October 2015: Relationship Beyond Ourselves?

October 2015 Inter-Belief Conversation Café

What Does It Mean to Have a Relationship With Something Beyond Ourselves?

Monday, October 19, 2015
7 – 9 p.m.
Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul
1671 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (View Map)

We see our lives and the world and ask if there is something more? Is it God? Is it something fundamental in the universe like the Dao, dharma, divine Wisdom, or Holy Spirit? Is it nature itself? Is it our relations with others? Is it the joy of reason and knowledge? Or do we say that what our senses detect is the only truth and all we should expect? Is there something out there?

People may live for God alone. To know God and to worship Him (Her, It, or something?) is the reason for existence. But if the divine is transcendent, can mere mortals come close to understanding? Is the deity immanent and closer to us than our jugular vein? How can we comprehend this? If the just and maybe others live for faith alone, how do we handle the mundane details of life?  God! What a concept!

Or possibly awe comes from the contemplation of nature. A sunset, a water fall, the silence of a forest, the animals who seem so free of our worries may take us to a place where we know peace and belonging. Is the blissful feeling a sense of something holy or just being free for a moment from the rat race? Could we be in touch with some ordering force of existence? Taoists use nature symbols to describe what is more real than real. In the Bible divine Wisdom frolics in creation. In meditation a goal is to shut out the noise of the world and our own minds to find some essential quality. To find something beyond ourselves, do we need to look at the natural world with clear eyes and contemplate also the universe within us?

Is the Les Miserables musical correct in claiming that to love someone is the see the face of God? Is there divinity in the contemplation of a new born infant? Do we lose our selfishness and find something meaning in our relationships with others? Is there no higher good than to devote our lives to their betterment? Or are others a distraction from our goal? Do we waste our time living for others instead of ourselves? Don’t we all need a little “me” time? Was Sartre right when he claimed that Hell was other people?

Does our reason bring us our bliss? Is it in that moment when a researcher achieves a breakthrough and everything falls into place? Suddenly all is clear and we come closer to understanding how reality works. Can we think our way to happiness? Is the realm of knowledge and learning enough to satisfy our needs for something more? Or are we kidding ourselves? What we see is what we get and the search for anything else is like a pernicious drug? Is it an addict’s pipe dream which makes us unfit for the real world? Does this approach make us sober and rational or this yet another illusion?

This month, the Inter-belief Conversation Café will take up the search for something more. Meaning hopefully will be found in our agreements of open-mindedness, acceptance, curiosity, discovery, sincerity, brevity, and confidentiality. We may have a transcendent moment. If not, we will have treats!

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