A little something we’ve been socially putting together (this is a work ever in progress!):
There is a fundamental intelligence that is present within the basic building blocks of this universe, and that pervades every aspect of this universe. It is not all knowing but, rather, ever experimenting and giving rise to new possible ways of physical expression. It is not demonstrably self-aware without the development of consciousness within the minds of creatures evolving in its expression of life. It is a universal size unconsciousness that is the universe in formative substance. Much like the unconscious is the formative substance for our consciousness as a physical being, all our thoughts and behaviors, and our briefly expressed throughout each day conscious awareness of our reality in this universe.
What is This Organizing Force So Many Call “God”?
What it is, this universal and scientifically demonstrable innate intelligence, we do not fully know. But, we know it is responsive to its observation, regardless who or what is observing it. We cannot each individually fully know or understand, for it is much greater than our brief and limitedly defined expression of its existence. But, we are aware of it, as evidenced by our religious expressions and aspirations, and our sciences demonstrate its responsiveness to our observations of it. To be even more clear, its responsiveness to *our* – meaning, all of life’s expressions of consciousness in all its manifested ever evolving forms.
We recognize that every human made religion is a metaphorical attempt to grasp this incomprehensible and fundamental unconscious awareness of existing. It is the stories and beliefs we create to explain ourselves and our worlds around us, to bring a perceptive sense of order and morality to a universe that operates by way of natural experimental selection through randomly organized chance.
We recognize that the emergence of religion is a necessary preceding component to the formation of human culture upon this planet we call Earth. This had led to the formation of societies, both religious based societies (religionist) and non-religious based societies (secularist). We recognize that religion, the result of evolutionary human adaptation to an ever changing world by way of developing the ability to form creative fiction and learning to overcome the instinctual distrust we have of others, has allowed us as a primate species to dominate this world. We recognize that we are solely responsible for all our actions as a species, presently and historically, within this world (eventually, within this universe, if natural events allow), and it is our responsibility to be aware of our actions and their effects upon all life that must live with us.
We recognize that we humans are not the reason for the universe existing, nor are we at the center of it. We recognize that this is our culturally created belief systems talking and attempting to assure us of this. We recognize that it is imperative that we learn as a dominant species within this world to recognize our effective place both in what happens in this world and in the ever evolving natural selections of the universe occurring by this.
We recognize the need within us to live just as much in a spiritual projected world perceived in the mind as much as we need to be aware of the self-evident and demonstrable reality that makes up this natural universal world. We recognize the need for both our religious creative fictions about life and our rational ability to explore it. Our need to realistically and creatively come to better understandings of it, this natural world. And to recognize our new found responsibilities in each stage of our growing awareness and understanding.
What Do We Religiously Stand Upon?
As the Congregation of Wisdom and Knowledge, Kahal Chokhmah vDa’at, we seek to embrace an ever growing rational understanding of this universe in balance with the need to metaphorically express our assumptions and questions about this universe in a way that derives meaning and purpose for us. We embrace the expressions made in religious perspectives and teachings within an embraced rational awareness of the world as it demonstrably is. We place no emphasis of rightness upon any single one belief but, rather, view it as but one attempted ever evolving expression to bring a sense of place and meaning to the natural world. We recognize that all religions are a human expression, all contain some measure of perceptive truth about this world and this universe, and all need to be explored for these perceptive truths. We recognize that the perceptive truths we gather from our religions need to be tested and modified as needed by comparison to the observable and testable world that is both us and around us. We embrace both science and spiritual mysticism whole heartedly together, knowing that a balanced human and a balanced society must have a naturally derived degree of both.
Spirituality is our ability to perceive and achieve self-awareness, and to establish connections with others and with all life within this self-awareness. Then, to find purpose and meaning in this. We exist, therefore we think. We think, therefore we explore and act. We act, therefore we imagine the possibilities to our actions. We imagine, and we influence the world. We infuse the world with our presence, and it is our responsibility to take care of our world. To recognize the life within it that is depending on our ability to recognize and care. This is what makes us special as humans, our ability to foresee the likely consequence of our actions – if we are being observant of our behaviors and beliefs.
As humans, we have the ability to question ourselves, and this questioning we need to apply to both our religious/ideological beliefs and to our studies of this reality we find ourselves conscious within. We need to be cognizant and willing to question and choose. We need to be cautious of our inherent attempt to categorize this experience of life by non-existent absolutes. For, in doing so, we historically cause more harm than good to ourselves, other species, and to our planet. We must as humans recognize our responsibility to create, share, and enjoy our myths, but equally remind ourselves that they are just this – our myths that we must constantly update to match current rational observable and demonstrable understanding of our world. We are for responsible religious beliefs and teachings, that embrace their being tested, and that avoid discouraging questioning and critical analysis.
We are all one human family, one human race, with many cultures and language-dependant beliefs. We all have a perspective that is authentically based in living awareness of life as a human. We all need to question, explore, and learn from each other. This is how humans naturally evolve best as a species upon this planet. This is how we will ensure our survival (to the best that we can) in this unconscious fundamentally intelligent universe.
We are all inherently aware of a lifeforce or spirit that is intimately present and a part of every dimension of this physical reality. We express upon it in our creative fictions – for example, the various forms of human arts and the rites and beliefs of our religions. Yet, what does “being spiritual” mean? What does it mean to live a spiritually infused life? These are questions that humans have been asking long before we had cultural based institutional religions that were designed to offer an answer for us. There are as many insights or answers as there are religions and philosophies created by humans and, when we add the theorizing of science, even more than this.
How Exactly Do We Behave Spiritually?
At its most basic physical level, spirituality is an action. It is the act of breathing, of being alive. Hence, its root meaning “to breathe,” which is derived from the Hebrew and Greek words that our modern word “spirit” is descended from. There is no spirit without life, and to be alive requires the act of breathing in some manner or form. Every human religion on this planet recognizes and expresses upon this simple natural fact. Spirituality and the desire to be spiritual is a natural phenomenon of physical nature.
At its more complex cognizant level, spirituality is an act of expression. This expression manifests in the forms of movement and utterance of sounds. Cognizant spirituality is a physical expression of conscious awareness, the awareness that “I am alive.” All species that possess this conscious awareness are making a spiritual expression and contribution in this world. It is not reserved to just humans alone. Hence, why the ancient Hebrew scroll writings declare all living creatures upon the land, in the sky, and under the waters as *nefesh chayah*, literally “living breathing-creature” (often translated as “living being” or “living spirits/soul.”
In its uniquely human expression, spirituality has taken further definition as an action, through our human development of religious rites/rituals and expression of theological beliefs based on the invention of words. Creative beliefs that many of which are theistic, and have given ultimate absolutes and expectations to that which is ever changing and impermanent. Yet, in every form, “being spiritual” is an act of breathing, of being alive, an act of living consciousness. There are many ways of expressing it, and many ways of dressing it. Ways that are as diverse as human cultures and, more so, as diverse as the number of conscious species that all reside together on this planet and in this universe. Spirituality is not species specific, but universally fundamental as a force of action.
So, what does “being spiritual” mean specifically for us humans? Some fundamentally agreed upon by all humans meanings are the following: The desire and need to feel we are a part of something greater than individual and collective selves. The desire to make a contributive connection with others. The desire to express gratitude and awe over all encompassing life and its greater power of influential control. The desire to behave in ways that bring order, reason, understanding, and purpose to living life. As humans, we do this by behaving by socially/religiously endorsed moral or ethical codes of conduct, by applicable actions. In doing this, we express spirituality, we live “being spiritual.” It really doesn’t matter what mode of belief it takes to achieve this for us. It is an ever evolving process for us, and often leads us astray by ignoring the action through rigidity of belief.
What is A Responsible Religion? Humanistic actions ….
All religions entice us to action, and towards favoring group interests over self interests. But, a *responsible religion* entices us and encourages us to wrestle with our inherent human nature. To use religion as a tool to be more aware of and add discipline to our individual actions, and to weigh the consequences of our actions in the world around us before we take action. To foster a sense of purpose and social connective responsibility in the practice of this religion. And, ultimately, for a religion to be beneficial in this world, rather than plagued by a history of doing harm to others and to the earth, it must be humanistic oriented. This requires being spiritually aware.
