Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

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Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Amore »

I’ve been going through philosophers’ quotes, searching for pearls of wisdom. Carl Jung (not really philosopher but a good thinker), explained how he didn’t see a dividing line between psychology (study of the soul) & spirituality. I feel similarly about philosophy, but only in regard to what Epicurus noted...
    “Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering.”

Please share ideas from spiritual sources or philosophy, which you found to be inspiring or helpful.
Last edited by Amore on Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Amore »

What really motivated me to begin this thread was a reply from PhiloSofee (but I wanted others to feel free to chime in, thus the OP)...

Philo Sofee wrote:
Amore
The books in the bible were collected and twisted by the “universal church” who tortured or killed those who didn’t believe. And Mormonism is largely based on this deceptive evil. I believe they twisted Christ’s words. Almost quoting Buddha Christ warned against looking externally for the kingdom of God to come because it’s within each of us. Yet, the Catholic church insisted people look to them and they imagined up human sacrifice scapegoating nonsense that is so obviously not of God.

It seems that in the Freemason/Anti-Christ/LDS temple ritual, “Satan” was the appropriate one to say, “Oh, you want someone to preach to you. You want religion, do you? I will have preachers here presently.”


That's actually an outstanding point Amore, especially about Satan giving us preachers who in turn fog our mind about who we really are and what we really and truly do actually possess! Tomorrow I am going to be giving a speech/sermon at the Unitarian Universalist church and what I am using of Alan Watts really perfectly dove tails with this.

This from his beautiful and inspiring book Become What You Are, Shambala, 2018, (pp. 85-91)and part of my speech, if you will allow me to share a little bit of it. I promise it will inspire!

What then, is a truly deep feeling of salvation? Insofar as this question can be answered at all, perhaps it is best to consider one of the greatest doctrines in all religion in terms of a state of mind.

For this purpose the best choice is probably the Hindu or Vedanta conception of Brahman, because this is at once the simplest and the most subtle of doctrines – subtle just because it is so simple. The same doctrine is found in other systems, but Vedanta gives it the best philosophical expression.

It is that all possible things, events, thoughts and qualities are aspects of a single reality, which is sometimes called the Self of the Universe. In themselves these many aspects have no reality; they are real only in that each one of them is a manifestation of Brahman or the Self.

To put it another way, the true self of any given thing is Brahman and not something that belongs exclusively to the thing in question. Each individual is therefore an aspect of Brahman, and no two aspects are the same.

But man’s self is much more than what he considers to be his ego or his personality called John Smith or William Jones or Sally Denton. The ego is a device or trick (maya) employed so that Brahman may manifest itself, and man’s innermost self is therefore identical with the Self of all things. Thus if anyone wants to know what Brahman is he has just to look around, to think, to act, to be aware, to live, for all that is known by the sense, thought in the mind, or felt in the heart is Brahman.

In other systems of thought Brahman has many other names – Tao in Chinese, and mystics the world over find similar meaning in the words God, Allah, Infinite, Life, Elan Vital, the Absolute, or whatever other term may be used.

In fact, the intuition of the One Reality is the essence of all mystical religion, but few people understand clearly what it is to feel this intuition in oneself. We are, perhaps, more apt to think of this idea as just a metaphysical speculation, a more or les reasonable theory about the fundamental structure of life. Someday, we think, it might be possible for us to delve down into the deepest recesses of our souls, lay our fingers on this mysterious universal essence and avail ourselves of its tremendous powers. This, however, does not seem quite right. For one thing, it is not to be found only in the deepest recesses of our souls, and for another thing, the word essence makes it sound as if it were highly refined, somewhat gaseous or electric and wholly formless potency that somehow dwells inside of things. But in relation to Brahman there is neither inside nor outside; sometimes it is called the principle of nonduality because nothing else exists beside it and nothing is excluded from it.

It is to be found on the surface as much as in the depths and in the finite as much as in the infinite, for it has wisely been said that “there is nothing infinite apart from finite things.”

Thus it can be neither lost not found and you cannot avail yourself of its powers any more than you can dispense with them, for all these conceptions of having and not having, of gain and loss, finite and infinite, belong to the principle of duality. Every dualism is exclusive; it is this and not that, that and not this. But Brahman as the One Reality is all-inclusive, for the Upanishads say:

It is made of consciousness and mind: It is made of life and vision. It is made of the earth and of the waters; it is made of air and space; It is made of light and darkness; It is made of desire and peace. It is made of anger and love; it is made of virtue and vice; It is made of all that is near; It is made of all that is afar; It is made of all.

