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Sensible religion

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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 2:11:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2012 2:14:55 PM PST
Nova137 says:

I don't see how it can't lead to that. Even in oneness, on earth, individuality rules. Even in a totalitarian state, an individual can keep her dreams intact. Even in isolation, one still, if one can, keep one's sanity. The world of the imagination is infinite. It can be infinite boredom or infinite play. It is up to each of us.

Let's just think about free individuals the world over. Individuality and the needs of the individual are the given. I need this, I need that. So, we come up to the other, the Thou. Who is it? Is it a friend or an enemy? Is it another mouth to feed, another resource user, like me? Yes. Uh, oh. If I don't have, then I certainly won't let Thou have what scraps I can get. On and on it goes. Where it stops, oneness knows.

The doctrine/theory/belief in the I as Thou is at the core of all true religion, sensible or not. We can rationalize all we want that it is all perfect somehow in the big picture, but the fact that others think they are separate from everything and, thus, in competition for resources is the reason why there are wars big and wars little.

There are enough resources to feed everyone. We know this. We rationalize that there are cultures and societies who have to be where they are on the socio-economic latter because of their fate/karma/god's will/you name it, but the truth is we are all just not spiritually mature enough to just let all the doubt in each other go; not able to see that I am you and you are me.

We don't want to be that giving, that close to each other. We aren't able to go a mile let alone twain. I don't want to be like you! Yuck! I'm special. I've got specialness. You are lower than the animals, etc.

There is One Being in a very wide variety of forms, I ain't special, I'm just another part of You.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 3:04:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 5:53:47 PM PST
quert says:
Indeed, Nancy. Time and experience have a subtle way of rounding the edges of things we may have considered intolerably humiliating in our younger days... at least that's my experience.

I don't know about you but I do find myself to be more personally entertaining than I used to, and so do those who know me well and still like to hang around. Bless their hearts...

I'm reminded of Suess' quote, "Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter."

Edit: Apologies to the wonderful memory of Dr. Seuss for the misspelling.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 3:14:33 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2012 3:28:57 PM PST
The point is not whether the idea of One Being has value or relevance; the point was that as doctrine or theory, as you put it, the attempt to cling to a primordial unity is ineffective at the least, and possibly a form of regression. When you are a baby sucking your thumb is not a regression. A grown-up can become aware of an oral fixation and chew gum as a pro-active strategy to keep from eating too much between meals. I don't think the One Being idea is wrong. Indeed, IMHO it is an innate idea. Nevertheless, I don't think it possesses effective power anymore as a means to motivate people. We need to see or feel the results of our efforts. The beauty of a pure Ideal will no longer suffice to keep religion alive in people's social interactions.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 4:01:41 PM PST
Jeremiah Cox says:
Dear Baba Dots (and the Skipper, too):

You write that, "What present themselves as basic truths are, from a relativist perspective, only [psychological] artifacts of a particular culture or historical age." The statement is an instance of what it describes. It is itself a popular dogma of the recent West. Few cultures throughout the history and geography of the world have espoused such a principle.

Management by Objectives is also a late-comer entrenched in its own cultural matrix. It is a methodology that emerged only a few years ago to support your contention that, "Along with ideals for changing the world must come a road map and checkpoints for verification of effectiveness."

Measurability is a sacred cow of science, by which the social sciences aspire to hold their heads up high among the "hard sciences." Is the movement of the spirit to be analyzed as fluid dynamics? And if a fifth archetypal possibility were discovered, would your model of social change come tumbling down?

But these observations are only playful ironies en route to a more serious point. It is simply not necessary, probably even not wise, to hijack religion into the service of social engineering. I agree with Thoreau: "I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad [Civil Disobedience]." By realigning myself with the Way of Heaven, I fully expect everyone else to be more felicitously aligned. If I need a lab coat and clipboard to see how I'm doing, I'll go into gardening instead.

