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Time to stop pretending that counselling is objective?

I’ve heard stories about misogynist counselors blaming the wife for a bad marriage because she looked the counselor straight in the eye. To this defensive creep, that indicated that the woman was “aggressive.”

Is it time to admit that counselling is a human enterprise unlike any other? The mask of objectivity and the associated “neutral” tones of the counselor cannot hide the fact that everyone is biased in some way.

Reputable counselors will concede this point and still try to help, acknowledging their limitations. But others, well, could we say “power trip”?

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What does it mean to be spiritual?

What does it mean to be spiritual?

File 20171115 19836 uy2yzs.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Increasingly, North American millennials identify as spiritual as opposed to religious. To them, part of this spirituality means being compassionate, empathetic and open-hearted.
(Shutterstock)

Galen Watts, Queen’s University, Ontario

Spirituality has become a kind of buzzword in today’s culture, especially for the millennial generation. Increasingly, North Americans identify as spiritual as opposed to religious.

What is behind the rising popularity of spirituality without religion? Some critics have suggested it is a byproduct of the self-obsessed culture of today, evidence of a narcissism epidemic. This criticism is similar to that launched at the millennial generation (born between 1980-2000) in general, what some scholars have called “Generation Me.

Although I don’t disagree with these characterizations, I believe there is more to the story. Since 2015 I have conducted in-depth research with Canadian millennials, interviewing 33 Canadian millennials who self-identify as spiritual but not religious — in order to better understand their beliefs and practices.

I believe when people call themselves spiritual they are basically signaling three things: first, that they believe there is more to the world than meets the eye, that is to say, more than the mere material. Second, that they try to attend to their inner life — to their mental and emotional states — in the hopes of gaining a certain kind of self-knowledge. Third, that they value the following virtues: being compassionate, empathetic and open-hearted.

Questions about meaning and value in the world

The origins of the word “spirituality,” in the context of Christian theology, lie in the Latin noun spiritualitas, which derived from the Greek noun pneuma, meaning spirit. Interestingly, “spirit” in its original context was not the opposite of the “physical” or “material,” but of “flesh,” or everything that is not of God. Therefore a “spiritual person,” in its original Christian sense, was simply a person within whom the Spirit of God dwelt.

Despite this, among the millennials I’ve interviewed, “spirituality” is generally contrasted with “materiality.” It therefore gestures towards that which we require to live, but which we cannot perceive or measure.

Religion, many conventionally think, attends to the field of human experience that concerns our most fundamental questions — questions of meaning, purpose and value. But since the Enlightenment, many individuals in North Atlantic countries have developed a self-understanding of themselves as secular, or modern.

For many, religion does not seem like a viable option. It seems outdated, or at odds with a scientific understanding of the world (or, at least parts of it do). Yet, despite this shift, questions of meaning, purpose and value remain.

Moreover, for many of my study participants, science is incapable of adequately answering some of life’s most crucial questions: What is beauty? How should I relate to the natural world? To whom (or what) should I commit my life? Why be just? What is justice?

Although science can provide answers to these questions, the answers rarely inspire my participants as they would like them to. And for many, science’s answers simply don’t suffice to help them live their lives as they experience them.

So when people speak of spirituality they are generally invoking some framework of meaning that enables them to make sense of that which, for them, science fails to address.

This is why atheists, agnostics and believers can all — and often do — identify as spiritual. One need not believe in God in order to have questions that scientific materialism cannot answer.

Western culture too focused on material success

The second aspect of spirituality involves a move inward, or an attention to one’s inner life, often as a means of honouring the immaterial dimensions of life. Most of my study participants think contemporary Western culture is far too outward focused, glorifying material success and procurement at the expense of the things that really matter.

They would agree with the famous cultural critic Erich Fromm, who in the 1970s argued modern societies emphasize having things as opposed to just being. Spirituality stresses the importance of attuning to our inner life — both as a way of resisting the constant pressure our culture exerts to value what lies outside of us, as well as a means of finding a place of refuge.

This is one reason why, for instance, environmentalists have often endorsed spirituality. One of the major causes of climate change and environmental destruction, these environmentalists argue, is the never-ending quest for economic growth, fuelled by a capitalist logic of acquisition and expansion.

