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  1. #1
    From the Undertow CuriousFeeling's Avatar
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    Default Difficulty Finding a Religion to Belong To

    Disclaimer: This will be a peaceful thread. No debates about which religion is better than the other, please. I am seeking advice.

    ----

    Lately, I have been experiencing a spiritual rebirth. For a couple years, throughout my college experience and up through my early 20s I kind of lost faith in religion in general because I disliked the tension between religions (especially after seeing religious wars and such with terrorism) and how I felt that the rules for each religion didn't quite ring home for me. Furthermore, I went through kind of an existential crisis... contemplating the existence of the afterlife, and with a background in science, I had thought that basically what happened to us when we die is that our bodies just sit there and decompose, and what keeps our spirits alive is in the hearts and minds of our relatives. The trouble is, even though this may be what reality is... something deep seated in my heart wants to be spiritual. Previously I had considered myself to be a free-spirited liberal Christian... I didn't really go to church or anything, but I still believed in God and had more of a personal connection with Him as a spiritual guide. Even when I was experiencing an existential crisis in my early 20s, I still had moments where I would pray to God... usually in times of spiritual crisis.

    The thing is, despite being an agnostic, I really do wish to have some sort of spiritual element in my life. At this moment, I feel a great state of cognitive dissonance... as a scientist I should believe in what is observable facts... but it gives my heart great pain to think that once my life ends, there won't be a spiritual home for me to return to, nor will the same thing be the case for any relatives that have passed on.

    The thing is, I want to believe in a higher being, something greater than me. I suppose in a sense I am monotheistic. I want to believe in Heaven. The thing is, I want to belong with a group of believers that are tolerant towards others with differing spiritual views, accepting of science and the theory of evolution, allow women to make their own decisions about reproduction, allow women to be spiritual leaders, more accepting of the LGBT community, value compassion towards others and that human suffering is more of a test of faith and is caused by humanity on its own. I also feel a deep spiritual connection between other people and me... as well as a deep connection between myself and the universe and nature. I suppose I have a liberal view towards religions, because they all explain the same type of thing, just in a different perspective. This can get a bit brain boggling, especially when you see things from different angles.

    Which religion(s) would you suggest?

    Remember, please keep this peaceful.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    Johari/Nohari

    “Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings -- always darker, emptier and simpler.”
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche




  2. #2
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    Taoism.

    Taoism recognizes a benevolent energy, flow and natural way of the universe, but not a god per se. It's more of a nature based philosophy, but no worshiping trees or believing in woodland elves, nothing like that.

    Reflecting on Taoist principles really helps me. There is no place you have to sign up and follow arbitrary social rules. The three jewels of Taoism are love/simplicity/modesty which can also be called compassion/economy/humility. It already aligns with what I believe is moral, but helps me to progress beyond simply what I think is moral into being more reflective about prescribing to the modern tendency to "over-logic" or to devalue nature or devalue right brained thinking. Acceptance of your individual gifts is important in Taoism, as is even looking at your flaws as things that could potentially be used as a strength if applied in the right manner or specific situation.

    I only suggest what works for me, it may not work for you.

  3. #3
    Head Pigeon Mad Hatter's Avatar
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    If you feel that religion doesn't answer your questions, you could always try philosophy
    Existentialism came almost as a revelation to me.
    IN SERIO FATVITAS.

    -τὸ γὰρ γράμμα ἀποκτέννει, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζῳοποιεῖ-

  4. #4
    From the Undertow CuriousFeeling's Avatar
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    At Marmie:

    Could experiment with that and see how it works for me. I've been attracted to Eastern spirituality, so it sounds appealing.

    At MadHatter:

    Philosophy is something I am very much interested in. Existentialism especially, as well as classical philosophy and Utilitarianism. Thanks for the suggestion.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    Johari/Nohari

    “Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings -- always darker, emptier and simpler.”
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche




  5. #5

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    Interesting, there are some things which correspond to my own experiences and others that dont.

    There are rationalistic creedos which I could suggest you research and which I believe could meet your needs, like deism for instance, although I think that ultimately you have to consider if its all about your needs and meeting those, its not uncommon to hear about people experiencing things and then going in search of God, what's not as often thought about is the reality that God is in search of man and sometimes it should be about God's needs and not your own. Now I'll clarify. I dont by that believe that you need to become neurotic or submissive to earthly authorities or others, those are different questions perhaps when it comes to spirituality.

    Just that when I consider many of the posts or even books about spiritual impulses which I have they seem to be aimed at people who are operating as consumers in a marketplace or have taken their consciousness from that and religion isnt exactly like that. Or at least that's what I think.

