Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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acinteyyo
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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby acinteyyo » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:21 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:At one point, wouldn't it be better to make a choice?

Hi David,

why?


To be on a set-path, not just picking and choosing the palatable parts and leaving behind the "harder" stuff like precepts, commandments, etc. To master a path, to make progress, rather than getting lost in a thicket of views. Just some ideas for that side, I personally don't have a problem with not choosing a specific religion, especially when first embarking on a search.

I believe if one is genuinely searching and is eager to make spiritual progress one is able to find the "right path" on its own and does not need a given set-path. Not choosing a religion does not necessarily mean that one just picks out the palatable parts and neglects the "harder" stuff. It might just be the case that one, after earnest consideration picks up only what is wholesome and beneficial and leaves out what is unwholesome and rather a hinderance. I think its nearly impossible for someone else to recognize who's the one neglecting important stuff (the "hard" stuff doesn't always need to be "important" stuff) and who's is the one leaving out the useless stuff. In addition to that it is not certain that a particular religion with its terms, commandments and concepts as a whole represents a "true path" or a "right path". Even if many parts of a given religious set appear to be "true" one can't doubtlessly infer from that that everything else of it must also be "true". So in my eyes a wise person will most likely not accept an entire given set of beliefs only to justify a "membership" to a certain religion.
On the other hand there are people who are just picking and choosing the palatable parts and leaving behind the "harder" stuff out of ignorance and just to satisfy their cravings.
The Ghosa Sutta comes to my mind:
"Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of wrong view. Which two? The voice of another[1] and inappropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of wrong view."
"Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of right view. Which two? The voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."


best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby Hanzze » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:33 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:At one point, wouldn't it be better to make a choice?

Hi David,
why?


To be on a set-path, not just picking and choosing the palatable parts and leaving behind the "harder" stuff like precepts, commandments, etc. To master a path, to make progress, rather than getting lost in a thicket of views. Just some ideas for that side, I personally don't have a problem with not choosing a specific religion, especially when first embarking on a search.

There are some good points in what Acinteyyo had quoted before and to struggle with the tratitions has its learn and giving up effects, but one thing that is maybe more important is, that one is not able to walk the path alone as long as he has not entered the stream, I am not sure if the first fruit of path attainemt is enought already.

Such a put away the rits and precepts thing comes by it self, if that is a forced thing, it is mostly leaded by the deluded mind. How ever, if one come to the place where this things are no more relevant one leaves religion automatical and will 100% relay only on the Sangha (in its real meaning) and will no more care about religion.

Religion and all around it to maintain it is for sure not only a thicket but a jungle of views. We can start to cut of the jungle with our personal religion, our relicts and the ways we defend and try to maintain it and that is what is meant by leaving the home. Give up all promisies and responsibilities and focus as you sad simply only on the path.

Whether one is caught in a frame of religion or not, I wish everybody the bravery and courageousness to put virtue and the path at least higher as any view.

May you be well as all others and my you make your self an island with Dhamma as soon as it is yours. Don't make your self an island with your views, it simply hurts and you need to fight on and on that the flood will not drown the artifactal self raft.

Thanks for sharing the stanzas from Ghosa Sutta, Acinteyyo.

In regard of the "hard stuff" here:

Making Tables & Chairs

It's good to make the mind pure and at peace, but it's hard. You have to start with the externals — your bodily actions and words — and work your way in. The path that leads to purity, to being a contemplative, is a path that can wash away greed, anger, and delusion. You have to exercise restraint and self-control, which is why it's hard — but so what if it's hard?

It's like taking wood to make a table or make a chair. It's hard, but so what if it's hard? The wood has to go through that process. Before it can become a table or a chair, we have to go through the coarse and heavy stages.

It's the same with us. We have to become skillful where we aren't yet skillful, admirable where we aren't yet admirable, competent where we aren't yet competent.


And as Devarupa below states, here some stanzas from the honoroale Stutta Honor:

"Even some devas, Nagita, cannot obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — as I do, the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening. When you all live together, assemble together, and live committed to dwelling with a group, the thought occurs: 'Surely these venerable ones cannot obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — as I do, the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening, which is why they live together, assemble together, and live committed to dwelling with a group.'

