The Spiritual Arena: Start Here
“Would any one of us
undertake even a journey of a few hundred miles
without knowing why, without having some purpose?
And yet, so many of us live, undertaking not a chance task,
but the great Task of life itself...
and yet we ask not why.”
– J. J. Van der Leeuw
LiveReal has four arenas: body, mind, heart and soul.
This one (as you’ve probably guessed) is about that realm of The Big Questions, the foundation of your core life narrative, that deepest, most enduring, most raw part of us that somehow we often seem to ignore. Let’s call it the “soul.”
To search for the truth* about spirituality in modern times, and share what we find.
It’s the Quest for Reality (in a world that sometimes seems determined to keep us lost, confused, miserable and completely in the dark.)
To help you, as someone (presumably) interested in “spiritual” stuff, get the most practical and high-caliber insights that modern science, age-old wisdom, and everything in between has to offer.
Our approach here is no-nonsense.
We can start with questions.
And not just any questions. The Big Questions.
What’s it all about? Why am I here? Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What should I do with my life? What’s the meaning, purpose, reason for all this? What the heck is going on? And so on. Etc.
The answers to these questions form, for each of us, the basis of what we call our “Core Life Narrative.” Some answers are better than others. (That’s the working hypothesis, anyway.) The idea is for each of us to improve, refine, strengthen and evolve our core life narrative.
And we use every single tool in our toolbox.
Hard thinking. Rigorous experimentation. Silly brainstorming. Sober examination. Passionate questioning. Healthy skepticism. Imaginative speculating. Open-minded inquiry. And etc.
Even the toughest scientist has to start with hypothesis, a theory to test, a hunch, an idea, an intuition. Every logical argument must begin with a premise; every mathematical proof starts with an axiom. We try to start with as few of the most reasonable, self-evident axioms we can, and work from there.
The soul isn’t the kind of thing that shows up under microscopes or test-tubes. (We’ve heard about some Jesus-shaped Cheetos, but the lab results aren’t back on those yet.)
So our approach is a little less like lab technicians and a little more like gritty crime-scene detectives, investigative journalists digging for answers and following leads, Indiana Jones on the trail of priceless treasures and ancient artifacts. (Not to be too dramatic about it.) We use evidence, hunches, reason, theories, analysis, intuition, reverse-engineering, dramatic reenactments, interpretive dance recitals… Basically, we throw everything at it that we possibly can to find what we’re searching for.
(And by the way, we also feel a certain urgency to the matter. We have to solve the case before the killer strikes again. And we don’t know when or where he’ll strike next. Or…are we taking this “detective” metaphor too far?)
Anyway, using the “tools” of both faith and reason should get us onto the turf where real religion and science agree: the search for truth.
"Science without religion is lame,
Religion without science is blind."
- Albert Einstein
"Faith and reason are like two wings
on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth."
- Pope John Paul II (Fides et Ratio)
...and because we figure, if it's really The Truth, it ought to stand up to a little bit of honest questioning.
There are just too many obstacles to list them all here.
But just a few: Distraction. Boredom. Overwhelm. Simultaneous boredom and overwhelm. Weirdness. A dislike of the weirdness in others (that this kind of stuff seems to be a magnet for.) A dislike of the weirdness in ourselves that this kind of stuff can stir up. Fear. Disbelief. Belief, but in the wrong ways. And so on.
We could go on for a while, but “just too many obstacles to mention here” says it, and we should just leave it at that.
But let’s just say that, well, our obstacles consist of anything and everything, both outside us and inside us, that is standing in the way, of complete and total enlightenment, salvation, the inner awakening, satori, perfect knowledge, the kingdom of heaven, sitchatananda, nirvana, perfect happiness, about twenty other names and labels and then etc, etc, and so forth. (Assuming for the moment that something roughly like this really exists.)
Or, maybe it’s just as simple as being in touch with reality.
That’s what we’re up against.
(And really, that’s what we’re all up against, aren’t we?)
So, what’s our approach to implementing all this?
“Where religion and science meets common sense.”
That’s the spot – “where religion and science meet common sense” – that’s our home turf, playing field, battleground, headquarters.
