Science and Spirit Forum
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Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2003-03-14 10:45:34
Link to this Comment: 5010
You are warmly welcomed into this forum area for "Science and Spirit"; Sharon Burgmayer and I are very glad you are here. We offer this site as a place for furthering discussion about the various ways in which academic and religious lives may or may not intersect. We hope this forum can provide a common ground for that exploration, and invite all stories you have to share about the multiple ways in which you understand the possibility, or impossibility, of this intersection.
We also welcome here your reactions to essays and conversations you'll find going on elsewhere on this site (the first entry, below, was written in response to the discussion of The Physical and the Spiritual: How to 'Get Through the Veil'"; we are hoping that a range of other, related conversations can continue and be expanded on in this space.
Please think of this as a forum for posing questions, leaving thoughts in progress, and continuing to talk, in a space where others can listen, find our conversations useful in their own explorations of the world, and contribute in turn.
We very much look forward to hearing, and sharing, what you have to say--
Anne Dalke (for myself and Sharon)
|"This I know experimentally"|
Name: Gary C. Fa
Date: 2003-03-14 10:48:57
Link to this Comment: 5011
Prof. Dalke suggested that these comments might further the discussion posted here.
I would encourage short circuiting the 'wandering in the wilderness' that occurs when searches for extensions of physical models to spiritual reality(ies) are made. Some very bad philosophy has been promulgated by trying to base spirituality on or derive it from science. Appeals to quantum mechanics, entropy and evolution are particularly notorious. When in college I was assigned to read charmingly written and very scholarly book called the Meaning of Evolution by George Gaylord Simpson. The mechanisms and evidences of evolution are laid out carefully and at the end an ethics is extracted from them. The claim is then made that because the ethics mirrors the natural world it is a 'natural ethic'. I learned a lot about evolution from this book. I don't think I learned much of anything about ethics.
The problem seems to me twofold. One is trying to justify spirituality, or ethics in the case cited, rather than to model spirituality itself and then use that model to understand the thing. The second is the assumption that the God of Creation is also the God of Salvation. Our monotheist tradition demands this. Our western tradition of integrated truth promotes this. But, it is as far as I can tell ultimately un-provable.
I am convinced of spiritual reality in the world. This convincement is typically that of a scientist: I have experienced it.
There is awestruck wonder in considering creation. There is a deep and profound order to creation with very simple rules. There is magnificent variety to creation with no apparent purpose. There is a great sense of a Magisterium: a sense of that which is greater than I, a sense of that which will go on beyond my time, a sense which will become different and more magisterial as it goes on, a sense of attachment that comes from being able to wrap my head around at least a part of it. "What is man that thou are mindful or him? ... Yet thou has made him only a little lower than the angels!" If Heisenberg is correct ("If you would know the creator, study creation") then surely the Divine is Magisterial.
My experiences of the Divine Presence are necessarily more deep and personal. Therefore, I do not share them except in specific contexts: the affirmation of spiritual experience among others occurs, or where a neophyte seeker needs a final affirmation to make the discovery themselves. My sense is this discussion group is no such context; and, in an academic conversation, which this is, such affirmations too easily degenerate into solipsism if care is not taken. I will say that my experience of the Presence and of the Magisterium feel so much the same that I continue to use Ocam's razor making the simplifying assumption that the Divine is one. And, there is evidence of the God of Salvation all around us in the lives of saints and sinners. There is a child's poem: "Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I, but when the leaves hang trembling the wind is passing by. Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you, but when great oaks bow down their heads the wind is passing through."
It is clear to me that both Ms. Soloman and Prof. Grobstein are struggling with the all too human sense of the ultimate and a lack of solid ground on which to stand in considering it. Whittier said it well "Thou madest man. He knows not why. He feels he was not born to die; for Thou hast made him and Thou art just." If one is to proceed on solid ground, it makes sense to make models of spirituality from spiritual life knowing that some of the models will fail.
Were I considering Ms Soloman's case in a meeting on Ministry and Counsel, I would say that this is no time for theology, formal or historical. Rather, it is time to consider what I call the practical mystics: persons who see God in every day living such as Thomas a Kempis, or Mother Teresa, and of course the writers of Psalms.
