Our Sense of Spirituality

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    James Sullivan

    Okay, so I’ll get things moving in here. I guess this is where I throw out my limp brain ideas and we work through it? GREAT. I’ve had this one particular premise in my head that I wasn’t doing anything with until I read Jon Haidt’s “The Happiness Hypothesis.” Hunter why don’t you tell me how you feeeeeeeeeeel about it.

    Of our empirical senses, we are no champion. We do not have the best eye sight, the best sense of smell, the most delicate touch, the sharpest hearing, and there are a number of data collecting senses other animals have that we simply do not. Why, then, would we be most in tune with sensing the Divine?

    Haidt, towards the end of The Happiness Hypothesis touches on trying to understand spiritual, religious, or otherwise awe inspiring sensations. I will, for the sake of inclusivity, use “awe” to describe a number of conflated terms like the Divine, the Spiritual, God, Oneness, etc. We cannot measure awe the way we can measure light or sound which makes the modern science on awe slim. But it is something we [intuitively] understand in the moment we experience it. This goes into something else I plan to elaborate on later, the difference between Knowing and Understanding. People who experience awe will describe being outside of Time. The Ancients who experienced this sensation could only use the language they had to communicate this experience. They communicated that experience through metaphor, and understood it as an experience of the Divine.

    Have you ever, as I have, tried to talk a person who claims to have experienced something they regard as Divine out of their experience? I remember arguing with my now fiancĂ© years back after a bad sermon at the church she made me go to that it was all bullshit. My GRAND RATIONAL MIND could not convince her out of her experience even if it was just a feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeling. I didn’t understand the importance of emotion in our thinking even though I was using it just as much as she was. I thought I was all rider but I was all elephant, mad about some ostentatious mega church pastor misappropriating Socrates so show how silly philosophy was compared to the Truth of God. Anyway, just like in the study Haidt cites with the psilocybin induced awe, those who experience awe, the Divine, or God (doesn’t matter what you call it, the sensation seems to be the same) can’t just disregard it because of its irreproducibility or immeasurability.

    I’m one of those kooks that thinks language is the heart of everything both metaphysical and epistemological. So it’s no surprise that I think much of what we understand about spirituality is lost due to a lack in the right language to articulate our experiences. In a really fantastic podcast, Dr Raymond Moody, a scientist who studies near death experiences, talks about the possibility of an afterlife and describes the commonalities in those who have near death experiences and that the hardest part is finding the language to articulate it all.

    Duncan Trussell Family Hour – Dr Raymond Moody

    Okay, so, maybe we don’t all have the same hardware to experience the Divine, or maybe the hardware isn’t good enough. But sometimes there emerges someone who does and those are the Awakened Beings we mythologize. Jesus the Christ, Siddhartha the Buddha are two easy examples and perhaps the best examples but there are Awakened or In Tune Beings around now. If you’ve ever encountered a person spiritually in sync you remember it. They inspire awe and become Gurus or whatever. They are different in ways we cannot quantify but understand intuitively, phenomenologically, as something else.

    uhhhhhhhhhhh, I think that’s it for now. More later if this develops.

    Your thoughts and objections are welcome. I’m throwing this idea into the pit to see how it does. I can only think the way I think, so endless thinkering will do this idea no good.

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