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Education of the Young

 
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 07:48 pm
I was sitting in a Kiwanis Club meeting. We'd been approached by a woman seeking our support. She was going to high schools to talk to students about drug abuse. Her angle was that she was using a "God-centered approach." "God-centered" is a term for a brand of conservative thought which holds that all things in life should be approached with a sense of sacredness.

As I listened to her I found myself deeply conflicted. Ask any AA member, and they'll tell you: there's a connection between chemical abuse and spirituality. I had a feeling that she was right. I admired her gumption and commitment.

Simultaneously, I knew it would be over my dead body that our club would support such a thing. A public school is not a venue for a specifically Christian message about anything. I don't trust a Christian to reinforce the ideal of tolerance. So I'm intolerant of them. The irony of this struck me.

When I was a youngster, I just tuned out any authority figure who didn't honor my ability to think for myself. I wasn't in danger of being indoctrinated. So why don't I trust young people in my world to be just as tough minded. They are, no doubt. And yet I'm still strongly driven to protect them.

Has our demand for tolerance left us unable to bring to bear our own wisdom on issues such as drug abuse?
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jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 08:42 pm
@Arjuna,
One can certainly inculcate youth about the dangers and problems of drug abuse from another approach than "God-centered," and hopefully the local educational institutions will, or are, doing such. The problem with people teaching a "God-centered" approach is that:
1. There is usually more preaching about God (and SIN) than talking about the real, often ugly, problems caused by drugs.
2. The unavoidable religious tone of the instruction will probably turn-off half the people listening to it, and I suspect, THAT half will be the ones more in need of some sound discussions of drug abuse.
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Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 11:43 pm
@Arjuna,
I think in some cases when people bring spirituality into the mix of their chemical dependencies it actually can rob them of their own empowerment. I didn't require any spiritual intervention in getting over my addictions, because I empowered myself to manage my control and will power. I think those who try to use the crutch of religion to over come their habits might not be enough and what happens if their faith dwindles? What do they rely on then? I think people are too quick to give up their own ability as if the human condition requires outside force to accomplish something. It simply isn't true.
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Sep, 2009 06:01 am
@Krumple,
If we're going to be honest, though, drugs and metaphysics have a long standing relationship.

The holy grail held an alcoholic beverage. The Greek oracles used drugs. While trippin', I myself experienced what I can only describe as death: the unraveling of consciousness. I think it's because drugs (prescribed or otherwise) so clearly show us that our experience is formed by the magic of perception that the link exists. I think that I was a lucky youngster in that an older hippie told me that drugs have a message for you, but if you keep going back to the drug as a crutch, you missed the message.

Preaching about the danger of addiction is useless. It only intrigues a youngster who thinks he's invincible. I think some people are going to become addicts to drugs or something else. Maybe not all of them, but many of them will testify that drug addiction is a spiritual journey.

Paying to lock up drug addicts instead of paying to help them is a widely recognized social tragedy. I'm suggesting that the strongly secular nature of our society may be part of the problem. Although I don't know of a solution.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Sep, 2009 08:10 am
@Arjuna,
What do you imagine spirituality is other than the practice of one's own abilities?

What if their faith dwindles? What if their faith in themselves dwindles, as it most certainly will at some point during drug recovery?

The only addiction I ever overcame occurred while I was an atheist. I know it can be done without any conscious spirituality. But millions upon millions of people are helped by drawing upon spiritual support while trying to overcome the disease of addiction. Whatever works.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Sep, 2009 08:56 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;87637 wrote:
What do you imagine spirituality is other than the practice of one's own abilities?


Yeah I would make that claim, since spirituality tends to be a conglomeration of abilities rather than a substantial ability in itself. You might claim the spirit is something substantial but it hasn't actually been proven in any sense. So in other words you can say your spirituality pertains to your spirit but that is nothing different than saying if I break something it is due to my inner gremlin.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Sep, 2009 09:12 am
@Krumple,
I don't follow: you would "make that claim", hence agree with me? Yet then you go on to, apparently, disagree with me.

