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Big Klu

Why are you in (that) religion?

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I'm currently 3 because of 1.

I was raised Christian (Protestant, Methodist to be completely accurate) and I liked my church all right, I liked the teachings for the most part, and was marginally satisfied by it. But as I went on in life, I found that it just didn't feel *natural* to me, that it felt like I was still missing something. So I "converted" to Paganism. I still don't define, directly, any one path or another (for example, I am not devoutly Wiccan but that's probably the closest description) and I still make an effort to learn as much as I can about all kinds of religions, both Pagan and Monotheistic. Really my spiritual path is a mish-mash of all sorts of things- a little from here, a little from there... whatever fits.

Really, the pastor that I had at church during the time I was going through confirmation described it the best and probably planted the seed that lead to my abandonment (not entire, though) of the Christian faith. He said that faith is sort of like going on a shopping trip. You take an item from the shelf, you examine it, decide if it's really going to fit into your life, whether it's something you need or something you want, and some things you put in your basket- others, you leave on the shelf. I liked that description immensely. :D

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A trenchant analysis of factors driving religious choice Klu.

I was raised Southern Baptist but never bought in, and I spent a number of formative years dealing with the emotional fallout from that. It's scary when you know from a young age that you do not accept the worldview of your parents. I saw the psychic damage religion could do - the neuroses created by religion - and it made me angry that the people who claimed to find peace in Jesus were so psychologically dysfunctional and un-self-aware. They psychically damaged their kids, and their kids didn't get psychologically healthy until they put a lot of geographical and emotional distance between themselves and their parents. Still saddens me today, especially now that I know more about the relationship between thought, emotion, behavior, and religion. Ultimately I believe that man created God in man's own image, and have been influenced by the works of philosopher Bertrand Russell, specifically his essay, "Why I am not a Christian."

For a few years I saw this psychiatrist who charged me a cut rate for spiritual and psychological instruction who had himself studied under influential Buddhist author and monk Chogyam Trungpa. During our sessions he would take me though these thought experiments and analyze my dreams. I can't remember any examples because it was so long ago, but it was extremely instructive, and I learned a lot about myself during the process.

I am not sure what I believe about reincarnation, and that is probably the key factor driving my ambivalence toward Buddhism.

Anyway Trungpa was instrumental in "translating" buddhism for the Western world and in creating Naropa University. I'm not a practicing Buddhist because I"m too much of a scientist, but Buddhism is the soundest philosophical path I have encountered and the one that I would choose were I to embark on such a journey. I highly recommend Trungpa's books for people interested in Buddhism, starting with "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism."

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I guess we do. :huh:

Thanks Manders! I really appreciate the sweet words!!! We're pretty cool if you take the time to get to know us. :D

My FIERY WITCH!!! HEY sugar! I have MISSED you!

:cheer:

SO good to "see" you again!

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Why be careful? :huh:

I agree. WTF?

Oh well. I guess we're supposed to put a hex on the Mormon or something...

Nah, that's all right. I actually really like the Temple. And Salt Lake City is a very pleasant town! ;)

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If it includes the likes of death row inmates, Osama bin Laden, George Bush, and Dick Cheney then surely it also includes my fellow LZ.com posters, wouldn't ya think? ^_^ The fact that I playfully flip people guff on a message board doesn't mean I don't feel loving kindness and compassion for them. Fwiw,.. there's not a person you can think of in all the history of mankind for whom I wouldn't be able to generate a genuine sense of loving kindness and compassion. ;)

Feeling loving kindness for those whom we like and already hold in positive regard isn't very challenging, but generating loving kindness and compassion for those we don't hold in positive regard or those who are vile and violent,.. now that's a challenge! It's a challenge that requires an open heart and a willingness and ability to see beyond the deeds and to recognize the suffering that leads that person to act violently/harmfully toward others. From a Buddhist perspective we also consider the future suffering (in this lifetime and/or future lifetimes) that such a person is bringing upon him/herself through their acts of harming others, and we feel compassion for them in that regard (no one escapes their karma, ya know? ;) ).

