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Spirituality; a non-theist exploration (larger capacity venue)

Topic: 

From a non-theist point of view we'll explore mankind's spiritual quest from various perspectives. We'll start by examining the definition of spirituality and the various ways it has been interpreted. We'll move on to a historical perspective examining both the traditional spiritual pathways and how the notion of spirituality has changed and possibly evolved over time. We'll do a cross examination of those perspectives comparing their fundamental spiritual tenets. We'll move on to modern interpretations exploring alternative spiritual pathways as well as what insight science can offer to a greater understanding. In the interest of maintaining a broad impartial scope we will also include a segment exploring what insights can be gained from a paranormal spiritual perspective.

Although the focus will be on spiritual issues, aspects of religion (i.e. God, faith, etc.) will most likely be explored as they relate to spiritual understanding. 

Format:

This meetup will be the first of an ongoing series of larger meetups held at the Ethical Society. The events will be held at the Ethical Society's basement community room. It's a large space (80 person capacity), but won't get any design awards (very basic).  This event type will feature a presentation to guide the discussion and then follow up questions. Our plan is to break up the larger group into multiple discussion circles. 

Social:

This meetup will be primarily a discussion, but in the spirit (pardon the pun) of encouraging a more Junto-like ( Ben Franklin's discussion\social group)  dynamic, we would like to foster an atmosphere for making new connections and socializing. To achieve this goal we will 1) facilitate mixing and 2) end the formal meetup at 8:30 allowing members to more freely mix and exchange with other members. 

Note:

We are charging a bit more for this event type as we are renting the space at the Ethical Society and offering refreshments and boxed wine. 

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  • frank g.

    Looking forward to the next meet-up. Let me know!

    September 20, 2014

  • Charles N.

    This link has an interesting price from Sam Harris' book tour, which will hit Philly in a few weeks.

    https://blu180.mail.live.com/?tid=cm8hiVahNA5BG-4hBgS7LSJA2&fid=flinbox

    September 20, 2014

  • Scottfree Fun K.

    Spirituality is a false concept, because spirits do not exist. We live in a material world. Spiritual and supernatural fantacies are not real. We need to focuc on improving our real material and natural. not unreal 'spiritual and unnatural/supernatural,' world.

    August 18, 2014

    • Vince M.

      Martin, what was clear to me from the research I did was that spirituality does not have one definition or meaning. It means different things to different people. To you it might mean gobbledygook, to someone else (and the probably is in the many millions) it can mean something very meaningful and profound. Whether a given person's opinion is right or wrong is not for another to say. I have always been an agnostic, but I also believe that each person is entitled to make their own mind up about the degree to which any given idea is gobbledygook or not. My definition of spirituality is essentially that which inspires me, and for me my version of spirituality is very profound and meaningful (to me).

      August 27, 2014

    • Barbara P.

      As the person who brought up altruism, I would like to clarify our discussion. My point was with word definitions, which are often the unnecessary crux of an argument. My attempt was to clarify this. Compassion can exist without a response. Altruism by definition requires an action. I believe this was what Martin was attempting to convey, and I apologize if my clarifications added to the confusion.

      September 5, 2014

  • Barbara P.

    I enjoyed the meetup immensely. The acoustics made discussion difficult, unfortunately, but the venue might work out better if the discussion groups were smaller so that in-group conversations didn't need to be shouted.

    1 · August 24, 2014

    • Barbara P.

      May I suggest that continued use of the basement room would benefit if we had 4-5 smaller groups, pushed toward the corners. Part of the acoustic challenge here is that we cannot arrange ourselves into a close circle, so that discussions can be kept at a conversational level. I understand the desirability of the larger groups for more diverse viewpoints, but the room arrangement makes this difficult without noise becoming an issue.

      September 5, 2014

    • Barbara P.

      For this particular room, I would suggest groups of about 10.

      September 5, 2014

  • frank g.

    I agree with Katie--compassion and respect for one another is essential. i have only attended one non-theist spirituality event and I am excited to contribute to future discussions. So far my thoughts have been about what we have in common--a desire for connection and validation as human beings!

    September 1, 2014

  • John H.

    The act of learning is the act of reshaping personal mental models or belief systems. We use words to such as "spirituality" to discuss aspects of our mental models. Each word by itself is relatively flimsy and ambiguous when not supported by the full context of the user's larger mental model. This is where we often struggle.

