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Author Topic: How can I know which path to take?  (Read 3519 times)

Valdi

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How can I know which path to take?
« on: August 05, 2012, 02:04:13 am »
I seem to be having a bit of a spiritual crisis, here. Again.

I've always had a soft spot for nature, and Paganism in general. It may be because I've grown up a child of a family who caravan frequently, so I would go between country and city quite regularly, but my heart lies in the countryside, especially near the beaches and forests.

However, none of the gods have spoken to me; I don't know which path would be best for me to go: if I'm not receiving a signal from any of the gods (or from any divinities in general), how do I know if they are interested in my devotion or not?


I've looked into multiple religions, a lot, but I seem to be having another one of these crises; I just don't know what to do or where to begin. I'm sick of having these crises as well.

My only fundamentals, though, are panentheism, animism, an afterlife (interestingly, I've gone off reincarnation and sort of gone into a universalist 'everyone goes to Paradise'), and probably some form of polytheism, but I don't know whether I'd consider the gods as mere manifestations of the One like illusions, or as individual entities who have their own individual Consciousness/Consciousnesses.

I'll answer any questions asked; I'm sick of being in this rut and it keeps happening. :o

Faemon

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2012, 02:17:15 am »
Quote from: Valdi;67320
none of the gods have spoken to me; I don't know which path would be best for me to go: if I'm not receiving a signal from any of the gods (or from any divinities in general), how do I know if they are interested in my devotion or not?

I'll answer any questions asked; I'm sick of being in this rut and it keeps happening. :o

How about developing your own philosophy, before (or, even, instead of) seeking someone/something to bend a knee to? :)

How do you balance environmentalism and animal rights with the industrial needs of civilization, and nutritional needs of an individual? Does "natural" mean a fatalistic attitude, or is it a paradigm through which to view the choices you do make? What is your nature? What is your place/role/niche in Nature? Do animals have rights? Do animals have spirituality, or are they spiritual? Is there a line between respecting an animal as a fellow living being, and using bits and pieces of a dead animal to resonate with some animal guide on a spiritual plane?

How does nature fit in with science? Biology, ecology-- and social sciences? Are humans animal? How do cities sit with you? How about environments away from this planet-- are stars and other planets part of Nature? Where is your spirituality at, during a natural disaster-- an earthquake, a landslide or avalanche? What is death to you? What is truth/true, to you?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 02:18:02 am by Faemon »
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Valdi

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2012, 04:47:40 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;67321
How about developing your own philosophy, before (or, even, instead of) seeking someone/something to bend a knee to? :)
That's something I've considered, as you can imagine, but unfortunately an important part of my philosophical beliefs revolve around the idea of community; I see community as an incredibly important part of my spirituality, so I can grow and further develop it, and I also have apologetics etc to read to further myself. With my own I sort of feel I would be isolated and solitary (solitary and isolation are fine, but for me, I enjoy the community as well) and would feel as though I have to "re-invent the wheel", so to speak, with my philosophy.

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How do you balance environmentalism and animal rights with the industrial needs of civilization, and nutritional needs of an individual?
I believe that nature should be respected and should not overtly be changed, but that is too idealistic and not realistic enough for the modern world. Instead, I would say I think it's best, in today's society, to do as little damage as possible, and what you do damage, try to repair -- if not immediately, just by planting the seeds, either metaphorically or literally.

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Does "natural" mean a fatalistic attitude, or is it a paradigm through which to view the choices you do make? What is your nature? What is your place/role/niche in Nature?
Somewhere in between both, I guess. I think that we as a species are hard-wired, generally, for both selfish (eat, reproduce, defend ourselves) and selfless (altruism, respect) things. Do you mean my nature, or humanity's nature specifically? If mine, then I haven't worked it out yet. My place in nature, I still don't know.

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Do animals have rights? Do animals have spirituality, or are they spiritual? Is there a line between respecting an animal as a fellow living being, and using bits and pieces of a dead animal to resonate with some animal guide on a spiritual plane?
I believe animals have rights: the right not to be tortured, to be respected, and so on. I do not know if animals have spirituality or are spiritual, but I have resonate, unfortunately, towards a no as an answer: I think that most animals probably lack the cognitive functions that would enable them to think abstractly enough to ponder the "big questions" and would rely mostly on instinct and memory. This doesn't enable us to treat them badly, however, or that they are inferior. I do not believe that religiosity or spirituality is solely a human thing either: perhaps some great apes have it. Maybe dolphins. I think elephants have some form, as can be seen with the foot hovering that they do over a deceased's body.

