I am always looking for points of unity to bring people together, instead of focusing on differences. It seems to be the most helpful in finding common ground to create better aspects of life for all involved in a particular circumstance, group, country, government, etc...
For instance, one aspect of spiritual philosophies/'religions' of the East, being older than Western forms of Christianity, have a common concept of humanity being a part of the 'whole picture' of the universe; whereas Christianity seems to focus on you and God, that one-on-one relationship.
Has anyone read any perspectives on what that could mean for the soul of the individual person? Now that both sides of the planet are in such close and immediate communication; and what could people of East and West learn from each other, for everyone's benefit and progress?
In reading about the beliefs and practices of other faiths..I look for points of agreement. Once there is agreement, even if it is only on one small point....there can be understanding.
That's odd - Catholics and Protestants agree on the whole thing - Except for one small point.
Wouldn't that defeat the whole point of the name "Protest-ants"?
We could learn to accept that we are different and let that be OK instead of fighting about it.
Recent Christian movements, as represented by texts like "A Course In Miracles" and "Conversations With God" are far more aligned with Eastern philosophy than earlier Christian commentaries.
I have yet to find a religion which persisted more than three generations that doesn't contain more or less the same elements in its mystic tradition.
It's only the social control/behavioural rules/doctrinal prescription parts that vary, IME.
When you get to the core spiritual experience, my brother (a recently born-again Christian), my sister (a lifelong Buddhist), my aunt (a New Age trancendence practitioner) and I (adherent of no organised anything - call me an agnostic) can all agree that what we experience is the same experience.
We may all experience the same experience, but we don't interpret it in the same way.
It seems to me that if the things that the adherents of Western or Eastern religion believe in are actually *true*, then that is proposing a totally alternative interpretation of the world, the universe and the nature of reality to the one that I recognize.
Well, yes, if one believes there is an absolute, objective "Truth" ...
As far as I can see, we have no evidence that anything exists outside of human consciousness at all, and no way to gather such evidence.
So anyone who actually believes in material reality with that sort of unshakable faith that scientific materialists display is a crackpot, as far as I'm concerned
I go along with the game, and act like it's real, of course. It's not much fun otherwise.
But there's a world of difference between playing your part and believing you ARE your part ...
I have yet to see anyone describe a convincing experimental test to demonstrate that "the physical" actually exists.
Whilst I do not have "unshakeable faith" in science, I am willing to accept in on the basis of the accumulated evidence at our disposal.
Science certainly doesn't have all the facts or provide all the answers - but it does have a lot of facts and does provide a lot of answers, and I can see no point in dismissing it out of hand in favour of something that doesn't have any facts whatsoever.
Which is why I believe (just to ensure that we don't go completely off-topic!) that the question of the difference between Western and Eastern religious doctrines is probably one of total irrelevance.
So, if we can't believe in a Truth in an outer physical/material reality or in an inner spiritual reality, what is left? Nothing... but the integration of both !? and to me that means purpose. There is a purpose to life on earth... and life after being on earth. But for now I want to focus on life on the earth, in the earth planes of existence.
What a waste of time and space if we can't agree to agree that learning to love/accept each other and to help each other is the purpose of life. Striving for that purpose would mean sharing, caring, forgiving, honoring, etc.
I don't believe the religions and philosophies of East and West all got different stories from "God" or the "Source", but were hearing the same core united communication connection between all souls (highest level of consciousness) and as it came through their culturally centered, ego centered human consciousness it was such an exciting inspiration of "TRUTH OF REALITY" that the ego had to lay claim to it and claim it as "THE TRUTH", where anyone else's interpretation was wrong. That is what we need to rise above. What I call the "not self" that believes it is the "real self". We all have a not self and a real self, recognizing the difference is the purpose, in my book. And of course defining also, what "love" is !!???
That seems enough to do for a lifetime(s)! It has made me want to know as much about everyone else and their belief systems...gleaning perspective for my own edification of my real self.
Isn't it exciting that we have this higher level of consciousness to learn to hear and listen to; that guides and directs us and our choices and actions, and the only control we have over it is our own self imposed ignorance of it??!! With that highest conscience we can be objective about something we have done when we realize we do things we didn't want to do. Love is about loving ourselves, too, not just others.
I believe at this point in time, that it is this highest level of consciousness "where" we are all united in understanding that is the "Real" one world government people talk about and try to promote. I believe that is the armageddon ...within our self... that ends up fighting with others over "turf". But the unity/understanding gets lost in translation from the higher level of our consciousness to the lower lever...mostly it ends up being someone or groups elite-ist ploy to control others for ego/powers' sake, be it control over money, property, emotional, physical, mental, sexual, religious, etc... of others.
