Musings for the Spiritually Eclectic

I recently posted an article on my FB wall linking to these screenshots from a news story I originally read here. As you can see, they are advocating the killing and rape of atheists by those who claim to be Christian.

And so one of the longest comments on that status was in defense of Christianty. Nowhere did I or the other authors even demean the faith. Nowhere did we suggest or infer that this was the way of all Christians. Why couldn’t we all have just denounced what was so obviously evil?

Why do most of the pagans I know scream persecution when someone question their chosen faith? Why do so many atheists ruffle their feathers and yell at you for not understanding basic science? (And yes, these are patterns I have personally experience to be very repetitve.)

Why is everyone on the defensive?

Just because someone disagrees with you DOES NOT MEAN that you are being persecuted! And it undermines those who are honestly being persecuted for unjust reasons. So stop listening to those screaming few, like those posted in the above links, and calm back down to being rational people! Most of us are!

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It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you’re a good person.

It’s a simple enough concept, but people the world over and throughout history haven’t quite grasped it. It’s also a “live and let live” declaration. Humans are not so good at that when resources get low.

Of course, it also begs the question, what is good?

The rule of thumb: not hurting anything.

Realistically, that means doing as little harm as possible. We have to eat, both plants and animals. That’s nature, and nature is balanced. There are going to be unintentional accidents and unavoidable situations and that’s alright too. You’re doing the best you can.

This is the elegant simplicity of a religiously eclectic nature. It doesn’t matter what the focus of your beliefs is. Belief is the most important thing to you, the individual, but is probably irrelevant to other people. Choose what makes sense to you.

(Yes, I realize that your mind is probably jumping to people who believe they are from Venus or are Luke Skywalker reincarnated, but please also realize that this really doesn’t make sense to the majority of people.)

If you are only holding on to certain beliefs because of fear – i.e. that you’ll go to hell if you’re not a good Christian – then you already don’t believe that. You just believe in fear.

Once again, this is all about what you, personally, choose to believe. And it doesn’t matter what those beliefs are, as long as you’re doing your best.

Assumption of Truth

You are searching for your own truth. That’s the endgame to this spiritual eclectic quest. However, in discussing the idea of truth, there are two assumptions on this blog that you will need to know.

1. Truth is different for every individual.

2. Truth changes as a person learns and with more experiences.

I’m not discussing the immutable laws of nature. We don’t completely understand those yet. Look at current physics and history. Classically, the world was flat, and that was considered and accepted as an immutable law of the world.

See? Every time we think we know, another set of minds and better observational tools disproves the world. Alright, most of the time it’s the less dramatic tweeking of our understanding. It still begs the question, how hard will people laugh at our beliefs in 500 years?

Actually, the laws of nature provide a very excellent example of the evolution of truth. As we learn, they continually evolve. Galaxies are expanding all the time. All of space is in motion. There probably is a constant truth out there for how the universe operates, but we cannot claim to entirely understand it.

Back to how this all relates to you.

You are seeking your own truth, and you can only find it.

I will point out that this is a significant split from most mainstream religions. They tend to offer truth as a package for everyone. Particularly, they offer a life after death if one accepts their truth.

Hey, if that package suits, please go with it. If it doesn’t, feel free to return to sender.

A spiritual eclectic seeks out the truth for based on experiences, and it only has to be true for you.

Truth is set in stone. That doesn’t mean it’s eternal.

Occasionally, there are hot, explosive, life-changing events that cause a person to completely reconsider his/her life and beliefs. Like a volcano creating all that new igneous rock, which is very heavy, tough to break and filled with tiny, beautiful crystals.

Throughout the years, the world wears that rock down. Pieces erode away and eventually form piles of soils and sediment, and that eventually is weighed down and molded into sedimentary rock. Nothing rapid, just the accumulation of lots of earthen fragments over the years that are pressed together into stone. Can’t you imagine that happening to someone’s personal truth?

Somewhere, as that sedimentary stone sinks into the earth or a new layer of igneous rock covers it, heat and pressure fuse that sedimentary rock, realigning their molecules into metamorphic rock. Look at marble. Truth is re-arranged and revitalized, and often much stronger than the previous sedimentary stone.

Of course, the fate of the rocks is to be recycled back down into the crust and thrust up through a volcano again. Another life changing event perhaps?

However, the rock cycle isn’t 100% efficient. Some rocks are billions of years old, such as the Precambrian rocks found on the Canadian Shield. Neither are truths. Some will not be recycled. Others go around the wheel dozens of times. I’m sure there is molten rock in the mantle that’s never seen the earth’s surface.

