Helena Ripoll Hazell

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I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY...I BELIEVE...I BELIEVE YOU...I BELIEVE IT. What does one actually mean when saying this?

That one thinks? That one did not think at all and just accepted the ideas imposed on them? That one does not doubt that your words correspond to your conviction? That one can believe the sincerity of your testimony however doubt its content? That one has no doubt that this event took place like you describe it? That for an illusory comfort one has chosen the death of one's brain?

Inspired by Albert Jacquard and his book "Dieu?"- "God?"- I find myself posing these questions not for the purpose of mocking anyone but to try and understand what is still so alien to me.

This debate was originally started in French so bear with me while is being translated faithfully.

JE CROIS EN UN SEUL DIEU, LE PERE TOUT PUISSANT...
...JE CROIS...JE VOUS CROIS...JE LE CROIS
Qu'est-ce qu'on veut dire quand on dit ça?
Que je pense? Ou que je n'ai pensé rien de rien, j'ai seulement accepté les idées imposées? Que je ne mets pas en doute que vos paroles correspondent à votre conviction? Que je peux croire à la sincérité de votre témoin et ne pas croire le contenu de votre témoignage? Que je ne mets pas en doute que cet événement s'est déroulé comme vous les dites? Que par le confort illusoire je choisis le décès de mon cerveau?

Inspirée par Albert Jacquard et son livre 'Dieu?' je me demande ces questions et je voudrais savoir si quelqu'un veut partager avec moi son avis sur ça.

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    Jun 21 2011: Il faudrait que les religions qui constituent une culture évoluent dans un environnement séculier où les décisions sont prises pour le bien-être de tous et non d'un groupe privilégié. Si l'on restreint l'emprise de toutes les religions sur l'État, c'est finalement toutes les croyances qui en ont a gagné. Au départ cela ne peut pas paraître évident pour une religion majoritaire, mais on voit bien que dans les États laïques, la diminution des conflits sectaires profite a tout le monde.

    Je vais dans la bonne direction ou est-ce que j'ai complètement raté le sujet?

    The religions that are part of a given culture would need to evolve in a secular environment where decisions are taken for the well-being of all and not a privileged few. If we restrict the influence of all religions on the State, then, in the end, all religions have something to gain. This might run counter to intuition to a majority religion, but we can clearly see that secular States have enjoyed a decrease in sectarian conflicts, an outcome that benefits everyone.
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      Jun 21 2011: Hi Matthieu,

      Yes, you are on the right track.
      I didn't pose these questions to mock anyone. I'm kind of bored with all the conversations about the existence or non-existence of a god. In my opinion, we should stop trying to prove anything (and by saying this I don't mean we should stop the scientific research!) Although I don't believe in God I can not prove its non-existence, the same way no one can prove its existence.
      If one wishes to, one can believe in God; Allah; Nzambi; Krishna; Vishru; Shiva; Jehovah; Shang-Ti; pink elephants or the god of spaghetti; I really don't care, however after all the scientific discoveries, the new technologies, the evolution in medicine, ect.; the human life has changed, our needs aren't the same as the ones we had yesterday, therefore, we must change our way of thinking. The prayers must evolve too.

      Salut Matthieu,

      Oui, tu vas bien.
      Je n'ai pas posé ces questions pour me moquer de personne. Je suis ennuyée de toutes les conversations sur l'existence ou non-existence de Dieu. À mon avis, il faut qu'on arrête d'essayer à démontrer rien. ( En disant cela je ne dis qu'on ait d'arrêter les recherches scientifiques! ) Bien que je ne croie pas en Dieu je ne peux pas démontrer qu'il n'existe pas ainsi que personne ne peut pas démontrer qu'il existe.
      Si on veut, on peut croire en Dieu, Allah, Nzambi, Krishna, Vishru, Shiva, Jéhovah, Shang Ti, des éléphants roses ou le dieu du spaghetti, je m'en fou, vraiment, mais après toutes les découvertes scientifiques, les avances technologiques, l'évolution de la médecine, etc.; la vie humaine a changé, nos nécessités ne sont pas les mêmes que celles d'hier; par conséquent, il nous faut changer notre pensée. Les prières doivent aussi évoluer.
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        Jun 21 2011: Encore faudrait-il convaincre les croyants de Dieu et d'Allah que les découvertes scientifiques sont plus solides que leurs textes religieux. Bonne chance.

