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Thread: Why Spirituality?

  1. #1
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Why Spirituality?

    I attended a Buddhist teaching today on the Four Noble Truths, and we were all asked to consider this question:

    Why Spirituality?

    This was a question for us all to consider before taking refuge in The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

    The Teacher, Geshe Tashi Tsering, explained that he was brought up in a Tibetan household in Tibet, and became a monk before considering this question. He said that it was a good thing to question "why a spiritual path?" in order to find out what - if anything - it gives you that the normal course of life doesn't. He also said it was a good thing to continue to do in order to give clarity to your spiritual path/ development.

    My question is not about Buddhism, but about why you chose spirituality, and what it gives you that ordinary life doesn't.
    Last edited by Paulclem; 04-14-2012 at 11:57 AM.

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    I like that question - it is so basic, but spirituality can get lost in the mire of everything else surrounding any religion (politics, history, laws....).

    For me, spirituality is encapsulated in the question "why spirituality?" It is the question itself, or the ability to question. If life is all we see and nothing more, there are no questions. Spirituality in any form is searching for a question. In this - is not philosophy spirituality? Is not science spirituality? To search for an answer and knowing that in doing so you are really searching for more questions...isn't this spirituality? Call it God, call it Logos, call it Truth....spirituality is searching for someone/something we do not expect to find.

    Such is why, PERSONALLY, I tend to shy away from the doctrines that tell rather than ask you to ask.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

  3. #3
    My answer is you don't spirituality. I see the two kinds of thought as applied philosophy and non-applied philosophy. I call non-applied philosophy spirituality. If we debated if the moon is happy, the answer is not that the moon has no feelings. The answer is who gives a crap. I don't care if the moon is happy. There is no none application of all answers. A true intellectual must understand everything, since even the study of enemies is essential for survival. Generally spiritual people are trapped in the idea that the MOST ENLIGHTENED HUMAN is found on a stage in a costume. The elite human wears a uniform and has a temple. The perfect tiger does not fly. The perfect man does not reject life. The perfect man is living life, not putting on a side show for the kiddies. This problem causes many people to chase robes rather than life. Church is for companionship and social needs, not happiness. You can only heal yourself and the cure isn't hidden under robes in a temple.

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    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamCrackers View Post
    My answer is you don't spirituality. I see the two kinds of thought as applied philosophy and non-applied philosophy. I call non-applied philosophy spirituality. If we debated if the moon is happy, the answer is not that the moon has no feelings. The answer is who gives a crap. I don't care if the moon is happy. There is no none application of all answers. A true intellectual must understand everything, since even the study of enemies is essential for survival. Generally spiritual people are trapped in the idea that the MOST ENLIGHTENED HUMAN is found on a stage in a costume. The elite human wears a uniform and has a temple. The perfect tiger does not fly. The perfect man does not reject life. The perfect man is living life, not putting on a side show for the kiddies. This problem causes many people to chase robes rather than life. Church is for companionship and social needs, not happiness. You can only heal yourself and the cure isn't hidden under robes in a temple.
    You're right. You can only heal yourself. Who will tell you how to do that though?

  5. #5
    I am a big fan of the mentor school of thought. You said yourself, WHO. A person to guide you is what you are looking for. Many stories of the old blues music man being the mentor of a young kid. His path was drinking, drugs, honkytonks, and loose women - but he had open eyes about life. Who knows what the wise one knows but the wise one himself. We each have our own story our own ghosts to cure. Can't be one answer.

  6. #6
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Is a teacher like that to be trusted in terms of your path? They may be experienced, but that is not necessarily wisdom, and there are many paths - not all are ones you want to follow.

    The test is easy. In knowing a mentor teacher, are people better off in terms of their own development, or do they fall into negative ways and suffer more?

    In Buddhism, finding your own Teacher is a very serious matter, and not to be stinted. Is the teaching consistent? Does your practice improve? Do you become a better person? That could be applied to anyone. It could be applied to friends. Do the friends I hang around with have a positive effect?

