 550.
21. Larsen, “Fire in the Mind,” p. 551.
The same energy that emerges from the fountain of eternity into time, is the Holy Grail at the center of the universe of the inexhaustible vitality in each of our hearts. The Holy Grail, like the Kingdom of God, is within. -Joseph Campbell-

User avatar
moksha
Posts: 2631
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:22 am

Re: Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Post by moksha » Sat Oct 26, 2019 6:40 am

There need not be an inverse relationship between organized religion and spirituality. I think it all depends on how organized religion is taught.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

Apologeticsislying
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:18 pm

Re: Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Post by Apologeticsislying » Sat Oct 26, 2019 7:40 pm

moksha wrote:
Sat Oct 26, 2019 6:40 am
There need not be an inverse relationship between organized religion and spirituality. I think it all depends on how organized religion is taught.
If it were doing its job correctly, then I think you have a point. I agree and wish it were so actually. At this point, organized religion has become a culprit and apparently does not feel the need to apologize nor change much, unless lots and lots of people begin voting with their feet.
The same energy that emerges from the fountain of eternity into time, is the Holy Grail at the center of the universe of the inexhaustible vitality in each of our hearts. The Holy Grail, like the Kingdom of God, is within. -Joseph Campbell-

User avatar
Random
Posts: 962
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:44 pm

Re: Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Post by Random » Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:45 am

Apologeticsislying, there's a lot to think about in that. Thank you.
There are 2 Gods. One who created us. The other you created. The God you made up is just like you-thrives on flattery-makes you live in fear.

Believe in the God who created us. And the God you created should be abolished.
PK

dogbite
Posts: 314
Joined: Tue May 30, 2017 1:28 pm
Location: SLC

Re: Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Post by dogbite » Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:52 am

moksha wrote:
Sat Oct 26, 2019 6:40 am
There need not be an inverse relationship between organized religion and spirituality. I think it all depends on how organized religion is taught.
My opinion

Such organization would either be very small or uselessly generic. The overlap in people's spirituality is poor at a detail level and decent but noncompelling at a general level. I question the functional value of a spiritual organization at any point on the spectrum, value measured by congruence between the individual and the organization as a whole. It seems the mismatch at the large scale is too large and as congruence increases, numbers of like believers decreases disproportionately rapidly.

For what i get out of spirituality and also out of organizations, bringing the two together isn't worth it for the overhead and hierarchy costs.

Apologeticsislying
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:18 pm

Re: Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Post by Apologeticsislying » Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:27 pm

Random wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:45 am
Apologeticsislying, there's a lot to think about in that. Thank you.
There is too. I know there is a lot more I will research and share and write up concerning also. It's is one of the most intriguing topics for me right now in my life.
The same energy that emerges from the fountain of eternity into time, is the Holy Grail at the center of the universe of the inexhaustible vitality in each of our hearts. The Holy Grail, like the Kingdom of God, is within. -Joseph Campbell-

User avatar
Random
Posts: 962
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:44 pm

Re: Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Post by Random » Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:09 pm

My path is leading me to look at Hinduism, and watching movies like PK is opening my eyes to a lot of things I had never considered as a tbm. Your views go right along with what I'm looking at/for.
There are 2 Gods. One who created us. The other you created. The God you made up is just like you-thrives on flattery-makes you live in fear.

Believe in the God who created us. And the God you created should be abolished.
PK

Apologeticsislying
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:18 pm

Re: Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Post by Apologeticsislying » Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:30 pm

Random wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:09 pm
My path is leading me to look at Hinduism, and watching movies like PK is opening my eyes to a lot of things I had never considered as a tbm. Your views go right along with what I'm looking at/for.
Alan Watts materials have truly opened my eyes in this area as well, just so ya know.
The same energy that emerges from the fountain of eternity into time, is the Holy Grail at the center of the universe of the inexhaustible vitality in each of our hearts. The Holy Grail, like the Kingdom of God, is within. -Joseph Campbell-

User avatar
Random
Posts: 962
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:44 pm

Re: Organized Religion Does Not Have a Monopoly on Spirituality

Post by Random » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:18 pm

Apologeticsislying wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:30 pm
Alan Watts materials have truly opened my eyes in this area as well, just so ya know.
I'll check him out.
There are 2 Gods. One who created us. The other you created. The God you made up is just like you-thrives on flattery-makes you live in fear.

Believe in the God who created us. And the God you created should be abolished.
PK

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests