Shalom Place Community
Spiritual Dual-Citizenship

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http://shalomplace.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/18910625/m/94910395

12 January 2006, 12:30 PM
spoonboy
Spiritual Dual-Citizenship
Messianic Jews, Buddeo-Christians and HinJews.

Native American Christians, too...

http://www.christianitytoday.c...2/002/mar/16.16.html

It's a complicated world. Is it Virya or Pauline?
12 January 2006, 02:38 PM
Phil
It's a tricky thing, for sure.

A few years ago, I met a Vedanta monk who was attending a workshop I presented on kundalini. Afterwards, we had lunch together, and he told me he was wanting to learn more about Christianity -- not just the teaching, but the actual experience. He realized that if he were to do so, he would have to not simply read Christian literature and pray Christian prayers, but join a Church and even be baptized, if he search took him that far. I was very touched by his integrity, and wonder what's become of him.

Another great example: Henri La Saux, OSB and, of course, his confrere, Bede Griffiths. There aren't many who can claim such spiritual dual-citizenship as these men can.
12 January 2006, 04:34 PM
soma
Religion has become a matter of family tradition, a moral habit with some social benefit because it appeals to the emotions and the mind, but true religion satisfies the unit consciousness not by words, but by action and reflection. It not only gives emotional energy and intellectual stimulation, but also takes the sincere beyond the mind to experience the soul or unit consciousness. Therefore, true religion is not lost in the words alone, but in the experience, the realization of those words. The spoken and written words are not the goal; the end is not in the words themselves because they are just the rule, the standards that show the way to a blissful, loving experience in life. I feel most who have multi-religious- affiliations see them as one religion, a religion of contemplation teaching without the noise of words because its obvious goal is the intimate union with what I like to call Christ consciousness. This union with Christ is like a drop of water losing itself in the ocean, yet there are as many approaches to this ocean of pure consciousness as there are Christians, churches and temples so people may choose from a variety of paths. I chose the path of Christ consciousness, christianity or some say the way of the cross.
http://thinkunity.com
12 January 2006, 09:25 PM
Phil
This union with Christ is like a drop of water losing itself in the ocean, yet there are as many approaches to this ocean of pure consciousness as there are Christians, churches and temples so people may choose from a variety of paths.

That's a very Hindu/New Agey way of putting things, soma, and isn't at all what Christian saints and mystics through the ages have testified. Union with God doesn't obliterate individual consciousness, and so the metaphor of "drop in the ocean" (often used in Hinduism) doesn't apply very well. Individuals continue to be individuals as they grow in union with God. Love individuates, not obliviates. Big difference. Obviously, however, this spiritual individuation isn't the same as being individualistic in a false-self, Egoic sense.

I see that there's a section on your site about Christian Mysticism, but you speak of this in terms of "unity consciousness," which has a definite connotation in Hindu and New Age circles. Christian mystics do not speak of unity consciousness as you do, but of union with God, which they describe differently.

Same with Christ consciousness. In Christianity, we consider this to be the consciousness of the Christ, who is Jesus -- not some kind of emanation of God that Jesus and many others embodied.

Therefore, true religion is not lost in the words alone, but in the experience, the realization of those words. The spoken and written words are not the goal; the end is not in the words themselves because they are just the rule, the standards that show the way to a blissful, loving experience in life.

That's very nicely put.
13 January 2006, 12:31 PM
Phil
All in all, I think spiritual dual-citizenship is quite rare. What's more common is for one to be rooted in a religion, then to pick up practices from another religion and use them in the context of their own. Most of the Christians I know who've delved into yoga, zen, kundalini, etc. seem to be doing this, self included. I can't really say that I know the Hindu experience, nor even the Hindu experience of kundalini. I can say that I know something of that, but inasmuch as everything I've experimented with and experienced has been in the context of Christian faith, I can't really claim to know these experiences as they're known by non-Christians. A faith perspective colors and contextualizes literally everything, so to truly know the experience of another tradition, one would have to somehow move out of their primary faith tradition -- not easy to do.

Furthermore, other religions like Hinduism and Islam seem to be more closely bound to certain cultural perspectives -- that of India and Northern Africa, repsectively, for example -- and once one leaves those cultures, it seems that one is also drifting away from some of the core perspectives implicit in those religions. So, going outside one's culture is also difficult -- maybe even moreso than going outside one's faith perspective.
13 January 2006, 12:43 PM
soma
As Christians we say there is one God, but that God has many names and descriptions. I see God the Father as an ocean of pure consciousness somewhat related to the beginning and the primordial waters. In this ocean there are ice bergs which are also made up of h20. The ice bergs I see as creation which has pure consciousness in it thanks to our soul. Now, the Christian phrase God is everything makes more sense to me. The dual paths I see can help one understand their own faith better.
24 January 2006, 11:30 PM
brjaan
Hi Phil and Soma

There is tension in the journey for enlightenment even in are choices between Christian traditions. I came accross a book called generous orthodoxy where the author explained why he was a catholic evangelical anglican anabaptist etc and what he absorbed from all of the great christian traditions. I find my self attracted to both anglicanism, catholicism, and benedictinism which can be found in both. The journey is perilous but rewarding.
11 March 2006, 01:58 AM
Gregory
Vedantic Hinduism has many approaches and paths to 'God' (personally when talking of Hinduism I prefer the term the Absolute). Some of these involve Yoga and meditation, others bhakti (devotion) to a particular incarnation of God, and so on.

My understanding of the Vedanta, at least from reading its greatest expounder, Shankara, is it is rigorously non-dualistic. It is very similar to some forms of Sufi Islam and their doctrine of the 'oneness of all being' (tawhid). However, Shankara still has a very Hindu approach to the Absolute and quuotes extensively from the Hindu sacred scriptures.

Shankara for example makes the strong comparison between the phenomenal world of appearances and the impersonal Absolute, Brahman. Brahman has no attributes in itself and is beyond all being and descriptions and categories. This world of appearances however, while illusory, is also a manifestation of the impersonal Absolute in various ways. Again this is somewhat like Sufi mysticism where God's 'names' become manifest through the creation of the universe.

I suppose looking at this from a Christian point of view, the aim is not to eradicate the distinction between subject and object and enter a state of conciousness where these distinctions are abolished, but rather to perfect the soul for direct experience of the living God. While Christian mystics do say attachment to the world is a hinderance to spirituality, the created world also indicates to us the hidden beauty that is God. While invisible, God contains all the perfections which the created world lacks, and the created world is but a faded reflection of God himself, but still a creation he has made out of love through Jesus, the Word made flesh.

The process of Christian mysticism aims to make the human soul a imitation of Christ, who was not so much just one of many incarnations but a unique incarnation for all time. It is only in this way the Christian soul hopes to make 'union' with God, but not to annihalate the self in an impersonal absolute in a non-dual state but rather perfect our self and restore our relationship with God to what it was originally intended to be, a life lived in his constant prescence. This is the relationship Adam and Eve had with God before the fall, and the relationship believers of Christ will all share in the heavenly Jerusalem as depicted in the final book of the Bible, Revelation. Christian spirituality it could be said aims to help the believer see God 'as he is' while we are still in this life, yet at the same time God's transcendance, an essential part of Christian monotheism, is always emphasized.
11 March 2006, 10:57 AM
spoonboy
Gregory,

I am hoping to understand this well enough to say what you just said after a six months retreat from the internet to really study and contemplate Griffiths, Teasdale, Wilber, Aurobindo, Gandi, the Dalai Lama and others.

My current thinking is in line with what you and Phil have posted, and with this:

http://www.spiritualitytoday.o...y/91432teasdale.html

I can live with this as a framework, and hope to learn and grow up to the level of the participants. This has practical applications. This can quite possibly hold the promise of saving the world within the next several generations. Smiler

Bill Clinton was presenting Ken Wilber to the World Economic Forum. Smiler

Faith, Hope and Love, mm <*)))))><
01 May 2006, 12:08 AM
<Asher>
mm & all
a facinating discussion.

when i think through and consider spirituality as it is expressed through culture, i wonder what would occur if "culture" is taken away.

this relates to "dual spiritual citizenship" and i'll be sure to get to this point, if you'll be patient:-)

i am not afraid of sharing with others, but i
have to confess i have issues with attending mass gatherings. there is a sense, and i am quite certain that it isn't paranoia, that certain religious contexts have a brainwashing effect, or let me say that there is an infective quality which i find unappealing. i don't consider that infective quality nourishing. i am thinking specifically of a visit to a mosque in delhi.

