20. Spirituality and/or religion
Session 1 -- Spiritual *or* religious?
Spiritual Web Chat
Sat 02 Oct 1999

Ben< This seminar will explore two very large subjects, spirituality and religion, to see where they overlap and where they don't. Tonight I will sort of tippy-toe up to the edge of those subjects by looking at the two adjectives, spiritual and religious.

Ben< Many people say they are spiritual but not religious. Many seem to be religious but not spiritual. This distinction has been discussed and argued about a great deal in recent years. Chatroom conversations (and my email) have been full of it. In fact, several people discussed this right after my last seminar and did a pretty good job of it, so I decided to provide a forum for everyone to express their views.

Ben< Spirituality and religion are very personal and likely to be loaded with emotions. Therefore, please remember the basic ground-rule for these seminars: "Courtesy is expected. Instead of attacking what others believe, say what you believe -- or politely ask others to explain what they post."

Ben< Although I often start with dictionary definitions and expand from there, our own understandings are important, so I think that a personal approach may be more appropriate in this case. Ready? Here we go.

Ben< QUESTION 1: What is your understanding of "spiritual"? Please describe what that word means to you. YOUR TURN

Lor< Being religious without being spiritual in some sense seems strange to me. How can that be?

Ben< Lor: Let's work our way toward that question.

Lor< Being spiritual to me suggests being sensitive to God's nature.

FRAML< Being able to pray and talk to God and Jesus. And to be able to open yourself to his guidance and inspiration, in all that you do in your life.

Ben< Lor, FRAML: Okay, thanks. Others?

Bink< My dictionary says 'immaterial' and 'of or relating to God' so one would be 'spiritual' or 'spiritually minded' who does not focus upon the material aspects of life, but the immaterial aspects.

Ben< Bink: Yes, my most basic understanding of spiritual is "not material, not physical".

Star12< Being sensitive to the god in all of us. And working toward helping others.

Sposashe< Spirituality to me is *your* belief system, whatever it is, whether it is only your belief or the belief you share with many. It is defined by you and how you feel, not by someone else and following their beliefs of what is or isn't. It doesn't mean it can't also be that, but that does not determine what you believe.

Ben< Sposashe: Spirituality is personal. Okay. That's why I took a personal approach tonight.

Bink< Sposashe: I'm sure you don't mean that literally? If my belief system is to step on or crush anybody who gets in my way, is that spirituality? Or to gain all I can materially at whatever cost?

FRAML< Bink: The last set of seminars covered the topic you just mentioned. *S*

Sposashe< Yes, Bink, it is yours. I may not agree with you, but it is your right to believe it. If, say, you believe that in order to attain greatness in the presence of your higher power/God, you have to do everything you can to be/attain that, it is your spirituality.

Star12< Might I echo Sposashe? As this is also my belief.

Bink< So then, Sposashe, the perpetrators at Columbine, et al, were expressing their 'spirituality'?

Sposashe< Did they define what they did as spiritual? I don't think they did. What they did was retaliate for what they thought was unjust. Right or wrong, it was an emotional not spiritual thing, not a belief system.

Lor< Being spiritual means being attuned to the spiritual domain in which we are immersed, I would say.

Cassandra< Spiritual means a higher plane. Within us and yet within others, too. Cleanness and goodness. Inspirational.

Bink< I like the biblical definition: "to be spiritually minded is life and peace; to be carnally (materially) minded is death".

order< I think spiritual means conscious awareness of Beingness, movements and workings of Spirit/God.

Prophetess< Spiritual is the feeling a soul has on a plane of coherent feelings and thought.

bluestar< I think spirituality is a recognition and respect for the equality and sacredness of all creation. I think that any belief or practice which leads us that recognition and respect is spiritual.

Ben< ALL: Do you apply the word "spiritual" to yourself?

Star12< Yes.

FRAML< I do, although I was once told that military folks being spiritual was a contradiction if not an impossibility. *S* (I'm retired US Army)

Awenydd< FRAML: I found my spirituality IN the Army ... to help me deal with the situations.

Bink< I am working towards being less 'carnally' minded and more spiritually minded. And my tradition teaches that I am a spiritual being, as are we all.

Ben< I identify myself as a spiritual being, presently operating a physical body. In terms of my beliefs, I am neither a materialist nor a humanist.

order< Ben: I, too, would call myself a spiritual being manifesting at present in a physical body.

Lor< I must admit that there are times that the word "spiritual" would not seem appropriate for some of my thinking; but at other times I think it might. I like Cassandra's idea of it representing a "higher" plane.

Sposashe< It is not up to me to define your spirituality or lack of it. That is what it is all about. IMHO religion defines what it considers right and wrong. Spirituality doesn't have those boundaries; it is all on its own. I am a very spiritual person. I am not a religious person, but I am a very loving, caring, sensitive person.

Bink< As for religion, I have always thought of a person's way of life as their religion. We all have a basic set of beliefs by which we operate our lives -- that set of beliefs is one's religion, IMHO. Thus, *everyone* has a religion, is religious, in that sense.

Lor< Forgive me for asking just what the term "IMHO" means?

Bink< Lor: IMHO = "in my humble opinion". :-)

FRAML< Bink & Sposashe: I believe that spirituality includes a system of ethics (right and wrong). It is an integral part of it, especially in determining which direction I orient my spiritual seeking for guidance.

Ben< -- oops, I'm a little slow tonight. *G*

Ben< QUESTION 2: What is your understanding of "religious"? Please describe what that word means to you. YOUR TURN

bluestar< I would go with Bink's definition of religion: a set of beliefs that someone lives their life by.

Cassandra< Following one's Spiritual belief. Striving for purity.

EmeraldRose< What is purity?

Cassandra< Well, purity in water means it won't hurt you and is good for you, helps you in many ways. Purity, to me, means living in the Light of the Spirit -- free from infection of hate, jealousy and envy.

Lor< I suppose that all dealings with spirits may not be spiritual, in the sense that Cassandra expressed anyway. Being religious possibly implies recognizing God's interaction and presence in our lives.

Sposashe< Who decides what is right or wrong? If it is right for you yet wrong for me, then is it right or wrong?

Bink< Sposashe: My understanding is that universal law decides what is right and wrong. *God's* law.

Sposashe< Bink: Who said "God's" law is universal law?

Bink< Sposashe: Pure logic, IMHO. If God is the Creator of the universe, who *else's* law would be universal law?

order< Sposashe: I would say along with Bink that God's law is universal law. *S

Sposashe< OK, then, which god?

EmeraldRose< Who is to say there is one God?

Bink< I would not exclude those who do not follow an organized religion from categorizing themselves as 'religious'.

order< Religious to me is the Way, the effort in which I do that which I feel will allow Spirit to more easily and freely manifest in and through me. Religious is the 'effort' to align self to God.

Bink< order: Sounds like a good definition of 'worship' to me!

order< Bink: There is no effort, I believe, in Worship. Worship is the soul's natural inclination when it is free.

Ben< To me, religious means devoted to something. It can mean adherence to one of the religions; pious. It can also mean conscientious, earnest, exact, careful, precise.

Sposashe< I addressed religion but will be glad to re-address it. I believe religion is a set of boundaries/beliefs that are considered to be right. It is then your responsibility to follow those beliefs, or love from God/creator/higher power will be withheld and you will be punished.

EmeraldRose< "Religious" is a term for individuals that follow ritualistic stylizations of spirituality. In essence, someone who feels they need guidelines and someone to lead them (or for those high up in the hierarchy, to lead) into what they feel will be some sort of salvation or discovery.

Bink< EmeraldRose: That's a pretty limiting definition, to me. I consider myself deeply religious, yet I certainly don't follow 'ritualistic stylizations'.

order< EmeraldRose: Surely those who fit your definition of religious are merely those who are seeking the shared experience, belief about God ... not so much seeking for others to 'tell' them or 'lead' them as to learn to come together and share what they agree upon about God.

FRAML< To me "religious" is defined by one's identification with a group of like minded believers, whether it is Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism Wicca, or whatever. One can be 'religious' by proclamation that they are, and outward signs. It does not mean that they are or aren't 'spiritual'.

Ben< ALL: Do you apply the word "religious" to yourself?

order< Ben: I do. *S*

Ben< I apply the word "religious" to myself. I was born with a thirst for a better God. I have devoted myself to seeking and then serving the best I could find. However, I am not very pious.

Bink< Sposashe: IMHO, although one does get punished for 'sinning' -- refusing to obey or follow universal law -- God's love is *never* withheld. God IS Love, and God is infinite -- in my understanding.

Ben< Bink, Sposashe: Let's not argue theologies this time.

Bink< Sorry, Ben -- no intent to argue, always just striving for clarification. Will keep comments on topic.

LaDonna< I too consider myself to be religious by living in and of spirit.

FRAML< Ben: Yes I do. I live the manifestations of my belief. Thus display in my actions and how I speak what I believe. Also I think that the concept of 'religious' is defined by some people as a formal church structure, and Christianity in specific.

EmeraldRose< order and Bink: I did not say these individuals were not spiritually individual; I just feel that when one refers to themselves as religious it sparks the image of one who feels the need for guidelines. Almost all major "religions" have them (i.e., Muslims, Christians, Judaism, etc. )

order< EmeraldRose: True, but many of these guidelines do work for many individuals along the way. Each soul decides which best fits them for the moment perhaps and join in. Everyone who is seeking to grow in Spirit has some guidelines, or else they are just like a leaf blowing in the wind, blown this way and that way and this way. To grow one needs roots, whether one defines guidelines for oneself or agrees with guidelines already in place. Growth is possible. (I think)

EmeraldRose< order: I did not mean to make my comments sound negative. I was just trying to say that some people need that type of situation to feel fully spiritual. That's my interpretation of "religious". Sorry.

order< EmeraldRose: Sheesh, sis! So sorry. I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. I see it as I who should be apologizing, was so very clumsy of me. (whacking self on noggin) ***Huggeees***

Ben< QUESTION 3: What is your understanding of "religious but not spiritual"? Please describe what that means to you. Examples may help. YOUR TURN

Sposashe< You can be religious and do what you are told/believe in order to be doing what is right but it not come from your heart. It can be what you feel you need to do; i.e., religion, but not necessarily what you feel; i.e., your spirituality.

EmeraldRose< I agree with Sposashe.

FRAML< Ben: As I once was. I performed the public rituals, attended services, prayed (but didn't really know if it did any good or if God was hearing me). I wasn't wrapped in dogma or doctrine, but didn't know how to have faith and belief in my heart and soul; I kept it only in my head.

Ben< Sposashe, FRAML: I like your descriptions better than mine, or in addition to mine. Thanks.

bluestar< What a weird realization. I define religion as Bink -- a set of rules to live by -- and in that way I'm religious. But when Ben asked if I consider myself religious, my answer would be No. So I guess I still "feel" religion is a term associated with FRAML's definition ... an identification with an association of like-minded believers.

Ben< bluestar: Nice introspection. Thanks.

Lor< Ben: Aren't pious persons usually spiritual as well?

Ben< Lor: Pious people may be doing what they do for show, and actually not be at all spiritual.

Bink< IMHO religious and spiritual are two sides of the same coin; therefore one without the other I would see as a self/other deception.

order< Religious but not spiritual is to me what Job did before God opened his eyes ... doing by the hearing of the ear instead of by the seeing of the eye. But this DID lead Job to the experience of God called 'seeing of the eye'.

Lor< I like order's description of the distinction between religious and spiritual: doing by the hearing of the ear instead of by the seeing of the eye. Although, I sense the spiritual goes even deeper toward knowing somehow internally -- "in one's guts" -- so to speak.

Prophetess< Religious but lacking spiritual is that which is like pomp and no circumstance; it is the materialistic side without the heart or soul.

Ben< In this comparison, I think of religious as devoted to the earthly concerns of a religious organization or devotion to earthly causes (social, economic, political). For example, I know Christians who aren't interested in anything spiritual.

Bink< Ben: Would such not be 'Christians' in name only? Or at least, 'embryonic' Christians?

Ben< Bink: So others might say. But they consider themselves Christians.

FRAML< Ben and Bink: I think that is where one finds materialism and humanism predominating. Those who see Christianity as a nice set of rules to live by, but with no higher meaning.

Lor< I sort of think of religious people as searching for spiritual truths that help sustain them, irrespective of whether they do it in association with others or not.

Cassandra< Religious but not spiritual is thinking your own thoughts are greater than listening to the Spirit's Voice within.

FRAML< Cassandra: I liked that "thinking your own thoughts greater than ... "

Cassandra< Thank you, FRAML.

bluestar< Since I define Spiritual as a recognition and respect for all the equality and sacredness of all creation, I guess I would find many religions and their followers sadly lacking, as I find people tend to think in terms of classes of people being better than other people (with religion often being part of the criteria), and many people feel superior to most of God's non-human creation.

order< I believe one is firstly 'religious' and then the awakening of Spirituality breaks through ... dependent upon the intensity and the purity of ones desire.

EmeraldRose< What is purity?

Ben< ALL: Have you tried to discuss a spiritual ("not of this world") topic with religious people and been rebuffed for it?

FRAML< Yes, but usually don't mention it unless I'm quite sure the reaction I'll get won't be totally negative. I'd be considered an "unrepentant sinner" by some of my faith for some of what I believe. *S*

Ben< FRAML: Yep! Me, too, as you know. *G*

bluestar< Although I know a lot of people that are pretty involved with their religion, I doubt that most of them would see any difference between a talk about spiritual matters and religious matters. I think one of the appealing things to many people about religion is that religion usually has it all figured out for you. One's religion tells you what to believe and how to act, and assures you that if you do what you are told, you will achieve your spiritual goal. So in essence a spiritual discussion with someone who has no reason to look behind the teaching -- and perhaps does not even want to -- is a pretty one-sided discussion.

EmeraldRose< bluestar: Very good point.

FRAML< bluestar: I wonder if that is because in some denominations the spiritual aspects have been overlaid or driven out by an absolute reliance on dogma, or in saying that one's sacred literature is "literally true" and there is nothing meant beyond what the word read. (but then this means they are ignoring translation differences)

bluestar< FRAML: I think you are right, and I have hope this is changing. The current Catholic Pope has come out with some very interesting interpretations of dogma lately that make me think the Catholic Church just might become a tool for spiritual enlightenment for a great many people in the 21st century. Strides have also been made by Protestant churches as they include women in their rituals, ordain female ministers or priests, and put more stress on universal brotherhood and forgiveness. It also seems as though many of the major religions are finding "common ground" and seeing how many of their basic spiritual teachings are very similar, and that we indeed, after all, are worshipping the same Divine Oneness.

FRAML< bluestar: About Divine oneness -- I don't believe that all roads lead to either Rome or God. And one of the reasons is (another seminar topic) one's definition of God and/or Creator.

bluestar< I would also add that although I think that I am not a proponent of one religion for all, even if we all agree on the inner essence, religions provide a map, a pathway, and a way to rejoice together in a spiritual way with each other. I just want religions to stress the "spiritual" and not, as Ben put it, be over-concerned with social and political concerns. And, if religions wish to promote a particular code of morality, so be it. But live and let live; to me, that's being spiritual.

FRAML< bluestar: Consider the flip side of your statement: "die and let die, to me, that's being spiritual."

Lor< Ben: When you say you know Christians who aren't interested in anything spiritual, I personally would question whether they are really Christians that follow what Jesus taught. Many call themselves Christian even though they have barely started down the path of learning what He taught. But that is how we all learn and improve our perceptions of how our spiritual being needs to become.

bluestar< Lor: I agree with you re: Christians, and it makes me quite sad that many Christians sometimes miss the point regarding Christ's teachings, but they nevertheless call themselves and are called by others Christians. Although I consider myself Christian, most would not consider me Christian because I don't believe that Jesus is/was any more the "only begotten son of God" than you or I.

order< I'm thinking so-called Christians are not the only people that miss the point. Many individuals miss the point regardless of where they are standing.

FRAML< bluestar: That Jesus is the only begotten son, is important, IMHO. Also the resurrection, for without that having happened, I don't think that a bunch of Jewish fishermen would have stood up to the Sandhedrin, etc. To me the spiritual aspect of Christianity is linked to this, otherwise he was just another dead man with a nice set of ideas on how to live, but not worth me dying for.

