Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by DNS » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:03 pm

daverupa wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Was Jesus perhaps someone who was spiritual but not religious?
No, that's anachronistic. He was a Jew (named Joshua).
Only on his mother's side. As for the father, well she has this crazy story . . .
(old Israeli joke)

As far as definitions, I think for the author it is:

Religious: following a specific institutional religion in one of its forms, i.e., Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc.

Spiritual: following no specific religion, but taking bits and pieces from here and there and utilizing different practices from many traditions, reading, studying various books of various faiths, etc., not agnostic as there are some specific practices done including prayer, meditation, belief in some kind of after-life and/or rebirth.

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by acinteyyo » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:35 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:At one point, wouldn't it be better to make a choice?
Hi David,

why?
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by DNS » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:57 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:At one point, wouldn't it be better to make a choice?
Hi David,

why?
To be on a set-path, not just picking and choosing the palatable parts and leaving behind the "harder" stuff like precepts, commandments, etc. To master a path, to make progress, rather than getting lost in a thicket of views. Just some ideas for that side, I personally don't have a problem with not choosing a specific religion, especially when first embarking on a search.

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by m0rl0ck » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:35 am

Given the choice between classifying myself as spiritual or religious i would have to go for spiritual. What this means in my case is that for most days of the past 15-20 years or so i have gotten in at least a few mnutes of buddhist meditation practice. "Religious" connotes to me a kind of rigidity of thinking and belief in the supernatural that i want no part of. I guess i would rather "cop-out", if someone want to label it that way, than follow blindly. Buddhism, to me is about practice and living with reality, religion, as i understand it, is about denying reality in favor of beleif, and performance of ritual.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by Ben » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:55 am

I wouldn't classify myself as anything.
Both 'religious' and 'not religious but spiritual' are so individualistic in meaning that either could mean anything or even the same thign.
I have known religious people who have been incredibly sincere practitioners and also others who just engage in the outward form.
With "not religious but spiritual" I have seen some people who like New Age people mix certain ideas from different traditions like a noodle soup, yet there are also those from my own tradition many of whom eschew the 'Buddhism' label.
We should also keep in mind that Buddhism isn't some monolithic construct, the term didn't exist before the 19th Century and the term "Theravada" didn't exist before the 20th Century.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by acinteyyo » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:21 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:At one point, wouldn't it be better to make a choice?
Hi David,

why?
To be on a set-path, not just picking and choosing the palatable parts and leaving behind the "harder" stuff like precepts, commandments, etc. To master a path, to make progress, rather than getting lost in a thicket of views. Just some ideas for that side, I personally don't have a problem with not choosing a specific religion, especially when first embarking on a search.
I believe if one is genuinely searching and is eager to make spiritual progress one is able to find the "right path" on its own and does not need a given set-path. Not choosing a religion does not necessarily mean that one just picks out the palatable parts and neglects the "harder" stuff. It might just be the case that one, after earnest consideration picks up only what is wholesome and beneficial and leaves out what is unwholesome and rather a hinderance. I think its nearly impossible for someone else to recognize who's the one neglecting important stuff (the "hard" stuff doesn't always need to be "important" stuff) and who's is the one leaving out the useless stuff. In addition to that it is not certain that a particular religion with its terms, commandments and concepts as a whole represents a "true path" or a "right path". Even if many parts of a given religious set appear to be "true" one can't doubtlessly infer from that that everything else of it must also be "true". So in my eyes a wise person will most likely not accept an entire given set of beliefs only to justify a "membership" to a certain religion.
On the other hand there are people who are just picking and choosing the palatable parts and leaving behind the "harder" stuff out of ignorance and just to satisfy their cravings.
The Ghosa Sutta comes to my mind:
"Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of wrong view. Which two? The voice of another[1] and inappropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of wrong view."
"Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of right view. Which two? The voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."
best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by Hanzze » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:33 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:At one point, wouldn't it be better to make a choice?
Hi David,
why?
To be on a set-path, not just picking and choosing the palatable parts and leaving behind the "harder" stuff like precepts, commandments, etc. To master a path, to make progress, rather than getting lost in a thicket of views. Just some ideas for that side, I personally don't have a problem with not choosing a specific religion, especially when first embarking on a search.
There are some good points in what Acinteyyo had quoted before and to struggle with the tratitions has its learn and giving up effects, but one thing that is maybe more important is, that one is not able to walk the path alone as long as he has not entered the stream, I am not sure if the first fruit of path attainemt is enought already.

