I found this list of 20 Spiritual Questions on Brave New Traveler. I know that my own concepts of religion and spirituality have changed dramatically over the course of my life so far, and this is an interesting way of setting out what I believe right now. I really wish I'd done this in both HS and right after college, the comparisons would have been fascinating (to me). I would really like to see how other people answer the same questions, so if you do this questionnaire and want to share it - please post the link in the comments.
1. Why is there poverty and suffering in the world?
In Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut blames our over-sized brains. I think he has a point. The Buddhists blame desire, and I think they have a point too.
I think ultimately humans are flawed creatures. We think too much, we want too much, when things don't go the way we think they should, or when we don't get what we want, we hurt.... and sometimes we hurt other people. Very few of us have mastered the concept of being content where we are with what we have. And I think this causes a lot of suffering.
2. What is the relationship between science and religion?
I think they are two paths trying to get at the same truth. You could say that one is an external search and one an internal search. I don't think they should be in competition or conflict. The truth that's out there is bigger than either science or religion alone can explain.
3. Why are so many people depressed?
I think different people are depressed for different reasons. For some people it can be a chemical imbalance related to other health problems. In other people it can be an inability to cope with what life has thrown at them, one reaction to trauma is just to shut down. Other people have just never learned how to be happy. In the US I think a lot of depression comes from a lack of authenticity, a lack of meaning and a lack of connection.
4. What are we all so afraid of?
Of pain, of suffering, of loneliness, of change, of someone someday finding out our deep dark secrets and laughing at them.
5. When is war justifiable?
Ooooooohhhh.... toughie! ONLY defensively, either in defense of one's own country or when a stronger power is attacking a weaker one - and the weaker one *asks* for help. And ONLY after all other diplomatic options have been attempted, and a thorough analysis of the costs of war are taken into a count.
I think we need to do a MUCH better job of proactively preventing war: US DEPARTMENT OF PEACE
6. How would God want us to respond to aggression and terrorism?
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
7. How does one obtain true peace?
One would have to remove oneself from human interaction - either physically hiding out in a cave somewhere, or mentally and emotionally avoiding any ties to other people. The question is...do you really want to obtain 'true peace'. I think part of being human, being alive is passion, emotion, connection, conflict, reconciliation, growth. I don't know that you can have those things and true peace at the same time.
8. What does it mean to live in the present moment?
Feeling the cool creaminess of my cha yen and savoring every layer of flavor, listening to the rain pound down on the concrete, smelling the cigarette of the person smoking next door, watching the woman clean off her plate before assembling the next sandwich, noticing exactly how bright the shredded carrots are against the green of the lettuce, staring at the shih-tzu riding in the basket of the motorbike passing by.
9. What is our greatest distraction?
Everyone has their own favorite I think, entertainment, drugs/alcohol, sex, work, interpersonal drama. For whatever thing you think you *should* be focused on, there is an equal and opposite number of things to distract you from it.
10. Is current religion serving its purpose?
Which religion? For whom? I think some people have found religious experiences / commitments that enrich their lives without hurting other people... and for them, sure it's serving it's purpose. In general, as a benefit to the world at large... I think like all human endeavors it's a wash. There's some good and there's some bad.
11. What happens to you after you die?
I have no idea.
12. Describe heaven and how to get there.
Well, I was taught that heaven was eternal communion with God and other faithful souls. My image is pretty much your standard Christian interpretation - lots of white fluffy clouds and singing. But I'm not sure I really believe in that anymore. Sometimes I think it must be some sort of non-physical place, just kind of floating around in the cosmos connected to everything.
13. What is the meaning of life?
14. Describe God.
In Bible study I was once asked to draw a picture of God and all I came up with was a blank piece of paper. I don't know if I believe in God in a strictly Christian manner anymore. I believe that there's something out there, something more than what we can see and touch. The Christian name for it is God. But does it care about individual lives? Does it really interact with us? Did it really send it's only begotten son that man may not perish but have eternal life? I don't know. I don't really think anyone can know.
15. What is the greatest quality humans possess?
The abilities to create and destroy human life. And I think we are entirely too careless in the use of these two great powers.
16. What is it that prevents people from living to their full potential?
Fear, social and physical constraints.
17. Nonverbally, by motion or gesture only, act out what you believe to be the current condition of the world.
18. What is your one wish for the world?
That the light will always be that much brighter than the dark is dark. That good will always be just that much stronger than evil. That justice will be done more often than not.
19. What is wisdom and how do we gain it?
Wisdom is understanding. Understanding why we do the things we do, understanding why other people do the things they do, understanding the effects of our own choices, understanding which things are beyond our control, understanding when to stand up and fight and when to let the world flow around us.
I think you gain wisdom by being watching, listening, talking, reading, experimenting, allowing yourself to be challenged, allowing yourself to be wrong, taking time to reflect and analyze what you've seen and heard and said and read and experienced.
20. Are we all one
No, but we are all connected.
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