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Author Topic: Spirituality In Daily Life  (Read 905 times)

Donal2018

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2019, 10:24:19 pm »
My old dojo had these too, though unfortunately that particular place didn't give them much more than lip service. (it was slowly devolving into Toxic Jock Syndrome.) I do still find some value in the Niju Kun (20 principles of Karate); particularly memorable to me is "Do not think of winning; rather, think of not losing."

In general, though, I think the world is too complex and varied to be reduced to a small set of guidelines. As far as I know, traditions that have such sets of guidelines also have large bodies of discussion and commentary on how to apply them to all of the world's vagaries; they end up being more like chapter headings than self-contained directions.

Yes, thanks for the Niju Kun link. Our Sensei did not tolerate Meat Heads or Toxic Jocks in his Dojo, and was quick to bring them to heel or to kick them out. So, we had a good, well run environment.

Also, yes, the world is complex. I personally do like to focus on basic precepts, not as a way to deny the complexity of the world, but maybe to get a handle on that complexity by using a good, basic principle. That doesn't mean that basic principles can not or should not be expanded upon. I just find that when people depart from the basics, they often invite trouble.

I have seen advanced belts lose sparring matches to lower belts because the advanced belt was focusing on some higher level technique, whereas the lesser belt prevailed by focusing on strong fundamentals and basics. This did not happen often, but it happened enough to prove the point that fundamentals are of first importance. Everything else is an elaboration on them.

Donal2018

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2019, 10:56:53 pm »
So, here's the thing. Religious witchcraft (and specifically the parts that involve initiatory practice) are complicated. You seem to be determined to oversimplify them in ways that often cause problems - potentially for you and for others - down the road.

As I have said multiple times, religious witchcraft is often joined by shared practices. Within a tradition - a community of shared practice - there are things the tradition as a whole agrees on. While there is a lot of flexibility in personal practice, there are restraints on choice in group practice. (I often describe this as similar to a theatrical or musical group: you need to have agreement about what you're doing and how you're doing it together or you get an unholy mess.)

One restraint is that most religious witchcraft traditions are not democracies. Some function on a consensus basis (Reclaiming is probably the best known of these).

But the majority (and quite likely a significant majority) have some method of final decision making when necessary, and in many religious witchcraft traditions, that rests in the senior high priestess responsible (for the coven, or for the tradition, depending on what's being talked about.) Sometimes it's in the senior high priestess and high priest.

In my tradition, my oaths as a 3rd degree priestess mean I have taken on responsibilities to the tradition in specific ways, both to the tradition itself, and to the people I take on as potential new members. (It is, in this sense, vastly more 'representative republic' than 'democratic'. Often even more feudal, if in a somewhat idealised form.)

These decisions can seem arbitrary from the outside. But on a fundamental level, there are decisions being made by covens and traditions about who we trust, about who we allow into our physical homes, about who we allow into our magical and/or astral homes, and who we share our most vulnerable religious and spiritual moments with.

That's not something that can be solved by democratic voting. Because that way leads, almost as an axiom, to a violation of consent.

Another restraint is that many traditions - specifically initiatory traditions, but also a number that don't require participation in specific initiatory rituals for membership - have specific practices that must be met for someone to be considered a part of the tradition.

I did an initiation Saturday night. That ritual is the same (with modifications only for the fact I was doing it on my own, rather than with several initiates present, which requires some adjustments to the stage directions) as the one that was used for my initiation, and my initiator's initiation, and every other initiate within the tradition. It has several parts that are designed to be extremely challenging to the initiate, things that hit many people's triggers, fears, concerns, etc. Some of those things also affect deity connections, and other kinds of connections with various ancestors, powers, etc. etc. etc.

(And because our initiations are oathbound - i.e. not shared outside people who have taken the same oaths and had the same experiences - we cannot get truly informed consent in advance. What we do is a "Here's stuff that often shows up in initiation rituals, tell us if any of these things are a dealbreaker you can't cope with, or if there are specific accommodations you would need to manage them" and then see what they tell us, and either go ahead or not, depending on the answers.)

