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Thread: What's a religion?

  1. #21
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    Re: What's a religion?

    Religion, for me, is the expression of an individual or a group identity and or worldview.
    I was Hadad2008 when I joined Feb 2008.
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  2. #22
    Nihilistic Goddess Medusa's Avatar
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    Re: What's a religion?

    Sometimes (read often) religion is the thing we put the blame on for how we act.
    Satan is my spirit animal

  3. #23
    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: What's a religion?

    I would have to agree Medusa,many people seem to use religion as their reason,(the devil made me do it) and perhaps consider their God as only a way to get a "get out of hell free card"
    MAGIC is MAGIC,black OR white or even blood RED

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  4. #24
    Newbie Lavender Rose's Avatar
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    Re: What's a religion?

    I would have to say that, for me, a religion is an organised following; usually with strict rules and guidelines that thousands if not millions follow, together on the same path.

    Faith, however, is your own personal, educated choices. It is what you feel inside, what you believe without seeing it in front of you. Faith can be anything from deity to a chosen leader; it can also be having faith in oneself. Or both!

    I am Wiccan and I believe in the Lord and Lady, in many many forms, as well as spirit guides, nature, reincarnation as well as myself! Faith has gotten me through many a turmoil, many a time, heck its getting me through right now in certain situations.

    But ultimately, religion, for many, is where they go when they need a boost, when they feel lonely, when they feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, when they have messed up or done something wrong, when they are sad, when they need to feel loved.
    Whereas, faith is something that is in us, all day, every day, no matter what we're feeling that day. The most successful people don't get anywhere in life through simply praying; but combine prayer, magick, whichever is your preference with your own hard work and determination; you've cooked a recipe for success. After all, going to church doesn't make you a better or more successful person any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

    Whatever your religion, I feel that we need faith in what we say we believe in, faith in who we pray to, faith in ourselves. And I think that with the combination of the two, we can all achieve.

  5. #25
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    Re: What's a religion?

    Hi and Merry Meet --

    To explain (my definition of) Religion, i need to begin with another (and one of my favorite) word-concepts: Numinous.

    I. Numinous –
    In the book, “Contact”, author Carl Sagan has his heroine, a scientist in charge of the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrrestrial Intelligence) Program , contemplating the meaning of spirituality one day, and she says to her boyfriend:

    "...The theologians seemed to have recognized a special, nonrational aspect of the feeling of sacred or holy. They call it "Numinous". The term was first used by....Rudolph Otto in a book called, "The Idea of the Holy." He believed that humans were predisposed to detect and revere the Numinous; He called it, "The Mysterium Tremendum"....
    In the Presence of the Mysterium Tremendum, people feel utterly insignificant but not personally alienated....and the human response to it as "absolute astonishment."

    Now if that's what religious people talk about when they use words like sacred or holy, i'm with them. I felt something like that in just listening for a signal [from outer space proving intelligent life] never mind in actually receiving it. I think all of science elicits that sense of awe....

    "...I think the bureaucratic religions try to institutionalize your perception of the Numinous, instead of providing the means so you can perceive the Numinous directly - like looking through a six-inch telescope.

    If sensing the Numinous is at the heart of religion, who's more religious would you say -- the people who follow the bureaucratic religions, or the people who teach themselves science?"

    Then her boyfriend replies:

    "Let's see if I've got this straight...it's a lazy Saturday afternoon, and there's this couple lying in bed reading the Encyclopedia Britannica to each other, arguing about whether the Andromeda Galaxy is more numinous than the Resurrection. Do they know how to have a good time or don't they?"

    (Carl Sagan, “Contact” p 159)

    This – a personal, first-hand experience of the Numinous -- is what most religions were originally about – contacting the Numinous directly, personally, immediately.

    Here’s a wonderful example of an experience of the Numinous – (What is also called in Psychology, a “Peak Experience”) -- by Jean Houston, in her wonderful book, “A Mythic Life” (which I strongly recommend!). – The incident takes place when she is but six years old:

    “Sitting there, drowsy and unfocused, I must in my innocence have unwittingly tapped into the appropriate spiritual doorway, for suddenly the key turned the door.to the universe opened. Nothing changed in my outward perceptions. There were no visions, no sprays of golden light, certainly no appearances by the Virgin Mary. The world remained as it had been.

