Search Results for Levels of Knowledge
In spirituality, the idea of ‘levels of knowledge’ suggests that an individual or group may better understand the essential dynamics, without fully knowing all the specific details, of another individual or group.
By way of analogy, parents usually have a pretty good idea how their child will behave in most circumstances. And they can use this knowledge to help guide the child and also to protect it from harm.
Some theorists suggest that this kind of alleged higher knowledge could be applied to social and religious life. In ancient Greece, for instance, Plato advocated the rather undemocratic ideal of the Philosopher King.
Similarly, the Catholic attitude toward other religions implies that Catholicism is the purest and highest form of worship (this outlook being especially transparent with Pope Benedict XVI). According to Catholicism, non-Catholic faith groups at best only possess aspects or, worse, shadows of God’s truth and light.
Again, this kind of view implies that ‘group A’ knows about ‘group B’ better than group ‘B’ knows itself. Meanwhile, a Hindu, Muslim or Jewish believer likely believes they have a privileged perspective that the Catholic does not.
As for who’s ‘right’ or ‘most right,’ this is a topic of debate and sadly, often a contributing factor to local, regional and international strife.
It seems reasonable to say that each religious group contains incomplete beliefs and teachings in need of development. And each religious group could, and probably should, try to learn from one another.
Whether or not each group is equally incomplete is, of course, a different question. It is conceivable that some religious teachings are closer to the truth than others.
Quite apart from this type of reasoning, some say that whatever one believes about God and the universe ultimately becomes true—i.e. our belief structures essentially create our reality. Along these lines, some believe there’s no absolute hell and everything – even senseless, cruel acts – are ultimately acceptable. Taken to its logical extreme, it seems that this kind of thinking eventually places Adolf Hitler in heaven beside St. Francis of Assisi.
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Before becoming known as St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone was the son of a wealthy Italian cloth merchant, next in line to take over his father’s prosperous business.
In his youth Francis was a popular dilettante, enjoying friends and parties. In keeping with expectations for the young upper-class men of the day, he fought in the army and was taken prisoner. Suffering a serious illness, Francis apparently had some kind of powerful mystical vision.
He returned to his father, telling him he could no longer continue with the family business. Scorned by his father, Francis went to the central square in Assisi where he removed his clothing for all to see, which was his way of renouncing his life of worldly gain. Standing naked, a nearby person threw him a course blanket, which he took to wear. Francis went on to form the friars minor (fratres minores), a monastic order characterized by chastity and extreme poverty, and all of its members wore the same course cloth.
The order grew quickly. By 1219 the Franciscans swelled to over 5,000 members. His former friend and spiritual love, Lady Clare of Assisi, followed suit by likewise renouncing the world. She founded a similar but sequestered order and was eventually canonized.
Stories about St. Francis abound, telling of his love and tenderness toward animals, his writing a canticle to “brother sun, sister moon” and his insistence on complete poverty, which he affectionately personified as “Lady Poverty.” He apparently opened the Bible at random every morning and read a verse to set the tone for his actions throughout the day, believing that God directed him to the right passage. And with Papal permission he unsuccessfully tried to convert the Muslims in the Holy Land, who nonetheless were impressed by his piety.
He also endured a painful medieval eye operation using red-hot irons to remove cataracts. And he is one of the very few mystics said to have miraculously received the stigmata—physical marks of Christ’s crucifixion appearing on one’s own hands and feet.
St. Francis was buried in his native town of Assisi. He remains, perhaps, Catholicism’s most popular saint, probably because his kind of example can be easily understood by rank and file Catholics. However, it’s hard to know if his knowledge of God was a deep as, say, the contemplative St. Faustina Kowalska, who apparently saw Jesus on a near daily basis.
His feast day is October 4.
