Dear reader

Why do I write about pitfalls of spirituality?

My purpose with this blog is to crystallize and share my thoughts and experiences, in the hope that you and I may benefit from them. From 1993-2005 I practiced a so-called spiritual method (Sahaj Marg). Ultimately I realized that this method - and especially the organization around it (Shri Ram Chandra Mission or SRCM)- was contrary to some deep spiritual layer in myself. I came to some clear conclusions, and also to some still developing insights.

One still developing insight is that almost everybody is looking for some form of spirituality in their life. Therefore there are many spiritual methods and movements, often with similar pitfalls to the ones I experienced.

Many people follow a well-trodden path which is defined by the group in their immediate vicinity. Others are prompted by their heart and/or head to look for spirituality that makes sense on a personal level. Spirituality gives fulfillment -humanity as one, universal love growing, one with the buddha- as well as direction through life's tough questions.

I write about the pitfalls of spirituality because so many others seem to write mostly about the bliss of their own approach to spirituality. This bliss to me actually seems a pitfall.

Understanding the pitfalls I deem essential to gain more spiritual insight. For me this actually translates into a lighter and more loving heart. I do not believe that understanding is the key issue in spirituality. But I do believe that misunderstanding can block key issues (although to which degree probably varies with each person).

Please bear with my frequent use of I feel, seems to me, in my not so humble opinion and so on. It is to emphasize that I do not consider any of my opinions to be more than that. I cannot bring you universal truth. In my not so humble opinion [imnsho] universal truth is a major pitfall in spirituality.

Dear reader, I hope you find something worthwhile on these pages. Friendly reactions, which may be as critical as you like, are always welcome.

Tips how to read this blog

* Please start with the closing remarks (click on the link), they should provide a balanced perspective on this blog.

* There is a list of 20 pitfalls in the sidebar. Clicking on a pitfall will provide a number of posts in which that pitfall is discussed to some extent.

* If you have time, consider starting with the oldest post, and simply going through to each next post. This probably gives the most faithful ;-) reading...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sexuality and same-sex marriage from a spiritual point of view

I came across this open letter to religious leaders for marriage equality.

It shows a very different approach to same-sex marriage than the narrowhearted and narrowminded one of my former spiritual guide, and its writers are people from various religious backgrounds. Their institute is called Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing (website here).

I'm not in favour of religion in general, nor of any religion in particular. But please read the below declaration from the institute, and decide for yourself which is the more humane, loving spiritual approach. (Don't take my posting this text here as a sign that I fully agree with all its words, I don't. I just consider the basis of the approach below to be spiritual, loving, uniting instead of divisive).

Sexuality is God's life-giving and life-fulfilling gift. We come from diverse religious communities to recognize sexuality as central to our humanity and as integral to our spirituality. We are speaking out against the pain, brokenness, oppression, and loss of meaning that many experience about their sexuality.

Our faith traditions celebrate the goodness of creation, including our bodies and our sexuality. We sin when this sacred gift is abused or exploited. However, the great promise of our traditions is love, healing, and restored relationships.

Our culture needs a sexual ethic focused on personal relationships and social justice rather than particular sexual acts. All persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure. Grounded in respect for the body and for the vulnerability that intimacy brings, this ethic fosters physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It accepts no double standards and applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender, color, age, bodily condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

God hears the cries of those who suffer from the failure of religious communities to address sexuality. We are called today to see, hear, and respond to the suffering caused by violence against women and sexual minorities, the HIV pandemic, unsustainable population growth and over-consumption, and the commercial exploitation of sexuality.

Faith communities must therefore be truth seeking, courageous, and just. We call for:

* Theological reflection that integrates the wisdom of excluded, often silenced peoples, and insights about sexuality from medicine, social science, the arts and humanities.
* Full inclusion of women and sexual minorities in congregational life, including their ordination and the blessing of same sex unions.
* Sexuality counseling and education throughout the lifespan from trained religious leaders.
* Support for those who challenge sexual oppression and who work for justice within their congregations and denomination.

Faith communities must also advocate for sexual and spiritual wholeness in society. We call for:

* Lifelong, age appropriate sexuality education in schools, seminaries, and community settings.
* A faith-based commitment to sexual and reproductive rights, including access to voluntary contraception, abortion, and HIV/STD prevention and treatment.
* Religious leadership in movements to end sexual and social injustice.

God rejoices when we celebrate our sexuality with holiness and integrity. We, the undersigned, invite our colleagues and faith communities to join us in promoting sexual morality, justice, and healing.


With this I will end this thread for now, and turn to other pitfalls.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Frank...

Good one also... no comments as I don't accept all the content of the letter but I agree with you that the gist of the content is more spiritual, moral and loving than most "relgions" and most "GODMEN" or self-called spiritual guides or Gurus or Masters, coming out of India or other parts of the world.

There is still a bit of "fantasy" and MYTH, such as "God Rejoices..." etc... that I don't want to propagate anymore...It is not what I see as "THE ONE" or the UNITY. It's time for what Arthur C Clark called: Childhood's End...Time to wake up and become "adults" and leave the myths behind in our childhood.

Just a few technical points. If you put your Title to the articles in the "Title box" of your post, then we who read and link to others can go directly to it and link other directly to it also. Your titles are now linkded to the "religious institute", the Wikipedia article, etc... and there is no way to access a specific article directly.

To do this place your Title in the Title box... There it is "hypertext" ;-))

If you want to see how many hits (readers) your blog gets, there is a "Site Meter" that is available with "blogger" (as well as other hit counters). You can either make the info available to all your readers or to just yourself. I (and Michael) leave it open for all to see how many "seekers" read my blogs (40-50 per day).

Bless you and your "sharp eye" and functionning intellect with its gifts of pattern recognition and/or "LOGIC".

4d-don

frank waaldijk said...

thank you don, for your encouragement and tips.

i will change the title link.

you can already see the visitor statistics under `stats' which is somewhere in the sidebar, perhaps you need to scroll down a little. so far there have been 239 visits...not very impressive but all things start out small.

also, i agree with you, i also don't accept all the content of the letter. i meant it only as an illustration that even if one is religious, one can strive to a more loving united humanity. and many religious people do so, and i value their effort. even if i do not subscribe to their views on god, afterlife, and similar attributes.

religions should be by their nature striving for a more loving united humanity...but in practice religions divide, more than they unite.

so the letter can also be seen as some effort to turn this tide a little. i appreciate this effort, even if i'm not religious by inclination nor by conviction.

i will do my best to write here with some regularity, but some things need some thinking, so it will definitely not be as regular as clockwork.

thanx again,

frank