The Dalai Lama once said, while the West was busy exploring outer space, the East was busy exploring inner space.
(Shutterstock)

The Dalai Lama once quipped, while the West was busy exploring outer space, the East was busy exploring inner space. Regardless of the veracity of this generalization, he was getting at something that many of my study participants feel: that contemporary societies in the western world are structured in such a way that silence and stillness are the exception, not the rule.

When millennials say they are seeking to become more spiritual, they are often saying that they are trying to resist this trend.

Looking inward to act more wisely

For many millennials looking inward is an ethical endeavour. Being spiritual to them implies seeking to better understand one’s inner life in order to act more wisely in the world. For many, becoming more contemplative or aware of their inner life allows them to interact with others in a way that is less reactive, less harmful and more authentic to who they think themselves to be.

Thus, there are certain virtues which have come to be associated with spirituality: compassion, empathy and open-heartedness. These virtues naturally flow out of the introspection inherent to spirituality because they ultimately require a high level of self-knowledge. That is, knowledge of why we hold the beliefs we do, knowledge of why we act in certain ways, and most importantly, knowledge of our interdependence.

This knowledge — acquired either through practices like meditation, self-reflection and (in some cases) psychotherapy — leads one to become more sensitive to the emotions of others, and even to one’s surrounding environments, both social and natural.

Many millennials believe contemporary societies in the western world are structured in such a way that silence and stillness are the exception, not the rule.
(Shutterstock)

Thus the path inward, in its best form, is not rooted in narcissism but rather based in a robust ethicality — a willingness to face one’s demons in order to better understand the human condition.

For some, this path inward is ultimately about self-transformation, or transcending one’s early childhood programming and achieving a certain kind of self-mastery. For others, it entails attuning themselves to the immaterial dimensions of life.

The framework I’ve sketched above doesn’t exhaust the full range of meanings the term spirituality invokes. Nor am I suggesting that all individuals who fit the above description are necessarily spiritual. I only mean to propose that these three characteristics cover a lot of what millennials mean when they call themselves spiritual.

What I’ve outlined should not lead readers to think that all millennials who call themselves spiritual live these ethical ideals. Our ability to realize our ethical ideals depends not only our own willingness, but also the social and economic constraints that we live within.

Thus my current research seeks to better understand lived spirituality, or, how spirituality operates in people’s everyday lives. Ultimately, more research needs to be done to better understand this emerging trend.

The ConversationAs the number of people who identify as “spiritual” continues to climb, it is likely that spirituality will come to shape North American societies in important and enduring ways.

Galen Watts, PhD Candidate in the Cultural Studies Graduate Program, Queen’s University, Ontario

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 Our Calvinism Spared Us From Modernity: (brothersjuddblog.com)

 Higher Criticism, Darwinism, & the Loss of Western Culture (patheos.com)

 The Six Commandments? Christians feel four of the ten are no longer important (telegraph.co.uk)

 Minister Fuses Yoga and Christianity (prweb.com)

 Western philosophy is racist (aeon.co)

 In Photos: Cremated Buddha Remains and Buddha Statues (livescience.com)

 Is this blasphemous? (quinersdiner.com)


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Cut toxic people out of your life

This is so true. Something I’ve been writing about for a long time. Part of the problem, I think, is that toxic people don’t know they are toxic. Just as it is perfectly natural for an animal to try to get into your garbage on a regular basis, toxic people rationalize their hypocritical activity.

Same thing with madpersons. Mad people do not know they are mad. That’s why we need a larger community to contain the disturbed ones before they do real harm to individuals or to society as a whole.

Not an easy topic but ignoring it will not make it go away.

 Evangelical quits Church of England leadership over ‘heretical’ stance on sexuality (telegraph.co.uk)


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32% Canadians feel Hinduism influence growing

English: A hindu devotee in Nepal

A hindu devotee in Nepal – Wikipedia

Special to Earthpages.org

32% of respondents say that influence of Hinduism “in Canada and Canadian public life” is growing as compared to 7% who say that it is shrinking; according to a national study “Faith and Religion in Public Life” by Angus Reid Institute and Faith in Canada 150 posted on November 16.