- St. Francis Of Assisi’s Radical Love For Jesus – The Huffington Post (christcenteredteaching.wordpress.com)
- St. Francis of Assisi Prophesies of the Beast (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- Religious Icons Of The St Francis Of Assisi Church (scenicadelaide.com)
- Francis of Assisi was no Sissy (chrisbrady.typepad.com)
- Reluctant Saint, the life of Francis of Assisi by Donald Spoto (lunaticchick.wordpress.com)
- Watching with Francis (hancockblog.org)
- The Stigmata (paranormala.com)
In Hinduism a guru is an esoteric spiritual teacher. It is believed that the guru instructs and purifies disciples with the help of God’s grace and other spiritual elements.
In many cases, the mechanism of purification is said to be karma transfer, where the karmic impurities of the disciple apparently fly from the disciple to the teacher, who then spiritually ‘cleanses’ him or herself through intense devotion or meditation. A similar, although certainly not identical, mechanism is described among Catholic saints when they speak of spiritual intercession and the taking of sins.
Critics of the guru system often claim that gurus try to transform disciples into a carbon copy of the guru—or perhaps into mindlessly accepting the type of spiritual powers mediated by the guru, which arguably are not suitable for everyone (or perhaps only suitable for a certain period in an individual’s lifelong journey of becoming).
Moreover, Rabbi Allen Maller argues that spiritual experience and practice should bring one back to one’s social, interpersonal and personal duties with enhanced spirituality instead of creating recluses and ascetics, as we often find with Hindu gurus. This view of ‘genuine’ spirituality being intimately wedded to worldly action may, however, be critiqued from both Christian monastic and Hindu meditative perspectives.
As politically incorrect as this might seem today, both C. G. Jung and Joseph Campbell suggested that Westerners might lose their unique sense of individuality under the influence of an Eastern guru. Along these lines, some gurus have been accused of brainwashing and manipulating their disciples, usually by concerned family members of the disciples who don’t share guru’s religious beliefs
According to Bishop Kallistos Ware:
There are many false guides. There is no automatic way of discovering a true guide, but there are certain criteria. First, the spiritual father, if genuine, does not automatically impose himself. He doesn’t necessarily hide, but he waits for the others to come. The true spiritual father helps us to develop our own freedom. He does not impose his way on us, but helps us to discover our own way. The true spiritual guide does not promise instant success. In the spiritual life there are occasionally shortcuts, but ones provided by God. In general, what is asked of us is fidelity and the willingness to go deep. Those spiritual teachers who claim to offer us the higher gifts of contemplation through a few simple exercises should be treated with great caution.¹
In religions like Sikhism, the term guru may refer to a great spiritual figure recognized by everyone within that tradition, such as Guru Nanak.
¹ “Image and Likeness: Interview with Bishop Kallistos Ware” in Lorraine Kisly (ed.), The Inner Journey: Views from the Christian Tradition, Parabola Anthology Series, Sandpoint ID: Morning Light Press, 2006. p. 160.
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Hinduism is the main religion of India, having evolved over several thousand years.
It has no creed nor firm institutional structure, although the belief in reincarnation runs through almost every form of Hinduism.
Instead of revering one holy book like the Bible or the Koran, Hinduism relies on a variety of sacred scriptures. The oldest are the Vedas (1500-1200 BCE), with the Rig-Veda being prominent among them.
Later, the dharma sutras and dharma shastras appear (500 BCE – 500 CE). These ancient codes of conduct, numbering over 5,000 separate titles, were composed in Sanskrit. They spell out rules and regulations for a wide variety of situations. And they legitimized the caste system and the ideal Hindu stages of life (asrama). They were legally binding in India until contrary legislation appeared in 1955-56.
The Upanisads (1000-600 BCE) are an introspective set of scriptures dealing with the eternal self and its relation to temporal life.
Also important are the two epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. While the Bhagavad-Gita belongs within the Mahabharata, most scholars believe it is was added later to the epic, crystallizing various strands of existing Hindu belief.
The most important gods of the Trimurti (Skt. = three forms, sometimes loosely translated as “Trinity”) are Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver) and Siva (Destroyer and Cosmic Dancer). But many other deities, called avatars, and their consorts are privately and publicly worshipped (e.g., Krishna-Radha, Hanuman, Ganesha, Kali).
