LiveReal

What Is The Spiritual Arena?

Where Science and Religion Meet Common Sense.

". . . work out
your own salvation
with diligence."
- The Buddha's final words


"The LiveReal Spiritual Arena"
is branch of our overall mission that is focused on, for lack of a better word, "spirituality."

- or to use what might be better words, "The Big Picture, " "The Big Questions," or every so often, "The Big Enchilada."

The modern spiritual landscape can be both incredible and treacherous. Never before in history have all the world's spiritual traditions been so accessible, so easily. This creates an environment that, for the individual exploring it, can be both thrilling and confusing.

We know this, because we've been exploring it. And it has been both thrilling and confusing; the scene today really is both incredible and treacherous.

Our job here, in the LiveReal Spiritual Arena, is to help the individual navigate this "modern spiritual marketplace" while keeping their sanity (and soul) intact.

It's "The Quest for Reality." It's what can be the ultimate adventure, or the ultimate nightmare, depending on what you experience. (Hopefully we can help you avoid some of the nightmares we've experienced).

And it's a huge part of "the good life." Regardless of where you see yourself on the spectrum of spirituality, after all, being in touch with "Reality" - whatever that is - is an important part of sanity (mental and emotional health), intimacy (relationships), and even vitality (for your body).

"The important thing
is not to stop questioning."
- Albert Einstein

OK, so how do we do this?

Our approach is to search the world over - through a lot of bull - to try to find real nuggets of practical wisdom. We search anywhere and everywhere we can. Through mountains of information, in science, in religion, under rocks, from various grandmas - anywhere. If there's a headhunting voodoo-doctor cannibal in the bowels of a jungle who really seems to know something about The Big Picture, we'll listen to him (or her). (And then probably get the heck out of there.) Then we condense those nuggets into bite-sized, digestible pieces, gather them here, and talk about them. (If you want even more on this, our full process/methodology/approach is described more 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

Just to bite off one piece of it...

 

It's been our experience that when it comes to these matters, accurate, no-nonsense, commonsense, straightforward perspectives can be pretty hard to find. The modern spiritual landscape overflows with folks who insist they have "The Answers," yet who typically disagree with each other about what exactly those answers are.

The basic idea is to lift ourselves out of the maze of life every once in a while to get a glimpse of the bigger picture. We also sometimes just go rock-climbing in suits.

This Arena is a place to take a breather and try to sort it out.

If we had to narrow it down to a few words, we'd say this "arena" is basically a place for a serious, fair, and open inquiry into the fundamental questions of life.

The way we see it, in some ways, it doesn't really matter if you consider yourself an atheist, a hardcore fundamentalist, or something in between. Seriously. Because this approach is all about the common ground where real science and religion agree: the search for the truth. It's really designed to be "where science and religion meet common sense."

In other words, this is a place where those individuals who are interested can meet others, and explore together, answers or "The Answers" or "The Answer" (if there is one/are many) to the fundamental issues, or as we like to affectionately call them, "The Big Questions":

Who am I?
Why am I here?
What's it all about?
What am I doing with my life?
Where did I come from, and where am I going?
Is there a way to be free from suffering?
What is the meaning of it all?
What happens at death?
What's the point?
How should I spend my life?

Whatever might lead us to ask these questions - the quest for meaning in what seems to be a meaningless world, the desire for clarity and understanding amid a life of confusion and chaos, the search for straight answers in an age of misinformation, spin, and lies - we sometimes find ourselves pausing, and quietly wondering what the heck is really going on . . .

"I would like to beg you
to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves
as if they were locked rooms or books in a very foreign language.
Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer."
- Ranier Maria Rilke

- and while "answers" are easy to come by, and the modern spiritual scene seems to overflow with platitudes, truisms, and slogans...they often fail to do the trick. (It's hard to say more than that. Whatever the "trick" is, they aren't "doing it.")

And all too often, neither atheism, hardcore fundamentalism, mainstream platitudes, or anything else seem satisfying. They all seems to be missing a piece, or several pieces.

Yet the questions keep coming, and the need to "figure it out" or solve it somehow never seems to go away.

"If you do not follow the right path,
you will be lost."
- The Buddha

Many of us feel the need for a practical, no-nonsense, non-dogmatic, self-evident, "see for yourself" approach which appeals to common sense, stands solid under critical scrutiny, and brings forth real, practical, life-tested, street-smarts understanding, and quite possibly, the ability to make sense of it all.

The LiveReal Spiritual Arena is a headquarters for this exploration.

So if you're interested
in digging deeper . . .

We approach these questions from many different perspectives:

The "Scientific"

"All through school and university
I had been given maps of life and knowledge
on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about
and that seemed to me to be
of the greatest possible importance to the conduct of my life."
- E. F. Schumacher

From a "scientific" perspective, we approach the situation using methods of doubt, theory, critical thinking, working hypothesis, systematic experimentation, and empirical experience, to ...in more words or less... explore areas where most scientists fear to tread, but where some (Einstein, Hawking, my old chemistry professor Dr. Sears, and a few others), do not: the original inspiration of the Enlightenment, "The Answer," many other names, but overall, the "Big Burrito."

"It seems plain and self-evident, yet it needs to be said:
the isolated knowledge obtained by a group of specialists in a narrow field
has in itself no value whatsoever,
but only in its synthesis with all the rest of knowledge
and only inasmuch as it really contributes in this synthesis toward answering
the demand, 'Who are we?'"
- Erwin Schrodinger

The Religious

"Whoever strives with all his power,
we are allowed to save."
- said the Angels in Goethe's Faust

Another approach we take is the religious perspective, where members of various traditions may possibly find material to deepen and strengthen their faith or practice.