I'm with you on this, absolutely. I couldn't say this better myself
I agree with you that taking that sort of approach is the best I have found in terms of the quality of my experience of life. It's much more satisfying and rewarding when I operate on the basis that we are one, in some way, and that I have access to information and resources beyond my limited ego.
I wouldn't go so far as to assert that this is The Truth, but given that we can't know The Truth from here, even if there is one, I go with the best illusion I have found so far.
Thom, I am not suggesting we abandon our belief in physical reality in favor of something else, I am suggesting we just let it go, period. I am suggesting we give up the quixotic search for certainty that has cost so many people their lives and happiness over the years, and make peace with the fact of our limited human faculties.
I am willing to accept the thesis that if a particular result has been replicated many times in "physical reality", therefore we can expect it to replicate again in the future - I have no problem with the idea that physicality is internally consistent.
Just don't expect me to take an internal consistency as evidence of anything more than internal consistency.
Could you please further define your words "...that physicality is internally consistent" ?
Also, I believe humans have unlimited, potential, faculties. We as a race just haven't recognized them in consciousness at a mass scale. For instance, many "abilities" that people call psychic are just the seed of a tree waiting to grow and mature. The psychic is not the "space in consciousness" to stand at as the end result, it is merely a stepping stone level, a part of the human ego. But we have to disconnect our psyche from the inner planes that are not divine. I believe we can become divine in consciousness, i.e. heal as Jesus did, perform miracles and the like.
That is one aspect that all of the oldest mystical traditions have tried to relay to adherents.
And talking about the unity of higher consciousness, in the Hindu tradition the antakarahna is that "web of life", heart to heart, higher mind to higher mind, connection.
What i mean by this is that material reality follows consistent patterns, such that you can do an experiment repeatedly and get similar results. Over time, using a method of creating a hypothesis, devising an experiment to test the hypothesis, and doing the experiment enough times to be statistically significant (something which has been determined by previous experiments, I hasten to point out), you can reach a conclusion that the hypothesis is probably correct, or probably incorrect. Other people can follow the same process and reach the same conclusion. The more people who follow the process and reach the conclusion, the more probable "probably" gets.
This process has documented such things as "faith healing", now relabelled "placebo effect", and before you jump all over me let me just identify myself as someone who grew two inches in height in my late 30s as a result of "faith healing", although it didn't take place in the context of any organised religion, and I prefer to refer to it as "resolution of the subconscious emotional residue of childhood trauma". And I doubt there was growth hormone and bone growth involved - I expect it was a release of chronic core muscle tension, but since I didn't know it was going to happen I didn't get the appropriate "before" tests done to be sure! All I have in the way of data is my overall height three years ago, and my overall height now.
I am not saying that the mind can't affect physical reality. I am saying that it can and does, but it does so according to a consistent set of patterns, which can be measured, tested, hypothesised about, and ultimately explained, at least to the best level of certainty available to us as human beings, which is "probably".
Not sure if that "defines" or further confuses the issue, LOL ...
Mark, you got so active on religious threads recently.
Are you preparing your own release?
I really admire your scientific mind standpoint. Science was always one of my favorite subjects...even though my left brain mind never got enough practice at the processing to excel in the subject!
I believe science and spirituality have a common unity yet to be discovered. Aspects of the spirit have always been common place perception in my life, and science made me feel normal, as if something in my soul was understood by the scientific mind processes of experimentation and theory.
Do you know anything about what the Dalai Lama is doing bringing scientists and spiritual people together to try and "prove" scientifically spiritual occurrences? I have wanted to spend time reading it, but haven't gotten to it yet. Or that Japanese doctor(?) that did experiments with water to show how sound, words and music, affected it...another subject I haven't had time to look into.
I also practice what is called the Science of the Spoken Word (a version similar to Eastern mantra) which can bring about change in levels of consciousness as well as at the physical level.
I haven't heard anything about the Dalai Lama's initiative, but I agree with you that it's all one system and we will eventually be able to explain, or at least describe accurately, the processes by which those things happen that have been labelled "supernatural" in the past.
I have come across some scientific materialists who are as dogmatic and fundamentalist about their limited world-view as any religious fanatic, not to mention ill-informed about the power of science to "prove" things are "true"!
I think that approaching science in that way is just as unhealthy as being indiscriminately gullible.
Well, I am certainly not an adherent of scientific materialism (probably because most of it is totally beyond my comprehension and competence) but I still think there is a significant distinction to be drawn between science and religion.