In some strands of Hinduism the Buddha is believed to be a demonic avatar. This is probably because Buddha’s teaching challenged the Hindu priestly and caste traditions.
From the 1800′s, the Indian gurus Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekenanda, Sai Baba, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahansa Yogananda and Sri Rajneesh have been prominent. Meanwhile the Indian poet, dramatist and musician Rabindranath Tagore pioneered an innovative, internationally based ashram-style university at Santiniketan and Mohandas Gandhi, who championed the Bhagavad-Gita, has been internationally known as a key political and spiritual figure.
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This is a symbol of the spiritual ancestor for a group in aboriginal Australia and North America.
The totem usually takes the form of an animal or sacred plant.
Normally there are taboos against slaying or eating the totem.
Most theorists probably project their own ideas onto the meaning of the totem.
The French sociologist Durkheim argued that the totem is nothing more than an emblematic center for a social group. For Durkheim the aboriginal’s belief in ancestral spirits is incorrect but the totem nevertheless plays a crucial role in ensuring the social cohesion of the clan.
Freud used the totem to create a rather fanciful mythic history of mankind that served his own ideas about the Oedipus Complex and the development of the superego.
Anthropologists have forwarded so many different ideas about the totem that one anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, has questioned the validity of the term.
However, the numerous and conflicting interpretations of the totem have raised some salient questions: May one cultural system really understand another? Does everyone in a given culture hold the same beliefs? What is a cultural system? Could a researcher ever answer these questions with certainty? » Emic-Etic, Levels of Knowledge, Lévi-Bruhl (Lucien), Totem Pole
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When a person seems to know through insight, intuition and experience the best course of action or the possible outcomes of situations, we might say they are wiser than those who make superficial, snap or conventional judgments.
Wisdom may or may not involve scholarly, specialized or factual knowledge. The intuitive aspects of wisdom may involve revealed, infused, illuminated or ‘transcendental’ knowledge–that is, knowledge that seers and mystics from most world religions say extends beyond the conventional understanding of space and time.
The notion of wisdom is sometimes hotly debated among various religious traditions. Some Hindus, for example, might see Christians as slaves to externally imposed dogmas and rituals that lock them up in ignorance, while some Christians may see the works of the devil binding Hindus to false or incomplete beliefs which deny or ‘water down’ the belief that Christ is the unique and only human incarnation truly equal to God.
But even within a given world religion, opposing viewpoints can be found as to the nature of wisdom. Fundamentalist Christians, for instance, often have knee-jerk, hypocritical and perhaps sometimes violent reactions to the deeper aspects of Christian mysticism that they themselves haven’t experienced. In fact some Christians go as far to say that all mysticism is of the devil.
The Protestant Josh McDowell seems to lean in this direction. In The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict McDowell begins by noting in a sentence or two that there are many types of mysticism but proceeds to only discuss his perception of the errors of the “pantheistic mysticism of the East” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999: 643-658 ). And his discussion equates the general term ‘mysticism’ as if it only applied to Eastern mysticism, most notably that of Zen Buddhism.
McDowell’s argument overlooks the plain and obvious fact that the term ‘mysticism’ applies to a wide variety of religious experiences along with the key question as to their place of origin and related ethical orientation–e.g. (a) God as ‘wholly other’ (b) God as conceptualized in pantheism or (c) an evil being hostile to God.
In fact, Catholics and other Protestants take great pains to differentiate those interior experiences which are from God and those which are not.
» Alchemy, Ancestor Cults, Anselm (St.), Ashram, Bible, Book of Job, Bowie (David), Brahman, Clairaudience, Cupid, Dhammapada, DSM-IV-TR, Ego, Hero, I Ching, Jnana yoga, Levels of Knowledge, Kabbala, Koan, Kowalska (Saint Maria Faustina Helena), Manichaeism, Mystic, Neurosis, Odin, Paranormal, Pericles, Ramakrishna (Sri), Reincarnation, Seer, Serenity Prayer, Theosophy, Theravada Buddhism, Tiresias
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Science [Latin scientia = knowledge]
Science has, at the very least, two meanings. The first meaning is most commonly held in the so-called hard sciences (the natural and physical sciences) and relates to the systematic observation of nature from which laws and theories are developed.
