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Thread: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

  1. #11
    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    Quote Originally Posted by Dumuzi View Post
    My opinion is that you should follow the truth no matter what. So it has less to do with these two different concepts and more to do with following what's right. I mean if you're following or believing in something false, does it really matter if you take all of it or just pick parts of it? This is why I believe the bigger question here is, is what I'm following true or not.
    Bolded mine.

    I think that is the crux of many issues when it comes to religion / spirituality. Just what is the truth. For that matter what is religion and what is spirituality? That and the struggle that arises when you consider that to walk in your truth is really a struggle of beliefs for what is right and correct has to be challenged when others claim to be walking n their truth but it is opposed to your own truths. Especially in the capacity if they are correct then how can yours be correct. We say tolerance and acceptance of diversity yet to be truthful how can you be tolerant and accepting of what your own spirituality says is wrong. That is if you are walking in so called truth and belief.

    I personally think religion is normally structured for it is the dogma and bones if you will that guide us. In that capacity we tend to separate the mystical from the mundane I think. All of it being a gateway that directs us to the "Truth". Yet like any mapping system some of us need detailed and highly defined maps to follow with mile markers, sites of interest, way stations, etc as we progress. Because we are so focused upon the trip I believe we tend to look down upon those who appear to be missing something along the way. Of course that appearance is all speculative and judgemental as we observe and compare / contrast how we travel. When you don't follow the dogma and structure you can't arrive at the same destination or conclusion of those who do follow it arrive at. What at some point becomes tradition I suppose and a commonalty of experience's and revelations that unite a group.

    Yet spirituality or the mystical experience I think is where it becomes a certainty or a truth for us as individuals. The culmination of experiences and beliefs that are reached when we've walked the pathway or dogma of our practice and arrive at the conclusion or mystical. Yet being magical or mystical the commonalty of experience and method of revelations allows us to speak about it and have some similar discussion points as it where.

    Is another's pathway right or wrong? Well to be honest if I am truthful and follow my beliefs and spiritual conclusions then the answer has to be yes, they are wrong. But that defeats the current pagan concept of all are right and we have to be both tolerant and accepting of diversity and belief. Which to me in the end means we have to be willing to walk in a lie. For in truth they can't be right if it makes us wrong, and we can't be wrong if it makes them right or our conclusions and beliefs are wrong and fallible.

    But I suppose that is where the idea of religious certainty versus religious exploration really becomes a test of is your belief / spiritual system static, quasi static or quasi dynamic or dynamic?
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  2. #12
    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    I struggle a little bit with this one, because I think that it's far too easy to get into the 'traditionalist vs eclectic' debate without seeing the complex layers underneath it. If I'm being completely honest, I'm very much eclectic and 'pick and choose' in my own spirituality. But like Habbalah, it's not about an easy route. It's about digging through all the tradition that comes with a religion that you are investigating and finding that some of those things really don't agree with your worldview. So what is a person to do when they discover that? Follow the dogma anyway, when they don't truly believe it all? That seems dishonest to me. Ditch the whole thing and move on to the next thing, hoping that one day something will be exactly perfect? I'm far too cynical to believe that I'll ever find a 'perfect' existing match for my worldview (NT comes as close as I've ever found, but it in itself is a recently created 'religion', created by people like me). So I piece things together from different sources to create a cohesive personal spiritual path that works for me while being sensitive to the original sources of said pieces.

    My issue is that I see a lot of people picking and choosing on a very superficial level. Some of them are newbies that just are just starting out, and haven't had a chance to get to the deeper understanding of why they are choosing/discarding certain things. But some of them are long term practitioners (it's very common in neo-Wicca and New Age circles from what I've seen). This I don't like, particularly when they promote it to newbies. I actually am not against picking-and-choosing... I'm against doing it just 'because'. Because why? It doesn't 'feel right'? That in itself is a tricky one, because maybe that's the only way that person knows how to explain the fact that they've done the research and have come to this conclusion. But maybe it's what they've been taught to say through the social conditioning of eclectic New Agers telling them to do whatever they like as long as it 'feels right'. And that's how we end up with plastic shamans and the ignorant but innocent people who inadvertently perpetuate culturally appropriative or insulting practices.