Such a put away the rits and precepts thing comes by it self, if that is a forced thing, it is mostly leaded by the deluded mind. How ever, if one come to the place where this things are no more relevant one leaves religion automatical and will 100% relay only on the Sangha (in its real meaning) and will no more care about religion.

Religion and all around it to maintain it is for sure not only a thicket but a jungle of views. We can start to cut of the jungle with our personal religion, our relicts and the ways we defend and try to maintain it and that is what is meant by leaving the home. Give up all promisies and responsibilities and focus as you sad simply only on the path.

Whether one is caught in a frame of religion or not, I wish everybody the bravery and courageousness to put virtue and the path at least higher as any view.

May you be well as all others and my you make your self an island with Dhamma as soon as it is yours. Don't make your self an island with your views, it simply hurts and you need to fight on and on that the flood will not drown the artifactal self raft.

Thanks for sharing the stanzas from Ghosa Sutta, Acinteyyo.

In regard of the "hard stuff" here:
Making Tables & Chairs

It's good to make the mind pure and at peace, but it's hard. You have to start with the externals — your bodily actions and words — and work your way in. The path that leads to purity, to being a contemplative, is a path that can wash away greed, anger, and delusion. You have to exercise restraint and self-control, which is why it's hard — but so what if it's hard?

It's like taking wood to make a table or make a chair. It's hard, but so what if it's hard? The wood has to go through that process. Before it can become a table or a chair, we have to go through the coarse and heavy stages.

It's the same with us. We have to become skillful where we aren't yet skillful, admirable where we aren't yet admirable, competent where we aren't yet competent.
And as Devarupa below states, here some stanzas from the honoroale Stutta Honor:
"Even some devas, Nagita, cannot obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — as I do, the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening. When you all live together, assemble together, and live committed to dwelling with a group, the thought occurs: 'Surely these venerable ones cannot obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — as I do, the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening, which is why they live together, assemble together, and live committed to dwelling with a group.'

[1] "There is the case, Nagita, where I see monks laughing out loud, sporting around, tickling one another with their fingers. The thought occurs to me, 'Surely these venerable ones cannot obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — as I do, the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening, which is why they are laughing out loud, sporting around, tickling one another with their fingers.'

[2] "Then there is the case where I see monks — having eaten as much as they want, filling their bellies — live committed to the pleasure of lying down, the pleasure of sensory contacts, the pleasure of torpor. The thought occurs to me, 'Surely these venerable ones cannot obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — as I do, the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening, which is why they — having eaten as much as they want, filling their bellies — live committed to the pleasure of lying down, the pleasure of sensory contacts, the pleasure of torpor.

[3] "Then there is the case where I see a monk sitting in concentration in a village dwelling. The thought occurs to me, 'Soon a monastery attendant will disturb this venerable one in some way, or a novice will, and rouse him from his concentration.' And so I am not pleased with that monk's village-dwelling.

[4] "But then there is the case where I see a monk sitting, nodding, in the wilderness. The thought occurs to me, 'Soon this venerable one will dispel his drowsiness & fatigue and attend to the wilderness-perception, [1] [his mind] unified.' And so I am pleased with that monk's wilderness-dwelling.

[5] "Then there is the case where I see a wilderness monk sitting unconcentrated in the wilderness. The thought occurs to me, 'Soon this venerable one will center his unconcentrated mind, or protect his concentrated mind.' And so I am pleased with that monk's wilderness-dwelling.

[6] "Then there is the case where I see a wilderness monk sitting in concentration in the wilderness. The thought occurs to me, 'Soon this venerable one will release his unreleased mind, or protect his released mind.' And so I am pleased with that monk's wilderness-dwelling.