Besides, if you watch your neighbors at work or play, you will see that the harder they try to save the world, the more heedlessly it lumbers into hell. "All the great maxims have already been written. All that remains is to put them into practice."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 4:05:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2012 4:16:18 PM PST
Nova137 says:
Well, if I were to equate primordial unity to regression, I've got a self-fulfilling promise. Why would I make the substitution in my oneness formula. I can think of a couple of better substitutions. For instance, a different person than myself (this includes everyone in the known universe) looks, smells, feels, and dresses different than myself. Right there I've got enough difference to wage my own little personal agenda against this nare-do-well. Wait, I say, I'm seeing the surface stuff. Even if some of these things, no matter how hard I try, I can't get past not liking them, I've got to practice something enough so I can at least be civil and have a conversation. I've got to try to speak to them and hear them out. I've got to listen. When I hear things that sound like things that "aren't me"! well, duh, isn't that going to come up most of the time? So, I've got to practice something that allows me to see, if I'm not lucky enough to find something in common, to go just slightly beyond those elements in my psyche that will lead me to not loving them when the times get tough, to looking at their faults, to avoiding hearing them, to seeing stuff about them that allows me to raise myself above them and put them in their place. What can I practice? I am them. They are me.

I don't always have to do this. I've got rights. I can learn to speak up. I can politely dissent. I can ask them questions, tough questions. But, forget we are One Being? Tried that. Didn't work. I found that all of my failings in my relationships come from stupid stubborn stuff.

But, as I read again, you appear to (and Harry Marks picked up on this) want a social program. Well, capitalism is a failure, at least in the form of medicine I'm in (cancer therapy using million dollar accelerators to destroy neoplastic disease), I can tell you that. Mass religion isn't a failure, even if the atheists and new-agers want to think so. Mass religion is a huge success, don't let the jihadist and hate-mongers sway your vision of the billions of religious adherents who are peace-loving and giving of themselves tirelessly to those in need.

Mass movements like Peace Corps, Big Brother are great. We need more of that. Whole governments of people out for one thing: The defense of love of each other. We need to continue to sit down at the United Nations and have people, freedom-loving people continue to stand up for the rights of individuals to guide themselves, to overthrow dictators and corrupt governments. Freedom is a bloody thing, the Syrians, Egyptians, Libyans and the older Europeans and Americans can all attest to that. Even the modern person like myself, having never served my country in official capacity, understands the blood shed for my freedom.

We need a person who really loves everyone to stand up and tell each person they can that that's how they feel. It may not be uttered through those words, but is said in actions and policy, be it in a family, a work-place or as a volunteer to just walking around in one's everyday world, smiling, helping, serving, lifting up others. It isn't easy to see past one's own biases, but with practice, we can tear some of them down at least. I'd say we can really remove all of them, not literally to zero, but their effect is diminished to the point that, although they may still exist, they just don't have any power any more.

EDIT: The failure of capitalism isn't in the actual destruction of targeted disease, for, this we do well. It is in proper channels (administrations of hospitals) being able to understand the power of the devices in their service, so that proper decisions of safety/staff proportions are met with the rapid advances being made by private linac (and imaging) companies advancing technology. The state of the art right now demands that linac companies don't build the next greatest linac, but invest in measure to bring robust safety measures that remove the human out of the chain where human error is possible, replace that component with computer checkers (redundancy is built-in, but they are fault systems internally to the device and its immediate peripherals, not the system as a whole, which includes engineers who repair them and physicists who calibrate and quality assure them, to treatment planning computer systems, to computed tomography, and electronic portal imaging devices.)

Posted on Nov 4, 2012 4:18:54 PM PST
Nova137 says:
Actually, my bit on cancer therapy could get us into a whole new vision of death and dying in our society. We need sensible dying.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 5:09:28 PM PST
Nova: Forget we are One Being? Tried that. Didn't work.