Ben< Okay, now to ask the question Lor posed earlier ...

Ben< QUESTION 4: What is your understanding of "spiritual but not religious"? Please describe what that means to you. Examples may help. YOUR TURN

FRAML< Those who look at meditation and spirit guides for inspiration, but without a method of discerning whether they are helpful or harmful. Also one who believes that 'spiritual' means being freed from any sense of ethics (right/wrong, good/bad).

Ben< FRAML: Okay, thanks. Others?

order< It is easier just to love than to try to assess and/or understand the state of another ... I think.

bluestar< I think unconditional love is spiritual (although to be quite frank, I think anything but unconditional love is not love). I think accepting a person, place or thing for what it is, treating it with respect and gratitude for whatever part it plays in your life, is spiritual. I think forgiveness is spiritual. I think the realization that we are all interconnected, all part of something greater than ourselves as individuals, and that all individuals are equally important in expressing whatever that something greater is, is spiritual.

FRAML< bluestar: I recommend you read the last seminar topic on "super" especially the third session in reference to caring. Just click on Ben's name.

order< I'm wondering if 'spirituality' is a matter of choosing what we wish to believe or is an attunement?

Ben< ALL: Do you consider yourself to be spiritual but not religious? If so, what does that mean to you?

FRAML< I consider myself both. I haven't ever been spiritual only, but I was religious only, and even unreligious only, once upon a time.

EmeraldRose< Now that I think about it, I would consider myself spiritual but not religious. I follow a few common sense rules, but I do think ethics are different from spirituality. I guess this means to me that I am free to choose what I want to believe. Also, I have frequent moments where I am just caught up in the now ... you know?

Ben< EmeraldRose: Okay, thanks. I believe that many people see spirituality that way, as personal freedom.

FRAML< EmeraldRose: Common sense is often the source of ethics.

Ben< In this comparison, I think of spiritual as a "do-it-yourself" project in which one doesn't adhere to any religion and may or may not be devoted to anything. Psychic research and spiritualism come to mind as examples.

Lor< I sense we may be giving organized religion less credit than it may deserve. I see it as an effort of the more experienced "elders" attempting to teach and pass on to their young the benefits they have discovered. It's problem comes from freezing onto some ideas before there has been sufficient true knowledge of the basic truths involved in being the alive children of God that we are.

Bink< In my understanding, we're all God's children whether we realize it or accept it or not.

Ben< -- last post for tonight ...

Ben< ALL: Have you tried to discuss a religious (devotional) topic with spiritual people and been rebuffed for it?

FRAML< Yes, here in SWC.

Ben< [After several minutes of waiting with no other replies to this question] Well, this is a sensitive subject. Did anyone notice how many people left the room without saying good-bye?

FRAML< Ben: About half a dozen. But then I got a couple of pm's good-bye. From folks who weren't interrupting the seminar.

Ben< FRAML: Okay. pm good-byes are fine. I just wondered how many people were turned off by that question -- and why.

FRAML< Ben: Perhaps my using the "J" word too much? Or because a stereotype or two were given a shake.

order< FRAML: Your courage in this day and age, and in SWC for that matter, in using the name of Jesus is commendable. (IMHO)

Ben< FRAML: Well, the attendance level sure answered my last post for tonight.

Ben< /topic Discussion of spiritual and/or religious

oceanbliss< The great saints say there is nothing complex about religion or spirituality. Religion is divine love, selfless service and character. Dogma, ritual, religious division, fundamentalism, and occult powers are pitiful fake imitations of religion.

order< Ben: Seems to me a discussion with so-called religious people on any subject runs perfectly smoothly when talking about the Love of God, when sharing in love and not self-righteousness. At least this has been my experience.

Ben< order: Yes, rather a lot of people will stay to discuss the unconditional love of God. Where so many take off is at the very idea of ethics, or any mention of Jesus.

order< Ben: My last response was in answer to your question of talking with so called religious people and being rebuffed. *VBS* But I have also noticed that the subject of ethics, and in particular Jesus, can scare many people away in SWC. I'm wondering what's so scary about Jesus? *G

Prophetess< Why would they leave over that, Ben? Yeshua is and will be ...

Ben< Prophetess: I agree, but many do not, and perhaps more don't want to.

Prophetess< Ben: If any are educated in spiritual religion, they can see Yeshua through the entire old testament. They have to have eyes that see and ears that hear. Nice to meet you, by the by.

Ben< Prophetess: Yes, and his coming was foreseen by other people, including at least some of the Magi. Nice to meet you.

Prophetess< Ben: The Magi were of course the forbears, but from Avram who had the wisdom to listen to God and respond by leaving his home in UR, to John the Baptist, Yeshua has been known throughout time and space. He is there to love and counsel whenever we are hungry and thirsty ... and I am always in a mind to eat and drink. *G*

FRAML< Prophetess: Remember to count your blessings before you sleep.

Prophetess< FRAML: I can't count my blessings; I have too many. I just thank Him for all of them.

Lor< Ben and others: I sense you are over-reacting a bit to the rate of drop-off at midnight. My post before last sort of hit at it: while being free to believe what we want to, we may not believe too freely, if we are to remain within God's guidelines as discerned over the ages by so many that have gone before us, especially Jesus.

windchild< Lor: "May not believe too freely"? What does that mean?

Lor< Being free to choose what we want to believe is one thing which I believe is our God-given heritage; while believing and being what is acceptable before God and our fellow beings is not so open. I perceive that is what this life is much about: learning to be the kind of being that can zestfully exist with mutual respect and harmony among God's other children.

bluestar< I think we are on the same harmonious wavelength on this, Lor. :-)

bluestar< Ben: Could be just a coincidence, and as FRAML said, some people said good-bye, others pm'd. And I think there were at least a few that are/were uncomfortable at the idea of God or a Divine Unity ... and maybe they just felt outnumbered.

FRAML< bluestar: To me it is that Jesus left his Father's side and came here to earth to live and suffer as a man, in order to teach us and show us the truth of his teachings through the resurrection. But then, I also see us mortals as the solid form of the souls of fallen angels striving to get home to Heaven. (Prodigal sons and daughters, perhaps.)

bluestar< I think Jesus was as close to God as any human being can be. I think God spoke in and through Jesus. I believe Jesus is an elder brother, a soul who has been here and done this, and therefore is in a position to show humanity the way ... and that way is love. I believe in the resurrection, but I also believe that we are tricked into believing that death is a given. I am very uncomfortable philosophically with the idea of "a man" being God or the "only son" of God, and therefore a God, or God him/herself. I think God would see the danger in this, because once we accept that a man can be God, how long before there is another, and another, so that we or our descendants are forced or tricked into believing that "so and so" is God? I am not trying to challenge your belief. I am totally comfortable with your belief. I even accept that you may be right. I only wish to clarify my own years of meditating on this subject.

FRAML< bluestar: Thank you for your explanation. The fear you express of "another and another" is logical, and He said it would happen.

bluestar< FRAML: Also one more thing about Jesus. I have had this discussion more than once before, but regarding the need for me to see Jesus' primary importance stemming from that fact that he is God/Son of God, I find him much more glorious because I see him as a man. To me, as a God, my own attitude is "So what? He's God; he's supposed to be wise, humble, giving (in other words ... spiritual)." But as a man ... well, I can identify with that. I can see that he had to make choices; he had to choose heaven, choose goodness, choose to live his life for others, and even die on the cross just to get our attention, because he so loved us. And this is not a new feeling for me. In catechism classes, I would always wonder why they didn't stress more that Jesus was a man. I thought that this way people would identify with him more, and be more likely to emulate him.

FRAML< bluestar: Have you ever studied what has been called "The Arian Heresy?"

bluestar< FRAML: No, I have not heard of The Arian Heresy.

FRAML< bluestar: Look it up here on the web. It was the dominant way of looking at the relationship of Jesus and God before 300 AD. Also, see "State Church of the Roman Empire" on Ben's site.

bluestar< FRAML: Are you referring to "The Arian Heresy" as being the dominant way of think about the Jesus/God relationship before 300 AD?

FRAML< bluestar: Yes, before it was 'heresy' it was actually the predominant view among Christians. The change came after Christianity became the Official Religion of the Roman Empire. It is interesting. And I've found a number of people (whom I consider devout spiritual & religious Christians) whose personal belief was more Arian than Trinitarian.

bluestar< FRAML: Wow, you sure seem to know a lot about Christianity (historically and philosophically speaking). I have long hoped that Ben would do a seminar on early Christianity.

FRAML< bluestar: A lot of study & long association with Ben has been the source. And being a historian by vocation and avocation. *S*

Ben< bluestar: I have "First Century Christianity" on my list of possible seminars, but I haven't seen or received many requests for it. I think most Christians wouldn't like it, because they have inherited so much doctrine and dogma that Jesus never heard of. And non-Christians probably wouldn't like it, either, because the emphasis was on trying to live the commandments that Jesus taught and demonstrated.

bluestar< Ben: Oh, well (sigh). However, I intend to read up on the articles that have been suggested to me by others here.

Prophetess< Ben: As one with a masters in Historical Archaeology and Theology, I would like to do one on that topic, if I may say so.

bluestar< FRAML: I think the beauty of loving Jesus and following his teachings is that we can both work towards the same goal and achieve it, even though we may differ regarding about who/what Jesus is/was.

windchild< Emerson said, "The only difference between Jesus and man was that Jesus fully realized his relationship to God where as man has not, as yet."

bluestar< windchild: Neat quote from Emerson. :-)

order< I think Jesus represents much more than just a man who realized his oneness with God. I think Jesus represents some mystical experience, some spiritual cosmic 'happening', with his entrance, and his perfect expression of God in the earth, I think he brought into this realm of consciousness a new vibration that we could all now ride upon. thus was he called the door; not that he can do all for us, but that he did what he did and no other could have done it.

bluestar< order: I agree with you, except in my point of view, a oneness with God would make Jesus a mystical connection.

order< bluestar: I think as you. He was/is indeed a mystical connection.

bluestar< order: I think you are right about people finding it difficult to discuss ethics. Right and wrong can seem to be mostly relative, whereas most people agree on love as being a good thing.

order< bluestar: It's interesting how many can agree upon right and wrong when they get older and begin to raise children of their own. It often can also be seen in how they talk about others; even the so-called very liberal's eyebrows can be raised when they see or hear of another doing classically unethical things. LOL. Ethics may be more universal than it seems. *G*

oceanbliss< The saints say Jesus was god-realized. That means his true self was everything in creation and beyond creation; Jesus was omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, the great saints say.

order< oceanbliss: Then he would have had no need to pray to His Father?

oceanbliss< order: The saints say Jesus was praying to himself on the cross. Remember Jesus said "the father and I are one." The saints say Jesus spiritual evolution began as a messenger of god, then he evolved further and became the son of god, and finally he merged into god and became one with the father.

order< oceanbliss: There are two types of oneness ... a oneness that is globular in form and content, and a Oneness which means perfect agreement, called Love by most. I think it is the second type Jesus was referring to ... his soul in perfect agreement/love with GoD.

windchild< Jesus was an example of how we are to become.

order< windchild: It is said Jesus is The Way, The Door as well as our example. Wondering what this means?

bluestar< windchild: That is how I think of Jesus, too. Although I am not sure that all of us will play the same kind of role as Jesus, I think all will play a role of the same importance. That all will eventually live their lives totally immersed in service to the whole.

windchild< bluestar: Jesus said we would do everything he did and more.

order< windchild: Yes, Jesus said we would do everything he did and more ... because the Holy Spirit came with his 'death/resurrection'.

windchild< order: I'm not a follower of any church, but I think Jesus is an example of our relationship to God, of what we are capable of, and how we will eventually evolve into that same type of spiritual being. I have to admit that I have never met anyone like Jesus.

order< windchild: I agree, we will surely all reach the same experience wherein we can say "My God and I are One" if our hearts seek for it. Whether we will all be exactly what the soul of Jesus is/was, I'm not sure. I think God created individual uniqueness of soul for a reason. (I am not a follower of any church, either. *S*)

windchild< order: Yes, each is individual for a reason, which brings me to a question. It is said that God is perfect and knows the beginning and the end. I have a real problem with this "sin" thing. How can a perfect being create imperfection? That's like if I painted a picture and then was not happy with it. Should I blame the painting?

order< windchild: God gave souls FREE WILL that we might Love, for love must be freely chosen or it is not love. Within FREE WILL hides that which you and others call sin ... we may also chose NOT to love.

FRAML< windchild: A more accurate translation for the world "perfect" is "mature" -- thus 'be mature, as your Father is mature' implies an entirely different standard, and one which is meetable, IMHO.

windchild< FRAML: That's the problem. So many people have been hurt because they couldn't be "perfect". I was told once that I would go to hell because I didn't eat meat. LOL Well, I've had a lot of burgers since then.

order< FRAML: Perfect is perfect: without blemish, unspotted, pure, whole. When Jesus said "Be ye perfect as your father in heaven is perfect" he was speaking of love.

[Ben< order: Yes, Jesus was describing divine love. In that passage of scripture (Matthew 5:43-48), the Greek word translated "perfect" means "complete; not defective, not partial; full-grown, adult, mature." The key thought is: "Your Father who is in heaven makes His sun rise on evil men and good, and sends His rain on just men and unjust" -- which is a description of impartial good will that demands the translation "Be impartial as your heavenly Father is impartial" and implies "Impartial good will is characteristic of spiritual maturity."]

oceanbliss< order: The saints say Jesus was perfect love. He had perfected his character over many lifetimes, and his incarnation was the fruit of that perfection, so Jesus had a perfect spiritual character and divine love. When one perfects oneself like this, the saints say you receive gods grace and become one with god in consciousness. This means Jesus' consciousness expanded from a limited singular mind and body to the omnipresent god body which includes everything in creation from an ant to every human being, plus everything beyond creation (this state is called kingdom of heaven and is permanent bliss).

order< oceanbliss: I am familiar with what the so-called 'saints' say. I just am not sure I wholly accept it all. *G* In the case of Jesus, others say he was/is the Savior soul, incarnating and incarnating to show man/souls the way; time after time, eon after eon, this soul incarnating and moving us along the path ... leading us back to our original home as souls in God.

oceanbliss< order: The great saints say god is indivisibly one; whoever attains god-realization merges into that oneness. So in truth the saints teach us that Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed are all the same one god reincarnating again and again to show mankind how to attain god-realization.

order< oceanbliss: I do not believe in this 'merging' in the way that the so-called great sages of the east present it. This kind of merging would be death of soul. Think about it. *S*

oceanbliss< order: Do not go on what you believe, friend, go on what is true. People believed the earth was flat once, but in truth it's round.

order< oceanbliss: Have you proven to yourself that the earth is NOT flat? or are you taking others words for it? *Grins* I trust the spirit within me and you. *S*

bluestar< order: lol :-) That is exactly the kind of statement/question I use with people a lot.

order< bluestar: I make no such judgment one way or the other. The earth is whatever it is; I merely walk upon it. Does it matter if it is flat or round to spirit? LOL Assumptions are assumptions and 'knowing' is 'knowing'. That which we experience from within is what we are, what we may say we know ... and yet often this is only limited. *S*

FRAML< oceanbliss: Who are these Saints you are referring to? None of the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, or the early church fathers speak of "many reincarnations".

oceanbliss< FRAML: The saints are meher baba, sai baba, ammachi, yogananda, yukteswar, ching hai, mother mera, plus many others. Some of these saints are living, some have passed on.

FRAML< oceanbliss: Those are "saints" that fall outside of my tradition. And from what I know of them, are not of it.

oceanbliss< FRAML: A true saint is not bound by any tradition or religion. A true saint is perfect truth and divine love and service towards all humanity. The saints I have listed are of such caliber, and their writings help mankind understand the confusing mass and often misinterpretation of Christian scripture.