[7] "Then there is the case where I see a village-dwelling monk who receives robes, alms food, shelter, & medicinal requisites for curing the sick. Receiving, as he likes, those gains, offerings, & fame, he neglects seclusion, he neglects isolated forest & wilderness dwellings. He makes his living by visiting villages, towns, & cities. And so I am not pleased with that monk's village-dwelling.[2]

[8] "Then there is the case where I see a wilderness monk who receives robes, alms food, shelter, & medicinal requisites for curing the sick. Fending off those gains, offerings, & fame, he doesn't neglect seclusion, doesn't neglect isolated forest & wilderness dwellings. And so I am pleased with that monk's wilderness-dwelling.[3]

"But when I am traveling along a road and see no one in front or behind me, at that time I have my ease, even when urinating & defecating."
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by daverupa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:44 am

It seems as though the article would argue for the value of consistency in ones metaphysical/mystical views, while the Dhamma advises us to set that whole albatross aside.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by DNS » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:11 pm

daverupa wrote:It seems as though the article would argue for the value of consistency in ones metaphysical/mystical views, while the Dhamma advises us to set that whole albatross aside.
True, but then is the Dhamma a consistent path of metaphysical/mystical views?

A sotāpanna is incapable of creating a schism and incapable of going to other teachers, i.e., mixing traditions to suit his desires. (Bahudhatuka Sutta MN. 115)

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by daverupa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:46 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:is the Dhamma a consistent path
Yes.
of metaphysical/mystical views?
No.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by DNS » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:57 pm

daverupa wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:is the Dhamma a consistent path
Yes.
of metaphysical/mystical views?
No.
Those were your words. I was just quoting them. Okay, then it is a consistent path of some kind of spiritual/religious journey (for example from samsara to nibbana) which makes it a religion in the traditional definition of religion with beliefs in some kind of after-life / rebirth and a set path on how to do the journey (8-fold path).

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by Jason » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:26 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
At the heart of the spiritual but not religious attitude is an unwillingness to take a real position.
I'm inclined to agree with this guy. The pick-and-choose smorgasbord of spirituality allows one to not take a real position or to choose only those things most palatable, if it is logical or true or not.
It could also be a willingness to admit the possibility that no single religious institution has everything right combined with an attitude that it's beneficial to take the bits and pieces that are, or at least seem to be, and utilize them to make one's life better, happier, and more meaningful. I don't see anything inherently wrong with that, especially considering Buddhism itself isn't about taking positions, but about utilizing certain ideas and practices in order to end suffering. I say if things work, use them (you know, the whole raft analogy and all).

Jesus said a lot of awesome things, and I live by some of those things even though I'm not Christian and don't believe Jesus himself was God. But even if that weren't the case, I don't see why I should have to take a position about his divinity in order to practice his teachings on forgiveness, generosity, renunciation, etc. anyway. And if someone adopts Buddhist ideas and practices without taking a position on his enlightenment or the reality of postmortem rebirth, so what? It'd probably be far more beneficial for them than giving them the choice of fully accepting everything or nothing at all.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by daverupa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:36 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Those were your words. I was just quoting them.
I used those words to describe a dichotomy which was worth tossing out; it's personality aggrandizement, and worthless per MN 2, it seems to me. The Dhamma isn't built on this sort of thing.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by JeffR » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:43 am

I think religion is the cop out.

Based on observation, it's just an excuse to judge, hate, kill and claim oneself righteous in the process; justified by blindly following a belief system that doesn't jive with reality. Buddhism doesn't really fit the western definition of religion. Religion is a concept that didn't even exist in Eastern Asia until westerners forced the idea. Religion has nothing to do with following Sila. More often than not it's an excuse to violate Sila. I avoid religion because I follow Sila.
Therein what are 'six (types of) disrespect'? One dwells without respect, without deference for the Teacher; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Teaching; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Order; one dwells without respect, without deference for the precepts; one dwells without respect, without deference for heedfulness; one dwells without respect, without deference for hospitality. These are six (types of) disrespect.
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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Post by Viscid » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:10 am

David N. Snyder wrote:A sotāpanna is incapable of creating a schism and incapable of going to other teachers, i.e., mixing traditions to suit his desires. (Bahudhatuka Sutta MN. 115)
Someone who mixes traditions doesn't necessarily go and create a schism. A sotāpanna wouldn't have much need to cause a schism because they aren't passionate about ideological differences.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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