[1] "There is the case, Nagita, where I see monks laughing out loud, sporting around, tickling one another with their fingers. The thought occurs to me, 'Surely these venerable ones cannot obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — as I do, the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening, which is why they are laughing out loud, sporting around, tickling one another with their fingers.'

[2] "Then there is the case where I see monks — having eaten as much as they want, filling their bellies — live committed to the pleasure of lying down, the pleasure of sensory contacts, the pleasure of torpor. The thought occurs to me, 'Surely these venerable ones cannot obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — as I do, the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening, which is why they — having eaten as much as they want, filling their bellies — live committed to the pleasure of lying down, the pleasure of sensory contacts, the pleasure of torpor.

[3] "Then there is the case where I see a monk sitting in concentration in a village dwelling. The thought occurs to me, 'Soon a monastery attendant will disturb this venerable one in some way, or a novice will, and rouse him from his concentration.' And so I am not pleased with that monk's village-dwelling.

[4] "But then there is the case where I see a monk sitting, nodding, in the wilderness. The thought occurs to me, 'Soon this venerable one will dispel his drowsiness & fatigue and attend to the wilderness-perception, [1] [his mind] unified.' And so I am pleased with that monk's wilderness-dwelling.

[5] "Then there is the case where I see a wilderness monk sitting unconcentrated in the wilderness. The thought occurs to me, 'Soon this venerable one will center his unconcentrated mind, or protect his concentrated mind.' And so I am pleased with that monk's wilderness-dwelling.

[6] "Then there is the case where I see a wilderness monk sitting in concentration in the wilderness. The thought occurs to me, 'Soon this venerable one will release his unreleased mind, or protect his released mind.' And so I am pleased with that monk's wilderness-dwelling.

[7] "Then there is the case where I see a village-dwelling monk who receives robes, alms food, shelter, & medicinal requisites for curing the sick. Receiving, as he likes, those gains, offerings, & fame, he neglects seclusion, he neglects isolated forest & wilderness dwellings. He makes his living by visiting villages, towns, & cities. And so I am not pleased with that monk's village-dwelling.[2]

[8] "Then there is the case where I see a wilderness monk who receives robes, alms food, shelter, & medicinal requisites for curing the sick. Fending off those gains, offerings, & fame, he doesn't neglect seclusion, doesn't neglect isolated forest & wilderness dwellings. And so I am pleased with that monk's wilderness-dwelling.[3]

"But when I am traveling along a road and see no one in front or behind me, at that time I have my ease, even when urinating & defecating."
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby daverupa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:44 am

It seems as though the article would argue for the value of consistency in ones metaphysical/mystical views, while the Dhamma advises us to set that whole albatross aside.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:11 pm

daverupa wrote:It seems as though the article would argue for the value of consistency in ones metaphysical/mystical views, while the Dhamma advises us to set that whole albatross aside.


True, but then is the Dhamma a consistent path of metaphysical/mystical views?

A sotāpanna is incapable of creating a schism and incapable of going to other teachers, i.e., mixing traditions to suit his desires. (Bahudhatuka Sutta MN. 115)

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby daverupa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:46 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:is the Dhamma a consistent path


Yes.

of metaphysical/mystical views?


No.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:57 pm

daverupa wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:is the Dhamma a consistent path


Yes.

of metaphysical/mystical views?


No.


Those were your words. I was just quoting them. Okay, then it is a consistent path of some kind of spiritual/religious journey (for example from samsara to nibbana) which makes it a religion in the traditional definition of religion with beliefs in some kind of after-life / rebirth and a set path on how to do the journey (8-fold path).

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby Jason » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:26 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
At the heart of the spiritual but not religious attitude is an unwillingness to take a real position.


I'm inclined to agree with this guy. The pick-and-choose smorgasbord of spirituality allows one to not take a real position or to choose only those things most palatable, if it is logical or true or not.