    I generally really dislike the 'because it feels right' phrase... but that's because it doesn't actually tell me anything about the person, their practice or their understanding of their practice. Now if Thalassa or MonSno came over to me and said 'I do this because it feels right'... I've seen enough of their eloquent and detailed posts about their spirituality to safely assume that this was not a superficial decision, or that if it was, it's got enough foundation under it to stand up in a close examination. But if someone I've never met (including the online forum version of 'met'... you all know what I mean ) says it... it makes me not want to take them seriously. WHY does it 'just feel right'? Why does that other thing NOT feel right? How do you pick and choose in a manner that is respectful to the places you're picking and choosing from?

    And on the flip side of that, religiously certain people who follow dogma rarely actually follow dogma down to the letter with no exceptions. Which I actually think is perfectly okay. I don't mind it when my Christian friends don't do certain things that they're supposed to do (or do things they're not supposed to do), because there's usually a reason or it's usually something that is clearly not relevant to their worldview. However, I DO mind it when people who purport to follow dogma (but actually pick and choose) denigrate people who pick and choose. Because it's okay for them to pick and choose, but not for the rest of us? I equally dislike it when people who clearly pick and choose denigrate other people who pick in choose... which is why I walk such a fine line with this debate... I'm dangerously close to being one of those people myself.

    I think it's the layers underneath the debate that's important, because it's not quite as simple as dogma vs pick'n'mix.

  3. #13
    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    Think about this in the Christian path,eclectic is why today we have Methodist,Baptist,and all the other evolved parts of Christianity. Seems very common in Abrahamic paths..reformed Jews,Orthodox Jews..you see my point I think. Spiritual things grow,and change(some lock into Dogma)..and everyone argues what is truth.
    Truth in the spiritual aspect In my mind it what fits YOU,because when you really come down to where the rubber meets the road,it is the person and their connected life with their beliefs that integrate themselves with the spiritual.
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    I kinda have an off reason for feeling so strongly in favor of fundamentalism I guess. In my particular belief system, I get hate a lot from certain religious groups (cough cough you know which ones). And I feel that if I'm going to get crap and hate and bigotry from a believer, I guess I want that person to not be wishy washy in their reasons. I'd hate to find out I was aggravated by someone who doesn't have a firm grasp of the religion they are using as a reason for that aggravation. It would piss me the hell off.
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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    Quote Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
    I kinda have an off reason for feeling so strongly in favor of fundamentalism I guess. In my particular belief system, I get hate a lot from certain religious groups (cough cough you know which ones). And I feel that if I'm going to get crap and hate and bigotry from a believer, I guess I want that person to not be wishy washy in their reasons. I'd hate to find out I was aggravated by someone who doesn't have a firm grasp of the religion they are using as a reason for that aggravation. It would piss me the hell off.
    I actually agree. And I'm cynical enough to think that this is actually the case for a lot of people... they discriminate against other beliefs but actually don't have a firm understanding of the 'why' behind their own, let alone anyone else's.

    Sometimes I think the distinction is not so much 'religious certainty vs religious exploration' or 'dogma vs eclectic', but 'blind following vs understanding'. The implication of our discussions so far is that religious certainty is equal to following blindly no matter what, which isn't actually true in all cases. It's possible to be dogmatic and understand and truly grasp everything you believe and do. And it's possible to explore and be eclectic without actually understanding anything... a 'blindly following' sort of eclecticism is not uncommon in paganism.

  6. #16
    Moderator Azvanna's Avatar
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    The 'cafeteria' style religion is something my denomination is pretty intolerant of. I'd like to see a little more open-mindedness in this as there are many Christian denominations with conflicting views, but all believing they have the correct revelation.