There are plenty of people for which the things in our initiation (or a number of our other practices) are not an option. And if that's the case, then we are not the tradition for them. We may like them a lot, we may do other witchy things with them, we may share ideas, but they are not tradmates, they are not part of our specific branch of the family, they are not tied into us by a specific set of oaths and mutual commitments.

(There are also people who might be a fit for our tradition, but not for a coven I am leading. I've had more than one person go "Yay, Brigid! Can we do things with Brigid?" Which for personal reasons I've discussed on the forum before, is not a thing I am ever going to do in rituals I am responsible for. We don't have all the choices in the world: many choices and options limit our subsequent options.)

Now, individuals can develop their own practices (a bunch of the material on my Seeking site is designed, in fact, to help people get started with that.) But it is very difficult to create a practice entirely from scratch yourself, and it presents a number of challenges (such as what to do, for example, if you need a bit of external support - learning something, or at a time in your life where you want assistance, like a chaplain might provide in hospital, or for a funeral or memorial service.)

A lot of people who design their own practices also tend - and this is somewhat natural - to focus on what they like and find easy, rather than what they find difficult. I've often said that the people who are most likely to be successful in the strands of religious witchcraft around the one where I make my home are the people whose response to "That feels weird/off/odd" is to poke at it and try and figure out why. Comfort doesn't help us grow: discomfort does.

There is, finally, a question about what the focus of a tradition is. In some religious witchcraft traditions, the great central mystery is fertility, in its many forms. In my tradition, it is transformation (which can often be challenging or even alarming...). In other traditions, there are other things. We can, as individuals, reach for mysteries (in the religious mystery sense) ourselves - but most of the most potent mysteries do much better with the interaction (and friction) of talking to and working closely with others. It's hard for a purely personal practice to do the same things.

So, yes, religious witchcraft presents a different range of choices from other religions. But it is not a limitless set of choices, and there are constraints and implications I encourage you (and anyone else considering it) to think about and learn about at length before making any kind of commitment.

There is much more here than I am able to comment upon in any detail at this time. I just wanted to express that I have read and considered the entire comment. I would say that a key phrase that stands out to me is "a community of shared practice". That clarified some things for me.

What I was originally responding to was the fact that the daily practices and values that Jenett described from their tradition seemed to entirely focus on the individual, their relation to the world, to themselves.

Individuality is a cornerstone value of democracy. In and of itself, it is not sufficient to characterize any group or community as a democratic one. A highly structured organization may still value individualism without having other aspects of a democracy.

So, the value of individualism is a key value in a democratic community, but is not enough in itself to characterize a community or organization as democratic. I was commenting on the focus on individuality as a democratic value, not on the structure or organization processes of a community, which might not be democratic in other ways.






Donal2018

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2019, 11:20:53 pm »
Reading what Jenett wrote about Witchcraft seems to reinforce this a bit for me. This kind of Witchcraft seems to have a democratic sensibility. Personal freedom, individualism, and self development seem to be the emphasis, so I am all for that. What Jenett has said seems to emphasize that spiritual practice is really and individual matter, and is focused on the particular needs and requirements of the individual, and this can change over time. So, a real focus on personal needs and personal development. It sounds good to me. Anyway, I am still developing my personal views, but they will inevitably have many of these types of values. So, all of that is a part of my spirituality.

This seems to be the offending quote. Clearly I was mistaken. At least I qualified it as "seems to have a democratic sensibility". I will try to do better next time.

Beloved

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2019, 09:30:22 am »


I meant to say- "What kind of Martial Art DID you do?". I used to do Tae Kwon Do and Shotokan Karate. I no longer do them because I am not fit enough. Instead, I practice Tai Chi, which is a good practice for people who are not very fit.