13% of Canadians find Hinduism benefiting while 13% find Hinduism damaging. Higher percentage of income group $100K+ find Hinduism benefiting as compared to other income groups, while higher percentage of Univ+ education group find it benefiting as compared to other education levels, the study points out.

67% Canadians “don’t know anything/understand very little” about Hinduism, while 4% “understand very well”, the study adds.

Nearly half of Canadians (48%) see religion as contributing “a mix of good and bad” to Canada today. 42% Canadians welcome “municipal government beginning with a non-denominational prayer to god”. 53% of Canadians say that Canada “does too much to accommodate” different faith practices and religious minorities, the study indicates.

Meanwhile, Hindu advocate Rajan Zed, commending the Hindu community for their contributions to the society and the nation in Canada; urged them to continue with the traditional values of hard work, higher morals, stress on education, sanctity of marriage; amidst so many distractions.

Rajan Zed pic3

Rajan Zed – Wikipedia

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, advised Hindus to focus on inner search, stay pure, explore the vast wisdom of scriptures, make spirituality more attractive to youth and children, stay away from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

The Angus Reid Institute, headquartered in Vancouver (British Columbia), is Canada’s “national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation” “committed to independent research”. Dr. Angus Reid and Shachi Kurl are Chairman and Executive Director respectively. Faith in Canada 150, headquartered in Hamilton (Ontario), is powered by Cardus—“a think tank dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture”. Greg Pennoyer is the Program Director.


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Silence of the heart

By chakravarthy

Silence usually is understood to be something negative, something empty, an absence of sound, of noises. This misunderstanding is prevalent because few people have ever experienced silence — all they have experienced is noiselessness.

But silence is a totally different phenomenon. It is utterly positive. It is existential, it is not empty. It overflows with a music that you have never heard before, with a fragrance that is unfamiliar to you, with a light that can only be seen by inner eyes. It is not something fictitious; it is a reality that is already present in everyone–we just never look in.

All our senses are extrovert. Our eyes open outside as do our ears; our hands move outside, so too our legs..all our senses are meant to explore the outside world. But there is a sixth sense which is asleep because we have never used it. And no society, culture or educational system helps people to make the sixth sense active.

In the East, the sixth sense is called ‘the third eye’. It looks inward. And just as there is a way of hearing in, and of smelling the fragrance within. Just as there are five senses moving outward, there are five counter-senses moving inward. In all, we have 10 senses, but the first sense that starts the inner journey is the third eye, and then other senses start opening up.

Your inner world has its own taste, fragrance and light. It is utterly, immensely, eternally silent. The mind cannot reach there, but you can reach because you are not the mind. The function of the mind is to be a bridge between you and the objective world, and the function of the heart is to be a bridge between you and yourself.

The silence is the silence of the heart. It is a wordless song without sound. Out of this silence flowers of love grow. Here you can find the Garden of Eden. Meditation is the key to open the doors of your own being.

The body knows its owns silence–that is its own well-being, overflowing health and joy. The mind also knows its silence, when all thoughts disappear and the sky is cloud free, just pure space. But the silence I am talking about is far deeper. I am talking about the silence of your being.

Other silences can be disturbed. Sickness can disturb the silence of your body, and death is certainly going to disturb it. A single thought can disturb the silence of your mind, the way a small pebble thrown into a silent lake creates thousands of ripples, and the lake is no longer silent. The silences of body and mind are fragile and superficial, but in themselves they are good. To experience them is helpful, because it indicates that there may be deeper silences of the heart, it will be again an arrow of longing, moving you even deeper.

Your centre of being is the centre of a cyclone. Whatever happens around it does not affect it; it is eternal silence. Whatever happens and whenever, the eternal silence of your being remains exactly the same — the same soundless music, fragrance of godliness and transcendence from all that is mortal and momentary.

Article Source: http:www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/silence-of-the-heart-5564389.html

About the Author

C.S. Chakravarthy – H. No. 12-13-301, St. No. 9, Lane. No. 1, Flat. No. 203, Satya Classic, Tarnaka, Secunderabad-500017

Since this article’s initial publication articlesbase.com has undergone some changes. Original links have been left intact. 

