Human Spirituality & Belief

Albert EinsteinFor thousands of years we humans have known we are special.  When we compare ourselves to other animals, it becomes clear that we are somehow different, somehow unique.

We can build almost anything we need from all that we find around us.

We possess such logical powers of reason that we have actually thought ourselves into a flourishing species.

That said, it is still my belief that mankind does not operate on a higher state of being than other species. Humans have simply developed extraordinary powers of logical thought. Everything else we appear to share with other living things.

The distinction that’s been made apparent between ourselves and other animals has caused us to question where we came from and why we are here. Man has been asking such questions since the day he was gifted his thinking mind.

When one quietly sits and contemplates the world and our place within it, is it really any wonder why humanity can’t help concluding that there must be some kind of non-physical realm to this world?

No matter which race of man one takes account of in whichever corner of the world in which one seeks him, the examination of humans around the planet concludes that humans are inherently spiritual beings.

It really doesn’t matter from which group of humans one takes account of either; be it remote jungle tribes who worship spirits in the forest to rather sophisticated and mathematical civilizations who believe in a God of all things ~ there exists a fundamental commonality that all humans collectively share and that is that there is a non-physical realm to this world ~ A spirit world as it’s often referred.

Since evolution isn’t in the habit of making mistakes, there must have been a requirement for this intuition to be inherent within us.

To conclude that humanity is and always has been delirious about this intuition is to discount the fundamentals of what we are and how we operate and dismisses the fact that spirituality has always been something humanity, no matter how culturally diverse, has always shared a belief in.  The stories maybe different, but this intuition for something or some force that operates on a non-physical level – Humanity shares. To claim we (as a species) have been somehow hood-winked by our own consciousness into believing in this false intuition for all time is in itself rather hard to believe or accept.

Having said that, I am happy to contemplate the argument that spirituality has served a social purpose as part of the evolutionary process and has aided the development of humanity and that that period of development could now be starting to change, evolve or even end.

We live in a physical world made up of energy and matter and this world is studied through the sciences.

Science has proved invisible powers such as gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak force exist. The reason Science has proved that these invisible forces exist is because the physical effects they produce can be measured. We don’t know how many other invisible forces may be out there that haven’t yet been discovered. If there are forces that are non-physical in nature, then they would be impossible to detect using current scientific methodology.

Faith always includes a belief that there is a non-physical realm to reality.

Because the non-physical is not testable through scientific experimentation, one has to maintain faith in order to believe in its existence.

For most believers, faith in a non-physical realm comes about through subjective experience. For most non-believers, the experience of a non-physical realm by a believer is just a delusion to them and religions are simply groups of mass-deluded humans.

I do not like to judge anyone who is religious, for them it is a personal choice. But what I would like to do is get people to question why they would choose a particular one-size-fits-all belief system.

Whilst of course I appreciate the harmonizing effect the sharing of a belief system has on human relationships, having a belief in something because it is part of one’s culture or because ones partner or family members are of a particular religion is both invalid and lazy.

I appreciate that in some cultures there may be factors that suppress people from openly making their own decisions on what to believe, but as long as you are fortunate enough to be free to choose, then you should always believe something for yourself by experiencing it for yourself.

 

WHEN AUTHORITY TAKES OWNERSHIP OF SPIRITUALITY – BEWARE!

Back when the Roman Empire was the political authority of the day, a small religious cult called Christianity began to form and oppose it. Christianity was originally viewed as a dangerous cult, but given a few hundred years, it became viewed as the right way for people to think.

Another few hundred years later on Christianity became the all authoritative power in the west and was used to oppress people who thought differently.

History teaches us that it’s healthy to remain sceptical of such authority.

During modern times, it’s incredibly subversive how common it has become for struggling opponents to rise up and overthrow an oppressive power, only to introduce their own oppressive measures once in the dominant power position themselves.

When I talk of Religion I refer to ‘Organizations who claim to have authority over certain views or beliefs’.

When I talk of Spirituality I simply refer to – a belief in a non-physical realm without necessarily following an organized set of beliefs.

What interests me and what should interest you if you’re of a spiritual disposition, is not the organization or doctrine that religion claims to provide, but an examination of each one of the beliefs it claims to take ownership of.

Analyse each one of them for yourself. Pick and choose if you like. You don’t have to accept any or all of what you learn from scriptures or how you are told to think about their meanings.

One has to be careful with beliefs for when one accepts a set of beliefs as eternal truth, then they no longer become questionable and instead become dogma.

