by Jonathan Drake 53 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • fulltimestudent
    Xanthippe: Well there was an awakening if you want to call it that about 500 BC when the writings of Greek philosophers such as Plato and also ConfucIus and the teachings of Bhudda reflect that people were discussing treating strangers well and being just in dealing with slaves and people from other nations. See the 'Golden Rule' and particularly notice how Confucius used it 500 years before Jesus.

    Perhaps, such issues were being discussed, but no written record has survived to our day.

    Why across the world people decided to suddenly start using ethics in dealing with their fellow man we don't know.

    One probable explanation is that these ideas were spread across the Asian continent (even the Pre-Socratic Greek thinkers were located in Asia Minor) by the huge trading network that's generally know as the "Silk Road." For example, in Richard Folz's, "Religions of the Silk Road," he describes how many religions 'borrowed' ideas from other religions and that the very first great missionary campaign was initiated by Siddartha Gautama (better known as the Buddha Shakyamuni ), he organised his community of followers (the sangha) so that the laity provided financial support to the monastic class and tied the spread of his teachings to the trading network that was spreading over the Euro-Asian continent.

    It seems contradictory, that this organisational system, based on the accumulation of wealth by the laity, was used to spread a religion that promoted self-denial (at least, to the point of choosing the middle way), but that it was so organised seems clear from this quotation from the Buddha's dialogues:

    Whoso is virtuous and intelligent,

    Shines like fire that blazes.

    To him amassing wealth, like a roving bee

    Its honey gathering,

    Riches mount up as an ant-heap growing high.

    When the good layman wealth has so amasssed

    Able is he to benefit his clan.

    In portions four let him divide that wealth.

    So binds he to himself, life's friendly things.

    One portion let him spend and taste the fruit.

    His business to conduct let him take two.

    And portion four let him reserve and hoard;

    So there'll be wherewithal in times of need.

    Dialogues of the Buddha. Trans: T.W. and C.A.F. Rhys-Davis, Oxford University Press

    This amassed wealth eventually became the source of finance for the building of the numerous temples/monasteries that dot East and South East Asia.

    But more importantly, because of the changes that Buddhism underwent as it moved through different cultures, it provides insight into what happened to Jewish thought as it came into contact with successive empires that dominated the Jews. Traces of Egyptian thought, Greek thought, Iranian thought, Assyrian thought etc, can all be found in Judaism and therefore in Christianity.

    It is not, as the J.Ws claim, the one pure religion given by Yahweh.

    PS: The greatest Chinese exponent of Universal love (as opposed to the more limited teachings on love with distinctions, by Kongzi, also known in the west as Confucius), was Mozi, who lived between 470 and 391 BCE. Mozi's views on 'love' are really quite modern, and clearly (if you study them) more advanced that then teachings of Jesus.

  • Oubliette

    JD, I'm glad you are attempting these exercises and exploring what it means to be conscious and self-aware.

    Do not confuse the fact that some things are involuntary with the idea that all things are involuntary.

  • Jonathan Drake
    Jonathan Drake
    Do not confuse the fact that some things are involuntary with the idea that all things are involuntary.

    I think I will be focusing on precisely this for a while. I suppose that's kind of the point right? To find that boundary.

  • Oubliette

    JD, I think so.

    As I posted earlier, I think that Sam Harris did not clearly articulate what really should have been the main point of his book.

    That being said, he did get a dialogue started, right?

    This boundary between our conscious and unconscious desires, the voluntary and the involuntary motivations that move us, is not one that is either clearly defined or well understood. It's kind of like trying to see the back of your head. You need at least two mirrors to do that.

    • What are the mirrors to our soul?


    I believe the exploration is a worthwhile undertaking even if no final destination is ever found.


  • DJS

    Unless someone can provide evidence suggesting otherwise, I don’t see ‘spirituality’ as anything other than a self induced emotional state based on one’s genetics, culture, environment, nurture, state of psychological or emotional need, desires and social condition.

    There are many things that can evoke strong emotions in me: injustice, nature, my children, movies, books, plays, art. And my girlfriend’s ass.

    I wouldn’t call any of those spiritual (except for my GF’s ass); they are nothing more than my emotional reaction to external and internal stimuli. And I’ve noticed over the years that, the more rational and evidence based I become, the clearer these emotional responses are to me. I know exactly why I feel strongly or my emotions are being evoked, and invisible creatures or the force haven’t anything to do with it (Please forgive me Mr. Lucas – I will make it up to you by watching the new Star Wars movie twice).

    Someone who loves and appreciates art and artists may be very moved by an artistic creation, while those who care not for the subject fail to get it.

    Someone who loves nature may be moved by the beauty of this planet while a 14 year old boy would rather be playing games on his cell phone because it’s boring to him.

    Someone caught up in the cacophony of craziness at a sporting event or a tongue speaking, snake handling, or glory be to god moment at church may feel strongly that the lord is present, while those of us who view such as nonsense will find amusement. Or the exit.

    Someone who hates injustice, loves living on the planet and doesn’t have or want to develop the skills needed to thrive in a competitive, less than perfect world would be intensely drawn to the message of the Dark Tower. Someone wanting to be in heaven with the lord would view living on the earth as low rent.

    I’m with Viviane on this (well isn't that surprising) unless and until someone can provide evidence of spirit/spiritual I see it as nothing more than a self induced emotional response based on internal and external stimuli and one’s genetics, nurturing, experiences, culture, environment and mental, physical and emotional state.

    That will be $50. You are welcome. I'm here all week.

  • Jonathan Drake
    Jonathan Drake


    I'd be seriously interested in what you might have to say about this book. Harris begins the book by stating he felt largely the same way your expressing at one time (unless I've misunderstood either you or him).

    If your familiar with Harris you know he isn't particularly in the habit of making grandiose claims without some actual reason or evidence. He does provide ample amounts of compelling enough reason for benefit of the doubt on this subject.

    If your willing I'd love to know what you think of this book. It's only about 200 pages.

    Ive not finished it yet but already in what I've read he's addressed some of what you mention and I think you might find his response to it interesting regardless of if you agree. Which of course you may not. I'm not even sure I do, but at least that small experience I felt was of interest.

  • DJS


    I will read it. Thank you. And thank you for the OP. There are several spirit or spiritual OPs running right now. Hold Me isn't Thrilled that us mean ole atheists aren't helping the 'spirituality' of those on the site. If us mean ole atheists are helping others understand that their spirituality isn't any thing other than self induced emotions that they begin to understand and control, then that is most excellent. Only by doing so can they truly escape the Dark Lords' control and hopefully one day escape the clutches of all religion. But whether they get to this point or not, living a rational, evidence based life will provide benefits.

    Nothing is required to Believe other than to Feel. Unless we break that cycle humans will never evolve. The Dark Lords know this; other religious leaders know this. Why do you think religious leaders for thousands of years have kept their followers in the dark and either discouraged or outright prohibited knowledge. Emotionally driven people are much easier to control. The Dark Lords continue to discourage education and even scholarship, making the trapping of the rank and file so much easier.

    So those of you who want to give me "Dislikes" for what I am saying have at it. I take it as confirmation. Continue to feel. Don't analyze or evaluate why you feel. Continue to act on those feelings because they are strong and therefore they have to be right. By all means to continue to do so. But if you think that by attaching words like spirit or spiritual to your base human emotions makes them superior or you more godly, you are nothing but an emotion addict. The pleasant feelings that result from your self induced emotional fix is the only thing that is actually occurring. It is no different that a heroine junkie, a cocaine addict or a nicotine fiend.

    The rest of us are evolving ahead of you and one day you will be considered closer to our primate cousins than humans. You will call us Lord, Master or Boss, and we will think of you as our slow (not the fast moving kind in Brad Pitt's WWZ that also appeared to have cognitive function (what's up with that)) moving, zombie pets. Now hit the Dislike button.

  • LisaRose

    Well DJS, I don't agree with you, or as at least not 100%, but I would never push the dislike button because I don't agree with a poster.

    I always wondered why some religious people reported some communication with God, I never felt that, so I wondered why they felt that way. Now that I meditate I think they are just feeling an altered state of consciousness brought on by meditation, only they weren't trying to meditate, they were praying. Of course they felt what happened was from God, since they were praying at the time. But people in every religion feel this, so it proves nothing about any particular religion, or that God exists.

    I read an interesting article recently about an experiment. They had people live with out artificial light for several weeks. When it got dark they went to sleep or sat in the dark. Many people in the study started waking up after three or four hours. They then experienced an altered state, they felt very peaceful and aware and alive. Then they went back to sleep. Maybe this is what our ancestors experienced before artificial light became the norm and meditation and/or religion is just an attempt to get back what was lost. We know sleep is essential for good health, perhaps this altered state is just as essential.

    I don't know if spirituality can exist for those that don't believe in God, but I am interested in the concept and plan to do further study. Of course it's just a feeling, and of course feelings can mislead you, but I also think it sometimes important to pay attention to them.

  • stan livedeath
    stan livedeath
    hey DJS--tell us more about your girlfriends ass. far more interesting than this spirituality rubbish. photos would be appreciated.
  • azor

    One of the things I appreciated about Harris's book is his approach to the subject. He is an atheist, neuroscientist, and part of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse. He gets heat from both sides of the divide with his premise. Theists for taking their cherished religious enlightenment experiences and applying the scientific method to it. Atheists for using the term spirituality in anything but negative terms.

    He postulates that the only way to help people get free from religion is to address their woo and apply the scientific method to it. Much like religion stated that they hold the only means to morality. He also shows how near death experiences are similar to those in deep meditation.

    I believe the only way we can win this battle against the evil of religion is to confront it on every front. Scientists like Harris, are doing this. Harris with the micro or inner workings of the mind and Krauss with the macro with the beginning of the universe. These are the areas theists and religionists use as a last resort to end discussions. Once these are fully vetted out there will be no other arena for them to go.

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