        If only one could convince believers in God and Allah that scientific discoveries are more solid than their religious texts. Good luck.
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          Jun 21 2011: Oui, tu as raison. Je le sais, il est pratiquement impossible. Mais si l'on pourrait laisser de côté la religion pour une fois, si l'on pourrait arrêter d'essayer à convaincre personne de rien et simplement vivre en société suivant des "normes" civiques générales...comme par exemple ces "commandements" que j'ai trouvé sur internet :


          1. Traitez vos compatriotes humains, les êtres vivants et le monde en général avec respect, intégrité, honnêteté, et amour.

          2. Ne vous sous-estimez jamais mais développez votre intelligence et vos talents à travers l'éducation et l'effort.

          3. En toutes choses, s'efforcer de ne pas causer de mal.

          4. Vivez votre vie avec un sentiment de joie et d'émerveillement.

          5. Toujours cherchez à apprendre quelque chose de nouveau.

          6. Examinez toutes choses; contre-vérifiez toujours vos idées avec les faits, et soyez prêt à jeter une croyance, même si chère pour vous, si elle n'est pas en concordance avec la réalité.

          7. Ne jamais chercher à censurer ou se couper de la dissidence, toujours respecter le droit des autres à être en désaccord avec vous.

          8. Formez-vous une opinion indépendante sur la base de votre propre raison et expérience, ne vous laissez pas conduire aveuglément par les autres.

          9. N'endoctrinez pas vos enfants. Enseignez-leur comment penser par eux-mêmes, comment évaluer l'évidence et comment être en désaccord avec vous.

          10. Ne tournez pas le dos au mal et n'hésitez jamais à établir la justice, mais soyez toujours prêt à pardonner les actes répréhensibles admis librement et honnêtement regrettés.

          11. Partagez avec ceux qui sont moins fortunés et aidez ceux qui sont dans le besoin.

          12. Jouissez votre vie sexuelle,pourvu que vous n'endommagez personne, et permettez que les autres jouissent de la sienne n'importe quelles soient ses inclinations.

          13. Ayez-vous le courage de vivre sans limitations.

          Je le sais, c'est naïf, mais rêver c'est gratuit...
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          Jun 23 2011: You are right. It is almost impossible I know, however if we could all leave religion aside for once, if we could all stop trying to convince one another of anything and simply live in society following general "norms" of civility...for instance like these commandments I found on the internet:

          1-Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.

          2-Never underestimate yourself but seek to develop your intelligence and talents through education and effort.

          3-In all things strive to cause no harm

          4-Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.

          5-Always seek to be learning something new.

          6-Test all things, always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

          7-Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.

          8-Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience, do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.

          9-Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.

          10-Do not overlook evil or shrink from administrating justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

          11-Share with those who are less fortunate and help those in need

          12-Enjoy your own sex life( so long as it damages nobody else) and leave others to enjoy theirs in private, whatever their inclinations.

          13-Have the courage to live life without limitations.

          I know, it's naive, but dreaming is for free.
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          Jun 25 2011: Helena the 13 commandments:

          1. Is a rearrangement or derivative of the Golden Rule - do unto others.
          3. the Hippocratic Oath taken by graduating doctors
          6. The principle of science
          12 Good advice
          11. Whenever possible - comes from the Bible "Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you turn not you away"
          Most of them are anyway.
          9 - easier said than done - will be disregarded by all religious people
          Waffle - 13, 4, 2
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          Jun 26 2011: Richard, do you have any other suggestions? I'd be very interested in knowing about them.
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          Jun 27 2011: How about something simple, universal and easy to remember like

          " be present to all sentient beings without ego, need, fantasy, attachment, judgment or jealousy"

          Not only is it easy to remember .. it actually work in every siutaion,,in every relationship, in every moment. ..guarnateed..never fail..never goes out of styl e or needs revamping or tinkering.
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          Jun 28 2011: Hi Helena, I think that the first commandment, the Golden Rule or the ethic of reciprocity, is the best. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It has stood the test of time and is the basis for our modern concept of human rights. It is the moral basis of our democracies and western Laws.

