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The Unescapable Need for Spirituality

The Unescapable Need for Spirituality

Spirituality refers to the experience itself of deep connection to self and outside of self that we call awe, transcendence, meaning, and interconnectedness. Spirituality is fundamental to our existence.

We are spiritual beings more than we are rational decision makers. We seek patterns of meaning in our experiences more than we seek patterns of truth. It's why we are born to be more attracted by stories than abstract explanations.

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The 3 Common Paths to Spirituality

The 3 Common Paths to Spirituality

In the West, there are essentially 3 main available options for spirituality.

  1. Organized Religion: The default choice being the Abrahamic flavour. The foundation for the Western culture but also riddled with corruption and dogma.
  2. New Age Spirituality. Rediscover the world of the ocult. Tarot cards. Psychedelics. Astrology ...
  3. Skepticism or Atheism.

Religion has been what has historically housed the sacred, the mystical, and the profound. The occult has tools for intuition—beneficial for conversing with the edges of our subconscious. Science clears the table of nonsense.

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The Organized Religious Path

The Organized Religious Path

Organized religion, as opposed to just religion, refers to a structured and established system of beliefs, rituals, practices, and doctrines shared by a group of people within a community. It usually has a formal organizational structure, leadership roles, shared beliefs & practices.

But it also comes with bad like dogma, hoping for the end of the world, religious wars, theocracies, oppression of marginalized groups, political entanglements, battles with science, sex scandals, and abuses of power.

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The Path of New Age Spirituality

The Path of New Age Spirituality

Esoteric knowledge is considered profound, hidden involving deeper, or more intuitive-based knowledge vs popular teachings. Usually ancient, these practices often revolved around manipulating natural forces, spiritual entities, and hidden wisdom. In the modern world they can vary from tarot cards to pop mindfulness or plant medicine.

However, our intuitions can be wrong. We are very susceptible to superstition or for our intuitions to be guided by what we want to be true, by our fears, or our desires to feel in control. And most of the gurus can be just as abusive as religious leaders.

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The Path of Atheism and Skepticism

The Path of Atheism and Skepticism

Using science can be a powerful way to ground one self into a hard reality. Religions are nothing but fairytales. Spirituality, another way to guard against ignorance.

Atheism however is a rejection of other claims. By definition, is it has nothing to offer. Atheism as a culture is a religion with no soul. Rejecting everything leads to nihilism. There is no inherent meaning to the universe. It is neither inherently positive nor negative. Some find it freeing, but for most is terrifying.

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Problem of Nihilism

Problem of Nihilism

Rejecting everything leads to nihilism. There is no inherent meaning to the universe. It is neither inherently positive nor negative. Some find it freeing. But for most it is a black hole. We can’t make decisions. Don't know what to do with our life.

  • How do we accept death?
  • How do you live morally?
  • How do you raise children and tell them what to do or not do?
  • How do you choose one way or another?
  • Is it unethical to bring children into the world to suffer?
  • How do you keep functioning in the matrix when you see it’s an illusion?
  • How do I make sense of not having free will?
  • What do I do now?

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Salvation from Nihilism

“To be or not to be” is what Camus calls it the first question of philosophy. “The one truly serious philosophical problem - Why not kill yourself?"

The insight that saved Brittney was "that if I removed myself from this world, I only spread more suffering into the world. There’s a part of heaven on earth that only I can build, in my community and family. If I removed myself from this web of life to which I am connected, I become the very monster I was trying to run away from because I become the suffering I was trying to escape."

Start playing life rather than life playing you.

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Secular Spirituality

Secular Spirituality

Secular spirituality is an approach that gathers the wisdom and tools in religion, the intuitive space of the occult, and the preeminence of science to create a path that uses the benefits of all.

As a secular spiritualist, one is free to play in holy texts, celebrate Christmas, hang out with mystics, meditate, do a tarot reading for fun, visit holy temples, explore rituals, dabble in psychedelics, or gather wisdom from myths. It gives you the most liberty to explore any and all of these spaces without becoming a robot to the dogmas that demand your attention, money, time, and allegiance.

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BRITTNEY HARTLEY

"Deconstructing [...religion] felt like becoming increasingly enraged upon learning that your family was, in fact, the mafia, but also paradoxically missing the family spaghetti dinners."

BRITTNEY HARTLEY

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The Personal Spiritual Path

The Personal Spiritual Path

Personal (secular) spirituality means a deep connection to self and outside of self, without deferring to the supernatural. In the past, faith and belief have been the hoops one has to jump through.

It is the game of learning how to fall in love with existence itself without falling into the seductive traps of make-believe through the science of human well-being.

On this personal journey you can pick and choose from some of the traditional spirituality. There is value in rituals, awe or community. In exploring your inner self or in understanding love.

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BRITTNEY HARTLEY

If all cult leaders died today, we would recreate them tomorrow because it’s so much easier to give your moral compass and life to someone else who seems trustworthy than to accept that you are ultimately responsible for your own choices.

BRITTNEY HARTLEY

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Rituals

Rituals

Ritual is the act of sanctifying action—even ordinary action—so that it has meaning. I can light a candle because I need the light or because the candle represents the light I need.

  • You can partake in rituals by dissociating them from their mythological roots. Jews are mostly atheistic but they sticked with their rituals.
  • You can make your own rituals. Because it's you that brings meaning by focusing your attention to a certain action. Make a ritual out of anything that matters to you.

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Awe

Awe

Awe is an intense emotional experience often characterized by a sense of wonder, amazement, and reverence in the presence of something profound, often leaving a person feeling humbled and deeply moved. It registers differently in our brain than feeling joy or happiness. This place is the center of spirituality, the experience that starts religions rather than the religions themselves.

The concept of God stems from this feeling: collective consciousness, something that is bigger than us, but that we are a part of. "I am to God as bees are to a hive."

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Shadow Work: I see you Mara

Shadow Work: I see you Mara

Acknowledging and accepting the hidden flaws of ourselves, allows for greater self-awareness & personal growth. Karl Jung brought this to limelight in the West.

In Buddhism, this is called “Inviting Mara to tea.” On the eve of his enlightenment, the Buddha fought Mara, the Demon God, who unleashed temptations and afflictions on the Buddha: lust, greed, anger or doubt. Rather than dismissing or repelling Mara, the Buddha greeted her presence with serenity, saying “I see you, Mara.” In a remarkable display of equanimity, he would extend an invitation for tea, treating Mara as an esteemed guest.

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Community

Community

Life becomes more enjoyable when it’s not just Mario against the world level after level for 80 years, but there’s a Luigi, a Yoshi, and a Toad with you. You have a Team!

Community comes down to embracing vulnerability. We must dare to be vulnerable ourselves and provide a safe space for others to do the same. Vulnerability is the birthplace of trust, belonging, and empathy.

Magic happens when people take off their masks and see and love each other as the complex and beautiful humans they are right now, without having to hustle for worth or hide our shadows.

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Mysticism

Mysticism

Mysticism is the focus on the experience that people have called god. Mystics simply value the experience and worry less about what it is called, or by which path it comes. “Theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.”

Mysticism steers clear of what gets people into trouble in religions or cults, which is the proclivity to have a profound experience and then say, “Therefore…”. “Therefore, the Book of Mormon is true.” “Therefore, Jesus is my Savior.”

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Reality happens in our heads

Reality happens in our heads

When Harry faces death and goes to the train station, he is met by his own dead mentor, Dumbledore. They speak for a time and towards the end, Harry asks:

  • “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” To which Dumbledore replies ...
  • “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

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Love

Love

Love is not a duty but a realization.

Loving yourself is to appreciate the universe that lives within you. To recognize that we hold the pen and are writing a chapter in a story that started when time itself began. To love ourselves is to tend to our chapter enough to write a good story while we have the power to hold the pen.

Loving others is recognizing that the universe that is inside you is also in them in a whole different and beautiful way. Love naturally emerges when you understand your place in the grand tapestry of existence.

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IDEAS CURATED BY

vladimir

Life-long learner. Passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship, philosophy, Buddhism & SF. Founder @deepstash.

CURATOR'S NOTE

Brittney offers a personal spiritual path that is free of dogma or false beliefs but also meaningful. She calls it Secular Spirituality.

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