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Socrates Cafe Message Board › Spirituality


Milwaukee, WI
Post #: 2
July 19, 2008

Subject: Spirituality

Last week’s meeting was about the meaning of spirituality. After the meeting, I continued to think about the subject. Here are some of the answers that were discussed and some that were implied by the discussion:

(A1) Spirituality is a belief in things that are not material or can’t be known or proved to be true in material ways.

(A2) Spirituality is distilling or knowing the essence or pure nature of things.

(A3) Spirituality is becoming or being a purely good person.

(A4) Spirituality is an expression of and commitment to peacefulness.

(A5) Spirituality is an emotional manner of thinking and behaving.

(A6) Spirituality is a gratuitous claim of social and moral superiority.

My personal opinion is that answer A6 is closest to the truth for most people. I have sympathy for the other answers but don’t think they are a fair description of the spirituality that most people profess. I also don’t think that spiritual people are significantly better than anyone else. The personal capacity of humans to know and do things is extremely small. A pure speck of knowledge and power is better than a polluted one, but not much better. People who are always touting their spiritual purity don’t understand this point. We are all weak, insignificant, mundane, and imperfect in an absolute sense. The best of us are relatively better than the worst, but I wouldn’t hold a parade to celebrate the difference.
A former member
Post #: 1
I agree with a lot of what you have to say in that for a lot of people living a "spiritual" life is employment of some sort of unjustified belief system that conveniently allows them to feel more meaningful, when they're probably not. This said, I don't think it is commonly practiced for the purpose of feeling superior to others. For a lot of people, it's a very personal thing that allows them to feel like there's a reason for their existence.

"We are all weak, insignificant, mundane, and imperfect in an absolute sense. The best of us are relatively better than the worst, but I wouldn’t hold a parade to celebrate the difference." -- In the grand scheme of the universe, absolutely yes, but I find hope in the fact that the human mind has the capability to progress by evolution. And I feel an obligation to become the best person I can just in case it might help the process a little. The human race might become far greater than our extremely limited minds can imagine today, and while I don't get much gratification in knowing that I took part in the transformation, because i don't know if I have any effect whatsoever, the thought that by not reaching my full potential as an individual I might impede the process in the slightest--that notion makes me nauseous. Finally, on a smaller scale, while my life may mean 100% of nothing to the universe, it means everything to me. So why not reach for the stars? There's no denying that life is miraculous; what more can our response to our condition of living be other than to embrace it?

My attempt at bringing this full-circle: "Spirituality is a gratuitous claim of social and moral superiority." -- Maybe for some people, but ideally people would embrace spirituality for the sake of growing morally and mentally on an individual level. And that's a good thing, maybe the best thing a person can do.
Milwaukee, WI
Post #: 3
Hi Jessica,

I have to laugh (at myself). I just read your response to one of my posts on the Socrates Cafe message board. Our board isn't very active, unfortunately. I appreciate your response and will have to give it some thought (I am a slow thinker). I tend to regard all claims of personal spirituality to be insubstantial or imaginary forms of self-promotion. While I don't rate individual personal value very highly, I do believe that people have enormous social value or potential social value. However, social value belongs to society not to the individual members of society. People are valuable and the things they do are important but only in a social context.

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