Baba Dots: Seriously, Nova? That's what you took from my post? And you know me! You have just demonstrated what I said several posts back about Love being no easy accomplishment. Do you feel better? I can try what you have proven to yourself does not work; well of course I can. And now I have your rather curious blessing. Ain't Love Grand?!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 5:37:00 PM PST
Nova137 says:
Well, I was going to go the "doesn't motivate" route, but let me take another route. I'm not going to reduce your individuality. You keep to keep it in bushels. Loving what I don't like is possible. I'm not homogenizing. I'm working with a person where they live, not asking them to change into something they don't believe they are, etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 5:37:42 PM PST
Nova137 says:
Yes, love is grand. The grandest. Misunderstanding is part of it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 6:28:55 PM PST
Love has been extolled in thousands of ways. It is part of what makes us human. But maybe we need to question whether love can get the job done. Maybe religion needs to be looked at differently. Many people have jettisoned the concept of religion without bothering to ask if religion has a legitimate social and psychological function. Religion is denigrated as a flatland perspective that is deemed no longer relevant to the modern world. I am suggesting that we have lost sight of the real social value of religion. We have traded the uncertainties and intrigues of living in creative freedom for a safe, bland ideology of Love, Incorporated. To an extent all religions have contributed to this unsatisfactory outcome. It is the same with politics. Everyone says what a wretched mess our political life has become; but then people exempt the politicians they favor, even knowing that they are just as much to blame as "the other side." So, if you want to turn a blind eye to the real problems of living an unalienated life, holding that the answers have always been known to the adherents of the perennial philosophy, then that is perfectly OK with me, but it isn't what I would call "sensible religion." It is what I would call nostalgic utopianism.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 2:17:50 AM PST
Jeremiah Cox says:
Reply to Baba Dots

Alan Watts observed that the "Protestant" urge toward progress is founded on an alienated ego, bereft of content and contentment. The point of religion is not to serve that progress, but to inspect that ego. Like any ego, this one can't just sit still and enjoy mere being. Opposing the Tao itself, it feels that any action is better than none. It wants to "get the job done," and it always has another job lined up after that one. Quoting Watts,

"From these efforts come social services, hospitals, peace movements, foreign-aid programs, free education, and the whole philosophy of the welfare state. Yet we are bedeviled by the fact that the more these heroic and admirable enterprises succeed, the more they provoke new and increasingly horrendous problems. For one thing, few of us have ever thought through the problem of what good such enterprises are ultimately supposed to achieve. When we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and housed the homeless, what then? Is the object to enable unfortunate people to help those still more unfortunate? To convert Hindus and Africans into a huge bourgeoisie, where every Bengali and every Zulu has the privilege of joining our special rat-race, buying appliances on time and a television set to keep him running?" Watts, Alan W. (2011-09-28). The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (pp. 110-111). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition. [fair use]

I suppose Baba Dots is right, that religion is in disrepute, but activism is not the answer. Pie-charts are not the answer. I've been at the margin of church groups that ask themselves, "How can we persuade the children that religion is cool?" The answer was, "Let's start a baseball team." Sure enough, attendance increased...for the baseball! Religion went down the tubes. Similarly, politics per se is an avocation compared with the appropriate labor of religion, which is always and only on the self.

Religion is not proposed as the way other people should live. It is proposed as the way Baba Dots should live--and Baba Dots alone. Oops, I guess I got that wrong. It's a way of life designed solely for the use of Jeremiah Cox, namely, a lifetime of understanding. If works of virtue follow, they will be promptly concealed.

If Baba finds (other people's) love to be bland and inadequate, and the unitive experience less than sensible, by all means, "Do as thou wilt." And If Jeremiah ever gets it right, he won't have to solicit other people, they will solicit him.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 3:51:31 AM PST
Nova137 says:
I get that you feel this nostalgic utopianism coming from adherents of oneness philosophy. But, I've applied this type of love in the fires of everyday living. It works and it is also being applied in what I believe you'd love to define as this sensible religion. All you and I can do is move in our sphere the way we want the world to move, the rest is outside of that sphere. We can hope our movement causes swirling beyond that sphere, but we know from the laws of spiritual science that the effects lessen with distance apart. The atomic reverberations may grow in amplitude if they resonate and add to an already growing wave; or, they may dampen if troughs hit peaks.

Did you see 60 Minutes yesterday?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 4:09:31 AM PST
Nova137 says:
The way I define love is my relationships. Yes, their content is part of that love and included, but does not define it boundary. The content of that love is everything that happens (or is expressed) in my relationships, good, bad and the ugly (Tuco!).

But that content is only a subset within the sphere of my love. The love of it is defined precisely as my relationships themselves. The very fact of them. And, this is all of them, too.