What is being spiritual? Being consciously aware of actions and the effect these actions are having in our world. The rest is the belief system we associate with this spiritual endeavor, and there are many amongst humans. What are the common humanistic actions aspired to by all religions, outside of particular theological tendencies? A responsible religion teaches us the following:
We have a responsibility to care for all of humanity, regardless of other’s ethnic, cultural, religious, or personal backgrounds. We have a responsibility to care for our planet for the sake of future generations. We have a responsibility to embrace methods of science, free inquiry, and critical analysis to address the problems of human welfare and to evolve the many particularisms of our religious expressions. We have a responsibility to honestly address the history of our human expression upon this planet, learn from it, and adapt our ways to express ourselves more consciously and sustainably within this world we share with others (including the other conscious life forms we share this planet with). We have a responsibility to advocate for and insist upon democratic forms of human relationships, thus encouraging our human aspirations for equitable justice and sanctity in human societies. We have a responsibility to encourage and foster responsible human spirituality, one not based in absolute creeds but, rather, based in conscious awareness of the impact of our daily actions. We have a responsibility to encourage feelings and awareness of connection as human beings, with each other and with all life upon this planet.
Now that you’ve read … What do you think?
What is ? (future page)
More about Kahal Chokhmah v’Da’at …
We read Torah with the understanding that it expresses the myths that we tell about our people and these myths are noticeably and demonstrably different from the actual history of our people. We teach both, our actual history, as updated and verified by archaeological finds, and the myths as written, focussing in on what they meant to writers of their days, questioning why they wrote the myths this way, and questioning how we can use these myths today to teach important ethno-religious truths we now believe as modern Jewish people.
We perform the yearly seasonal rituals of our Jewish heritage, focusing on and teaching the developmental history of these holiday festivals, how they were performed and what they meant to Jews at different historical times. We add fresh new expression to these rituals, based on modern interpretation and understanding of meaning and purpose we find we’re associating now to the historical purpose for these holidays. We use humanistic blessings, rather than religious liturgical ones, to express the Jewish ritual to bless and make sanctified moments of our lives.
When we embrace halakhah and perform mitzvot, we do this *not* because some mythical “G-d” image of our people commanded us to do so. Rather, we do these acts, these spiritual expressions of consciousness, because they are the right acts for us to do as individuals and as a people. We do not perform acts that we *know* does not actually sanctify life in our times, but rather only regresses us backwards in thinking and behaving to a time in which our understanding as a people still needed much work of understanding and development. We modernize what we can and reflect it in behavior humanistically, and only teach about the rest and their what and why.
We support the existence of the modern State of Israel and encourage its democracy and freedom from religious mono-ism. Israel is our ancient homeland as a people, back when it was called Israel, even through the times it was called Palestine, and once again as the Israel we now support and know. Likewise, we support, encourage, and teach modern Ivreet (Hebrew) to ensure our ethnic language remains vibrantly alive throughout the Jewish communities around the world.
We recognize that Jews now come in all “racial” types, since the first exodus into the Diasporas around ancient Judea-Israel. As an ancestral group, what is often called a “racial” group, we have as part of our ancestral family European Jews, Spanish Jews, African Jews, Chinese Jews, Arab Jews, Indian Jews, (and so on) who look like their greater counterparts and also can all trace their ancestral lineage back to the Semitic tribes known as Judea and Israel. Then, there are many who have become Jewish, by community legal acceptance, who do not have specifically the ancestral lineage. “Who is a Jew?” in today’s times is a hotly debated and highly complicated issue that can only be answered by each of the Jewish communities themselves.
We believe in miracles, but have no reason to believe in supernatural ones rendered by a mythical “G-d” image (of ours or any other people’s religions). We firmly understand that reason shows us that *we*, individually as humans and collectively as a human people, are the reason for miracles happening and are ones who make it happen. Miracles do not happen, until humans are willing to act upon their beliefs. What we believe, determines our actions, and when we have momentum in action, miracles do indeed happen.
Our congregation is located in Keene, Texas. We can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org . – As of December 23, 2015, this attempt at building a viable secular Jewish community in central Texas has been suspended until further notice, due to an insufficient number secular Jews making inquiries into our community. But, maybe in the future, we will try again. There is always hope, right?