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Featured Religion Alone

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Quintessence, Feb 14, 2017.

  1. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Religion is often defined as being a communal or community affair. We come to this understanding in large part because of the prevailing religions of Western culture. In these same prevailing religions, authority tends to be vested externally in figures such as prophets, texts, and priests. The role of individual exploration is downplayed, and perhaps discouraged. In spite of this, the notion of "religion alone" can still be found in Western religious traditions and is particularly prevalent in new or progressive religious movements.

    What do you think about the idea of solitary religion, or religion alone? Is the religious path you identify with characterized by community participation, or by what you do on your own? What is the role of solitary work within your religious tradition, if any? What are the benefits of practicing religion alone, versus practicing religion with other people?
     
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  2. bobhikes

    bobhikes Liveinthenowist
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    The religion I practice seems to be both. Clearly I am responsible for myself. I alone determine my outcome with God. There is an unwritten requirement or religious laws that indicate I have a responsibility to the group. I should include myself it group activities to help others, to protest or to vote a certain way. I should be an active member in the religions society.

    The benefits of practicing alone, my outcome is a direct result of my actions.
    The benefits of practicing in a group are support, larger results and a diffusion of responsibility.
     
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  3. PopeADope

    PopeADope Habemus papam

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    I get most nourishment spiritually when in solitude.
     
  4. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    For me personally, it's both, and both are important. The role of solitary work is to go deep within, both searching for, and occasionally discovering truths about humanity, truths (not always positive) about oneself, and then working in various ways to correct faults, right wrongs in processing, maintain a clear environment, and clear mind, and further develop the soul. In Hinduism, this is called sadhana, and it's pretty deep for me personally.

    The world of people is where these discoveries are applied. It is one huge opportunity to explore human behaviour, all to support or uncover what is learned in the sadhana. It is one thing to intellectually think that God is All and in All, another to realise it fully, and yet another to be able to apply it in daily life.

    The world is also the place to support the brotherhood of mankind, to dialogue, to love, to attend to, to laugh, to live life joyously.

    So the two are intertwined.

    Thanks for another insightful thread, Q.
     
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  5. Carlita

    Carlita The Unveiled Artist

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    Religion in and of itself edit isn't defined by how many members are part of the group. It is just the traditions, practices, and beliefs the person or people hold as sacred (or however named) and/or at high value.

    I personally rather have a communal religion where everyone has the same foundations, practices, etc and have ways they grow on their own as well as with those of like-mind.

    It's more work with religion-alone and it takes more discrimination on what one wants to believe or practice vs. what one actually believes and/or dedicates themselves to practice.

    By my own.

    Role? I don't understand what you mean.

    Benefits of practicing alone is you have a lot more flexibility to learn and grow at your own pace. It leaves you with a wealth of knowledge from various sources that in themselves contradict but you get to decide how they work for you (at the end of all things said). Working alone is somewhat of an initiation to test yourself in what you believe is true compared to what you know is true. You get to test your beliefs and facts and, as my interpreting teacher says, test our ELK language to know how our background influences how we perceive the world and interpret it not only in language (which is the point of my class) but in our culture as well.

    On the other end of the spectrum, we are social beings. We usually grow when we have a healthy family, community, and environment to support us in our everyday survival needs to, if we are lucky to have this, in our self-identity needs as well.

    Since we are social beings, it would be ignorant for me to say that religion, as a personal lifestyle, would not be part of a person's social life. How that person lives their religion, their communication, and well-being depends on the religion they uphold. If they are with people of like-mind, it helps confirm what they know is true is not just for them (as if they are special) but part of a pack.

    The drawbacks is you get a lot of feedback negative or positive from others if you slip-up. Many religious communities grow together where norms are develop. So if one goes out of their norm even if they don't believe in the religion itself can disrupt the "family." We are cultural human beings.

    The advantage of working alone is mainly freedom, self-pace exploration, and non-attachment. A lot of this is an American-want given our tendency to want to be "independent" and do things on our own. Be our own person. Own our own business. And so forth. Many cultures and sub-cultures in America are not like that. They both have their benefits and drawbacks.

    I focused on culture since religion is embedded in culture.
     
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  6. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    I think we have a strong biological urge to preserve energy to the detriment of community interaction. This urge is physical and also mental. We not only prefer to do nothing but also to think nothing. It is easy to be a loner, to take and never give. What takes discipline is dealing with other people. A loner religion is not comparable to a shared one.
     
  7. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    Both. Religion is a deeply personal experience. But community also plays a large part because we are social creatures. Few are the loner type. We want human interaction. We need social bonding.
    In saying that, though, very few Easterners typically pry into the personal religious beliefs of their fellow believer. At least not many Dharmics. People are free to do their own thing and only come together for large scale ritual things, like a prayer meeting in a temple/church whatever, or a festival. And food of course. Even still among the group you will have all sorts of differing schools with their own different beliefs. It's more or less a social event and a community feast, with praying as the backdrop. No one at Temple, at least from what I've seen, thinks twice about so called religious barriers. My devoutly Hindu mother happily attends Easter and Christmas mass with her friends without so much as a second thought. She even attends Sikh religous gatherings on occasion. And probably went to a Mosque at least once. If we befriend a Jewish person I have no doubt that she would attend a Jewish service.
     