An especially important part of the content part of my love is catching up to those aspects being expressed by others that I don't understand *and have previously defined as difficult or conflicting with some inner sense of serenity* I had defined previously in my life sometime in the past.

This new movement is what allows me to finally say that the relationships are the love itself. Catching up with every expression is that movement. Resonating with it as best I can *independent of how the past might make me feel about right now* is the new nature of love as relationship itself.

This movement is said to be "real" if others see and accept the movement as real love. Modifcations are never made outside of I/Thou as one, but if that offends, it is removed or backed off from and the relationship or presence of the person, the very presence of them (as best I can bring this sense forward emotionally, allowing that person or group to define themselves, etc.) replaces all concerns. This requires lots of internal modifications, listening skills and accepting their verdict *as long as I sense they are moving toward real love, too*. (Yes, the "I" gets to have input into the Thou).

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 7:03:42 AM PST
"Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny." Carl Schurz.

All a religion is is a pathway and, if it is a real religion, a experiential connection with existence, healing alienation. That doesn't mean that adherents achieve that connection often, if at all, but the possibility exists. Another way to put it is that, borrowing from Schurz, it's a star to navigate by. Whether we come close to following that star in reality or only in our delusion is shown by how inclusive that connection is. Ego is the big blocker and the source of the delusion that I am the only subject and all else are objects, in other words: psychopathology.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 7:30:47 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 7:32:25 AM PST
I'm not advocating for activism per se. I have read "The Book" and several other titles by Alan Watts. He was a strong proponent of what has come to be called the Perennial Philosophy. I have also read Huxley, Rene Guenon, Houston Smith, and Frithof Schuon. And I see that a large number of spiritual seekers on the Religion and Christianity forums now espouse the Perennial Philosophy. Frankly, I see that as a retreat into privatistic quietism. The Perennial Philosophy really adds nothing to what Western society already had in Plato and Platonism. For a devastating critique of the perennial influence of Plato on our social and political life read "The Unconscious Civilization" by John Ralston Saul. I have work to do, so that's going to have to be it for now. Thanks for contributing to the dialogue.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 7:32:49 AM PST
Jeremiah Cox says:
Franklin, the Schurz quote is marvellous. It shows what a powerful illuminator a well chosen metaphor can be. Thanks for finding it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 7:54:04 AM PST
FBS: Ego is the big blocker and the source of delusion

BD: So it may seem, but this is a standard viewpoint that western adherents of the Perennial Philosophy have borrowed from Hindus and Buddhists. It will not work with western peoples in the context of modern civilization. Are you at all familiar with Rosicrucianism? This was the original source of Theosophy according to Rudolf Steiner.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:39:33 AM PST
Craig says:
Thanks quert. ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 3:46:18 PM PST
Jeff Marzano says:
Franklin B. Siegle says:

["Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny." Carl Schurz]

Edgar Cayce often spoke of the importance of having an ideal.

I interpret this to mean "believe in something".

Jeff Marzano

"He without an ideal is sorry indeed; he with an ideal and lacking courage to live it is sorrier still. Know that." - Edgar Cayce

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 3:55:12 PM PST
Jeff Marzano says:
Baba Dots says:

[For a devastating critique of the perennial influence of Plato on our social and political life read "The Unconscious Civilization" by John Ralston Saul.]

Do people really believe that Plato influenced the world that much ?

What do those people say are some of Plato's most influential ideas ?

To me Plato was a product of the time period he lived in. Many people today will find his writings to be obscure and irrelevant. I read books by and about Plato mainly because I'm sort of a Plato fan.

Socrates and Plato were spiritual teachers. They were concerned about things like good and evil, reincarnation, and the soul and God's judgment on the soul.

Those guys believed in Zeus and the other immortals. Socrates felt that some sort of spirit or genie was with him at all times guiding his life.

Supposedly the Oracle At Delphi stated that Socrates was the wisest man who ever lived. Delphi is another strange subject.

Plato did something that was very important which was to preserve in writing the legend of Atlantis including its catastrophic demise. Plato's Atlantis story is greatly misunderstood. It is also often contradicted, even within books that just a few sentences before quote from it.