    About the afterlife, what is known? Who is to say? To be honest this bothers me from time to time but most of the time it doesnt, if the reality and only reality is the one which you mentioned of dying and nothingness and your only survival is as a memory for others then so be it, its not very comforting but it must be the will of God if it is the case. I dont believe that that is the case though. I just dont believe many of the artistic or speculative imaginings of what heaven or hell are like.

    About being part of a community of believers, I'm used to people disagreeing with me, whatever it is that is being discussed and even when I had relative resonance I know we're still thinking diferently, purely by virtue of being individuals, and you know what? I think that's alright. I suppose this is what makes me different from followers of Islam or others who approximate similar goals in their faith. I dont think that shared sentiment is as important or possible.

    The values of the age which you've described as liberal values, well, I'd suggest that you think about them, sometimes friends and foes of religion alike have identified religion as the stalwart opponent of what you've mentioned but I think its much more nuanced and complex than all that. I'd also suggest Rob Bell to you, he has some good audiobooks and youtube clips introducing them and I suspect would convey similar values to your own.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousFeeling View Post
    At Marmie:

    Could experiment with that and see how it works for me. I've been attracted to Eastern spirituality, so it sounds appealing.

    At MadHatter:

    Philosophy is something I am very much interested in. Existentialism especially, as well as classical philosophy and Utilitarianism. Thanks for the suggestion.
    I would beware being attracted to eastern metaphysics only because of the novelty, some of it appears great but when you consider it in another context you will see it differently, I was at a time highly enamoured with zen buddhism, now it interests me but I consider things very differently (sometimes seperating Zen from Buddhism, sometimes considering them the same). The promises of Zen, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism have all proven false dawns to me, although I still put some store in Confucian styles of thinking.

    Philosophy likewise, it can be really great, however much of it, especially existentialism, can be very self-centred, unconsciously objectivist even. There are a few exceptions but they can be depressing when they dont shrink from conveying how small a thing like individual sovereignty, for instance, is really in actuality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I would beware being attracted to eastern metaphysics only because of the novelty, some of it appears great but when you consider it in another context you will see it differently, I was at a time highly enamoured with zen buddhism, now it interests me but I consider things very differently (sometimes seperating Zen from Buddhism, sometimes considering them the same). The promises of Zen, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism have all proven false dawns to me, although I still put some store in Confucian styles of thinking.

    Philosophy likewise, it can be really great, however much of it, especially existentialism, can be very self-centred, unconsciously objectivist even. There are a few exceptions but they can be depressing when they dont shrink from conveying how small a thing like individual sovereignty, for instance, is really in actuality.
    You know Christianity is an Eastern religion, right?

    Don't be warning her against any philosophy that isn't "your one true faith." That's just wrong.

  8. #8
    Head Pigeon Mad Hatter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I would beware being attracted to eastern metaphysics only because of the novelty, some of it appears great but when you consider it in another context you will see it differently, I was at a time highly enamoured with zen buddhism, now it interests me but I consider things very differently (sometimes seperating Zen from Buddhism, sometimes considering them the same). The promises of Zen, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism have all proven false dawns to me, although I still put some store in Confucian styles of thinking.
    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.

    Philosophy likewise, it can be really great, however much of it, especially existentialism, can be very self-centred, unconsciously objectivist even. There are a few exceptions but they can be depressing when they dont shrink from conveying how small a thing like individual sovereignty, for instance, is really in actuality.
    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.
    IN SERIO FATVITAS.

    -τὸ γὰρ γράμμα ἀποκτέννει, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζῳοποιεῖ-

  9. #9
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousFeeling View Post
    The thing is, despite being an agnostic, I really do wish to have some sort of spiritual element in my life. At this moment, I feel a great state of cognitive dissonance... as a scientist I should believe in what is observable facts... but it gives my heart great pain to think that once my life ends, there won't be a spiritual home for me to return to, nor will the same thing be the case for any relatives that have passed on.
    Since you seem to understand that afterlife is a vain quest, and that faith is epistemologically flawed from the very beginning, why don't you try to accept what you really know?
    Do you think that atheism and science ultimately contradicts your liberal values?
    Why?
    Why do you seem so afraid to reach the only possible logical conclusion, and accept what it means, what it implies?

    If there is no afterlife, then this life is everything we have. So you must cherish it and cherish other lives too (at least if you accept Kant's categorical imperative).



    The thing is, I want to believe in a higher being, something greater than me.
    Why?

    I want to believe in Heaven.
    Do you really think such belief could deeply improve your life?

    Why not trying to improve this world first?
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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  10. #10
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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.
    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.

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