It could also be a willingness to admit the possibility that no single religious institution has everything right combined with an attitude that it's beneficial to take the bits and pieces that are, or at least seem to be, and utilize them to make one's life better, happier, and more meaningful. I don't see anything inherently wrong with that, especially considering Buddhism itself isn't about taking positions, but about utilizing certain ideas and practices in order to end suffering. I say if things work, use them (you know, the whole raft analogy and all).

Jesus said a lot of awesome things, and I live by some of those things even though I'm not Christian and don't believe Jesus himself was God. But even if that weren't the case, I don't see why I should have to take a position about his divinity in order to practice his teachings on forgiveness, generosity, renunciation, etc. anyway. And if someone adopts Buddhist ideas and practices without taking a position on his enlightenment or the reality of postmortem rebirth, so what? It'd probably be far more beneficial for them than giving them the choice of fully accepting everything or nothing at all.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby daverupa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:36 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Those were your words. I was just quoting them.


I used those words to describe a dichotomy which was worth tossing out; it's personality aggrandizement, and worthless per MN 2, it seems to me. The Dhamma isn't built on this sort of thing.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby JeffR » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:43 am

I think religion is the cop out.

Based on observation, it's just an excuse to judge, hate, kill and claim oneself righteous in the process; justified by blindly following a belief system that doesn't jive with reality. Buddhism doesn't really fit the western definition of religion. Religion is a concept that didn't even exist in Eastern Asia until westerners forced the idea. Religion has nothing to do with following Sila. More often than not it's an excuse to violate Sila. I avoid religion because I follow Sila.

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby Viscid » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:10 am

David N. Snyder wrote:A sotāpanna is incapable of creating a schism and incapable of going to other teachers, i.e., mixing traditions to suit his desires. (Bahudhatuka Sutta MN. 115)


Someone who mixes traditions doesn't necessarily go and create a schism. A sotāpanna wouldn't have much need to cause a schism because they aren't passionate about ideological differences.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:34 am

I can understand a lot of people's reservations and perhaps disdain for organized religion. Institutional religions probably deserve a lot of the flak they receive considering the dogmatism, fundamentalism, and sometimes the violence and wars they spawn. However, the syncretic movements could also lead to and even become an institutional religion on their own. There have been some syncretic philosophies that became institutional religions of their own, for example, the Druze, Shinto, Bahai, Sikhism, Voodoo, Santeria, Rastafarianism, etc.

And the spiritual but not religious crowd could just as easily become attached to their views too as the religionists do, although they usually do not until such a view becomes an organized religion such as the above. There was a similar debate to this over at our sister site Dharma Wheel and interestingly both the religionists and those advocating against organized religion appeared to be holding firm to their views (and the thread had to be locked).
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=10211

I believe the bigger problem of organized religion vs. spiritual is rather the holding dogmatically to one's views. Admittedly this appears to occur more among religionists than the spiritual crowd. The solution would be for the religionists to not take a fundamentalist, dogmatic approach and develop a more tolerant, accepting and flexible view with a non-literal reading of their scriptures.

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 06, 2012 4:02 am

Interesting discussion David.
It reminds me of some of the content of "Burma's Mass Lay Meditation Movement", "Strong Roots: liberation teachings of mindfulness in North America", and various articles and book reviews here regarding whether what the Buddha taught was a religion and how closely it resembled what is considered Theravada today in its multifarious manifestations.
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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby Mal » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:43 pm

Alan Miller wrote:Those in the spiritual-but-not-religious camp are peddling the notion that by being independent - by choosing an "individual relationship" to some concept of "higher power", energy, oneness or something-or-other - they are in a deeper, more profound relationship than one that is coerced via a large institution like a church.


This is in danger of being a straw man argument. Can you point to some examples of leading "spiritual-but-not-religious" people who have this kind of attitude? I can think of some who don't have this "I know better" attitude. For instance, Kabat-Zinn has a commitment to Insight Meditation, is a declared non-Buddhist, and I've never seen him even hint that he has a "deeper, more profound relationship" to Insight Meditation or "reality" than Buddhist monks.