I'm pretty sure that every human who is capable of feeling empathy is also capable of feeling "loving kindness and compassion" for others if the mood strikes them...Wouldn't it be cool if that was more than lip service though and you could indeed "know them by their fruits"?

Strangely in my experience it's always the humble, the struggling and doubting who seem to get closest to living what their religion teaches while those who pride themselves on their religious convictions are usually a far cry from living what they preach....ya know? ;):hippy:

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My FIERY WITCH!!! HEY sugar! I have MISSED you!

:cheer:

SO good to "see" you again!

HEY SWEETHEART! I missed you like crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shoot me a PM girlie....we have LOTS of catching up to do.

For the record, just like you I am absolutely fascinated to learn about various religions. I have friends from all several different religious beliefs and I often take the time to exchange information with them. I have nothing but respect for another person's personal beliefs and all I ask for is the same amount of respect.

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HEY SWEETHEART! I missed you like crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shoot me a PM girlie....we have LOTS of catching up to do.

Will do! Probably later on... was just checking in quick this morning before getting ready for work.

I have nothing but respect for another person's personal beliefs and all I ask for is the same amount of respect.

Exactly. And don't you find that that's a really hard concept for MANY people to get, regardless of their spiritual path? It boggles my mind, personally- especially regarding people who have converted from one belief system to another.

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Exactly. And don't you find that that's a really hard concept for MANY people to get, regardless of their spiritual path? It boggles my mind, personally- especially regarding people who have converted from one belief system to another.

Alot of people fail to keep an open mind and respectful attitude of other's viewpoints in general, but especially when it has to do with religious beliefs. I'm certainly not perfect, but I try to keep an open mind on things and I'm always happy to clear up any misconceptions about the spirtual path I choose.

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"This is my simple religion, There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." - The Dali Lama

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I would like to add The 4th option called Common Sense with Reasoning

One need not gaze afar, nor think further than our own selves. Think about the faculties of hearing, sight and the pound of soft matter at the top. Is it any wonder, that there an Architect behind all these plain old (yet sophisticated) abilities.....

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Family sorta pagan, went to a Catholic school, grandparents Catholic, but I'm an Atheist with personal beliefs. And never been happier.

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"This is my simple religion, There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." - The Dali Lama

That's wonderful!

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That's wonderful!
Thanks Kisses ! I have my own personal path, maybe some would call it "pagan spirituality" and I won't bore everyone with the deatails, but the Golden Rule is a big part of it. Being kind to others, helping those that need help, not just being good, but DOING good....

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I consider surfing to be deeply spiritual and somewhat religious in nature. And those who don't understand that will just have to live with it and take my word for it. There's something about it that just releases me and my pain when I have it. It's better than sex. Just a complete spiritual experience that clenses the soul and leaves room for more to come.

Music has the same effect on me, music has effected me emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. Many events during my life intertwine with the music I was listening to at the time. One example the night my mother passed on Stairway was on the radio when I received the call.Another example- When I was young, dumb and violent I was arrested for an assault which Flying High Again was pumping through the speakers the song was at this exact spot when the cop cuffed me.

Momma's gonna worry

I been a bad bad boy

No use sayin' sorry

It's something that I enjoy

These and hundreds of other moments and events have been musically influenced.

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I would like to add The 4th option called Common Sense with Reasoning

Like the saying I just invented goes: 'common sense is rarely common.'

My big common sense question is with churches and temples

.

Historically they are all heavily ornate and impressive. Seems to me a doctrine should have been adopted at some point that kept the structures modest. Gilded trim and painted artwork smacks of human vanity and ego rather than divine inspiration. I'm surprised no influential guy ever put that into motion.

I suppose that huge Buddhas and stainedglass windows would be part of the shock and awe of converting the heathens or keeping the congregation in line. Especailly weird that Buddhism is rife with symbolism in spite of its heavy emphasis on philosophy. Christianity not so much, because its based on a story book (<---as in a collection of moral stories in a book; no negative implications meant) so you would want pics and symbols to go with the stories.

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I started going to Catholic school in 3rd grade, so I switched to Catholic (was baptized Episcopal, but my parents weren't especially seriously religious). I guess that would fall under Societal/Community Influence. I'm just sort of agnostic now. I don't mind being identified as Catholic, but it wouldn't really do to call myself one since I haven't gone to Mass since I graduated from high school, plus I was never confirmed (wasn't sure about things and still aren't, not to mention the kids from my church who were taking confirmation classes at that time were complete dipshits, and I didn't want to do it with them).

I live by the rule do what you want as long as it's not hurting yourself or others, with the addition of what Bilbo said about doing good and not just being good. So far I haven't been able to find any flaws with that. And I do believe in some sort of higher power, but a less personal one than most Christians visualize.

Edited by Footsteps of Dawn

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Like the saying I just invented goes: 'common sense is rarely common.'

My big common sense question is with churches and temples

.

Historically they are all heavily ornate and impressive. Seems to me a doctrine should have been adopted at some point that kept the structures modest. Gilded trim and painted artwork smacks of human vanity and ego rather than divine inspiration. I'm surprised no influential guy ever put that into motion.

I suppose that huge Buddhas and stainedglass windows would be part of the shock and awe of converting the heathens or keeping the congregation in line. Especailly weird that Buddhism is rife with symbolism in spite of its heavy emphasis on philosophy. Christianity not so much, because its based on a story book (<---as in a collection of moral stories in a book; no negative implications meant) so you would want pics and symbols to go with the stories.

Who's going to want to join a church where they get to pray in a leaky hut?

Christianity is evangelical. We're supposed to convert people to the Word of God. Many Cathedrals were built to show how great Christianity is (for better or worse) but it also shows the beauty of Gods relationship with man

But thats just me talking. If you really want to know why cathedrals are so grand ask Michelangelo

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^ A Nice church is also a common front for money laundering the public. Nice place means nice people right? I've seen it happen dozens of times.

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Who's going to want to join a church where they get to pray in a leaky hut?

Because the message is more important than the building?

And why is your argument that the only two choices would be a Reims Cathedral or a leaky hut?? There is middle ground.

Christianity is evangelical. We're supposed to convert people to the Word of God. Many Cathedrals were built to show how great Christianity is (for better or worse) but it also shows the beauty of Gods relationship with man

Buildings aren't the word of God. And since any secular structure can and has been made beautiful, I dont see how 'gods relationship with man' is exclusive or even warranted in this way.

But thats just me talking. If you really want to know why cathedrals are so grand ask Michelangelo

To be fair...

I didnt ask why cathedrals are grand, I asked why are they made to be grand.

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Who's going to want to join a church where they get to pray in a leaky hut?

*Raises hand*

That would be me.

Well wait... actually, no need for the hut. I very much enjoy praying in the rain. Or in the sun, or in the dark, or in the snow...

And I can't imagine maintaining a faith where you're SUPPOSED to pray indoors.

Just to offer another viewpoint.

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What religion forces people to pray, period? Does someone stand over and you and demand you begin muttering something to the Almighty? Even when I was in school (Catholic school, no less), if you didn't want to pray, you didn't have to. You just sat there quietly. The same went for when we had chapel on Wednesdays. If you didn't want to participate, it wasn't required. Partly because forcing people to participate is crude and partly because not everyone that attended the school was Catholic, and making them do things that are not part of their religious tenets is also crude.

Edited by Electrophile

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Excellent point, Electrophile. I couldn't agree more.

I think that's part of why I always kind of felt uncomfortable in church. Those moments where you're supposed to pray silently. I always kind of stood there with my head bowed and thought about... well, whatever. I have always prayed when I felt like praying, and not prayed when I didn't. Seems weird to impose it on anyone.