Jeff Marzano

The Atlantis Dialogue: Plato's Original Story of the Lost City and Continent

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 5:32:11 PM PST
The Schurz quote has been a favorite of mine ever since my undergraduate days as an undergrad in history back in the Dark Ages. heh heh.

Problem with that is that ideals themselves can run the gamut from constructive to destructive. Racial purity is an ideal, after all. So is the Classless Society, or Dominionism. Like the Tao, the positive implies the negative, and vice versa.

I'm not sure the Perennial Philosophy implies quietism and retreat from social activism; but it maybe does suggest caution. Sometimes the strongest reformers are the greatest oppressors. In order to eradicate "evil," one can do "evil."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 5:51:02 PM PST
Jeremiah Cox says:
Baba Dots wrote on Nov. 4

"I want specifics about how these four potentials can work together to become a single point of light. Please don't give generalities, and I include in that meditation or prayer--those are limited to the individual's own efficacy: weak meditation or prayer will produce weak results. Along with ideals for changing the world must come a road map and checkpoints for verification of effectiveness. I do not see how "we are all One Being in a very wide variety of forms" becomes a workable plan for social and personal transformation."

I still can't get over it! You gave us an ASSIGNMENT! Not only that, but you get to set limits, giving Pass-Fail criteria, and stating unequivocally what is and is not acceptable!

My later responses have been an explanation of why I am declining your request.

I'm glad you appreciate my contributions. I appreciate your contributions as well. I think you have engendered a beautiful discussion, with sterling contributions from many wonderful, loving, and thoughtful sources.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 6:02:57 PM PST
Jeff Marzano: Do people really believe that Plato influenced the world that much ?

Baba Dots: If he weren't still considered influential, then why would he be required reading in high school/college? Jeff, regardless of whether Mr. Saul has overstated Plato's influence on western culture (after all, influence is a difficult thing to measure), the fact that he sees a relationship between the ideologies that shape our social structures and the social policies that our institutions have encoded, and can trace them back to Platonic ideas, speaks strongly for the direction that seminal thinkers have had at key points in our historical development. I have enjoyed reading Plato a great deal. That doesn't prevent me from giving my consideration to a critical point of view on him. Obviously, you can't comment on whether Plato has positively or negatively influenced social structures and ideologies in western culture as per the book's thesis (I'm assuming you haven't read the book I cited), but you can think over whether ideas that have had their day can become outmoded or dysfunctional over longer cycles of history. After all, isn't that the point of studying history?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 6:10:05 PM PST
Calm down! I still want specifics, but that doesn't mean I have assigned you with providing them for me! Naturally I will assess whatever people have to say as I see fit (more likely it will just be a function of the time i have available to respond), but is that really different from anyone else who posts on these threads? I was just trying to exercise some control over the formation of the idea of "sensible religion" as I saw it when I began this thread. Of course things will develop in unforeseen ways, but I was trying to clarify what *I* was looking to get out of the thread. If that is selfish, then I suppose no one ought to begin a thread with the intent of accumulating replies and stimulating a coherent dialogue of sorts.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 6:29:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 6:36:18 PM PST
No doubt you are already familiar with the Perennial Philosophy? I do see it as a nascent pseudo-ideology of those members of society that have made a de facto critique of western society. The reason I say pseudo-ideology is that it hasn't yet reached the consciousness where one wishes to impose it on others; it looks forward to a hypothetical time in which everyone can agree. While that may sound good, without a program of social action it remains just a dream. And a dream is a shadow-dance of what makes us act to program our society. The two become entwined. It is like the Romanticism of the nineteenth century (which I admit to being a fave of mine in the annals of history). The difference is that the Perennial Philosophy hasn't really articulated a clear vision of what it imagines. "Racial purity" and the "Classless Society" are much clearer ideas as far as I can tell (which is not to say that I find either of them attractive). Your observation that "In order to eradicate 'evil,' one can do 'evil'" is the primary lesson of the twentieth century. Can we live without evil if it means we have to live without the dream of progress? That is a question which "sensible religion" must address IMHO.
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Initial post:  Oct 26, 2012
Latest post:  Aug 15, 2013

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