FRAML< oceanbliss: Then we must leave it that we disagree in our views and definitions of "saints".

oceanbliss< FRAML: If a saint is not the embodiment of love, service, and compassion, what good is he? What else can a true saint be, but these things?

bluestar< oceanbliss: I agree. I wish that more organized religions would teach people how to personalize their relationship to God, and thus experience God in whatever experience leads one to God.

oceanbliss< bluestar: I wish all religions would unite under the one religion of love, service and character. The saints say religion is three quarters character, and I believe it. *s*

oceanbliss< order: It is said the highest truth is personal experience. The only way to prove or disprove the great teachings of the saints is to practice them and experience personally the results. I have practiced many of their teachings and have experienced the expected results that they claim, but of course I have not practiced all their teachings; that will come with time. But so far I am convinced that what they teach is absolute perfect truth, and I feel very happy being a messenger of that truth.

order< oceanbliss: The heart that is set on attuning itself to God will be attuned if it's desire is pure. The means or the vehicle means little. Surely along the way you have also discovered this. Many, studying and applying various principles, will be as able as you to say "I have grown" but what gives the growth? and which so-called 'truth' leads to the apex of the spiritual pyramid for souls in the earth who aspire to be one with God? ... that is the final test. (IMHO)

oceanbliss< order: My friend, I agree the saints prescribe many different paths to travel to the summit on the mountain of god-realization, but they say the high roads to the goal are: selfless service to humanity, divine love, character, meditation, and complete obedience and surrender to the will of god or a god-man (god in flesh like Jesus or Buddha was).

order< oceanbliss Yes, they all generally agree on these guidelines. *VBS* I've always wondered though, why Buddha did not ask a higher question. He never asked about God, only how to alleviate man's pain and suffering in the earth, and this is the answer he received (Nirvana, the middle path) -- walk with no desires -- (kind of a numbness to life?) or so it is described.

FRAML< order: And as one has no desires, one slowly erases passion and compassion. And thus one's soul dies.

order< FRAML: It seems to me -- and no one has been able to make me see otherwise -- that this eastern philosophy does indeed seem to point one in the direction of apathy and soul death. I can't think what else we would call it when our soul individualities are sucked back into God the moment we become 'one' with Him, instead of our soul individualities joining in perfect harmony and Love with God and then experiencing this Bliss still having perfect individuality of soul and awareness of soul to enjoy the Love/Bliss.

windchild< FRAML: So, "There is none mature, no not one, but our Father in heaven"? I'm not sure anyone really knows anything, and probably won't until we get to where we are going. I have a problem with the bible because it was written and translated by man. You lose a lot in translations. I can relate to some of the things in the new testament, but the old testament's God is way too human. He is jealous, vengeful, and pissed off most of the time. That sounds just like mankind.

Prophetess< LOL Tell me, windchild, I think of God as my Father and he corrects me continuously. I relate to Him as divinity and with emotion. I am glad to see he has emotion also.

windchild< Maybe we created God in our image.

FRAML< windchild: I was using the word "mature" for that specific piece of scripture. I did not say it would be translated as "mature" rather than "perfect" in any or every other place. There are four different words in Greek which are all translated as "love" in the new testament, yet each one has a different connotation and even meaning. I am remembering a person who committed suicide because he 'couldn't be as perfect or flawless' as God. Perhaps the accurate translation of "mature" in that specific place would have given him hope and not despair.

windchild< To quote Bob Dylan, "I have given up all attempts of perfection."

order< windchild: Surely you can be the perfect loving windchild? *S

windchild< I do what I can, order. *S*

order< windchild: *Smiles* I know you do. **Hugs**

bluestar< FRAML: Four different words all translated as love ... perhaps we need a new translation?

Prophetess< FRAML: There are actually about 13 different meanings in sentence structure for the word love, and in all the original scripts not once is that word used in the Torah (first five books of the Scriptures).

Prophetess< windchild: The Scholkem Bible just released is closest to word-for-word translation. Yes, I am fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, and I like it well. It also has in Genesis, not the Ten Commandments, but the correct Ten Words.

dCrone< Prophetess: Is that the translation in which the translator worked to put the terms/phrases back into their original contexts? I think I have heard about it.

Prophetess< dCrone: Yes, it goes to original context as far as can be. Remember, there were only about 1500 original words, so the way they were put together in different structures is how they were interpreted, along with inflection in sound, which is lost. The translation was done by several people debating, discussing and working together for years in an ecumenical setting. It is much appreciated by all mainstream religion but not out in mass publication yet. It might shock some to come out of their cubbys and look at the words on a basis more like the original.

dCrone< Prophetess: What you describe is much what I recall. Thanks *S*

windchild< Prophetess: What are the correct Ten Words? I have nothing against the Ten Commandments; they are good rules to live by.

FRAML< order: I look at the 'hellfire and brimstone, sin and damnation' types and I'm reminded that they are following the old testament message of John the Baptist, and not the new gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. *S*

order< FRAML: Yes, but even Jesus said (or so it is written): "Fear not he that can destroy the body; fear he who can destroy the body and soul in hell". Did I get this verse right? *Smile*

Ben< order: In that passage, the Greek text does not say "he" -- it says "Do not fear the killing ... fear the destroying ... "

order< Ben: Will look into this ... interesting passage, though. Thanks! *S

order< FRAML: And what of the story of Lazarus in hell, thirsting and thirsting? This a story told by Jesus.

FRAML< I'm not up to discussing what each word means in each part of the New Testament at this time of the morning. Also, I'm not a "Literalist" when it comes to studying the Bible. Thanks to a Protestant/Catholic background.

Prophetess< FRAML: I wasn't implying that. I am not a literalist, either ... and I am a Catholic/Jew raised and born. What I am saying is there are many working hard and continuously to correct error that could not be helped at the time (era). I say all-in-all the scriptures suffered little. It is a quest to learning, and soul searching, that brings each to his own eventual epiphany. God Bless.

FRAML< Prophetess: I was just sharing the source of my personal "heresy." *G*

Ben< Prophetess: Were you born Jewish and raised Catholic? Or the other way around?

Prophetess< Ben: Neither. I was born and raised in Israel, Judean, and converted to Catholicism. My degrees are from U of Jerusalem, and Northwestern. I am a field archaeologist.

Ben< Prophetess: I think, if I could have lived parallel lives, I might have joined your profession. *S*

Prophetess< Ben: It is more than satisfying and has lots of action especially when running from big guys with guns. LOL I have a hole in my back. But I would not trade my upbringing, my education, my love of God and life, for anything in the world. Except of course if Yeshua said change, poof, I would, that fast. *G*

windchild< Ben: Maybe you do live a parallel life, but aren't aware of it.

Ben< windchild: Nope, not parallel lives. I looked. But I do live on more than one level. *S*

Prophetess< Ben: Where did you look? ROFL

Ben< Prophetess: I looked in soul-awareness and soul-memory. Past lives, yes; parallel lives, no.

windchild< I think my parallel lives are having a far better time than I am. LOL

Prophetess< windchild: Gotta love you *VBS*

windchild< Thank you, Prophetess. *S*

Prophetess< Ben: What is your background, if I may ask?

Ben< Prophetess: By profession, I'm a retired Air Force officer. The last two-thirds of my career was in research, including a basic research "think tank" in New Mexico. A fair sampling of my spiritual life is on my website.

Prophetess< I would say OH-RAH but I believe that is Marines ... but God Bless you and all you have achieved.

Ben< Prophetess: I don't recognize OH-RAH but I do appreciate the Marine motto: Semper fidelis!

Prophetess< Ben: I appreciate any who give their lives to freedom, and the right to have this. I shall say a prayer for your passion to work so hard for others rights. It is courageous and commendable.

Ben< Prophetess: Thank you. I started my Air Force career in Strategic Air Command, whose motto was *pax opus nabiscum* (peace is our profession).

Prophetess< Ben: I love Latin -- it is so emphatic. I also speak French, and three Cuneiform Egyptian scripts, and Greek. Be good, or be good at it. If not, apologize and get on with it. *G*

order< Ben: Today, the emphasis is much more on Paul than Jesus's teachings. Paul was a great soul, but was no Jesus. He shared as he understood, but I think his sight was somewhat limited in expression at times. Many so called Christ-ians today are really Paul-ines?

Ben< order: This message was given to a minister I know: "Don't be too hard on my servant, Paul. For all his human fallibility, he did right well with his life."

order< Ben: That was my point. His soul was very open and his experience of God real. I'm only saying some of his teachings actually tended to conflict with Jesus' ... such as the building of a 'church'. Jesus said we would worship God in spirit and in Truth, and not need to 'go to the temple' anymore.

[Ben< order: There are many Christian teachings that conflict with the teachings of Jesus, but most of them came later than Paul. They were introduced over time, century after century, and teachings that conflict with the teachings of Jesus are still being introduced today -- the "inerrancy" of the Bible is one example.]

Ben< By the way, a lot of people don't like Jesus because they don't like the very first reported words of his public ministry: "Repent, for the Kingdom of God has drawn near." And as he explained it later: "This world hates me because I say of it that it's deeds are evil." There are many people who simply do not want to hear either of those statements.

dCrone< Since I missed the seminar, I will mull over the things I do not want to hear, and then I will work to see if they are the same as others do not want to hear.

oceanbliss< order: The saints say Buddha, Christ, Krishna, and all the other god-realized beings taught the same truth, but they emphasized some points more than others in their incarnation, because humanity at that time was lacking in that quality more so, but every incarnation of god teaches the exact same truth; for example, the saints say Buddha called the state beyond creation nirvana; Krishna called it atma or brahma; Jesus called it kingdom of god; Mohammed called it allha.

order< oceanbliss: The saints say this, but they change the experience of Jesus. They change the meaning of his words. They change who and what the writings say Jesus was/is. If they left Jesus as he is portrayed in gospels, they would throw him out. LOL Each has something to offer, but all are really not saying the same thing ... I don't think. *s

FRAML< order: Bingo!!!

oceanbliss< order: The goal of god-realization, the saints say, is to become the perfect embodiment of divine love. It's not the death of soul; it's the birth of soul; its the birth of divine love. Divine love is the most blissful experience in existence, the saints teach, plus the goal is to expand your consciousness to become everything in creation and beyond creation (this beyond creation state is permanent bliss and peace and love, the saints teach).

order< oceanbliss: Loss of individual awareness as souls is death; it can be called nothing else ... but is this the whole teaching of the east??

oceanbliss< order: If you get a hundred people to listen to a lecture, and then after the lecture ask those hundred people to repeat what was said in the lecture, you would get a hundred different answers. Now think about this: Jesus gave a lecture 2000 years ago, and that lecture has been repeated over 2000 years. Now do you think it's going to be the exact same lecture that Christ originally gave?

order< oceanbliss: I don't think you would get a hundred different answers. Actually I think many would be able to answer in agreement as to what they heard.

oceanbliss< order: Have you ever played Chinese whispers? It's a simple game; try it some time, it will prove how easy words get changed from their original state.

Prophetess< oceanbliss: But they did pretty good as far as that. The Gospels reflect a personal experience, with steadfastness to each other. It is quite amazing, and graceful.

order< oceanbliss: The message is still alive. If it were not, one could question, but the message is still spiritually quickening, so one may trust in it's validity. The test is not time, but "Does it help or serve to transform lives" ... and yes, this message still does.

oceanbliss< order: If you expand your consciousness to include everything, then you still retain individual awareness, don't you? Your individuality is everything.

order< oceanbliss: Read the eastern texts ... ego/individuality of soul is lost in the merging with God. If I am not ... and if my soul is consumed by the God, I am not ... I have no awareness; I do not technically exist; I am simply re-absorbed into the Great Being, just as before God breathed me out.

dCrone< Also, I will ponder expansion and dissolution. This will be a difficult task, for I am a pooh-bear with a propensity to wonder if words are insufficient ... and, admittedly, I resist contemplation of linear levels ~ though I do feel there are 'spheres' and often muse that they are mobile. *S*

oceanbliss< order: My friend, the eastern texts clearly state you exist in god-realization. They state you exist either in the state beyond creation (in permanent bliss) or the state as everything in creation and beyond creation. The eastern texts clearly say your soul is immortal and will eternally exist, my friend.

order< oceanbliss: We shall have to peruse these texts together sometime, perhaps. I have read them, and they clearly point to the dissolving of self, of individuality. My point is, how is the individual soul to be aware of bliss if it loses it's ability to be individual? The kind of oneness taught by the east is one being, one consciousness, dissolution of souls as individual participants. I see Love with this Being as perfectly harmonious loving souls in perfect relationship with God.

oceanbliss< order: My friend, every eastern text and writing I have read clearly states the soul is immortal and the god-realized exist and are immortal. It's just like in our body: we have millions of cells that make up the whole, but even though we have millions of cells in our body, we still experience individuality as a whole. Likewise the god-realized body consists of all the beings in creation (cells) even though their body is every atom in creation, they still experience individuality.

dCrone< I will also watch the rerun of Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers in which Campbell quotes another, something to the effect that "In the east, the fruit and the flower are on the vine at the same time" ~ the experience of the west is not the same.

[The following was apparently in reply to a private message.]

order< windchild: Please understand, I am not 'picking on' the eastern thought; I am simply trying to see it as it is written ... comparing it to that which is written in bible or perhaps what is called western thought today. *S* They do differ on this point of individuality of soul upon becoming one with God.

windchild< order: I don't exactly see the point of much eastern thought, either. If you lose even the desire to desire, then what is the point of even living? I think life was meant to be experienced to the fullest. And to me that starts with being overwhelmed with love, which to me means what the bible said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all else will be added."

order< windchild: Yes, I think we need only spiritualize our desires. Desire is a mighty force that may compel us to reach for God. Earnest spiritual desire is an intense collection of thoughts that calls in such a way that the Eternal one is Drawn to answer ... a mystic experience/connection, I think. *S*

windchild< I agree, order. Interesting way to put it all together.

order< windchild: If this was what they were saying, truly, I would have embraced their writings, but this is simply not what I have read of them. No matter; it is our hearts that matter, and our hearts are set on God. It is only interesting and fun to discuss differing philosophies. Have really enjoyed our discussion! Thanks and goodnight! It is 2 a.m. here and I am drooping. LOL

Ben< Well, my alarm clock just buzzed, so it's time for me to go to bed. Peace and blessings to each of you. *poof*

20. Spirituality and/or religion
Session 2 -- Spirituality *versus* religion
Sat 09 Oct 1999

Ben< This seminar is exploring two subjects -- spirituality and religion -- to see where they overlap and where they don't. Tonight we will look at some of the differences between spirituality and religion. Ready? Here we go.

Ben< QUESTION 1: In your opinion, what does every religion you know about include that spirituality doesn't necessarily include? YOUR TURN

Yopo< Usually some sort of story. Detailing specific events concerning creation. Uh, and usually something about how god or gods relate to mankind.

dCrone< The first thing that comes to mind is preachers ... which, as I think about it, equals a structure that I think is not so evident in much spirituality ~ still pondering, though.

Ben< Yopo, dCrone: Okay. Thanks. Others?

FRAML< Sometimes an accompanying history of doctrine and dogma. Although some of the 'spirituality' paths I've seen are rapidly building their own doctrine and dogmas.

dCrone< That is true, FRAML. They are rapidly building.

LadyV< I thought, request for money.

Yopo< LadyV: *hehe* Yep. Begging bowls or collection plates.

Ben< LadyV: Good point. Spirituality doesn't necessarily involve money. Religion usually does (but not always).

Areesha< Religion always involves money, and preachers who think they are preachers.

LadyV< Actually, the leader must eat. I prefer to know where its going, though.

Wayseer< There is nothing religion includes that can't be found with spirituality.

Ben< Wayseer: Perhaps, but how about authority? It seems to me that every religion includes or points to some kind of authority, but spirituality doesn't necessarily.

Yopo< Yes. Authority and leaders with religion, sometimes more than the teachers you find with spirituality.

Wayseer< Spirituality usually points out the fact that there is always something greater than yourself.

dCrone< I think, too, there is a difference in the type of ritual involved. Some spirituality groups encourage more dramatic rituals ... except for the TV versions of religion that are so dramatic I don't know that I would use the world ritual to describe them.

LadyV< Most of us choose by our belief system the "authority" we want to listen to. Generally, that of our parents, or what makes sense to us. I have a bit of a problem with "authority" ... respect, I can handle.

FRAML< I've seen some speak of eastern religions as spirituality. They mention they are studying under a guru, who studied under, etc. That is an authoritarian structure being set up, although they don't recognize it or admit it.

LadyV< I had not thought of gurus in that sense, FRAML. Good point.

Ben< FRAML: Good point. Devotion to a guru can be as binding as devotion to a deity or an organization.