I think the main difference is that most scientific principles are objectively demonstrable. In other words, they can be examined, tested, verified and replicated by different people in different places and in different times and circumstances - and the results (whatever they may be) are not dependant on what's going on inside people's heads.
On the other hand, any demonstration of the validity or "truths" of religion are dependant *solely* on what's going on inside people's heads. In other words, they have no external or objective reality whatsoever.
This seems to me to be an important distinction.
Actually Thom Quantum Physicists have been doing experiments for a long time whose results are completely determined by what's going on in the experimenter's head. It's called wave/particle duality. They have shown that at an atomic level everything can be seen as a wave or a particle depending upon the experiment. The only difference in the experiments are what the particular scientist 'believes' will happen. The outcome is apparently pre-determined by their thoughts relating to their subject. As such some completely random and intriguing things have taken place.
It is a very interesting field of study. One which shows scientifically that we have an effect on the intangible of the universe.
And these modern scientific views of how we relate to the universe is why the Dalai Lama is spearheading the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative. Buddhists and scientists have a lot in common. One major tenet of Buddhism is to NOT just believe what someone is telling you, even if it's a high Lama. You should always investigate and decide for oneself whether the idea or concept has merit in your own personal quest for enlightenment.
So many religions are anti-science, so many scientists are anti-religion. However when you get into fields of study such as Quantum Physics and Psychology, science and religion have a lot in common.
And I feel that it is imperative for the evolution of the human race to start integrating scientific discoveries with religious beliefs. Many Eastern religious teachings share this principle. And that, I feel, is a major difference between Eastern and Western religions.
In the East we are starting to work with scientists to understand the universe. We don't believe this will undermine our spiritual beliefs but actually enhance them.
Yes - quantum theory is certainly (and literally!) mind-boggling stuff, and some of its assumptions almost as mysterious as any metaphysical meanderings ....
What did Richard Feynman say?
"If you think you understand quantum theory .... you don't understand quantum theory."
Actually, when I was trying a draw a distinction between science and religion, I was thinking in rather more mundane terms. For example:
Let's say that you turn up at your local airport to take a flight. The airport authority informs you that they have provided a special plane today. It's been designed and constructed by a group of devout evangelical Christians (or some other religious sect), with the application of no mathematical or scientific principles whatsoever, and they intend to rely on faith and the power of prayer to deliver you to your destination. Do you step on board that plane? Does anyone?
Similarly, if you fall down and break a leg, or discover a huge lump somewhere there shouldn't be one, do you say: "Oh, medical science is incomplete and contradictory, so I won't go to the doctor or the hospital - I'll consult the local voodoo practitioner instead"?
Surely the reason people (hopefully) don't step on board the plane or consult the local witchdoctor on medical matters is because they understand - even if on a subconscious level -that an incomplete scientific discipline is still infinitely preferable to no scientific discipline whatsoever.
I'm not sure that even the intricacies and complexities of quantum physics can invalidate the principles behind those scenarios.
Unless, of course, some Eastern religion can provide an alternative interpretation ....?
There is the concept of 'enlightenment' which is what the Buddhist religion is all about. One attempts to achieve a state of
mind and perhaps emotion in which there is experienced complete unity of all things, 'The One'. There is no comparative state as something outside that. And in this state there is no thought, but complete bliss, oneness, and an elevated enjoyment of the senses. It is difficult to achieve and more difficult to maintain. However I have had the experience and can attest to it as an empirical experience.
Thom: I guess we were coming at the science/religion topic from different angles. I whole heartedly embrace science as well as my religion. They work well together, so I guess I've never thought about it from the view point that you're talking about.
With Eastern religion people do put emphasis on the power of meditation to heal you mentally and physically and keep you healthy. And there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to support this. There is also scientific evidence that shows meditation will actually change your brain wave pattern. Given that we usually use only a small portion of our brains who knows what the rest could do if we woke it up. So it's definitely a good thing.
However, I also firmly believe in doctors and medicine and airline mechanics.
Of course Buddhism is a what you would call a more esoteric, intellectual (meaning it's more in the mind than in the heart) religion. You are suppose to investigate and challenge theories and explore for yourself what holds true. Accepting the word of Buddha (or God for example) on faith alone is not the Dharma way. Although faith is required (it is a religion) it's more in the minority. Even the Buddha himself said that you shouldn't just blindly trust in the teachings but explore the Dharma in an analytical way.
So that's where my philosophies come from.
I certainly don't think anyone (least of all me) could have any argument with that. Many thanks for your lucid explanation.
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