Our aim isn’t merely to find answers and offer them to you.
Plenty of folks are doing that already, for better and worse. Our approach is different: it’s to gather evidence, experiments, arguments, techniques, and use them in service of the ultimate goal: you finding your own answers.
It’s “see for yourself.”
In this sense, it’s more akin to the scientific method than to “God told me to tell you.”
As R. D. Laing said, “We do not need theories so much as the experience that is the source of the theory.”
We want to cultivate experiences more than theories.
Direct experience is a core part of our approach. “Don’t argue; go see.” Experiencing things directly can bypass a lot of the “arguing-endlessly-with-no-resolution” stuff. There’s less need to argue about things you’ve experienced firsthand.
So we’ll put stuff out there. We’ll throw ideas, experiments, exercises, quizzes, suggestions, thought-starters and more at you. We’ll give you plenty of grist for the mill.
But our goal in all this isn’t for you to believe us. It’s for you to see for yourself.
Who This Is For
Let’s start with two groups:
The first group we’ll call “hard-core fundamentalist atheists.” They’ve “found The Truth” (and The Truth is that there is Nothing out there,) and everything else is hogwash, all other “spiritual” stuff is a waste of time, and anybody who even thinks about it is dumb. They are absolutely certain, they’re content with feeling they’re absolutely certain, they’re convinced they’re smarter than everyone else, and they dismiss any evidence, argument, or reason that might contradict this narrative.
The other group consists of folks who rest, content and comfortable, on the opposite side of the spectrum: they’ve also “found The Truth,” they’ve Figured It All Out, they’re absolutely certain of it and they’re immune to any evidence otherwise, and the only real problem left is convincing the rest of us knuckleheads to see things the same way they do.
In regards to the two groups above…we wish them both happiness and love and lemonade and lollipops and etc etc, but we probably won’t have too much to offer them. This probably isn’t a great fit for them.
This Arena is for everyone else.
This is for the folks in between the above two stances.
Somewhere in between hard-core atheism and fundamentalism is a realm where the faithful find their intellects getting in the way and skeptics can’t help but wonder if there’s at least a little “something more.” There are seekers-of-enlightenment who are working on it but haven’t found it yet. There are folks within organized religion but aren’t completely satisfied with it. There are folks outside of organized religion but aren’t completely satisfied with that either. There are folks have no idea what they are.
These are the folks this Arena is for.
Call us “Seekers,” “Nones,” the “spiritual but not religious,” the unchurched, the dissatisfied religious, the semi-religious, the spiritually homeless, the wandering-but-not-lost, the seeking-but-not-yet-found, the not-totally-asleep-but-not-fully-awake-either, the not-blind-but-not-yet-seeing…etc. There are plenty of names we can go by.
Most folks sense that…well, there’s something going on here.
Something profound. We can sense it, even if it always seems just out of reach, even if we can’t always put it into words or explain it. But we’re pretty sure that neither the religious nor the atheist fundamentalists are playing a beat that we can really dance to.
(By the way, we aren’t excluding either group mentioned above. Our doors (pixels?) are open. We’re just saying we probably don’t have much to offer them here.)
But a lot of folks are in neither of those two groups.
A lot of us sense that there’s something more going on than is dreamt of in our day-to-day philosophy. That there’s something mysterious and vital going on that really gets down deep at the core, at the heart of life.
And we sense that there might actually be ways to wise up to some degree about this stuff.
Because this riddle of birth and death is, well, kinda important.
And it’s worth exploring.
So, Let’s Go Exploring.
Our wooly, uncharted jungle explorations so far have yielded a few nuggets that have passed our sniff test. Out of a lot of haystacks in the world, we’re found a few needles that we think are worth passing on.
Now it’s time to set out.
Ready to go?
"You are a player in this rigorous game of living...
The first rule is: every player dies;
none know when it's coming...Everyone has to play.
The game goes on forever - or until you win.
You win by finding death before it finds you.
The prize - is life."
- Barry Long
* Yes, we’re familiar with the postmodern “there is no such thing as truth” bit. We just don’t buy it.