one question this raises for me (indirectly related to this thread) is: how does collective prayer is, at times, a painful experience of processing those communal feelings which seem not to be founded on genuine relationship, but on instincts that i would call cultural, rather than spiritual. i would go as far as saying that the spiritual element is painfully missing in these encounters.

re: dual spiritual citizen ship (btw, i absolutely love this coinage!) i would like to think of this, as someone already said, as a very rare (and beautiful) occurance. perhaps one could apply a reinterest in this "random" and "rare" occurance:

"A more recent return of the repressed random event, and, in my opinion, a more radical reinterpretation of the relationship between the orderly and the random, has been occurring in recent nonlinear theories including
chaos and complexity theories. Here, the random and the orderly are becoming so intertwined that "deterministic chaos" (that oxymoron) is both
orderly in the sense of being deterministic and disorderly in the sense of being aperiodic. Furthermore, research into self-organizing systems has demonstrated that randomness is a crucial element in the emergence of new structures."

would it be a sin on a tradition to suggest that in some people, this seemingly random of "dual spiritual citizenship" occurs and creates "new structures of feeling and reference." (i love edward said's coinage). is there then a plan in these rare occurances and how does one interpret them in light of orthodox doctrines?

hope everyone's well,

asher
01 May 2006, 06:04 AM
spoonboy
Not sure if I am a HinJew, Buddeo-Christian or a Cathepiscobapitarian. I use to be a Luthismatic Bapticostal. I'll think about it after I burn some sage to the Great Spirit and Whirl a Dervish Dance
in the Bahai Temple Wink

I just brought this up since I know people who are traveling Native American and Christian paths, for example, or a combination of East/West mysticism.

I joke about one Episcopal deacon I know being a man of Two Portals, the Sweat Lodge and the Harley Davidson, two paths to the great beyond...
01 May 2006, 05:48 PM
Brad
quote:
i am not afraid of sharing with others, but I have to confess i have issues with attending mass gatherings. there is a sense, and I am quite certain that it isn't paranoia, that certain religious contexts have a brainwashing effect, or let me say that there is an infective quality which i find unappealing. i don't consider that infective quality nourishing. i am thinking specifically of a visit to a mosque in delhi.

one question this raises for me (indirectly related to this thread) is: how does collective prayer is, at times, a painful experience of processing those communal feelings which seem not to be founded on genuine relationship, but on instincts that i would call cultural, rather than spiritual. i would go as far as saying that the spiritual element is painfully missing in these encounters.
I�m loved, despite the suffering, and this isn�t a sign of codependency nor is it a clever rationalization. That is a lot for the modern rational mind to swallow. The group dynamics of conformity surely add to our doubt and discomfort with this central idea that I am loved and that it�s not all just a clever psychological crutch. Group dynamics (culture, etc.) could be said to most definitely be a psychological crutch to a great extent, and a lot of awful stuff (as well as good stuff) can come from this.

One could say that the molding that comes through group-think and group conformity is a necessary step for many on the way to God. But that�s not what I�d say�or at least that is not what I need. Conformity and getting lost in the social dynamics of group-thought is the last thing I need. I would just feel that any ideas that I picked up from this were not God, but man. And, frankly, I�ve had it about up to "here" with man�s ideas, and I�m not necessarily even talking about man�s ideas regarding religion, just man�s ideas in general.

Granted, the dynamics of group conformity I think are indeed a crutch, and a major one at that. I, for one, don�t want to go from being screwed up on my own to simply being screwed up as part of a group who are all screwed up in the same way. I don�t see that as progress on the spiritual path, although it may be progress away from being lonely.

I do think, Asher, that some people are most definitely called to walk the difficult path of not conforming (which is not to be confused with nihilistic and pointless rebellion). For some people, it is being within the dynamics of a group where their greatest talents are unleashed. But for people like me (and maybe you), it is the task of hanging onto my individuality even while acknowledging fully that it is by interacting with people that we become ourselves. But one can interact with people (lots of people) without interacting with them as a group.

