new videos
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.

more videos from
the PDC here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic

Spiritualality - Things vs. People  RSS feed

 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6016
Location: Left Coast Canada
749
books chicken tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Someone recently said that Permaculture isn't spiritual.  Unwisely, it was said outside the Cider Press, so it is gone now.  But it got me thinking.  How can a thing be spiritual?

People are spiritual.

People's experiences are spiritual.

Places and things can help trigger a spiritual experience.  But I can't see how the objects in themselves are spiritual. 

People call Permaculture a 'design science'.  I see that and I see it as a modern phrase meaning 'tool box'.  The tools in this box are abstract - they don't exist until someone takes them out and uses them.  The first and most important of these tools is observation.  Is the act of observation spiritual or not spiritual?  Well, the answer seems to me to be yes.  Yes, it is.  It is both.  It is neither.  Without an observer, there is no observation, which brings us back to personal experience.  The spirituality of the act depends on the experience in the person doing the observing.

This is how I see it, but my view is tainted by academia as this is one of my areas of study.  In university, I focused on what it meant throughout history and don't fully understand what it means today.  So I'm curious and I say what I say here with the goal of seeking understanding.

The challenge with 'spirituality' is that the meaning of this word varies drastically across cultures and times.  Today it is used in a very subjective and individualistic way to describe everything from religion to moments of pure enlightenment, and a great deal in between.   

By modern day standards, can things be spiritual? 
Can actions be spiritual in today's world? 
How about something that doesn't exist until actualized (like a design science)?  Can it be spiritual, or does the spirit enter into it with the actions and intentions of the people who use these tools?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't consider myself a spiritual person, or maybe I just don't know what people mean by the word "spiritual."  Sometimes I think the word "spiritual" is another word for "important."  If something is deeply important to an individual, it is spiritual.  Or I might be misunderstanding.  Maybe spirituality is like color vision, some people have it more than others, and some people barely have it at all.

Some people say everything is spiritual, in which case, the word "spiritual" is another word for "everything."  Like some people say everything is God (monism). "We are all One" etc.  In which case permaculture is automatically spiritual because everything is spiritual. 
 
John Weiland
Posts: 919
Location: RRV of da Nort
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
@R. Ranson: "How can a thing be spiritual? "

"Spiritual:  of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things." (Google definition)

Wiki entry on "Spirit":   "...according to the panentheistic/pantheistic view, Spirit equates to essence that can manifest itself as mind/soul through any level in pantheistic hierarchy/holarchy, such as through a mind/soul of a single cell (with very primitive, elemental consciousness), or through a human or animal mind/soul (with consciousness on a level of organic synergy of an individual human/animal), or through a (superior) mind/soul with synergetically extremely complex/sophisticated consciousness of whole galaxies involving all sub-levels, all emanating (since the superior mind/soul operates non-dimensionally, or trans-dimensionally) from the one Spirit."

Can what the West calls an inanimate object have a mind/soul?  Can it have a spirit without being spiritual?

"...panpsychism is the view that consciousness, mind or soul (psyche) is a universal and primordial feature of all things. Panpsychists see themselves as minds in a world of minds.  Panpsychism is one of the oldest philosophical theories, and has been ascribed to philosophers like Thales, Plato, Spinoza, Leibniz and William James. Panpsychism can also be seen in ancient philosophies such as Stoicism, Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism. During the 19th century, panpsychism was the default theory in philosophy of mind, but it saw a decline during the middle years of the 20th century with the rise of logical positivism."--Wiki

Australian Eco-philosopher Freya Matthews has suggested that panpsychism might be a useful way to approach the question of "How do we get people to actually *care* about their planet?"

http://www.freyamathews.net/

To follow onto your questions of "By modern day standards, can things be spiritual?  Can actions be spiritual in today's world?", if humans aren't the only repository for mind/soul, then it doesn't matter what age in which one is living, spirit and possibly spirituality will exist.
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6016
Location: Left Coast Canada
749
books chicken tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
During the middle ages (and to some extent today) spirituality and religion were closely linked, almost to the point of meaning the same thing.  Before that, spirituality seemed to be separate to religion, but a vital part of it.  Like rain and water.  Religion would be like rain, spirituality water.  Like different ways of understanding the world - different categorical levels if we want to go all Aristotle on this (which we probably don't; it's more a Plato-esk idea anyway).

Spirituality seems to be a very important aspect of many people's lives.  That's why I'm curious what it means today.  I'm well acquainted with the academic view on the topic; however, sometimes there is a gap between the ivory tower and how things are experienced by people living their lives.

"Spiritual:  of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things." (Google definition)


Spiritual and spirit; it feels natural to link these two together because of their common root.  "Spirit" in history is often far more linked with religion than with the individual - which is hard to explain.  Basically, the word 'spirit' has many, many, many meanings.  In the google definition, they are using 'spirit' to mean soul. By specifying 'human soul' it seems to be the  definition of soul used by the religions of Abraham.  Whereas other definitions given refer to a broader understanding of the word 'spirit', almost like the living essence, that is popular in many other religious traditions.

