Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Confusion in 'No Religion'

Here is an interesting article by Philip Hughes over on the ABC religion portal. it examines the waning of traditional religion in Australia. All is not as it seems though. 'No religion' might reflect people's inability to decide, to know what to believe, and how to develop a deeper spirituality. Some 'no religion' might be something like a default position for those confused and stuck by inertia.

Here is a quote.
"Thus, influenced by the freedom offered by the "post-traditional" culture that has developed in Australia, many people have withdrawn from the Christian faith, sometimes to a more general spirituality, sometimes to "no religion" at all.

"While many people experienced post-traditionalism as giving them freedom, and thus warmly embraced the option to make their own decisions, others found the responsibility of making their own decisions about the basic ways of approaching life and what to believe about life and the world daunting. Indeed, this has been a root cause of much insecurity in Australian culture.

"There is an interesting parallel here with occupations. While every Australian young person values the opportunity to make their own choices about what work they will do, finding the right occupation is often a very long process and causes great insecurity in the process.

"Young people jealously guard their right to make their own decisions about religious faith and spirituality. Yet they do not find those decisions easy. Few feel equipped to think through what is involved. They frequently fall, almost by default, into a non-religious, non-spiritual approach to life that focuses on the here-and-now."


  1. There are 6 basic exercise that will bring people closer to "God"

    Rudolf Steiner gave six exercises which are fundamental to his meditative work.

    No. 1 - The Control of Thought

    The first exercise has to do with the control of thinking. It is designed to keep our minds from wandering, to focus them, in order to strengthen our meditative work. There are several versions of this exercise. Here is one version:

    Select a simple object - a pin, a button, a pencil. Try to think about it exclusively for five minutes. You may think about the way the object is manufactured, how it is used, what its history is. Try to be logical and realistic in your thinking. This exercise is best if practiced faithfully every day. You may use the same object every day or a new object each day, as you choose.

  2. No. 2 - The Control of Will

    Choose a simple action to perform each day at a time you select. It should be something you do not ordinarily do; it can even be a little odd. Then make it a duty to perform this action at that time each day. Rudolf Steiner gives the example of watering a flower each day at a certain time. As you progress, additional tasks can be added at other times.

    This exercise is as hard as it is simple and takes a very strong intention to complete. To start you might think of it as you think of a dentist's appointment - you do not want to be late. It can be helpful to mark your success or failure on the calendar each day. If you completely forget at the time, but remember later, do it then and try to do better the next day.

  3. No. 3 - Equanimity

    The third exercise is the development of balance between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the heights of pleasure and the depths of despair. Strive for a balanced mood. An attempt should be made not to become immoderately angry or annoyed, not to become anxious or fearful, not to become disconcerted, nor to be overcome by joy or sorrow. Rather should your natural feelings be permitted to be quietly felt. Try to maintain your composure. This leads to an inner tranquillity and purer feelings of the soul.

  4. No. 4

    This exercise is the development of a positive attitude to life. Attempt to seek for the good, praiseworthy, and beautiful in all beings, all experiences and all things. Soon you will begin to notice the hidden good and beautiful that lies concealed in all things. This is connected with learning not to criticize everything. You can ask how something came to be or to act the way it is. One way to overcome the tendency to criticize is to learn to 'characterize' instead.

  5. No. 5

    For this exercise, make the effort to confront every new experience with complete open-mindedness. The habit of saying, "I never heard that" or "I never saw that before" should be overcome. The possibility of something completely new coming into the world must be left open, even if it contradicts all your previous knowledge and experience.

  6. No. 6

    If you have been trying the earlier exercises of thinking, will, equilibrium, positivity and tolerance, you are now ready to try them together two or three at a time, in varying combinations until they become natural and harmonious.

  7. An extract From THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY By Rudolf Steiner
    (Page 17)

    The gospels exist not only to teach, they are also books of life. The stories told in them are not just external events but inner human experiences. Christian yoga consists in entering wholly into the gospels in a living way, making this the whole life of one's own soul.
    Four things are absolutely necessary for Christian yoga to be at all possible. The first is simplicity. This is a Christian virtue. You have to understand that we have many experiences in life that make us lose our lack of bias. Almost every human being is biased. The only unbiased answers to questions come from children. But they are childish, because the children lack knowledge. We must learn to be wise and unbiased in the life of experience, as unbiased as children. This is called simplicity in Christian terms.
    The second virtue we have to acquire is that as a Christian mystic we have to rid ourselves of something many people have, and that is inner satisfaction in religious exercises. We must devote ourselves to those exercises not for personal satisfaction but because the training we follow demands it. All pleasure in religious exercises must cease.
    The third virtue is even more difficult. It calls for absolute refusal to ascribe anything whatsoever to our own skills and efficiency. Instead we must learn to ascribe it all to the divine power, the merit of God who works through us. Without this you cannot be a Christian mystic.
    The fourth virtue to be achieved is patient acceptance of whatever may come upon us. All cares, all fear must be put aside, and we must be prepared to meet what comes, be it good or ill.

  8. I have heard people say "How horrible" in reference the floods and Yasi.
    They would do better to say "Lord, please let it happen to me instead of someone else"!

    One shows a lack of understanding while the other is Christian.

  9. It's interesting how very Buddhist in nature most of these exercises are. For example with respect to the Tonglen practice - the practice of giving and receiving - simply put, part of this involves breathing in the pain of another. This frightens some people and they say, "But supposing I get that person's pain?" The Buddhist teacher replies, "Why wouldn't you want to?"