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Spirituality

Engage in conversations about worldwide religions, cults, philosophy, atheism, freethought, critical thinking, and skepticism in this forum.
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Kostya

Spirituality

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I hear talk about spirituality all the time. Spirituality comes up not only when people talk about their religious experiences, but also about art, oneness with the universe, relationship, feelings and so on. Even some atheists seem to be using word "spirituality" from time to time.Ever since I have abandoned believe in supernatural realm I have effectively lost any understanding of many words and concepts including spirit and soul. Word "spirituality" has become completely meaningless to me. I have never seen a coherent definition of this concept or word.Do you think spirituality has its place in materialistic worldview? Do you have or do you know of definition of spirituality that makes sense? Do you use the word or think in terms of spirituality?Thank you.
seanf 2003

Re: Spirituality

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My spirituality is bound up with various religious influences (particularly Eastern religion), philosophy, science, art, exercise, and interaction with other people. I think it is one of those things that are pretty much impossible to define, but it is to do with the essence of my experience, of being me.
the bricoleur

Re: Spirituality

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Greetings Kostya,In my musings on spirituality I have come to appreciate the gap between 'belief' and 'experience'
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Spirituality

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As I see it, Spirituality is the hard work involved in keeping honest with oneself and others about the truth as you see it. This arduous task is lifelong, never complete, and always in need of assistance, help and improvement.This type of "rigorous honesty" is also a practice in humility, an openess to learn and be taught- no matter who the teacher, or the credentials they do or don't carry.Key to all of this is a focus upon healing and coming to terms with the illness in my life and the lives around me. The world is full of sickness, disease and countless broken bodies, minds, relationships and entire communities...Spirituality is the practice and trust that healing and mending is possible in the face of all this.Of course there is much more to be said here, from myself and others.
Kostya

Re: Spirituality

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I think I am beginning to understand the position some of you take with spirituality. Basically, you are reusing the word for something that refers to feelings/experiences similar to what religious people might describe as spirituality. Those feelings are not originated by religious experiences any longer, but nevertheless, almost identical to them.I followed the links posted by the bricoleur (thank you) and found this web site (http://www.onewitheverything.org/). On this site I've read the following:"Tom Flynn of Free Inquiry Magazine and many others make a compelling argument that the word "spiritual" is so prone to misinterpretation and so fuzzy in meaning that the benefits of its use are far outweighed by the drawbacks. These drawbacks include the fact that the use of a word such as "spiritual" seems to somehow diminish the amazing properties of what some supernaturalists decry as "mere matter" as in "Are you trying to tell me that all I am is mere matter?" Also, as most who advocate freethinking as well aware there are many who strongly oppose the establishment of a progressive secular humanist culture. When secular and reason based people invoke a baggage laden word like "spiritual" anti-humanists are given the opportunity to twist our words to their own advantage, an opportunity which some have not hesitated to take."I have to admit that I completely agree with the above quote. I think that I (we) need to figure out a better way to describe my (our) feelings and experiences without the usage of the word "spiritual".Thank you.
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Re: Spirituality

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I prefer to use the word "essence". As in, "The Essence of the law" (actually, the "spirit" of the law). Think of what is being transfered from one lump of matter to another in life. Exact copies, both in living matter, copied documents, and entire computer programs are not dependent on a specific set of matter, but requires matter to exist.Yet there is something "non-material" being transfered from one lump of matter to another. We could call it information, or essence, or (and I advise against it) spiritual. Memes may be classified as essence. Genes do as well, except they point to a material, even though the important function of genes is to get copied onto other material. So the information aspect of "getting copied" is far more important than the atoms that encode that information.That is as close to "spiritual" as I can get. This "essence" flows in the opposite direction of entropy, gaining greater complexity over time.Monty Vonn
Kostya

Re: Spirituality

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Monty,I like word "essence" better than "spirituality", but it still somehow associates with something almost magical and supernatural. At the same time it is not quite a substitute to the word "spirituality". To say "I am a spiritual being" not really the same as to say "I am an essential being". :-)But then again, I am the worst person to talk about nuances of English language. :-)
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Re: Spirituality

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Spiritualism sets up an interesting dichotomy within my view of the universe based on the Humanity Horizon, which it might be useful to explore:If all human purpose and meaning are derived from emotional and subjective experience in the world above the Humanity Horizon then all emotional responses, which contribute to a sense of well being and improve the quality of people's lives, have to be ascribed value on that basis, even ( Dawkins forgive me) spiritual feelings.Perhaps spiritualistic feelings may have evolved for the purpose of tribal bonding, or for providing people with a sense of well being that might have provided some evolutionary adaptive advantage. What a dispassionate understanding of the world below the horizon clearly demonstrates is that spiritual feelings have no "cosmic significance". By this I mean that some may think that through our feelings we can contact something "beyond" the universe, or that there can be some "hidden meaning" accessed by these feelings. An investigation of the world below the horizon implies that we are just one species of great ape, which evolved (as in all other species) with the simple aim of surviving and propagating our selfish genes. This is why I say that, given that we do not have antennas on our heads, nor appear to be equipped with any kind of cosmic radio set, we cannot realistically expect that spiritual feelings can have any "cosmic significance".If we take away the "cosmic significance" of spiritual feelings does it mean that spirituality has no meaning, or can there be some way of keeping the feelings intact without denying the clear rationalistic demand of the placing of our species in the world below the horizon?We cannot now deny the world below the horizon - that is where we came from. But without ascribing importance to human emotion there can be no purpose in the Universe.It seems to me that this is where the line represented by the horizon is at its thinnest, but it still does not break. Neither the world above, nor the world below the horizon is deniable.What many philosophies, including probably all theistic philosophies, do is to deny the world below the horizon because it does not fit with their worldview even though science has effectively proved its existence. It seems to me that each of us has a clear choice - the worldview revealed by science is the only one that has any real credibility because it is based on testable evidence. I suppose that people are free to enjoy their spiritual feelings - they may even have a need to believe that their feelings do have cosmic significance. But to deny the world below the horizon is to deny reality. The choice is there for each of us, but for those who, like me, really WANT to KNOW about our place in the universe the choice is clear. Edited by: PeterDF at: 9/4/03 6:03 pm
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tarav

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Re: Spirituality

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I definitely would not describe myself as spiritual. Some of the definitions of spiritual include, "sacred or religious, supernatural". To me, being spiritual is subscribing to a religious belief. I accept evolutionary theory as fact. I do not BELIEVE in evolutionary theory. We should all be more careful about the language we use to distinguish beliefs(religion) and facts(evolution). Some people describe spirituality as being equivalent to morality. This is also a mistake, in my opinion. One can be moral for reasons having nothing to do with sacred, religious, or supernatural doctrines. I definitely would describe myself as a moral person.
seanf 2003

beliefs v. facts

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There is no distinction between beliefs and facts. People make it up when convincing themselves or others that their beliefs are more valid than the alternatives. It is used not only by scientists trying to put down religion, but also by theists trying to put down science (the 'greater truth' of God).
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