Now consider the human life, and all three types of rocks/truths are being worn down and built up throughout a lifetime.

Once again, we come back to those two assumptions. The nature of human truths is stone, and not permanent. Therefore, we choose to adopt a truth that is adaptable as we continue to learn and experience life.

Copyright Cansia 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Unaffiliated is the undefined umbrella in the contemporary world. It can mean anything from atheist to pagan to a Christian who doesn’t belong to a church. So, if it can mean everything, where do I fit in?

I used to ask myself that question. On various internet forums and surveys, at the religion line, I’d enter “weird”. Then, I decided eclectic would be a better word. But, what does that actually mean? It’s just as vague as weird.

Over the past few years, I have been reading about the rise of people claiming to be religiously unaffiliated – in Europe, America and Canada. Does that mean people are abandoning all spirituality or just traditional religion? The answer seems to be both. This blog is for those who don’t want to give up total belief in a soul, and have questions to be answered. (I’m not claiming I have the answers to those questions. I’m just trying to show you the direction where you may be able to find them.)

So, what is a spiritual eclectic?

Someone who blends together different ideas from various cultures along with philosophical and religious traditions and who also discards many ideas from those traditions as well. That’s a very textbook definition, and a good start. We’ve wiped clean a corner of the window, but most of it is still too murky to see through to that actual definition.

Spiritual eclecticism includes a large swath of beliefs, obviously. It can be a devout Jew who has adopted reiki into his beliefs, deciding that the power comes from God. It can be a pagan, who believes in more than one deity, but isn’t into the idea of magic.

And that’s what eclecticism is: “I’m keeping what makes sense to me, and I’m letting go of the beliefs that don’t.” It’s all about what the individual chooses to believe.

The rise of the individual is very recent in human history. Like in the last 60-100 years, arguably. It certainly coincides with the rise of the urban environment and the decline in agrarian cultures.

Throughout most of the time that people have been walking upright, we’ve mostly clung together in small, homogenized societies. People farmed in order to survive. The innumerable majority farmed even back in the ancient empires of China, Rome, Mesopotamia and Greece, even though that history tends to be ignored. We just don’t have that many great written histories, archaeological finds or even interesting stories of normal, ordinary farmers that supported the upper echelon. They didn’t get the exciting tombs.

In these communities, there wasn’t room to be an individual. Survival depended on everyone in the group working together at the same thing. Religion fell into that same homogenized, established category too.

Now, for the first time in history, most people don’t farm. We’ve spread out from those close-quartered communities. And it’s not a surprise that with the rise of the individual comes that new person’s need to explore his/her own personal beliefs.

Finding your own truth. Not what others say what you ought to believe. What you yourself choose to believe.

Your morality is derived from the larger society you live in, and its stew of history and religions (or lack thereof). No matter what, you get your understanding of right and wrong from society more than anything else. If you later choose to disagree with what you’ve learned from where you live, you’re well on the way down your path.

We also have access to mountains of information (and wrong information) that were not available throughout all of human history. We’ve popped the tiny bubble of experience. We can pick and choose from all the world and written history. Any belief can be adopted and adapted.

Here’s a perfect example I once saw at a dojo. There were three quotes painted high up on the walls, one from Mother Theresa, another from Lao Tzu, and a final one from Mohammed. All in one place!

It’s eclectic because: Dojo, Japanese. Mother Theresa, Christian. Mohammed, Islam. Lao Tzu, Chinese (Daoism). No one saw a contradiction.

Obviously, one doesn’t have to stray far from an established dogma’s path to be in the field of eclecticism. Let’s say one wants to hang on to a belief in Jesus, but wants to practice yoga as well. That’s mild eclecticism. Alternatively, one may choose to eschew all major religions and society to live with the bees, making honey. Stinging aside, he’s blazed his own trail.

I wouldn’t actually recommend the bees – those hives are hard to fit inside.

Once everything else is boiled away, it bubbles down to the individual’s choice of what to believe.

Eclecticism isn’t a road for people who don’t want to work. You have to seek out you own truth, because no one else can tell you what it is. That means hours at the library, on the internet (& verifying sources), learning how to read anthropological/archaeological texts, etc…

It’s a road for someone who has questions and wants answers.

Remember, you need not belong to a church, temple, mosque, shrine etc to be religious/spiritual. You are an individual seeking your personal truth.

Copyright Cansia 2011. All Rights Reserved.

This Blog Is…

This blog is about pondering what it means to be unaffiliated with a mainstream dogma in the contemporary world. It’s about finding your own personal truth, and what bits and pieces of many religions, spiritual paths, scientific facts and hypotheses, and cultures that make the world your own.