Taking a Spirituality Survey Mindfully

Leave the first response July 8, 2009 / Posted in Meditation, Mindfulness

I thought that some of you might be interested in taking Jonathan Ellerby’s Spirituality Survey.

I share the Kalama Sutra and James Hollis’ perspective on Personal Authority to help you help Jonathan “capture a better unbiased understanding of how people experience spirituality in America, and the world.”

The Kalama Sutra

The Kalama Surta is the Buddha’s reply to a group of townspeople of Kalama. They asked Buddha who were they to believe of all the ascetics, sages, holy ones and teachers They came through their town confusing them with their contradictory truths, teachings, beliefs, and one true way.

• Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it,
• Nor traditions because they are old and have been handed down from generation to generation and in many locations,
• Nor in rumor because it has been spoken by many,
• Nor in writings by sages because sages wrote them,
• Nor in one’s own fancies, thinking that it is such an extraordinary thought, it must have been inspired by a god or higher power,
• Nor in inferences drawn from some haphazard assumption made by us,
• Nor in what seems to be of necessity by analogy,
• Nor in anything merely because it is based on the authority of our teachers, masters, and elders,.

However, after thorough observation, investigation, analysis and reflection, when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, and of the world at large; accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it; and live up to it.

These words, the Buddha went on to say, must be applied to his own teachings.

James Hollis in his book, Finding Meaning In The Second Half of Life, touches on this issue under what he calls “personal authority” or more appropriately the recovery of personal authority. You can summarize that task in the above Kalama Sutra or in Hollis’ definition: “Personal Authority means to find what is true for oneself and to live it in the world.”

So ahead is a wonderful experience of a lifetime.

While we are part of a Grand Narrative influenced by being social animals or as Wilfred Bion might put it: “We are herd or pack animals,” with our perspective(s); we may be able to help the Spiritual Survey give a “better unbiased understanding of how” we experience or don’t experience in a biased way our spirituality in America, and the world.

That last part of the Kalama Sutra stays with me:

However, after thorough observation, investigation, analysis and reflection, when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, and of the world at large; accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it; and live up to it.

These words, the Buddha went on to say, must be applied to his own teachings.

So “Personal Authority means to find what is true for oneself and to live it in the world.” For many “Deus caritas est.”

How to Meditate with Pema Chadron might be a good starting point for many interested in finding what is true for oneself.

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