    #7 SomeRandom, Feb 14, 2017
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  8. allfoak

    allfoak Alchemist

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    Living communally is difficult, it takes lifelong commitment and sacrifice to the group and it's teachings.
    Community religion, what i call going to church, has its benefits for many but is very limited in its effectiveness because of the need to appeal to such a large group of people.

    Religion Alone:
    Since truth is to be found within, then i would say religion has always been meant to be primarily a private affair.
    That does not mean however that what is known should not be used.
    Most of us understand the law of use.
    Use what we have for the good of others, so that what we have will continue to be available to use for the good of others.
     
  9. Terese

    Terese ॐ ātmā na deho'smi viṣṇu-śeṣo-parigrahaḥ
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    Religion to me is a highly individual affair.
     
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  10. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    For me "religion" is both a personal individual vocation or discipline as well as being a member of the community....

    The personal aspect includes reciting privately an obligatory prayer... No body checks to see that I recite that prayer it's up to me... my spiritual obligation to recite it.

    During the Fast (we Fast from food and drink between sunrise and sunset nineteen days a year) that we have ... No one stands over me to see that I observe the Fast from sunrise to sunset. No reports on me if I don't Fast..

    No body sees that I read the Writings at dawn as recommended.. It's personal.

    If I go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land... It's personal.

    If I pay Huquq or contribute to the Cause it's a personal choice.

    There are communal aspects in the Faith... I live in a community. What I do and how I live has effects in the larger community. I married in the Faith.. to do that we ( my wife and I) had to secure the free permission of our living parents. We accomplished this and they have been supportive of us and our children from the beginning!

    I chose a career that involved helping others rather than one that primarily involved monetary gain as the prime motivation... My choice of careers was largely motivated by my religious views.

    I participate in my community ... We have regular gatherings where we pray and consult on issues facing our community. I also occasionally join with my friends to accomplish various things such as supporting classes on various subjects related to our Faith.

    So as you can see religion for me as been both personal and communal.
     
    #10 arthra, Feb 15, 2017
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  11. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    of course I draw the line a bit differently as a......rogue theologian
    I have no religion

    I don't mind being around people that have a practice
    but I have no ritual or litany of prayer

    rather much on my own
     
  12. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    It is interesting to think about the role of responsibility in the practicing of religion by oneself or in a group. @Brickjectivity mentioned in a later response that they feel it is easier to be a loner, but when I think about the issue of responsibility in particular, it is hard to view it that way. If you are doing things by yourself, that's taking on a huge responsibility. And a lot of work. You can't delegate tasks to others, you have to do all of it on your own. If you don't do something with your religion, nothing happens with it - nobody is there to pick up you slacking off. To me, that makes solitary paths much more rigorous and challenging than having a group to lean on for support. You have to be very self-motivated to keep it going, as nobody is there to mind yourself for you.
     
  13. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    The podcast I was listening to that inspired this thread briefly touched upon this. For the person being interviewed, they felt this way too, but also recognized that for some others it is different. I wonder if it might be a function of the introversion-extroversion spectrum of human personalities?
     
  14. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    I would tend to agree, but I've also run across the notion that there is no such thing as a religion of one, and that religions by definition must be shared by a group of people. As someone whose religious demographic is basically full of a bunch of solitary practitioners, or "religions of one," that's obviously going to color my perspective on this topic. There are Pagan groups out there, but the nature of the movement makes those the exception to the general rule of religion alone for us.


    Could you expand a bit more on this notion of what one wants to believe or practice versus what one actually believes or practices? I feel like there's something interesting to explore there.



    Role. Function. Purpose. What do you use solitary work for, if applicable?



    Hah... I hadn't thought about the connection this topic could have with the individualist nature of American (and more broadly, Western) culture. It's curious that in a society that is generally "lone gunslinger" would have such a strong bastion of community-based religion. You would think that we would be a nation of "religion alone" practitioners, but that is not the case. Maybe we retain the community-based foundation because America inherited religious institutions from centuries past that were not modeled on solitary practice?
     
  15. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    I originally wrote a much longer post but pruned it heavily. I recognize some people are self starters, but most people are not. Some people have the best capability: strength, beauty, fortune and intelligence. Other people have the worst capability: weakness, ugliness, poverty and idiocy. Most people fall between. Most people also are not self motivated and need help to get things done. Forgive me for quoting a scripture but "Go to the ant, thou sluggard" is not directed to people like you, but you might be like an ant always looking ahead and getting things done. You are the ant that the sluggards need. That is how I see it, and I'm not trying to pressure you into becoming a religious leader. I'm saying that I think that while yes you might function well on your own, that other people do not want to function alone or cannot.
     