What, then, is nonduality in terms of a state of mind? How does the mystic who has realized his identity with the One Reality think and feel? Does his consciousness expand from out of his body and enter into all other things, so that he sees with others eyes and thinks with others brains? Only figuratively, for the Self which is in him and in all others does not necessarily communicate to the physical brain of John Smith, mystic, what is seen by the eyes of Pei-Wang, construction worker, on the other side of the earth. I do not believe that spiritual illumination is to be understood in quite this sensational way.

We shall answer the question sufficiently if we can discover what is a nondualistic state of mind. Does it mean a mind in so intense a state of concentration that it contains only one thought? Strictly speaking, the mind never contains more than one thought at a time; such is the nature of thinking.

But if spirituality means thinking only and always of one particular thing, then other things are excluded and this is still duality. Does it mean, then, a mind which is thinking of everything at once? Even if this were possible, it would exclude the convenient faculty of thinking of one thing at a time and would still be dualistic. Clearly these two interpretations are absurd, but there is another way of approach.

Spiritual illumination is often described as absolute freedom of the soul, and we have seen that the One Reality is all-inclusive. Is the mind of the mystic singularly free and all inclusive? If so, it would seem that his spirituality does not depend on thinking any kind of special thoughts, on having a particular feeling ever in the background of his soul. He is free to think of anything and nothing, to love and to fear, to be joyful or sad, to set his mind on philosophy or on the trivial concerns of the world; he is free to be both a sage and a fool, to feel both compassion and anger, to experience both bliss and agony.

And in all this he never breaks his identity with the One Reality – God, Whose service is perfect freedom. For he knows that in whatever direction he goes and in whichever of these many opposites he is engaged, he is still in perfect harmony with the One that includes all directions and all opposites. In this sense, serving God is just living; it is not a question of the way in which you live, because all ways are included in God. To understand this is to wake up to your freedom to be alive.

But is that ALL? Is it possible that spirituality can be anything so absurdly simple? It seems to mean that to attain spirituality you have to just go on living as you have always lived; all life being God, and kind of life is spiritual. You say that if the idea were not so ludicrous it would be exceedingly dangerous. First we might remind ourselves of a saying of the Chinese sage Lau Tzu:

When the wise man hears of the Tao, he puts it into practice… When the fool hears of it, he laughs at it. Indeed it would not be worthy to be called the Tao if he did not laugh at it.

The idea that any kind of life is spiritual is a terrible blow to man’s pride; from the spiritual point of view it puts us on the same level as stones, vegetables, worms, and beetles; it makes the righteous man no nearer to salvation than the criminal and the sage no nearer than the lunatic. Thus if all else about the idea is folly, it is at least a powerful antidote to spiritual pride and self-reward for being a good boy. Indeed, it is not something which you can GET at all, however fierce your efforts, however great your learning and however tireless your virtue is. In the spiritual world there is no top and bottom of the class. Here all men and women are equal and whatever they do can go neither up nor down. The only difference between sage or mystic and ordinary, unenlightened man is that the one realizes his identity with God or Brahman, whereas the other does not. But the lack or realization does not alter the fact.

How, then, does one attain this realization? Is it just a matter of going on living as one has lived before, knowing that one is free to do just exactly as one likes? Beware of the false freedom of doing as you like; to be really free you must also be free to do as you don’t like, for if you are only free to do as you like you are still tied up in dualism, being bound by your own whims.

A better way of attaining realization is to let yourself be free to be ignorant, for fools are also one with God. If you strive to attain realization and try to make yourself God, you simply become an intense egotist. But if you allow yourself freedom to be yourself, you will discover that God is not what you have to BECOME, but what you ARE – in spite of yourself. For have we not heard it said a thousand times that God is always found in humble places?

The Tao, said Lao Tzu, is like water; it seeks the lowly level which men abhor. And while we are busy trying to add cubits to our stature so that we may reach up to heaven, we forget that we are getting no nearer to it and no further away. For the Kingdom of heaven is within you.

I love it! I wish I could have been there - I would have been wide awake! :biggrin:

A couple notes about it... non-duality & yin/yang.

What you mentioned about everything being aspects of a single reality is mind-blowing but somehow I think has truth. Gottfried Leibniz suggested that the monad was the smallest essence of matter & was based on perception. We & other consciousnesses are a collection of monads.

Leibniz hypothesized that monads are indivisible, with no extension ...and they cannot be created nor destroyed from external principles (windows), but only pop into or out of existence by internal principles. It's a detailed description of perception. If you were a brain surgean, you could see my brain externally & maybe see effects of my brain activity on an EEG, but you could not look into my mind to see exactly what I'm thinking. The mind, like monads is unextended but unlike simple monads, is more complex (with feelings and memories, etc.).
Leibniz rejects universal causation, insisting on internal affect rather than external affect... "…nothing ever enters into our mind naturally from the outside; and we have a bad habit of thinking of our soul as if it received certain species as messengers and as if it has doors and windows. We have all these forms in our mind..."

And although unique and far from arrival at potential, there is a sense of harmony because all are from the same source...
"Now this interconnection, relationship, or this adaptation of all things to each particular one, and of each one to all the rest, brings it about that every simple substance has relations which express all the others and that it is consequently a perpetual living mirror of the universe." "If the representation were distinct as to the details of the entire universe, each monad would be a Deity. It is not in the object represented that the monads are limited, but in the modification of their knowledge of the object. In a confused way they reach out to infinity or to the whole, but are limited and differentiated in the degree of their distinct perceptions."
Reality (all perspectives) is made up of all monads and according to Leibniz, God perceives from all perspectives at once.

How do you imagine this? Like a kaleidoscope?


Ok, one other thing. You didn’t mention it exactly but did refer to opposites which reminded me of yin/yang. Do you think it’s possible and/or ideal to be able to consider both “good and evil” as neither extreme, but like yin/yang? And how do you think this plays into the kingdom of God within us?

I do think that religion tends to become corrupt and actually serves “evil” in distracting people from spirituality within by persuading them to focus on religious leaders etc. Yet, I also see good that comes from people/“preachers” whether they be religious, philosophical, psychological or spiritual. Rather than reinvent the wheel, it seems wise to learn what I can from others. The challenge is in deciphering, as Thomas Jefferson suggested, “between a diamond and dung.”

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by moksha »

The Desiderata seems like pretty helpful spiritual and philosophical advice on everyday living.
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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Amore »

moksha wrote:The Desiderata seems like pretty helpful spiritual and philosophical advice on everyday living.

Yes! It is - thank you!

Image


I also like the Serenity Prayer:

Image

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by moksha »

First, they came for tea and I said nothing
Then they came for coffee and I was silent
Then they came for mocha and I did not speak
Then expresso ice cream and I said what the heck.
-- Rabbi Penguinstock, Congregation Beth Nom
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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by moksha »

Spiritual Evidence

Do you hear what I do?
Yes, we do say the
Inmates of Clarendon Asylum.
It was Joseph whispering
Sweet nothings to one of
The wives. The wife of a member
Gone to England on a mission.
It's a miracle! A miracle we say.
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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by honorentheos »

Over the decade+ of journeying outside of Mormonism, my lived version of wisdom seeking draws from a few sources. Most notably are the main stoic writers: Epictetus, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Seneca the Younger. From them, I find something that has the same centering effect that I had sought and found in scripture. There is a stoic version of the serenity prayer that you quoted above, for example, and much of stoicism is based on the concept of accepting life as it is and applying right action in the moment.

I found there are a lot of parallels available in Confucius and neo-Confucian thinking where the concept of Jen is another cultural take on entheos.

In a way, its all a secular version of what I had imagined Buddhism to be before I really took the time to learn more about the foundations of Buddhism and it lost some of it's broad appeal to me due to it inherently demanding reincarnation and karma be taken literally to fully embrace it as a spiritual framework. Striped back from this, finding the middle way while at the same time seeking excellence, right action, and pursuing knowledge of and appreciation for the good, beautiful and true find echoes in many, many other writings. The idea of duty in the Gita appeals to me, for example, if I clearly make it something it isn't exactly in Hinduism.

For example, one of the many gems I appreciate from Epictetus, since you asked for specifics, is this one:

“What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.” -Epictetus, Discourses, Book II, ch. 17

This reminds me of the following zen story -

A well known professor went to visit a Zen master. As the master gracefully served tea, the professor described his ideas of Zen. The master remained quiet as the professor spoke, continuing to pour.
When the tea reached the brim of the cup, the Zen master kept pouring. The tea overflowed, spilling onto the tray, the table, and the carpet, until the professor could no longer stand it.

