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Spiritual integrity (why I rejected religion)

  1. Feb 20, 2004 #1
    One of the thoughts that my mind keeps generating is
    "Poetry is the music of ideas and music is the poetry of emotions."
    I do not appreciate Poetry being reduced to or called "mental speculation."
    "Spitituality is the music of the soul expressed through the poetry of living"

    Spirituality is actually infinitely more beautiful than religion. Religion is usually conditional-- even when it claims otherwise (believe this and you will go to heaven or do this and you will end your suffering). Thus many followers of religion are not sincere, if even only at a subconscious level. Extreme followers are overwhelmingly dishonest. But spirituality transcends intellecual belief structures and philosophical predisposition. It even transcends athiesm.

    I rejected Vaishnavism (one of the sects of Hinduism, a 5000 year old religion.) It was very subtle, as if it was not even a conscious choice that I can pinpoint, but the will of my soul. Regardless of which reasons I give, it was overwhelmingly just a "feeling." It didn't feel right. The "intrinsic religion of the soul" did not feel intrinsic.

    One reason is the theory of Karma. While there is still a way in which it can work, I am disillusioned by how many (who are supposed to be knowledgeable in this), espouse false ideas about karma, apparently devoid of thought, ideas that contradict. For example, in Stephen Knapp's book, "the secret teachings of the Vedas," he gives two examples of karma. One is a woman who is sexually abused as a child by seven differnt people and then he explains it as tht she sexyually abused children in a former life (thus she is reaping this). Furthermore, that in this former life, she abused 7 children, who are now the 7 adults abusing her. The other example he gives is a woman who has an abortion. He then explains that this woman, upon trying to incarnate again, will be aborted by her mother again and again, going from mother to mother and being aborted. These explanations are in fault. He has construed Karma as some "cosmic justice system," but has ignored (regarding the first example) whether the 7 offenders are generating their own bad karma in turn, to be molested in their next lives... probably by the same woman they molested (because she molested them because they molested her because she molested them, etc) If they are "exempt" from generating their own karma by abusing this girl (because they are merely carrying out the universe's order, right?), then why wasn't the woman also exempt when she molested the seven children (she must have also been carrying out the universe's order- or if she wasn't then what reason do we have to believe that people get molested due to bad karma!!???). Thus exemption from karma is not plausable. This only leaves a condition of no free-will, where everyone is desined in their every action. This state, in turn, would render the whole concept of justice, good and bad, meaningless. The concept of karma is like a knot that unties itself when both ends of the string are pulled.

    Overwhelmingly, I feel that karma is just a simple idea people invented to explain apparent injustices in the world or maybe even justify wrongfulness that they create. Karma theorists believe that poor people are suffering from their own wrongdoings in past lifes, and that rich people are being rewarded. If this were true, then why is India (apparently the most spiritual country) poverty stricken? I do not see any evidence in poor people that they deserve what they are getting. Infact, I observe that poor people are usually more loving and more unselfish than wealthy people.

    One reason I rejected Vaishnavism is because of the God Krishna's "6 oplulences"
    All wealth, fame, knowledge, beauty (something), and renunciation. Apparently these define him as God, but none of these are qualities which I particularly find virtuous. The qualities "loving, innocent and dirt poor" are much more appealing to me. Perfection isn't even a very longed after quality, although hindus paint a broad picture of it. I prefer alittle imperfection.

    Loving God and serving him are emphasized in Vaishnavim, even above loving your neighbors. Vaishnavism seems to go so far as to claim that you cannot love anything but God. Christianity is the same in this regard. (Remember Abrahman in the bible who's faith was "tested" by God?) In the ideal religion, God is not a narcissist. The traditional Indian marriage is not "for life." The transcendentalist version of love seems to eclipse the Indian notion of it. I'm origionally an impersonalist, which means I do not believe that God is a "person" although the indian definition of an impersonalist is that he thinks God is formless or void- philosophies wgich are looked upon with great animosity. But I merely deny that it is a person. As children need their parents, an immature society needs its Gods. The concept of God as an all-powerful person, like karma, suggests an idea invented by people to explain what they don't know. This, however, does not imply that there is no "God." In my theory, God is a force that is completely unselfish. Because it is completely unselfish, it does not coalesce into a single "self." If the personal God is completely unselfish, and loving, and has full renunciation, and all-powerful, then wouldn't he transcend the personal God image and be whatever a person needs or wants him to be in order to bring unselfishness, lovingness into people? If God can love more than us, then he must be inherantly selfish by not making himself into the love force available to everyone. If our power to love is equal to God's, what is the significance of God?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2004 #2
    A recipe is never the same as the dish of food prepared according to the instruction, nor a play the same as the script on which it is based, nor a finger pointing to the moon the same as the moon. As a means of recording, language is grossly inadequate. Whatever lengths the author goes to, even a simple sentence like "I am not hungry" is never the same in black and white as when it is spoken and heard face to face. And when translation is involved, so much more is lost A lot of things are intranslatable because of social, cultural and every other conceivable differences, the Eskimos have over 250 (last time I heard) of adjectives for snow, how many do you have? Language as a signifier should always be taken with a grain of salt and must no be mistaken for the meaning that it signifies.