    Ultimately each of us is, at an emotional level, is more or less attached to our personal belief system (because it is our identity). For those things to which we have the deepest emotional attachment our egos will tend to "protect" us from change (and learning itself) because by evolving our models we are altering our identity. This means that strange (or faulty) ideas can be perceived as dangerous.

    Loving discussion and debate are powerfully beautiful things that we can use to safely allow our models to collide, interact and reform. This exchange of ideas is at once the process of understanding each other and the opportunity for us to evolve our identity.

    August 28, 2014

    • John H.

      But then again perhaps Viktor Frankl knows more about the subject than I, having spent significantly more time at the boundary that have I....

      http://mister300.blog...­

      August 29, 2014

    • Bruce C.

      We don't need to get to Frankl's impossible experience to validate your thoughtful words, John. I think you're spot-on in describing the challenges we all face in our efforts to seek the objective truth, if there is such a thing. Very well said.

      August 31, 2014

  • Katie

    We appreciate passion and conviction and we also appreciate difference of opinion. We are a group that has to be respectful and open to others views and when expressing our own, extend the same courtesy. After careful review we have decided that a ban or discussion/threat of a ban was not warranted but we ask members to select their words with kindness and respect so that we can continue to have these open discourses without insulting our fellow thinkers. Be
    kind to one another.

    3 · August 29, 2014

    • Martin C.

      CJ, Thanks for your support. I do not wish to continue the discussion any further on this forum. We can discuss the matter offline.

      1 · August 30, 2014

    • Bruce C.

      Beautifully said, Katie. Beautifully said, CJ.

      August 31, 2014

  • Martin C.

    Having trouble putting your spiritual thoughts into words?
    I just came across this site and found it rather amusing: http://sebpearce.com/bullshit/ and had to share it. The text generated looks an awful lot like the stuff written by people who would have you believe they are uttering profound truths.
    Kumbaya.

    August 20, 2014

    • Charles N.

      I think the aggressive tone some of the back and forth has taken since the meeting speaks to the fact that this stuff gets under people's skin. It's not just ivory tower intellectual discussion. Keeping the doors open to each other in this heated atmosphere is a challenge, but one which we (and the human race) need to face. The human search for meaning preceded religion and will survive it, granted we all do.

      2 · August 28, 2014

    • Martin C.

      Charles, I completely agree. In fact, I think you have said the sum total of what can be said on this subject. The remainder lies beyond the power of words. What is the best way of honoring the unspeakable? With silence of course. Now let us move on to talk about those matters that can be spoken about.

      1 · August 29, 2014

  • frank g.

    I suggested trying to get the space upstairs, on 2nd floor for future meetings

    August 25, 2014

    • Vince M.

      The rental cost is much higher for the assembly room. Given an uncertain turnout it's not the wisest move to rent space there when we could easily wind up not covering our costs.

      August 27, 2014

  • Bruce C.

    Great job tonight, Vince & company. Loved it!

    August 19, 2014

    • Vince M.

      Thanks Bruce, good meeting you.

      August 20, 2014

  • Ginger

    Vince, you deserve combat pay for last night. Great job, thank you.

    1 · August 19, 2014

  • Bruce C.

    I consider that an absolutely existential question, John!

    2 · August 18, 2014

    • Brian

      Yes, and perhaps a spiritual one. For example, an intense spiritual experience which allows us to deeply feel our interconnection with the environment and other people might lead to more public transport. Conversely, a more individualistic spiritual experience, or the spirit of freedom, possibility, and transgression, might lead one to find ways around the parking laws that don't necessarily help save the planet or other people (parachuting out of a helicopter into a nearby park?... self-delivery by drone? j/k... folding scooters, collapsible motorcycle-suitcases).

      August 18, 2014

    • John H.

      If you spot a collapsible motorcycle-suitcase in front of the building ... it's me... and I'm trapped inside, so please if you'd be so kind take a moment and let me out.

      August 18, 2014

  • John H.

    Here's a mundane question for the tonight's meet up... "Any recommendations for parking?"

    August 18, 2014

    • Vince M.

      Below Walnut Street (I think) you should be able to park on the street for free after 6:30 pm. (2 hour limit before 6:30). I usually park west of Rittenhouse Square.

      1 · August 18, 2014

  • frank g.

    Scott, I am glad that you liked my comment. Perhaps, you could give your viewpoint on the subject matter as well as why you liked my comment.