So I would say to trust your instincts. There is indeed much danger in joining groups if one�s goals is to really know God rather than just getting sucked into the beliefs of a particular group which may or may not lead one to God. Trust your instincts. They are there for a reason. And if your instinct is to go deep into God without the usual religion or conformity thing, then the first, and hardest, thing to do is, of course, to trust those instincts because by traveling outside of normal group-thought you will find no one but your own conscience, and perhaps God, reinforcing those instincts. But if one really does want to find one�s truth outside of conformity or culture, this is a necessary and unavoidable hardship of this path.
02 May 2006, 12:06 PM
Freebird
To your own self be true!. Many are called, but few are chosen to follow a path of spirituality without the need of belonging to a Church and/or spiritual community. This journey as a seeker of truth, lover of humanity and seeing the life of the One God in us all, is a life of courage and a life ordained for us as a gift. A true follower of such a path pursues the solitary walk without arrogance, nor in the belief of being separate from the whole, but as their individual walk with God.

To belong to a Church and spiritual group is a necessary need and desire for many as they long to be part of a one mind sharing same with others in their love and beliefs in God. As Asher and Brad mention mass gatherings of people can be greatly influenced by the psychological mind power and control enforced in regimented earthly leadership. In everything there are the positive and negative influences in our belonging and joining of groups. Most of us have a deep longing to belong together and to have a spiritual family that we can relate to.

Although I am a follower of Christ, I do not belong to an earthly Church, nor spiritual community as I am merged together with all true believers within the Church of Christ above. I treasure sharing prayer and meditation time with others as we band together in the communion of love for God, and can be part of the drumming within an Indian Pow Wow, or the chanting of a Buddhist Monk, and the silent meditation and contemplation of a Nun.

Through my association with a client in my counselling practice I am learning about the ways and spiritual beliefs of the Native American Indians. Their path of Spirit has touched and moved me greatly. Yesterday while visiting this client in her own home I left ladden with dozens of plants to beautify my garden. As I watched her mother working in their yard I could actually feel the awareness of the great white Thunderbird's presence as he gently carressed the plants and the mother with his spirit. There was a harmony and peace beyond my description, a oneness I felt with us all. The Native American tribes are still flourishing with their customs, rites, and love for Mother Earth and Father Sky. The people have survived the trials with the white men, and have continued their loyalty and love for each other.

I am thankful for my journey and the opportunity to be open to other beliefs and yet staying centered within my own truths which may or may not agree with someone else. My love can and does encompass all.
02 May 2006, 10:28 PM
Brad
To belong to a Church and spiritual group is a necessary need and desire for many as they long to be part of a one mind sharing same with others in their love and beliefs in God.

Nicely said, Freebird. And I think there are two issues that often become folded into one. We may or may not want to become part of a formal religious group (aka attending church or mosque). And I would say that is fine. There are those who like such social settings and those who don�t. I think that�s fair enough. I�ve tried it in the past and I most definitely don�t. You may think me a really bad boy, but I won�t even attend church when my older brother is guest-pastoring. But I can sit and talk religion with him for hours.

So I, for one, say that the issue of the "how" in terms of religion is very flexible. And should be (unless, of course, we�re considering joining a religion that has very very specific customs, traditions, and requirements and thus flexibility may not be an option). And so I think that some of our resistance to the "how" of religion (unless, again, we�re talking about an all-or-nothing option of some highly organized religion) may actually be indicative of resistance to the "that" aspect of religion. And by the "that" aspect I mean whether or not to take a step, regardless of the type of step involved.

There is a certain level of conscious and willing consent this is needed � perhaps a statement of beliefs that one must make and be willing to make (at least if one takes religious beliefs seriously). I think there is a Rubicon to cross in terms of religion. For some it might be baptism or a conscious statement of a belief in a certain creed � or just physically showing up every Sunday for church. But I think there is going to be something, and perhaps for free spirits like me and Asher, Wink that is going to be somewhat different for each of us. When I look at my own commitment (or lack of it, really) it�s not particularly the Christian creed that is a stumbling block, for I think I have a reasonable idea of what I can believe and what I can softly set aside as needing to take symbolically. The only question I have in front of me is not whether or not Jesus was God and paid for all our sins. Heavens, how in the world could I ever know that? That�s just beyond me and to just throw my belief at that and say "Yes, that�s the way it is" I don�t think I could do. It might be so, but that�s an awful big stretch for me. What I need to do is come to an understanding of creation, and that means to develop a fairly intuitive understanding for why everything is here in the way that it is, at least in general terms. And it has to be experiential. Dogma won�t due. The minds of other men and women, as fine as they may have been, won�t due either, although I gain much wisdom from them and they certainly help to build the scaffolding. And all this considering, thinking, contemplating, and supposing is ultimate about one and only one thing: deciding whether or not to buy the idea of a loving Creator. That�s my Rubicon.