    Yet everything around me, including myself, moved into meaning. Everything became part of a single Unity, a glorious symphonic resonance in which every part of the universe was a part of and illuminated every other part, and I knew that in some way it all worked together and was very good. (

    My mind dropped its shutters. I was no longer just a little local ''I;' Jean Houston age six, sitting on a windowsill in Brooklyn in the 1940S. I had awakened to a consciousness that spanned centuries and was on intimate terms with the universe.

    Everything mattered. Nothing was alien or irrelevant or distant. The farthest star was right next door, and the deepest mystery was mystically seen. It seemed as if I knew everything, as if I was everything. Everything-the fig tree, the plane in the 1sky, the pups in the closet, the planets, Joey Mangiabella's ribs, Linda Darnell, the Atcheson, Topeka, and the Santa Fe Railroad, Uncle Henry (the black porter who took care of me on the train across the country), the little boy fishing in the lake who waved to me 'on the train when I was crossing Kansas, the chipped paint on the ceiling, the mind of God, the Virgin Mary, my Nana's special stuffed artichokes, my Mary Jane shoes, galaxies, pencil stubs, my father's typewriter, the silky ears of corn in a Texas cornfield, my Dick and Jane reader, and all the music that ever was—

    -- Was in a state of resonance and of the most immense and ecstatic kinship. I was in a universe of friendship and fellow feeling, a companionable universe filled with interwoven presence and the dance of life. This went on forever, but it was actually only about two seconds, for the plane had moved only slightly across the sky.

    Somewhere downstairs a door slammed, and my father entered the house laughing. Instantly, the whole universe joined in. Great roars of hilarity sounded
    from sun to sun. Field mice tittered, and so did angels and rainbows. Laughter
    enlivened every atom and every star until I saw a universe of inspirited and spiraled . joy, not unlike the one I read of years later when Dante describes his great vision in paradise, "D'el riso d'el universo" (the joy that spins the universe). This was a knowledge of the way everything worked. It worked through love and joy and the utter interpenetration and union of everything with the All That Is…..”
    (Jean Houston, “A Mythic Life”, pp 64-65)
    Well, that is what Spirituality and Religion are supposed to offer us – But unfortunately, (many) religions became burdened by and with leaders who thought the way to ensure that everyone experienced the Numinous, was to instill rules and dogma around it; which of course are actually antithetical to and destructive of the experience. In fact, they only serve to remove people further and further from the actual experience of the Numinous!

    So the heart of spiritual experience was (and remains) this immediate, intimate, personal, profound, “Peak Experience” of the Numinous.
    And that is the heart and soul of Wicca.

    Thus, we both seek and avoid slipping back into that luxurious sense of Unity with All that Is, with the Source ....

    THIS is (partly) what's at the heart of religion: It is this desire/ effort to SAFELY let go of our lonely isolation and individuality, to re-join or re-absorb back into what many Theologians and Psychologists call "the Ground of Being", at will.

    And this is also (partly) what's at the heart of ritual: We find a way to SAFELY let go of our separateness for the time being, we slip back into the "Oceanic Oneness' with All-That-Is, and then return to our everyday identities, to be enriched by the experience rather than blasted or overwhelmed by it.




    II. NUMINOUS, SPIRITUALITY and RELIGION

    1. "Spirituality" is (imo) the culturally determined ways in which we seek and evoke the numinous.

    2. Religion: literally means "re linking"; Now has come to mean institutionalized, formalized expressions of spirituality. IMO, it is yet another step removed from the Numinous, and usually includes such things as:

    a. Specific institutionally supported and transmitted:
    - myths, symbols, expectations, norms, conformity of belief and behavior and sanctions to reward "correct" behavior and punish "wrong" behavior;

    b . statements, creeds or manifestos of belief/ practice;

    c. institutionally administered rites

    d. formal and informal authority and power structures, and ways of transmitting that authority and power to others.


    Relligion is usually a very powerful influence on culture and society.


