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A definition for religion

First Thought

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I wanted to present this definition of religion in hopes of spurring interesting and intellectual discussion. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

"Organized religion is based on institutionalized group activity, which takes place in a designated location and involves appointed officials who may or may not have had personal experiences with spirituality. Once a religion becomes organized, it often loses it's connection with the spiritual and becomes a secular institution that exploits human spiritual needs without ever satisfying them. Organized religions tend to create hierarchical systems focused on money, power, control and politics. These are secular pursuits. Under these systems, religious hierarchy discourages it's members from having actual spiritual experiences, because they foster independence and cannot be effectively controlled. In these cases, genuine spirituality is manifested in only the mystic branches, monastic orders and ecstatic sects of the religion involved." - Stanislav Grof, M.D.

Generally speaking, I think this definition is spot on. This comes from my personal experience as well as anecdotes I have been told from friends and acquaintances about their experiences with organized religion.
 

jamesrage

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Personally I like this Random house dictionary definition of religion- a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects, the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.
 

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It sounds to me like a definition for organized religion, and not really a definition of the concept of religion itself.:)
 

reefedjib

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It sounds to me like a definition for organized religion, and not really a definition of the concept of religion itself.:)
"Religion is belief in a god or gods and the activities that are connected with this belief, such as praying or worshipping in a building such as a church or temple."

It seems the definition supports esoteric spirituality. It just isn't organized. That's what I am about - having a spiritual philosophy.
 

First Thought

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"Religion is belief in a god or gods and the activities that are connected with this belief, such as praying or worshipping in a building such as a church or temple."

It seems the definition supports esoteric spirituality. It just isn't organized. That's what I am about - having a spiritual philosophy.
To put the quote in context, he was explaining the difference between spirituality and religion. He was stating that spirituality comes from direct experience of the ineffable and that such experiences are not a requirement of religion.
 

reefedjib

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To put the quote in context, he was explaining the difference between spirituality and religion. He was stating that spirituality comes from direct experience of the ineffable and that such experiences are not a requirement of religion.
Well, I think a more interesting discussion would be had about spirituality, not religion.
 

reefedjib

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Can you be more specific? Being a Buddhist, I know a lot about nondualism but I want to make sure we are on the same page.
My post included a link to the Wikipedia page. Did you see it. It seems links are very low key in this Look and Feel.

I am most familiar with Advaita of Vedanta and Hinduism. I have read just about everything by Vivekananda.
 

First Thought

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My post included a link to the Wikipedia page. Did you see it. It seems links are very low key in this Look and Feel.
I got the link, but the wiki page talks of transpersonal psychology and such. I didn't want to assume that you believed everything on that page. Is that the case?

I am most familiar with Advaita of Vedanta and Hinduism. I have read just about everything by Vivekananda.
I have a decent grasp of Hinduism. I've read the Bhagavad Gita :)
 

reefedjib

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I got the link, but the wiki page talks of transpersonal psychology and such. I didn't want to assume that you believed everything on that page. Is that the case?
No. I believe you are expected to jump to interesting categories, like 4 Nondualism versus monism, 5 Nondualism versus solipsism, 9.2 Hinduism 9.2.1 Advaita, and 9.6 Buddhism general. I have yet to read the Abrahamic traditions and other info as I only recently came across the term.

I have a decent grasp of Hinduism. I've read the Bhagavad Gita :)
The Bhagavad Gita is a holy book for Advaita. Read Vivekananda, his books Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yogo and Bhakti Yoga.
 

First Thought

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No. I believe you are expected to jump to interesting categories, like 4 Nondualism versus monism, 5 Nondualism versus solipsism, 9.2 Hinduism 9.2.1 Advaita, and 9.6 Buddhism general. I have yet to read the Abrahamic traditions and other info as I only recently came across the term.
Okay. This "Nondualism" is the same one that we practice in Zen. Give me an example of a nondualistic belief you hold.


The Bhagavad Gita is a holy book for Advaita. Read Vivekananda, his books Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yogo and Bhakti Yoga.
Thank you for the suggestions. I will add these to my list of books to read. :)
 

reefedjib

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Okay. This "Nondualism" is the same one that we practice in Zen. Give me an example of a nondualistic belief you hold.
I hold to the basic idea that all things are not objective, they are subjective. This is includes other consciousnesses and your own consciousness is also subjective. Being subjective, we don't interact with them as separate objects, but as perceived objects. All interaction occurs through the senses. Therefore, we have no evidence that they are real. It is a dream. Now such a time may exist when you are able to "combine" your subjective consciousness with your objective consciousness and see things as they are. This is enlightenment and according to Advaita, you will be one with God.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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"Religion is belief in a god or gods and the activities that are connected with this belief, such as praying or worshipping in a building such as a church or temple."

It seems the definition supports esoteric spirituality. It just isn't organized. That's what I am about - having a spiritual philosophy.
I wouldn't agree that a god or gods are necessary for something to qualify as a religion.
 

reefedjib

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Taoism, as far as I am aware, is more or less neutral on the topic.
Right, as is Buddhism. They are both spiritual systems.

I checked out what Nondualism has to say about Taoism. I liked this quote:

"So, both dharma and Tao refer to the way that the One, the unfathomable unity of the divine, divides into parts and manifests in the world of form.""
 