So you see, it's difficult.  It's like an equivocation, interchanging two definitions for one word.  If we use 'spirit' and spiritual ala google definitely then no, things cannot be spiritual.  If we use spirit given the other definition, then are we still talking about spirituality?  It gets very interesting, very quickly. 


In the modern day world view, is it possible to separate spirit and spirituality from religious worldviews? 
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems popular these days to say "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual."

 
K Putnam
pollinator
Posts: 245
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In the modern day world view, is it possible to separate spirit and spirituality from religious worldviews? 


Very easily.  Just ignore religion.  Pretty simple to do once you've decided that is how you want to approach your personal spirituality.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've personally found it quite difficult to divorce myself from the religious ideas with which I was brought up and which at one time were very important to me - I was during my youth a devout Christian.  Now, some people have told me that no, I was not a devout Christian, or I would still be one, that is, still accept Christianity as the truth. That's like, their opinion, man. Though I no longer believe in Christianity as the truth, the ideas are still important to my way of thinking about things.

I think a person from the past would not understand the idea of "personal spirituality."  For instance a European of the Middle Ages.  The idea of personal spirituality would seem like insanity, certainly blasphemy,  I think, because spirituality, or rather, religion, was the one and only Truth, not something each person made up for themselves. 
 
K Putnam
pollinator
Posts: 245
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Though I no longer believe in Christianity as the truth, the ideas are still important to my way of thinking about things.


Nothing wrong with that.  The world is full of good ideas from lots of sources.  Pick the ones that you find personally important for your life.  It really simplifies things and the importance of what other people think tends to fade away.  Harder, though, in Texas, no doubt.  I have a lot of family there.  Probably enough said.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
master steward
Posts: 4145
Location: Missoula, MT
388
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
r ranson wrote:By modern day standards, can things be spiritual? 
Can actions be spiritual in today's world? 
How about something that doesn't exist until actualized (like a design science)?  Can it be spiritual, or does the spirit enter into it with the actions and intentions of the people who use these tools?


These are such DEEP questions that are far beyond my ken today, but I was inspired to respond a bit any way.

I agree with others in this thread that there does seem to be a trend for people wanting to be 'spiritual but not religious.' I think that for the most part, that stems out of an aversion to religion being equal to something dogmatic or close minded. In many cases, I think truly exploring one's religious beliefs can actually be enlightening or expansive - as in sincerely learning to love thy neighbor, if you will.

Though that seems tangential to your questions. Let me give some context for my opinions that I will get to here!

I used to attend a Unitarian Universal church which is a non-creedal religion. Meaning, Christians, Jews, Atheists, pagans, all sorts of folks who adhere to different religious creeds make UU churches their spiritual home/community. I learned a lot there and it was a good fit for me on my goal of wanting to deepen my connections to and understandings of spiritual things.

Two UU principles are beliefs in "the inherent worth and dignity of all people" and "the interconnected web of all existence."

I'm relating this, in part, because there were some extremely admirable and exemplary humanists* in my UU church that taught me a lot about the human spirit. (*See this Wikipedia page on Secular humanism that explains that humanists are not always atheists.)

All of which reinforced my thinking that there is a way that we can tap into GOD, which as I wrote here could stand for Good Orderly Direction, meaning that if you're following your true center, your calling, your innate best tendencies, then you are on the path of a higher calling. (This from Julia Cameron who wrote The Artist's Way.) That higher calling can simply be the best expression of your fullest human potential - not necessarily anything to do with a deity or higher (non-human) spirit. Or it could be tied in to your preferred higher spirit - either way. This "best expression of the human spirit" is a spiritual thing - regardless of religion, IMHO.

Then, when someone is feeling this Good Orderly Direction, there are things, even activities (like permaculture the design science) that to me, feel like supports to, extensions of, or parts of this human (or these people) doing their best in the world. I think it does feel interconnected. So in this sense, I think things and actions can be spiritual when part of the larger, higher intentioned whole. (Is "intentioned" a word? Spell-check doesn't think so...)

I guess my opinion is that the self-actualization process, or intention, or connection might more easily make or define things and activities as spiritual. Though I think there are some people (like some children or child-like adults - you know, adults with the good kind of child-like joy and expansiveness) that act almost subconsciously or naturally in pristine accordance with all manner of connections around them. It just happens for them. I think that is a spiritual way of relating and interacting with all parts of the world that might not need conscious self-actualization.

The thing is, that while opinions and judgments vary wildly on what IS the right way to interact with our various connections in this world, which is where religion or spirituality often attempts to instruct us, I think there is more and more evidence that respecting interconnectedness is the way to go. As in people are healthier with healthier food, the growing of which is healthier for the earth and animals, and healthier for the workers, which usually saves money for the people, etc. - it's a positive loop from one element to the next.

So, I suppose that I feel that leading a life that respects the "interconnected web of all existence" can be fulfilling and spiritual, and that that spirituality extends to a lot of things.

 
When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven't - Edison. Tiny ad:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!