“Stop!” he said. “Can’t you see the cup is full?”

“This is you,” said the master, pointing to the cup. “How can I show you Zen, until you first empty your cup?”


That one is from the collection of stories, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.

As words, they are empty. As beliefs about how other people should behave, they are worse than worthless. As a reminder to myself that learning comes from being receptive to the opportunity in every moment to learn, they are essential. And yet I find if I don't remind myself of them frequently, I forget the lesson in them. It's so easy to do that. Something I find myself coming back to since leaving the LDS church is that getting too far away from seeking those reminders is detrimental to my being able to live with necessary humility which kinda sucks but is proven to be essential. I'm not quite sure why it is, to be honest. But it seems that seeking is essential to being able to not get too caught up in one's own importance and then losing perspective in ways that cause damage. That's been my experience so far, anyway.
The world is always full of the sound of waves..but who knows the heart of the sea, a hundred feet down? Who knows it's depth?
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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Philo Sofee »

I've been trying to stay on a daily reading regimen and when I do this systematically, I rediscover one of the most important truths for me personally.

Of the somewhat, perhaps few thousand books I will read, and the very few, perhaps merely a dozen I will really remember and grasp, considered against the fact that there are well over a billion books I WILL NEVER READ, NOR WILL ANY OTHER HUMAN BEING, our reality is sincerely and truly 99.9% total ignorance. That's depressing beyond description, yet spiritually uplifting in a way. It means for real truth, we turn inward, as Jesus said, The Kingdom of God is within you. He said something similar to Luke here in the Gospel of Thomas. Real truth will not be found outside, but inside. Weird, but the older I get, I believe I catch fleeting glimpses of this possibility...

This makes sense too, because the more you read, the more a recognition occurs within your breast that everything you are reading is simply someone's interpretation of things. And interpretations are not truth, but suggestions, ideas to mull over, etc. The real truth is not "out there," It's in here.

Joseph Campbell in his lectures on the Kundalini noted that the problem with the West is we literalized and concretized the symbols which are meant to help us become transparent to transcendence. When the scripture says Jesus ascended to heaven, it was not meant as a literal body ascension into the sky, which is truly silly and impossible. It meant he transcended his own limited knowledge and one way is through the rising of the serpent inside us, up the higher level chakras. The ascension is within us. That is the Kingdom of God Jesus could have been alluding to. The historicists of the organized religions have really done us a disservice in making the symbolic into the historical and literal. That is not where true spirituality, and hence true and real knowledge is to be had. The longer I live, the more sense this all makes, weirdly enough.
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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by moksha »

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More Book of Mormon stories...
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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by I have a question »

"We're not here for a long time...we're here for a good time!" (Huey Lewis & The News)
“When we are confronted with evidence that challenges our deeply held beliefs we are more likely to reframe the evidence than we are to alter our beliefs. We simply invent new reasons, new justifications, new explanations. Sometimes we ignore the evidence altogether.” (Mathew Syed 'Black Box Thinking')

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Philo Sofee »

moksha wrote:Image
More Book of Mormon stories...


AHA! That looks like the battlefield of Kuruksetra.......Bhagavad Gita isn't it? I probably muffed the spelling of the battlefield, silly me. This just shows the Book of Abraham is true and the Book of Isaac is still hiddeon on scrolls in India perhaps in a stone box underground, who can say?
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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Amore »

moksha wrote:
First, they came for tea and I said nothing
Then they came for coffee and I was silent
Then they came for mocha and I did not speak
Then expresso ice cream and I said what the heck.
-- Rabbi Penguinstock, Congregation Beth Nom

:)
You know, one ingredient in some anti-depressants is caffeine. Generally, I feel good and productive after a cup of Joe. And at the coffee meet-ups, we can all talk faster and get more in, within a shorter time. ;)

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Amore »

honorentheos wrote:Over the decade+ of journeying outside of Mormonism, my lived version of wisdom seeking draws from a few sources. Most notably are the main stoic writers: Epictetus, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Seneca the Younger. From them, I find something that has the same centering effect that I had sought and found in scripture...

I found there are a lot of parallels available in Confucius...

Striped back from this, finding the middle way while at the same time seeking excellence, right action, and pursuing knowledge of and appreciation for the good, beautiful and true find echoes in many, many other writings. The idea of duty in the Gita appeals to me, for example, if I clearly make it something it isn't exactly in Hinduism.