And really, just the "rigid" setup of a church service anyway. You pray, you sing, you read parts of the bible, you sing, you offer, you pray, you listen to a sermon, you sing again, you pray, then you leave. It was honestly pretty boring and predictable after awhile. I don't know how people go every single week- and what's more, I don't know how people go every week and actually get something out of it each time they go. That's amazing to me.

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I'm pretty sure that every human who is capable of feeling empathy is also capable of feeling "loving kindness and compassion" for others if the mood strikes them...

Even if a person is 'capable of feeling empathy', it likely takes more than simply 'being struck by the mood' in order to be able to feel genuine loving kindness and compassion for a person who's done particularly heinous things to others. It seems to me it would require both the ability to feel empathy and a conscious decision to not let one's own negative emotions, impulses, and judgments serve as a barrier to feeling loving kindness and compassion for that person.

You're surely capable of feeling empathy, Fuzzy, but could you feel genuine loving kindness and compassion for a terrorist.. a rapist.. or a serial killer.. simply as a matter of 'being struck by the mood'? Would simply 'being struck by the mood' enable you to overcome your own negative emotions, impulses, and judgments such that you could feel genuine loving kindness and compass for say.. a serial killer pedophile? Would your sense of loving kindness and compassion for that heinous harm-doer outlast you 'being struck by the mood' to regard him that way?

:whistling:

The challenge (for Buddhists anyway) is to be able generate a sense of genuine loving kindness and compassion for all beings regardless of one's own transient mood and regardless of the deeds or misdeeds of others.. rather than feeling loving kindness and compassion merely "if the mood strikes". Personally I certainly do find that to be a challenge. I can always get there eventually, but it definitely requires a conscious decision to not let my own negative emotions, impulses, judgments.. and mood.. get in the way.

;)

Wouldn't it be cool if that was more than lip service though and you could indeed "know them by their fruits"?

Why do "their fruits" have to enter into it? Why not simply value generating loving

kindness and compassion for all beings regardless of their fruits or anything else?

Wouldn't it be cool if people everywhere were committed to generating a sense of loving kindness and compassion for ALL beings for no other reason than simply out of recognition that we ALL experience suffering and we all* want to free from suffering?

*except for Klu.. who likes a wee bit of suffering every now and again. ^_^

Strangely in my experience it's always the humble, the struggling and doubting who seem to get closest to living what their religion teaches while those who pride themselves on their religious convictions are usually a far cry from living what they preach....ya know? ;):hippy:

I'm not so sure that "struggling and doubting" corresponds to 'getting the closest to living

what one's religion teaches', but as far as being humble goes I'd tend to agree with you.

It seems to me it requires a sense of humility to be able to feel genuine empathy, compassion, and kindness for others,.. especially for those who seem to be the least deserving of peoples' kindness and compassion. And conversely, pride can certainly be a barrier to feeling genuine kindness and compassion for others.. or, speaking more to your point,.. to 'living in accordance with one's religious convictions'.

Having said that,.. it's not a 'black or white/all or none', issue; there's quite a range in which people have varying amounts of both humility and pride. Show me someone who never loses their sense of humility and who's completely emptied themself of personal pride and I'll show you a buddha (or a saint, if you prefer). For most of the rest of us, fostering an ever-deepening sense of humility and keeping our sense of personal pride in check (if not emptying ourselves of pride altogether) is an ongoing endeavor. And for others there's no such endeavor at all.

ya know. ;)

-----

*Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche* tells this story

about loving kindness, compassion, and.. pride:

One time in Tibet Patrül Rinpoche was teaching in Kham at the Kahthok Monastery, and he was teaching the people there about the importance of meditating on loving-kindness and compassion. There was a monk attending the teachings, a student of Patrül Rinpoche's, who was very prideful and thought that he didn't need to meditate on loving-kindness and compassion. He thought that he already knew about that.

