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Siri Kirpal
05-17-2013, 11:52 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

My husband and I just finished watching The Teaching Company course "The Spiritual Brain" taught by Dr. Andrew Newberg, the guy who wrote Why God Won't Go Away. In that course, he discusses a bunch of experiments and studies involving religious, spiritual, and completely atheistic people.

One of those studies involved a cross-section type group with both atheists and devout people of many traditions. They handed each person a blank sheet of paper and told the participants to draw an image of God. At this point, I was thinking that I'd just leave the paper blank--you can't get the vastness and majesty of the Infinite on paper. So, it turns out most of the participants drew one of three things: a human male form, nature scenes, or abstract symbols. But about 10% left the page blank. About half of the people who left the page blank had a reaction much like mine; the other half were atheists, whose rationale was that there isn't any God to draw.

I got a kick out of that. What atheists and mystics have in common is a blank sheet of paper.

Anyone else with things we've got in common?

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

buz
05-18-2013, 03:39 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

My husband and I just finished watching The Teaching Company course "The Spiritual Brain" taught by Dr. Andrew Newberg, the guy who wrote Why God Won't Go Away. In that course, he discusses a bunch of experiments and studies involving religious, spiritual, and completely atheistic people.

One of those studies involved a cross-section type group with both atheists and devout people of many traditions. They handed each person a blank sheet of paper and told the participants to draw an image of God. At this point, I was thinking that I'd just leave the paper blank--you can't get the vastness and majesty of the Infinite on paper. So, it turns out most of the participants drew one of three things: a human male form, nature scenes, or abstract symbols. But about 10% left the page blank. About half of the people who left the page blank had a reaction much like mine; the other half were atheists, whose rationale was that there isn't any God to draw.

I got a kick out of that. What atheists and mystics have in common is a blank sheet of paper.

Anyone else with things we've got in common?

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

We're all super cool people? :)

That's a cool story (er, anecdote?). I don't have any...but I liked it...:)

RichardGarfinkle
05-18-2013, 05:32 AM
Your question tempts me a great deal. I think there are a number of commonalities between some serious mystics and some of the atheists who seek to understand the world.

1. Both groups are less likely to take stories at face value.

2. Both value and consider the act of questioning more important than the possession of definite answers.

3. Both mistrust their own and other people's thoughts and judgements.

With all that said, I'm not sanguine about your initial realization. The blank paper arises from two qualitatively different mental processes.

The mystic (in this case you) leaves blank because of the limitations of the act of depiction.

The atheist leaves blank because there's nothing to draw.

Granted one could unify these two with a little dash of Zen, but I don't think that would help at the moment.

Nevertheless, your question seems to me well worth considering and discussing.

Siri Kirpal
05-18-2013, 06:31 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I understand completely that the thought processes to reach that blank sheet of paper are completely different. But that both groups draw a blank when thinking about depicting God is nonetheless a point in common, even if differently reached.

And yes, Buzhidao, we're all cool people. Even the ones that drew nature scenes, humans, or abstract signs.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Calla Lily
05-19-2013, 01:15 AM
We're all just working slobs trying to pay the rent, so come in and have a beer.

Yes, this is my personal philosophy.

Siri Kirpal
05-19-2013, 01:51 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I'll skip the beer, but other than that... :)

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Calla Lily
05-19-2013, 02:11 AM
I have other choices in my kitchen. :)

kkbe
05-19-2013, 02:01 PM
Both ascribe to the tenets of a specific belief system. Both are comfortable with their beliefs. Both appreciate the implications of the system, specifically how those implications affect them as individuals and shape their lives.

These are general statements, and my opinions. Just throwing 'em out there. :)Interesting question, Siri Kirpal. thank you.

Purple Rose
05-19-2013, 02:16 PM
Hi Siri :hi:


We're all just working slobs trying to pay the rent, so come in and have a beer.

Yes, this is my personal philosophy.

I like this philosophy. I might pop in for a beer one evening :-)


Both ascribe to the tenets of a specific belief system. Both are comfortable with their beliefs. Both appreciate the implications of the system, specifically how those implications affect them as individuals and shape their lives.

These are general statements, and my opinions. Just throwing 'em out there. :)Interesting question, Siri Kirpal. thank you.

As a Hindu-raised, Catholic school student who was a Sunday School teacher in a Presbyterian Church for ten years, and an atheist for the past three, I must agree with this. Every word, including thanking you for the post.

kuwisdelu
05-19-2013, 03:27 PM
Hmm, I'd probably leave the paper blank, and I'm not an atheist or a mystic. I'm a spiritual agnostic with certain strong ideas about how I think about god and gods, including my own conceptions of god.

And interestingly, none of these:


Both ascribe to the tenets of a specific belief system. Both are comfortable with their beliefs. Both appreciate the implications of the system, specifically how those implications affect them as individuals and shape their lives.

apply to me much either.

I have no specific belief system, I'm not always comfortable with my beliefs, and I don't always appreciate the implications of what I believe, or how those implications affect me and shape my life.

There are times I actively hate all of them.

kkbe
05-19-2013, 04:30 PM
Hmm, I'd probably leave the paper blank, and I'm not an atheist or a mystic. I'm a spiritual agnostic with certain strong ideas about how I think about god and gods, including my own conceptions of god.

And interestingly, none of these:



apply to me much either.

I have no specific belief system. I'm not always comfortable with my beliefs, I'm a spiritual agnostic with certain strong ideas about how I think about god and gods, and I don't always appreciate the implications of what I believe, or how those implications affect me and shape my life.

There are times I actively hate all of them.

Interesting take, kuwisdelu. I ain't as smart as you but I'll comment anyway, because I'm an idiot. ;)

I'm an agnostic--former atheist, former Methodist--looking for faith the size of a mustard seed and sometimes I think I found it, and sometimes I think I never will. I reject the pomp and circumstance of organized religion. I don't think you need to go to church to know god, if there is such a thing but there has to be something because some things are just too perfect and beautiful in their design: the Fibonacci sequence, and how tree trunks and branches mirror arteries and capillaries, the interconnection of systems. . .

You say you have no specific belief system but you must, I think, because you admit to sometimes vehemently rejecting all others. There has to be a basis for that. You've set a bar by which you measure other belief systems. That is your foundation, your belief system.

You don't exist in a vaccuum.

I shall stop here as lucidity is fading. Funny how you get insights into something, think you're on the right track and then, poof. :)

kuwisdelu
05-19-2013, 07:19 PM
I'm an agnostic--former atheist, former Methodist--looking for faith the size of a mustard seed and sometimes I think I found it, and sometimes I think I never will. I reject the pomp and circumstance of organized religion. I don't think you need to go to church to know god, if there is such a thing but there has to be something because some things are just too perfect and beautiful in their design: the Fibonacci sequence, and how tree trunks and branches mirror arteries and capillaries, the interconnection of systems. . .

I was raised without any particular religion, but with a relationship with my Zuni (a Native American tribe) culture. I don't really believe in it as one tends to believe in a religion, but I do greatly value it as a cultural tradition which is a part of who I am, and I think a great deal of my spirituality arises at least in part from that. I wouldn't consider it my religion however. I'm basically a strong agnostic in that I don't think it's possible to know whether a god or gods exist.


You say you have no specific belief system but you must, I think, because you admit to sometimes vehemently rejecting all others. There has to be a basis for that. You've set a bar by which you measure other belief systems. That is your foundation, your belief system.

Yes I suppose you could say that. I mean I don't have any codified belief system. There are things which make sense to me and things which do not. Likewise, I also know there are things which are true which do not make sense to me, so I know the world in general cannot be defined by my belief system alone.

There are some who can trace back their beliefs and world view to fundamental axioms, whether they be handed down from Moses or Ayn Rand or whatever. I cannot. Maybe I could if I took the time, but it would be a painstaking intellectual exercise that I don't care to undertake.

That's what I mean when I say I don't have a belief "system".

The most important part, I think, is that I recognize no set of axioms can fully describe all things that are true (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gödel's_incompleteness_theorems) (incidentally, this was also recently linked in "the God thread"). So ultimately, when I say I have no belief "system", what I mean is I know there are things that are true that I will never understand, and there are things that I can understand that may not be true. At the intersection of this, is the realization that in order to live, you sometimes have to accept things which don't make sense, and act accordingly.

In the absence of any rigorous belief system that makes perfect sense, this leads into what role "meaning" plays for us. And this is where religion, spirituality, and "god" enter the picture...


You don't exist in a vaccuum.

I certainly don't, and some of my own conceptions of god are founded on this.

Two ways I think we can define god is "that which is greater than us" and "that which has power over us, determines us, and guides us". Or more simply, "something greater than us, which imparts meaning unto us". And at the same time, I think a god wholly separate from humankind would be rather lonely, so I prefer to think of a god as being related to humans. Putting those ideas together, I think humanity itself can be considered a kind of god. I think humanity itself is greater than the sum of all individual humans. Humanity will go on long after all of us alive today are dead, and the nature of humanity is, in a way, our creator, and it also determines our self-identity and guides us. Without other human beings, we would require no concept of self-identity. The very fact that other human beings exist gives us meaning, and a will to survive.

People who believe in religion tend to do so because they seek meaning. But ultimately how do we all seek meaning? Even in every religion in the world, it's ultimately through other human beings that we seek meaning. Either through acts of kindness to other humans, or through love. Even in sects of Christianity that believe acceptance of Jesus is all you need to be saved, the humanity of Jesus is emphasized. Ultimately, we are always seeking meaning through other human beings. Doesn't that make humanity a kind of god?

Another way I think about god is the role of an author. Why do bad things happen in this world? Why do bad things happen in a novel? When I consider the deist interpretation of god, as a divine clock-maker, it doesn't quite sit right with me. Why would someone create a world and then decide to leave it be? A clock-maker will fix his clock if he notices something is wrong with it. And yet, if there exists a god who truly loves humankind and wants the best for us, why is there so much suffering and despair in the world?

But then... aren't these the same questions one might ask of a novelist? We create characters we love, and we make them suffer, because we know — in the end — they will grow and be better for it. A story without conflict is meaningless. A character who never develops is meaningless. You couldn't call that living. It's just accumulating experience. And it's not as if authors only write for others. It's not just for entertainment. We also write for ourselves. To give us meaning. What if a god is the same as an author?

But when you think about it further, authors are not gods in many senses of the word. Or at least, we're weak, nearly powerless gods. We don't have omnipotence. We don't have omniscience. Sure, we may trick ourselves into thinking so. We may ask our characters question after question to achieve some semblance of knowledge, but it's just a trick. Ultimately, our characters have power over us as well. Ultimately, the story has power over us as well. If a character truly wants something in a story, the author is helpless to resist. Any reader can recognize when an author tries to force a character to act outside of his or her characterization. Any reader can recognize when an author tries to shoehorn an ending that doesn't fit. Doesn't that make characters — or at least, the story — gods as well? Perhaps it's the same with humankind?

Even if we're all characters in the cosmic plot of some cosmic novel... doesn't that still make us gods in a way?

I think — at its most basic level — a god is simply that which imparts meaning. Anything which grants ontological meaning can be considered a god. Humanity. Love. Imaginary creatures. These are just conveyances for meaning.

And as we come to understand this, we come to convey and impart meaning unto the world ourselves. Ultimately, we can even rewrite our very being, change our nature, and redo our existence as we see fit. It may be difficult, but it is possible. The fact that we can change is proof of our relationship with "god".

What we call "god" is up to us.

Siri Kirpal
05-19-2013, 09:37 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Wonderful posts!

I've always loved the God-as-author take on divinity.

And yes, meaning, all of us want meaning. Though I note that those who genuinely aren't interested in religious questions typically aren't that interested in meaning. But as writers, yes, that's always an issue.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

kkbe
05-20-2013, 12:15 AM
I was scared to write that post, kuwisdelu. I though oh no, he will attack it, I can't defend my reasoning, that shall be the end of me.

*whew*


I was raised without any particular religion, but with a relationship with my Zuni (a Native American tribe) culture. I don't really believe in it as one tends to believe in a religion, but I do greatly value it as a cultural tradition which is a part of who I am, and I think a great deal of my spirituality arises at least in part from that. I wouldn't consider it my religion however. I'm basically a strong agnostic in that I don't think it's possible to know whether a god or gods exist. I get that. Religion is a human construct, imo. Some people believe things without hesitation, or with, but they still do. And some try to believe. and some don't. I'm in that second subset, I guess. Not sure if you are because I don't know if you are trying, or wondering. That's my demarkation, btw.



There are some who can trace back their beliefs and world view to fundamental axioms, whether they be handed down from Moses or Ayn Rand or whatever. I cannot. Maybe I could if I took the time, but it would be a painstaking intellectual exercise that I don't care to undertake.

That's what I mean when I say I don't have a belief "system".

The most important part, I think, is that I recognize no set of axioms can fully describe all things that are true (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gödel's_incompleteness_theorems). . .
I looked up "axiom." :) You are not willing to accept them as self-evident truths, knowing there are some things that make no sense yet exist anyway, there are possibilities which defy explanation. There's more to all this than meets the eye, I get that.



In the absence of any rigorous belief system that makes perfect sense, this leads into what role "meaning" plays for us. And this is where religion, spirituality, and "god" enter the picture...
People try to understand things. They try to make sense of things, hence religion, spirituality, and "god." You talk about that later on, that we are meaning-seeking beings. But I don't know if we seek that exclusively through other human beings. I look to the stars and other things. I see glimpses in the curl of a shell. . .


Or more simply, "something greater than us, which imparts meaning unto us". And at the same time, I think a god wholly separate from humankind would be rather lonely, so I prefer to think of a god as being related to humans. I find it interesting that you are trying to wrap your head around what god is. I'm still in the "if god is" stage, I guess.


I think humanity itself can be considered a kind of god. I think humanity itself is greater than the sum of all individual humans. Humanity will go on long after all of us alive today are dead, and the nature of humanity is, in a way, our creator, and it also determines our self-identity and guides us. I don't see humanity as a kind of god, nor do I see it as going on long after we're dead. I'm talking in relative terms now. I think humanity will be its own undoing, because people are imperfect, selfish beings. Impulsive. Because the voice of reason is sometimes overpowered by other things. Because nothing stays the same, because worlds collide and stars flare. Maybe I'm a cynic. In the history of everything, humanity has made its mark on this lonely little planet. Within the contexts of space and time we are a blip. We are self-important in our own minds. That's why I think there's something more, there has to be, just the sheer vastness of space, then you switch that around, start getting smaller, that other world we're just starting to see and understand, quarks and things like that. . .



Even if we're all characters in the cosmic plot of some cosmic novel... doesn't that still make us gods in a way? I don't know, kuwisdelu. My first answer would be no. Seeking meaning doesn't elevate us. It humbles us because for everything we understand, there is so much more that we don't.
And as we come to understand this, we come to convey and impart meaning unto the world ourselves. Ultimately, we can even rewrite our very being, change our nature, and redo our existence as we see fit. It may be difficult, but it is possible. The fact that we can change is proof of our relationship with "god".

What we call "god" is up to us. I didn't realize until this moment that you are an optimist, kuwisdelu. I'm more of a doubting thomas. Which means you're probably happier than me.

RichardGarfinkle
05-20-2013, 01:06 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Wonderful posts!

I've always loved the God-as-author take on divinity.

And yes, meaning, all of us want meaning. Though I note that those who genuinely aren't interested in religious questions typically aren't that interested in meaning. But as writers, yes, that's always an issue.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

I have to disagree with this in very strong terms. I think you'll find that there are many philosophical humanists who find questions of meaning vital in all aspects of their lives.

I find the idea of meaningless action and meaningless form tedious at best, ridiculous at worst. But I don't regard meaning as inherent in things; I think of it as created by the human mind. We make things and actions meaningful to ourselves and others.

In many respects the greatest gifts we give, the greatest actions we perform are those that creste useful meanings in the minds of others.

Art, in this view, is less a revelation than it is a process of construction of meaning.

RichardGarfinkle
05-20-2013, 01:10 AM
I'm having a bit of trouble about the back and forth on the matter of belief systems because the term itself is bothersome. The assumption implicit in the phrase "belief system" is that it is the beliefs themselves or the possession of beliefs that is important in the bent of an individual mind.

While I agree that it is true for some people. It isn't for others. For some of us what matters isn't the particular set of beliefs, but what we do to grow and change how we perceive and act in the world. In short, it's not the moment of believing but the process of evolving thought and action that we see as important.

kkbe
05-20-2013, 01:31 AM
I'm having a bit of trouble about the back and forth on the matter of belief systems because the term itself is bothersome. The assumption implicit in the phrase "belief system" is that it is the beliefs themselves or the possession of beliefs that is important in the bent of an individual mind.

While I agree that it is true for some people. It isn't for others. For some of us what matters isn't the particular set of beliefs, but what we do to grow and change how we perceive and act in the world. In short, it's not the moment of believing but the process of evolving thought and action that we see as important. I should be working on my book. :)

Two different definitions of belief systems, i think. One is a human construct born of want or fear or need or whatever, rooted in politics or religion or who knows what. Rigorously defined, faithfully followed. Adorned with rules and expectations, consequences, punishments. Quoted, supported, defended.

The other is that quiet thing you wonder and ponder when you're outside, laying on your back, looking at the sky.

RichardGarfinkle
05-20-2013, 02:17 AM
I should be working on my book. :)

Two different definitions of belief systems, i think. One is an human construct born of want or fear or need or whatever, rooted in politics or religion or who knows what. Rigorously defined, faithfully followed. Adorned with rules and expectations, consequences, punishments. Quoted, supported, defended.

The other is that quiet thing you wonder and ponder when you're outside, laying on your back, looking at the sky.

Finished my WIP a couple of weeks ago so my mind is a complete train wreck.

Anyway, I don't see those as actually distinct kinds of belief systems; they're both centered on what one is thinking, not on the processes of thought. My point is that one may be more concerned with how one deals with things rather than what one thinks those things are.

Ken
05-20-2013, 03:12 AM
... it's nice that you are accepting of other religions and beliefs,
while remaining committed to your own, Siri.
If more were like you it'd be a pleasanter world.
If I was given an assignment like the one you describe,
I'd probably draw Zeus or Pallas Athene.
I've long admired both.

Siri Kirpal
05-21-2013, 06:39 AM
I have to disagree with this in very strong terms. I think you'll find that there are many philosophical humanists who find questions of meaning vital in all aspects of their lives.

I find the idea of meaningless action and meaningless form tedious at best, ridiculous at worst. But I don't regard meaning as inherent in things; I think of it as created by the human mind. We make things and actions meaningful to ourselves and others.

In many respects the greatest gifts we give, the greatest actions we perform are those that creste useful meanings in the minds of others.

Art, in this view, is less a revelation than it is a process of construction of meaning.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

You live in a rarified world, my friend. I was referring, not to philosophical types, but to day-to-day drudge through the world types. I've met them.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Siri Kirpal
05-21-2013, 06:41 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

So, to get back to what we have in common:

a blank sheet of paper
our common humanity (should go without saying, but we sure do need to keep saying it)
a desire for meaning

What else?

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

kuwisdelu
05-21-2013, 07:20 PM
I didn't realize until this moment that you are an optimist, kuwisdelu. I'm more of a doubting thomas. Which means you're probably happier than me.

I'm extremely cynical, but yes, I consider myself an optimist.

RichardGarfinkle
05-21-2013, 07:46 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Wonderful posts!

I've always loved the God-as-author take on divinity.

And yes, meaning, all of us want meaning. Though I note that those who genuinely aren't interested in religious questions typically aren't that interested in meaning. But as writers, yes, that's always an issue.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal




Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

You live in a rarified world, my friend. I was referring, not to philosophical types, but to day-to-day drudge through the world types. I've met them.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

When you said genuinely weren't interested in religious questions, I assumed you meant atheists. My point was that many questions of meaning can be found in humanistic / non-religious philosophy.

I'm not sure how rarefied my world is. Meaning is where you find it and where others put it. Most of that is day to day art and life. A heartfelt greeting or an honest thank you can put meaning into lives by emphasizing human connection and the grace we can give each other.

Maxx
05-21-2013, 08:01 PM
... it's nice that you are accepting of other religions and beliefs,
while remaining committed to your own, Siri.
If more were like you it'd be a pleasanter world.
If I was given an assignment like the one you describe,
I'd probably draw Zeus or Pallas Athene.
I've long admired both.


I've always preferred tomb guardians to most supernatural beings. I would probably draw the scary pair from a Shang tomb. You can see them (with restored antlers) in that mysterious annex that extends under the Freer in DC.

UndergoingMitosis
05-21-2013, 08:23 PM
This is an interesting topic. I was raised Roman Catholic, and I went through a time in my life where I was a pretty militant atheist. Now I consider myself a Roman Catholic Atheist: I go through the motions because I like the routine of it, but I don't believe the doctrine.

Most of my extended family believes in this literal big man in the sky who issues moral edicts from the top of mountains. They don't believe in condoms and won't read Dan Brown. My immediate family was always less prescriptive, but the version of Catholicism that I was exposed to was still very literal--virgin birth, resurrection, etc. My first rebellion against religion was born from my inability to believe in these things. I simply didn't "believe in one God, the father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth..." It all just felt like stories.

Then I got angry about a lot of the teachings--especially this idea that a single morality is the correct morality and everyone should adhere to it. I think kuwisdelu expressed that sentiment very well (with a link to a very interesting mathematical concept). I'll just let that stand.

But...I've found recently a group of friends who consider themselves to be deeply religious. In talking to them, I saw religion in a way that i never had before. These are people who share my core beliefs: live and let live. Let curiosity run wild. Always smile at the checkout lady and tip your waiters well.

They see wonder the where I see wonder: in the vastness of the oceans, in the specificity of cellular chemistry, in all of infinite things that had to be set up *just right* for life as we know it to exist. What we don't have in common is that where they see God, I see probability.

For awhile, I wondered if God and probability weren't just two name for the same thing. I've since decided that they're not. The word "god" implies some kind of sentience, some kind of will. I don't believe in that. This, I think, is the only necessary difference between the mystic and the atheist.

What we share is humanity, with all the potential variations and similarities that the word implies. And apparently a blank sheet of paper :)

Chris P
05-21-2013, 08:51 PM
Wow, I have no idea what I would draw.

But what I think all of us have in common is we are doing our best to form our beliefs based on the evidence presented to us. That evidence can be scientific, spiritual, emotional, logical, experiential, learned, and revealed in any number of ways. Where we differ, I think, is the weight we give each of these types of evidence. Some people give absolute weight to scriptures, others give no weight at all. Some people find great comfort in being a member of a community of like-minded believers with common rituals, while others find no value in such things. That's what makes us so diverse (and interesting!).

What I find ironic in myself is that although nowadays I am giving more weight to being part of a community of believers than I did as a younger person, I'm more accepting of the possibility that my entire community might be wrong. We did what we thought was best, but we might end up looking at each other, embarrassed, and say "wow, did we ever get THAT wrong."

Siri Kirpal
05-21-2013, 10:02 PM
When you said genuinely weren't interested in religious questions, I assumed you meant atheists. My point was that many questions of meaning can be found in humanistic / non-religious philosophy.

I'm not sure how rarefied my world is. Meaning is where you find it and where others put it. Most of that is day to day art and life. A heartfelt greeting or an honest thank you can put meaning into lives by emphasizing human connection and the grace we can give each other.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Ah, but many atheists, including yourself, are very interested in religious questions. I've been aware of that since childhood. Interested and Believing (or in my case, Experiencing) are not the same kettle of whatever.

And agreed that meaning is where you find it. And the positive personal touch is where lots of people find theirs.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Siri Kirpal
05-21-2013, 10:05 PM
Wow, I have no idea what I would draw.

But what I think all of us have in common is we are doing our best to form our beliefs based on the evidence presented to us. That evidence can be scientific, spiritual, emotional, logical, experiential, learned, and revealed in any number of ways. Where we differ, I think, is the weight we give each of these types of evidence. Some people give absolute weight to scriptures, others give no weight at all. Some people find great comfort in being a member of a community of like-minded believers with common rituals, while others find no value in such things. That's what makes us so diverse (and interesting!).

What I find ironic in myself is that although nowadays I am giving more weight to being part of a community of believers than I did as a younger person, I'm more accepting of the possibility that my entire community might be wrong. We did what we thought was best, but we might end up looking at each other, embarrassed, and say "wow, did we ever get THAT wrong."

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

My deepest respect. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote the Summa Theologica, but never finished because he had a sudden deeper experience of what spiritual reality is all about and knew what he'd written to be a mere straw. IMO, that's what makes him a genuine saint.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

RichardGarfinkle
05-21-2013, 10:57 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Ah, but many atheists, including yourself, are very interested in religious questions. I've been aware of that since childhood. Interested and Believing (or in my case, Experiencing) are not the same kettle of whatever.

And agreed that meaning is where you find it. And the positive personal touch is where lots of people find theirs.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

I certainly am interested in religious questions, but I disagree with the equivalence between that interest and seeking meaning. There are also philosophical atheists with no interest in religious questions who yet concern themselves with meaningful life.

kkbe
05-22-2013, 12:16 AM
It's so hard to understand what you guys are saying. I suspect it's profound, but it remains elusive, like trying to capture something out of reach and without substance.

In the physical sense, I mean. :)

If I had to draw something I would draw a line on that blank sheet from edge to edge, stretching across the page to infinitum at either side. Everything and everyone that is, was or ever will be is a point on that line, which stretches beyond anything we can imagine. Each point is part of that neverending continuum. . .

Or maybe it's a circle. We just don't know.

Regardless, we are points and therefore, part of it. Some points are as distant from us as are the stars, and some are close at hand, close enough to touch even. Each point is stitched in place, personal knowledge relative to the few points on either side. Of the rest, we can only surmise.

But we're all part of something.

Chris P
05-22-2013, 12:26 AM
If I had to draw something I would draw a line on that blank sheet from edge to edge, stretching across the page to infinitum at either side. Everything and everyone that is, was or ever will be is a point on that line, which stretches beyond anything we can imagine. Each point is part of that neverending continuum. . .

Or maybe it's a circle. We just don't know.

A Mobius strip! Brilliant! :)

Actually, your post called to mind an allegory (metaphor? not sure of the right word) for time. Pick up a novel, any novel, and open to any page. The events on that page are happening RIGHT NOW. Open to another page two seconds later. The events on that page are happening RIGHT NOW. It's cool to think about, anyway.

kkbe
05-22-2013, 12:53 AM
A Mobius strip! Brilliant! :)

I did think mobius strip but that brought to mind 'width' and I was thinking 'infinite set of points'. How can a line made up of points twist around on itself?