    IMO, the benefits of following a tradition to the T is that there is a framework from which to work within for people who are learning the skill of exploration.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post
    My issue is that I see a lot of people picking and choosing on a very superficial level. Some of them are newbies that just are just starting out, and haven't had a chance to get to the deeper understanding of why they are choosing/discarding certain things.
    This is a problem because if someone is going to discard a teaching because it doesn't feel right or good, then there's a chance some of the benefit of practice is lost. In matters of self-discipline, sometimes an outside source is required to ensure coherence. It may not be til well after the fact that the reward is shown. If there wasn't already an experience or framework there to let you know the pay-off is worth it, would you still make the choice to follow through? Isn't it interesting that self-discipline has come up twice. I wonder if that's a reflection on Western culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by monsno_leedra View Post

    I personally think religion is normally structured for it is the dogma and bones if you will that guide us. In that capacity we tend to separate the mystical from the mundane I think. All of it being a gateway that directs us to the "Truth". Yet like any mapping system some of us need detailed and highly defined maps to follow with mile markers, sites of interest, way stations, etc as we progress.
    This is pretty much what I mean by 'framework'

    The other benefit of following a tradition is the sense of community and belonging. A sense of belonging can help a person to take risks and the community can provide a place for people to live out their faith inspired principles. Living out your principles is the way you find out what's true and what isn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by monsno_leedra View Post
    ...Which to me in the end means we have to be willing to walk in a lie.
    WOW. I loved this. Because this is where true/false becomes irrelevant. How does what you're living impact your life and the lives of those around you? Is it making so much of a difference that you would be totally fine to be wrong? There's more to any faith than being correct/incorrect.

  7. #17
    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    Quote Originally Posted by Azvanna View Post
    WOW. I loved this. Because this is where true/false becomes irrelevant. How does what you're living impact your life and the lives of those around you? Is it making so much of a difference that you would be totally fine to be wrong? There's more to any faith than being correct/incorrect.
    This. Ten times over.

    I actually don't see religion about 'Truth' at all. Or even spirituality for that matter. Because I don't think that any of us actually know (or CAN know) the Truth. The closest we can get is what sings to our personal worldview. Is that Truth? Maybe a Personal Truth, but I think calling it that sets up a mental framework for other people's Personal Truths to be wrong, at least in your own mind.

    I think we can all learn from each other. I don't think there is 'truth' or 'wrong' in religion... it's all just us trying to make sense of the world(s) and what our place within it(them) is.

    And if I'm wrong... well that's okay. Because being wrong means that I have something to learn and a place to grow into.

  8. #18
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    My guide to right and wrong is "Does this make you a better person?"

    Now that's a pretty subjective question because what I call "a better person" may not be the same as what someone else calls "a better person," and I'm semi-OK with that because different people are in different circumstances and have different histories so what they need to be better is going to be different.

    So my rule for determining "better" is that it can't use circular reasoning - "even though it seems that I am becoming a worse oerson, I am becoming a better person by doing this because the teaching I am following says this is what a better person is."

    That and "practice painful self honesty." The easiest one to lie to is always ourself because we always want to believe that we are perfect.
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    When speaking about religion there is no truth. There is faith, understanding, principal, myth and belief but there is no truth. That is a statement with absolutes which is always controversial but in my studies I have found very little truth in religion and even the bits of truth are shrouded in myth and (mis) understanding.
    It is easy for me to separate my religion from the science of the universe. The science explains reality as we understand it today while religion has myth to explain why things are the way they are today. Science explains how things work and the physical side of life while religion deals with the spiritual side of life.
    You can explore religion and spirituality in many ways but finding truth in religion is rarely successful.

  10. #20
    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: Religious certainty vs. religious exploration

    If I study a beautiful sunset,it may install within my deeper self a sense of the divine,but as you said,not truth. Truth is and always will be a very personal level of consciousness and understanding,and may never mesh with others sense of truth. My truth sustains me,and for my life and connection to the divine is enough for me. Truth and happiness are always ones own personal vision of the heaven you search after and you hope for after death.
    MAGIC is MAGIC,black OR white or even blood RED

    all i ever wanted was a normal life and love.
    NO TERF EVER WE belong Too.
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