The student said to Patrül Rinpoche, "This loving-kindness and compassion stuff is really easy. I already know all about it and it's not going to be a problem for me to meditate on it." Patrül Rinpoche said, "Well you should be careful and not be so prideful, because when you meet up with your enemy, you will find out how well you can cultivate loving-kindness and compassion. That will be the real indication of how much loving-kindness you have."

One day this monk was meditating by a stupa made of stone to the east of the Kahthok Monastery, with his shawl over his head. He was meditating on loving-kindness and compassion. He wasn't looking at any particular thing but just letting his eyes kind of flutter about.

Patrül Rinpoche always dressed very humbly and made himself out to be an ordinary person, so when Patrül Rinpoche arrived on the scene it was very hard to tell that he was a lama or anything like that. He came to the stupa and began circumambulating it.

The monk continued meditating in the same way and Patrül Rinpoche approached the monk in a very respectful manner with his hands folded and said, "Oh, venerable one, what are you meditating on?" The monk didn't recognize Patrül Rinpoche as being a lama. He said, "I'm meditating on loving-kindness and compassion." Patrül Rinpoche folded his hands and said, "Oh, how wonderful," and continued on his circumambulation.

When he came around for another lap around the stupa, he stopped and bowed down with his folded hands and said, "Venerable one, what are you doing?" "I'm meditating on loving-kindness and compassion". "Oh, how wonderful!" said Patrül Rinpoche before resuming his circumambulation of the stupa.

He came around for his third lap and stopped again and said, "Oh, venerable one, what are you doing?" The monk gruffly replied, "Why are you bothering me? You've asked me for the third time now, I'm meditating on loving-kindness and compassion!" When the monk got angry in this way it made him open his eyes wide and look clearly, and he suddenly recognized Patrül Rinpoche's face.

Patrül Rinpoche said to him, "Is that what your loving-kindness and compassion is like?"

-----------

:hippy:

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Even if a person is 'capable of feeling empathy', it likely takes more than simply 'being struck by the mood' in order to be able to feel genuine loving kindness and compassion for a person who's done particularly heinous things to others. It seems to me it would require both the ability to feel empathy and a conscious decision to not let one's own negative emotions, impulses, and judgments serve as a barrier to feeling loving kindness and compassion for that person.

You're surely capable of feeling empathy, Fuzzy, but could you feel genuine loving kindness and compassion for a terrorist.. a rapist.. or a serial killer.. simply as a matter of 'being struck by the mood'? Would simply 'being struck by the mood' enable you to overcome your own negative emotions, impulses, and judgments such that you could feel genuine loving kindness and compass for say.. a serial killer pedophile? Would your sense of loving kindness and compassion for that heinous harm-doer outlast you 'being struck by the mood' to regard him that way?

:whistling:

The challenge (for Buddhists anyway) is to be able generate a sense of genuine loving kindness and compassion for all beings regardless of one's own transient mood and regardless of the deeds or misdeeds of others.. rather than feeling loving kindness and compassion merely "if the mood strikes". Personally I certainly do find that to be a challenge. I can always get there eventually, but it definitely requires a conscious decision to not let my own negative emotions, impulses, judgments.. and mood.. get in the way.

;)

Again - that's the same for everybody. And as long as people's acts don't mirror their "genuine feelings" I have my doubts about how "genuine" those feelings are.

Why do "their fruits" have to enter into it? Why not simply value generating loving

kindness and compassion for all beings regardless of their fruits or anything else?

Sorry, that was a quote from the bible which you don't seem to be familiar with. "Thou shallst know them by their fruits" means you will know the true believers by their acts and behaviour (not by what they claim they feel), i.e. what I meant was that I'd be much more impressed by your buddhist believes if I hadn't been so surprised by your claims at "generating genuine love and compession" in view of some of your rather spiteful posts on here.

Wouldn't it be cool if people everywhere were committed to generating a sense of loving kindness and compassion for ALL beings for no other reason than simply out of recognition that we ALL experience suffering and we all* want to free from suffering?

Why not start with something less ambitious and e.g. show some genuine respect to your fellow posters - regardless of whether you like them and their attitude or not?

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