    I hope that's helpful -- Blessed Be ~ GaiaDianne

  6. #26
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    Re: What's a religion?

    It's a thing that you say that you have or that others have that may or may not have things that you are supposed to do or not do, and you may or may not follow those rules, but you saying that you or another are a part of it may be enough for you to belong.
    "Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children." - Khalil Gibran

  7. #27
    Sr. Member Louisvillian's Avatar
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    Re: What's a religion?

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    What do you think a religion is?
    The confluence of ritualistic behaviour and a philosophy or worldview. The latter is how one sees the world. The former is how one behaves in relation to the world, informed by the latter.
    This is deliberately broad. It does not have to be spiritual. It does not have to involve gods. It does not have to involve prayer or magic or anything numinous. It can be a great many things.

  8. #28
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    Re: What's a religion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tylluan Penry View Post
    From the Latin re-ligare : to reconnect with the divine.
    Maybe.
    That's what I was going to write It's what it means to me. I prefer the word religion to spirituality as the latter concerns the spirit but my religious practice encompasses body, soul, mind, and spirit alike.

    Religion is seen as very negative by some people; I think it's because they confuse it with "organised religion".

  9. #29
    mattkaru
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    Re: What's a religion?

    Quote Originally Posted by GaiaDianne View Post
    Hi and Merry Meet --

    To explain (my definition of) Religion, i need to begin with another (and one of my favorite) word-concepts: Numinous.
    I didn't quote the entire post to save space but I just had to say that it was wonderful. I think I have always reached at this concept without knowing its name but reading through your post filled my chest up with joy.

    I think religion is the attempt at connecting with the divine, like others have said, in a way that gives significant leeway in expecting answers. Scientists or atheists and those who believe in the spiritual and divine approach the same thing (the Numinous, as GaiaDianne described) but do so in different ways. Unfortunately, religion can take this too far and claim to have specially derived answers. It's really about a balance between doubt and faith, a balance that is constantly asking to be pulled too far in one direction or the other.

  10. #30
    Sr. Member Witcher's Avatar
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    Re: What's a religion?

    I'm perfectly comfortable with traditional definitions for religion like this one from an online dictionary:

    re·li·gion
       [ri-lij-uhn]
    noun
    1.
    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    I also don't hold much truck with the ideas that say systems like Buddhism are not religions. There is a fabulous work on Buddhism in Sri Lanka called The Work of Kings that covers the work of the infamous reformist monk Dharmapala and his ideas on a sort of "Philosophical Buddhism" divorced from ritualistic and "folk" practices that he wanted to implement to make it more Western. Buddhism is called, in many Theravada countries, a "sasana" which can really only be translated as "religion" and when translators who wanted to push Dharmapala's ideas and the ideas of Western groups such as the Theosophical Society tried to translate "Buddhism is not a religion" into Sinhalese it met with laughable results in textbooks and popular literature in Sri Lanka. Even if Buddhism does not have a central prime mover that never dies (it can't without contradicting the Buddha's teachings on anatta and anicca) it still contains countless supernatural ideas such as gods, samsara, karma, rebirth, and the Buddhist scriptures contain countless stories of magical powers gained from higher meditative states, even though it is true that these were discouraged. Buddhism may have philosophical aspects but then again so does Christianity, but no one would say that Aquinas' philosophy is divorce-able from Christian religious preachments. The famous book The Three Pillars of Zen contains an enlightening interview in it with a Zen master and a Western convert. The convert dismisses the supernatural claims of Buddhism and even denies some of the miracles associated with the Buddha's birth to the Zen master. The very philosophical-minded Zen masters has no kind words to respond to this and shoots it down hard.

    As to atheism, that's not a religion. Religion and worldview are not complete synonyms. The definition in my dictionary for atheism simply states "lack of a belief in a god or higher being." Atheism is not a religion but LaVeyan Satanism is. Atheism is not a religion but Theravada Buddhism is. There is a difference. I think a lot of religious people want to label atheism a religion so that the playing field is more even in their eyes.
    "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." -1 Samuel 15:23

    "Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman." -Terry Pratchett

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