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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightyear View Post
    I think that is the crux of the matter. Are you actually reaching the true God through whatever you are practising? Or is it all just smoke and mirrors, even though it might not be spiritually dangerous are there any genuine results coming out of it?
    ^

    Pseudo-spirituality typically comes hand-in-hand with a process of attempting to solidify prior theory with subsequent fact. In the case of recognizing the Divine through scientific methods or tangible proof, one is led to accumulate endless facts and/or superficial experiences to support an inconclusive body of thought. I've noticed this mentality not just in the scientific/occult community, but also in communities of evangelicals who wish to ward off potential threats to their conservative viewpoints. The evangelicals attempt to give evidence for the Divine from theology and into science, while the occultists typically work the other way around. Both attempts to merge proofs actually start from some sort of wavering stance about the truth of the Divine, though some evangelicals often refuse to admit it because they don't realize they're worshiping text. Here is the problem in a nutshell, regardless of one's affiliation with the occult or with religion: a spineless view of the cosmos that rests complacently in agnosticism and denotes ones own existence as what everything else revolves around.

  2. #12
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venom View Post
    The TLDR version: whats your opinion of practicing occult/eastern spiritualism amongst a Christian world, is all occult evil? Did you have to "let go" of som Christian based fears in order to test the spirit waters with less fear?
    @Peguy @Amargith @Coriolis @kyuuei (people I remember to be related to pagan, or Catholicism)
    I know you are a former catholic, but I'll give you my view from a reformed Protestant perspective.

    As a christian I'm not a fan of divination of any sort. Regardless of whether someone is trying to talk to God or the devil. I can see why someone would be frustrated by Christians who condemn one sort of divination and then seek to use another form of divination. Because both efforts seem to come from the same completely understandable desire for an experience or knowledge that will bring peace.

    Nonetheless, I avoid divination for five reasons:

    1. Divination almost altogether ceased in the new testament after Pentecost and the descending of the holy spirit onto believers.
    2. Revelation is powerful and that which is powerful is dangerous. I feel much more comfortable with revelation that has been examined and tested for at least 2000 years than with the words uttered by a prophet yesterday or random words that came to my mind during prayer this morning. I've seen people's lives manipulated and controlled by the power of divination and I find it pretty disgusting when that happens.
    3. I have found the spiritual counsel of the bible to be sufficient for most any question I have. Moreover, the bible answers all the BIG important questions and any smaller questions I might have are just extrapolations of answers to the big questions. Questions with answers that can't be extrapolated from biblical answers simply aren't as important as I think they are.
    4. Some people might find it ironic, but I'm also against divination BECAUSE I believe in Christian liberty. I believe that anything that isn't required by the bible is open for my own judgement. I'm not interested in being bound by more rules than are in the bible. I believe divination is often an effort to be bound by additional revelation. I think everyone can agree that the bible has enough rules. Another way of saying this is to quote saint Augustine: "Love God and do what you want." Of course I personally believe that loving God precludes divination.
    5. The bottom line is that for the Christian peace should not be sought from experiences to come or from knowledge about the future. Rather it should be found in the knowledge of one's relationship with God and rituals and practices that celebrate that relationship formed during the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Christians don't need outside revelation for peace as we have the holy spirit himself within us to testify to our hope.

    Theologian Bruce Waltke goes into further detail on the points I raised above in his book, Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion?
    http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Will-G.../dp/0802839746
    Last edited by Beorn; 09-24-2012 at 02:35 PM. Reason: My three reasons turned into five
    Take the weakest thing in you
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  3. #13
    Senior Member Scott N Denver's Avatar
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    I can't particularly be considered pagan, but I do have significant eastern practice background.

    I have had friends that were very New Agey [they were also raised as catholics]. They are the people who were the most into spirit guides and divination of whatever sorts and seemed quite concerned about whether I "really believed" it or not. [Note: they were also INFJ's, bigtime Ni]. Later in life I met a number of people who were/are really big into mediumship.

    Personally I've never felt particularly drawn to seances/mediumship/whatever, particularly dealing with spirits or entities, or divination. To be clear I associate divination with something like tarot cards cards or whatnot, and I would consider "assensing feng shui" or "feeling karmic floes" to be different than those, since the former are more active/intentional processes and the latter usually more "attuning to something thats already there anyways."