Blinder< By accepting any authority between ourselves and the Divine, are we not abdicating responsibility for maintaining our own relationship with God?

Ben< Blinder: Many people say so, and I agree, but many do not.

Bee49< I feel religion is more structured.

Ben< ALL: How about lines of demarcation concerning who or what is and isn't included in the religion?

FRAML< Ben: Yes, one usually has a set of ethics and morality in religions. Some "spiritualities" seem to be absent of those.

Yopo< Ben: Yes. Religion seems more inclined to set boundaries, to define what ideas are inside and outside of them.

LadyV< Demarcation is a powerful word. Do not hear Priests or Ministers use that too often.

Ben < Okay, thank you all. Next question ...

Ben< QUESTION 2: In the last 30 years or so, spirituality seems to have become an alternative to religion. Do you agree? If so, why do you think this happened? If not, why not? YOUR TURN

Areesha< People are always searching until they find a "thing" they can relate to.

Ben< Areesha: Yes, good point. And searching has been more popular (and more permitted) in the last 30 years.

Blinder< Ben: I think it always was. It is only within the last 30 years or so that spirituality has become a "socially acceptable" alternative to religion.

Bee49< I can only speak for myself. Yes, I agree. Structured religion could not answer all my questions.

Ben< Bee49: Yes, many feel that way. (I intend this to be a forum in which everyone can speak for themselves and say what they personally think, believe, feel.)

Bee49< Thanks, Ben.

Areesha< Spirituality gives more freedom of choice than religion.

Yopo< In my opinion, people hunger for direct experience of the spiritual journey. Religion is too often like staying at home, reading travel guides.

dCrone< Would the need for alternatives exist if institutionalized religion had served? Is it just society that has changed, or has awareness increased, or have folks in droves just decided to go it alone? I think there are needs that the formal religions have not met well.

Ben< dCrone: Good point.

FRAML< As a part of the "rebellion" of the 50's and 60's many folks decided they didn't want to be forced to go to church, or saw no need to believe in God. However, they knew they wanted something to believe in, outside of themselves, so they turned to eastern mysticism, the occult, and updated versions of 19th Century spiritualism.

Areesha< Also, in my opinion, spirituality has also given way to unjust thinking on some issues and debates.

dCrone< There is also the impact of science to consider.

Blinder< But the science versus religion debate can be a never-ending, unfruitful miasma. In a certain context, they need not be the antithesis of each other.

FRAML< And then there are those men who were turned off by a "Jesus meek and mild" who was a pansy as portrayed in sermons. And they went looking for something more robust.

bluestar< Also, I think a lot of people got out of touch with the religion they grew up with ... didn't relate well to it, or perhaps were seduced by the intellectual arguments against religion or God ... but then found they missed something spiritual in their life. The opportunities for people to mix with other cultures (and their beliefs) increased, and people found a way to fill the void in their lives, even if it meant making up their own personalized religion.

LadyV< I am wondering if our social order or social structure in regards to Religion ... let's say Church ... has caused many people now to wander without roots, like May-Pole dancers, not really fitting anywhere. It would seem to me that it would take awhile for the change now occurring "seeking spirituality" to level out to the point that most would feel comfortable with the individual "spirituality".

Ben< ALL: Okay! You guys are WORKING this question. Please continue while I go get my two cents' worth.

Yopo< The religions I have had personal contact with also had no place for "spiritual" experiences I've had, or for frameworks of belief that DO seem to make sense of such experiences. So, one is sometimes forced to deny what one sees and feels, or to abandon the restrictive belief system.

LadyV< Yopo: I would echo that myself ... and some of us start getting a little restless in the pew.

Wayseer< I always had problems sitting still. *S*

Ben< I think spirituality has become an alternative to religion, because many people are repelled by dogmatism or condemnation, many are not satisfied with a limited world-view, and many have found no one religion that speaks to their spirituality. Some, of course, are simply rebelling against all forms of religious authority.

Blinder< But, Ben, hasn't that rebellion been around for a very long time, even when people were taking their very lives in their hands by such refusal to accept church doctrine ?

Ben< Blinder: Yes, that rebellion has been around for a long time, but it wasn't nearly as socially acceptable has it has been recently.

Blinder< Exactly, but the very social acceptability of that rebellion now threatens the stability of "the Church". No longer are people willing to accept as gospel the proclamations of religion. I see this as both good and bad, as those who reject the moral code of the Church are now finding they must look within themselves for the defining concepts of their lives. Such a search can be very good, but if it doesn't take place ...

LadyV< Then our social order requires a change to find at the educational level a better awareness of spirituality and how to apply it within the structure of Church (for want of a better word ... whatever). It has to start with those that produce the leaders into the society.

Ben< ALL: I'm enjoying your inputs. Thanks, and please continue.

FRAML< The mainline Protestant religions got very stuffy and denied spiritual experience. The Roman Catholics had a bit of an opening, especially after Thomas Merton became influential. The Charismatic (Pentecostal) types had some aspects of spirituality, but usually not controlled, and other aspects of spirituality were heavily censored because of Deuteronomy 18.

Levita< In my experience, both religion and spirituality cease to serve once they become dogmatized and set in their ways with no room to say we have more information and need to revise our past stance, no room for error. Once any system has a following and a leader, no matter whether it is spirituality or religion, they tend to become more concerned with the group, as in what it means to be Catholic or Hindu, etc., versus searching for truth.

Ben< QUESTION 3: Do you personally like spirituality and dislike religion, as many say they do? If so, why? If not, why not? YOUR TURN

Bee49< I like spirituality but do not dislike religion. There is a place for religion, and had it not been for a "religious" background, I would not have searched for what I now have.

RunningRiver< The center of my being is my soul, a spiritual soul. I have a hard time with Religion. But it gives structure. Sometimes I miss the easy answers that Religions give. Spirituality in some sense is very lonely in your personal beliefs. There are some similarities, but basically you are on your own (but the guides and angels are a definite plus).

Ben< RunningRiver: Well said.

RunningRiver< Hi Ben, and Thank you. S*

FRAML< I'm into the spiritual aspects of Christianity (my faith/religion). I see them as complementary rather than contradictory. The influence of 'science' and 'reason' has hindered many by causing them to deny spiritual experiences.

Yopo< Hmm. *S* Not wanting to hurt feelings here. Uh, I personally have no use for organized religions that I have so far come in contact with. All have been too set on defining who and what is acceptable and unacceptable, often with too much emphasis on the latter. Guess I consider spirituality a purer and more direct quest for God.

Ben< FRAML, Yopo: Thank you.

RunningRiver< Yopo: I agree ... but for some that is what they want, and is it not about the spiritual path we have chosen? what makes us happy? Who am I, though they prosecute me for my beliefs, to condemn them for the path of structured religion? Church in some ways is a manifestation of fear and such, but I will tell you, I went to a evangelical church last Sunday just for laughs, and I saw angels there, and I saw something waving through the crowd as he touched them and they fell weeping. I felt the presence of God there. It's amazing to me, even though many are misguide in the truth, and yes, fear is taught too much. God showed his love there and the healing ... babble, babble ...

LadyV< RunningRiver: You saw the gift of Grace. I am glad for you.

RunningRiver< Thank you, LadyV. S*

Yopo< RunningRiver: *S* I'm not denying organized religion can be a true path for some.

RunningRiver< Yopo: S* In respect to unity, I guess in a sense it is. S*

FRAML< The questions about religion that ought to have been answered "I don't know" but doctrine says "This is it" are a point where spiritual growth is often quashed.

RunningRiver< Religion kinda takes away your choices; it makes everything so clear-cut. It takes away that freedom of choice and freedom of path that I have fought so long to find. I believe some people really need that structure ... not right or wrong, just another path. Amazing and beautiful the diversity that God has created ... something for everyone ... whatever fits the path and needs that a person needs.

LadyV< I would personally want to enter the Church building of my choice and have the Minister/Priest/Rabbi/whatever say to me "All are welcome here" and mean "as we are" not as the social order expects.

Ben< I like my own spirituality better than any religion, because it makes more sense to me. However, it could and probably should be called a personal religion, because it includes devotion to Deity, self-discipline, commitment, obedience, and adherence to principles of morality and ethics.

Blinder< Ah, but where do those concepts of morality and ethics come from, Ben ?

Ben< Blinder: Good point. I didn't invent them. I know where they came from. *smile*

Blinder< My point exactly. *s*

FRAML< Ben: I understand, but from what I've heard some say, they see spirituality as divorced from ethics, morals, and obedience. That it is becoming "god".

Ben< FRAML: Yes, spirituality doesn't necessarily include rules of morality, ethics, obedience, etc.

Yopo< FRAML: Yep. I've seen and worried about that, too. And I must confess, the ethics I have were first transmitted in a more or less religious context. They have changed and evolved from there, but that's what laid the foundation.

Levita< I for my part have no interest in being part of a large organization. Be it spiritual or religious, there tends to be too much emphasis put on the structure vs what the structure was created for in the first place. Therefore, if there is something of value that resonates for me, I utilize it within my framework of experience, and leave what for me I know doesn't work, and leave the rest for future reference. All large groups and even small ones also seem to me to get too wrapped up in giving power to one individual: the guru, the teacher, the priest.

LadyV< I guess what I am saying is, if I entered the Church and said "Father, your Uncle Henry is tapping you on your shoulder; best to listen" ... and not have him drop his dentures ... that would be the Church for me.

Yopo< LadyV: *LOL*

Ben< LadyV: Hah! Excellent! I'll have to try that.

RunningRiver< LadyV: LOL That would be nice. LOL I guess there's a tactful way of doing that. LOL

greyman< Ben: Spirituality is experiential and to some degree testable, with some tangible feedback; religion is an attempt to approximate God through ritual. Religion requires significant faith, whereas Spirituality can be subject to testing with repeatable results.

[Ben< greyman: Good point. Many of the tenets of many religions are not testable.]

bluestar< I think religions help parents engender spiritual ideals in their children, and I think they are also very useful in providing a space where like-minded people can gather and share and manifest their spiritual beliefs together.

RunningRiver< bluestar: Yeah ... True. But I have been different since I was too young to supposedly understand it. I was telling nuns in the third grade what it was all about, and that they were rationalizing and too controlling and God wasn't that mean. LOL My mother did support me in my differentness. *S*

SoulTraveler< I don't necessarily see a difference between a religion being separate from spirituality. A religion can, but doesn't always, provide a measure of spirituality. Some could say that soul-travel is spirituality, yet it conforms to no tenets of a religion.

FRAML< I wonder if some have gotten a fear of the organization to such an extent that they are thus unwilling to be a part of an organization to do what good they can within it -- to look quietly for like-minded people within that "structure". Perhaps that takes more courage and faith than just being alone in one's practice of spirituality?

Blinder< Good point, FRAML. You said a mouthful. *s*

LadyV< FRAML: I agree with you. That is what most of us would do. We know the cost of standing out. Few are brave enough to do that. God is not blind. It is for now a more balanced and rational way to promote social change. Easy does it. To discard religion would be unwise, as that is structure.

RunningRiver< FRAML: Yes. That is what I have been doing in church lately. *S* You know, it's really not that much different if you take away the shades of grey. *S*

Tracey< Ben: As in your earlier post, I seem to have developed my own religion, as I think we all do to some extent. In growing up in the Methodist Church, as a child of 6, I did not take into my heart the threats from God. It has never fit in my heart, so my ideals also encompass many paths.

Ben< FRAML, Tracey: Hang onto those thoughts. The next (and final) session of this seminar will be on spirituality *and* (or within) religion.

Ben< last question for tonight ...

Ben< QUESTION 4: I have read that New Age spirituality is in the process of becoming a religion. Do you agree? If so, why? If not, why not? YOUR TURN

Yopo< Strongly agree. I've been watching the emergence of New Age dogma for a few years now. There are certain "tenets of the faith"... one of which FRAML alluded to in an earlier post. I also am coming to the opinion that critical thinking is NOT given much importance in New Age circles. Find that a bit disturbing.

Blinder< If "New Age Spirituality" is the process of looking inwardly for your own connection with the Divine (as, I might add, almost every great spiritual leader has advocated), then I'd have to say No, for the concept violates the fundamental concept on which it was created.

Levita< Don't really know if it is possible for New Age to become a religion or not, as it is such a hodge-podge of many varying theories and beliefs. Usually religions have a defining set of guidelines as to what the belief is, whereas New Age is a searching process.

RunningRiver< The Gift of Prophesy, discerning spirits, exorcism, healing ... there is a line of similarity ... minus the fear condemnation, and hell. *S*

SoulTraveler< New Age often incorporates OBE's and NDE's, etc., as a form of spirituality; yet OBE's occur within the Christian Church and Eastern Religions as well.

Ben< SoulTraveler: Yes. Oftentimes, if one can get past the differences in vocabulary (semantics), New Age and Old Time Religion are saying much the same thing.

RunningRiver< SoulTraveler and Ben: Definitely. Why give energy to the negativity of the CHURCH? Envision the positive; maybe changes will take place, understanding. Who knows? The possibilities are unlimited.

SoulTraveler< Ben: I agree. Old Age Spirituality and New Age spirituality are more alike than different, it seems to me. I suppose you could take one facet of spirituality and create a religion around it. Similar to the 'Cargo Cults' of the South Pacific during WWII.

astarian< Throughout history, religions had more to do with wars.

Tracey< I am not sure that the New Age can be one religion. Many ideals and ideas are accepted; so, how would one make rules? And I hope that rules do not enter into it as much as acceptance for what is in the heart.

FRAML< Ben: I see it becoming a loosely structured religion. There are various writers, channelers, mystics, who are constantly quoted as "the source". And if one asks questions about it, one often gets an answer that is as dogmatic as anything from some Christians. Also, I wonder if the view that "Christians can't be spiritual" is becoming doctrine and dogma for non-Christian spiritualists.

bluestar< I think there are too many different beliefs that come under the heading of New Age Spirituality. Perhaps it will engender (as it has churches) some new religions, but the only single idea I could see coming out it is the idea that people can be their own priest/minister, and that they do not need a middle man to be in communion with God.

Blinder< Agreed, Bluestar.

FRAML< bluestar: It is interesting that Martin Luther, John Wesley, and Barton Stone were all convinced that one could have a personal relationship with Jesus and God ... that one didn't need a priest as an intermediary.

bluestar< FRAML: Interesting, indeed. :-) Perhaps, then, many or most New-Agers are children raised in Protestant religions, taking their religious reform movements to the next level.

order< bluestar: That presupposes that those who stay in religious groups are less 'advanced' than those who leave? *S

bluestar< order: I don't understand what you mean. I don't think people who leave their religion are necessarily more advanced than people who stay in their religion or people who try to reform/transform their religion. I left the religion I was raised in a long time ago for several different reasons, and I have never joined another; but as I have gotten older I have learned to appreciate the better side of religions more than I had for a long time.

order< bluestar: Dittos. It seems we have taken almost an exact same path, and learned to this point the same appreciation. *VBS

RunningRiver< God = Infinity = multifaceted = multipaths = multibeliefs = diversity.

smurf< Why the question, Ben? Why is it that one who is spiritual does not want to be seen as religious?

Ben< smurf: Good question. I think many would answer it in different ways, but perhaps most would not want to associate themselves with the religions around them.

smurf< Why does it matter?

Ben< It seems to me that lines are being more sharply drawn between what is and isn't New Age, and folks on both sides of those lines are becoming more dogmatic.

smurf< Ben: I respectfully disagree! The line that is being drawn here is the line that is perceived and felt, and the line that is sought here in the Net, where all is accepted and unquestioned, without the pressure of the 3D. But what good is it? When you must sign off and wake up in 3D and deal with folks that weren't here, what difference does this ALL make?

Ben< smurf: I wasn't saying how I think things should be. I was saying what I think I am seeing in recent New Age spirituality, and providing this forum for everyone to express their views.

Levita< smurf: I think religion (from my viewpoint anyway) tends to look out one window with one view. Spirituality is looking out many windows, opening many doors, and going on many journeys to glimpse many viewpoints.

order< Levita: I think maybe spirituality is more of who you are, what you do, rather than how many viewpoints you can glimpse? *VBS*

Levita< order: *S* (shrugs) I just like to leave no stone unturned and look upon as many vistas as possible. That allows a lot of connections to occur. Yes, I am a spiritual being, very much so; it is the essence of who I am.

