Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,

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Is 'Sacred' The Most Dangerous Word?

How do you define what is sacred?
There was a secretary who made light of a Muslim office guard's sacred belief that pork is dirty and secretly fed him that for a joke. The guard shot her dead.

Christianity not being a religion rooted in the land as is indigenous spirituality compounds the problem.

'The controversy over the recent Paris auctions of Hopi objects boils down to competing definitions of what is sacred. The same tension exists elsewhere in Indian Country where economic development projects are proposed for land Native Americans consider to be holy.'
http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/12/21/255544805/what-part-of-sacred-don-t-you-understand

  • Jan 7 2014: Poch,

    You asked for a definition: Mine is that sacred to me means a fundamental belief. A fundamental belief that those that believe would not compromise on.

    I agree that cultural fundamental belief could cause riots, murder threats, wars, etc. But personal fundamental belief could be unknown and you could violate it without knowing.
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      Jan 7 2014: 'A fundamental belief that those that believe would not compromise on.'
      Excellent definition Wayne. If so many beliefs should have no gray area, how much more
      a sacred one?

      'But personal fundamental belief could be unknown and you could violate it without knowing.'
      Yes. It's like a trap. You think you can share your friend's private family photos; and when
      you did, it was a breach of trust to your friend!
  • Jan 4 2014: I can see how sacred could be dangerous. If an item is viewed as more important and valued more than someone else's life, then surely it could be dangerous. As nothing material lasts forever it has always been hard for me to see objects as sacred. For me the only thing sacred is the life on this planet.
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      Jan 4 2014: You have just started a controversial argument sir.
      I agree that life is very sacred. Some even hold the life of pests as sacred. If the person you
      most love is suffering with utmost pain from a hopeless disease and the person is asking you
      to allow him to die in peace, wouldn't you grant his wish? Is his life so sacred that you would not
      grant his wish?
      • Jan 4 2014: Ha! I don't want any trouble, not looking for controversy!
        Yes I think I would grant him his wish. (Speaking of controversial, assisted suicide is a touchy subject for a lot of people). I have actually given it thought before when it was in the news a few years ago. If a loved one was suffering needlessly and had truly given it consideration, I think I would respect their wishes. Of course its one thing to speculate, and another thing to actually be in that situation. My wife and I actually spoke recently about my wishes. If I was on life support I would only want to be kept alive a few days, only long enough for my loved ones to get a chance to say goodbye. Growing up where I did, we had access to guns at an early age and my brother and I often went off shooting on my grandpas farm. We shot and killed without pause. I have long since lost my taste for killing. Its a little embarrassing in my local culture, but I struggle with killing anyyhing these days, even pests. Though the biting flies that I deal with in the spring push me too far sometimes! Life at its core, that driving force that animates all living creatures, to me, is the only true sacred thing, but I strive for practicality in my life and in the case of survival, I am still animalistic. Not so evolved to be a total pacifist. I guess I would say that in the example you put to me I would say that our ability for conscious thought gives us the right (and responsibilty) to decide what we do with our own lives.
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          Jan 5 2014: Your reply is awesome Jacob and I knew you don't
          want any trouble nor you're looking for controversy.

          '...our ability for conscious thought gives us the right (and responsibilty)
          to decide what we do with our own lives...'

          I still believe that a Higher Spirit than us have the right to decide what to
          do with our lives. But yet if I were the one suffering needless pain, I'll
          probably decide for myself too.
      • Jan 5 2014: The trouble and controversy comment was all in good fun, things can get very serious very quickly when talking and debating issues like these and it seems tempers have been flaring in discussions here at Tedtalks lately. I have veered off from your original topic and even your original reply to my comment but if you ever get a chance maybe read Viktor E. Frankls book "Man's search for Meaning". Only vaguely related to what we've been discussing but a great book. This conversation brougjt it to my mind. Thanks for the conversation and I hopeto take part in more discussions with you in the ffuture!
  • Jan 3 2014: Spirituality is often misinterpreted and misunderstood.Spirituality does not compounds the problem.It is the adulteration of spirituality with religion that compounds the problem.Some unenlightened people adulterate spirituality with religion. Spirituality leads a person from darkness to light,whereas religion leads the person from light to darkness.Spirituality is independent of any religion.Spirituality is about enlightenment.

    Once upon a time in the days when railways was just invented and very few rail network was established . One day three people were talking . And the person who has seen the rail engine in action,explained to the other two people . And one thing which he mentioned was that a smoke comes out of the rail engine.

    After this incident , one day the other two people were walking on the road , and saw that a smoke was coming out from a far away place . And the moment they saw that smoke they started shouting , train is coming , train is coming !! Run fast !!

    There is no such thing like sacred . It is the emotions and feelings attached to the object which makes anything sacred.
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      Jan 3 2014: 'Spirituality leads a person from darkness to light,whereas religion
      leads the person from light to darkness...'
      That's great insight Santokh!

