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I and Thou


Guest ASchwartz
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Guest ASchwartz

According to the philosopher Martin Buber, the path to spirituality is through relationship. Relationships are with I and You or Myself and Yourself. He says that is spiritual because, in relating to another person you are getting closer to the spiritual relationship, to God.

What do you think?

Allan

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I think that's true. As humans, I believe that we can get a glimpse of the reality of God through the phenomenon of virtues. Virtues are beyond time, have no body per se, have no beginning and have no end, and yet they exist. They represent the realities that every prophet has tried to clarify for us, something that is more real they tell us than our physical selves, yet they exists beyond space and time and they are difficult for us to grasp. I am a Baha'i, and one of the writings of this faith speaks to the fact that there are many realms in the worlds of existence - the inanimate one of the rock, then plant life, then animal life, then human reality, then the angelic realm which is the realm that we are evolving towards. In this one we are even closer to knowing (understanding) and loving (being attracted to) God, which according to the Baha'i faith is the purpose of our existence. (I realize this may raise some eyebrows, but it's as good a purpose as any I figure...) Anyway, in the angelic or spiritual realm we are elevated beyond our animal selves and we accede to realms of understanding that open even larger the doors of our capacity to know God...

So, to get back to the question, relationships are the places where we learn and perfect our virtues - nothing tests us more profoundly in all of who we are (as anyone who has been or is married can probably attest :-) and it is there we learn to perfect the virtues within us. It is in that interplay with others that we better understand concepts such as kindness, compassion, generosity, gentleness, honor, humility, justice, mercy, respect, self-discipline, tolerance, trust, unity, and the list goes on. Muslims enumerate them in the 99 names of God....

So I support Buber, the path to spirituality (or knowledge of God's larger reality) is through relationship.

Edited by Symora
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Symora and Xenophon,

I am not sure that we perfect our virtues through relationships? What do others think?

However, through relationships and loving (and that also means hating or getting angry) we get closer to God or the spiritual.

Opinions?

Allan:)

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It has to do, I think, with considering others first and self second.

One may call it politeness or good manners. I think that it is more than that. Although good manners are important in that manners provide a method for dealing in a civil manner with others. Good manners are grounded in the dignity and essential equality of humans.

One can, of course, frame it so that God comes in.

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I disagree. I believe the path to spirituality lies within. The longest journey anyone will ever take is the journey within. There lies our spirituality. Buddhist Monks distance themselves periodically in order to strengthen their own spiritual beliefs and they spend most of their day in meditation. We can share our experience of personal and spiritual growth but it is a journey full of personal discoveries that is better made alone.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess I think of spirituality being something to do with the song that is being played out by the resonating stuff that is us.

Like what Pythagoras realised.

Here's a bit of incidental education for any passing spirit. Pythagoras (much as he is famous for his triangle stuff) did a lot of work on balancing things with a see-saw like arrangement and weights. He discovered that two equal weights the same distance from the fulcrum (the bit in the middle) balanced. And that half the weight half the distance balanced too. Everything he tested seemed to support this idea even though he could never get a see-saw that was exactly perfect in the smallest detail or weights that were perfect or distances. He formed the idea that things balance and we could get approximations in the real world to demonstrate this. The "balance" is somehow ethereal - not "real". (Yes I know Plato is accredited with the idea of a perfect world in heaven and an imperfect temporal world but it was Pythagoras' idea.) Something akin to that idea is how I see spirituality.

Speculating beyond what we know is a little hypothetical for me. Spirituality is whatever it is that we are. So I think it is true to say that we can attune ourselves to what we are and our resonating in relationships is a more holistic kind of spirituality. A bit like the biblical references to the tree of life and the branches and the leaves etc. We are absolutely interconnected and that is what we are whatever we like to think. But we are also units of humanity.

So Martin Buber's proposition that "the path to spirituality is through relationship" might be a little like the idea of balancing things. A thing is a thing and balance is inherent in the universe but there is no evidence of it until you have two things to manifest the effect.

The consequence of this may be severely misunderstood because there seems little doubt to me that with the density of population and the nature of our culture the "path to spirituality" for any individual human in reality is often seriously hindered by the relationships that they experience. But on the other hand since our perception of ourselves and the relevance of our lives are inherently bound up in relationships with other people I guess we have to find spirituality that way.

Conclusion: There are relationships through which there is a path to spirituality. There are relationships which are very destructive to spirituality. (Not much of a conclusion really but a little food for thought) :)

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For me, my life is mostly about avoiding emotional pain, I need a God, but is there a God, I just find it not rational to envision God as a person. Who am I, What am I, Why am I, Where am I, How am I. Is there Multiple Universes, What is ''Thought'' is it energy, is it creation. Oh I know too little, Emotional Pain is what I feel, To be free of Emotional Pain is my only purpose. To find Serenity and Peace of mind is all I want. I find this journey mostly Chemical and Cognitive. Yet.........

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I was just thinking about something like this today!! I have tried to be religious, that is to say, join a place of worship and all that, but it was all too socially intense for me, and I didn't feel I was able to contribute. Everyone there was so successful and some of them were fabulously wealthy... my car was over 20 years old, I hadn't finished college, I was shy... I felt so inferior and eventually I just faded away. Avoidant Personality Disorder strikes again!! ^_~ (though this was pre-diagnosis actually)

Of course that's not precisely what you're talking about but it's part of it. I consider myself an atheist anyhow. I do not believe "god" has a human face. I believe that there's a larger "consciousness" (for lack of a better term) to the universe that is non-judgmental and completely abstract. The great consciousness does not care if I cover my hair, or wear a certain type of underwear or make ritual incantations a certain number of times a day. Then again it wouldn't care if I killed myself or someone else either. But humans would.

I guess it's obvious that I was raised without religion. Maybe some people can feel awe and gratitude and a sort of Connection To All this way (in a roomful of people), but it doesn't work for me. But I've tried, for what it's worth! I have a fascination with religion(s) and wish that I had the same comfort that others find from it... then again it causes a lot of problems too. It's a social construct and ultimately too painful and incomprehensible for me.

So I guess my ultimate answer to your question is NO. I (personally) cannot know god through knowing/understanding a person. I cannot truly know/understand people so I cannot know/understand their god. They have their understanding of god, but I am on the outside looking in, barred from heaven.

Jane

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest ASchwartz

Hi Catsirish and Jane,

Catsirish, I am not sure I understand your comment about spirituality. Could you clarify?

Jane, there are many people who have serious doubts about religion and religious ritual. However, you bring up something really interesting: you have tried attending a religious house of worship but felt alienated by all the money you saw. It seems it brought out your AVP. Could you say more about that?

Allan:)

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Guest GingerSnap

Far too many people associate God with "religion" and that, in my opinion, is where it all breaks down. God is not in the church and becoming "religious" is not the pathway to God. Some religions do have "rules" and such that they follow but I believe they are a means of developing the discipline that one must have in order to know God in their heart. I am not Christian and believe that, for the most part, the religions worship Jesus and that to me is breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus was only a prophet like Buddha and a couple others. Churches to most are only a social organization - a status symbol - was not always that way. You find God by living according to his laws - opening your eyes to nature and by acts of random kindness toward others. I am just so at peace with my beliefs and I feel a confidence to carry on despite how difficult it is sometimes.

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I read my last post, and I dont understand the last bit either, not sure what I was trying to say at the time. The detachment bit, is me separating myself, for instance, say two people are argueing, I try to ''be in it from the outside''. I hope I am not confusing detachment with disassociation, yikes :eek:

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