09 January 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Spirituality + News

Dear Friends,

I hope you had a good holiday weekend last Sunday; we had an excellent
meeting on Saturday. This weekend we are back on SUNDAY (12 January).

As I try to argue in my short essay, Spirituality is a sort of extension
to hope; they are certainly relatives if not siblings. I also argue that
the from our perspective the issue is not whether it functions but
rather the consequences because Spirituality tends to function.

In the meantime Ruel has sent us a link to his essay:

Hi Lawrence,
Below is the link to the essay I wrote for the PhiloMadrid topic on Sunday:

Thank you very much.
See you on Sunday.

Finally, Helena is looking for a bedsit or shared accommodation
with others in a safe area of Madrid hopefully not expensive. If you can
send me an email I'll pass it on to her.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at O'Donnell's
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)


Spirituality has come a long way from meaning a sacred state of being
with god to being in an inner state of tranquillity and harmony. And
although today the concept of spirituality has a weak link with
religion, it still has a strong presence among religious observers. By
weak link I mean not everyone associates spirituality with religion.

However, what has survived in the meaning of spirituality from the old
meaning is the association of the concept with morality and ethics.
Being spiritual means, first and foremost, to be a morally upright
person who abides by some ethical code that seeks to do good and not
harm; at least not do harm as much as is humanly possible.

Another aspect of spirituality is that it seems to be a step upwards
from having "hope" about some adverse situation in our life. But "hope"
is usually reserved for single situations or things in our life. My hope
to get a decent job stops when I get a decent job. Spirituality, takes
this idea further where we try to live a tranquil and morally correct
life. It's a state of being and, of course, a determined behaviour, to
deal with the downs of life in a more objective and correct way. For
example with spirituality we look for a decent job and not for a job
where I can satisfy my greed; with hope we try to get something more
satisfactory although not necessarily to satisfy our greed!

Indeed, from time to time, we come across scientific studies
demonstrating the benefits of such activities as spirituality, prayer,
religious belief and helping others. And although these studies do not
prove the existence of a god in any way, some people do actually benefit
if they really believe in spirituality and prayer. But the benefits of
spirituality, and in a way prayer, are not a philosophical issue, not in
my opinion a scientific issue. In philosophy we are firstly interested
in the meaning of spirituality followed by the implications of such
behaviour and in science it is just a matter of demonstrating the
falsity or truth of any claims put forward for spirituality.

What is sure is that whether it's spirituality or prayer, the human body
and the human brain are equipped with some sophisticated tools to deal
with adversity and harmful situations. These survival mechanisms even go
to show how complex human beings are compared to other biological
systems. In a way, the dangers faced by other biological systems are
more determined and fixed, at least throughout evolution it has been so,
until that is we/human beings took control of the Planet.

A bison on the prairies had so many predators to deal with, so many
infections to deal with, so many biological needs, so many geographical
obstacles to deal with. On the other hand we, modern human beings, have
to deal with all the biological needs and hazards plus the vagaries and
dictates of society. Within a few months we have to deal with an
economic cycle from being prosperous to an depression leaving us without
an income. Within a few weeks we might have to deal with a government
that promotes social care to a government whose policies are based on
oppression and aggression, thus over night changing our behaviour from
cooperation to survival competition. A bison on the prairies never had
to deal with a fascist government, a destructive communist regime, or
punishing tax rates In their existence, bisons only had to deal with one
random event in their existence and that is when they had to face
European settlers head on which they lost in a matter of years.

We, on the other hand, have to deal with sudden and contradictory
changes in our society. When we face an adverse event from nature we
either survive or perish. In a society we do not necessarily die from
the adverse events but rather get caught up in a chaotic random vortex
such as wars and revolutions at the one extreme and economic instability
at the other extreme.

Spirituality, like, hope, gives us that mental break to be able to deal
with these adverse events, whether they are social or natural. The
question we have to ask ourselves is given that we, today, as
individuals, are completely and utterly dependent on others even to
breathe, can we seriously speak of natural and social adverse events as
being two different types of events. Are there any differences between a
tsunami and a train crash?

Let's take for example, a tsunami, one of the most horrific natural
adverse events we can experience, but can we really speak of this as a
natural event? Especially when we have the technology to alert
populations in coastal areas with a high degree of confidence? I propose
that when we can do something about a natural adverse event, or even
when we can mitigate against the effects of such events, this event
would cease to be a natural event and becomes a social responsibility.
In other words, if we have the means and the technology to deal with
natural adverse events it becomes our duty to protect ourselves from
such a possible event.

Why is all this important for our topic of spirituality? The answer is
quite straight forward: spirituality, like hope, should not become a
substitute to deal with adverse events that are clearly the duty of
society to deal with and protect us from such events or at the very
least mitigate the effects of such events. I grant you that there is
very little we can do if tomorrow a star in our line of sight exploded
into a supernova and we'd be fried within a matter of hours with its
radiation burst; or at the very least our iPhone or Android phones are
fried. But there is no excuse for boom-bust economic cycles or for a
large percentage of society not having access to health care.

Spirituality, and hope, are well and good when we are dealing with
situations beyond our conceptual control, like exploding supernovae, but
they should never be allowed to be a safety net when the adverse events
can be dealt with by society. Thus, those commentators who, for example
adulate the virtues of hope and spirituality in those people who
survived life threatening adverse events such as being incarcerated in
concentration camp, miss the whole point. The point being not that
spirituality and hope work well in life threatening adverse events, but
rather that there should never be concentration camps with people in
them in the first place.

Best Lawrence

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Spirituality + News

No comments: