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Old 04-06-2018, 09:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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secular wonder and awe


This might be a good place for a thread about godless "spirit"uality. I put spirit in quotation marks because it could be misleading. This is what I mean:

I found myself meditating in early recovery, reading about mindful recovery, got into some Buddhist practices, and through these and other (SMART, RR, AA briefly, Refuge Recovery, Shambhala, shamanic breathing, MBSR...) practices, especially the cultivation of gratitude, found myself developing a kind of secular but "magical" wonder and awe of nature, reality, Earth, the spheres...

Maybe I sound a little crazy, but I'm curious about how folks who think of themselves as secular tap into the mystery of life and the world. I don't believe in god, at least not in a traditional sense, but I feel like worship and gratitude are kind of wired into my DNA, perhaps due to epigenetics. I have an urge for ritual, but I have to create my own because so many others just seem groundless and silly.

Anyway, if any of this resonates, it might be fun to discuss...
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Old 04-06-2018, 11:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Interesting, I kinda felt that wonder and awe too. It took a while, but after maybe 6 weeks I found myself thinking in ways I hadn't thought in many years. I got some books on complexity theory, and spent a lot of time thinking about just *how* the first spark of life might have been lit. Walks took on meaning, I heard and smelled and saw things better and differently, it sorta scared me a bit because I felt like I was on some different plane. I chalked it up to a brain that was working and sensing normally for the first time in years, and to the fact that I had a lot of free time and energy (I was off work and in an IOP).

I don't personally believe in a god, but there are great mysteries in the universe that I'm sure I'll never understand. I'm a scientist, and we kinda get trained to just live with that, work on the things we might be able to understand and leave the other stuff to some future generation. But there's something much bigger and deeper going on.
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Old 04-07-2018, 01:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great topic! I actually believe science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive, which I understand classifies my views as "secular" by most religious people and "crazy" by most atheists.

Anyway I'll probably be back later to post some obnoxious links
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Old 04-07-2018, 09:43 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't believe in a traditional God but I do believe that we are part of something higher.
When I feel a bit unhinged or down, I like to go to a big body of water, I always felt a connection to the river and the Ocean.
Sitting and even talking quietly to the water makes me feel connected to the earth and the universe and always bring me tremendous peace.

Aside from my connection to the water, I think one of the big secular wonder for me is that we are made of Stardust.
This is pretty awesome

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/...ce-ngbooktalk/
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Old 04-07-2018, 10:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Carlotta: Yes, stardust. That thought alone should jerk us out of any bout of boredom.

Cosima: I'm down with obnoxious links, but then, links are in the eye of the beholder.

Jeffrey: I can relate. I've often compared early sobriety for me as a light dimmer slowly getting turned brighter and brighter. For a while, everything was too intense, a roller coaster of anxiety, but with time the (star) dust has settled and the intensity has mellowed into a calm wow.

I sense that a regular meditation practice has contributed to this. Early on I scoffed at the thought of a higher power, and I still don't see it that way. Not one with conscious volition, anyway. But this life thing is pretty damn baffling and awesome.

There's a great book by the Dalai Lama called The Universe in a Single Atom about the similarities between traditional Buddhist views of reality and quantum physics. From a more concrete (not sure if that's the appropriate word) perspective, we eat from the Earth and we are returned to the Earth (even if we're pickled, I suppose). We consume it and it consumes us. It's another way of looking at oneness. And then stardust reminds us that Earth is created by and one with the spheres.

In meditation, I have glimpses of this unity, when the ego lets go and the larger picture seems accessible. As animals we need ego, and we need to tend to the body, but there are other ways to perceive reality. I don't think it's coincidence that so many acidheads from my generation took up meditation. Guys like Richard Alpern/Ram Dass. I don't advocate the use of psychedelics, but I get the connection.

In recent years, when I go to festivals and witness a similar vibe - young people experimenting with DMT or mushrooms - I sense a parallel. Only the music is Shpongle or Tipper instead of Grateful Dead. I get concerned, though, because there is also too much weed, alcohol, and worse... It's a slippery slope.

But I digress. I still love festivals, and the longer I'm sober the more I appreciate dancing while I'm NOT high. I feel more authentic. It's the real me. Grounded, enthused, ecstatic, connected. Wonder and awe...

Looking forward to summer, more time outdoors, good music, and dancing. In a sense, I feel like recovery means tapping into our sense of wonder, about gratitude and appreciation for our lives and the gift of experience - without substances - perceived with clean and pure senses - no need or desire for anything more or different - accepting reality - loving reality - not fighting it - welcoming it - not pushing it away - embracing it - beyond good or bad - beyond judgement. This is what life is like...
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Old 04-07-2018, 02:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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In sobriety I've long been interested in examining those ideas which exist at a point where science and spirituality meet. I think this was best expressed by Einstein who remarked that he wanted to understand Gods thoughts.