    One must make further allowance for the fact that religous scriptures were written thousands of years ago when people were presumably simplier with little science or physics to aid their understanding. If Buddha were to hold a glass of water to you today and tell you there are 84,000 (meaning uncountable) bugs in it, you will believe him, but it would take a leap of faith 2000 years ago for a man to do so. What might appear to us by our modern standard as too simplistic an anlysis of kama would have be sufficient to serve its cautionary purpose in the old days, namely don't do bad things or you will suffer for it in the next life.

    Having said so however I suspect the moral of the serial rapist's story is in fact that we have a choice, at any one moment if we repent and seek forgiveness or forgive, the vicious cycle will forever be broken. And if you think the linear cause effect analogy unrealistic, I could use another analogy to illustrate the point, suppose a man and his woman neighour have had no previous conditionality, but he out of a moment's weakness succumbs to his animalistic urge and rapes his neigbour, the right thing to do is repent and ask for forgiveness so that there is no negative conditionality in the future. As human interaction is so intricate and every though and action and utterance will have its respective effect, my feeling is in a real life situation, many many lives will pass before their paths cross again, and depending on their exact circumstances, there can be a myriad of possible relationship between them as a result: unrequited love and broken heart (for the rapist), a corrupted friend (woman) leading another friend (rapist) astray and causing his ruin, a dog (woman) biting another dog (rapist) to death, etc etc etc etc.

    In terms of the social injustice of the rich and poor in the Indian society, how do you know the poor ones in India have not done anything wrong in their previous lives ELSEWHERE to deserve it? Why do you think wealth is a reward? Wealth and beuty are generally a trememdous booster of ego and greed that they quite often lead to one's ruin, you don't have to look beyond some of the rich and famous to see it is true. As for the fact that the poor are usually more loving and unselfish than wealthy people, as the saying goes, liberation can be found in vexation.

    So much for now, really the military should work you harder.
  4. Mar 1, 2004 #3

    You are speaking about scripture, I agree with you. The Guadiya Vaishnavas (followers of Lord Chaitanya), say "For one who has seen the truth, scripture is as useless as a well on a riverbank. I have expanded it to say to a spiritual man, religipon is as useless as....
    The meaning is the same if you think about it.

    Vaishnavas also disagree with your comment that I agree with. The names of the Lord "Hare Krishna" "Hare Rama" are identicle to the lord. Because the lord is absolute, there is no difference bewteen him and his name. The mantra is considered a transcendental sound vibration. I believe, however, that the essence of anything is transcendental. I have no objection to anything said in scripture, where have I said that? The view of karma I attacked is not the view that is espouses in scripture. It is the view most people have. MANY dedicated Vaishnavas and Hindus have agreed with my reasons for rejecting Vaishnavism.

    You misunderstand? I do not disbelieve in Karma, but I know taht the current view of it is false. Other Vaishnavas who have actually studies the scriptures agree with me. Your rebuttal is weak since you do not address the specific examples above.

    If the Rapist's conditionality is to be bitten to death, or to be ruined, then we must assume that the woman was raped in the first place due to her conditionality as well. Moreover, does the woman incur more conditionality for her biting the man to death? Or is she "exempt?"

    I do not believe this. I never said I did. I said that that was Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabuhupada's teaching and that I disagree with it.
    In the Srimad Bhavagatum (Vedanta Purana), there are several descriptions of the heavenly planets that one might go to due to good Karma. They are paradices in which all the people have many opulences, weath, beauty, long life and they enjoy sexual union for days.
  5. Mar 24, 2004 #4
    Humans are arrogant to assume they know exactly what God is thinking and wants of them. The thing aboute faith is, even when it begins decentralized it gradually becomes organized. Thus, I think every religion has an incomplete view of what really is. However, like all philosophies, most of the time it helps. It brings guidance to people's lives.

    I think that if there is truly a divine plan, God would want us to stop killing and hurting eachother. He would want us to treat eachother with kindness and live in peace. For if every individual has a purpose, killing only counters Gods plan. Thus, if you want to play a productive role in Gods plan, you must be a good person.

    Too bad people cannot even grasp that. Even if they are atheists, they should accept that, even on the smallest level, being good makes a monumental difference.

    Have trouble believing one person can change the entire world, through small actions? Think about it. Every action you take affects others and that affects their decisions. If you affect their decisions positively, you have started a chain reaction that will affect at the very least, most of the world. Additionally, remember that the small decisions history's great leaders have made, add up; until they change the world forever. I may even go so far as to say the smallest physical actions we take affect the Universe at large.
  6. Mar 24, 2004 #5


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    I haven't had the opportunity to debate religion with anybody who holds to Eastern religious beliefs.

