About

Hello and welcome to peaceful turmoil.

This blog is a friendly port for those who have chosen to rise above the storms of conflict between the staunchly anti-secular religious fundamentalist and rigidly anti-religious cynic camps. For those who are open to insights from science and from spirituality, and who tend to shy away from the restrictions of the more closed-minded forms of materialist and supernaturalist thinking in seeking new horizons of self-discovery.

This space records a shared exploration of a personal journey of reflection about the nature and value of the search for wisdom, a record of a trek through the metaphysical landscape. This site welcomes those who label themselves Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Wiccan, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, etc., but reminds everyone that a label is not an identity. We are all more than what people call us or what we choose to call ourselves.

It is a working assumption here that all human beings have a spiritual side to their life, whether they call it that or not, whether they recognize it or not and whether or not this is pursued within a formal religious tradition. It is a non-negotiable aspect of humanity. The question of just what "spiritual" means and how it should be approached is an open question.

Spiritual?

Instead of seeing spirituality merely as synonymous with religion or supernaturalism, consider the definition offered by Brother Wayne Teasdale, that "[s]pirituality is a way of life that affects and includes every moment of existence. It is at once a contemplative attitude, a disposition to a life of depth, and the search for ultimate meaning, direction, and belonging" (from The Mystic Heart).

This is consistent with the description put forward by Roy Wood Sellars, an original signatory of the first Humanist Manifesto, who wrote "The spiritual must be seen to be the fine flower of living, which requires no other sanctions than its own inherent worth and appeal...The spiritual is man at his best, man loving, daring, creating, fighting loyally and courageously for causes dear to him."

If we look at humans as creating, sharing, and living within networks of biochemical and social information arranged into structures of increasing complexity, including the personal and collective narratives that define who we are and how the world is (and ought to be), we can place spirituality as the natural desire to reach out and seek contact with and integration into something larger than ourselves. To seek experiences and identities of greater meaning and purpose.

While formal religion is not a requirement of pursuing spirituality, and despite the well known and often cited human failing done in the name of one religion or another, sacred traditions still contain thousands of years of insight into human nature and the pursuit of the spiritual life. On the other hand, religious traditions should serve to mediate our intellectual and cultural knowledge with the insight from deep spiritual practice. This includes knowledge produced through the ongoing endeavors of science.

Among other things, religion is a communal response to existential questions arising from spirituality, such as "Who are we?", "Where do we come from/where are we going?", "What is life?", "What is our purpose?", and "How does one live well?" It is an embodiment of the existential narrative of a community that seeks to explore and even to attempt to answer such questions. Whereas spirituality draws on the spaces between fixed ideas and certainty about such questions, on the gaps which give glimpses into the undefinable source of potential, other human tendencies try to capture and formalize in bits and pieces.

This same tension is at work in creativity in general, when ambiguity or disruption spurs processes and mechanisms of growth and repair, that is, of increasing the degree of order, to work around or to incorporate these irregularities. This is the tension at work in imagination, in the creative mind, in the work of the artist, whether the artists' medium is drama, music, canvass, marble, or even philosophy, science, or mathematics.

This tension, then, is also regulated in spirituality by religion. The results of such regulation being looser include a weakening or even a dissolution of structures such as tradition (communal memory) and continuity, which can not only preserve older insights but act as a platform from which new pursuits can be launched and new perspectives bounced off of. The result of such regulation being too tight include idolatry (fixation on ideas, rituals, and symbols over active spiritual growth) and related issues such as intolerance of other perspectives, ideas, and identities.

The assumption here is that being spiritual by nature, it is more productive to challenge the really rigid tendencies of religion and semi-religious/religion-like movements rather than to ignore or castigate religion. Thus this blog is friendly to religions and related movements, even though it challenges or critiques them from time to time.

The history of this blog

The (primary) author of this blog is a fan of being able to consider an idea, attitude, or activity without accepting it. Moreover, the author is a fan of giving things a try to see if they really work or if they offer any kind of insight. The result is an exploration of beliefs and practices in which a basic set of axioms or premises are accepted for the sake of investigation or argument, and out of this springs many blogs posts reflecting different periods. Different periods of what seemed interesting or which seemed to hold potential for growth and expansion. The result is that there is a strangely inconsistent consistency in the perspective that has been growing out of such experiences.

That brings us to some useful caveats for those wishing to look over the archives. This site has meandered about for several years, and at times you may find things which seem incongruous or even incompatible. No formal training or education in religion or philosophy has gone into anything written here, nor has its content been carefully polished. It is just a rough and raw series of reflections from a spiritual amateur. Errors, exaggerations, shallowness, and ignorance abound. But it is out of such excrement that the most beautiful flowering plants can bloom.

Perhaps you are just curious about something from this site that popped up in a search result or through social media. If so, I hope you found what you were looking for. Perhaps you already are or are considering becoming spiritual seeker. If so, it may be that some of the pitfalls and insights documented here may be of use. Take what is useful. Leave the rest. Pay attention to what disturbs you, it may confirm and articulate an insight you have already realized. Pay more attention to what flatters you, as it may be masking an assumption you need to challenge.

Best wishes on your own journey.

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