Were I in conversation with Prof. Grobstein I would discourage a metaphysical approach to spirituality and encourage consideration of observers of the manifest spiritual condition; for example, William James' 'Variety of Religious Experience'; Harvey Cox's 'Fire From Heaven' and Feast of Fools'. These descriptions of real world spirituality are the very types of handles we academics need in order not feel lost in space when considering the same.
Were I in conversation with myself I would debate being conscious of the omnipresence taking as patterns the gospels, Douglas Steere's 'On Being Present Where You Are', and Thomas Kelly's "Holy Obedience" in 'Testament of Devotion'. As with most people however my day is filled with the details of living and I must be satisfied with contemplating sunsets, including the radiation fields and molecular scattering processes involved; and on conversations unconsciously predicated on how to establish spiritual truth as that which is recognized as the same. Of course if any of us knew how to do this the Templeton Prize would be ours.
|how my religious and academic lives intersect|
Date: 2003-03-18 22:21:12
Link to this Comment: 5074
I can state very simply how my faith life intersects with my academic life.
In the profound suffering I have experienced with this disease - the physical suffering, the denial, alienation, abandonment, facing my own likely death, the pain I unknowning inflicted on my sons, etc. - I experienced incredible mercy from two very unexpected people - my pastor and my doctor. In their remarkable mercy, I caught a glimpse of God's pure love. The experience of their mercy which was rooted in love, made me understand love and made me better able to love. It also made me long for the ultimate face to face meeting with God which will be pure love.
In suffering I found true love and in this love gave meaning to my suffering. I started to be able to understand the Catholic notion of embracing suffering and how suffering can be good. I started to understand the notion of dying in love (complete giving).
My theological studies enabled me to give words to what I was experiencing in my heart.
I know now that much of what I worried about never mattered. The only thing that matters is truth and love. What I do in my teaching is to tell my students the truth and love them. It is that simple.
Am I able to sustain this - no. I lose it nearly every hour, but what is different is that I don't care what people think. I have found some freedom in terrible captivity. I will try every hour if necessary to rededicate myself to bring love to any situation I am in.
I do not succeed, but I try. My faithlife and my disease brought me the insight that impacts on every aspect of my life.
|Correspondence on Irreducibility|
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2004-04-28 10:38:43
Link to this Comment: 9662
This letter by Anna (BMC alum), was part of a correspondence with Anne Dalke, in which they had been discussing the commentary of Diogenes Allen on "Love": "Fundamental to [it] is the loss of self concern...to pay attention to others as separate centers of reality, centers of value in themselves....to love a thing--to see it existing in its own right, to recognize its true worth, the irreducibility of another's reality...the absolute value of everyone, not relative to one's need for them....the independent reality of others..."
"How can a teacher know what it is the student is trying to master?...The student can/does have some role in determining how she wants to grow...Can teachers/students collaborate to support a level of growth that the student defines? . . .
There is conversation I'm eavesdropping on at http://csf. colorado.edu/sine/transcripts where the Dalai Lama, John Taylor Gatto (a recently acquired hero of mine), Ron Miller & Parker Palmer participated in a conference on spirituality in education. Actually, all these "conversations," including the new "How to Get Through the Veil" all seem like one conversation to me.) You might enjoy this particular site.
Anyway, in Gatto's opening remarks he says, "You'll recall the Dalai Lama yesterday said that the goal of Buddhism is happiness...the goal of Christianity has not been happiness except incidently to other purposes." I'm not sure Christ would agree with that, but I do think that much of Christianity as taught by institutions does teach that an individual's happiness/fulfillment is less important than the services being done by that person for others. This mentality is actually one that limits transcenting (un) invested (un)embeddedness (I really need an easer term for this)....
one's that's shorter to write, mostly, and in so doing have been thinking of the "attachment parenting" writings of Dr. Sears & his wife....gurus of breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, wearing the baby, quick response to crying, etc. etc. etc.). They focus on parental behaviors that foster a deep bond, attachment between mother and baby (primarily) so that the mom's responses are almost inseparable from baby's needs/expressions of needs. I just think of it as listening to the baby, really, which is not so different from listening to any other human being given how much we don't/can't comunicate verbally (Grobstein's comments about how much is subconscious fit here).