I am definitely of the opinion that spirituality and/or religiosity is part of human nature, and originated before humanity appeared as we can see some forms of religion with our Neanderthal brothers, I guess that abstract thinking for the basis of spirituality appeared in H. heidelbergis, maybe?

I do not see anything wrong with using animal body parts for spiritual reasons. I'm undecided on leather, etc. I think it's an inescapable part of modern life now, though, so I don't beat myself up on it. If I can get imitation leather, I'll go for it.


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How does nature fit in with science? Biology, ecology-- and social sciences? Are humans animal?
Science attempts to explain nature. I don't follow your question on social sciences though?

Yes, humans are most definitely animals.

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How do cities sit with you?
I see cities as a necessary evil: we need space to put people. Unfortunately I see cities as more corrupt, dirtier, and less spiritual. I don't like the concrete jungles, and I live in such an area, where all the buildings are ugly, the crime rate is high, as is poverty. However, cities allow for easier access to the internet, information, and so on than they do in the countryside.

I think small-to-medium sizes towns are ideal, and human societies are best in populations of under 5,000: apparently the ideal human society size is about 150, but I think that's a bit too small; I'd say about 5,000 is best.

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How about environments away from this planet-- are stars and other planets part of Nature?
I think so.

Quote
Where is your spirituality at, during a natural disaster-- an earthquake, a landslide or avalanche? What is death to you? What is truth/true, to you?
Suffering exists, and natural disasters occur for mundane reasons; I don't think (at the moment) that there is a spiritual reason for it.

Death is transformation. I believe in an afterlife (but not reincarnation). What is true to me? There is an Absolute, and death is not the end. The rest is open to interpretation.


Did I miss anything off? :)
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 04:49:08 am by Valdi »

Faemon

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2012, 06:57:12 am »
Quote from: Valdi;67327
That's something I've considered, as you can imagine, but unfortunately an important part of my philosophical beliefs revolve around the idea of community; I see community as an incredibly important part of my spirituality, so I can grow and further develop it, and I also have apologetics etc to read to further myself. With my own I sort of feel I would be isolated and solitary (solitary and isolation are fine, but for me, I enjoy the community as well) and would feel as though I have to "re-invent the wheel", so to speak, with my philosophy.


I was thinking more of that, once you have that wheel, you can roll along with others of a similar philosophy-- even if their carriages look so different from one another. From your answers... you didn't miss anything, but I do believe you when you say you need a community to bounce ideas and practices off.

The thing is, I think the way you know which path to take, is the one that is true to yourself. If you don't know your own nature, or your place in Nature... it just comes off to me that you haven't quite found yourself? It's a rare community that can find you for you, really. I won't say none can do it, just that you won't know what it isn't until you've explored enough and failed, probably-- but that'll just make you sick again what with more ruts, again.

So! While I'm answering anyway, I'll give you some purposely personal bias: do you practice meditation? :ange: (Because a meditation-based discipline is absolute square one, to me.)
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Valdi

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2012, 07:34:58 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;67339
The thing is, I think the way you know which path to take, is the one that is true to yourself. If you don't know your own nature, or your place in Nature... it just comes off to me that you haven't quite found yourself?

I don't think I have, to be honest. I think it's one of the downsides about being raised irreligious. I don't even know where to begin, I don't think: what do I need to do to find myself?

Quote
So! While I'm answering anyway, I'll give you some purposely personal bias: do you practice meditation? :ange: (Because a meditation-based discipline is absolute square one, to me.)

I do, yes; unfortunately not as frequently as I would like, but I'm going to try and make a space for meditation soon.

I use Hindu prayer beads and do a round of 108 on them most frequently; I try to do that every day or twice a day. Unfortunately my 'connection' to the Hindu gods has shrunk considerably since I've changed my opinion on the afterlife, to pretty much only being Śiva and Durgā with whom I hold any real affection.

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2012, 08:17:06 am »
Quote from: Valdi;67320
..However, none of the gods have spoken to me; I don't know which path would be best for me to go: if I'm not receiving a signal from any of the gods (or from any divinities in general), how do I know if they are interested in my devotion or not? ..


In some ways you remind me of a passage I read some years ago.  It pertained to a brave that was seeking his path.  At the end of his life Spirit appeared to him and the Brave asked where Spirit had been through the struggles of his life.  Spirit simply looked at him and said you were so busy doing what you though I wanted that you were unable to hear when I spoke to you.  