      'It is the emotions and feelings attached to the object which makes anything sacred...'
      I think I'll be convinced of that.
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      Jan 3 2014: Santokh and Poch,
      I agree with the idea that it is the emotions and feelings attached to an object which makes it sacred in our mind and heart.

      Do you think the same idea might apply for spirituality and religion? Is it always true that "spirituality leads a person from darkness to light, whereas religion leads the person from light to darkness"? Do you think/feel this is true of ALL people? Or do you think/feel it sometimes depends on the practice and how a person uses emotions and feelings involved in the practices?
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        Jan 3 2014: Is it always true that "spirituality leads a person from darkness to light,
        whereas religion leads the person from light to darkness"?
        In retrospect I saw that was extreme. Here, my feelings were involved. Religion
        itself caused me to hate it when I discovered more and more of its lies and hypocrisies.

        Or do you think/feel it sometimes depends on the practice and how a person uses emotions and feelings involved in the practices?
        Did my answer above also answered that?
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          Jan 3 2014: It feels extreme to me as well Poch, because there are so many variations of spirituality, religion, and overlapping of both. I could not embrace a statement or belief that feels so rigid and judgmental.

          I too discovered hypocrisies, contradictions, and some extreme beliefs and practices with some religions and/or religious people. I also observe, however, many people using religious beliefs as valuable life guides. So, in my perception and observation, it seems to be HOW people use the beliefs and practices.
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    Jan 3 2014: The 'personally sacred' is far less dangerous than the 'collectively sacred', because it is free from the corrupting influences of politics and commerce.
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    Jan 2 2014: Hi Poch......it is an interesting question, and it depends on what definition one uses. I do not perceive the word as any more "dangerous" than any other word....it is how we use it that counts. "Sacred" is usually connected with religion, or a deity, which is reinforced with the definition, so if one uses it in another way, it may be misinterpreted.

    In addition to the parts of the definition relating to religion and a deity, there is more....
    "entitled to reverence and respect".

    That being said, and that being my belief regarding the use of the word "sacred", I went to a workshop years ago called "creating sacred space". I believe that anywhere and everywhere is sacred....entitled to reverence and respect.

    All of the other 17 participants and the facilitator, described their alter, a certain room, or corner of a room, etc. dedicated to be called and used as "sacred space". As most of them described it, that is where they went to "get away from things that were bothering them", to pray, meditate, etc. I went to the first couple sessions, and became, according to other participants, the black sheep of the group because I did not feel that I needed to build an alter in my home to create sacred space!

    I believe that any space I am in, is entitled to reverence and respect and is therefor "sacred" in my perception.....anywhere in our environment....my home and other people's homes, etc. I do not have any desire to "get away" from living the life experience in the moment. Going to a place one believes to be "sacred", as opposed to all other places in our world, seems more like an escape to me.

    When I observe people say they go to their sacred space for comfort, I wonder why they cannot create that comfort for themselves in ANY space.
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      Jan 2 2014: '..."Sacred" is usually connected with religion, or a deity, which is reinforced
      with the definition, so if one uses it in another way, it may be misinterpreted...'
      Joshua's related statement:
      'Of course, one person's "sacred object" is another person's throw-away item or speculative
      investment. But as human-divine beings, we are also sacred - and that (I would say) is the
      basis for respecting what other humans have "made sacred" - even if we ourselves cannot
      see why it holds such meaning for them...'

      '...I believe that anywhere and everywhere is sacred....entitled to reverence and respect...'
      Many people get into trouble because they're unaware that most things on mother earth are
      sacred to American Indians, Asian Indians, Buddhists, and Hindus.

      'I believe that any space I am in, is entitled to reverence and respect and is therefor "sacred"
      in my perception....'
      That makes 'inner sanctum' irrelevant but I agree with that. That belief will also save us from a
      lot of trouble!

      '...I wonder why they cannot create that comfort for themselves in ANY space...'
      You are a rare bird which is virtually immune to distractions Colleen. That is why.
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        Jan 2 2014: LOL!
        No Poch, I am not "immune to distractions", because I do get distracted at times. I also focus on what is happening in the moment as much as I possibly can, which, in my perception, is sacred to me.....entitled to reverence and respect. I read Joshua's comment.....some similar ideas to what I expressed:>)

        Why do you say "That makes 'inner sanctum' irrelevant"? I don't understand that statement.
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          Jan 2 2014: If you believe that any space you're in is sacred,
          you won't need an inner sanctum which is supposed to be your private sacred room.
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        Jan 2 2014: OH dear Poch!
        I was interpreting "inner sanctum" different than you were using it. LOL!

        You were using "inner sanctum" to mean a room...a physical place.....and I agree with what you said....it would be "irrelevant" to me.