One idea that is floating through my head is fluid investment or fluid attachment (?)--the idea that you are fully committed to a person or set of people, but that how that investment manifests itself is not tied to one approach or one goal. Maybe dynamic investment is better? I'm just really resistant to the static feeling in uninvested embeddedness. Dynamic investment might, for me, capture the responsiveness of both parties in the relationship--that teachers change as their students change. It also helps me keep the focus on the relationship rather than my responsibility being primary. This is something my husband tries to remind me of: that when I'm struggling w/ a prolonged "stuckness" of [our son] E's: it's not always something that can be affected by me, that he has to learn & grow too.
I think some context for that last thought might help you understand why this idea has really stuck w/ me so deeply & why I'm thinking & writing forweeks at a time. E. falls w/in the autistic spectrum & has been a high maintenance kid. We've managed & mediated his world so much in order to help him be in it, that it's hard to know when to step back or how far. His is not an extreme case, though at earlier points, he has been closer to "true autism" than he is now. A generation or 2 ago he probably would just have been thought of as eccentric--we get a little caught up w/ labels these days, but essentially he doesn't have the best of filters & so he overloads on stimulation that most kids roll w/ pretty well....
Thank you for "How to Get Through the Veil" ! It all dovetails w/ the thinking I've been doing on dynamic attachment and other things I've been reading/thinking lately.
Jeanne-Rachel has probably already stumbled upon Claire Farrer's Living Life's Circle & other anthropological texts. She is in a field termed, I think, ethnoastronomy, where the focus is really on the spiritual as lived by a group in the case of the Mescalero Apache (her group of study) learning how they are shaped by their base metaphor and use of the natural world. . . . She would be an interesting person to bring into your thoughts on uninvested embeddedness since she is really trying to help teachers stay committed to that quality of connected teaching....Huston Smith, The Forgotten Truth seems more than applicable to this discussion/exploration. Also Why Religion Matters by the same author. In the second he states that scientists will only accept that which they can see or prove--it's not self-evident. In faith all is self-evident--it needs no explanation.
The trees have become
suddenly very happy
it is the rain
it is the quick white summer rain
the trees are in motion under it
they are swinging back & forth they are tossing
the heavy blossoms of their heads
they are twisting thier shoulders
even their feet chained to the ground feel good
thin & gleaming
nobody can prove it but any fool can feel it
they are full of eletricity now & the shine isn't just pennies
it pours out from the deepest den
oh pretty trees
may you have many such days
flinging your bodies in silver circles shaking your heads
over the swamps & the pastures
rimming the fields and the long roads hurrying by.
from West Wind
|Looking into mind|
Name: Peter Cock
Date: 2004-11-15 00:23:06
Link to this Comment: 11566
Name: The Founde
Date: 2005-01-22 14:53:39
Link to this Comment: 12157
|an earring catechesis|
Name: Lucy Kerma
Date: 2005-08-12 15:22:38
Link to this Comment: 15885
Date: 2005-08-16 10:00:30
Link to this Comment: 15894
|taking off our clothes--or creating ourselves as w|
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2005-10-01 08:02:29
Link to this Comment: 16401
As part of a larger on-going project of mapping/cleaning up the map that is the site that is Serendip, I tripped, yesterday, upon the recent posts in this forum, and found myself somewhat flabbergasted at the assertion that when a woman takes off all of her adornments ... she is most female.
I am co-teaching, this semester, the core course in the program in Gender and Sexuality, along with Jen Patico, a Haverford colleague in Anthropology. Jen's just put us through a series of classic readings in anthropology, including Sherry Ortner's 1972, "Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?" which attempts to explain the "pan-cultural fact of universal secondary status of women" in her identification w/ something every culture devalues: "nature." In my own riff on that essay, I found myself taking the students back through the work of Satre and de Beauvoir, back through the classic existentialist notions of humans as being defined as transcending...
the natural givens of existence.
As going beyond....
So I'm with Elizabeth here (lovely thought, Elizabeth): that the intersection between the material objects that we chose and the feelings within us that can't be defined... is the place where spirituality lives--or (to quote Appiah quoting Foucault), "we have to create ourselves as a work of art."
