Searching for spirituality (part 4 of 4)

If you’re a religious or spiritual kind of person, I’ve probably already pissed you off with this series of articles, and you’ve already stopped reading. That’s a pity, because you’re going to miss the best bit.

I’ve been rather dismissive and negative about this whole spirituality thing, so I want to conclude on a more upbeat note. To do this, I’m heading back to my original Wikipedia definition of spirituality:

Spirituality is the search for “the sacred,” where “the sacred” is broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration.

Now, I discussed in part 3 how the search for the sacred is a natural thing. It arises from our quest to find meaning everywhere we look. I’ve put forward the proposition that there is no ultimate meaning to the universe. There are no secrets. The esoteric is false. But I also said that I too am on a quest for “That which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration”.

What then is worthy of veneration in a Godless world?

We really don’t have to look far. Is there someone you love in this world? Yourself, I hope. That’s a good starting point. Probably others too. Maybe one special person in particular. If you’re lucky, there are many special people in your life. And if you’re especially open-minded, perhaps you can find a place in your heart for all people, of all nations, however little in common they may seem to have with you on the surface.

Look further. Do you like animals? Trees? Flowers? Nature in general? Are you fascinated by the stars, by the weather, by mathematics, by the endless cycle of life and death? What about the dance of the atoms, the smile on the face of a child, the joy of reading a great book?

The sacred is right here, all around you.

If you’ve ever stayed up all night and watched the sun rise; if you’ve learned to ride a bike; played your music too loud; picked an apple from a tree you planted; held a newborn baby in your arms or shown kindness to a stranger, then you’ve already experienced a moment when the meaning of life was all too tangible.

Life is a collection of moments. Make each one worthy of veneration.

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10 responses to “Searching for spirituality (part 4 of 4)

  1. Great series of posts. I think God is sort of a misused term and spirituality can be found without needing God. Ultimately, we are the creators of our own universe. Everything spawns outward from a source. Is there something linking us all together or are we truly just individuals in our own shells? Is the source something more than a central point. I don’t know. Probably doesn’t matter. I spend too much time in the neocortex.

  2. Thank you bg. You are right about God – I was using God as a shorthand for the mystical.

    We are connected physically, socially and culturally. But you are looking for some other kind of metaphysical/mystical connection? What difference would it make to our lives if that did exist? What would you do differently?

    • What difference would it make? This is something to ponder. I would like to think that if we knew that we were all part of the same consciousness, we wouldn’t treat each other like shit so much. Everything that motivates society is something that allows us to show separation instead of unity with someone else. How can something that is one, have such conflict in itself? This is the paradox that interests me.

      • I like to think that one day we will learn to treat each other with respect even if we are unique and different. In fact, you might have noticed that a central theme of this blog is valuing uniqueness and difference.

        We already have strong social and cultural connections and I believe that technology will create even stronger bonds between us (despite most people believing that the modern world is destroying our bonds).

    • I agree that we have to one day learn to treat each other with respect despite any perceived differences. The cosmos is comprised of many individual unique forms, yet everything is the cosmos. We are individual, and we are intimately tied to our environment. Take away the environment and there is no us.

  3. Suppose two objects are connected together by some force. If the force is strong, then it makes a significant difference to how those objects behave – move one object and the other moves with it. If the force connecting the objects becomes progressively weaker, then its effects become smaller. If the force is zero, we can conclusively say that it makes no difference to how the system behaves. Therefore, if a hypothetical mystical connection between people has no observable effect, we can conclude that it doesn’t exist.

    • I don’t fully agree with this: “Therefore, if a hypothetical mystical connection between people has no observable effect, we can conclude that it doesn’t exist.” So if two objects act on each other, but the result is that there is no observable effect, then it is possible that we are not aware of the interaction or the effect. Object A sits there doing nothing until I put object B beside at which time it exerts a force equal and opposite to object B. There is no change in object A or B, but there is some hypothetical mystical unexplained unobserved pulsing between them.

      I know you are about to break out Occam’s razor, but is this really more complex than any other physical laws that we have put together. Is it possible that we are just downright wrong in how we think that the universe operates? Is the world flat? Is the Earth the center of the universe? Even though we “know” more and have more observable evidence, that does not mean that we are not susceptible to the same fallacies and false thinking that has occurred in the past. In fact, we should be setup to accept the fact that the way that we think about the universe is quite possibly and most likely wrong.

      Having said that, I am interested in any books, videos, etc… that you can point me to that describes modern theory. I am particularly interested in quantum mechanics, but most of my information is 10 years old at best. I feel that this area is going to lead to a paradigm shift in the way that people think about the world.

      Cheers,
      bg

  4. “there is some hypothetical mystical unexplained unobserved pulsing between them”

    We must distinguish two scenarios.
    1. The pulsing is unobserved. In other words, there is an effect, but we haven’t been clever enough to notice it.
    2. The pulsing is unobservable under any circumstance. This is where we bring out Occam’s Razor.

    Suppose I tell you that there is another universe and everything is the same there except that in that universe my name is Aristotle. I tell you that there is no way we can detect this universe and that it does not interact in any way with our universe. Is this universe real in any meaningful sense?

    “Is it possible that we are just downright wrong in how we think that the universe operates?”
    Almost certainly yes. Trouble is we don’t know how exactly. Modern physics is at a tricky point. There are two great theories, 1) the Standard Model of Quantum Mechanics and 2) General Relativity. As far as I know, no experiment has ever disproved either theory, but we know that they are wrong because they are inconsistent with each other. We also have experimental facts that we can’t explain. What is dark matter? Dark energy? Why are there 3 dimensions of space and one of time? Why are the masses of the fundamental particles what we measure them to be and not something else?

    The Large Hadron Collider at CERN verified the Higgs boson, but it hasn’t found anything that we can’t already explain with the Standard Model. There’s clearly something wrong with our best theories, but nobody knows what. String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity are attempts to come up with a theory that unifies the Standard Model with General Relativity, but they aren’t there yet.

    A good place to keep up with some of the latest research is http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/ although it’s a bit astronomy-based.

  5. It’s going to be end of mine day, however before finish I am reading this wonderful post to
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