 How to Get Out of your Own F*cking Way. (elephantjournal.com)


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Religious people have a brain so why don’t some use it?

 

Star Trek – All Our Yesterdays via http://tos.trekcore.com

The title of this article is meant to be tongue in cheek. Obviously some religious people are bright and apply intelligence to their faith and practice. But there is a sector that seems to blindly accept whatever a particular religion teaches.

I met one of these folks last night at church. S/he seemed like a nice person but after speaking with him/her for a while, I automatically tuned out while s/he rambled on with the usual Catholico-paranoido-hypocritico Beware! The world is sending you to hell! preaching.

Walking back to where I had parked, it felt like I had time traveled in a way. I’d just spoken to a medieval person. That is, someone with a medieval mindset. It reminded me of the Star Trek TOS episode “All Our Yesterdays” where Captain Kirk is sent to a planet resembling Earth’s Middle Ages. An unkempt woman hears Kirk speaking to his invisible crewmates through a portal and hisses that Kirk is a witch. Meanwhile, the fearful and rigid male authorities imprison him.

“Witch… Witch… you’re going to burn, WITCH!” – Star Trek – All Our Yesterdays via http://tos.trekcore.com

That scenario of the Middles Ages, however, is a simplification. Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D. points out that Medieval people could be just as complex as us—despite not having access to computers, the internet and smartphones.

So what is going on with some religious people these days?

We all have pretty much the same sized brain. But apparently there’s a catch. Neuropsychology tells us that some brain regions are more specialized than others. So we develop a greater density of neural pathways in our strong areas, usually at the expense of other less developed areas. Everyone differs here. Some might be strong in abstract thinking, like Einstein. Others in artistic processing, like Picasso.

To be fair, the person I spoke with last night did make me think. Sometimes it’s good to get the Beware of Hell! sermon. It makes us look at ourselves and clean up any areas in need of improvement. If we’re sincere, that is. I know some Christians who are so distasteful or obsessive that I can’t associate with them.

But I digress.

The upshot of last night’s encounter was that I felt like I’m still on track with Earthpages. I imagine some religious persons will see the site as satanic and delving into the devil’s paranormal world. Especially with recent articles like Psi – Good, evil, real or fantasy?

To me, these people are like those stubborn, ignorant characters in Trek’s “All Our Yesterdays.” For some reason they have developed a bigotry-fear complex, and so far haven’t cultivated the knowledge and analytical skills to circumvent it.

I mean, what else would it be?

 Trinity reveal eight rare and fascinating ancient manuscripts online (irishcentral.com)

 Is this blasphemous? (quinersdiner.com)

 Does Religious Liberty Apply to All Religions? (washingtonmonthly.com)

 Our Calvinism Spared Us From Modernity: (brothersjuddblog.com)

 Civilization VI To Deepen Religion And Fix Various Annoyances In Its Next Big Update (wccftech.com)

 Bow down to the new robot religion (hotair.com)


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The Near Death Experience and the Universal Connectivity

Image via Tumblr

By TC Gopalakrishnan

Among the many important messages from near death experiences (NDEs), the one thing that stands out is the sensing of the Universal Connectivity between all manifestations.  This is in contrast to the individuation which currently drives the human psychology on this planet.   In the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung (Ref. 1), individuation is defined as the process by which the self is formed by integrating elements of the conscious and the unconscious mind.

This identification is a result of two things: 1. Limited awareness and 2. the Instinct of self-preservation in living beings.  When awareness expands, we sense the source of this limited self and talk about the Universal Self.  In Sanatana Dharma, the ancient philosophy of India, this Universal Self is called the Purusha – the source of all manifestations in the universe.  Purusha is like a primordial fire from which many sparks leave, get embroiled with the nature and, at the culmination of their awareness, rejoin the flame to complete the cycle.

Carl Sagan, the noted astrophysicist, writes in his book ‘Cosmos’ that only a cyclic process can be eternal.

In the early stages of development, human beings must have thought that the moon is self-luminant and that moonlight emanates from it.  With widening awareness, they understood that it is actually the sunlight reflected by the moon.  This metaphor can be used to explain the relationship between the limited self (the moon) and the Universal Self (the sun).  During the NDE, the human being is temporarily thrown into the Universal Consciousness and, hence, feels the source of all things.  That is the basis for sensing the connectivity between all beings during the expansive awareness.  In the next paragraph, we see the expression of an NDEer (Lori, E; nderf.org) about this connectivity.