For me; not being able to change a belief in the face of new information is religions biggest stumbling block. I believe dogma acts as a growth inhibitor and stifles spiritual progression.

This is why I believe that the authoritarianism of belief (religion) is not the way for individuals to experience or accept spirituality.  Instead, beliefs need to be formed through one’s own experience rather than being fixed, immutable and prescribed – which is what religion tends to dispense under a strict recourse of scripture.

That’s not to say you can’t take some aspects of one particular religious belief that resonates with you and make it your own, of course you can.

Providing you have a choice in what to believe, always question yourself: Why do you believe in something? Is it because the story you’ve been told/sold resonates within you? Or is it because you know it to be true – i.e. You’ve experienced it!

Buddhism particularly resonates with me and I share many aspects of their views and I admire the way in which they look at the world (or rather in at the world), but I am not Buddhist. Why? Because I don’t wish to restrict my growth in any way.

I can accept some Buddhist beliefs as my own, that doesn’t mean I’m obliged to become Buddhist.

Religious books such as the Bible should be read with the view that they are just story books. There are plenty of story books out there that have the potential to give you a great deal of spiritual insight. These stories should not be taken as absolute truth.

When reading a good spiritual book, you may receive many valuable insights, but to live one’s life off the back of a storybook is unwise. There is nothing wrong with being religious, but to except statements of declared truth that do not stand up to further investigation just because an authority tells you it’s an all-or-nothing belief system, is to remain un-evolved or worse still; ignorant.


Examples of some spiritually insightful storybooks:

The Bible

Bhagavad Gita

The Alchemist

The Quran

A New Earth

Siddhartha

Star Wars (And no, I’m not being flippant).

 

As an individual you act from your own source of knowledge which is gained through experiencing the world – it is this experience that naturally creates your belief system.  This makes you a unique individual – No other person sees the world exactly as you do. No one can dictate what your beliefs should be; you are the best qualified person to make these decisions – for yourself.

However, you need to be vigilantly aware that you view the world subjectively; coloured by your own experience, interpretation, and through the expanse and limits of your perceptions. If you do not have the right tools to deal or process your own subjective experience you may fall victim to dangerous modes of thinking and a detrimental belief system may ensue. People who have had a succession of misfortunate events happen to them throughout their lives are particularly susceptible to dangerous modes of thinking. However, for most, experiencing misfortune or suffering is usually the very process that leads them to growth.

 

TO CONCLUDE:

There is no doubt that faith can provide people with
tremendous power or peace.

It isn’t essential that you know the final truth about everything in the world; and no one has the capacity, resources or where-withal to discover all truth.

The test to apply to any belief is: Does it work? Does your identification of things lead to the consequences you expect? If it does, what you’ve perceived was true enough for that situation.  But recognize the context of each situation and be sceptical when generalizing from that test to draw broader conclusions, this way you won’t be bound by any false truths.

People who tell you that you cannot pick and choose your beliefs or that you have to either believe in all of a particular religion or none of it – are wrong!

What others say you should believe in is based upon what they’ve concluded is the truth for them or upon how they feel you’d be of more value to them or their group. Neither can be a valid basis for determining your beliefs.

People will tell you what to believe based on what they have drawn from their life experiences and studies (exactly what I am doing now). Their conclusions are drawn from their own (limited), subjective experience.

For those who only believe in the physical world – humanity has forever been delusional. Science does not accept subjectivity as a means to seek an understanding of the world. Perception without experimental validity is of no use to science. But to those who believe in a non-physical realm, a trees innate spirit is as real as the physical structure of the tree itself.

For me, pure logic does have a certain validity when it comes to choosing ones beliefs and I accept the principle ‘everyone used to think the world was flat’ argument. The convenience of believing in something that wasn’t/isn’t true because truth hadn’t/hasn’t yet been discovered, has no validity to it.

I believe in science, so without wanting to fill a currently unknowable space with God, I simply recognise through my own subjective experience that there is a part of myself that is shared with everything else that is and part of this experience appears to operate within a non-physical realm.  The best description I currently have to describe this realm is a Collective Consciousness.

In recognition of everything I have ever experienced or come in contact with, up to this point, I have concluded that on some level it has all been interconnected to everything else that exists and for me, that oneness is an ever-present realness.

Whatever this shared Consciousness is, my attempts are to seek a closer relationship with it.

Yet I am not religious.

I try to keep an open-mind towards that which I have discovered and to that which I am yet to discover.

My message here is quite simple: just think for yourself and follow your own intuition on what feels right for you.

Thanks for reading :)

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