Name: L Kerman
Date: 2005-10-02 13:21:12
Link to this Comment: 16412
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2005-10-04 11:22:02
Link to this Comment: 16440
It wasn't "on your account," Lucy, that I was flabbergasted--and I apologize if what I said sounded that personal. It was rather that "your account" provided an occasion for me to think through a little more thoroughly what it means/feels for us to be gendered, what it means/feels for us to be human, and what the relation between the two might means/feel like. Thinking through this a little more (w/ the help of your clarification that you really weren't talking about gender difference at all), what still snags my attention is your assumption that "being human is fundamentally about being an animal."
I don't do fundaments (yep, that's one reason my postings are never self-contained, always linking back, circling 'round to other landscapes) but if I did, I'm not sure I'd say that "animality" is what is most fundamental about us as human beings. Could you say a little more about what you mean by that? That we are bodies? Physical beings? Driven primarily by appetite and need? Drives that are more important/prior/"fundamental" than...any other aspect of us?
I've been doing a lot of work lately w/ the mindfulness practices of Buddhism, which have largely to do with paying attention to bodily based experiences, actually start w/ awareness of the breath and the body....what's really been helpful to me (as someone who has always been driven by her longings, and perpetually dissatisfied with what she gets) is the possibility of revising what I have been accustomed to experiencing as "foundational" to self--my "hungering," which I cannot satisfy--to "breathing"--which I cannot but do. As Mark Epstein says, in Thoughts without a Thinker,
the shift from an appetite-based, spatially conceived self preoccupied with a sense of what is lacking...
to a breath-based, temporally conceived self capable of spontaniety and aliveness...
permits continual surrender into our direct experience, from which we have all become experts at keeping ourselves at bay....
opening up to an authentic appreciation of my actual situation,
not some fantasy of constant gratification that I am compelled to chase after...
Would you call that " fundamentally about being an animal"?
Trying to be one?
Trying not to be one?
Name: L Kerman
Date: 2005-10-04 16:55:19
Link to this Comment: 16443
|no material symbols|
Name: Ann Dixon
Date: 2005-10-05 12:07:56
Link to this Comment: 16451
I am particularly interested in spiritual practices, eg Quakerism, where material objects and symbols in general are laid aside, even spurned, and how that fits in with your ideas about where spirituality lives. Would you say that an idea of a painting is enough for that "reaching towards," that you don't have to actualize the idea? If Sharon's out there lurking on this forum, I would be interested in her and other artists' experiences too.
Name: Sharon Burgmayer
Date: 2005-10-05 20:40:20
Link to this Comment: 16466
I, too, was struck by Elizabeth’s suggestion that a deep feeling or response to a material thing could signal a spiritual experience (of sorts). Since I am someone who (admittedly and somewhat ashamedly!) is probably too attached to material things—especially those deemed beautiful—my guilt could be much assuaged if I could label my response as a spiritual one! But E.’s suggestion is about feelings that can’t be defined, not mere desires, which makes me think that here, ‘spirituality’ is associated with ‘mystery’. That is, the mystery of ourselves, what’s within us that feels important even if words cannot express it. Whether an object or symbol is useful (as per E.) in eliciting a spiritual awareness or not (as per Ann’s Quaker affinities), is not important to prescribe as much as it’s simply important (to me) to have that experience.
It’s an interesting question whether the idea of a painting is sufficient or not to stimulate a spiritual feeling. For me, I think I have two different experiences that might be called spiritual as an image that becomes a painting is born. The inner vision of the image may evoke or correspond to an inner awareness—a revelation of some mystery if you will. But the complete working out of the image almost always adds on to that initial awareness, primarily by adding more detail and bringing what’s been revealed into the stronger light of the consciousness.
Lastly, I can’t help but be curious about what it was about those turquoise studs that captured Lucy’s imagination so much to tempt her to bodily mutilation! And, if those earrings had been clip-ons instead, would they now be in her possession? Or, would they have been less enticingly appealing without the associated requirement of ear-lobe drilling? Was it an awareness of her choice, or reviewing that choice anew, that was exciting?