One of the better things I've found in this regard is this talk buy a former student of Steven Hawking, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d4ugppcRUE&t=173s (who, I am now quite sure, has a different perspective on things).
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Old 04-07-2018, 07:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Ok obnoxious links as promised.. A lot of it is very lengthy and overly complicated so I wouldn't recommend most of these unless you're really bored. And as with everything take it with a grain of salt.

The Universe

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepa...b_2992746.html

Consciousness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrcWntw9juM&t=292s

Sacred Geometry

SACRED GEOMETRY ?THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE UNIVERSE - Awareness of Nothing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoqTNpok6zw

Religion (sorry to bring in astrology as it can kind of be a dogmatic "religion" of its own, but this video is what got me into it in the first place)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJSpujHhaGQ&t=727s

Addiction and Transcendence as Altered States of Consciousness

http://www.atpweb.org/jtparchive/trps-26-94-01-001.pdf

Book Recommendation: Reality Is Not What It Seems by Carlo Rovelli

Full disclosure my interest in these subjects- minus the last two- was sparked during my drinking days. Throw in some stimulants (adderall) and I was really walking a fine line there between "enlightenment" and insanity. I'm now able to laugh at some of it (and myself) but am happy to report the interest is still very much there for me sober.
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Old 04-07-2018, 08:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for that list Cosima, I am not working and have the evening to myself so I am going to be exploring LOL

One thing I would like to share with the group is
Cave of Forgotten Dreams

This is an absolutely beautiful documentary and watching it made me think a lot about what it means to be human.

Enjoy

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Old 04-08-2018, 08:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for the links. Really busy with a class, but I'll come back to these...
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Old 04-08-2018, 12:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I've never been a religious person, I wasn't raised with religion and have not sought to remedy that as an adult. I never really put that much thought into back when I used to drink and party all the time. In the last year, since putting a cork in it, I've started to wonder more about these kinds of questions. I still don't believe in a god who listens and judges and grants wishes, but I have started to believe in a great creator or architect. It's all just too coherent and there is too much symmetry and balance for it to be random. I've spent a lot of time geeking out on documentaries about the mysteries of the universe and sub-atomic particles and the space and time. I find it all fascinating. I think whatever "it" is, it's beyond what our human minds can comprehend. Sometimes I think it must come from outside space and time, for it to have created them.

It's a miracle that we are alive, here on planet Earth, that we are conscious and aware. And what a time in history to be alive! The changes I've seen just in my brief lifetime are amazing. I think with technology and science moving the way they are, we are going to get a lot of answers to some of these questions.
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Old 04-08-2018, 06:09 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Hmm... Tap into the cosmos.

I just take comfort in the fact that there is so much that is yet to be known.
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Old 04-09-2018, 01:47 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I probably should've removed my first link under sacred geometry.. picked it because there's a long list of videos to choose from but didn't realize there were so many God references. But I suppose it's all open to interpretation... Also funny how they attribute gender to different shapes lol. Was the first "form" of creation a circle or a square? Depends on who you ask I guess.

Personally I'm a proponent of the idea that "god" is within. Not that one person is inherently more powerful than all others, quite the opposite. We all have the power to create our own realities to an extent but the fact remains we are a part of the collective as well.

I've had some "weird experiences" (not alcohol or drug induced) that have led me to believe in things such as telepathy, precognition, "signs" from the universe, even spirits as crazy as that sounds. So I'm very comfortable with the idea that we're spiritual beings but still don't subscribe to a religious god point of view.
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Old 04-11-2018, 06:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I waiver between atheist and agnostic. (Oh the irony that I am now employed by a Christian organization!! We do good things, so I guess that is all that really matters about that!!) I usually roll my eyes at discussions about "spirituality". However, I have found many of the things mentioned in this thread to be very interesting, especially the quote about everything coming from the earth and ending up there.

As an aside, I love to collect beach glass. For those who don't know, it is pieces of broken bottles or other glass that is tossed around the ocean until it is opaque. I think it is beautiful and always found it to be perfect circle. Glass is made from sand, sand comes from the ocean where it is turned into glass by man and then discarded into the ocean. It turns into "beach glass" which I love to collect, but if left in the ocean long enough, it just turns back into sand.
I guess you can say the same thing about man.

