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Mon Apr 15, 2019, 02:36 PM

This Believer's Choice: Spiritual Discipline versus Doctrinal Orthodoxy

I believe there exists a power, spiritual in nature, greater than my sensorium enables me to fully comprehend or even describe, and this Power I choose to call Divine.

The most interesting, important, and fulfilling aspect of my life is exploring the nature of this Power through every means I can employ, and consciously making myself into the image and expression of this Power as my understanding evolves.

I think that's about the only thing I, as a believer, have in common with those who profess various religious faiths: We all desire to express That Which is Divine in how we live, how we act, and the choices we make.

The differences begin where doctrinal orthodoxy stands.

I cannot believe that the Divine Source, as I understand a Power invested in a creation vast and complex beyond the ability of human comprehension, gives a rat's ass what I wear.

Or what I eat.

Or what words I use in my attempts to connect with Divinity.

Or even what I call it- Divinity, Power Greater, Presence, etc.

Or who I marry.

One of the hardest challenges for me over the years, as I've sought to explore the nature of the Divine, has been finding ways to integrate understanding of the Infinite into a finite awareness. It's all very well to say that the Divine is All, and All is Divine, etc., but acknowledging the infinity of the divine landscape still leaves me, as an individual believer with the question of just how much, and in which directions, I can map that landscape.

For me, the response to that challenge has come in the form of spiritual disciplines- self-imposed requirements and boundaries that reveal smaller areas of the landscape in greater detail. And, incidentally, act a bit like physical disciplines in terms of building skills and strengths.

Some of these disciplines have been part of my life for decades. Others have been embraced for a period, then discarded. I try to find new and deeper ways to map the divine landscape and expand my understanding on a regular basis.

I am not describing any of them. They work for me, or not. It's an individual thing. A personal thing between me and the divine Source of my being. Some of them would look quite orthodox to a person who professes one or another religious doctrine.

But I don't practice those disciplines because of any doctrine, nor yet because I believe the Power Greater than my comprehension "wants" me to practice them.

I practice them because they increase my sense of connection with the Divine, and/or they help me express That Which is Divine in my own life. No other reason or purpose. And only I, and my awareness of, and love for, the Power Greater that moves me, can judge the success of my efforts.

This is frustrating. There is no human spiritual authority that can validate my efforts, and sometimes I wish there was.

Sometimes I wish the Divine came with an instruction manual, and all I need to do is follow it.

But my understanding is that there are as many instruction manuals as there are believers who share my striving towards Divine expression, and while some parts of every other instruction manual may illuminate my quest, none of them is "my" instruction manual. I, and my Divine Source, have the lifelong task of compiling my own, by every means we can.

Which means study of, and borrowings from, others' manuals, including testing of what does and doesn't work in each one examined, in the context of my understanding and my circumstances in connection with That Which is divine. And the embrace of various practices of spiritual discipline. And the constant review of what we've already compiled, with constant amendments, reworkings, and glosses.

It's not easy.

And I'm not very good at it.

In fact, I'm pretty lousy at it.

But that awareness helps me understand the choice of believers who embrace doctrinal orthodoxy. It's a bit like addiction treatment and successful recovery-- some things seem to work pretty well for many if not most of those who aspire thereto, and that may be enough.

Me, I keep trying.

In the faith that whether at some point the "I" who is me here and now ever gets to step back and see a bigger part of the Divine Landscape or not, it's still worth doing.

And in the certainty that I am not alone.

contemplatively,
Bright


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Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
Reply This Believer's Choice: Spiritual Discipline versus Doctrinal Orthodoxy (Original post)
TygrBright Apr 2019 OP
trotsky Apr 2019 #1
TygrBright Apr 2019 #2
trotsky Apr 2019 #3
TygrBright Apr 2019 #4
trotsky Apr 2019 #5
TygrBright Apr 2019 #6
Karadeniz Apr 2019 #7
trotsky Apr 2019 #12
Karadeniz Apr 2019 #15
trotsky Apr 2019 #16
Karadeniz Apr 2019 #8
TygrBright Apr 2019 #10
guillaumeb Apr 2019 #9
TygrBright Apr 2019 #11
edhopper Apr 2019 #13
TygrBright Apr 2019 #14

Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 02:48 PM

1. You might not get the feeling that your "divine source" cares what you wear, eat, etc.

But some people feel just as strongly that their "divine source" cares quite deeply about those things.

They feel just as strongly as you do about your quest. They have wildly different answers though.