The trouble is that “spiritual but not religious” offers no positive exposition or understanding or explanation of a body of belief or set of principles of any kind.


Kabat-Zinn gives a "positive exposition or understanding or explanation" of Insight meditation.

At the heart of the spiritual but not religious attitude is an unwillingness to take a real position.


"Real" according to who? I take a position of neither belief nor non-belief in rebirth. That, to me, is the most realistic position I can take at this moment, without kidding myself. Some religious Buddhist seem to me to have a dogmatic belief in rebirth, in the same way as Christians believe in the divinity of Christ. Are they being more "real" than the spiritual person waiting to have a personal experience, or to see incontrovertible evidence?

I'm inclined to agree with this guy. The pick-and-choose smorgasbord of spirituality allows one to not take a real position or to choose only those things most palatable, if it is logical or true or not.


Again, a straw man argument. There are spiritual people who hold truth and logic in the highest esteem. There are religious people who ignore truth and logic because it is more palatable to go along with the dogma of their church
Last edited by David N. Snyder on Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: corrected quote

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby Mal » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:51 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Following precepts, sila I imagine is on the back-burner or not existent for many on the "spiritual but not religious side." This is not to say they are bad in any way, but according to many Buddhist teachers sila is necessary to make progress.


I'm sure many spiritual people follow the five precepts. If you stretch the prohibition against intoxicants, to allow drinking alcohol within healthy guidelines, or to "non-intoxicating" levels, then that might even be "most".

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby pegembara » Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:48 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Religious: following a specific institutional religion in one of its forms, i.e., Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc.



Looking at Bahiya's example [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.10.irel.html] he was not even a practising Buddhist before he attained nibbana although he was obviously spiritual. He had was intense urgency and humility with willingness to accept the Buddha's instructions. He did not "follow" the Vinaya before that but that doesn't mean he "broke" them.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Oct 06, 2012 4:02 pm

Aren't all labels a cop-out from understanding the true nuance of this complex world in which we live?
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 06, 2012 4:44 pm

pegembara wrote:Looking at Bahiya's example he was not even a practising Buddhist before he attained nibbana although he was obviously spiritual. He had was intense urgency and humility with willingness to accept the Buddha's instructions. He did not "follow" the Vinaya before that but that doesn't mean he "broke" them.


:thumbsup: Bahiya was cool. According to the Commentaries, he was developing paramitas for many lives leading up to that moment. Speaking only for myself, I am no Bahiya :tongue: and need more than a few minutes to attain enlightenment.

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby convivium » Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:53 pm

not doing the practices common to all religions is more of a cop-out. humanity doesn't need to be divided by religious views. of course, it helps to dig one hole to get to water instead of 30 small ones.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php

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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby zavk » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:25 am

Hi all

Part of my current research (I'm working academically in the area of cultural research) involves the investigation of the ethical, social, and political implications of contemporary understandings and approaches to spirituality and to explore the extent to which 'spirituality' may be thought and mobilised differently. I have much to say, so I will divide my response into two posts.

As I'm sure most would agree, 'spirituality' today has become something like a brand label for certain views and styles of conduct which are marketed with the rhetoric of 'self-awareness', 'find your inner True Self', 'empowerment', 'change your life', 'find happiness', and so forth. 'Spirituality' has even been adopted to encourage employees to find meaning and self-fulfilment in work—this may not necessarily be a bad thing, but it is questionable if it serves to reduce the difficulties faced in the workplace to a problem of personal failing, one's 'own fault', and deflects attention from how the difficulties may be generated by the exploitative nature of an institution or broader political economic arrangements.