See what happens when I start thinking? :)

Actually, your post called to mind an allegory (metaphor? not sure of the right word) for time. Pick up a novel, any novel, and open to any page. The events on that page are happening RIGHT NOW. Open to another page two seconds later. The events on that page are happening RIGHT NOW. It's cool to think about, anyway.

It is, Chris, if it doesn't drive you crazy first. :D

Siri Kirpal
05-22-2013, 01:37 AM
I certainly am interested in religious questions, but I disagree with the equivalence between that interest and seeking meaning. There are also philosophical atheists with no interest in religious questions who yet concern themselves with meaningful life.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I don't think I did make that equation. If so, the writer's at fault, but not the intent.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Siri Kirpal
05-22-2013, 01:40 AM
It's so hard to understand what you guys are saying. I suspect it's profound, but it remains elusive, like trying to capture something out of reach and without substance.

In the physical sense, I mean. :)

If I had to draw something I would draw a line on that blank sheet from edge to edge, stretching across the page to infinitum at either side. Everything and everyone that is, was or ever will be is a point on that line, which stretches beyond anything we can imagine. Each point is part of that neverending continuum. . .

Or maybe it's a circle. We just don't know.

Regardless, we are points and therefore, part of it. Some points are as distant from us as are the stars, and some are close at hand, close enough to touch even. Each point is stitched in place, personal knowledge relative to the few points on either side. Of the rest, we can only surmise.

But we're all part of something.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Very early in my spiritual quest, when I still vaguely thought of myself as Christian, I awoke one night and had a vision of the Trinity. God the Father was a spiral-armed galaxy holding up a Son who was both crucified and transfigured. But God the Spirit was a line of light extending out both directions into infinity. Similar images.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

kkbe
05-22-2013, 01:50 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Very early in my spiritual quest, when I still vaguely thought of myself as Christian, I awoke one night and had a vision of the Trinity. God the Father was a spiral-armed galaxy holding up a Son who was both crucified and transfigured. But God the Spirit was a line of light extending out both directions into infinity. Similar images.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal Thank you for telling me that, Siri Kirpal. :)

RichardGarfinkle
05-22-2013, 01:59 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Wonderful posts!

I've always loved the God-as-author take on divinity.

And yes, meaning, all of us want meaning. Though I note that those who genuinely aren't interested in religious questions typically aren't that interested in meaning. But as writers, yes, that's always an issue.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal


Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I don't think I did make that equation. If so, the writer's at fault, but not the intent.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

That's fine. I inferred it from the sentence I bolded above.

Ken
05-22-2013, 04:13 AM
I've always preferred tomb guardians to most supernatural beings. I would probably draw the scary pair from a Shang tomb. You can see them (with restored antlers) in that mysterious annex that extends under the Freer in DC.

... for all that, we seem to have something in common.
Apologies for the insult.

Siri Kirpal
05-22-2013, 09:50 PM
Thank you for telling me that, Siri Kirpal. :)

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

My pleasure!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

jari_k
09-11-2013, 03:13 AM
I believe I'd have left the page blank, too. Although I do like the idea of seeing nature (and people, who are also part of it) as sacred.

According to current scientific info, we are all relatives. We go back to the same female ancestor, making all human beings alive today members of the same family. There's something in common.

Siri Kirpal
09-11-2013, 04:00 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Yes, our common humanity. Not only do we all have our miticondria (sp?) from the same one woman, but the Y chromosomes of all the men are descended from the same one guy.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Rick Waid
01-13-2014, 04:02 AM
Many are trying to find their spiritual path. I was a ghost hunter and was very obsessed with trying to connect with the other side. I devoted more time to the other side and many gifts have came to me. I use this gifts to help many people that are trying to find that path. I help them to believe in their own gifts and test them with pictures and names and they offer what comes to them. Then we discuss what they were seeing or hearing.