Tai Chi is also good for the elderly and disabled, as it is gentle (but powerful) and can be done seated, ie modified for those who have to sit. Tai Chi is sort of like some versions of Yoga, but with Tai Chi you do not have to get on the ground to do various postures. So, I would recommend Tai Chi to a lot of different types of folks, with different fitness levels.

I did Tae Kwon Do. I was lucky to get exceptional instructors.

I have thought about giving Tai Chi a try. I love Yoga though. :)

Donal2018

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2019, 01:28:08 pm »
I did Tae Kwon Do. I was lucky to get exceptional instructors.

I have thought about giving Tai Chi a try. I love Yoga though. :)

Tae Kwon Do is good. I am glad that you had good instructors. I always say Tae Kwon Do is the pizza of martial arts. You can find it everywhere, and even when it's bad, its still pretty good. There are also good lines of teachers in Tae Kwon Do if you can find them. My Tae Kwon Do teacher was a student of a major Teacher out of New York City. So, I was fortunate.

I got into Tae Kwon Do during Night School that I went to in my Junior Year of High School. It was a real revelation to me. I was a bookish kid. I used to run track and do a lot of fitness exercises though. I also played a bit of football in High School. Still, I was not big into sports but rather athletics and fitness.

I was kind of amazed that I had a real knack for martial arts. It seemed to me a talent that was a gift from God. I remember that night walking back home from my first Tae Kwon Do session. I was kind of amazed that I seemed to have a natural talent. There were a dozen students there, and I was as good as any one of them. It was one of the most important moments in my life. I love Martial Art, and I love the good spirit and the discipline that comes from it. I am very grateful for it.

Anyway, I am glad that you had Tae Kwon Do in your life. I like Yoga also, but I am heavy and have arthritis, so it is hard for me to get down on the floor and do the postures. I know that some Teachers adapt yoga for the elderly and disabled, chair yoga, but I have not seen that offered locally.

As far as Tai Chi goes, I have a DVD on the Yang Short Form that I use. Also, there is a very nice retired Lady that offers a seated Tai Chi class once a week at my local library. So I do love Tai Chi. I would recommend it to anyone, but especially people who are not fit, who are heavy, or elderly, or disabled. 

Sefiru

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2019, 07:07:30 pm »
I personally do like to focus on basic precepts, not as a way to deny the complexity of the world, but maybe to get a handle on that complexity by using a good, basic principle.

That's fine as far as it goes, but ... by its nature, a basic principle only goes so far. And the trouble with this approach is, you might believe you have a 'handle' on a topic when you've actually missed important details; either because you didn't know to look for them or you didn't bother to look for them.

The map is not the territory, and it's best to find that out before your GPS leads you over a cliff.

Quote
I just find that when people depart from the basics, they often invite trouble.

Depart how? The martial arts example you use involves discarding basic knowledge; so far in this thread, most of us have been discussing expanding on it. Those are two very different things with different potential outcomes.

Do you believe that expanding on one's knowledge invites trouble? How so? Or does the above statement only apply to discarding basic knowledge?

Quote
I have seen advanced belts lose sparring matches to lower belts because the advanced belt was focusing on some higher level technique, whereas the lesser belt prevailed by focusing on strong fundamentals and basics. This did not happen often, but it happened enough to prove the point that fundamentals are of first importance. Everything else is an elaboration on them.

Bolding mine: that would seem to illustrate that while the fundamentals are necessary, they are not the only knowledge that is useful.

Every house needs a foundation, but a bare foundation isn't much of a house.

Quote
Our Sensei did not tolerate Meat Heads or Toxic Jocks in his Dojo, and was quick to bring them to heel or to kick them out.

Yeah ... our instructor was the source of the problem. Not fun.

