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Author Topic: Your Spirituality and Morality  (Read 817 times)

EclecticWheel

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Your Spirituality and Morality
« on: September 30, 2020, 04:36:32 am »
When I was closer to traditional Christianity in my spiritual orientation, I suffered from time to time from moral scrupulosity, particularly around certain triggers.

These days I am functioning in an entirely eclectic spirituality, the core practices of which are inspired by speculation on and interpretation of my own mystical experiences over the years.

There is no mention of sin in my current practices.  I no longer think in terms of a law giver, nor am I convinced that these endless debates on the objectivity or subjectivity of morality that I am aware of in certain Christian circles even concern me.

However, while I may not have much use for the term sin these days, and there is no Fall in my thinking, I would say there is a significant relationship between my morals and spirituality such that the only communal spirituality I am actively considering is Unitarian Universalism.

I am very unclear about the afterlife, the Other World.  In my sense of priorities, I should focus on the world I'm in.  Once I get to the afterlife, perhaps I will then privilege that world as my home.  But until then, this world is my home.

Keeping that in mind, I certainly do not wish to passively tolerate suffering, abuse, or injustice in this life in hopes of a better afterlife later.  (And plenty of my Christian friends would agree, to be fair.)

Given my this-worldly orientation, a longstanding aspect of my spirituality is that my morals are rooted in humanism (but concern non-human creatures as well)!
 Furthermore, I embrace my morals as a part of my particular expression of human nature as an individual member of a social species.  I don't see why I should resist that or need a God or Law to mandate my morals.

This is all my personal approach, which is, as I said, eclectic and so unique to myself and may be similar or dissimilar to other spiritual approaches.  All this said, what I wish to ask is what if any is the relationship between your neo-pagan spirituality and your morals?  Does your spirituality inform your morals?  Any other thoughts on the topic of morality and neo-paganism?
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Ashmire

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Re: Your Spirituality and Morality
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2020, 10:13:34 am »
This is all my personal approach, which is, as I said, eclectic and so unique to myself and may be similar or dissimilar to other spiritual approaches.  All this said, what I wish to ask is what if any is the relationship between your neo-pagan spirituality and your morals?  Does your spirituality inform your morals?  Any other thoughts on the topic of morality and neo-paganism?

I see the relationship between the two as a kind of constructive feedback loop.  I would flat refuse to work with a god who doesn't jive with my morality( which I see as derived from a combination of innate instinct and lived experience), but I also will look to Them for strength and inspiration when The Right Thing is difficult or unclear. 

I don't see the gods as absolute Arbiters of Right and Wrong, but as something between a Work Boss and an Accountability Buddy.  They have the kind of authority that derives from greater knowledge, ability and experience, and are very seldom actually wrong, but if I think they are I have as much right and even Duty to call them out on it as the other way round, and I actually have done on occasion.  Usually the answer is to the effect of "We are doing our best but there is a lot of Stuff You Don't Know that I don't have the capability to explain right now, so please just be patient and do as I ask!", but a couple of times it has been "Y'know, you do have a point, let's work on that!"( One of the latter I am pretty sure triggered the chain of events leading to me getting my current house).

Darkhawk

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Re: Your Spirituality and Morality
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2020, 10:56:38 am »
However, while I may not have much use for the term sin these days, and there is no Fall in my thinking, I would say there is a significant relationship between my morals and spirituality such that the only communal spirituality I am actively considering is Unitarian Universalism.

Worth noting that UU churches vary wildly from each other, if you're contemplating attending one; it's sort of a feature of Congregationalism and part of how we evolved from the Puritans in the first place.  Basically each church determines its flavor based on the consent and interest of its members.  It's not a single-band spectrum but it can probably be approximated by one of those triangle charts where the three points are "social club for Christian and Jewish atheists", "probably culturally Christian hippies", and "social and environmental justice action".

Quote
This is all my personal approach, which is, as I said, eclectic and so unique to myself and may be similar or dissimilar to other spiritual approaches.  All this said, what I wish to ask is what if any is the relationship between your neo-pagan spirituality and your morals?  Does your spirituality inform your morals?  Any other thoughts on the topic of morality and neo-paganism?

Basically my gut reaction is with Helio on this; morality is a social function, not a spiritual one.  The gods are certainly not moral exemplars; not only do they have their particular disputes which by human standards involve sometimes terrible behaviour but their spheres of action are fundamentally alien to us.  A god of storms will sometimes destroy things because "storm" is not something that is built on a human scale; that god will not change natures based on human petition.  Looking for trivial how-to-act examples in our mythologies is foolish (and attempts to tame mythologies into moral examples produce puerile results, IMO).

