Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Kid Stuff

We went shopping.  It's amazing (and cool) how much of an event shopping can be when you haven't done it in a while.  We took advantage of some great sales, and we didn't have to fight crowds.  Yay!

On the way home we got to talking about religion and enlightenment.  O is reading Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing.  That book provides heaps of material for discussion.  (I also enjoyed reading it because I felt like I was spending time with my husband.  Make of that what you will.)

I'm in a weird position, as far as I can tell.  I don't consider my beliefs 'faith.'  I don't have a book I follow.  I have direct experience, and I have history.  History is the more suspect of those two.  As a former Catholic, I understand how beautiful faith, any faith, can be.  Having said that, I think part of the reason why the book, and my son's insights into it, resonate and work for me is because it focuses on work, thinking, and getting at reality.  It has nothing to do with woo woo experiences.  Not that they don't happen.  They just have nothing to do with enlightenment.  Aura visualization, seeing/hearing/feeling ghosts, being thrown into states of bliss or alternate realities, astral projection (I've done all these things, btw) are more of a distraction than any proof of spiritual advancement.  I've suspected this, but I've never put it into words, never completed the thought for myself.  So I'm indebted to Jed McKenna for pointing that out to me.

I'm not planning to head off on a path toward enlightenment.  It's just fun talking about how to avoid getting caught up in fantasies and avoid getting distracted by things that can make you less, rather than more, functional and/or happy in this world, assuming that's your goal.  If I hear about someone who has to consult a tarot deck before heading out to face the day, and that person is doing no better or (more usually!) worse than your average Joe or Jane, the tarot deck is a distraction no matter how accurate it might be.  

You can guess the direction our discussion of religion went.  If it works for people, helps them get through life better, if it's helping, then yay!  I would be the last person to say don't believe.  But if you feel like you're in jail and life is nothing but suffering, you know, the door is open.  Seriously.


Kai Jones said...

Words are important, so I'm going to make a point that may seem superficial but isn't.

I don't have a belief system, I have a religious *practice*. A practice is something you do, not something you feel or think. Judaism is good for that, because you don't have to believe to be a good Jew: you have to act like a good Jew to be a good Jew.

Another thing though, I'm not trying to become enlightened, and although I'm trying to be a better person, it's not about spiritual enlightenment. The goal Jews are asked to work toward is making this world we live in a better place, this very material, physical world. Not making it easy, or peaceful necessarily, but increasing justice in the world.

Kami said...

I think those points are hugely important. I especially love the part about a large group working together to make this world a more just place. People working together toward a positive goal makes me all warm and fuzzy. Of course, there are people working toward what they perceive as a positive goal that cause all kinds of problems too. Hence the not-necessarily-peaceful part. You are wise.