As for female adornment, or adornment of anything for that matter, I say bring it on. For me, part of the joy of being human is enjoying the sensual interaction with the world, whether visual, tactile, scent-filled, etc. And that can include both bodies naked and embellished.
|spirituality and images|
Date: 2005-10-08 01:10:08
Link to this Comment: 16499
It's been great to listen in on this conversation! Ann, I'm glad that you asked me a question directly and Sharon, it's nice that you were lurking! I've been thinking about the question of images and spirituality. Sharon, I was just at your church last Sunday so maybe that too has caused me to think about this more. As someone who was raised Catholic, my childhood religious experience was highly associated with imagery in ways that were extremely powerful (if not always in positive ways). So, it's always a fascinating experience for me to go to places where imagery is less featured. The reason for this seems to be to make way for a more unadorned spirituality.
Ann, I think that one can achive spirtuality in a variety of ways and my intersection point idea is just how it seems to work for me. When I was at Bryn Mawr Pres., I focused on the light that was reflecting on the wall from the stained glass window at the front of the main chapel. I wasn't really paying attention to words being spoken at the service but looking around a lot and finding "things" to focus my attention on. I looked at people and often turned around to see the faces of the choir members singing in back of me (I know I commented to you before, Sharon, that I really have this desire to see the faces if people who are singing...especially when you were singing) At any rate, I was feeling a bit like Lot's Wife...being gazed at (by others) for always gazing backwards. But, if I could say that I pray (the word pray has so many connotations for me I'm not sure if I can say that I do that anymore), I would say that I pray by looking backwards and forwards and around sometimes and that when I finally focus I can make the journey backwards and forwards within myself. Images to me are vehicles that help me negotiate more internal journeys. Spirituality, for me is, first and foremost internal journey but I don't want to assume it's that way for others. Is it?
All of that said, I too really like unadorned and I think that if we are calling something within us "the spirit" it is really basic and honest and without complications. It's just that in order to be spiritual (and what I'm going to say is why I'm struggling with being religious/spiritual right now) one must negotiate a vast ocean within. I'm sorry that ocean is a cliche but it's the picture I'm getting in my head right now! This ocean may be beautiful and pleasurable and be comprised of a regular rolling of waves and be a simple physical "pool of being" but sometimes it's just really hard to find a way to enter into its space because simple can be unpredictable too and too big and...If we WERE the ocean, made up of just ocean, then it would be no problem just to enter but sometimes we need a boat to hold our bodies as we look within. (I think I believe in an interior notion of spirit rather than an exterior force of "God" but this maybe is another post) That boat for me can be adornment that leads us to the more basic, unadorned "fully male-female-human" state that Lucy was talking about. Can the image itself be spirituality and not a means towards it? I'd probably say yes and argue it in a kind of Greenbergian formalist way...but I'm not sure I'm prepared to do that now. Does anyone else have further ideas about this? So, maybe what I'm striving for or what fellow over-gazers, over-clingers (echoing orah m.), over-lookers, over-symbol makers are actually looking for when they focus their gaze in, around, backwards and forwards is to actually turn into a pillar of salt. If you turn into a pillar of salt, you will be the same material as the ocean, you know. Biologically, we're really not that far off...
My last thought has to do with Sharon's mention of Lucy's moment of ear piercing desire as a desire for mutilation. To this I thought whoa! But she is of course right that to pierce is to mutilate (though that term makes it seem so very extreme). What this made me think of is the extent to which spirituality is linked to pain. I'd describe moments of extreme spirituality as piercing...as deep as something as close to pain as pleasure. What do I mean by extreme spirituality? Here are some examples: jogging and getting to the moment when you feel like you can't go any further, everything feels quiet and nature around you is all perfectly beautiful and suddenly something inside of you strengthens and you feel a rush of something and you can keep going not just a few extra STEPS but a few extra MILES. Another example would be my experience of looking at the flames next to the statue of the Blessed Mother when I was in the junior legion of mary (as a kid). I would focus on them and be kneeling and think that I wanted nothing more than to devote my life to God (at that point God was VERY outside for me and I wanted to do things for this OTHER at the expense of MYSELF...now there is a certain healthy and important narcissism associated with anything spiritual for me). So the deep longing I felt was like pain...and then a sort of pleasure at neglecting myself for another. The final example that I'll give is the in the zone painting moment when NOTHING else matters except the place where you're going to put the red on the canvas and then, when that's done, the trajectory of the jagged line which you haven't even yourself acknowledged is going to go across the canvas in 3 seconds. This is beautiful but also painful because of the intensity of the focus- your body hurts and you've lost contact with the rational world altogether. It hurts because you're working on something that you feel you're not even controling. It hurts because it becomes urgent. That which is urgent, I've found, sometimes carries hurt along with it.