At the same time, I cannot deny that all of the threads of what I do have moral implications.  Most obviously, Kemetic religion orbits entirely around ma'at, "that force which gathers people together into communities" (Jan Assmann), that concept of right action, truth, justice, law, balance that is such a pain in the butt to translate.  This cannot help but be part of social action if taken seriously, and Egyptian spirituality predates the Roman (and inherited by Christianity) notion that the spiritual can be separated from the rest of life and considered as a discrete unit.  There are codes and principles of living intrinsic to the understanding of ma'at.

The same is true for other threads, if less overtly.  But it again comes down to the sense that each of these practices needs to be solved by me.  There aren't accessible answers handed down from an on high - whether divine or human - about the nature of right action.  I may generally agree with one or another scholar or teacher but that does not free me of the individual responsibility to solve the raggedy bits where I think they're wrong myself, rather than just follow along because I agree with much of the rest.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

arete

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Re: Your Spirituality and Morality
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2020, 06:44:27 pm »
All this said, what I wish to ask is what if any is the relationship between your neo-pagan spirituality and your morals?  Does your spirituality inform your morals?  Any other thoughts on the topic of morality and neo-paganism?
How I see it:
Good and Evil are global truths. Good makes life on our planet beautiful. Evil is ugly. No afterlife.  ;)

In my opinion, christian ''morality'' is a huge, nonworthy, fairytale. Paganism has nothing to do with christian ''morality'' and ''afterlife'' hopes.  :)
I pray that religious animosity will end.

Louisvillian

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Re: Your Spirituality and Morality
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2020, 05:35:53 am »
All this said, what I wish to ask is what if any is the relationship between your neo-pagan spirituality and your morals?  Does your spirituality inform your morals?  Any other thoughts on the topic of morality and neo-paganism?
I tend to think of morality as more in the social sphere, not necessarily informed by spirituality-- but it can be, because a spirituality is part of your overall fabric of thought, and your moral/ethic opinions come out of your totality of experiences and opinions. And it can get complicated when you have ideas that originate from one thing, that then bleed over into other idea-sets.

For me, my spirituality informs my Environmentalist political and moral beliefs in the sense that I believe the gods are an immanent part of the natural world, that the physical world is suffused with spirits, and that this presence sanctifies the physical space around us, placing upon religiously-inclined people and societies an obligation to protect the natural world because that respects the spirits that dwell within it.
But that kind of leap necessitates certain other moral imperatives that originate from other sources, such as the idea it's an ethical obligation of a religious pagan to respect the gods and protect their sacred spaces. An idea that, for me, springs from the traditions of the religion I chose to practise, i.e. religio romana.

In addition, as polytheists we might look at the interest several gods seem to have in areas of human activity, and particularly in sanctifying certain methods of conduct as good or righteous, and what that implies. Which can get into a bit of a circular argument that's impossible to answer definitely: are these things good because the gods say it is, or do the gods agree about and defend things that are already and manifestly good? Pagan philosophers have argued about this since the Iron Age.
My personal opinion is that these are things the gods take a "hobbyist" interest in. Thus, wanting to see the thing they're interested in continue, they protect the rules and concepts humans developed to sustain that thing, i.e. gods of law and justice, or gods of the market, or gods of agriculture.

Altair

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Re: Your Spirituality and Morality
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2020, 09:16:09 am »
Given my this-worldly orientation, a longstanding aspect of my spirituality is that my morals are rooted in humanism (but concern non-human creatures as well)!
 Furthermore, I embrace my morals as a part of my particular expression of human nature as an individual member of a social species.  I don't see why I should resist that or need a God or Law to mandate my morals.

This.

My morals derive from being a human, a social animal with empathy who thrives in a group--and for that group to function and thrive, certain rules and behaviors must be observed.

Since my spiritual expression takes a form that is self-created, I'd say those morals have shaped my spirituality, rather than the other way around...though as others have mentioned, it does form something of a feedback loop. Certain values are clearly embedded in my spirituality, and those are going to influence how I act and what I prioritize.

The gods are certainly not moral exemplars; not only do they have their particular disputes which by human standards involve sometimes terrible behaviour but their spheres of action are fundamentally alien to us.

This too.

Often the examples from my mythos are negative ones: The behavior of the gods shows us what *not* to do, what traps not to fall prey to, as much as modeling positive behavior. The gods are avatars of particular forces at their utmost; those forces commingle in us, usually requiring a very different standard of behavior.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Sefiru

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Re: Your Spirituality and Morality
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2020, 06:56:33 pm »
Since my spiritual expression takes a form that is self-created, I'd say those morals have shaped my spirituality, rather than the other way around

I feel like this probably goes for a lot of recostructionists, too; especially those working from scant primary material, or those who base their practice on classical cultures whose attitudes to, say, gender roles are very different to today's. One's existing morals would guide which historical practices to adopt and which to discard.

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