While many individuals struggle with their faith, or find the system of beliefs they have grown accustomed to for some reason no longer works for them,others maintain a strong, real faith, within a particular tradition, that works for them in a very solid way.

From this perspective, the Spiritual Arena may possibly serve to help strengthen faith, deepen conviction, stimulate thinking, and to overall enhance the experience of those who are both struggling, and those who simply want their beliefs to grow and strengthen, through exploring such questions as "What does it mean to be a real Christian, Buddhist, Moslem, Hindu?" "Are different religious perspectives incompatible?" "How does religion really apply to practical life?" . . . and so on.

"I want to know God's thoughts.
The rest are details."
- Albert Einstein

The Personal

"Man has no reason to philosophize,
except with a view to happiness."
- Saint Augustine

From the personal angle, when you get down to it...almost all of us feel like something is missing.

Sometimes it seems like we're always waiting . . . for the next promotion, next paycheck, the next high, the next fun time, the next girlfriend, boyfriend, etc etc etc, in hopes that . . . that one will be "IT," somehow that next one will . . . make it aaaall come together.

Even if we seem to have it all . . . the house, the car, the job, the house, the girlfriend, boyfriend, the clothesthekidsthewatchthe attitude, the multimedia video-disk player/salad-maker . . . and it seems like everything should be perfect.

. . . but it's not.

Why?

"It is not for man to seek, or even to believe in, God.
He only has to refuse his ultimate love to everything that is not God.
This refusal does not presuppose any belief.
It is enough to recognize what is obvious to any mind:
that all the good of this world, past, present, and future, real or imaginary,
are finite and limited and radically incapable of satisfying
the desire that perpetually burns within us for an infinite and perfect good."
- Simone Weil

From this angle, we start from a state of dissatisfaction, a lack of fulfillment, maybe even unhappiness and outright "life-is-sheer-hell" suffering . . . and search for "the cure" for it . . . if such a thing exists.

Because many people, intelligent people, say it does.

And, heck . . . what could be more worthwhile to search for?

"Better than a hundred years lived in vice, without contemplation,
is one single day of life lived in virtue and in deep contemplation.
Better than a hundred years lived in ignorance, without contemplation,
is one single day of life lived in wisdom and in deep contemplation.
Better than a hundred years lived in idleness and in weakness
is a single day of life lived with courage and powerful striving."
- The Dhammapada

The Perplexed

"The first key to wisdom is this -
constant and frequent questioning . . .
for by doubting we are led to question
and by questioning we arrive at the truth."
- Peter Abelard

If you aren't at least a little confused these days, you probably don't know what's going on.

Many of us simply don't know what the heck we believe in. Especially nowadays. And the way we see it...that's for good reason.

"I'm a religious person who believes in science. . . a scientist who believes in religion . .? An agnostic? A struggling believer? Sort of a cross between atheist-believer who likes to have fun? A fundamentalist agnostic?"

"I'm an atheist Jewish priest devoutly devoted to a firm agnosticism who does yoga and works studying biochemistry as a fundamentalist-scientist-who-likes-to-have-fun type."

Modern America is often a confusing mishmash of sound bites, empty hype, long days, and all of us chasing carrots and things . . .

In this sense, The Spiritual Arena can potentially be a place to search for, and maybe find, a place to sort things out.

"We are impelled . . . to have great confidence
in our ability to have picked the side of Truth,
without noticing that millions of other people of opposite belief
have equal conviction."
- Richard Rose

The Weary

"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

From another angle, some of us are just tired of all the bull.

From this angle, LiveReal is designed to be the cure for phonies. When life seems like a stupid, pointless, meaningless, noisy and dull drama full of posers with a bad plot and a worse ending...

LiveReal is designed to be a place where we can cut the small talk and really dig into things that really matter.

"Here the ways of men part:
if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure,
then believe;
if you wish to be a devotee of truth,
then inquire."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

So...

Of course, many people would say that the above perspectives (the scientific, personal, religious, etc) are incompatible, always will be, and should stay that way from now to the end of time. This could be true - but on the other hand, how are we going to know it's true unless we talk about it?

"As Amr lay on his deathbed a friend said to him:
'You have often remarked
that you would like to find an intelligent man at the point of death,
and to ask him what his feelings were. Now I ask you that question.
Amr replied,
'I feel as if heaven lay close upon the earth
and I between the two, breathing through the eye of a needle."
- Amr Ibn Al-As

Our approach

"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

Our approach is non-denominational, and is designed for those who consider themselves scientists and skeptics, "believers" and "non-believers," agnostics and those who don't know what they are. This approach is inclusive, and looks straight in the face of both science and religion.

"Science without religion is lame,
Religion without science is blind."
- Albert Einstein

. . . because we use the tools of both faith and reason . . .

"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 we are interested in what real religion and science agree on: the search for the truth.

...because we figure, if it's really the truth, it ought to stand up to a little bit of honest questioning.

On the other hand, if you wish to proceed, then we will hereafter (ahem) assume you agree that this approach of using our noggins and our hearts in pursuit of the questions above (whether you think it's a hero's quest or a fools') is OK.

. . . in other words, at least on some level, you are a seeker.

LiveReal is a headquarters for seekers.

So if that sounds like you...welcome aboard.

" seek, and ye shall find . . ."
- Matthew 7.7


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