    August 18, 2014

  • Marc Z

    Hey Vince; I wanted to add a +1 and I dont see where I can do it. Can you help?

    August 16, 2014

    • Vince M.

      When you click on "Your RSVP" it will give an option to add one or more guests

      August 17, 2014

  • David S.

    Before we differentiate between theism and spirituality, perhaps we should define God/god as well as spirituality in both the Judeo-Christian and Hindu-Buddhist motifs. Bring any ideas.

    August 15, 2014

  • Martin C.

    There are a number of humanist organizations worldwide. Here is a declaration of principles from one of them http://iheu.org/humanism/the-amsterdam-declaration/ Is there anything that is missing from the definition of spiritual? I would much prefer to describe myself as humanist, though if someone else wants to say that I am a spiritual non-theist, it is not worth arguing over.

    August 14, 2014

  • Martin C.

    I confess a bit of skepticism regarding atheistic spirituality. I did a Web search on this topic and did not come across very much. I will continue to see what I can find. Be warned that when I attend, I will be looking for specific examples of how this notion can be applied.

    August 5, 2014

    • Brian

      Martin---1. Agree about Buddhism as practiced by most people in Asia. However, there are many secular Buddhists, especially in the US/Europe (practicing meditation & the non-supernatural philosophical, psychological, & ethical teachings, often updated or altered). Scholars, including at least some Buddhist monks, have made a strong case that the core Buddhist teachings & practices are secular, or at least naturalistic. "Rebirth" is plausibly reinterpreted as belief in an illusory concept of self, & "nirvana" is liberation from the suffering caused by attachment to self. (Just took a Princeton mooc devoted partly to this argument.) In Mahayana, gods are often interpreted as pragmatic archetypes that are manifestations of emptiness, & rituals are opportunities for mindfulness or guided imagery.

      August 13, 2014

    • Brian

      2. The "truth" part is also important there, since "good" is referring to ethical truth & life's value despite struggle. Purely epistemic & !positivebias -> radical skepticism. 3. Spirits as neurological muses / imagery->literally spirit-ual. Likewise flow as inspiration, flowing as if possessed by the spirit of the task (extreme traditional form being spirit possession). 4. Agree it's problematic. Perhaps not immediately observable nor wholly provable just through present-moment observation.

      August 13, 2014

  • John H.

    This morning I was musing on the topic of this meet up while driving back to Pennsylvania from Florida and it occurred to me that the forms of spirituality have been fairly well covered within the religions that we've managed to invent so far... and then I made the connection back to one of my blog posting where I took a programmer's / database architect's perspective on the range of spiritual possibilities that might be considered when starting a religious order... The list of options I came up with is intended to be fairly exhaustive (but I'm sure I missed a bunch of angles)...

    http://neoheurist.blogspot.com/2014/08/so-you-want-to-start-religion.html

    From this inventory I would expect that a really cool mobile application and/or web site could be created to allow the definition of new religions...

    August 9, 2014

  • Charles N.

    I'm looking forward to the discussion. Thanks for the link.

    August 6, 2014

  • frank g.

    I believe that mankind needs a realistic appraisal and understanding of the natural power of the universe with out fear of retribution and shame of one's being.

    1 · August 1, 2014

  • Toni A.

    I recently have been searching out books/lectures, etc. on this subject so this meeting came up at the right time for me and I look forward to it. Thank you.

    July 31, 2014

  • Katie

    I hope that this event is well attended as I hope these types of events will continue. If you have ever been locked out of coming to one of our typical meetings please attend this one!! It was specifically designed so that more people can attend!! This may be one of my last meetings with the GPTS and I hope to have the chance to watch this new format translate into success!!

    July 22, 2014

  • Katie

    Please note that this meetup will differ from our typical sat/sun morning format. We will be hosting it in a space located at the Ethical Society in Rittenhouse Square. This will be our first attempt of many to host larger events to accommodate more members. If you are among the many that have noted our inability to have larger groups or not being able to get on a RSVP list please come and support this event as attendance will determine success of these types of events.

    We also hope to promote social connections through individual discussion at this meeting. In the spirit of Ben Franklin, this meeting will allow members to interact one on one or in small groups, fostering more interpersonal relationships and connections. We hope that the connections made here allow similar members to connect better with the material discussed, as well as to provide motivation for each other as they apply lessons learned to their own lives.

    1 · July 22, 2014

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