Asher, you may have your own Rubicon to cross. You may have some things that you need to really believe before just stage-diving into a religion and having your identity and beliefs potentially swamped by the sheer weight of numbers. Perhaps there are baby steps that can be taken in the meantime, and certainly one of those for me is to affirm Christlikness through experience, as if such a thing is, and I think is, a fundamental component of the universe.
03 May 2006, 12:20 AM
Phil
What I need to do is come to an understanding of creation, and that means to develop a fairly intuitive understanding for why everything is here in the way that it is, at least in general terms. And it has to be experiential. Dogma won�t due. The minds of other men and women, as fine as they may have been, won�t due either, although I gain much wisdom from them and they certainly help to build the scaffolding. And all this considering, thinking, contemplating, and supposing is ultimate about one and only one thing: deciding whether or not to buy the idea of a loving Creator. That�s my Rubicon.

Well, there you've finally said it outright -- something I've sensed for a long, long time. But I don't think you nor anyone will ever figure that out by "considering, thinking, contemplating," etc. The universe simply doesn't yield this secret; if it did, then scientists and philosophers would have long ago established irrefutable proof of the existence of a loving Creator.

What Christianity (and other religions) proposes is that the same universe everyone sees and experiences can be explained just as well (better!) in terms of the creative act of a loving God than without, and that this Creator can be known through the openness of faith, which enables knowledge that transcends (without denying) reason. So it really does come down to faith, Brad. There are reasons to believe in a loving God, and reasons not to. Only faith can resolve the conundrum.
03 May 2006, 12:35 AM
Phil
Following up my post above (in case we cross-post):

In Christianity, the idea of a loving Creator is inseparable from the revelation of the loving Christ, who revealed the inner nature of God to be love. This was also affirmed in Judaism and later in Islam, but it's not so clearly and tangibly manifest as in and through the person of Christ. Christians believe in a loving God because we see evidence of this in the love revealed by Christ. Even though one doesn't yet assent to redemption theology, there's still ample evidence of love at work in Christ. So when he says "he who sees me, sees the Father," you can be sure that he's affirming the idea of a loving Creator.
03 May 2006, 01:55 PM
Brad
Well, there you've finally said it outright -- something I've sensed for a long, long time.

Well, I just didn�t want to spoil the suspense and jump right to the ending. Big Grin But speaking of jumping to the end, sometimes I take a look at the points that are already plotted on the graph of life and I connect them with a line just to see where it is all projected to go. And then I may ask myself "If I�m heading there anyway, why all this fuss? Why not just jump straight to the end and save yourself a lot of trouble?" And I don�t really know the answer to that. I think I�m going to write more about issues of resistance, hardened hearts, and such, but all that is still a�brewin� in the back of my mind.

But I don't think you nor anyone will ever figure that out by "considering, thinking, contemplating," etc. The universe simply doesn't yield this secret; if it did, then scientists and philosophers would have long ago established irrefutable proof of the existence of a loving Creator.

Coincidentally, that�s pretty much what I had on my mind as I walked some wilderness trails last night. We had a nice conversation�one that I think is still in progress. Such questions occur such as "Is there such thing as addiction to knowledge?" That is to say (also) that there is a mind, soul, spirit, or conscious part of ourselves that gives affirmative acquiescence to the idea of logic and rational thought as a reality. But does this place from which we give this acquiescence have to then be a slave to the very things it acquiesces to? Do we become captured or boxed in by the various things that come under our purview of body, mind, soul, or spirit, or do we also retain some mastery over them, as a purported God would over his own laws of nature?

As I stared blankly, and walked serenely, down the glittering and spotted trail lit by a late evening sun, I began wondering not only who was in charge of me, but whether any "in charge" feeling or orientation wasn�t just a "boxed in" lower level of conscious activity. Such realizations do not, of course, bring me proof of God. But they surely may show me the falseness (or at least limitedness) of my own ways of thinking. And always, I�m now sure, in the back of my mind is the desire not simply to fall into a "religious" sub-category of thinking, to not just get boxed in by another box, whether a rational one or, in this case, a super-rational one (or whatever you want to call it). So my search for a loving god continues, but I may be beginning to search with slightly new eyes.

But, Phil, you�re on my list of people who I tell first should I ever prove anything. Wink
03 May 2006, 02:54 PM
Phil
I'll hold you to that promise, Brad. But I don't think there's any escaping the necessity of faith when it comes to responding to the kinds of questions and issues you're investigating. I also agree (from personal experience) that "knowledge" and "knowing" can be an addictive involvement -- even a ruse of the false self to maintain in one an attitude of control and self-sufficiency.

So easing back into the thread topic, I don't think it's possible to have a dual citizenship re. self and God. As Jesus noted, it's impossible to serve two masters. I do believe our human nature is constituted in such a manner that we only truly "find ourselves" by "losing" or giving of ourselves (see w.c.'s new thread on uncertainty). . . that we do not really possess ourselves until/unless we have given ourselves to God, who receives our meager offering and returns it to us as blessing and gift. Then we can relax our hold on ourselves, knowing that the fact of our contingency also means that the One who gives us existence will surely maintain us without our understanding how this happens, and without our "help."

Where I come out on "dual citizenship," then, is that it is best to be committed to one religious pathway, and, from that vantage point, to investigate others and use the wisdom and tools they offer in the service of our primary pathway. Attempting to travel two or more pathways can easily deteriorate into a kind of spiritual ecclecticism, where one is picking and choosing which teachings from the various traditions one consents to. This undercuts the obediential dynamic implicit in embracing a particular pathway, thus sabotaging growth in holiness and leaving the false self system intact.
03 May 2006, 03:37 PM
Brad
But I don't think there's any escaping the necessity of faith when it comes to responding to the kinds of questions and issues you're investigating. I also agree (from personal experience) that "knowledge" and "knowing" can be an addictive involvement -- even a ruse of the false self to maintain in one an attitude of control and self-sufficiency.

Yes, I think your Cajun cohort, Johnboy, has proved that logically to me as well. To take rationalism to it�s logical extreme (and it�s suggestive to me that hardcore rationalists rarely, if ever, do so�do you suppose that doing so would expose their points of faith?), one would become a solipsist and deny the existence of other minds. Oh, surely that is a laughable idea, many would say. Is it? Really? Why? Please explain. I�ll wait. Do you perhaps think that this would be taking reason too far? If so, explain your criteria for "too far".

And, of course, if one has the patience and opportunity to do so (a rare thing indeed�it hasn�t quite happened for me yet), you will discover the matters of belief and faith that are held by all people. It�s just that their points of belief and faith are, by them, considered "reasonable". And how we define reasonable is, as always, (and since time immemorial) the tricky business.

So we might then say that "reasonable" is that which produces consistent, positive, and noticeable results. Fair enough. Then explain how my "dalliance" with the idea of God has helped to lessen my (oops�probably can�t say that word that comes to mind) "pigheadedness" just from considering the possibilities of things outside of the tight sphere of science, let alone embracing them wholeheartedly. Doesn�t my mind count? Are not my arguments persuasive? Is repeatability the only attribute of a thing that makes it real? (And it is only the attribute of repeatability that allows anything to fall under the purview of science.)

But now I�m arguing with myself, which I love to do. But all that being said, making an affirmative case for a specific instance of religion I find still to be very difficult.

Where I come out on "dual citizenship," then, is that it is best to be committed to one religious pathway, and, from that vantage point, to investigate others and use the wisdom and tools they offer in the service of our primary pathway. Attempting to travel two or more pathways can easily deteriorate into a kind of spiritual ecclecticism, where one is picking and choosing which teachings from the various traditions one consents to. This undercuts the obediential dynamic implicit in embracing a particular pathway, thus sabotaging growth in holiness and leaving the false self system intact.

Yes, I think you�ve stated it very well, Phil. There is an obedience dynamic. And stating the case for the other side, Christianity itself is the result of a lot of picking and choosing. So I think the issue is really one of who does the picking and choosing, and thus, ultimately, who can be trusted to do the picking and choosing. Established religions have their own vetting process for the truth and orthodoxy. They err. Individuals can pick and choose too. And they err. But there exists at least the possibility that by choosing this and that, from this religion and that religion, that some really good ideas can be freed and used without having to take some of the baggage contained in a particular religion.

Because I consider the relationship between a person and God to be the point of it all, and because I highly value the things that can come from this relationship, I put at least as much trust in the individual to choose what is best as I do in, frankly, what turns out to be happenstance or just a committee.
03 May 2006, 04:22 PM
Brad
And now playing the other side: Wink

And it could very well be that Christianity does a better job at vetting because it is a truer belief. But still, as individuals, unless we�ve been brought up in a particular religion and have stayed with it, we are going to pick and choose from a smorgasbord of religions � either established ones or perhaps one�s hidden in things such as the radical environmental movement, among other causes and movements. (For instance, those who oppose globalism seem little different to me than those who stand on the street corner holding a sign that says "The world will end in 20 days.") And even if we choose a "pre-fabbed" religion as opposed to going "a la carte", people still somewhat pick and choose what to believe and what to just give lip service to within the established, somewhat monolithic religion.

On the other hand, (I have at least three hands) maybe dual-spiritual citizenship is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, it sounds all PC and "inclusive" and broad-minded to think that we aren�t just stuck in one religion, but belong to several. Oooo�aren�t we enlightened and smart. But I would agree to some extent that this is difficult, if not impossible, to have dual citizenship. Even Joseph Campbell acknowledged this. He admitted that all he could do was dabble in this or that. But to have a real and deep religious experience, one had to stay with one�s own religion (however one comes to this). And this is something that I�m aware of.
03 May 2006, 05:16 PM
Freebird
Brad's quote:

But to have a real deep religious experience, one had to stay with one's own religion (however one comes to this). And this is something that I'm aware of.
--------------------------------------------

Yes, Brad, this is correct if that is what one is desiring, a religous experience. My life is a life of spirit and soul that knows that the life of Christ is in and through all. I look for the face of Christ in every human being. This is my spiritual faith and belief in the One God whose breath is in all life. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of religions, or branches of them, but we who know and love God know there is only the One God.

Could you share with us Brad, what your are embracing in your religion right now, and has it changed throughout the years?.
03 May 2006, 06:05 PM
Brad
It�s easy for the arrogance of perfectionism to creep in�especially if one is trying to be perfect because of fear of being criticized or found in error. But to do something in life, anything in life, is to cut the chord of non-doing and thus to hurl oneself in the world of inherent beauty and inherent error and perhaps even ugliness. By acting we take potential (which is always perfect because it is just an idea in our head) and give it life. When we machete our way into reality by acting, we necessarily leave an indentation of our footprints in the smashed and bent grass behind us and leave a trail of chopped vegetation to each side of us. Creation is also, and inevitably, destruction of something else. And it is not only the fear of �putting it on the line� that keeps me from making a commitment to formal religion (although understand that don�t necessarily see joining organized religion as a necessary ultimate). But I do admit that �putting myself on the line� is my major hang-up in terms of further expressing my religion as I might want to, which is not, in this instance, by attending church every Sunday.

But to think that by picking and choosing among religions that we can avoid error we are probably very much mistaken. And it�s not that we are such poor pickers and choosers. Hardly. I think those who do so often are quite intelligent, have done their homework, and are looking at things from a broader perspective than perhaps most can achieve. But religions, as a whole, might be thought of as a system of interacting parts meant to produce or induce a desired result. That result might very well be brainwashing and getting people to hate instead of love. I don�t think just any ol� religion will do. You can tell a good one by its fruits. Is it making people kinder, nicer, more generous, more tolerant, more loving, less judgmental, more at peace, more joyful, etc., etc.? But if one does find a good expression of a religion, it is (at least as I see it) going to be a complete �performance.� There will be an Act I, and Act II, a couple intermissions, and finally a grand finale. It all works together and makes relative sense�something that picking and choosing might not accomplish. And if the purpose is to know God through our rather earthly, limited, and even perhaps sometimes wholly fabricated means via religion, then these tried-and-true �arrows� might indeed be trusted to point us where we need to know, but my caveat is that we never mistake the finger for the moon, so to speak. We can get to God in a number of ways, in my opinion, and I think God is big enough, and our ability to know Ultimate Reality limited enough, that there is logical room for any religion that produces good fruit.