    I have done hours of informal debates with Christians. Here is a typical exchange...

    Me: Even if we suppose that an all-good God could bring Himself to design a food chain that involves carnivorous predators (as opposed to just, say, scavengers of already-dead creatures), why would He allow a well-fed housecat to kill a bird and then leave the bird to rot on the ground, uneaten?

    Believer: This is a fallen world because Adam and Eve sinned, man.

    Me: So God won't even intervene supernaturally to remove the hunting instinct He supposedly has designed into cats in the case where the cat is domesticated and does not bother to eat its prey?

    Believer: No. But don't try to say that it makes God less than all-good to operate that way.

    Me: Oooookay. Whatever you say.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2004
  7. Mar 24, 2004 #6
    Janitor you are entitled to your opinion. What do you know as the truth? This stereotypical person you have presented is fuzzy underwear but this beliefs are his beliefs.

    I kind of get irritated with the guilt trip. "There was paradise but we sinned", etc.

    My theory on religion is God is a very good observer. He doesn't interfere in his creations beliefs a lot. If he has influenced our religion at all, he has only worked with existing cultural beliefs. If you assume there is a god who has meddled with us, the diverse religions arisen from various cultures evidence this. Thus, I think he's just waiting to see what happens with us.
  8. Mar 24, 2004 #7


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    Would you describe yourself as a deist, then?
  9. Mar 25, 2004 #8
    Dictionary.com says a deist is:

    The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.


    Movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe

    ----- end defintions -----

    Thus if I were a deist, by definition I would believe God does not and has not ever influenced certain things in the Universe. That he merely created it and abandoned it. However, some of my beliefs fall under that category.

    Ultimately, I have a religion unto itself. Not exactly conventional but I'm sure many people who don't buy into organized religion, believe similar things.


    Still, people need to gather for something. It is our very nature to network.

    Church is a way for people to come together. I, however, do not attend Church for various reasons. Mainly frivolous ones, like boredom and it being a chore. Faith should not be a chore, it should be something that aids us in productivity, happiness and peace.

    Aside, the religious temple is also a way to control/influence the thoughts, attitudes and actions of people. It is a practice steep rooted in ancient tradition. However, apparently it is not obsolete.

    I believe what I am saying here is, one should not forsake spirituality of some kind, simply because some humans are foolish and misguided, regardless of their belief system.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2004
  10. Mar 25, 2004 #9
  11. Mar 25, 2004 #10


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    Greetings back at you!
  12. Mar 28, 2004 #11
    This is not the correct understanding of Karma. The following paragraph will explain:

    "Now, the Pali word kamma or the Sanskrit word karma (from the root kr - to do) literally means "action", "doing". But in the Buddhist theory of karma, it has a specific meaning: it means only "volitional action", not all action. Nor does it mean the result of karma as many people wrongly and loosely use it. In buddhist terminology karma never means its effect; its effect is known as the "fruit" or the "result" of karma (kamma-phala or kamma-vipaka)."

    -What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula, P. 32.
  13. Mar 29, 2004 #12
    i have played with the idea of 'karma' since the mid-late 60's. after much thinking and looking at mine and the experiences of others, i believe that it is a self-imposed way of learning. this can occur in this life or span other incarnations.

    if i make a mistake and harm someone, on reflection, i need to understand the nature of my actions. this can take the form of reversing roles or simply by helping the injured party. freewill allows us to learn and grow within our own parameters.

  14. Mar 29, 2004 #13
    Hello there,

    First time talking to you :smile: . Yes I agree that some of us are naturally capable of self-reflection and disciplining and perfecting ourselves and it does not take any belief in or knowledge of karma to do so.

    But I still think karma has its "doctrinal utility" because it is a (golden) thread that runs through and bring together other Buddhism beliefs, namely the consciousness continuum and rebirth. As our present moment of consciousness cannot be produced without the moment of consciousness that immediately preceded it, successive rebirths allow the continuum of consciousness to be there and karma is the driving force behind and provides the conditionality of each rebirth.

  15. Mar 29, 2004 #14


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    although i enjoy talking about this kind of topic, i must warn that religious topics are locked. i see this as a "borderline" topic...as long as it is kept as philosophical as possible, it will remain open.
  16. Mar 29, 2004 #15
    Sorry about that Kerrie :tongue: . I will take note and move the thread elsewhere if necessary.
  17. Apr 1, 2004 #16


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    It's nice to see everyone talking about what they think God would do and what God would be like and then say people are arrogant for thinking they know God's will or plan. The logical deduction of God's will or nature would require an awful lot of presupposition, not the least of which is the very existence of any spiritual being external to that which we recognize as ourselves, if indeed there is even any spiritual aspect to a human being at all. It's nice to talk of "my understanding," but there is only one truth. There can be many understandings; most, if not all, are false.
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