As far as spirit being substantial and unproven, I'm not sure what your driving at. If you mean substantial as in some physical, scientifically identifiable, material thing, well, no - this has not been proven. I'm not interested in looking for spirit through science; they are entirely separate fields of study.

And yes, if you break something you might refer to an "inner gremlin" as a figurative expression of an aspect of your nature. There's nothing wrong with that. Spirit works in much the same way - it is a figurative representation of your essential nature. This has nothing to do with western science; this is inner science, spirituality.

And I'm really lost when you say that spirituality is a "conglomeration of abilities rather than a substantial ability in itself". Depends on how we look at it - a spiritual practice often involves the cultivation of unique abilities, perhaps different types of meditation. But typically these all are geared to cultivate some particular aim, like enlightenment.

From one recovered addict to another, I would be interested in your take on the rest of my post, too. I've been in the NA meetings, and while I do not like that organization terribly much, the God they spoke of was personal, a strength of character found within one's self. They, as an addict, are powerless against the addiction, but with the help of something greater than their addicted self, they are able to examine their mistakes and make the necessary moral changes. It's not, "oh please, Lord, majically save me!" it's "Oh, please Lord, help me find the strength to save myself."
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Sep, 2009 10:15 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;87637 wrote:
What do you imagine spirituality is other than the practice of one's own abilities?.

I've never heard it put that way, but actually, I think that pretty much does cover it.

Didymos Thomas;87637 wrote:
What if their faith dwindles? What if their faith in themselves dwindles, as it most certainly will at some point during drug recovery?

I'm not as experienced with drug recovery as with depression, and in dealing with others: chronic fatigue, anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, and other similar ailments. I've seen it over and over: when a person is at the end of the rope and growing tired: completly overwhelmed by what's going on, they turn away from whatever religion they formerly practiced. All the reading of sacred texts and praying stops. I don't know which came first: the crisis of faith or the psychological disorder that plagues them. Wrapped into the mix is often traumatic events that seem to have been a trigger. I like the perspective of Thomas Moore: that instead of thinking in terms of 'cure'.. think of evolution of the soul. The shattering of former ideas about faith can open the door to a deeper kind of experience of life.

Didymos Thomas;87637 wrote:
The only addiction I ever overcame occurred while I was an atheist. I know it can be done without any conscious spirituality. But millions upon millions of people are helped by drawing upon spiritual support while trying to overcome the disease of addiction. Whatever works.

Whatever works is my motto.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Sep, 2009 10:33 am
@Arjuna,
I think the crisis of faith and the psychological disorder, like depression, are often times the same. Before scientific psychology, religion was the medium for addressing psychological problems. And with thousands of years of experience and development, religion and spirituality remain useful for people.

I like what you say - cure is not the right term, evolution of the soul is far more appropriate, even if you think of soul in a completely secular fashion.

I'm also a big fan of whatever works, especially when it comes to drug addiction. It's a serious health problem, and the best thing is to get the addict off the drugs as soon as possible.
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Sep, 2009 10:34 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;87648 wrote:
I don't follow: you would "make that claim", hence agree with me? Yet then you go on to, apparently, disagree with me.


No, I was redirecting your claim by defining what I mean by spiritual since you didn't offer any explanation when you mentioned spiritual. You gave me no choice. So agreed with you but then added in my definition.

Didymos Thomas;87648 wrote:

As far as spirit being substantial and unproven, I'm not sure what your driving at. If you mean substantial as in some physical, scientifically identifiable, material thing, well, no - this has not been proven. I'm not interested in looking for spirit through science; they are entirely separate fields of study.


So you are saying the spirit can never be known like anything else that is known? It will remain just an immaterial ethereal tag? That might be alright for you but not good enough for me. Gremlins?