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    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    For me spirituality is about the cultivation of the mind, and the cultivation of attributes like compassion and insight, peace and happiness. One of the main tools is meditation, and practicing awareness of breathing, and the reason? The reason is even a little meditation, a little mindfulness practice, makes the hugest difference. It's kind of hard to put into words but it transforms everything. It gives me peace, in that afflictive emotions arise less and less frequently until not at all, and happiness arises more and more frequently, and when something troubling arises, I view it with less attachment, and it doesn't create reactions nearly as much. Meditation and spirituality (which I define as including all kinds of small things, like eating healthy, etc.) also just help me have a deeper and more settled sense of well-being; give my body more energy. As Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) mentioned in a dharma talk, you feel lighter. One famous quote about enlightenment, someone asked D.T. Suzuki what life after enlightenment was, and he replied, “Much like ordinary every day experience, only about a quarter of an inch off the ground.”

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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Is the question whether one should become a monk or live a regular life? I assume the monk would live a spiritual life.

    A regular life might include spiritual practices or not. Does living a regular life (family, work, etc) count as a spiritual life if one follows spiritual practices such as meditation, mantras, mindfulness, reading, discussion with others, rituals, etc?

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    rat in a strange garret Whifflingpin's Avatar
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    "Does living a regular life (family, work, etc) count as a spiritual life? "

    As this is a literature forum, can I offer George Herbert's answer to that question?

    "Teach me my God and King
    In all things thee to see,
    And what I do in anything
    To do it as for thee
    .
    .
    All may of thee partake;
    Nothing can be so mean
    Which with this Tincture (for Thy sake)
    Will not grow bright and clean.

    A servant with this clause
    Makes drudgery divine;
    Who sweeps a room, as for thy Laws,
    Makes that and th'Action fine."
    Voices mysterious far and near,
    Sound of the wind and sound of the sea,
    Are calling and whispering in my ear,
    Whifflingpin! Why stayest thou here?

  10. #10
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Is the question whether one should become a monk or live a regular life? I assume the monk would live a spiritual life.

    A regular life might include spiritual practices or not. Does living a regular life (family, work, etc) count as a spiritual life if one follows spiritual practices such as meditation, mantras, mindfulness, reading, discussion with others, rituals, etc?
    No - it's not intended to be about a particular religion, but why choose any kind of spirituality as opposed to an atheistic view. What is it about spirituality that ordinary life doean't give you?

  11. #11
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    The George Herbert poem gives a good reason to pick a spiritual life rather than a non-spiritual one since it "makes the drudgery divine".

    I would probably then ask myself if the "divine" part were an illusion. However, I think the non-divine has a greater change of being an illusion than the divine does.

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    People cope with reality by counterfeiting it. Not intentionally at first but, as illusions endure, resignedly and justifiably at last.
    Science offers an alternative, but never the sense of completeness bargained through private postulations of the unknown as fully known.
    What is known is always an infinitesimal of what's unknown, and what's unknown always immaterial and inconsequential to what is known, except as a means to sanctuary, respite from the constant and umpredictable changes of ordinary life.

  13. #13
    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    I've begun reading a book called Virus of the Mind, by Richard Brodie. It's a great work that's opened my eyes to a lot of things. There are many ideas that infect people, and a lot of them cause anxiety, fear, depression, but they can be deprogrammed.. to me an important part of life is about that. By dismantling ideas that create undue stress and suffering, and replacing them with ones more conducive to happiness and growth, we're able to grow. If we don't do this, we just suffer.

    This idea - in his book Brodie is talking about the new science of memetics - is there in other things; in Buddhism, a lot is talked about cultivating the mind like a garden, planting and nourishing good seeds, etc., which would be quite similar; and in psychology I'm reminded of M. Scott Peck's ideas about life, specifically how he describes dealing with problems.

  14. #14
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    I remember looking at memetics based on another thread. My problem with this is that it postulates the existence of an unconscious meme that nonetheless in some wierd way wants to replicate. The idea is based on the "selfish gene" metaphor that Dawkins promotes.

    Since the selfish gene has been criticized by paleontologists such as Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldridge, I have pretty much dismissed it along with the derived ideas of the meme.

  15. #15
    Existentialist Varenne Rodin's Avatar
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    I wish I could find some sort of spirituality. Right now I feel like my consciousness is completely trapped in something it will likely never understand. If I have a spirit, it's waiting for something else. I hope it will go away entirely in the end. I'm not a willing participant in this universe.

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