StupidFish< smurf: It makes a difference to the folks who are broadening their thinking here tonight, and to the people they may speak to. I know it's small scale to start, but it really does make a difference.

Levita< smurf: All it takes is a small thing to create large ripples that flow outward from a single event to effect many. For me, religion doesn't fit very well, *S* but for others it works great and offers them much ... and I enjoy talking with open-minded priests and rabbis. etc., as I enjoy talking with open-minded spiritual workers. I just don't want to join anyone's group.

Tracey< To me, it does not matter what you call it as long as it is based in love and acceptance. That is why we are here, is it not? *S*

RunningRiver< Yeh!!!! Tracey!!! True!!!!

Yopo< Tracey: There are a great many ideas in the New Age petting zoo. Many are systems and ideas that were discredited a long time back. What binds some groups together is the willingness to accept just about ANYTHING. Where I sense danger is that frequently people don't want to analyze them, or reality test them, etc. Point out that "The Hundredth Monkey" story was simply made up, and you get a cross look. Ask what it might mean that auras cannot be used to determine if there is actually a subject concealed behind the edge of a screen, and you get another cross look.

greyman< Yopo: "Welcome to the monkey house" --Kurt Vonnegut, 1969.

Yopo< greyman: *S*

order< Yopo: Very nicely said. *VBS*

Tracey< Yopo: Yes, dear heart, it is so ... wherever people come together in any spiritual learning, there will always be the "cross looks" as many feel the need to think they are right, which seems to be ever so important to our way of being. But what if Right is accepting each and every one of us for the path we are on at this particular point in time? Tough one, that ... but seems to me, it is the basis of love.

RunningRiver< Religion is like a box ... a tag worn ... not very individual. I think that is the big thing. You gotta admit that most of us "New Agers" (for lack of a better word) are "rebels" so to speak. *S*

greyman< RunningRiver: Definition of God is overload. :o)

Tracey< ((Running River))) Yes, I think we are. *S*

RunningRiver< greyman and Tracey: SO, we are redefining what society has misconstrued by fear and misunderstanding. *S*

Tracey< Running River: I hope we are, darlin'. I hope we take the fear out of being ourselves. *S* Take the fear out of accepting what we feel is true in our own hearts, whatever that may be. Who am I to say anyone is wrong? It is not my path.

Blinder< Then the solution would seem to be to eschew labels entirely in favor of personal communion with the Divine. Whenever we accept a label, we deny anything that falls outside the parameters established by that label. Last I heard, God knew no boundaries.

bluestar< Blinder: I think this is why Jews made a rule/law/taboo against putting a name or a face on God. They understand that God has no boundaries.

SoulTraveler< Ethics should be an integral part of both Spirituality and Religion, IF one is true to his/her faith! imo

LadyV< SoulTraveler: Good statement! I like that.

SoulTraveler< (((LadyV))) *S* Thanks!

Ben< ALL: Okay, if you will bear with me for a minute, I would like to post three comments.

Ben< COMMENT: spiritual means "not material, not physical, not corporeal" -- so spirituality includes any belief that there is anything "not material, not physical, not corporeal" . There are many types of spirituality.

Ben< COMMENT: religion comes from Latin *re* meaning back or again (as in return), plus *ligare* meaning to tie or bind (as in ligament). Thus, the implied concept is that a religion ties or binds people back to something from which they separated, or leads them to connect themselves to something or someone again.

Ben< COMMENT: The main difference between spirituality and religion is that religion ties people to something or someone, whereas spirituality doesn't necessarily tie people to anything or anyone. Some religions and some types of spirituality are more (or less) binding than others, but this is the basic distinction.

Ben< ALL: IMHO you did a GOOD job with this series of questions. Namaste. /|\

Ben< /topic Discussion of spirituality *versus* religion

SoulTraveler< Perhaps Religion is the hardware and Spirituality is the software?

RunningRiver< I've seen a lot of psychology influencing a lot of spiritual ideas and beliefs. S*

LadyV< I am still on the word demarcation. That is my contention. It goes against my grain.

Levita< LadyV: LOL Honestly spoken.

Ben< LadyV: Demarcation basically refers to the establishment of boundaries. In religion, creeds often serve that purpose.

LadyV< Ben: Thank you.

FRAML< I have found many here who left organized religions because when they asked questions they were told "If you really believed, you'd know the answer." Those answers were probably from folks who didn't know the answer themselves. Also I think that a lot of us hear but don't believe in our heart and soul of having a personal one-on-one relationship with God. Thirdly, there are those who are so "me" oriented that they want to be equal to God and thus fall into the "oneness" theories.

LarryGC< FRAML: That's me! I asked questions and didn't get answers. I asked questions; I got back questions. I asked questions; I was told "That's the way it is" and "That's the way it's always been done".

FRAML< LarryGC: Yes, and that has not been realized by folks trying to figure out why they lost a generation. I guess I was fortunate because when I asked questions I was seen as wanting to learn and not "questioning" God or religion.

LarryGC< I was wanting to learn, too. Nobody had answers.

Blinder< *winks* Too true, my friend. To quote Joseph Campbell, "He who thinks he knows, doesn't know. He who knows he doesn't know, knows."

LarryGC< Blinder: My granddaddy used to say, "The more you know, the less you know."

Levita< LarryGC: Well, I can see that sometimes one answer to one question will in turn cause you to have ten more questions. LOL

order< LarryGC and Blinder: So, why seek? Why pray for wisdom and understanding, if it only depletes what little wisdom and understanding we already have?? *VBS

Blinder< *s* I think the intent is more along the lines of: "The more we learn and realize, the less we realize we know".

order< Blinder: Yes, I would agree with you; this approach, or wording, does not so much leave us proud of our ignorance, but rather teaches us humility. *VBS

Ben< order: I like this description I once heard: "If we truly expand the area of our knowledge, we necessarily expand the perimeter of our ignorance, and so the more we learn, the more we realize how much we do not know."

Levita< Ben: That is a good one indeed; must try to remember that one.

order< Ben: Where does it end? *VBS* When we seek for an answer, and we receive an answer, by the Grace of God or Spirit or whatever we wish to call It, we surely should not negate or take away from it. Even as we learn, even as we grow, even as we see that which we have yet to learn, we may rest and be thankful for that which has been given to us already?

Ben< order: I think the process I described doesn't end, and I like it that way. *S* But, yes, of course, I wasn't suggesting that we negate what we have learned, or grace. What I posted is just a description of what I call "rational humility".

order< Ben: I see. *VBS* I was just remembering a quote in which a famous individual said "Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened" but the perfection he spoke of (perfection meaning, I assume, the state of wholeness) was Love. Do we seek wisdom or Love ... or both? Or are they the same? Surely we may learn to become Love, Loving? *VBS*

sara7< order: I believe that phrase "Seek and you shall find" means "Seek the face of God and the mystery of God will be revealed unto you."

order< sara7: I see ... do we seek God's face for the wisdom, or is it wise to seek God's Face?

sara7< order: I do not seek God's face for the wisdom; I seek his face that I may recognize him in everything. Knowing God is in itself wisdom. Remember, even the elect shall be deceived. I only want to know my master's voice, face, and nature.

order< sara7: So do I! *VERY BIG SMILE*

Ben< order: As I see it, it is better to be loving and seek wisdom than it is to be wise and seek love. Loving motives set the direction, the purpose, and then wisdom provides the means.

SoulTraveler< Ben: *S* LOVE that quote! Very true.

order< Ben: Loving motives do set the direction ... to choose Loving motives is also wise ... seems to be a kinda chicken and the egg thingy again to me ? *S*

Yopo< Or perhaps Love is a sort of carrier wave. In my occasional lucid moments *S* I have thought that love might be the one pure thing of God that we are equipped to carry in our hearts. When we bring it in and carry it there, we form a connection to the Source. Two-way communication follows. Wisdom comes over the connection. I think too, perhaps, that it might be how we are connected to all the other souls that surround us.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, love is the link. Love creates caring-connections. Thus, those who love each other are spiritually connected, and those who do not love each other are not spiritually connected.

Yopo< Ben: It can sometimes feel like tuning in and finding the right frequency to me. A sort of "click" when the link is established. Have felt this sometimes with people no longer here. A tenuous thing, but for a moment something passes between. And with other creatures. Suddenly feeling love for a bird in flight, and feeling an odd sense of connectedness. Boundaries momentarily disappearing. There's more to love, I think, than the emotion we usually take it for.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, indeed, there is more to love than emotional reaction. Years ago, I realized that, for me, love is an action, not a reaction. It is something I can do. Doing it is what establishes my connection, and then, as you said, something goes *click* and things start to happen.

Levita< Yopo: re your last post to Ben, I totally agree. It is an overwhelming awe and admiration and embracement of all of creation, a pure love that excludes nothing from its embrace.

order< In the bible it says 'Fear is the beginning of wisdom' but the word 'fear' in that verse is simply AWE ... AWE I believe really is the beginning of wisdom.

Yopo< Levita: I wish only that I could keep that love at my center at all times. Not being able to seems the cause of all perception of imperfection. It is like trying to stay awake. I am forever falling back into a sleep of habitual behaviors, habitual thoughts. Then momentarily waking up.

Bink< Yopo: That isn't you; it's the "ego" -- the 'carnal mind' as the Bible has it. As we begin to realize this, we can refuse to give power to this false sense of us, no? *smile*

Yopo< Bink: I need maybe to get out of my own way. *S*

Levita< Yopo: Yes, I hear you. *S* For me, I find I connect there more often, the more spiritual work I do, and the more I focus on nature and creative work, as these are the things that help me keep that center. Do you have things that you find help you stay in that center?

Yopo< Levita: Yes. For me, also, nature is a path. When I get momentarily away from the chaos of Man's world, and out into a natural setting, often my heart seems to open up. I feel something holy there. *S*

order< Levita and Yopo: Agreeing completely with you both.

bluestar< FRAML: [re your post about questions] I agree. I did not verbalize many questions to my church (too shy to do that). I just disagreed because my personal experience with God wasn't jiving with a lot of what I learned. Some did, but there were some major disagreements. Being somewhat of a skeptic, though, I have been more or less dragged kicking and screaming to many of the conclusions I now have regarding God and spirituality, by my life experiences (which tend to be kind of heavily on the spiritual side).

FRAML< bluestar: I understand. Read Ben's "Dialogue with Trudy" for a story of a similar person. Also there are a couple of people whom I've gotten to know here, who were raised and stayed in mainline Christianity, but were relieved when they found out that they weren't so unusual after all, having psychic experiences or abilities.

bluestar< Yes, it is wonderful we have this forum to share our spirituality with each other. Thank you all. :-)

Blinder< There is little doubt that every religion has had its share of those who transcended the rules and strictures to realize what lay beyond them. The question is, will we ?

Levita< Blinder: A good question, indeed. *S*

Tracey< Blinder: I certainly hope we do, darlin', as the other way is not working. Do you see "new age spirituality wars"? I hope not, I think not ... and if you will, I pray not.

LadyV< Blinder: Excuse me, but "we" would not be here on this site if we were not doing just that. (smiling) Of course I have only seen us agree totally on one thing in here, and that is when one is hurt, the others forget all conflicts and aid the best we can. After that, it's ... well ... hummm ... a little bit of debate. (laughing)

order< Blinder: There surely is little doubt that many spiritual individuals opt to stay with the guidelines of an organization, not to get, but to give, to share. I think E. Cayce was one of these enlightened souls, but think there are lots more. *s*

Blinder< Ah, but order, surely the decision to live one's life within an order is not a decision to stop looking within? Indeed, the decision to STAY in an order once one has realized one's true nature must be commended, for it is a decision to try to aid one's fellow man in his search for his own truth.

order< Blinder: Perhaps. I am not so sure. I think it is a decision simply to stay and give and love and share and work with others. Seems a bit pious to assume we have what another is lacking in spirit? Is it not best to just love, and let Spirit do the rest ? ... maybe ?

RunningRiver< I like spirituality because of its acceptance, love and tolerance. I think a lot of those who have turned from religion do so because of the lack of those things ... and self-righteousness too in the churches, and dictation, and the black and white world that they try to make you live in ... that is found in the religion.

LarryGC< Religion: exclusionary. Spirituality: inclusionary. Three things clog your soul: negativity, judgment, and imbalance.

Tracey< **Running River** Seems we have the same heart, darlin'. *S*

Levita< Running River: I have unfortunately witnessed a lot of intolerance in spirituality as well. Just throwing this out here, not disagreeing with your statement.

Tracey< Levita: As have I, darlin', but it is the ideal that is nice to go to sleep with each night, isn't it? ... that one day we can all ACCEPT each other as is without judging. *S*

SoulTraveler< I left the Christian Church when I was 17 and never regretted it, although it took me quite a while to get past 'judging' them being less 'spiritual' because they clung to the old and I embraced the 'New'. It takes time, experience, wisdom, and love to accept everyone as being where they 'choose to be'.

order< SoulTraveler: Tipping hat to you. Sounds very loving and wise to me. *VBS*

SoulTraveler< order: *VBS* Thank you.

Tracey< SoulTraveler: Yes ... it takes lots of time. Perhaps our entire lifetimes.

Levita< Tracey: *S*

StupidFish< SoulTraveler: I don't really dig the church as a whole myself ... but honestly, it's all there, just massively misunderstood, I think. But if it's doing those folks some good, then so be it. The gap between religion and spirituality on a whole is huge. But some people only need a little and desire nothing more. Perhaps their time will come later, but for now, that's for them.

SoulTraveler< StupidFish: *S* Yes, I agree.

Wonder< StupidFish: And it is a great learning for each of us to allow them that choice. *S*

SoulTraveler< Wonder: *VBS* This is like the 'Spiritual Town Hall Meeting' where ideas and beliefs and insights are floored and re-floored. Yet hopefully ALL will gain something.

Wonder< SoulTraveler: I am sure we all gain something, whether we realize it in the moment or not. *VBS*

Blinder< StupidFish: I think the point is that people can seek their enlightenment within whatever context feels right to them. If the sincere wish and devotion is there, the Divine doesn't care.

SoulTraveler< Blinder: *S* Yes, it's as if SPIRIT is desperately willing to try ANYTHING that we can come up with in order to relate and communicate with IT. If we believe in path (A), then Spirit will accommodate. Should we choose (X), then Spirit responds accordingly, and so on.

Blinder< Agreed, my friend.

StupidFish< Blinder: Absolutely. I just believe in a more 'dynamic' approach to it. Organized religion in most cases really isn't that flexible. But again, to each his own and God bless 'em! Also, I think that while the Divine doesn't care about the path, the path is what is important, and it's really easy to fall under something and let it become an enormous crutch. I just think that it takes some work ... not just learning scripture and such, but actually doing some stuff. Making yourself a better person is the first step, then learning about yourself, then moving to whatever path it may be. For some folks, they just never release themselves from the boundaries that may be felt or imposed by an organized religion ... when discovering true spirit is boundless. Just my thoughts, not practice here ... but belief. Good happiness stuff to ya!

LarryGC< But StupidFish, has NOTHING worth mentioning happened in the last 1999 or so years?

StupidFish< LarryGC: Not sure what you're getting at, but I'm not summing up people as a whole, only my experience and take on it. Could you expand a bit?

LarryGC< Oh, just a comment that all the world's religions seem to be based on things that happened long ago, and the people who did those things. The "Latest" is from 1999 years ago. The others, Buddha, Moses, Abraham, etc, are all from longer ago than that ... like NOTHING's happened in the last two thousand years.

Levita< LarryGC: A very valid point. *S*

StupidFish< LarryGC: I'm still not sure what you're view is here, but yes, plenty has happened in the length of the Gregorian calendar, and lots more happened before then ... if, of course, you believe the Earth existed then ... but I'm still missin' it here ... for I am the StupidFish. What are your beliefs?

LarryGC< My beliefs have nothing to do with my observations. :) I'm still not really sure of 'beliefs'. I just know I'm Here Now ... the Present ... my past, my beginning being less than 40 years ago. I always used to think that if there was ONE truth, then EVERYONE would agree on it just like we do in Base 10: 2+2=4.

StupidFish< LarryGC: My beliefs at this point are semi-clear but still unfocused. In equation form, it's something like infinity = 1. Not something everyone would agree on.

