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Author Topic: Practicing Personal Religion Without Supernatural Beliefs  (Read 1664 times)

EclecticWheel

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Practicing Personal Religion Without Supernatural Beliefs
« on: September 07, 2015, 05:50:24 am »
I have a variety of traditional and personal religious practices that form a part of my spirituality, but my interpretations of those practices (including subjective experiences) does not involve supernatural beliefs or dualism.

In a discussion with a friend she told me that we don't need religion to have all the good parts they hold in common.  I do understand what she's saying, although I do think there is a lot of wisdom certain religions and philosophies have been able to accumulate (Buddhism or Taoism come to mind) that may not have come to us any other way.

Personally I don't think my religious beliefs or practices have made me a much better person than I would have been although I have no way of knowing objectively.

I have noticed mental changes with years of praying.  Sometimes my mind automatically starts repeating a certain prayer when I'm in stress and I calm down a lot.  But other times this can be distracting.  I'm really uncertain of how much prayer and meditation can benefit me because it may have different effects on different people.

My religious practice may or may not have helped me be content.  It's hard to say -- some of that may have just come with maturity and learning coping skills.


I have moments of clarity or transcendence sometimes, although those experiences are too fleeting and few to really be the reason I practice religion, and I'm not sure that those things really improve me anyway except perhaps giving me an insight that can comfort me from time to time.  Otherwise I'm not sure those things do me any good!  I still have bad days, I still do stupid things sometimes, and so on.

So what is the point?  The only thing I can come up with right now is that my life does seem so much richer with both my traditional religious community and practices in the Episcopal Church as well as my personal rituals and theologies that inform and compliment my traditional religious ways.  And I really love my gods/angels/saints and God.  I love creating personal liturgical rituals.  It is both an art and a devotion for me.  I cannot imagine giving all of that up.  My personal ceremonies and rituals grew organically out of my traditional liturgical Anglican background, and it just seems too valuable to abandon for pure secularism.

If you don't have any supernatural beliefs then why do you practice religion?  Some people find certain benefits in it I'm sure and that's why they practice despite a lack of supernatural beliefs.  But I'm not really sure that's why I'm practicing, at least not for any practical or psychological benefit.  When it comes down to it I feel like I'm doing it out of love.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2015, 05:53:55 am by EclecticWheel »
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Sarah

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Re: Practicing Personal Religion Without Supernatural Beliefs
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2015, 12:01:19 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;179713

So what is the point?  The only thing I can come up with right now is that my life does seem so much richer... When it comes down to it I feel like I'm doing it out of love.

 
I think I don't understand why this isn't enough? If  you love something you are doing and it is making your life better, why wouldn't you keep doing it?
Knowing when to use a shovel is what being a witch is all about. Nanny Ogg, Witches Abroad

Materialist

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Re: Practicing Personal Religion Without Supernatural Beliefs
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2015, 04:25:21 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;179713

If you don't have any supernatural beliefs then why do you practice religion?


My practice is an ethical one, mostly, of utilitarian ethics with the further strictness of raja yoga, in establishing proper behavior and relationships with everyone. Ritual is an abstract  way of expressing and celebrating this.

You wonder at one point the purposes of prayer and meditation, these are determined by the religious tradition you're following. In mine, dhyana (meditation) helps in performing yoga, while kamya (closest thing to prayer; "to desire something") type rituals I use to gain specific religious insights. Is the tradition you're basing your practices on state what they're for? Maybe you need to do more research to see if it's still something you can believe in.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Practicing Personal Religion Without Supernatural Beliefs
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2015, 12:46:32 am »
Quote from: Jake_;179718
I think I don't understand why this isn't enough? If  you love something you are doing and it is making your life better, why wouldn't you keep doing it?

 
Well, I don't think that isn't enough -- that's just what I came up with when I was thinking about it.  I'm primarily asking others who lack supernatural beliefs why they practice their religions.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

TisiphoneSeraph

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Re: Practicing Personal Religion Without Supernatural Beliefs
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2015, 06:54:27 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;179713

If you don't have any supernatural beliefs then why do you practice religion?  Some people find certain benefits in it I'm sure and that's why they practice despite a lack of supernatural beliefs.  But I'm not really sure that's why I'm practicing, at least not for any practical or psychological benefit.  When it comes down to it I feel like I'm doing it out of love.