But I do admit that right now I�m torn between a whole lot of ideas and a part of me surely wishes to lie down in green pastures. But in my case, something is telling me to not quite yet collapse the tension into something more worldly and less �in the head� and thus somewhat a nothing. And because a lot of �fraidy catness� is also heaped in, it can be a quite difficult process.
03 May 2006, 06:16 PM
Freebird
Brad, that's what I love about you being together within the one mind, you ain't no fraidy cat Smiler Wish everyone were as open and a free spirit like you.
03 May 2006, 06:31 PM
Brad
Yes, Brad, this is correct if that is what one is desiring, a religous experience. My life is a life of spirit and soul that knows that the life of Christ is in and through all. I look for the face of Christ in every human being. This is my spiritual faith and belief in the One God whose breath is in all life. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of religions, or branches of them, but we who know and love God know there is only the One God.

One of the problems of religion, organized or otherwise, is that it can allow us to stay superficially safe. We could even be worse off than having no formal religious training at all. A good religion (which I think the core of Christianity is) is going to be very wise and challenging. And to go deep into a good religion means that we, yes, may be comforted, but we�re also likely going to get quite upset as well. We�re going to be challenged. We�re going to be asked not just for superficial observance, but for real changes in the way we live. But it�s relatively easy for someone to stay surface-level with religion and to conveniently think that they have done all that is required of them because they have been faithful to the rituals. And I think the way religion is presented, they often make this easy. After all, like it or not, there is a bit of a �paying customer� relationship that churches have with the members. There is an incentive to keep them happy and to keep them coming back. It�s easy to stay surface-level and to sooth people rather than to, say, actually teach the gospel which I find to be not particularly soothing. And for the members, religion may be like a life insurance policy or eating their vegetables. It�s something you do to make the life you have more secure�or to add to that life if one finds things momentarily lacking. It can become little more than a superstition. It�s good that something exists for those who are so swamped by suffering that they just need something to cling to. Organized religion can be like a life raft to those and this is a tremendously good thing. And I consider those cases to be different. But if we�re involved in religion and exist in relative comfort and remain in relative comfort, we might simply be involved in more of a life insurance policy orientation than a true life policy.

So to answer your question/comment, Freebird, I think you make a good point that desiring more than a �religious� experience makes sense because a, quote, �religious� experience may or not be a particularly desirable thing. I�ll have to pull out some more Merton quote for ya, Wink but Thomas has a few things to say about not getting all caught up in superficial feelings, even superficial feelings of love!

Could you share with us Brad, what your are embracing in your religion right now, and has it changed throughout the years?.

I�m relatively new to taking religious beliefs seriously�about 10 years maybe. I was an expert atheist at one point I think, but only in rebellion. Only because I was so pissed off. So I understand atheists better than most atheists understand themselves. If one is an overt atheist then it�s the equivalent of screaming at God �You uncaring, unfair bastard!� Someone who really didn�t believe in god wouldn't make such a formal fuss about it.

Right now I�m of the religious orientation that I just got done pillaring. I want something. I need something. I believe in order to get. I will swallow my pride (maybe�someday, or so I think) and profess belief � even go to church � but there damn well better be a pot of gold at the end of that theological rainbow.

But I think I�m in transition beyond need�which is very scary to me because that place looks exactly for all intents and purposes like the place of absolutely no religion and no god. If I expect nothing, if I truly love unselfishly, I do thing because it is the right thing to do and not for a reward, then I think you might see what I mean. Balls-to-the-wall (that�s a legitimate aviation term) scary.
03 May 2006, 07:01 PM
Brad
Could you share with us Brad, what your are embracing in your religion right now, and has it changed throughout the years?.

I realize I didn�t fully address your question, Freebird. What I am embracing now is thin air. Emptiness. Vacuousness. Littliness. Fearfullness. Sheepishness. And I know the tension must break or it will break me. I�m being forced to give up little things, little ideas, here and there, in bits and stages. And while doing so every cell in my body screams �You can�t live life by what you�re not. You can only live by what you are.� And still I get whittled down more and more. And I wonder where this is all heading. If we are alive, isn�t that what we all wonder? And I know that I�m weak enough to trade all this tension for a Jonestown-like cult if only it would offer me peace of mind and security. The problem is, no one else is strong enough to sell me that hill of beans. And the devil, if there is one, I would just laugh at.