These laws and theories, according to most definitions, may be supported or disproved. This is made possible by the fact that, once published, scientific results become public. As public knowledge, new findings (and the theories derived from them) are subject to peer review and, when appropriate, replication.
The other meaning of science is far more vague, often cropping up in relation to the so-called soft social sciences.
Political science, sociology and psychoanalysis, for instance, rely on theories. But these theories often rest on selective, scant or downright questionable empirical research. And they tend to use correlational or multivariate instead of causal experimental designs.
Correlational studies merely tell us that, in certain circumstances, two variables of interest occur together in some degree of statistical probability, whereas multivariate designs look at any number of variables and attempt to determine their probability of occurring together.
Most agree that no definitive causality can be determined with either correlational or multivatiate analyses (although debates, as with most everything else in life, continue here). And some philosophers like David Hume critique the entire notion of causality.
Without getting too complicated, we could say that most reasonable thinkers would agree that correlational and multivariate studies in any branch of science do not adequately explain why things happen.
We often hear the word “link” when scientific results are reported in the media; for instance, “Scientists Find Link Between Dopamine and Obesity.” But, again, this link doesn’t tell us what causes what.
“It’s possible that obese people have fewer dopamine receptors because their brains are trying to compensate for having chronically high dopamine levels, which are triggered by chronic overeating,” says Wang. “However, it’s also possible that these people have low numbers of dopamine receptors to begin with, making them more vulnerable to addictive behaviors including compulsive food intake.” (Source: Scientists Find Link Between Dopamine and Obesity in Brookhaven National Laboratory, February 1, 2001 » http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/pr/2001/bnlpr020101.htm).
Contemporary depth psychologists and those interested in integrating science, religion and spirituality suggest that a new form of science, beyond immediate physiological, behavioral, social or environmental factors, is needed to better account for the workings of the psyche in relation to the universe and God.
Critiques of science take three main forms: Theological, philosophical and sociological.
Theological critiques of science have two branches. On the one hand theologians warn against falling into the trap of adopting a false moral neutrality that they say some scientists advocate (e.g. with the scientific technologies related to abortion). The other branch relates to the theological claim that conventional science cannot account for nor predict revealed, infused or illuminated forms of knowledge. And some theologians regard theology, itself, as a science—in fact, the noblest type.
Philosophical critiques of science tend to question the initial assumptions upon which results and subsequent theories are based. The role of interpretation is also highlighted, as it relates to the problem of ‘built-in’ biases that influence observation, results and subsequent analysis—i.e. critics say the total problem, approach and solution are biased by the cognitive parameters of the investigator or investigative team.
Karl Popper says that scientific truth claims may only be disproved, never proved. Meanwhile Willard Quine says empiricism contains “two dogmas.” One dogma is the distinction often made between intellectual constructs and facts. The second dogma is reductionism; that is, the belief that naming and meaning are the same.
Sociological critiques of science don’t overlook philosophical issues but tend to focus on the role of social power in shaping, legitimizing and reproducing scientific truth-claims within the broader context of social norms.
Some writers, like Broad and Wade (Betrayers of the Truth, 1982), report actual cases where scientific credentials have been forged and results fabricated. And some cultural theorists, particularly postmoderns, see science as just another conceptual game or ‘fiction’ posing as truth.
The bottom line is that science is complicated, far more than we usually hear on the evening news. But the word “science” still has a strange power to sway the masses, a power arguably out of sync with the realities of its complexity. No wonder some say that the ideology of science has replaced religion as the largest single social brainwasher.
» Archaeology, Aristotle, Chakras, Emic-Etic, Fundamentalism, Galileo Galilei, Ideal types, Myth, Particle-Wave Duality, Phenomenology, Postmodernism, Poststructuralism, Saint-Simon (Comte Henri de), Scientism, Semiology
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