Donal2018

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #21 on: August 27, 2019, 09:02:10 pm »
That's fine as far as it goes, but ... by its nature, a basic principle only goes so far. And the trouble with this approach is, you might believe you have a 'handle' on a topic when you've actually missed important details; either because you didn't know to look for them or you didn't bother to look for them.

The map is not the territory, and it's best to find that out before your GPS leads you over a cliff.

Depart how? The martial arts example you use involves discarding basic knowledge; so far in this thread, most of us have been discussing expanding on it. Those are two very different things with different potential outcomes.

Do you believe that expanding on one's knowledge invites trouble? How so? Or does the above statement only apply to discarding basic knowledge?

Bolding mine: that would seem to illustrate that while the fundamentals are necessary, they are not the only knowledge that is useful.

Every house needs a foundation, but a bare foundation isn't much of a house.

Yeah ... our instructor was the source of the problem. Not fun.

Yes, sorry about your Instructor. I have seen that happen before. I have visited other Dojos and Training Halls and usually had good experiences. I don't want to slam an entire style, but I have had problems with say American Combat Karate. The one School I knew about was run by a kind of Right Wing Vietnam Vet and there was no emphasis on spirituality or character at all. It was all about physical fighting, and it was a mean scene. The real goal was to hurt your opponent. So, places like that I would avoid like the plague.

I get your initial point. I am not proposing limiting oneself to just basic knowledge, principles, and ideas. There is another side to it. There is a place for intermediate and advanced knowledge and practice. I just feel that sometimes people are so focused on castles in the sky that they sometimes fail to keep grounded on a good foundation.

Speaking of foundations, I agree with your statement that a foundation alone is not much of a house. But it is bad to build on a poor foundation, I think we can agree. But again, once the foundation is there, certainly we would like to expand and build on it. I don't think that expanding on basic knowledge invites trouble. I think expanding could invite trouble if we forget our fundamentals. Once you have the basics down, though, I am all for building on it. So I think that you have a point.

Likewise about details. Details matter. I just like to have a good framework to place those details in. Not confusing the map with the territory is important as well. I get your point, I think. So I don't really disagree with anything you wrote. I just feel that to when someone gets to an advanced level, the real masters do not forget their basics. Good stance, good form will always be useful, whatever your level of skill.

I myself never got to the black belt, for a variety of reasons (one reason is I would never take belt tests when I was in College because the belt exams always came around finals and I had to focus on the academics at that time). But I still observed the people who did advance, and they kept in touch with their basic skills, especially I think by teaching them to white and green belts. Teaching is a way to keep in touch with basics, and also allows for building on those fundamentals. So, yes to basics, and then yes to building on those foundations and developing more advanced skills. You can have both of those things.

Donal2018

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2019, 10:48:18 pm »
:) Former martial artist here too. I know exactly what you mean about the recitations and how it carried throughout life. My time in martial arts transformed my life and I miss it very much.

Have you looked at the Nine Noble Virtues in Asatru? I don't practice Norse paganism so I know the virtues only as an outsider so to speak, but you might take a look at them if you haven't already.

I was a bit disturbed to see that the Nine Noble Virtues in Asatru were developed by a British Fascist and used by other Volkish and Neo Fascist Groups. I am not sure if you were aware of that.

Here is a link to the Wikipedia article for further reference-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine_Noble_Virtues

Donal2018

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #23 on: August 27, 2019, 11:20:31 pm »
This seems to be the offending quote. Clearly I was mistaken. At least I qualified it as "seems to have a democratic sensibility". I will try to do better next time.

Yeah, I think some of my posts took a left turn here on this thread and I hope that I can get back on course. I re-read some of my own posts and they did not entirely make sense to me. I was a bit sleep-deprived when I wrote some of them. So I hope that I can refocus on the original point of the thread, which is how our beliefs and pagan views help us on a daily basis in the form of values, guidelines for living, and related practices.   