‘We are all made of the same light, the same energy Being so connected, and seeing the similarities in myself and others has made it extremely easy for me to communicate with people and to support their journeys here on earth.  I am able to tell people with complete certainty that we are all connected, that we are all one. I know there is absolutely nothing to fear about death; it is just a transition away from the physical.’

Another NDEer, Victor Solow, has given an interesting account of his NDE in the October 1974 issue of the Reader’s Digest.  The following lines appear in it:

‘A recurrent nostalgia remains for that other reality, that condition of indescribable stillness and quiet where the ‘I’ is part of a harmonious whole.  The memory softens the old drives for possession, approval and success.’

The above perceptions are a far cry from that of the habitual neurology in which the present humanity is caught.  The very fact that sectarian practices are thriving and creating serious conflicts among the various groups indicates that the connectivity mentioned above is expressly denied by them. What is needed is a revolution in the outlook of people which is currently being guided by individuation – both in pampering the ego at the level of a person and, at the level of groups, in being at logger heads with each other through identification with a nation, belief system etc.  Many Enlightened Masters – like Krishna, Buddha, Jesus Christ, to name a few – have come and gone but, as of now, the universal connectivity is sensed only by a very small part of the human population.  In that respect, the current research on near death experiences has been playing a supportive role to that of the Masters.

The Sanskrit word ‘Athma’ is usually translated as ‘Soul’ in English. However, there is a lot of difference between the content of those words.  While ‘Athma’ is considered a spark of the Divine and so is the same in all beings, the ‘Soul’ is meant to mean a separate entity identified with each person.  For the ‘Soul’ the individuation applies.  That is how they can talk about a particular ‘Soul’ going to eternal heaven or hell maintaining its separate identity.  In contrast, the ‘Athma’ has no separate identity.  At nirvana or liberation, the spark rejoins the flame whence it came.  It is like the space in a pot merging with the expansive space outside when the pot is broken; the inner space has always been of the same nature as the outer space but the pot, by its shape, gave it an illusory identity.  Thus, the ancient philosophy of Sanatana Dhrama has emphasized the connectivity between all beings through the quality of oneness at their essence.

Truth has to be universal and cannot be the exclusive property of any sectarian group.  Connectivity also being universal, it can chime in with Truth.  Reflections on this matter of connectivity and the associated oneness can lift us to higher levels of esoteric perception.  That would make us look at all beings with respect and dignity, leading to global unity and a caring humanity.  The joy of global cooperation and international camaraderie would become a day-to-day reality.  Harmony and joy would then reign on this wonderful planet.

Related matters are covered in the author’s website.

Ref. 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individuation

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/mysticism-articles/the-near-death-experience-and-the-universal-connectivity-an-esoteric-revelation-6849435.html

About the Author

The Author: T.C. Gopalakrishnan was born in Madras (now Chennai), India, in 1941. He received his doctoral degree in Coastal Engineering from the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA in 1978. He served on the research and teaching faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, the North Carolina State University and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait. Aside from his professional involvements, he was interested in the philosophic issues of life for the last forty years or so. This led him to the messages of Ramana Maharishi, Lao Tzu, J Krishnamurthy, UG Krishnamurthy, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Eckhart Tolle, Marcus Aurelius and similar Masters. His book entitled ‘In Quest of the Deeper Self’ is the outcome of his reflections on those and his wish to share the outcome with others.

Gopalakrishnan is a member of the International Association for Near Death Studies. He presented a paper at the 2011 conference of the International Association for Near Death Studies, Durham, NC, USA.  Functions as a freelance counselor for peaceful living.  He lives in Kodaikanal, a hill town in south India, with his family.  Now he and his wife are both retired and currently involved in developing a fruit farm at a village 20 km from their residence.

Website:  http://spirituality.yolasite.com      Blog: http://nde-thedeeperself.blogspot.com

Following this article’s initial publication articlesbase.com has undergone some changes. The original links have been left intact.