For example, one of the many gems I appreciate from Epictetus, since you asked for specifics, is this one:

“What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.” -Epictetus, Discourses, Book II, ch. 17

This reminds me of the following zen story -

A well known professor went to visit a Zen master. As the master gracefully served tea, the professor described his ideas of Zen. The master remained quiet as the professor spoke, continuing to pour.
When the tea reached the brim of the cup, the Zen master kept pouring. The tea overflowed, spilling onto the tray, the table, and the carpet, until the professor could no longer stand it.

“Stop!” he said. “Can’t you see the cup is full?”

“This is you,” said the master, pointing to the cup. “How can I show you Zen, until you first empty your cup?”


That one is from the collection of stories, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.

As words, they are empty. As beliefs about how other people should behave, they are worse than worthless. As a reminder to myself that learning comes from being receptive to the opportunity in every moment to learn, they are essential. And yet I find if I don't remind myself of them frequently, I forget the lesson in them. It's so easy to do that. Something I find myself coming back to since leaving the LDS church is that getting too far away from seeking those reminders is detrimental to my being able to live with necessary humility which kinda sucks but is proven to be essential. I'm not quite sure why it is, to be honest. But it seems that seeking is essential to being able to not get too caught up in one's own importance and then losing perspective in ways that cause damage. That's been my experience so far, anyway.

Thanks for more to think about.
I made a chronological list of philosophers I’m interested in or who are popular and recently added Epictetus (about 100 AD). Isn’t it strange how there are big gaps in time - like between Christ and Thomas Aquinas... there’s mainly just Epictetus, St. Agustine (600 AD) & Muhammad (630 AD). Crusades - both Christian and Muslim may be partly why there were less philosophical contributions during that time.

So far, Confucius is the only one with politics as the focus. He is credited with this common quote: “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

I like what you mentioned about the middle way while striving for excellence. It seems that the most ideal wisdom involves balance, harmony, like “doing this, while also doing that.” The serenity prayer is an example.

The Gita sounds familiar. Will you summarize it?

Nice story and analogy about the tea. Although I tend to prefer mindful meditation or processing thoughts/emotions, I also have experienced peace in stillness, and the need to listen more and speak less.

True that lessons are easily forgotten - maybe there is some good in LDS vain repetitions. But also as I develop, one thing that fed me spiritually/emotionally 10 years ago, doesn’t now.

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Amore »

Philo Sofee wrote:I've been trying to stay on a daily reading regimen and when I do this systematically, I rediscover one of the most important truths for me personally.

Of the somewhat, perhaps few thousand books I will read, and the very few, perhaps merely a dozen I will really remember and grasp, considered against the fact that there are well over a billion books I WILL NEVER READ, NOR WILL ANY OTHER HUMAN BEING, our reality is sincerely and truly 99.9% total ignorance. That's depressing beyond description, yet spiritually uplifting in a way. It means for real truth, we turn inward, as Jesus said, The Kingdom of God is within you. He said something similar to Luke here in the Gospel of Thomas. Real truth will not be found outside, but inside. Weird, but the older I get, I believe I catch fleeting glimpses of this possibility...

This makes sense too, because the more you read, the more a recognition occurs within your breast that everything you are reading is simply someone's interpretation of things. And interpretations are not truth, but suggestions, ideas to mull over, etc. The real truth is not "out there," It's in here.

Joseph Campbell in his lectures on the Kundalini noted that the problem with the West is we literalized and concretized the symbols which are meant to help us become transparent to transcendence. When the scripture says Jesus ascended to heaven, it was not meant as a literal body ascension into the sky, which is truly silly and impossible. It meant he transcended his own limited knowledge and one way is through the rising of the serpent inside us, up the higher level chakras. The ascension is within us. That is the Kingdom of God Jesus could have been alluding to. The historicists of the organized religions have really done us a disservice in making the symbolic into the historical and literal. That is not where true spirituality, and hence true and real knowledge is to be had. The longer I live, the more sense this all makes, weirdly enough.

Yeah, I see it similarly.
Before internet, I’d go to the library and get a stack of books I could barely carry. Now, in this too-much-information age, I feel like I’ll never read or learn all that’s out there.