Donal2018

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Re: Spirituality In Daily Life
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2019, 08:38:27 pm »
I used to practice traditional Japanese Karate and we did a recitation of the Dojo Kun (Training Hall Rules) at the end of every practice session. The Dojo Kun is: Seek perfection of character, Be faithful, Endeavor, Respect others, and Refrain from violent behavior.

The Martial Art also taught self-discipline, respect for self and others, be humble, engage in daily work and effort, and a focus on fundamentals. This guideline to behavior was carried out of the Dojo and into daily life.

I was wondering if there could be any sort of thumbnail guide to daily life and behavior like this in any of the various paganisms? Does your philosophy or religion have anything practical to say about daily living and an ethos of paganism, for lack of a better term?

So I wanted to look at this topic again and go beyond simply dealing with values and ideals and get into actual practices and behaviors.

I just spent the past few hours helping a homeless woman that I met at a bus stop get to a local shelter (there are several of them in town, and I tried to get her to the safer one). Anyway, it brought me back to the Peer Support that I used to do and that I am basically retired from. I am thinking about getting back into it as a volunteer as a sort of spiritual/social practice.

A lot of Peer Support is like a Secular Ministry as well as informal Social Work. So it might make a good spiritual practice to do as a volunteer. You have to help people get their physical needs met- food, clothing, shelter- but also sometimes emotional/social needs. This can also take on a spiritual aspect. I am thinking of dedicating myself to a spiritual practice with theory and theology, but also actual works out in the community. So values, yes, but joined with practice and action also.

For many years, I have gone in and out of being spiritual and religious. Almost a year ago I started having some spiritual experiences that might be called a spiritual emergence. I became more spiritual because of this. This has happened to me before, sort of an awakening. What has happened in my past life is that when I have had these spiritual experiences, I was in a spiritual frame of mind until the experience subsided. Then I returned to a more secular state of mind and lifestyle (no regular prayers, meditations, practices, etc.).

This time was different though. After I had these experiences I met a neighbor who was (is) really spiritual and has strong, developed views that I would say are largely based in a Hinduist perspective. So, once the spiritual experience subsided, I ended up staying in the religious frame of mind, because I had someone to talk to about these issues, so they remained present to me. Whereas in the past I would just return to a more secular life and practice after I had my spiritual experience and it receded from my mind.

Another confluence of events was that I had basically retired early on disability, and so I had a lot of times on my hands to try to parse through my religious experience, helped by my neighbor through regular evening discussions. Thus, I kept religion and spirituality in the front of my mind. This lead me to going online to find resources, which led me here to the Cauldron.

Since I have been here and posting a lot since last December, this place has given me a space to work out some of my own spiritual and religious issues and thoughts, which has in some ways has been a bit of a tangled ball of wax. I think I have sorted things out enough to take another step. I think I am now at a point where I know enough about myself and my own views to be able to take that step.

Meeting this homeless woman today was another sort of religious realization. I realize that maybe it is time to go beyond just thinking, writing, and reading about spirituality and actually start to develop some more specific practices. So that brings me back to the point of this thread, which is basically how to live your daily life with spiritual practices.

I think that I will volunteer to do more Peer Support work, but with a definite spiritual motive. I would say now that I am going to dedicate myself to this. I will recognize that in some ways I have useful experiences and things to offer people,  but in other ways I am a Novice.

As a Novice, I resolve that I will commit to a personal spiritual practice of helping others in my daily life. I think that I will roughly use the idea of a year and a day of training as a Novice. I will reevaluate myself and my level of experience after that period of training and practice.

I believe that I will be largely self-directed, but one valuable lesson that I have learned from being on this Forum is that I have much to learn from others. I will seek out supportive people like my neighbor and maybe others as Anam Caras or Spiritual Directors. But I alone am responsible for my own views and my own practices.

So, this is a statement here that I will practice my spiritual values in a practical way in daily life, and I will dedicate myself to a year and a day (roughly) to study, learn, develop, and practice.

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