SoulTraveler< LarryGC: To me, spiritual 'beliefs' are similar to physical laws. I observe a hammer falling; therefore, I conclude the Law of Gravity to be in effect, therefore I BELIEVE that if I step off a 10-story building I will fall. Actually you can take it a further step into KNOWING ... unless the laws of physics change radically.

dancer< I think to me the difference between spirituality and religion is two-fold: religion is the law of morality; spirituality is the breath of it. Religion sets boundaries; spirituality supersedes them through the purity of it's own reflection. In many ways it is through the repetitive rituals of religion that we come to the place of freeing ourselves to move within spirit.

Tracey< Ya know, it strikes me as though we are all here because we seek a better world ... because we care enough to be talking here rather than sleeping. Perhaps the new beginning is started only in "wanting". *S* Love and peace to you all.

Levita< Tracey: Good point; it is a start. (hug)

SoulTraveler< Tracey: *VBS* Good to see you. I have friends now in various paths including Christian, and I am honestly joy-filled for them, and want nothing but their happiness and further spiritual growth in their chosen path. At other times I would have tried to enlighten them or convert them (haven't we been there on the receiving end before?) or in some way imply that I was on higher, more enlightened spiritual ground!

Tracey< SoulTraveler: Peace and love to you. Glad you are OK. Been on my mind. *S*

SoulTraveler< ((((Tracey)))) *VBS* Thank you so much.

LadyV< bluestar: I learned in being with the elderly that one does return to the basic value of the Church of one's youth. As one approaches the last path or is on that path, assurances are needed more than ever. The structure of the Church (regardless of which Church) helps at this time. I can understand a little of your last messages.

LarryGC< LadyV: That's only because they wish the gathering of others. Perhaps when WE grow old, gathering at SWC will suffice. :)

LadyV< LarryGC: Good point: it is important to have a support system. Structure provides this in the Church. SWC provides this structure and support for many ... in a sense ... not entirely. Most of us have support systems outside of this site.

LarryGC< You do, LadyV? That's great. I don't know too many people in the flesh, other than those I've met on-line here at gatherings, and most of them don't live nearby at all.

LadyV< LarryGC: Sorry I was not clearer to you. I am saying a support group outside and off of the Internet. I have had only one in this group as a sharer in 3D. She is sadly now dead. I am only in this group on the Internet by choice.

LarryGC< Yes, LadyV, that's what I was referring to. The ONLY people I know on any form of spiritual path, in the flesh, are those I met on-line here via SWC. I don't know anyone outside and off the Internet who shares my Dyeristic views.

LadyV< LarryGC: That's a little difficult for you. Have you been to a Library and just talked to a pretty girl about your views? Or maybe had lunch at a diner near a college? I am sorry to hear that people are that isolated in sharing, especially in regards to a book.

LarryGC< A library? You mean the New Age section? Interesting idea. Well, no, but I've been to Walden's and BDalton's before and never really met anyone in those sections, now that you mention it.

LadyV< LarryGC: You've got to speak up and say Hello ... start the chat with someone ... let others know your interest. You might be surprised.

LarryGC< Great idea, LadyV ... easier typed than done. This is NY. It's amazing that I go to Dyer seminars and meet a few hundred Dyer type people, but they're all strangers before and after, for the most part.

StupidFish< LadyV: I agree that a support system is very important, but at what point does it become a crutch? Not an argument here, just a question. I feel that many people become content in their support systems, whatever they may be, and tend to see it as the end result ... but that's just me.

LadyV< StupidFish: Not so sure about crutches ... a little lost here about that. We are social animals. The elderly require this because they are weaker and are approaching death. The young require this because they are not mature enough to handle life. It makes life a little easier when you have a neighbor ... or I feel so.

StupidFish< LadyV: Yes, absolutely ... but I do think that some things, support groups for example, or any number of ceremonies or rituals or just personal routines, can become a 'crutch' when dealing with spirituality or perhaps just day-to-day life. These things may inhibit a person from moving forward because it's just so comfy at that place and moment, or perhaps they don't want to break the 'social' thing and leave the group. In my terms, I see something like that as having huge value for a person when they're getting started or in a time of crisis, but at a point it's not needed anymore except when dealing with others that may value it's presence. Things are always easier when they're within a set of boundaries ... kinda takes the guesswork out of it ... and eventually all the work. Then it becomes a 'crutch'. Just one man's opinion here.

LadyV< StupidFish: I can appreciate your views. I suppose, because I work with men and women and see how lonely they are and what happens to them when they are isolated socially and otherwise, that I am more supportive of sharing with others. A man generally stands alone between 2 years and about 50 years, then he reaches for a hand ... believe me he does ... and it is the shock of his life (or her life). It's OK to be independent. Our social order in the US promotes this in males. Not so in other societies. However, I do see and will reflect on the points you made.

LarryGC< "We are our form and our formlessness. We are both visible and invisible, and we need to honor our totality, not just what we can see and touch."

Levita< LarryGC: Well, I have been judged by those who are religious and by those who are spiritual. *shrugs* *S* I have yet to find a niche in 3D with others. One day, maybe, but if not *shrugs* that is OK, too. *S*

LarryGC< The spiritual path, or at least the path Dyer helped me get on, requires no niche. Be with me, or get out of my Light.

sara7< If you seek God's face, nobody or nothing can be in your light -- you are in the front of the line.

~*sheba< I am not sure if I even think of God as having a face. Or is that more of a rhetorical question about seeing God's Face?

LarryGC< Until someone can be LarryGC better than me, I'm stuck with the job.

Levita< LarryGC: Well, I think you are doing a wonderful job of being you. *S*

LarryGC< Not always easy, Levita. If it were EASY, everyone could do it! :)

order< LarryGC: Why is it NOT easy? *S*

Levita< LarryGC: Well, just remember, even Kermit the frog sings about how it isn't easy being green. lol ;-)

sara7< Green is my favorite color.

---------- [parallel conversation] ----------

Levita< FRAML: I personally subscribe to the "oneness" theory, but more like everything is interconnected and part of one big creation; thus we are one but also part of the one. I am not the creator or equal to the creator, but a part of the creator.

FRAML< Levita: I used 'oneness' as a catch-all phrase, but was thinking more of those who say that they will become equal to God, etc. I guess I have no desire to be an 'as-god', I'm content to be an as-angel, doing his bidding. For me having the divine spark of life makes me a part of God's realm, but not an actual part of God. (If that makes sense, seeing that God is spiritual and not physical.)

Levita< FRAML: Yes, I understand what you are saying, and by what you say know that in some ways we have similar but also differing viewpoints. *S* But the positive is that we can communicate these ideas in a good and non-judgmental way.

FRAML< Levita: I won't argue to convert a person to my position. However, I retain my ability to decide if they are on the "best" road to get to their destination. (I just don't have to be so discourteous as to throw that decision in their face.)

SoulTraveler< FRAML: But HOW can you determine from your point of view what is right for them? I know you mean well, but I don't see how you could call that shot. Especially with all the ramifications and influences to consider in changing another's life course. *S*

FRAML< SoulTraveler: I compare what they say they believe to how they act in the room. Also by examining the path they explain they are taking to get to the goal. I make a decision about their path relative to the intended goal and my own journey. I do not condemn them for taking their path. Also I do not attack them, though I've been accused of attacking when I've asked a person to explain "why" they believe, just as I expect I must be ready to do if they ask me "why" I believe in my path.

SoulTraveler< FRAML: *S* I see, now that you've clarified. I agree.

StupidFish< I clarified some butter tonight at work. Much easier than speaking clearly on the 'net. Man, I really miss sittin' around and talkin' about stuff with a good friend. Always an adventure!

LarryGC< PATH? what path? I don't want to generalize, but most people I know who say they are spiritual seek spirituality. Most people who say they are religious think that means going to Church or synagogue once a year or maybe a bit more. Some even go every Sunday. But once they walk out those doors, there's no religion in their actions of the week.

FRAML< LarryGC: Yep, being "religious" has all sorts of shadings & attendance.

sara7< FRAML: Hence came the verse "Many are called but few are chosen".

FRAML< sara7: Oh, I though it was "few choose to follow." I'll check it out later.

LarryGC< My path is what I've paved through Wayne Dyer, however. He's helped me see my way clear.

SoulTraveler< I met Wayne Dyer in Atlanta about 3 years ago. Whole Life Expo.

LarryGC< Yes, I've spent time with Wayne as well, in 1996 and 1997. He played the best rendition of Amazing Grace I've ever heard, singing with the whales just before intermission. Great seminar it was in 96 & 97. I was to see him this year, but [hurricane] FLOYD canceled it.

---------- [parallel conversation] ----------

Levita< FRAML: Yes, I agree. I don't think it is anyone's job to convert anybody to anything. *S* Sharing and discussing why someone feels or understands their world the way they do is very broadening; it enables us greater understanding. Everyone is on a very individual path that is their journey alone and I would never want to take on mapping out someone's journey or telling them what to do while on that journey. To me, it would not be appropriate, for I know some of the roads I have journeyed on would not be for everyone.

Wonder< Levita: I agree with you. When we are able to see another's perspective, it DOES broaden ours.

SoulTraveler< Levita: *S* I agree. I wouldn't know where to begin trying to determine whether someone was on the 'most efficient' or 'right' spiritual path to their destination. And how would you know what that 'destination' is anyway? They may not even know.

order< Levita: Many Christians take the New Testament words of Jesus seriously, when he talks about going out into the highways and byways to compel them to come in, also when he talks about the fields being ripe with so few reapers. So, many Christians do feel it is their job to 'convert' others, so to speak. I understand this dedication in them. *S*

Levita< order: Sorry, I would have to get the bible out to see the context of the particular passage you quoted to me, *S* so I really can't intelligently respond to that last post.

SoulTraveler< order: I understand that as well, and I accept Christians having the 'need' to try and convert, for that very act implies a great LOVE and dedication or else they wouldn't undertake such a task. I've had many conversion attempts, and used to react with anger, resentment, indignation, and such ... but now it really doesn't bother me, partly from knowing they have nothing else to fall back on. So WHY knock their props out from under them? especially if we have nothing to replace them with. Would any here knock the crutches out from under someone? So why do it spiritually then?

[The following seems to have been in reply to a private message from LadyV]

SoulTraveler< LadyV: Just meant that 'neither side' should attempt to knock the crutches or props or belief systems out from under another, regardless of how 'crippling' and 'limiting' they may seem to us (being the more enlightened!) *LOL*

order< SoulTraveler: I admire your tolerance, however I don't think I would call their dedication a crutch. To them it is simply the Way ... like your chosen belief is your way ... maybe. *S

SoulTraveler< order: Didn't mean to imply that Christians or what-have-you are hobbling on spiritual crutches and that I am not. *G* What I was getting at was that beliefs *can* be crutches, and if I recognize them as crutches I still shouldn't attempt to knock them out from under someone. Even our most 'lofty' beliefs could be viewed as crutches by someone else. imo

order< SoulTraveler: I am so glad you clarified this. Your answer is full of love and understanding, and I am happy to read it. *Hugs*

SoulTraveler< (((order)))) *LOL* I knew you understood.

order< SoulTraveler: I did understand, but thought to provoke you to expound ... enjoyed your response. *S

SoulTraveler< order: I am laughing over this 'image' in my mind of everyone hobbling around on spiritual crutches and at the same time saying "HEY YOU! Do you realize you're hobbling on crutches?" and at the same time not realizing that they themselves are on crutches! *LOL*

Levita< SoulTraveler: lol Oh, I can see it now: used crutches for sale ... various sizes available and some barely used at all.

order< SoulTraveler: ahaha ... do you suppose we really look like this? Perhaps we do! *LOL* Now you've got me laughing too.

SoulTraveler< order: ROTFLMAO over this!

order< SoulTraveler: ahahahaha! ... you're a Stitch tonight. lol

sara7< SoulTraveler: Remember when I kept falling out of the room? That was 'cause somebody took the rubber thingy off the bottom of my crutch. LOL!!

SoulTraveler< ((((sara7)))) *VBS* It's those 'teachers' and 'Masters' and such that are removing those rubber booty things. Causing us to pitch and roll and fall and stumble! *LOL*

sara7< Praise the Lord! Laughter is medicine ... I am healed!

SoulTraveler< sara7: Yes, laughter from the heart and soul is healing. I am so SORE from laughing I NEED a healing! *LOL* ~WHEW~ !!!

sara7< lol, lol, lol, lol, lol!!! ha ha he he he ha he, it hurts!

---------- [parallel conversation] ----------

~*sheba< SoulTraveler: I have not thought of it that way, but I think that is true, in a way. We are all searching, and when we find what we see as truth, we tend to look at others as not finding the truth ... when it feels sometimes like it takes a million eyes to see God, and those eyes being human trying to see what may be unseeable with human eyes.

SoulTraveler< ~*sheba *VBS* It will be wondrous to finally, truly SEE with the Spiritual Eyes and lay down the Crutches on our own ... knowingly so!

~*sheba< SoulTraveler: *S* Yes, that would be a wonderful thing. It seems I have spent my whole life searching for all the pieces of the puzzle, but the picture won't stay still long enough. And then there is always that one piece that you just can't find, and if you try and cram another in its spot, it ruins what you would see. *G*

20. Spirituality and/or religion
Session 3 -- Spirituality *and* religion
Sat 16 Oct 1999

Ben< This seminar is exploring two subjects -- spirituality and religion -- to see where they overlap and where they don't. Tonight we will look at one of the ways in which spirituality and religion are interrelated. Ready? Here we go.

Ben< QUESTION 1: If people believe that spirituality means personal experience, what can be expected to happen in each generation of the human race? YOUR TURN

FRAML< They will be constantly re-inventing the wheel. There will be no progress because they are not going to use any history of experiences of others. They will not have the tools to figure out what has and hasn't worked in the past.

Yopo< Not sure. Might be that a freshness would remain in our belief systems. If direct personal spiritual experiences have some degree of commonalty, wouldn't necessary upset the apple-cart of our cherished traditional beliefs. There might be some sort of evolution that would be an ongoing part of them.

Ben< FRAML, Yopo: Thank you. Others?

Lor< FRAML: Surely not. Why shouldn't they generate a history? If the experiences were sufficiently significant, I should think their witness to others, at least with their close friends and family should tend to build a cherished spiritual culture.

bluestar< I don't really understand the question, Ben; but re: FRAML's response, which is a probable outcome, it's also possible some people will share their spiritual experiences as they do now and have done in the past (John, Ezekiel, Daniel), and that others will find confirmation (as I do) in the experiences of others (though the details may differ).

Lor< If each generation observes a personal spiritual experience, then each generation can bear witness to it. Is that what you are driving at, Ben?

Ben< Lor: Good point. Spiritual truths are rediscovered, so testimony does tend to converge, if and when semantic differences are straightened out so people are not talking past each other.

bluestar< Yopo: I agree with your comment about freshness. Spirituality, though on many levels may be constant, needs a newness of experience (IMHO) to remain relevant to each generation.

Ben< I think there are two answers to this question: the good news is, each generation will re-discover many aspects of spirituality; the bad news is, each generation will re-learn many lessons the hard way.

RunningRiver< Spirituality depends on what angle or perspective you look at it. It's not so much generations as it is the individual progression towards their ultimate outcome. But I do think awareness as a whole is progressing from generation to generation. It seems that we reached a low which we are now ascending from in a new way with new energy combined with the old ways and knowledge. S*

Basil< Running River: I agree. Perspective creates the reality. But it is up to the individual. Perseverance, dedication, love, and compassion are key elements.

RunningRiver< Basil: Definitely! S* Knowledge of Good and Bad are always very important and helpful. It is what is done in the hands, mind, and spirit of a person that is either good or bad. There is always misuse and abuse of energy and power, and also misunderstandings of their purpose, but of course all of this is used to learn lessons (or not, if one chooses not to learn).

tracey< I think sometimes that the spirituality we learn from others can actually take us off our path. Perhaps our interpretation is different than the accepted "norm" and people, being people, are many times afraid to speak out if they have a different point of view. Sometimes it takes years of wondering why you don't "fit". Past experience of others is a wonderful tool when it is used as: "Does this fit in your soul?" If it is presented as though: "This better fit in your soul" then it seems to cause self-doubt in many people. IMHO.