Yet, as you explained, it’s really more internal - it’s how you see the wisdom to find it, and then apply it. I occasionally read or post on a philosophy forum and at times, others have this obsession with logic & whether an argument is formulated right. But to me, that’s a waste of time. The real reason to argue or discuss is to improve conditions - to learn, help etc.
    “Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering.” - Epicurus

Your explanation of Christian symbolism reminds me of Fowler’s stage 5. Are you familiar with it? http://www.psychologycharts.com/james-f ... faith.html. It seems so simple but it feels like uncharted territory. Another book I have, discusses many stages which might fit between Fowler’s stages 5 & 6. Up to stage 4 is intellectual - but 5 begins to look more inward. And within, there’s also an enormous amount to learn!

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Amore »

I have a question wrote:"We're not here for a long time...we're here for a good time!" (Huey Lewis & The News)

I like it!
Sometimes I exercise to one of their songs, “The power of love is a curious thing make a one man weep, make another man sing.”

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Meadowchik »

Amore wrote:I’ve been going through philosophers’ quotes, searching for pearls of wisdom. Carl Jung (not really philosopher but a good thinker), explained how he didn’t see a dividing line between psychology (study of the soul) & spirituality. I feel similarly about philosophy, but only in regard to what Epicurus noted...
    “Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering.”

Please share ideas from spiritual sources or philosophy, which you found to be inspiring or helpful.


That I am valuable. If anything, my existence is valuable to myself. Thus, I have a valid working premise upon which to build. This, by extension, results in valuing others and provides a framework for moral living.

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by I have a question »

“If at first you don’t succeed, sack it off and go for a beer.”
“When we are confronted with evidence that challenges our deeply held beliefs we are more likely to reframe the evidence than we are to alter our beliefs. We simply invent new reasons, new justifications, new explanations. Sometimes we ignore the evidence altogether.” (Mathew Syed 'Black Box Thinking')

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Physics Guy »

The Bhagavad Gita has one of the most awesome beginnings ever written. In an era when archers in chariots were the top military unit, two sides in a bitter civil war are about to join battle. One side's great warrior Arjuna suddenly orders his chariot driver to take him out into No Man's Land and just park there between the two armies.

Arjuna can't bear to fight. There are friends and family on both sides. The chariot driver explains to Arjuna why he still has to fight. The explanation is a long sermon that makes up most of the text.

The Bhagavad Gita is set within an enormously long epic story, the rest of which does not count as Scripture, but which is so epic that God incarnate is just one of the characters. He goes by the name of Krishna and works as a driver. So the chariot driver who explains to Arjuna why he has to fight even against his own family is literally God—that part's not allegorical—but this one chunk in the middle of the epic counts as Scripture because it makes the civil war of the longer epic into an allegory for every person's moral struggle against their own baser side. The insight that in the struggle between good and evil we are all on both sides at once is just the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita.

As to whether it gets even better, or starts out great and then goes downhill, your own mileage my vary. I find some passages inspiring but for me it peters out when Krishna starts going on and on about ritual details. The beginning, though, is pretty darn hard to beat.

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by moksha »

Physics Guy wrote:So the chariot driver [Krishna] who explains to Arjuna ...

"Know then Arjuna that in ages hence, a powerful wizard will arise in Orem, who will lead an army of tapirs as heralds for the great Ganesha. Ganesha will trumpet great joy for mankind. That is why you must fight Prince Arjuna!"
Cry Heaven and let loose the Penguins of Peace

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Amore »

Meadowchik wrote:That I am valuable. If anything, my existence is valuable to myself. Thus, I have a valid working premise upon which to build. This, by extension, results in valuing others and provides a framework for moral living.

Sounds so simple but is profound! I have struggled and I know of others who have also, to recognize self-worth.

I tell my kids as I remind myself, there are 2 types of value - maybe 3...
1) God’s value of us (which could be deemed conditional upon being conscious of it)
2) Some society’s value placed on a person (except those too young, unfortunately). No matter if it’s a bum or CEO, if they get fatally injured, emergency responders will help.
3) Value dependent upon a need. I’m valuable in certain talents but not so in things I am not good at.

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Re: Inspiring or Helpful Philosophy and Spirituality

Post by Amore »

I have a question wrote:“If at first you don’t succeed, sack it off and go for a beer.”...
Vs.
[sig:]“When we are confronted with evidence that challenges our deeply held beliefs we are more likely to reframe the evidence than we are to alter our beliefs. We simply invent new reasons, new justifications, new explanations. Sometimes we ignore the evidence altogether.” (Mathew Syed 'Black Box Thinking')

The latter is better advise. ;)

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