I have never spent much time thinking about these "heady" topics, perhaps because I was always high and I just didn't care. I'm not sure, but now I am finding it interesting. I don't really have much to contribute to this discussion other than that, so keep it up guys!!! It is some interesting stuff!!
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:06 PM   #14 (permalink)
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It's an interesting topic for sure.
When I first started trying to get sober, I went to AA and I also had a therapist who was a 12 step advocate. I tried so hard to be spiritual but just couldn't.
I tried to be less cynical, was more open to talking to people I had previously spurned and tried to focus on people's good points.
But I don't do that anymore-my tolerance for ignorance is lower than it ever was.

Do people feel they have the "God shaped hole", as I've heard it called?
An emptiness where they either had faith or where they feel they should have faith? It was something I wondered but concluded I personally do not have such an emptiness. But I never did have a god (despite growing up in Catholic Ireland), so I guess there was never anything there to lose.

Anyway, cool topic.
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:49 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Eric, I looked up god shaped hole out of curiosity. The explanation I read was we all have a hole in our hearts that only god can fill - nothing else will do is the idea. I say, right, uh-huh, wutev...

Some Buddhist types believe in a core of "basic goodness," presumably in the heart or gut. Similar idea in a way; they just don't call it god. They also talk about faith, but it's more like trust, a trust that things are as they are, that nothing is permanent, and thus we can experience fearlessness. Or something like that.

But no, I don't feel I have a god shaped hole, and I don't feel empty. If god is in there, I hope it's comfortable. Regardless, I ain't praying to no hole no how.
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Old 04-14-2018, 03:28 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Do people feel they have the "God shaped hole", as I've heard it called?
An emptiness where they either had faith or where they feel they should have faith?
I personally believe in God but I think the 'God shaped hole' can also be described as a feeling of emptiness if you feel that life is meaningless. IMO this feeling of emptiness comes down to the question: do the things that really matter to us, our values, purposes, feelings and relationships, really exist or are they really no more than brain synaptic activity. That is, is reality fundamentally mind-like in some way or is it physical.

In philosophy, this is the debate between the philosophy of idealism, which takes consciousness as an irreducible constituent of reality and of materialism. Idealism does not necessarily involve a belief in God. The Buddhist concept of Nirvana as bliss suggests a mind-like ultimate reality although there is no conception of God.
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Old 04-14-2018, 09:21 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I personally believe in God but I think the 'God shaped hole' can also be described as a feeling of emptiness if you feel that life is meaningless. IMO this feeling of emptiness comes down to the question: do the things that really matter to us, our values, purposes, feelings and relationships, really exist or are they really no more than brain synaptic activity. That is, is reality fundamentally mind-like in some way or is it physical.
When it comes to existentialism, metaphysics, phenomenology and all questions regarding the existence of god, the corporeal world, and/or consciousness, I take a very practical approach. Whether "the things that really matter to us" exist or not ultimately doesn't matter. Our experience is our experience, our emotions our emotions, our thoughts our thoughts, our sensations our sensations... If I place my hand on a hot stove I will have to deal with the consequences whether I or the stove are real or not. For now, at least, that's how it seems to work.

Thus, when it comes to "filling the hole," life can be both full and meaningless. Or perhaps more accurately, we are able to create fulfilling meaning out of our experience even if it is ultimately meaningless. Little things matter. A friendly gesture. Kindness. Good food...

I don't have to "know" anything and yet I am still able to have a full heart. Sometimes the not knowing fills the heart even more. Tears well from the heart when it spills over, what Trungpa Rinpoche called The Genuine Heart of Sadness, the simultaneous joy, relief, tragedy, and sorrow of impermanence. Indeed, he would argue the hole is and has always been full; we just have to recognize it.
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Old 04-16-2018, 02:36 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Whether "the things that really matter to us" exist or not ultimately doesn't matter. Our experience is our experience, our emotions our emotions, our thoughts our thoughts, our sensations our sensations...
Although I think it is true to say that our experience does exist. We all start in our knowing from experience and it's therefore reasonable to think that experience can't be eliminated or reduced to a material explanation such as neurons firing in the brain.

So I can never say there aren't any experiences. Sounds, sights, colours and feelings and thoughts, everything in our consciousness which perhaps other people never know about in the same way that we know about them, are I think are features of reality. They are features of the world.

Consciousness is what we are most immediately aware of. The problem is, is there anything else?!
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:11 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Consciousness is what we are most immediately aware of. The problem is, is there anything else?!
Question, maybe. Problem? Only if we make it one, no?
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:22 AM   #20 (permalink)
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OK, question then.

Just to clarify, I wasn't querying the existence of an objective world. I was asking is the world that exists objectively the same as it is when it appears to is in our consciousness. Is our consciousness of the world different from the world as it really is? We see a blue sky for example but is the sky really blue?
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