Orion

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I think that definition is applicable to institutionalized religion, but it overshadows individual experience and knowledge.

A person could read the Bible and consider themselves a Christian, but have no association with any Church. I've met people like that in my travels.

I do sort of agree that organized religion has a tendency to oppress individual spirituality, especially if the individual insights go against the grain... but nothing in this world is black and white, so I can't agree with the OP quote on principle.
 

First Thought

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Right, as is Buddhism. They are both spiritual systems.

I checked out what Nondualism has to say about Taoism. I liked this quote:

"So, both dharma and Tao refer to the way that the One, the unfathomable unity of the divine, divides into parts and manifests in the world of form.""
It's my belief that there really is something like a universal spirituality. Religions are just different flavors of the same truth. Zen has shown me that I practice all religions through my spirituality. When this state of mind is understood you simultaneously understand that labels are meaningless.
 

Orion

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I'm sorry but Buddhism and Taoism do not transcend religion, they are part of it. They both require faith in something intangible that cannot be proven. They may be better flavors of the same divine connection that all faiths share, but they are still religions.

I live in a Buddhist monastery. My illusions about them being a non-pushy philosophy went out the door a long time ago.
 

First Thought

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I'm sorry but Buddhism and Taoism do not transcend religion, they are part of it. They both require faith in something intangible that cannot be proven. They may be better flavors of the same divine connection that all faiths share, but they are still religions.

I live in a Buddhist monastery. My illusions about them being a non-pushy philosophy went out the door a long time ago.
I didn't claim that Buddhism or Taoism transcended religion.

As for the faith issue, I disagree. In my personal case, direct experience has shaped all of my metaphysical or ontological notions. So, for me, these are experiental facts.
 

Kernel Sanders

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I wanted to present this definition of religion in hopes of spurring interesting and intellectual discussion. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

"Organized religion is based on institutionalized group activity, which takes place in a designated location and involves appointed officials who may or may not have had personal experiences with spirituality. Once a religion becomes organized, it often loses it's connection with the spiritual and becomes a secular institution that exploits human spiritual needs without ever satisfying them. Organized religions tend to create hierarchical systems focused on money, power, control and politics. These are secular pursuits. Under these systems, religious hierarchy discourages it's members from having actual spiritual experiences, because they foster independence and cannot be effectively controlled. In these cases, genuine spirituality is manifested in only the mystic branches, monastic orders and ecstatic sects of the religion involved." - Stanislav Grof, M.D.

Generally speaking, I think this definition is spot on. This comes from my personal experience as well as anecdotes I have been told from friends and acquaintances about their experiences with organized religion.
This is a definition

Organized religion is based on institutionalized group activity, which takes place in a designated location and involves appointed officials who may or may not have had personal experiences with spirituality.
This is commentary

Once a religion becomes organized, it often loses it's connection with the spiritual and becomes a secular institution that exploits human spiritual needs without ever satisfying them. Organized religions tend to create hierarchical systems focused on money, power, control and politics. These are secular pursuits. Under these systems, religious hierarchy discourages it's members from having actual spiritual experiences, because they foster independence and cannot be effectively controlled. In these cases, genuine spirituality is manifested in only the mystic branches, monastic orders and ecstatic sects of the religion involved.
And pretty bad commentary at that. Broad generalizations that focus entirely on a very small subset of the negative aspects of religion. Parts are downright paranoid. "Under these systems, religious hierarchy discourages it's members from having actual spiritual experiences, because they foster independence and cannot be effectively controlled." Not only is he generalizing horribly (through my childhood I was taken to many churches and never saw any of that), but he then dives into paranoid conjecture about the shady, underhanded motives behind the supposed authoritarian, conspiratorial actions.

The pastor of my parents' church is one of the kindest, most caring people I know. Not once did I see her discourage the members of her church from having spiritual experiences, try to stifle independance, or worry that her member's spirituality was removing her ability to effectively control them. I doubt she is in the minority on that front.
 

Black Dog

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I wanted to present this definition of religion in hopes of spurring interesting and intellectual discussion. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

"Organized religion is based on institutionalized group activity, which takes place in a designated location and involves appointed officials who may or may not have had personal experiences with spirituality. Once a religion becomes organized, it often loses it's connection with the spiritual and becomes a secular institution that exploits human spiritual needs without ever satisfying them.


Organized religion is people getting together with similar beliefs. Thats it. What you describe there could be any large group minus the spirituality.

Organized religions tend to create hierarchical systems focused on money, power, control and politics. These are secular pursuits. Under these systems, religious hierarchy discourages it's members from having actual spiritual experiences, because they foster independence and cannot be effectively controlled. In these cases, genuine spirituality is manifested in only the mystic branches, monastic orders and ecstatic sects of the religion involved." - Stanislav Grof, M.D.
Again this has little to do with actual religion. It is more like pointing out how again large social groups operate including governments minus the spirituality.

Generally speaking, I think this definition is spot on. This comes from my personal experience as well as anecdotes I have been told from friends and acquaintances about their experiences with organized religion.
Your acquaintances and anecdotal evidence is far to limited to make a large and inaccurate (in many cases) assumption about the definition of religion.
 

Arch Enemy

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Whenever you define organized religion you are no longer just defining religion. Instead you are defining a refinement of the original term, religion.
 
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