Yeah I know it sounds very Christian in slant but was actually conveyed in a book about Native American beliefs and practices.  This particular book dealing with the teachings of White Buffalo Calf Woman Comes Dancing.

You say no god / goddesses has spoken to you yet I wonder what have you been listening for?  What do you think it will be like when some god / goddesses does speak to you and how do you think you'll recognize it?  The key there being all of that pertains to what and how you think they will speak not how they shall speak or convey thier presence to you.

In some ways your like a person at a party right now.  The room is full of people and perhaps one of them is trying to get your attention but you don't notice because your not looking but assuming with regards to how they will get your attention.  Many of your assumptions originating from how you think other's where spoken to and thus it must be the same for you.  Or worse, setting in your mind what the clues shall be thereby dictating how a god / goddess is supposed to act and anything outside of that is never considered.

Even a gnat can be in ones face but be ignored if one is looking elsewhere and making assumptions of how they shall arrive.  The gnat becoming nothing but a pest and distraction because its not the messenger one thinks will be used.  But then to my perspective is a single gnat any less annoying than a whole swarm of them about your head?

Or I suppose you can use a mosquito as the example.  I've been told its actually the carbon dioxide and/or sweat that attracts them to us.  Only when they bite us to we really notice their presence.  Yet they were there the whole time we just didn't see them because we didn't really look for them.

Faemon

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2012, 08:44:43 am »
Quote from: Valdi;67343
I do, yes; unfortunately not as frequently as I would like, but I'm going to try and make a space for meditation soon.

Perhaps not as elaborate a ritual as that. Just... quiet time, peaceful time to think of nothing. No gods-as-part-of-the-package, no beads, no visualizations, no chanting. It doesn't even have to be in a lotus sitting position. Just let yourself be, and let your mind be with you. If you think of something, or feel something, then take note that you are thinking and feeling it. After a few months of that, perhaps you would be able to glean something of your own character, or become receptive to visions of a deity or that deity's symbol, or recover a memory of a mythological story that touched and influenced you that you could perhaps pursue a more thorough study of.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 08:47:00 am by Faemon »
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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2012, 09:03:55 am »
Quote from: Valdi;67320
I seem to be having a bit of a spiritual crisis, here. Again.

[...snip...]

However, none of the gods have spoken to me; I don't know which path would be best for me to go: if I'm not receiving a signal from any of the gods (or from any divinities in general), how do I know if they are interested in my devotion or not?

[...snip...]

My only fundamentals, though, are panentheism, animism, an afterlife (interestingly, I've gone off reincarnation and sort of gone into a universalist 'everyone goes to Paradise'), and probably some form of polytheism, but I don't know whether I'd consider the gods as mere manifestations of the One like illusions, or as individual entities who have their own individual Consciousness/Consciousnesses.

I'll answer any questions asked; I'm sick of being in this rut and it keeps happening. :o

 
YOU SOUND ALMOST EXACTLY LIKE ME. Haha. But Seriously.

In particular, I have been frustrated with the lack of direction I feel I've been getting from the Gods, or the Spirits, or whichever term you want to use. I've felt like my path was in the doldrums and I wasn't getting any answers. Not exactly silence, but nothing but shrugs either.

I also have a similar probably in terms of viewing the Gods as concepts-versus-individuals. Frankly, I've actually been moving more towards hard-Polytheism the more I get into it. What I realized was this: if we are all expressions of the Divine, and each Human is an individual, and each Tree is an individual, than it's perfectly logical that each Spirit would be an individual, with a "personality" and a "life" and "actions".

So my biggest advice: keep working and keep bothering the Gods. I've found that the more I work with them, and the clearer a picture I develop of them, the LOUDER they get. I've been getting more and more answers every day - not clear answers, but more of them, and it's enough to know I'm on the right track, and that clarity will come with time.

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2012, 11:59:53 am »
Quote from: Valdi;67320
However, none of the gods have spoken to me; I don't know which path would be best for me to go: if I'm not receiving a signal from any of the gods (or from any divinities in general), how do I know if they are interested in my devotion or not?

 
What kind of "signals" are you looking for?

Valdi

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2012, 12:07:59 pm »
Quote from: Maps;67379
What kind of "signals" are you looking for?

Good question; I think some form of response and/or acknowledgement.

I'm not expecting a theophany or anything like that (although that would be really helpful!), but I'd just like to have some form of, well, direction from the gods, or even from my interpretation of the panentheistic Supreme Ultimate.

I don't want to be focusing on gods who don't have any interest in my worship for some reason.

