Spirituality .. where should I start?

Submitted by wings on
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Hi,

I admit it, I am deeply entrenched in the illusion that my world view is rational. However, I also recognize that I should do and read anything if it broadens my horizont and makes me happier.

I am a complete newbie, so bear with me. I have some questions about spirituality:

What do I need to know about spirituality? Can it make me happier? Is it something you either "have" or "don't have"? Do you have to "believe" 100%? Is it religious? Where should I start?

Those questions may be hard to answer, I don't know, but it's a starting point for me.

Any advice is appreciated!

What a question!

What you're doing right now is exactly the right thing. Just start asking questions...and don't be surprised where the questions come from.

As for a recipe...each of us could tell you our own...and it would probably be a waste of time because your path will be unique to you.

I will venture to say that I, too, was a skeptic. I therefore found it helpful to play with techniques and "test" them. One of my early favorites was a book called "Creative Visualization" by Shakti Gawain. I actually did some of the goofy-sounding exercises in it...and amazingly, they worked. That opened my mind a lot...and I could never again get it to completely slam shut. Wink Eventually, however, I realized spiritual work is not really about "getting." It's about "giving," or service to the world, forgiveness, and alignment with a larger flow.

Other people start with meditation, prayer, healing life trauma...there's no one way. It would be fun to hear how it goes, which ever way your path goes.

What she said

I sometimes think of spirituality as anything that taps into parts of your mind or being that aren't rational. Even biologically speaking, you have a part of your brain that can think rationally, but there's lots of other parts of it, too. If you only try things that seem to make complete rational sense, you're only using a small percentage of your potential capacity.

So, I don't think you have to believe anything in order to start. Just start playing around with things and see what happens. Just because something works for someone else doesn't mean it's right for you. The only warning I would give is to steer clear of any kind of spiritual teacher or establishment that seems very driven by money or power or seems intolerant of other ways of thinking or controlling of its adherents.

Makes sense

[quote=Amari]I sometimes think of spirituality as anything that taps into parts of your mind or being that aren't rational. Even biologically speaking, you have a part of your brain that can think rationally, but there's lots of other parts of it, too. If you only try things that seem to make complete rational sense, you're only using a small percentage of your potential capacity.[/quote]

That makes sense to me. That spirituality is necessary in order to fully address the parts of the brain that aren't just rational (which, of course, means that if you're not open to spirituality, you're not really in touch with all the apects of your mind. Maybe that's not even possible.)

Checking in...

Just wanted to let you know that this thing is starting to grow on me.

There are a lot of good things about letting go of rationality. The idea that you can have a set of rules that do not come from the people around you (society), but from someone above you, is quite appealing to me.

For me, it is obvious that religion, Christianity in particular, uses a psychological mechanism to make it work, namely the Father figure. This isn't a bad thing, actually, it is an easy entrance for my rational mind into spirituality. The idea that someone above you, who is not in the flesh but eternal, is the one you're answering to, can make you free. It frees you from all the petty thoughts of day to day life. This idea is one that I am exploring these days.

more later!

another thing..

For a spiritual newbie like me, it seems obvious to take on a whole new terminology of religion. A new start requires a new terminology.

But after thinking about it, why should I look around for something new, when I have a true-and-tested spirituality right at my fingertips, ie. christianity? Of course I will have to make it my own, but that seems much easier than making up my own stuff. Christianity is plenty alien to me anyway.

So, what do you think about that idea? Doesn't christianity, in its simplest, non-organised form, contain all the elements I need for my own spirituality?

Also, it makes it a lot easier to talk to others about it. It's a lot easier for others to understand what I'm on about if I talk about God instead of "the all-encompassing eternal Goddess of Flowery Hair and Fleshless Innocence." (No offense to anyone who believes in Her, though :) )

FYI, there's an ecellent

FYI, there's an ecellent article in this month's National Geographic on the present-day Chrisitan Exodus from the holy land. Also examples of how some Christians are taking on the role of being mediators between Jews and Muslims. Yes, I believe the simplest teachings of Christ would be perfectly sufficient as a beginning place for a spiritual path, tho I prefer the Bohn and Mahayana Tibetan Buddhist lineage. Their approach can be crystal-clear rational while retaining the warmth of compassion.

Great questions, thanks for

Great questions, thanks for bringing them up. I have a lot to say on this topic but luckily will be prevented from making a long post as I am about a day behind in work due to the fact that I spent most of yesterday posting here.

To sum it up, I would say that spirituality in most forms uses the heart's intelligence primarily to navigate through life. As such, the book "The Heartmath Solution" might be just the right introduction for you, as it is based in the science of the heart, gives practical advice, and is not written in esoteric terms.

I have a whole list of other beloved illuminated texts that I could reccomend that have led me through life, but they may or may not be appropariate for you.

The website Sacred Texts is a good place to peruse if you want an overview of many of the world's spiritual traditions: http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/index.htm.

God

Wings, I agree that if you were raised in a Christian environment, that language will always hold power with you that other "languages" won't. (Though unfortunately, often that power is negative because of bad experiences, so people find other, neutral things, like westerners getting into Buddhism... which, I think is a good thing, not just because I believe Buddhism has a lot to offer and does so in a more clear way with less baggage, but also because the "language" can still grow on you and go deep. Very deep.)

I was raised Buddhist, but I believe the Truth is universal and beyond individual religions. I use the word "God" and "divine" a lot because sometimes that's the word that makes the most sense in a certain context, but I don't believe in the Christian god. I believe in God as the manifestation of the divine love that anybody, ANYBODY can sense if they open their hearts. It stops being about belief when you experience it for yourself, and there are many ways to get this experience, many techniques. Find the one that works for you!

Here's another thing that might help you on your journey, and that's the idea that you're a part of everything. The universe is so much larger, so much more glorious than your small self could ever be, and yet the love you feel from it is personal. God, the creator of the universe, is right there ready to hear your prayers. It's about surrender because once you surrender, you give up the fight... a fight that nobody has ever won anyway, and that's true freedom.

Mind and Life Institute

Hey Tantra et all, check out this site, it looks cool. Its mission is: "To establish mutually respectful working collaboration and research partnerships between modern science and Buddhism — two of the world's most fruitful traditions for understanding the nature of reality and promoting human well-being."

www.mindandlife.org

Mind and Life

Looks interesting. Thanks! Though my path is to experience it all directly, it's good to see that parallel to my path, science will also advance. In my opinion, it's exactly the right direction. Buddhism retains the fruit of some of the deepest studies of the human mind ever done, and because it was done experientially rather than scientifically, it went deeper. Now, having gone so deep, we can back up and start the analysis. It's a great model!

A universal element

found in the traditions , both ancient[vedic, kabalic, rosicrucian...] and modern[scientology, mystic christianity, eckankar, urantia book...] is the stillness practice. I have my own ideas but will stick with how it is usually presented.

Our intuition is our link. To use it, we quiet the mind of the thoughts that pour through with copious vigor. Most beginners try to stop the thoughts. Big error in judgement here. Simply by judging thoughts to be undesireable will create a no win contest pitting your mind against itself. Think of the mind as a turning wheel and now you are just going to let it coast to a stop. A thought comes in the right side, let it drift through, out the left. Even if it is a hideous thought, let it flow through without judgement. Eventually your mind will come to rest. Then your wonderful and surprising intuition is available. It takes practice. only ten to twenty minutes per day.
they are your thoughts do not run from them.
This is enough for now.
timely question.
Luke