So I don't know if it's right to turn Lucy's experience into symbol in this way but I'm using it as an image for a jumping off point. I believe that effective spirituality must indeed be a type of piercing, a type of mutilation if you will, a disintegration (hurt) and then reintegration (healing). Taking clothes off, then exposing the body to open air. looking and being hurt by looking and looking inward and...Is all this is spirituality or just the process of living?
|actually answering Ann's question???|
Date: 2005-10-08 01:26:41
Link to this Comment: 16500
|strong taste of salt|
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2005-10-09 15:35:08
Link to this Comment: 16503
...in order to be spiritual...one must negotiate a vast ocean within ...sometimes we need a boat to hold our bodies as we look within....So, maybe what I'm striving for ...is to actually turn into a pillar of salt.
striking images, e, for which thanks.
what they evoke for me is, first, the the "oceanic feeling" Freud denied ever having, along with the (counter?)-Buddhist description of thoughts... like the restless waves on the ocean....only watch them from a distance....you expand, and feel open and free. The vast space inside you is no longer emptiness, but peaceful solitude.
From that perspective, the pillar of salt (which I can taste strongly, for I, too, am Lot's Wife) becomes a (fruitless?) attempt to achieve a "reduction," to staunch the flow, to "hold fast" to that...
which will not be fixed.
Name: L Kerman
Date: 2005-10-13 11:35:33
Link to this Comment: 16510
Date: 2005-10-19 00:16:05
Link to this Comment: 16543
There is a desire within me, to allow this forum to rest a bit at this point of unmediated contact. To let it rest, as it were, (and in so much as one person can make the decision for any forum to pause) with Lucy's beautiful description of bringing the sky to her body.
However, I have an urge to post and so I will write once again, briefly (the fact that I am posting being somewhat of an illustration of my point). For me there is definitely “a conscious component, an urge to put words to feeling.” It seems to be part of our unique animality. Consciousness too is animal if we are animal. The desire to feel through words and images is just as strong for me as the desire to feel physical connection with others, nature, to enjoy simple moments of a more pure contact and the feeling through words and images has a conscious component of telling and retelling, seeking and reseeking.
Thinking itself seems to me to be an instinct, a method of survival and a necessary impulse for our species. A loss of language and symbols would, in my opinion not turn us “more” into animals but have the same basic effect as a meteor hitting the earth- it would destroy us as a type of animal. Without the ability to make symbols and seek (you insert the what), we would not continue as a species.
I’m not trying to say that since story-sharing through the generations would not be possible with a loss of language, humans would no longer survive. Rather, I am saying that the absence of a feeling of personal connectedness through stories would make us into something else entirely.
For me, right now (jumping off from what Lucy has said) there seems to be no real distinction between spirituality and animality. Wanting to take and feel the sky is something we can do just as trying to connect through words or through a kiss is something that we do. I am posting this because of a need within my body which is my mind, which is a kiss, which is the sky.
|wait! not yet!|
Name: Sharon Burgmayer
Date: 2005-10-21 23:59:59
Link to this Comment: 16582
Lucy first wondered about experiencing the spiritual as an animal, then Elizabeth reaffirmed a connection between spirituality and animality. Both of these reminded me of a section in “The Seat of the Soul” by Gary Zukav. The main focus of the book is to describe (his view) how humans are evolving from a species that “pursues power based on perceptions of the five senses to a species that pursues a different kind of power”, he calls it authentic power, “based on perceptions of the spirit”. I.e. we are evolving to exercise greater spiritual sensitivity and perception, and the book discusses the various aspects of this kind of spirituality, of which reverence, intention, karma, intuition, are a few. He contrasts this evolution with the spiritual state of animals: “The soul moves through degrees of awareness. Animals do not have individual souls. They have group souls. Each animal is part of a group soul. A group soul is not the same as an individual soul.” … "The group soul, group consciousness) exists at a level of simply energy dynamics, not individual selfhood. That energy is in continual movement. …Instinctual behavior is the way of the group soul.”