Lor< I should think that if people shared their spiritual experiences more openly, we all would be much more knowledgeable regarding the truths that such experiences evoke and be much better off.

RunningRiver< Lor: That is so true. Being able to look at another's path in an unbiased way would be ideal, and I believe would aid in everyone's growth. S*

Lor< RunningRiver: Granted we tend to be a bit reticent about being too open again, once we've experienced some unkind/un-understanding or unsympathetic response to a shared spiritual experience.

RunningRiver< Lor: True, I definitely don't advertise my gifts or beliefs too much in public unless I am called to do so, and/or feeling brave that day. Most are not receptive and very negative. But I have been pleasantly surprised. I decided to used my religious freedom more lately as expression of love. Good point. S*

Ben< QUESTION 2: This generation is rediscovering aspects of spirituality such as the existence of discarnate entities (angels, ghosts, demons, etc), channeling, OBE, NDE, etc. Which of these rediscoveries do you think are good news? Or bad news? Why? YOUR TURN

FRAML< Ben: Rediscovery of discarnates is good, however the concept that "all discarnate's are good" is bad and dangerous. Channeling without examining the content and the purpose for it can be bad, for folks can be misled by a discarnate seeking to control them.

Lor< Ben: It seems that each generation still has to relearn many lessons the hard way.

Basil< Ben: I don't believe in any of the things you listed. But I do think each is an expression of consciousness. The viewer creates his reality by his beliefs. I hope this makes some sense.

RunningRiver< Basil: That is an interesting view... makes sense. S*

Basil< Hmmm. I wonder what the world would be like if humans had compound eyes like an insect. Would the world BE different? Or would our perception be different? And which is the more "real"?

RunningRiver< Basil: That is a really neat way of looking at it. One Universe, different perspectives of reality. Whatever fits a person's path and willingness to expand that path to encompass others beliefs or at least the tolerance of those beliefs. *S*

Basil< Running River: It is more than that. What my hypothesis suggests is that we are CREATORS. This is not a passive thing. We actively create the reality we express in our words, aspirations, thoughts, and visions.

RunningRiver< Basil: Yes, true... I believe we are able to create and attract things into our lives once we take control and realize that we are able to do this. Very enlightened perspective. S* As are all of the thoughts expressed here. S*

[Ben< Basil: We create many things, but unless we are blinded by our beliefs, we discover that realities exist whether or not we believe they exist.]

Yopo< From my own perspective, I think ALL these rediscoveries are good news. I believe the single most dangerous 20th Century trend was that of accepting materialism as a self-evident truth. Think we were in danger of losing belief in any sort of spiritual dimension to the universe. ALL those things force a reexamination of a dangerous premise.

Lor< I suspect that God has arranged for many of us to experience all these, so that we can better assess his nature, or at least to better assimilate truths about what life is and can be like. I agree with Yopo that this is surely good.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, I agree that the rediscovery of spiritual realities is an absolutely essential antidote for materialism (and humanism). In my opinion, that is the very good news in this generation. Excellent point.

Lor< I sense that it is our own personal spiritual experiences that tend to keep some of the well-meaning, but sometimes misguided, teachings of our forbears in check and help to put them in perspective.

RunningRiver< Lor: Ideally, yes, but I find people don't like to admit to misguided intentions, or impure (self centered intolerant, prejudiced) intentions. I guess it depends on a person's willingness to look at themselves, good and bad.

bluestar< I think the good news is that we become more aware of things that exist within/outside our own dimensional 'reality.' However, I also think that many people learn "the hard way" that discarnate entities are not always what they seem to be, or present themselves to be. Working with discarnate entities is kind of like exploring a dark cave without much of a map (imo). It's relatively easy to get hurt and never make it out again.

Ben< I see many people rediscovering the reality of angels and benevolent ghosts, and I think that is good news. On the other hand, I see many people rediscovering the reality of possessive ghosts and demons, and I think that is bad news. In fact, my email in-box is filled with bad news -- from people who have evil voices in their heads or are nearly possessed by evil spirits and asking for help. I do what I can for them, but I wish there was a way to clearly teach more people how to avoid those situations and find the good spirits.

Yopo< Ben: But... weren't such influences there anyway, unsuspected? Or are you meaning that once folks believe in such things, they make a conscious -- and maybe ill-advised -- effort to open themselves up to them?

FRAML< Yopo: I wonder which is more dangerous, outright denial of those influences or "ill-advised" efforts to open up to them, as an act of 'rebellion' or "wanting to get the experience?" Or perhaps they are equally dangerous.

pt< Ben: What about the theory of like attracting like? What is the soul status of the folks who are emailing you? Positive or Negative? Are you saying they are victims?

Ben< Yopo: People have been encouraged to channel discarnates without being warned of the dangers involved or told how to avoid at least some of those dangers. We are seeing the results of that. Ignorance is bliss until reality intervenes.

pt< I agree on that one, Ben. You must set your criteria if you are channeling ... but is there a piece missing here?

[Ben<pt: Yes. There is a missing piece here that most people don't seem to know: What one *wants* determines the type of spirits that one attracts.]

RunningRiver< I believe victims are making a choice, whether consciously or unconsciously, to be in the place they are in. If they are conscious enough to email about the horrible "things" around them, they are conscious enough to make an effort to take advice to get rid of the negative?

LadyV< The power of suggestion is very strong. We are put into subliminal suggestions in our daily lives. One example is the subliminal suggestion on the screen here: LOVE. Those that are of peace project positive subliminal messages; those that choose mischief and confusion do the opposite. It depends on the person as to how the message is received.

Lor< Ben: I don't view people's experiences with the dark side as altogether BAD, but perhaps necessary for them to learn how to cope with that side. In this sense, I believe I can see perhaps the purpose God had in providing such possibilities for us to experience.

[Ben< Lor: I don't believe that God created evil (malevolent) beings. I believe God is benevolent, but some of God's children use their free will contrary to the will of God. Yes, it is good for us to learn how to cope with malevolent beings; it is better for us to learn how to find -- and become -- benevolent beings.]

RunningRiver< Lor: Yes, I agree. I have dealt with "evil" or at least opened my self to "evil". It was my doing and lack of knowledge that caused these experiences, but as bad as they were, I am stronger now and more able to help others because of these experiences. It's like God doesn't create or stop bad things in our lives, but he can take that "bad" thing and turn it into an instrument in order to create and promote good things in our lives. If that makes sense. S*

Ben< QUESTION 3: In your opinion, what is the primary purpose of organized religion? In other words, what does any organized religion actually do or try to do? YOUR TURN

RunningRiver< I believe those who choose to be in an organized religion get a feeling of belonging, a connection to something larger than them that they are unable to obtain on their own. It is structure and agreement that what they believe in is right and revered. It's a safe little box that is excepted by society on the whole.

pt< Organized religion exists to show us what spirituality is not.

Basil< Organized religion has ossified. At its best, religion provides a foundation for faith. But in its decadent form, religion is no more than a mechanism for control. The good news is that religion has an organic quality. It is born, lives a natural life span, dies and is reborn as something newer and finer. There is hope.

RunningRiver< Basil: True, it seems that organized religion attracts people who need control in their lives, or to be controlled by rules, fear, regulations that set their boundaries.

FRAML< The organization carries on the teachings of it's founder, and sacred texts. The organizations, being run by mankind, are fallible and can get into stressing points that weren't an issue at the origin. Also can develop arguments for use with those who disagree with the sacred teachings; thus doctrine and dogma develop.

Yopo< I believe the primary function is to codify spiritual beliefs into a simple enough form that most can understand, to make them into a neatly-wrapped package easily passed on through time. But also think that in being so packaged, they are often simplified to the point where the underlying meaning doesn't quite come through. By providing a set of "final answers" they can satisfy a human need for certainty, and remove the impetus to search and discover for oneself. Sort of a mixed bag.

[Ben< Yopo: Yes, simplification as a means of transmitting spiritual beliefs over time, from the adults of one generation to the children of the next generation, is how and why religions develop creeds and catechisms and similar materials.]

LadyV< Organized religion is a social structure. Define social structure and one has the Church... whatever the belief system is.

Basil< LadyV: I agree and disagree. Bring up children with a structure, but allow them to choose when they come of age. Freedom of choice for a child will only cause confusion, but freedom of choice as an adult is a RIGHT.

LadyV< Basil: Did I imply that? (smiling) I said I think that children should learn tolerance at an early age along with academic studies. Let me give you an example to make myself a bit clearer, and it is my error that I did not do so. If you stick your foot in an Arab's face, he will curse you unto the generations. (smiling) It is better to know that, better to respect that, better to know his religion... makes for peace in the end.

Basil< LadyV: I have walked amongst the Arabs. I know what you are talking about. And by my good fortune, I met the Arab people as an adult. But I would not inflict on a "western" child my experiences. Let them try it for themselves when they come of age. *S*

RunningRiver< Tolerance... letting others live their lives, believe as they will, and I live my life and believe as I will... Is that it, LadyV?

LadyV< Tolerance is courtesy and respect. It is what we are taught in our family structure as kindness. I generally try not to tell a man how to mend his own fence... it is his fence. (smiling)

RunningRiver< LadyV: LOL But if that fence keeps falling in my yard, it gets annoying. LOL

Ben< I think the primary purpose of any organized religion is to preserve something. When a religion is young, disciples try to preserve the spirituality of their teacher, and that includes lessons their teacher learned by experience. Then they create organizations to preserve the teachings. Later generations preserve (and sort and sift) an accumulating mass of traditions and interpretations, and eventually the primary purpose becomes preservation of the organization itself.

RunningRiver< Ben: That is what has happened. It no longer matters if it is wrong, but just that to remove it or change it would destroy a world built on it. It would cause pain and chaos for most to realize that they got it wrong or at least twisted what was originally intended.

Yopo< Perhaps social structure is needed by most social creatures. Would be nice to think it also serves as a sort of gateway to spiritual experience. Hasn't for me, but it may be for others, so as an outsider maybe it isn't my place to judge.

MonaHawke< ((((Yopo))) Which 'religions' do you think teach the 'experience' of spirituality? if any?

RunningRiver< All these are paths, things, experiences, people, that are needed to be experienced for reasons not always obvious to those that consider themselves more enlightened. It's a matter of perspective. Or better yet, it may not be what we need on our path for growth but it is what helps them (arguable), and who am I to say what right for them? I have grown past the dogma and structure but there are those who thrive on it and need it for some reason for their own personal growth.

Basil< RunningRiver: Yes, what you say is true. But without outside control, many would run rampant. True freedom requires much personal integrity and self-control. For those who cannot trust themselves, religion provides a brake on our more base impulses.

LadyV< Basil: Concerning your statement, "religion provides a brake on our more base impulses" allow me to say religion is losing ground in that. When blood is spilled anywhere on any ground, and those being innocent children, religion is in need of repair. Since I am a member of an organized religion, I take all this very seriously. I am one and only one, and I am worried. We all are worried.

pt< We are all only ONE, LadyV. :-)

LadyV< pt: Yes! Yes!! That's the idea. We are just one. Think of what the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa of India have done. They attempted to understand us all as we are. The key here is to listen and understand. I feel that each child should learn cultures as they learn the academic lessons. Start early, teaching them tolerance. All the dogma and whatever else in this world is not worth much if you don't see your neighbors as they are and accept them as they are. Since they accept your quirky ways, it is polite to accept theirs. (grinning)

pt< Organized religion limits personal responsibility for belief and therefore limits personal growth.

RunningRiver< pt: I didn't completely understand your last comment. Could you expand?

pt< RunningRiver: When you are "taught" what to believe and how to express it, there is no room to remember your Self made beliefs and express them.

RunningRiver< pt: True...

Basil< pt: A church and a jail cell are much the same thing. The difference is: In the first, the individual submits by free will. In the second, the offender is placed there by force, by the authority of the state. Either will do. I prefer the relative freedom of the first.

pt< Then we need more churches and less jail cells, Basil? :-)

Lor< pt: That's cute. I suspect you have something there.

pt< Does a person submit to a church of free will, Basil? I was baptized a Catholic at just a few days. At what level of my consciousness did I request this? Tell me the priest intuited my desires?

Basil< pt: Yes, we submit by free will. As I recall, a Catholic is given choice at confirmation, no? We might be born into a religion, but when we come of age, we are free to choose. So, choose well. *S*

pt< Choice? In an American home at age 13? I agree we are free to choose. What a blessing. There are so many whose first chakra is so tied to their religious upbringing that by adulthood they are literally "rooted" into it.

FRAML< pt: There you have the example of the political influence of the State, which wanted all it's citizens to belong to the "official" state religion. I also understand that it is after confirmation that one is considered "fully Roman Catholic". The idea of infant baptism was also to get over some bad doctrine from St. Augustine, in which he said that the un-baptized would not go to heaven, thus the church began infant baptism to soothe the newborn's parents. Most Protestant churches practice "believer's" baptism, done when one is old enough to decide for themselves.

RunningRiver< pt: I agree completely. S* Why should one choice in being involved in a structured religion matter? It doesn't really, but it's the small problem of their fear and restraints extending to others who choose not to believe in their religion. That is where the problem lies, and the bad attitudes toward those who choose not to be involved in those religions because those religions have left such a nasty taste in their mouths. S*

FRAML< Anyone: Does the religion have a specific name that you are thinking of, or are you applying it to *all* religious beliefs?

RunningRiver< FRAML: Good point. I am talking more towards Christianity, and/or Islamic religions, Judaism. But even Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism, though more excepting, are still a type of structure.

Yopo< FRAML: I was only referring to religion as I have personally experienced it. It's maybe a Set and Setting thing. Perhaps I've never been in the right ones.

Ben< QUESTION 4: What do you think might be a good combination of spirituality and religion, given that spirituality rediscovers and religion preserves? Where would you start, if you decided to find or build such a combination? YOUR TURN

RunningRiver< One spirit, different paths. Acceptance and tolerance. Respect of each others individuality.

FRAML< One which doesn't stress dogma & doctrine over individual study of the sacred texts. Studying what (I'll use Christianity here) the Bible says, especially the New Testament, studying the early writings of the church, especially the first 200 years, before it became an "authorized" and state-sponsored religion. Holding open that there are angels and demons, that people have psychic gifts, as is written about in the New Testament. But also look at the guidance given for the use of those gifts, and how to decide wither the info is good or bad.

MonaHawke< Ben: As I have no doubt mentioned, I find the Druid path suits me personally.

RunningRiver< We, not all of the same beliefs, gather here for forum and discussion and support. In some ways it is not much different than gathering at a church, except for one important difference: we are not labeled and are usually respected for our differences. Tolerance is more prevalent, and love is usually the major key to most beliefs in this place. It is in the attitude, maybe. We humans have a basic need to gather to be with others of like mind.

Lor< I'd like enough continual "spiritual rediscoveries" to keep a certain freshness to the very necessary "preserves" to keep our spirits always joyfully, vitally alive, and to sufficiently inspire succeeding generations.

RunningRiver< So it's really not the gathering; it's the attitudes... Maybe? The Spirit behind the intentions?

[Ben< RunningRiver: Yes, I think so.]

Ben< No matter how well any of us like our own spirituality or personal religion, it will do no one else any good unless we somehow pass it on. The Internet is great, but it is a very perishable medium. Some structure is needed to transmit lessons learned, and every religion that I know of needs some rediscovered spirituality.

RunningRiver< I was lucky my mother nurtured my differences and gifts and allowed me to explore other religions. I have taken of them what I have wanted or needed and left the rest for them. Religious fear and such really has been the thing that has stunted the growth of spirituality and the manifestation of love.

FRAML< RunningRiver: What have you used as your point of judging what you are going to chose versus leave behind of the other religions? For me, to choose only those parts that make me feel good means that I'm not really following any path. However I subscribe to the belief that there are things that we have to give up the desire to have in this life to reach 'life after death.' My ethical system is a part of that.

RunningRiver< FRAML: I am following my path, that I truly believe is guided by what I believe is "GOD". Of course he/she has different names but none-the-less is my universal creator and/or power. I try always to have love as the underlying "moral" or support in any of my choices. But you have a very good point. S*

Yopo< If I were to build a religious contraption (thinking here that it really ought to be a sort of vehicle), I'd probably invent from the inside outward. Probably would want some non-dogmatic mechanism for spiritual truth-seeking at the center, which might include a variety of spiritual "technologies". Next out, an open forum for discussion and analysis. Then a code of ethics, based on love and the realities of the human condition. Outermost, the social structure.

