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  1. #11
    Senior Member Scott N Denver's Avatar
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    Buddhism is very popular with a lot of people, and has lots of elements that people can either focus on or ignore. I think its the easiest eastern religion to jump to. If your feeling very ?colorful? you could try looking into various types of Hinduism. Both of those two choices should allow you to join groups of like-minded. In my mind Taoism is much more selective in both directions ie hit or miss in both directions.

    How about unitarian universalism, it seems to best fit what you describe for yourself

  2. #12
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    That's the common problem, Westerners tend to reimagine Eastern religions into whatever they want it to mean, rather than actually seek to understand what they actually teach. I notice this often in Western Buddhism, to give probably the most famous example. The kicker is that much of the spiritual teachings of the East parallels those of the West, and it's always been common advice within Eastern traditions to seek spiritual truth in the tradition one is most familar with. .
    Agreed.

    Much of the "exotic" elements people look for in Eastern traditions can be found in Christianity.
    Not Agreed.

    On the contrary, I tend to think that if these "exotic religions" have some success now, it's because many people naively think that they could resolve the ever-lasting conflict between Western humanistic values and the harsh reality and the deep hypocrisy of Western monotheisms. They hope to find a religion that would not so blatantly contradict their current liberal values like Christianity does. They hope to find a sense of belonging they have lost elsewhere, however tiny and unrealistic it may look.

    Unfortunately for them, I fear it's a vain quest, because these "Western humanistic values" are in fact based on the acquired knowledge of the Age of Enlightenment and hence, on rationalism (rather than faith).
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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  3. #13
    Sniffles
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    That doesn't refute my point Blackmail!.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Hatter View Post
    Agreed. I think that to us, Eastern Asian religions / philosophy will probably never be the same to us as it is to people who come from a background that has been formed for ages by these ways of looking at the world - just like Western civilization has been deeply formed by Christianity, whether you are Christian or not. I'm really skeptical about 'pick and choose', like if you don't like something about a certain religion, just move on to another - if I got you, just for the 'novelty' of it, which would mean that you didn't care about the actual religion.

    At the same time, I found it to be very liberating
    Maybe you could interpret existentialism in a way that nothing 'really matters', and that it's basically a philosophy that teaches you not to care, but I would say that it's only the beginning of the process. To me, it was more like tearing something down so you could build it up from scratch.
    I definitely have the same views as you with regard to spiritual shopping, now, that's not to say that I wouldnt consider aspects of different world religions and possibly integrate some of them but its not the same as a pair of trainers, in which you may follow or refuse to follow the latests tastes and fashions or change them at will.

    Essentially I believe that in religion or anything else I'm an integrative thinker and I also reflect upon the reality that I'm an individual, whatever faith I do practice and whatever way I practice it in word or deed in some way it will be or have become "my" faith and be unique from its "shared" aspect with others. Depending on your own values that could be a terrible or a brilliant thing, I just acknowledge it as an objective reality, as a result I'm not spent trying to conform perfectly to others or demanding they conform perfectly to me and my expectations.

    Existentialism I found interesting and engaging for a while but I've abandoned it now, I think it was a response to the world wars and other developments which had a lot of people experiencing crisis, doubt, anomie and we live in a different time to that and its important to acknowledge that. Context is pretty important in ideas. So I can understand those writers or the writers who've been adopted by existentialists as existentialists mattering in an age were institutions and ideologies external to the self were unreliable or found wanting but I'm not sure that's the reality or the time or should be.

    I dont think existentialism suggests why care? And nothing matters, I think instead it suggests that only the self matters, only the self is assured, its a little like Descartes "I think, therefore I am" launched by the radical doubts created by discoveries like refraction and that "does mine eyes deceive me?" was more common than had been thought. To a point those are interesting even enlivening concepts but they centre too much on the self and do not consider the external or eternal besides the self.

    If a tree falls in the forest does it make any noise if there is no one there to hear it? Its not really a mind blowing or mind silencing koan considered from simple point of fact and that has eluded a lot of philosophy is all I'm saying. Sciences too.

  5. #15
    Sniffles
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    Concerning Existentialism, there are religious variations of the concept. The first recognized Existentialist, Kierkegaard, was deeply religious.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    That's the common problem, Westerners tend to reimagine Eastern religions into whatever they want it to mean, rather than actually seek to understand what they actually teach. I notice this often in Western Buddhism, to give probably the most famous example. The kicker is that much of the spiritual teachings of the East parallels those of the West, and it's always been common advice within Eastern traditions to seek spiritual truth in the tradition one is most familar with. Much of the "exotic" elements people look for in Eastern traditions can be found in Christianity.
    That's for sure.

    I first realised this when considering the extent to which martial arts were synonymous with eastern fighting styles and schools of thinking, often with their own attendent philosophies, although this was in some ways a result of the success with which Bruce Lee and others "sold themselves" and their cultural background in the west, I personally began to think about whether there had been any different schools or books or traditions in the west when the museams had armour and weapons as various as those which appeared associated with samauri or ninjas which were popular.

    I found the society for the study of rennaisance martial arts and other similar tendencies (I was simultaneously surprised and disappointed with how most of them introduced themselves or contained somewhere within their PR material apologetics along the lines of "we're not racist..." simply because they were trying to revive western traditions), it was really clear to me the extent to which years of knowledge had been wasted and ignored. This is all said without any sort of nationalist identity or cultural chauvinism driving it. Consumerism could result in this all being revisited eventually, perhaps if China or Japan became more hegemonic and the west tried to go and market itself to them.

    My point was, although I meandered of it a bit, that there were equivalents of the martial arts in the west, the same goes for religion, there are parallels, corollaries and equivalents, meditation and monasticism are examples.

    Buddhism in the west is often really misunderstood, I've studied it a lot and I find most of the people who are fans in the west are acquainted with it as much as it has featured in the simpsons or newstands or mind, body and spirit sections. Most of them are only seeking a religious mirror for their political or cultural values, often when these are challenged by hard nosed and nasty varieties of religosity too.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    Concerning Existentialism, there are religious variations of the concept. The first recognized Existentialist, Kierkegaard, was deeply religious.
    I like Kierkegaard, in so far as I understand him, and its good that existentialists have popularised his material but I'm not sure he would have described himself as an existentialist, what do you think?

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I like Kierkegaard, in so far as I understand him, and its good that existentialists have popularised his material but I'm not sure he would have described himself as an existentialist, what do you think?
    Probably not, but then again many Existentialists rejected the label. Gabriel Marcel first coined the term Existentialist but preferred the label "Neo-Socratic" or "Reflective Empiricist". Marcel btw was Catholic.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Agent Jelly's Avatar
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    I would just suggest finding a religion that you think suits you but don't become a radical. I tell people I'm an unconventional Christian... I don't care what others believe in, if you are happy than why should I tell you to believe in something other than what you do now? But then again I'm also neutral towards gay marriage and pro choice... And I believe being a homosexual is no worse than stealing a loaf of bread in Gods eyes. I'm sure I piss off a lot of the traditionalists.... But my thing is to treat others how you want to be treated. Jesus wasn't a stuck up prick who only attended nice church gatherings in the upper class part of town... he hung out with the whores and the drug heads.

  10. #20
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    have you tried looking into unitarian universalism? they welcome people of all religions and emphasize personal choice and individual spiritual growth. i attend uu services when the mood strikes me.

    http://www.uua.org/beliefs/6798.shtml

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