Didymos Thomas;87648 wrote:

And yes, if you break something you might refer to an "inner gremlin" as a figurative expression of an aspect of your nature. There's nothing wrong with that. Spirit works in much the same way - it is a figurative representation of your essential nature. This has nothing to do with western science; this is inner science, spirituality.


So then the spirit is a figure of speech?

Didymos Thomas;87648 wrote:

And I'm really lost when you say that spirituality is a "conglomeration of abilities rather than a substantial ability in itself". Depends on how we look at it - a spiritual practice often involves the cultivation of unique abilities, perhaps different types of meditation. But typically these all are geared to cultivate some particular aim, like enlightenment.


What I meant by abilities is just traits really from "spiritual practice" such as patience, loving kindness, respect for those you hate, not giving into anger, ect. But they could go into including metaphysical and supernatural I suppose as well, however; I would be more skeptical of them than the previous list.

Didymos Thomas;87648 wrote:

From one recovered addict to another, I would be interested in your take on the rest of my post, too. I've been in the NA meetings, and while I do not like that organization terribly much, the God they spoke of was personal, a strength of character found within one's self. They, as an addict, are powerless against the addiction, but with the help of something greater than their addicted self, they are able to examine their mistakes and make the necessary moral changes. It's not, "oh please, Lord, majically save me!" it's "Oh, please Lord, help me find the strength to save myself."


Yeah I know it is not exactly presented like that. But there are moments when people would say, "If it weren't for jesus I couldn't have done this." Where they completely ignore that they did it themselves but are willing to totally ignore that they are the ones making the choice to quit. Even if they were sent by a judge to NA meetings but still make comments like that. Not all members do it but I have even heard group leaders make comments like that. I think in some ways it undermines us as if we don't actually have any capacity to do anything ourselves.

If anyone ever does anything good, it was because they had the lords blessing. Or if they are doing evil it is because of some evil being or the devil. It seems people want to pass the blame or undermine their own ability to do good things. That is all I meant.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Sep, 2009 11:00 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;87683 wrote:

So you are saying the spirit can never be known like anything else that is known? It will remain just an immaterial ethereal tag? That might be alright for you but not good enough for me. Gremlins?


Not known in the way we come to know a rock, no. Just as our love for another human being is not known in the same way a rock is known, neither is spirit.

And, yeah, if you like to use the term "gremlin" when referencing certain aspects of your psychology, there is nothing wrong with that at all. If you've read a work of literature, you have witnessed examples of people doing this.

I don't know why that's not "good enough" for you - it's figurative language. You don't object to figurative language, do you?

Krumple;87683 wrote:
So then the spirit is a figure of speech?


Yeah.

Krumple;87683 wrote:

Yeah I know it is not exactly presented like that. But there are moments when people would say, "If it weren't for jesus I couldn't have done this." Where they completely ignore that they did it themselves but are willing to totally ignore that they are the ones making the choice to quit.


No, I totally agree with you. They could have done it without Jesus, specifically. But some people cannot do it without a sense of purpose that transcends selfishness. For some, the most accessible language for expressing that transcendence is spiritual language.

Krumple;87683 wrote:
Not all members do it but I have even heard group leaders make comments like that. I think in some ways it undermines us as if we don't actually have any capacity to do anything ourselves.


Eh, I'm less concerned about that sort of abstraction and far more concerned with that person's ability to kick drugs and stay off of drugs over the long haul. If they have to be undermined to a degree in order to stay clean, that's far better than running back to crack or whatever had them.

Krumple;87683 wrote:
If anyone ever does anything good, it was because they had the lords blessing. Or if they are doing evil it is because of some evil being or the devil. It seems people want to pass the blame or undermine their own ability to do good things. That is all I meant.


And sometimes it is just passing the buck. But other times it's just the nature of expression - sometimes it's just the language. Take 'the devil did it':

If we recognize that the devil represents our own individual, selfish weakness to temptation of desire, then to say "the devil did it" is the same as saying "I was not able to withstand the temptation of my own desires".
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