        I was interpreting "inner sanctum" as a sacred place in my "self"..... a place inside myself that is free from intrusion.....which to me, is relevant to the topic discussion:>)

        I also see now that you suggested that with your statement that I am "immune to distractions"!
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          Jan 2 2014: LOL Yes Colleen. I forgot that for some spirituals,
          'inner sanctum' is inside self. Anyway, I'm happy we've cleared something again
          in a funny way lol
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        Jan 3 2014: Dear Poch,
        It is ALWAYS more enjoyable to clarify and understand each other with respect. Thanks:>)
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    Jan 2 2014: Hi Poch, happy new year;

    Sacred, here on planet earth at least, is that which which we choose to be respected as beyond corruption by money-sex-power.

    Some things (for example Mother Earth) we could say are "sacred in themselves" by their very nature.

    Other things we choose to construct and "make sacred" (such as the Hopi items sold at the Paris auction). We also "make sacred" things like a special place of meditation in our home, or a stone we find and "make sacred" by giving it special meaning for ourselves.
    This includes, I guess, everything all the way up to huge cathedrals or stone circles, but most of which you will find are located on special energy points or ley-lines on Mother Earth. So perhaps they derive their sacred nature from their position on, and relatedness to, Mother Earth as well.

    Of course, one person's "sacred object" is another person's throw-away item or speculative investment. But as human-divine beings, we are also sacred - and that (I would say) is the basis for respecting what other humans have "made sacred" - even if we ourselves cannot see why it holds such meaning for them.

    As a former engineer, I have always been bugged by the question: "What is good technology?" After several definitions over 30 years, I have now come up with the answer: "to make things in which Spirit is pleased to dwell". That, I believe, is the reason for Man being "Homo Faber" (Man, the constructor-builder), not only to make sacred things, but also to make ordinary things sacred.

    In that respect, "sacred" is only a dangerous word to those who wish to rule their lives on the basis of money-sex-power. This is because the idea that something is to be respected as sacred, calls into question the validity of such a basis for living.
    For me, and hopefully many others, reviving the notion of certain things being sacred is essential for our survival on planet earth; which case the word is vital (as in vitalism) rather than dangerous.
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      Jan 2 2014: Happy new year too Joshua.
      Excellent illustrations of meanings of 'sacred'.
      Many people get into trouble because they're unaware that most things on mother earth are
      sacred to American Indians, Asian Indians, Buddhists, and Hindus.

      '..."What is good technology?" After several definitions over 30 years, I have now come up
      with the answer: "to make things in which Spirit is pleased to dwell"...'

      Unique and surprising. I never expected someone can relate tech to sanctity! I thought your
      answer came from the Bible.

      '...reviving the notion of certain things being sacred is essential for our survival on planet earth;
      which case the word is vital (as in vitalism) rather than dangerous...'
      Brilliant suggestion. Sanctity should also be a vital word indeed.
  • Jan 2 2014: Sacred is that which is eternal.
    Thus, beyond description.
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      Jan 2 2014: If describing what sacred is is impossible, does that make my question senseless?
      • Jan 2 2014: I don't think so. I think maybe 'sacred' is misapplied/misunderstood.

        Competing interpretations both miss the mark

        Just my two bits.....I dig the topic
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          Jan 2 2014: Thanks Scott. Wishing ro hear more from you.
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    Jan 4 2014: I equate sacred with hallowed. Some great, good deed bestows the aura of sacred.
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      Jan 4 2014: Now you mentioned the word I could explain 'sacred' with ma'am.
      If I say: "Is 'Hallowed' the Most Dangerous Word?", wouldn't the title seem weak or awkward?
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      Jan 3 2014: You're making me think and I like that Chris.
      The first thing that comes to my mind is a person's trust. That's sacred to me and it could only
      come from the benevolent Spirit. I'm not perfect and might inadvertently break that trust. But I
      will never intentionally break someone's trust. I consider that betrayal.
  • Jan 2 2014: ' sacred ' is not a word/concept/notion , but a feeling, hence can't be defined.

    If we don't allow magic into our lives, sacred objects are neither dangerous nor useful, it's just a fashion.
    But they are taken from people for whom magic is what life is about. What will come out of it ?
    It's too early to say :)
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      Jan 2 2014: So now sanctity is related to magic!?
      I like the unique surprising way this convo is going. But your statements are too deep
      for me. We'll have to wait for what others will say. Thanks Natasha.
      • Jan 3 2014: Are we talking about the recent Paris auctions of Hopi tribal masks ?
        I am not sure , but as far as i know Hopi culture has little to do with sanctity, it came from Christian ethics. But it has a lot to do with magic. Magic is a deep notion, that generally means that a perceivable reality is only the surface of something else. Through rituals, sacred objects they rekindle their connection with invisible, but truly real.
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          Jan 3 2014: Ahh...now I see your 'magic' connection to the issue.
          Sorry about missing that and thanks again Natasha.