  16. Carlita

    Carlita The Unveiled Artist

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    In general, I'd say that's the common definition. I wouldn't say someone who can only practice alone isn't religious by definition. Unless that person doesn't have traditions and practices that support her belief, I'd consider her to have a religion (religion of one) just as the coven of practitioners beside her.

    I do try to get out of the association of what religion, god, and spirituality is as how it is defined by our christian environment. I'd liken it to the definition of god. If god was commonly associated with a creator figure of love and so forth; then, do Pagans actually believe in any god? There are flexibility in the terms unless going by strict dictionary definition; but, that would be putting people in a box.

    Can you rephrase this "There are Pagan groups out there, but the nature of the movement makes those the exception to the general rule of religion alone for us."?

    I can only compare this to my own religious experiences.

    It's like I've practiced and/or interested in Catholicism, Paganism, Lukumi, Buddhism, and possibly Hindu. I'm an atheist. Probably pantheist (as since I came on RF :confused: ), and animist. I like the strict devotion of Muslim faith, the variety of ways to see life in Hindu, the communion and union in Catholicism, and so on and so forth. These are things I "want" to believe if the situation befalls me

    ...but what I want to believe and what I know is true are two different things. If I know something is true, I no longer need to believe in it. I have knowledge. I wouldn't say discredit beliefs. If, for example, someone asked me "explain why you believe two and two is four" I can do so with knowledge and trust of accuracy in my math. If I believed two and two is five and disregarded the facts just based my life on the belief, if someone asked me the same question, how can I answer objectively?

    When we believe something and we say it is based on reality it should make sense in the general scheme of things. It should at least have some sort of attachment to how reality works. For example, in my point of view, I can be happy and well-settled that two and two is five. The very fact it does not, upsets my general sense of reality. Morals and beliefs are one thing. Practices and facts are another. How do you make two and two is five in practice not just by morals and what we want to believe is true?

    Isn't there descrimination in our religion that what we believe is based on reality or the world as it is objectively as well as or not just what we believe or even want to believe is true?

    What is it about westerners to descredit the physical in light of the spiritual (or however termed)?

    So, basically, my point, sorry, is what we want to believe (two and two is five) can help us a lot. In religion of one, a person has the benefit and freedom to believe as he or she chooses. In my personal opinion, if I can't practice it (I can't make two and two five) and it doesn't physical not just morally connect with reality, that math problem doesn't help me make sense of the world.​

    Now, on the other hand, many people use myths, creative stories, and so forth to understand reality and life. If it is used as a learning tool, then religion of one or group religions would be in the same boat. When using these stories as facts; then, they don't align themselves to reality, and I can't make sense of the world in something that, well, doesn't make sense.

    So the religions and philosophies I concerned what I want to believe and went down to what I know is fact. With that, the stories related to say my ancestors reflect reality because it is based on something I know not just something I believe.

    Makes sense?

    Communing with ancestors and family in spirit takes time to build a relationship beyond offerings and asking for advice. So, having that relationship, it's a one person thing because I am the only one that knows my family if I were in a group religion. That would mean solitary work is for personal practices while you have other practices that are done as a group. It depends on the relationship with the people you with and how much you trust each person. In the Church, people have Mass together but after or before Mass, each individual person may choose to go to a saint stature that calls to them. They have private prayer there. It's personal.

    It builds intimate relationship with the god(s) you believe in, for example.

    I honestly think we abused the community-based foundation and became protest -ants in the process. I feel originally we were a community-based country before people wanted to be on their lone-some. Also, it could be based on our history of separation between England (right?) and the US. Like a child may lean towards his mother or father during the divorce and maybe the divorce would influence that child where he or she sees moral grounding in divorce if for the "right" reasons.

    I can give you more resources about "American Culture". We actually do have one but I was reading that Americans deny it because they feel culture is based on geographic locations. That's one of many reasons why I hate the word "westerners" in application to what we believe and others. We shouldn't be ashamed of our culture just know it more and how that affects how we relate to self, others, and environment. Wanting to be individuals isn't a bad thing. Not many people want to be around family. The compare and contrast among "westeners" (yes, I said it :)) is annoying but part of our culture too.
     
  17. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    The way I see it, religion does indeed require an element of individual exploration, which can have any degree of emphasis from infrequent to exclusive.

    Still, there is certainly validity in communal religious work as well. It is not well-suited to all people nor to all environments, but there are definitely strong upsides to it.

    Both solitary and communal religious practice have dangers of their own, which may be a reason to attempt to alternate and reconcile both. Individual exploration brings much-needed innovation and personal certainty on various issues and stances, while communal interchange may often be necessary to open the way for purpose and learning from others.

    The main dangers of too much individual exploration would seem to me the risks of continuous self-validation, loss of ability to interact constructively with others, and all-out delusion or even mental imbalance.

    The main dangers of too much communal practice probably include the risk of creating unhealthy relationships where people sink together without necessarily realizing it.
     
  18. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    and then of course......Moses, John and Jesus spent time alone

    It proved dangerous returning to the public podium
     
  19. PopeADope

    PopeADope Habemus papam

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    Yes I think you're on to something
     
  20. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    such as Jesus and the Pharisees?