    I've read and heard it said that many people that get into New Age are Catholic or former Catholics, and that having that background "sets them up for" or "makes them amenable to" new agey or spirituality type of stuff. It seems to me that Protestantism in most of its forms doesnt particularly emphasize "miracles"
    and whatever else anyways, nor does it seem to incline people to try and go do those things on their own later. I've never been catholic, but guess catholicism seems to strongly push for miracles and spiritual happenings and stuff, whereas Protestantism largely does not.

    Eastern stuff for the most part usually isnt trying to "perform or recognize miracles" or "talk to spirits" or whatever else. The significant majority of my own practice background focused on things like breathing methods, attitudes, being in the moment, and relaxing the mind. Even when developed to the level of directly working with auras and chakras it was largely about "how to improve you own 'well-being'" as opposed to "doing something in the external world with them." There are some practices, particularly in tibetan buddhism and some of the smaller japanese esoterics that strongly resemble tibetan buddhism, that deal with "visualizing deities" and "uniting with deities", but those arent basic level, and they receive far less public attention that other aspects of tibetan buddhism.

    Some people see eastern philosophies as "lets develop you psychically!" or whatnot, but by and large any such outcome like that is usually, but not always, the side effect of some other practice and is usually, but not always, the desired or intended primary goal.

    Let's see if I actually addressed any of your questions.
    "The TLDR version: whats your opinion of practicing occult/eastern spiritualism amongst a Christian world, is all occult evil? Did you have to "let go" of som Christian based fears in order to test the spirit waters with less fear?"

    Whatever the word occult and whatever eastern philosophy means I see them as largely distinct entities, and whatever overlap may exist people usually have to aim for or try to do it. Expressed differently I don't generally speaking see eastern philosophy as being "occultism." Even things like chi, prana, auras, chakras, etc I generally see as "non-physical 'extensions' of one's total anatomy" and taking care of such things as being like "health." Would we say it is occult or "testing the spirit waters" to go jogging, for example? I dont see pranayama or meditation as being THAT different in the sense that they are exercising or being healthy in some other way/dimension. I'm not quite sure what is meant by "testing the spirit waters" but even when I do my most intense hard-core or otherworldly practices I'm not hanging out with spirits or doing automatic writing or staring at tarot cards or whatever.

    I'm somewhat familiar about some of the things that people might encounter while "roaming" the "spirit world"
    but I definitely would not say that I particularly spend a lot of time doing that and I think that excessive association of eastern things with occultism/magick/divination/mediumship etc is a weird, stretched, probably forced, and one sided arising from the other side way of looking at things. Unless your doing specific tibetan buddhist practices, japanese esoteric strongly resembling tibetan buddhism, maybe something tantric, or whatever the heck daoist magic is, someone looking for the sort of examples you provided isn't likely to be too satisfied by what eastern practices typically involve.

    An argument could be made that working with chi, chakras, or auras qualifies as what your discussing, and on some basic level it probably does, but again such things are usually approached by us as "[spiritual] well being" and we usually aren't 1) talking to dead people, 2) letting whatever inhabit our bodies 3) talking to gods 4) summoning or binding spirits 5) using tarot or equivalents to attempt to foretell the future [I ching seems to be the closest similarity there] or any of those sorts of things.

  4. #14
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    @Scott N Denver

    I think the Discordians and those who do chaos magic are probably the ones that contributed to bringing in eastern stuff.

    The thing is though that they often really aren't mystical. Just like you describe. It's more the mindset of 'don't be too dogmatic and take what works'.

    This is why Discordians are seriously not serious and not serious about being serious or not serious. What is, is, and you glean what you will from it - maybe it's a joke and maybe it's not. Maybe it's a joke that is not a joke that is a joke.

  5. #15
    Senior Member Scott N Denver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    @Scott N Denver

    I think the Discordians and those who do chaos magic are probably the ones that contributed to bringing in eastern stuff.

    The thing is though that they often really aren't mystical. Just like you describe. It's more the mindset of 'don't be too dogmatic and take what works'.

    This is why Discordians are seriously not serious and not serious about being serious or not serious. What is, is, and you glean what you will from it - maybe it's a joke and maybe it's not. Maybe it's a joke that is not a joke that is a joke.
    I dont know what discordians are. I have heard the names of various western magickal groups, I'm guessing thats one of them.