From which we may conclude that animals are spiritual as a community. As we may be also. But we differ hugely because of our individual consciousness, our self-awareness. So in response to Lucy’s query: “Is there in spirituality a conscious component, an urge to put words to feeling?” yes, our consciousness and self-awareness are very much tied up in our spiritual experiences. And our consciousness and our understanding is tied to—indeed, is it not dependent on?—language as we negotiate how to “put words to feeling”. Or in images, which some of us vastly prefer(!). And in this context, I really liked Elizabeth’s “…spirituality like imaginative engagement that eventually transcends imagination. To IMAGine is to create images.”
I think there is a difference between human spirituality and animal spirituality. In a way, they (animals) have it easy. They move in their spirit as a matter of course. We find spirituality difficult—to describe, to understand, to communicate—in our individualness. I think some our spiritual experiences are like “animal” spirituality especially when we sense a communion with Nature, with all that Life out there, when we encounter a point where our "difficult" individualness melts away.
Rereading in these postings the the comparison of mystery and spirituality, it strikes me that they are not just related, but that perhaps they are identical. The spiritual is mystery. The mysterious is spiritual. The spiritual experienced in Buddhist meditation that you asked about, Elizabeth, is “no more” than perceiving the internal mystery that is each of us—in fact as you already said, “spirituality is an internal journey”. (Their meditative techniques are the proven route to get there.) They would concur with you too, E. that “effective spirituality must indeed be a type of piercing, a type of mutilation … a disintegration (which is the disintegration of one’s concept of the self) and then reintegration (of one’s experience with reality).
Lastly, I have to make a recommendation here—this is the Science and Spirit Forum after all—for the film “What the bleep do we know?” It’s a terrific collusion of science and the spiritual wherein the reality we think we understand is dissected and challenged by scientists and philosophers and theologians.
|Bodies and Souls|
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2005-10-23 11:26:41
Link to this Comment: 16585
for local folks--there will be a talk this Thursday, Oct. 27, @ 6:15 in the Ely Room at Bryn Mawr, which looks as if it may address some of the questions we've been pursuing here. Paul Bloom, a developmental psychologist and psycholinguist from Yale, is speaking about "Bodies and Souls":
"Evidence from developmental psychology suggests that both children and adults see physical entites such as objects (or bodies) as fundamantally distinct from psychological entities such as minds (or souls). We are natural-born dualists. This has profound implications for our mental life, and helps explain certain surprising facts about art, religion, humor, and morality."
Name: Don Sapatk
Date: 2005-10-26 11:48:13
Link to this Comment: 16632
Date: 2006-01-20 10:30:04
Link to this Comment: 17699
Date: 2006-01-20 10:44:09
Link to this Comment: 17701
|spirit and uncertainty|
Name: debb Harri
Date: 2006-03-01 02:49:33
Link to this Comment: 18412
Date: 2006-08-20 22:26:50
Link to this Comment: 20188
|Focus on your essence|
Date: 2006-10-26 20:10:22
Link to this Comment: 20777
We all must take time to take stock of our very essence, which is our soul. There is an interesting story of a woman being weighed one day at the hospital. She died later that day and they weighed her again. She weighed EXACTLY the same, she did not lose an ounce. The lesson from this is whatever made up her very life, didn't weigh anything. We are not physical beings. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. We get wrapped up in temporal secular things like watching too much TV and the drone of day to day life, and get sucked into the materialism that is all around us. Walking in nature is great for our soul, but also for good physical health and even weight loss if we need it. We still need to take care of our bodies, as they can sometimes be an outward expression of our inner selves. We must never lose sight of our true essence, however.
|fractal electric key to spiritual science|
Name: dan winter
Date: 2007-02-11 02:04:02
Link to this Comment: 21449
Date: 2007-04-26 12:16:16
Link to this Comment: 21705
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