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Beyond Belief (Part 3)
John Aufenanger
 April 30 2024 at 04:31 pm
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I called myself a writer for a long time. Now, writing is unpleasant because, 1. It's unnecessary; I have nothing true to say, and 2. My "rightness" is utterly dependent on everyone else's "wrongness," and I can't run that story anymore. Right and wrong are words that never come into contact with reality. Believing in something called "other people," society, politics, philosophies, just doesn't make any sense. To speak of "they" or "them" no longer makes any sense. "They" only occurs in imagination; there is no third person in direct experience. Likewise, there's not a single true story in any news media anywhere. Previously, attachments to ideas allowed me to pretend one point of view was "true," another "false," but that's gone. Nothing that is said in an objective way - no event or crisis - is found in the experience. So, my question is: as far as "acting in 'the world'" is concerned, HOW? More to the point, WHY? This is an apology for my silence. Endless conflict - not with imagined "others" but with ideas appearing as people - is the only possible outcome of discursive engagement. There is a way of communicating, or transmitting, which rings true, but it is not this. I continue to read your offerings, and I comment very occasionally when moved to do so. Much pain, much wonder. That movement comes from something that isn't "me." It is the heart speaking - not "mine" anymore than yours; there is One. Perhaps a better word for "One" is "All." Means the same, in this case. I neither agree nor disagree, but I feel each of your realities as I read them with love, for there's no other way to do anything. Nothing can be done through any other motivation. It is either from love that is sought because it seems to be missing, and this is why we hurt one another with wars and desires and governments and abstract ideas, or love that is experienced, and this is why we are considerate and compassionate and polite, and cooperative. We're all this. So, I could pretend to be on a mission to somehow "give" you the experience that I experience, so that you too can know this peace that I know, but that is just pretending - re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as it were. No one in History has ever said anything other than "God" in diverse, confusing, and contradictory ways because there is nothing else to say, because there is nothing else at all. This world is not "other than." It is not separate from You. It appears IN You. You cannot make the world "better" by pretending otherwise and interfering with "others." What others? Right now there is You here - which is also known as "I" and "Us." All Faiths are One. Now, think on this: I say there is One God, but I also say "your" God is "wrong" and "mine" is "right." How many? Now there are two gods? No, that's just stupid. There is One, known by many names, including None. If we truly believed in One God as we claim we do, how does rightness and wrongness make any sense? There is One. No one could possibly be speaking of a different One. This is exactly the same as Us: there is One, known by many names, including my name and yours. Names are also words that never come into contact with Reality. Would we argue about our names? No, of course not - they are what they are. So why on earth argue about God? Clearly, we are not. We can only argue about ideas. Ideas aren't real. What are you, really? Are you a body? Are you a sex? Are you a race? Are you an "identity?" Of course not - You are You. You are Everything. There's no such thing as an experience of body and mind, and Ego, and personality, individual identity - no experience of a world at all - without You who seem to have the experience of it. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light." Look into the "I" - the sense of "I." Our brother could not have been more clear and direct. Ask yourself, what is this "I" that I am? Reject all answers that come in the forms of words. "A glass of water" will never become a glass of water. A "rock" is never a rock, a "tree" is never a tree, a "person" is never a person. Words are abstract. Simply be still, and know directly the "I" - that intimately known sense which is self-evident - is God. No belief is necessary. In fact, belief is antithetical to truth. If the point of Religion were to cause conflict by asking us to "believe" in an abstract idea, then carry on killing each other on behalf of falsehood. This is, in that case, what you want. And yes, in our beliefs it is in us to want to kill and to do harm seemingly for its own sake. Religions are historically quite adept in this endeavor - the political religion most of all. But, if the point were to introduce us to God the Reality - face to face - just reflect on the implications of this, for this is the only legitimate purpose of language, to point us towards Reality as Christ did. "You" are the Way. Nothing happens "outside" You. Look into this