    Fwiw, one can find very spiritual or whatever word you want to use things in eastern training. Advanced yoga comes to mind. Sri Aurobindo is the most "occult" yoga or buddhism person I can think of, for example. Tantra deals a lot with "spiritual anatomy" and "doing things" with spiritual anatomy. However, tantra isn't basic or something that one just "walks into." There isnt a single eastern anything that I know of that would be like "welcome newcomer! Now lets train you to do do automatic writing and mediumship." I'm not sure I've even seen either of those words ever used in anything eastern that i know of.

    Returning to practicing stuff in a largely-Christian culture, people I've met who are into similar things as myself they usually don't hide it but they also usually don't particularly "put it out there." In a country that is largely monotheistic, scientific, and/or atheist, there are plenty of people who may not look well on eastern practices. I think its interesting that a lot of what gets looked down on is really basic non-religious stuff. Is "breathing well" somehow religious? Or having a mind that doesn't wander all over the place? Most people don't know enough about the details of eastern philosophy to be particularly aware of how it differs from monotheism. I think at its basic and public personal level eastern practices are much less of an affront to traditional monotheism, or scientism for that matter, than are magickal/occult things. I think its hardest for people to say that "buddhism talks to the devil" because, by and large but not entirely, buddhism doesnt interact or "talk" with deities/higher beings/whatever. We also generally don't go around "casting spells" at people. I think most people would find "spells" far more than scary or weird or whatever than "focus on your breathing and voila you are meditating!"

  6. #16
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott N Denver View Post
    I dont know what discordians are. I have heard the names of various western magickal groups, I'm guessing thats one of them.

    Fwiw, one can find very spiritual or whatever word you want to use things in eastern training. Advanced yoga comes to mind. Sri Aurobindo is the most "occult" yoga or buddhism person I can think of, for example. Tantra deals a lot with "spiritual anatomy" and "doing things" with spiritual anatomy. However, tantra isn't basic or something that one just "walks into." There isnt a single eastern anything that I know of that would be like "welcome newcomer! Now lets train you to do do automatic writing and mediumship." I'm not sure I've even seen either of those words ever used in anything eastern that i know of.

    Returning to practicing stuff in a largely-Christian culture, people I've met who are into similar things as myself they usually don't hide it but they also usually don't particularly "put it out there." In a country that is largely monotheistic, scientific, and/or atheist, there are plenty of people who may not look well on eastern practices. I think its interesting that a lot of what gets looked down on is really basic non-religious stuff. Is "breathing well" somehow religious? Or having a mind that doesn't wander all over the place? Most people don't know enough about the details of eastern philosophy to be particularly aware of how it differs from monotheism. I think at its basic and public personal level eastern practices are much less of an affront to traditional monotheism, or scientism for that matter, than are magickal/occult things. I think its hardest for people to say that "buddhism talks to the devil" because, by and large but not entirely, buddhism doesnt interact or "talk" with deities/higher beings/whatever. We also generally don't go around "casting spells" at people. I think most people would find "spells" far more than scary or weird or whatever than "focus on your breathing and voila you are meditating!"
    Yeah.

    Discordians aren't inherently magical though. Nobody truly knows what it is - not even them. It's paradoxically not a thing. It's all about paradoxes, and getting rid of philosophical linear knowledge and beliefs that don't actually describe anything accurately.

    It's like the koan: "What is Buddha?" and one answers "Three pounds of flax" well the Discordian answer is "Five tons of flax". For everything, pretty much.

  7. #17
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    The tradition of Christianity I'm from, Pentecostal/Charismatic, does seem to incorporate altered states of consciousness. They do not call it that and would deny that there is any resemblance to Eastern practices, but it's kind of hard to miss if you aren't so invested in it that you can't be objective.

    The realization has left me conflicted. For me, an old-fashioned Pentecostal worship service is like coming home in some ways. I don't mind being around it. However, I've also been taught all my life that Eastern style meditation, etc is bad and dangerous and I just don't see much of a difference between the two. So despite being comfortable in that setting up to a point, I don't really want to participate fully. I like keeping my mind as clear and in my conscious control as much as possible.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  8. #18
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    New Age Spiritualism

    Christianity over the last 2,000 years has a rich tradition of mysticism from the Desert Fathers in the first century, to the medieval book, "The Cloud of Unknowing", by Anonymous, to Thomas Merton in the 20th century.

    But what is striking is that the mysticism of quite different religions such as Buddhism, Islam and Christianity are essentially the same.