Personally, I think we'd all be better off if we stopped trying to figure out what some "divine source" wanted and just focused on what helps people. Why add that extra layer? Doing so only gives everyone something to fight about.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 02:51 PM

2. Thank you. I appreciate your insights and your willingness to share them.

And I find illumination and value in many of the things you share.

appreciatively,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 03:17 PM

3. Please understand that your response can be taken as an insulting brush-off.

Perhaps you intended it that way, perhaps you didn't. Or perhaps your divine source thought my concerns should be dismissed. I'll never know. And that's the problem.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 03:24 PM

4. No, I didn't intend it that way.

I've appreciated your posts and responses many times in this forum.

While in other forums and on other topics I can do "insulting brush-off" with the best (I fear) I never do that in this forum.

What I wrote was (I hoped) appreciation for your comment.

Your posts DO often illuminate, and I frequently value them. You are a thoughtful and articulate writer and participant in this forum.

But I do understand that "insulting brush-off" is often used here, and particularly when posters have generally differing viewpoints and opinions, and I probably should have been more sensitive to that and clearer in my response.

amicably,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 03:47 PM

5. So where does that leave discussion?

Or is discussion just supposed to be a series of posts back and forth acknowledging and appreciating a person's perspective and thoughts?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 04:18 PM

6. Discussion may have different meanings for different people?

For me, "discussion" means "learning as much as possible".

That's particularly important in areas where there are no objectively verifiable facts, such as personal beliefs.

But the more I learn about others, what they do or don't believe, and why, the more I learn about myself and my own beliefs, and the more those beliefs evolve.

To me it's worthwhile, and I'm always appreciative of those who engage.

thoughtfully,
Bright

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Response to trotsky (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 06:34 PM

7. Helping others is the Way. That's enough.

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Response to Karadeniz (Reply #7)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 08:37 AM

12. According to some, yes.

Others think differently, and if they anchor their beliefs using the "divine," then their beliefs are exactly as justified as yours.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #12)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 08:15 PM

15. Depends on where they got their information...first or second hand.

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Response to Karadeniz (Reply #15)

Wed Apr 17, 2019, 08:39 AM

16. And how can you tell?

Are you able to determine whether god has spoken to someone directly?

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 07:50 PM

8. Dear Bright,

You actually know all you need to know. If you can locate a post, maybe within the past two weeks, which asked if anyone had had a near death experience, I replied with the start of my own experience. The whole thing is too long and bizarre, but I know what I learned, I know it was real, and I know to recognize when someone is on the right track. You are.

Religion really doesn't matter and can sometimes be obstructive. Jesus' parables taught reincarnation and karma, but try telling that to a Christian. The heart of Christianity is perfecting the soul so it qualifies for advancement up the god system (which is also tackled in the parables), not having faith which qualifies your soul to be saved by another. It's up to the individual soul to progress and a huge part of that development is helping others, which Jesus overtly insisted upon, but which many ignore.

You mentioned that food, etc. wasn't important. Well, keeping yourself healthy is, but I know what you mean. Add to your list of what is unimportant to the soul: human physical features, focusing on genitals. The soul itself is pure energy. It doesn't have eyes, legs, or sex organs. There is no soul judgment as to where or with whom one has sexual relations. Love is love, lust is lust. Heterosexuals lusting after one another is just as earthly as homosexuals lusting for one another. Heterosexual lust isn't divinely sanctioned. The Source energy has never seen or experienced a penis in all its existence, so how could it be important to it? One's sexual behavior is earthly; soul couldn't care less.

Tamum!

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Response to Karadeniz (Reply #8)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 12:24 AM

10. We are on the same journey, but each path is unique.

Thank you for sharing some of yours.

I cannot belong to a 'congregation' of people who all profess a doctrine. But I am always uplifted at the reminder of the larger communion of seekers who are willing to support one another and share.

appreciatively,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 09:21 PM

9. Recommended.

Your path is, from my experience, similar to that taken by many people of faith.

We live and, with luck, learn.

And, we try to not judge others who take different paths.

And when we fail, we try again.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #9)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 12:27 AM

11. Someone very wise gave me this:

The definition of "courage" is very close to the definition of "persistence."

We keep trying.

Willing to be fools for the experience.

gratefully,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 09:22 AM

13. I understand your views on your faith

do you accept the possibility that this feeling of the Divine might be internal and not correspond with anything real?

I know you believe that is not the case. But have you given that consideration?

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Response to edhopper (Reply #13)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 10:08 AM

14. Certainly I accept that possibility.

Without doubt, there is no faith.

Without darkness, there can be no light.

philosophically,
Bright

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