My view is that there is nothing inherently 'wrong' or 'bad' about the notion of spirituality. Limiting ourselves to the history of European civilization, the practice of attending to one's conduct to effect certain transformations on the self and meet certain goals has a long history tracing back to the Ancient Greek predecessors of the Western tradition, who although spoke of pneuma or 'spirit' (it also has connotations of 'breath'), understood it differently from how Christianity would articulate it. But even within Christianity, the concept of 'spirit' was by no means self-evident or fixed. Rather, the meanings and uses of 'spirit' or 'spiritual' shifted and changed along with the broader historical developments of European civilisation, evolving from a means to distinguish between ways of interpreting sacred texts, to a way of demarcating the territorial rights of the king and the Church (hence, the terms Lords Temporal and Lords Spiritual). Throughout these historical periods, the word 'spiritual' did not posit a strict body/soul split. 'Spiritual' was not used in any definitive manner to refer to inner dimensions of the self until Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) distinguished between everyday bodily exercises and spiritual exercises involving interiorised contemplative practices of the soul.

This distinction was an important precursor to the emergence in the 17th century of the French word spiritualité (from which the English one derives), which was coined to describe the devout or contemplative life in general. One key figure to articulate this was Madame Guyon, who in the wake of the Reformation, evoked spirituality to defend personal experience of the divine against the ecclesiastical authority of the Church (she was imprisoned by the Church). But the term 'spirituality' would not become widely used till around the late-nineteenth century, a historical period described as the 'Victorian crisis of belief'. This was also when Buddhist knowledge began to become accessible to a wide audience in the West, a time when the Buddhisms of Asia were undergoing a revivalism--we could note, for instance, how the Western notion of spirituality influenced, by way of colonialism and Christian missionisation, the development of Protestant Buddhism in Ceylon, which contributed to the modernisation of the Theravada tradition and set the conditions for greater lay engagement with Buddhist writings and meditation practices formerly restricted to monastics. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why we have been able to receive the gift of the Three Jewels to pursue the Eightfold Path in detraditionalised and demythologised ways independently outside institutional contexts.
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Re: Being spiritual but not religious is a cop-out

Postby zavk » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:29 am

So, to an extent, the emergent 'Western Buddhism' that we are participating in today has developed alongside the modern notion of 'spirituality'. There is arguably some degree of inter-involvement in the development of 'spirituality' (albeit a very slippery and ambiguous one) and contemporary Buddhist formations, both having to negotiate the cultural influence of modern psychology--their inter-involvement set the conditions for the spiritual explorations of the counter cultural 1950s and 1960s, the New Age movement, and more broadly, the MInd, Body, Soul or Self-help genre. All these developments are shaped by the political and economic imperatives of the day, namely, capitalism, or since the 1980s, neoliberal capitalism.

What I'm trying to illustrate with this very schematic historical overview, is how 'spirituality' always takes shape against the backdrop of historical struggles for power and cultural legitimacy. So, to link this to the comments by the article in the OP, it is not entirely invalid or unreasonable to suggest that some contemporary forms of spirituality may reflect a 'copping out' insofar as 'the spiritual' has today been appropriated--rebranded--by capitalist imperatives. Yet, there is no essential unity to or historical necessity for such approaches to spirituality. In light of how 'the spiritual' has historically been a site for political struggle and social change, and given that in our so-called secular age most people are no longer willing to allow morality to be determined by religious or authoritative political systems, I would personally not be too quick to dismiss those who choose to pursue a 'spiritual' life, for spirituality (broadly conceived as the ways in which a person work on the self to guide and transfigure their style of conduct) could offer the means to cultivate what Goenka and the Dalai Lama call, an art of living.

Of course like many here, I am skeptical and wary of the 'lifestyles' promoted under the brand of 'spirituality'. But given how broad 'spirituality' is—given that the ethical and political implications of 'the spiritual' are contingent upon the historical environment and are always subject to change—I don't think the criticism of 'cop out' ought to be generalised to all who choose to pursue a 'spiritual life'. Paul Heelas, a noted sociologist of religion in the UK who had previously written several influential books on the individualistic and capitalist impulse of the New Age movement, recently published a book which presents ethnographic research to suggest that there are communities in the UK who are engaging with spirituality, even if it entails New Age or self-help ideas, to cultivate an ethic of life, an ethos of care and engagement to cultivate greater ethical-sensitivity and responsibility towards the challenges facing their personal lives, society and the contemporary world. I don't think it'd be fair to call this a 'cop out'.

:anjali: :smile:
With metta,
zavk


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