    And what is even more striking is that the spoken religions of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity all have a rich seam of mysticism, while the literate religion of Protestantism rejects mysticism and spiritualism.

    And so as a reaction to the rejection of Protestantism, spiritualism and mysticism have been embraced by the New Age, long with astrology, mbti and homeopathy.

  9. #19
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    You seem to be holding on to some invalid assumptions, which act as blinders, overconstraining the answers you can find.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venom View Post
    1. if all spiritual avenues other than prayer and Christian ritual were "evil" why would god even create humans with energy centers and extra sense in the first place? I understand that "free will" could be an answer, but how am I to know which free will is "correct"?
    If you accept that all spiritual avenues other than prayer and Christian ritual are NOT evil, the problem goes away. Most people, even Christians, believe that God created everyone, "in his image" as the Bible says. You are also assuming that there is one correct free will. Many people would like you to think that, but it is another invalid assumption. There are many productive and wholesome ways to exercise one's free will.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venom View Post
    2. why is it I'm able to mentally brush away a lot of the Christian metaphysics of 6000 year old earth, original sin, substitute sacrifice of Christ, BUT somehow I'm still easily creeped out by someone writing about demonology enough to halt any of my spiritual work?
    Perhaps because you understand the evidence behind why the Christian metaphysics is wrong. Science has not really investigated, much less formulated reliable theories about demons and other such entities, so you do not have a counterweight of evidence to balance Christian claims.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venom View Post
    I feel like I'm trapped between multiple ideologies and am unable to completely accept either one fully. Why does every religion have to be eaten whole? How do we know that this isn't like blind people describing an elephant and that there's mistakes and truths intermixed?
    Another incorrect assumption. Every religion DOES NOT have to be eaten whole. It is just like the blind men and the elephant. Every religion tells us something different about the divine. We can never comprehend the whole, just as the blind men can never see the whole elephant. They can touch the various parts, though, and learn from each other's observations rather than dismissing them. So it is with religions. It is fine to focus on one which resonates with us and inspires us to become a better person, but to deny the validity of the others is illogical.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venom View Post
    The TLDR version: whats your opinion of practicing occult/eastern spiritualism amongst a Christian world, is all occult evil? Did you have to "let go" of som Christian based fears in order to test the spirit waters with less fear?
    Occult spiritual paths are no more or less evil than Christianity. It is humans who have the capacity for evil, and this persists regardless of which faith they profess. Just witness the Inquisition, and the persecution of Jews at various times.

    Are you asking about practicing occult or eastern spiritualism while also being Christian, or just about practicing such faiths in the context of a largely Christian culture? If the first, it is generally just the Christian church that will demand exclusivity. I have yet to meet a pagan group that asks members to disavow other belief systems. If the second, the situation continues to improve as more people take the risk of following their inner guide/voice/compass - whatever you want to call it, rather than following the crowd. Yes, there is still persecution and ignorance, but there are also many opportunities to educate people on what non-mainstream faiths are and are not.

    You are correct: I was raised Catholic and after much soul-searching, found paganism. Along the way I explored several other faiths, and found that pagan spirituality was the only faith I could follow honestly, without constantly making excuses for the things that did not make sense to me. For me to follow any other religion at this point would be simple hypocrisy, no more than a pretense. I participate in Christian worship sometimes with my SO, and as a musician, and have learned to see the divine in it from my new perspective far better than I ever did when I still considered myself Catholic. I am viewing it as a visitor now. I can admire how well the shoes suit other people without feeling I have to squeeze my feet into them any longer.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  10. #20
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Christianity over the last 2,000 years has a rich tradition of mysticism from the Desert Fathers in the first century, to the medieval book, "The Cloud of Unknowing", by Anonymous, to Thomas Merton in the 20th century.

    But what is striking is that the mysticism of quite different religions such as Buddhism, Islam and Christianity are essentially the same.

    And what is even more striking is that the spoken religions of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity all have a rich seam of mysticism, while the literate religion of Protestantism rejects mysticism and spiritualism.

    And so as a reaction to the rejection of Protestantism, spiritualism and mysticism have been embraced by the New Age, long with astrology, mbti and homeopathy.
    It's interesting that any of the mystic traditions in the big Judaic religions have been marginalized. Kaballah probably least, but it is not considered a necessary study in Judaism. Christian mysticism is always on the fringe. And Sufism has had a rocky past in Islam.

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