[Ben< Yopo: I like your religious contraption.]

Ben< SUMMARY: Personal spirituality keeps reinventing the wheel, generation after generation. Organized religion tries to preserve someone's spirituality, but does so imperfectly. Therefore, both personal spirituality and organized religions are necessary, and neither spirituality nor religion is sufficient, for continuing accumulation, transmission, and refinement of spiritual lessons learned by the human race.

FRAML< Ben: Good summary.

Ben< ALL: My apologies. It is taking my system almost 2 minutes each time I refresh or post.

MonaHawke< Slow here, too.

pt< And here. :-)

MonaHawke< I like the idea of people taking personal responsibility for their own spirituality every day, with or without organized practices.

RunningRiver< MonaHawke: I agree! S*

pt< Ben: Would you say then that if organized religion were to adopt and teach the doctrine of Self found in spirituality, it would become the governing mechanism, rather than one of many, many institutions of our current culture?

RunningRiver< No. Humans by nature could never agree because of their diversity and the ever-prevailing freedom of choice that is loved so well. *S*

pt< WOW! I have a hard time swallowing the possibility that we cannot live harmoniously governed by our Self? Please go on, RunningRiver. :-)

RunningRiver< pt: *S*

Ben< pt: I don't know about "governing mechanism" but the main issue in all the religions is: "What to teach the children". In fact, one can be a member of any religion and *believe* whatever one wants to believe; the limits are placed on what one says and does (ethics), and most especially on what one teaches (doctrine).

RunningRiver< The future of any religion is the children they influence...

FRAML< As I said last week, I've seen many folks who do not link spirituality, psychics or discarnates with a system of ethics and morals. To me, that is leaving them open to be used for evil, and to use their ability to hurt others. For me, the ethics of Christianity provides a need limit on how we use our abilities, and how we examine the channeled messages we may receive.

RunningRiver< FRAML: I understand. The basic premise of Jesus's life and teachings was love. Love is not evil or intolerant or disrespectful. Where there is love there can be no hurting of others (ideally, minus human imperfection). That was before they turned Jesus's doctrines and teachings into a structure called Christianity. If we examine our messages with love and a pure heart (quite a feat for a growing human), then naturally ethics and morality are there. Now morality and ethics are culturally diverse, but the basic premise of "Do unto others as you would have done unto you" is a good one to go on. Or would you want your action, thought, or intent back ten-fold? Christianity has had a definite influence on my beliefs. My beliefs have just expanded.

FRAML< RunningRiver: Jesus taught more than just "Love". He taught how to live and to change our lives, and in doing that, there is a central ethical/moral code. What is this "ten fold" thing? I don't know it.

RunningRiver< FRAML: True. I agree, his mission and teachings encompassed sooo much... and there are definite ethic codes which I do follow. S* The ten-fold thing is: What you put out you get back ten-fold. Good = good x ten, and vice versa. S* Definitely makes me think of my true intentions. S* I believe Jesus is my bother, a son of god just as you and I are the sons and daughters of God, and an ascended master. He died for his father and he lived for us as an example of how to live. I don't say that with any intent of making anyone mad ... it is just what I believe. S*

FRAML< RunningRiver: I've just run into too many people who have "dabbled" in different "religions" searching for something to validate their desires; i.e., permission to do "what I want, when I want." That is the reason I react so strongly to those who talk of "taking something from this religion and something from that one." (also reminds me of a Chinese menu)

Yopo< FRAML: I did that for a while, mainly by way of books and texts. Though not really trying them on like one would look for a pair of comfortable shoes. *S* Would gladly wear uncomfortable shoes, if I felt like they were gonna take me somewhere. I found words that had a ring of truth almost everywhere, but always accompanied by a load of stuff that didn't. Guess it is that stuff that kept me from ever accepting any particular religious belief system.

FRAML< Yopo: I understand. You are on an honest search. And yes, I find what Jesus wants me to do for him as quite uncomfortable at times, like your shoes, but it is for doing his will and usually ends up helping someone else, too. *S*

RunningRiver< FRAML: S* I know what you mean. I study. I don't take per se what serves my personal interest (self serving, self centered). I can't believe what I don't experience. I think it is wonderful if it works for them, though. I am very conscious of my intentions. It's hard, though... like me choosing not to go to a Baptist church. First I don't believe in hell. I don't believe God is to be feared. I don't believe that he is vengeful, wrathful, or an angry God. It's just my perspective. I have had my perspective since I was very young... about four. My perspective on Jesus was discovered by me or made (whatever) when I was about six. It's just me.

FRAML< RunningRiver: I can agree with you on the Baptist point of view. They are more Old Testament Jewish, than New Testament believers in Jesus. I belong to a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a non-dogmatic group. It is interesting that a good number of our members have come from Baptist or Catholic backgrounds, and were seeking something less than the 'structure and dogma' and more or other than a 'vengeful God.'

RunningRiver< FRAML: Yes... true... S*

pt< FRAML: By limits, do you mean experiences? You may desire an experience to help you define what is good for you, but I doubt anyone "needs" limits. :-)

FRAML< pt: Yes, I need limits, otherwise I may think that doing harm to you (for example) is a 'good thing'.

pt< Wouldn't it be logical to move into a Self awareness (i.e., life doctrine, religion) that allows for all other institutions to cease to be? Then we would truly be governed by one institution that preserves the doctrine of expressing our Highest Self?

FRAML< pt: To me that doctrine leads to placing "me" before all others. And for isolating me from the Most High God. I'm not afraid to be a servant of my Lord, either here on earth or in heaven. I've had 'selfless service' as a major role in my life for 50+ years, and find that I'm no less an individual for it.

RunningRiver< FRAML: Same here. I have that same perspective, except I am only 29. S*

Ben< pt: Teaching Self awareness is only part of it. Teaching awareness of and respect for others is the larger part, because most people are born selfish. I wouldn't want any kind of spiritual and/or religious organization to take over the planet. I would like to see more children taught the spiritual lessons already learned by members of the human race.

pt< HAHAHAHA... are you saying that organized religion has NOT already taken over the planet???? I thought what we were discussing here was a HIGHER level of Self Realized religion; i.e., LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE... and from that all else springs??? :-) No, we are not mostly born selfish! That is a learned behavior. And where are the greatest lessons learned by all members of society? From its institutions! Religion. Government. We put our Self realizations last. We absorb everyone else's garbage first. Then if we are lucky, we spit it out and start again.

RunningRiver< pt: Sadly, yes... unless you are rebellious... s*

pt< Thus, if we had ONE institution, call it what you will, that all of society honored and honored all of society, that would be the highest form of living and learning to experience.

Ben< pt: I am saying that no one organized religion has taken over the planet, and I wouldn't want to see it happen. I am also saying that the vast majority of human beings are born selfish and need to be taught to LOVE. Many people never learn that greatest of spiritual lessons. [Which is why human societies don't have that ONE institution you described.]

pt< Thanks for the fun... Gotta run now. Bye and Blessings to all. :-)

Yopo< Ben: Seems to me that the religion/spirituality issue is in some way a collective/individual issue. There is the area of overlap, where a lot of us find ourselves. Some find their area of comfort more on one side or the other of the divide. Intolerance seems to dwell out away from the middle. Seems to me, though, that it is mainly found farther away from center on the collective side of the divide. I would conclude from that (perhaps wrongly *S*) that direct spiritual experience is more important to finding one's way than being "religious".

Ben< Yopo: Yes, the whole subject of spirituality and/or religion is related to the central issue of all the social sciences, which is the relationship between the individual and the collective. There are awful (historic) pitfalls on both sides of that issue.

Thur< Yopo: Would you define "direct spiritual experience" please.

Yopo< Thur: Ah... Just my own personal definition, mind you: Thinning of the boundaries between myself and the beings that surround me, be they human, animal, plant or mineral. Sense of an indwelling Presence in all things. A feeling of peace, and of the inherent benevolence of that Presence. A momentary certainty that my birth was not my beginning, and that my death will not be my end.

[Ben< Yopo: Well said.]

Thur< Yopo: Thanks, I wondered if you were referring to something more specific.

Yopo< Thur: It feels pretty durn specific when it happens. *S*

RunningRiver< I don't think you need religion to teach or have morals or ethics. Some may...

FRAML< RunningRiver: To the contrary, most every moral/ethical code has been embodied in the religion of a society. That way of treating each other was a part of the religious practice, whether American Indian, ancient Egypt, Shintoism of Japan, or the Judeo-Christian tradition. I think religion partly grew out of a way to codify and teach the young how to live amongst others. And the spiritual experiences of the people was another aspect of religion.

RunningRiver< FRAML: Good point... but the caste system in India was a personification of the lack of morals and ethics and exemplified society's control and negative effect on people. Religion (whatever name or belief system) does give children structure which is needed by all children, but when it grows to a point that they force their belief on others, or believe that other beliefs are wrong, then it has exceeded its usefulness. Without structured religion we could take the ethics and moral codes and teach our children. Christianity is not a prime example of the showing of tolerance, love, or acceptance unless you followed their rules. S*

FRAML< RunningRiver: On Christianity, perhaps you are focusing on those who were "Christian" because it was useful for them to achieve THEIR goals, and the fact that they didn't live what they professed to believe didn't bother them. "By their fruits you will know them" is aptly said of Christians. Examine the person's actions in reference to the teachings he says he believes in. That is where you will detect if he is a follower of Jesus, or just is using Him for his own self-centered reasons.

RunningRiver< FRAML: I have found more lately that those who profess being christ-like and saved are hypocrites and charlatans... sadly enough... hypocrites like those who killed in Jesus's Name during the crusades. Would Jesus come down and say "Oh thank you for killing in my name... that was the whole premise of my message"? No. Sadly, the righteousness of the parishioners I have met has turned me away from church. Jesus's presence I feel within me... but not around me in those places. But everyone has a lesson to learn, and they are working on theirs, and I walk away and wish them knowledge, love, and peace. That is the best I can do.

FRAML< RunningRiver: And it was the 'righteousness' of the Pharisees and Sadducees that blinded them as well. *S* Perhaps a deeper search of some of those around you in the church will reveal true belief and not hypocrisy. Or perhaps needing only some quiet words from you to activate them.

RunningRiver< FRAML: S* True... I will try that. S* Good advice...

LadyV< whoops, got booted... a point please to make here... for nearly five years I have listened in this site. What I have heard is people that were not confined so much to one way of thinking. The families were open to other views. It has made interesting reading, and it does effect social change if these people represent a percentage of the population...

Yopo< Ben: Hmm... Would hazard a guess that though we are all born selfish and self-centered little organisms, we still carry a bit of where we came from on reentry. Still trailing a bit of Wordsworth's celestial light...

[Ben< Yopo: I agree that human souls carry a bit of where they came from on reentry -- but they don't all reenter from the same level of the spiritual universe, so they don't all come trailing a bit of celestial Light, although some of them do...]

Ben< ALL: Last week, RunningRiver said, "I have been different since I was too young to supposedly understand it. I was telling nuns in the third grade what it was all about, and that they were rationalizing, and too controlling, and God wasn't that mean." Where do you think these insights came from?

LadyV< I think RunningRiver had another way of feeling, and it probably came from his/her (?) culture and family members in how they perceive God to be... or however one chooses to call the Almighty. I don't know RunningRiver but that would be my guess.

RunningRiver< LadyV: I am female. S* But this is something more: When I was very young I didn't go to church except for when I attended a Catholic school. My family weren't what I called religious. When I was four, I was visited constantly by good and bad "things" that I could see. It was then that I told God that I would die for him like JOHN. I made a commitment. I am not sure I really knew who John was, but in my heart I gave my life to God. I made a conscious choice...

FRAML< Ben: Sounds like RunningRiver had a "karmic memory" of something better about Jesus than what she was being taught by the sisters. (I once taught in a Catholic elementary school.)

RunningRiver< Ben: I don't really know, maybe a remembrance of before I was born, reincarnation?

Ben< RunningRiver: Yes, I think so. You already knew some things about spirituality when you were little. I believe that a past life regression might locate when and where you learned what you brought with you this time.

RunningRiver< Ben: I have been wanting to try that, but finding one in Oklahoma is like finding a needle in a haystack. I am saving money to try to go elsewhere to do that. There is a connection, I know. S*

LadyV< Ben: In that case RunningRiver would benefit to know just what her past life was. I would feel it would make it easier for her to help the children that come after her.

RunningRiver< LadyV: Yes, I have had brief memories and visitations that I would not be comfortable describing right now... but very intense...with a lot of spaces of unknown information. My mother didn't talk of God or Jesus because of being forced to go to church. My father was not there at all. It's strange... She did know I had gifts and knew stuff and drew stuff that I couldn't have known or most would not have understood...

LadyV< RunningRiver: Then you are a psychic... now I think I understand. The "seeing" was what made you different. God was your conscious choice... religion was not. I think that is what you are saying... yet! You search (as do many that have other ways of "seeing") for a place of kindred souls that do know God as a conscious choice... but the control of organized religion is uncomfortable for you. That is what this seminar is all about, I think... resolving this conflict... or maybe I heard it wrong? I am sorry if I am in error.

RunningRiver< LadyV: I have a spiritual connection to God. S* Yes, you got it pretty much. I do not fit in at any church because my gifts scare people. I love the feeling of presence of God there, though... raising my hands and singing my joy in his presence. Yes, I look for others that are like me... gathering... part of the reason I am here... plus I get to help people here. S* No conflict really. Just am who I am. S*

FRAML< Ben: Sounds like RunningRiver is similar to Trudy & Katz.

[Ben< FRAML: Yes, they do seem to be similar in terms of the type of spirituality they brought with them.]

FRAML< RunningRiver: I'd like to recommend that you read "A dialogue with Trudy" on Ben's site.

RunningRiver< FRAML: OK, I will. I haven't heard of it. S* Love to you FRAML!!! Thank you, Ben, for such a wonderful discussion and seminar!!!

Yopo< *S* BTW Ben, I'm glad your seminar has gone so well tonight. What with the recent site redesign, I was sorta hoping for the best, but half-expecting a minor train wreck this evening. *LOL*

Ben< Yopo: I think it went well tonight. I hope so. But I won't know until I review the transcript, which I've been trying to download as we go along because the Review feature isn't ready yet.

Yopo< Ben: Oh, absence of the Review feature had slipped my mind. Guess you've been VERY busy the last couple of hours. *S*

greyman< Ben: Got your 6. [That means "I'm at your six o'clock position" -- i.e., "I'm here, following along and covering for you." greyman carefully downloaded the text of this session and emailed it to me, in case I missed downloading any of it. As it turns out, I did miss some, but greyman did not.]

Ben< greyman: Thank you for sticking with this tonight. I think I've got everything downloaded, but it is good to know you're backing me up. Namaste /|\

greyman: Thank you, Ben. ~~

Yopo< YIKES! I just tried to refresh, and got an Access Forbidden error screen... Got back in, but all hyper-links and the page picture have now flown south.

RunningRiver< I think it has been a wonderful night and I am definitely going to check out your site, Ben. It's amazing that I have come to this seminar twice by mistake (there are no coincidences) and really have taken a lot away from it. I am in a way resolving a conflict with religion, or at least defining it in a way that I need to. Thanks to all you wonderful enlightened people!

Yopo< The refresh "LOVE" screen is just a black page now...

Ben< ALL: Okay, if you're ready, let's hang it up for tonight.

RunningRiver< Goodnight all, May light illuminate your path and angels protect your steps. S* Love and Light!!!

Yopo< Ben: *S* Guess I should go anyway, before the entire site falls apart on me. Thanks much for a most interesting evening! Blessings...

RunningRiver< Ben: I can't get into your page. :-( It says it cannot be found. Do you have the exact web address? S*

Yopo< RunningRiver: I just clicked on Ben's nick and got the same message screen. I suspect the problem is with hyper-links here on SWC, not on Ben's site.

RunningRiver< OK, Yes, that's what happened. Do you have the web address?

Ben< RunningRiver: It should be http://home.dn.net/~bswett/spirit.html

RunningRiver< Thanks... S*

Yopo< Good night ALL. *S*

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