deeply. It will not harm you. To arrive at the required word count I will repeat this, but this is where it ends, Please and Thank You, Bless You, Thank You. I called myself a writer for a long time. Now, writing is unpleasant because, 1. It's unnecessary; I have nothing true to say, and 2. My "rightness" is utterly dependent on everyone else's "wrongness," and I can't run that story anymore. Right and wrong are words that never come into contact with reality. Believing in something called "other people," society, politics, philosophies, just doesn't make any sense. To speak of "they" or "them" no longer makes any sense. "They" only occurs in imagination; there is no third person in direct experience. Likewise, there's not a single true story in any news media anywhere. Previously, attachments to ideas allowed me to pretend one point of view was "true," another "false," but that's gone. Nothing that is said in an objective way - no event or crisis - is found in the experience. So, my question is: as far as "acting in 'the world'" is concerned, HOW? More to the point, WHY?This is an apology for my silence. Endless conflict - not with imagined "others" but with ideas appearing as people - is the only possible outcome of discursive engagement. There is a way of communicating, or transmitting, which rings true, but it is not this. I continue to read your offerings, and I comment very occasionally when moved to do so. Much pain, much wonder. That movement comes from something that isn't "me." It is the heart speaking - not "mine" anymore than yours; there is One. Perhaps a better word for "One" is "All." Means the same, in this case. I neither agree nor disagree, but I feel each of your realities as I read them with love, for there's no other way to do anything. Nothing can be done through any other motivation. It is either from love that is sought because it seems to be missing, and this is why we hurt one another with wars and desires and governments and abstract ideas, or love that is experienced, and this is why we are considerate and compassionate and polite, and cooperative. We're all this.So, I could pretend to be on a mission to somehow "give" you the experience that I experience, so that you too can know this peace that I know, but that is just pretending - re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as it were. No one in History has ever said anything other than "God" in diverse, confusing, and contradictory ways because there is nothing else to say, because there is nothing else at all. This world is not "other than." It is not separate from You. It appears IN You. You cannot make the world "better" by pretending otherwise and interfering with "others." What others? Right now there is You here - which is also known as "I" and "Us." All Faiths are One. Now, think on this: I say there is One God, but I also say "your" God is "wrong" and "mine" is "right." How many? Now there are two gods? No, that's just stupid. There is One, known by many names, including None. If we truly believed in One God as we claim we do, how does rightness and wrongness make any sense? There is One. No one could possibly be speaking of a different One. This is exactly the same as Us: there is One, known by many names, including my name and yours. Names are also words that never come into contact with Reality. Would we argue about our names? No, of course not - they are what they are.What are you, really? Are you a body? Are you a sex? Are you a race? Are you an "identity?" Of course not - You are You. You are Everything. There's no such thing as an experience of body and mind, and Ego, and personality, individual identity - no experience of a world at all - without You."I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light." Look into the "I" - the sense of "I." Our brother could not have been more clear and direct. Ask yourself, what is this "I" that I am? Reject all answers that come in the forms of words. "A glass of water" will never become a glass of water. A "rock" is never a rock, a "tree" is never a tree, a "person" is never a person. Words are abstract. Simply be still, and know directly the "I" - that intimately known sense which is self-evident - is God. No belief is necessary. In fact, belief is antithetical to truth.If the point of Religion were to cause conflict by asking us to "believe" in an abstract idea, then carry on killing each other on behalf of falsehood. This is, in that case, what you want. And yes, in our beliefs it is in us to want to kill and to do harm seemingly for its own sake. Religions are historically quite adept in this endeavor - the political religion most of all. But, if the point were to introduce us to God the Reality - face to face - just reflect on the implications of this, for this is the only legitimate purpose of language, to point us towards Reality as Christ did. "You" are the Way. Nothing happens "outside" You.Look into this deeply. It will not harm you.To arrive at the required word count I will repeat this, but this is where it ends, Please and Thank You, Bless You, Thank You.