Even if it's just an inner feeling of peace of something that resonates with me, that would be a start, but it seems when I've done that, I've often ended up changing my opinions later on which is incredibly frustrating and a little embarrassing for me to keep changing my religious beliefs.

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 12:15:32 pm »
Quote from: Valdi;67386
Good question; I think some form of response and/or acknowledgement.

I'm not expecting a theophany or anything like that (although that would be really helpful!), but I'd just like to have some form of, well, direction from the gods, or even from my interpretation of the panentheistic Supreme Ultimate.

I don't want to be focusing on gods who don't have any interest in my worship for some reason.

Even if it's just an inner feeling of peace of something that resonates with me, that would be a start, but it seems when I've done that, I've often ended up changing my opinions later on which is incredibly frustrating and a little embarrassing for me to keep changing my religious beliefs.


I just asked because different pantheons interact with their followers in different ways, and craving a certain kind of validation just might not work with some deities and worldviews.

Hopefully someone else will come along and give you better advice than I can. :B

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2012, 12:29:05 pm »
Quote from: Valdi;67386

Even if it's just an inner feeling of peace of something that resonates with me, that would be a start, but it seems when I've done that, I've often ended up changing my opinions later on which is incredibly frustrating and a little embarrassing for me to keep changing my religious beliefs.

 
I can understand the frustration part of it but try not to be embarrassed about anything. I think most everyone goes through this...it's just part of finding your way. From a personal standpoint, I know my beliefs changed many times until I finally stumbled on what works for me. My advice, for whatever it's worth, is to relax, take your time, and try not to force anything. You'll find what you're looking for. ;)

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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2012, 11:05:39 am »
Quote from: Valdi


 
I would think you would do better this way.  Stand on the street corner with a sign saying "I am here and I am listening." rather than walking into various Deities' homes and tasting their soup without asking or being invited.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 06:04:38 pm by SunflowerP »
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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2012, 12:17:35 pm »
Quote from: Valdi;67386
Good question; I think some form of response and/or acknowledgement.

I'm not expecting a theophany or anything like that (although that would be really helpful!), but I'd just like to have some form of, well, direction from the gods, or even from my interpretation of the panentheistic Supreme Ultimate.

I don't want to be focusing on gods who don't have any interest in my worship for some reason.

Even if it's just an inner feeling of peace of something that resonates with me, that would be a start, but it seems when I've done that, I've often ended up changing my opinions later on which is incredibly frustrating and a little embarrassing for me to keep changing my religious beliefs.


I think the Aesir interact with us externally. They're not of the spirit and within us, they're of the world and outside of us.

When that one guy (I never remember the saga names) moved, it was where the logs went ashore that told him where to build Thor's temple, not a telepathic communication or inner sense. If he had been waiting for a feeling he would have felt dejected that the logs stopped and that there had been no communication.

In Germany the gods were seen as residing on the mountaintops not in the hearts of men in the valley. There would be hikes to the peaks to worship and call them. Who knows what happened up there, but I imagine if a bird called back and circled in the sky that it was seen as the answer of the gods.

I don't want to assume, but if you're looking for a sense that they've reached out then maybe you're missing the things that they're doing around you. You have to see the gods in the world. If you catch the sunset look at it as the mantle of Tyr walking across the earth. And not in a spiritual, metaphorical sense. Think that that's Tyr right there, in front of you, present. When it rains and thunders think that Thor is right there behind the clouds kicking up dirt and dust and water. Like, literally.

I know that sounds funny, especially in our scientific world. The point is to see them as they are, living alongside us. You can rationalize it however or not even try (my method). You probably have a neighbor down the block that you've never met. But you know someone lives there, you see his vehicle, you can tell when he's been out and mowed the lawn. Who cares what color his hair may be, or if he's disabled or what color eyes he has. Those are the minor details, the point is you know something exists there. That's the gods.

You might not see the neighbor face to face and he might not have a phone, so to communicate with him you leave a note on his doorstep and a gift. Maybe you yell outside and see his light come on. The idol is that doorstep. One heathen marks a rune on the ground and pours out a libation. That's the note. Maybe when you're outside and you look at Frigga weaving the clouds you can greet her and you'll see her weave something for you. Maybe you'll notice a hawk circling.

I think sometimes we can all be very good about opening our hearts and minds to the gods but then suck at opening our eyes.
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Re: How can I know which path to take?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2012, 10:00:16 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;67502
The idol is that doorstep.

 
Love this.

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