 
I do have supernatural beliefs but I've spoken at length with nonspiritual religious friends.

The main reason many of them continue is out of an understanding of community and family - they find attending religious services as a way to honor their family and community through devotion and service.

The other reason many of them have cited is that they are personally fulfilled by religious messages even if they do not respond to it with belief.

One of my favorite phrases I've heard is that "religion is a response to revelation". It's core component isn't belief, it's response.

I think doing it out of love is an amazing reason to continue. You seem to be getting quite a bit of personal fulfillment out of it. I think the root problem is that you may have the understanding that belief is a prerequisite for religious community but I would find ways to challenge that - Unitarian Universalists challenge that as a core part of our faith.

I'd hate to see you part with something that adds to your life because it doesn't fit with a certain worldview.
divination thoughts over at hillbilly oracle

EclecticWheel

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Re: Practicing Personal Religion Without Supernatural Beliefs
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2015, 07:54:54 am »
Quote from: TisiphoneSeraph;180492
I do have supernatural beliefs but I've spoken at length with nonspiritual religious friends.

The main reason many of them continue is out of an understanding of community and family - they find attending religious services as a way to honor their family and community through devotion and service.

The other reason many of them have cited is that they are personally fulfilled by religious messages even if they do not respond to it with belief.

One of my favorite phrases I've heard is that "religion is a response to revelation". It's core component isn't belief, it's response.

I think doing it out of love is an amazing reason to continue. You seem to be getting quite a bit of personal fulfillment out of it. I think the root problem is that you may have the understanding that belief is a prerequisite for religious community but I would find ways to challenge that - Unitarian Universalists challenge that as a core part of our faith.

I'd hate to see you part with something that adds to your life because it doesn't fit with a certain worldview.

 
I seem to have created the impression here that I might give up on my religious practice or otherwise am struggling with it because I lack supernatural beliefs.  No worries.  That is not the case.

From time to time I work through what I'm doing and why in regard to religion.  I don't always come up with answers, but I keep doing it.  When I re-visit these questions I often come up with different answers than the last time.  Sometimes I don't particularly seek any answers as to why I am religious -- I just go along with it because it gives me stability or I like it or whatever.  At times this process has been perplexing but I never give up on my religiosity.  It's too ingrained to just wash off.

Lately I've just been going along with it without questioning too much, but I did stumble upon an observation relevant to this thread.  I just moved into a new house.  Everything is sort of chaotic and there are a lot of unpacked and cluttered things lying around meaning I haven't been able to set up any altars or small shrines, and I feel totally disoriented without them!  I can still pray, and my house is organized enough to live in right now, but without tangible physical connecting points I feel totally lost in some ways.  Without my different shrines and altars it's like I'm walking through a room without any edges or boundaries and everything is amorphous and some of the beings I am devoted to feel very distant.  This is something that impacts how I feel within my mental world as well as my physical living space.

My religious beliefs -- or metaphors might be a more accurate way to describe it -- serve a similar mental function.

Basically my religious practices give me some sort of order and structure while remaining flexible and fairly eclectic.

This observation has been a pretty good one because it gives me an indication of what might be profitable to explore spiritually.  I realized that it's good for me to have a lot of symbols to work with -- it gives me both structure and flexibility.  So that encouraged me to continue learning about the Tarot which I've wanted to do for a long time.  Or in terms of meditation it might be good to explore the idea of subtle bodies -- the physical, astral, etc.  I've always been kind of turned off by that concept of our bodies, but when I realized spirituality is largely about structure and organization for me, it might be good to explore concepts that could allow me to work on different aspects of my psyche at different times: my physical self at one point, my mental at another, my emotions, and so on.

I have to remind myself from time to time that whatever I consciously believe on a day to day basis, I shouldn't let it limit me too much in terms of spirituality or be too literal about it, especially if my belief system and practice is often about structure and not the literal truthfulness of various concepts.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

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