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The huge rise of ‘New Age’ weddings in Ireland
angelobottone
 May 16 2024 at 11:07 am
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While the number of Catholic marriages in Ireland is steeply declining, new data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) highlights the rise of ceremonies belonging to “other religious denominations”, to use the CSO’s term. Now, you might think this means Muslim ceremonies, or perhaps those that take place in African Pentecostal churches, but these account for only a tiny fraction of the total (see table below). The vast majority of the ceremonies, in fact, really belong under the very broad heading ‘New Age’. They increased from 5.3pc of the total in 2018 to 15.8pc last year, growing from 1,009 to 3,259 in absolute numbers — a three-fold increase in just five years. The ceremonies incorporate elements from many different religions, as a couple choose. They can be extremely eclectic. There is no particular coherence to them in that they don’t come from a systematic religious worldview that can be called ‘Christian’, or Buddhist’, or ‘Muslim’ or ‘Hindu’. This is why the term ‘New Age’ might be most appropriate, even if some who act as the celebrants themselves, or even the couples involved, might resist the label. We use it here for short-hand. To the category “other religious ceremonies” must be added ‘Spiritualist’ ones, which were nonexistent ten years ago and are not included in the “other religious” cohort by the CSO. These now account for 7.9pc of all marriages and also borrow from any and all religions depending on the taste of the couple. This means what can very broadly be termed ‘New Age’ or ‘spiritual’ wedding ceremonies now account for almost a quarter of all weddings in Ireland. The majority of these ceremonies are conducted by brand new organisations, the Spiritualist Union of Ireland being one. Another is ‘Entheos Ireland’, which only registered with the HSE three years ago. According to data provided to the Iona Institute by the CSO, Entheos ministries officiated at 623 marriages in 2023. They currently have 81 solemnisers approved by the State, compared with only five Muslim solemnisers and about 20 from various Orthodox churches. Spiritual groups such as Entheos and One Spirit tailor their religious ceremonies to the preferences of the spouses, presenting themselves as 'inclusive, embracing people of every faith and none,' without referencing any specific deity or belief system unless requested. Entheos says it was founded “to serve people who have been ostracised, marginalised or otherwise left behind by traditional faith paths on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, nationality, parental / family status or any other reason.” Another group is ‘One Spirit Interfaith Ministers’. They describe themselves as “ordained interfaith ministers embodying a vibrant and meaningful response to the changing spiritual needs of our times.” They say they are “of service to people of all faiths and none.” There are many other similar groups offering their services to engaged couples including ‘The Earth Spiritualist Tradition’, ‘One Spirit Ireland’, and ‘One World Ministers’. Many of the ‘New Age’ wedding ceremonies involved couples or individuals entering a second or third marriage. Data provided to the Iona Institute by the CSO reveal that the number of first marriages among “other religious” ceremonies is significantly lower than among traditional Christian denominations, likely because these groups also offer ceremonies for divorced individuals, which may partly explain their growing popularity. They are also very popular among same-sex couples. Of the 646 same-sex marriages celebrated in 2023, 145 (22pc) were with “other religion” ceremonies and 70 (11pc) with Spiritualist ones. The rise of non-denominational religious ceremonies is a new trend that reveals the need to mark important events in life with some form of non-institutional religious rituals. Those who feel they do not belong to a religion, often still have religious beliefs of some sort and these new organisations (which charge €600 on average for a wedding) are emerging to satisfy their needs. As for the broader picture, last year there were 20,513 opposite-sex marriages in Ireland, and 646 involving same-sex couples. Of the opposite-sex ones, 86pc were first marriages, a slight decline from 88pc in 2013. Our marriage rate last year was 4.0 per 1,000 adults—one of the lowest rates in Europe and a decrease from 4.5 ten years ago. In other words, fewer people are getting married but the percentage of those who remarried after a divorce has increased. The proportion of marriages conducted through religious ceremonies has obviously decreased, representing 60pc of all marriages last year, down from 70.5pc in 2013. Notably, Catholic marriages have dramatically declined from 62.5pc a decade ago to just 35.3pc in 2023. Among first marriages, 40pc were celebrated in a Catholic church. The face of marriage in Ireland is indeed changing very rapidly and the rise in ‘New Age’ ceremonies reflects the drift away from institutional religion of all types. At the same time, there is still clearly a taste for wedding ceremonies to have religious or ‘spiritual’ trappings of some sort and therefore we are not becoming as secular as some people think. – – – “Other religious” solemnisers

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