          Birdia's quote from Oscar Wilde was a good one "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." On further thought I'd take the moral lesson in that sentence and discard "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live". That gets us bogged down on a definition or debate about selfishness.

          The moral - do not impose your wishes on others. It follows from the Golden rule, if you wouldnt like something done to you dont do it to others. Do not bully or impose your will on others.
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          Jun 29 2011: Hi Richard,

          When I first thought about all this, that one "commandment" was the first and only one that I found summed everything up , however the constitutional right to freedom of religion kind of takes it all back to square one. Human rights will continue to be violated through the repression of freedom of mind, ostracism, lapidations, circoncisions, violence of all kind...the list is long. That's why I thought being more specific would maybe be a good idea...clearly it wasn't.

          I agree with your notes on my proposal and I too find Bridia's quote spot on.

          I don't have any solutions, my point is, our future society musn't ressemble our past society, prayers should evolve, our way of thinking should change.
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        Jun 22 2011: C'est une liste intéressante de commandements, peut-être un peu trop vague a mon goût. Le seul problème que j'ai c'est avec le 4eme commandement. On ne peux malheureusement pas forcer les sentiments. Je crois qu'une personne même seulement modérément religieuse ne pourrait se soustraire aux commandements 6, 7, 8, 9 et (dans certains cas) 12.

        Mais bon comme tu dis, rêver c'est gratuit.

        It's an interesting list of commandments, maybe a little too vague in my view. The only problem I have is with the 4th commandment. Sadly, you cannot force people to have particular feelings. I think that someone who is even just moderately religious could not abide by the 6, 7, 8, 9 and (in some cases) 12th commandment.

        But as you've said, dreaming is free.
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          Jun 22 2011: C'est vrai, la liste est vague mais peut-être on la peut étendre? As-tu d'autres suggestions?

          Si je fais la traduction de ce débat en anglais, tu peux m'aider à traduire quelques phrases?

          C'est pas grave si tu n'es pas intéressé. :-)
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        Jun 22 2011: Je vais y réfléchir. En attendant je veux bien t'aider a traduire le débat en Anglais. Je suis un 'TED translator' après tout!
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      Jun 26 2011: Yes, mattieu good standard at the insitiutional level as well as at the personal level. Any aspect of an organized religion tha tis in conflict with any other oractuces that serve humanity and value life, e.g.Sinnoza, Buddha, Sufi culture, needs to get "cleaned up"; any organized religion that preaches violence or the eradication of anyother persons needs to get "cleaned up" ( we talk about this covering lot sof good ground in my conversation on on the Limits of Freedonm of religion"

      But when organizations fail to get "cleaned up" or are too slow in accomplishig that , it goes back tot he individual who is ultimately responsble for the entire conetnt of his/ger own "belief system"
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    Jun 29 2011: ".., instead of asking what religion is I should prefer to ask what characterizes the aspirations of a person who gives me the impression of being religious: a person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to which he clings because of their superpersonalvalue. It seems to me that what is important is the force of this superpersonal content and the depth of the conviction concerning its overpowering meaningfulness, regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities. Accordingly, a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation. They exist with the same necessity and matter-of-factness as he himself. In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. " Albert Einstein Pinceton Theological Seminary, 1938

    I love these broader definitions of "religion" and religious" that Albert Eisntein gives . He is suggesting that religion and "the religious" are those who seek and affirm a conscious commitment to values and goals which serve humanity. So by his standard, the blind uncritical recitation of things that do not specifically uphold and reaffirm such values are not "religion" or "religious" within the meanings he outlines.

    .I think in general, most such blind recitations in religious life or in ordnary group memberships are more about group imdentity and perhaps less about affirming any higher goals and moral purpose to thech the orgnaization is supposedly addressed.
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    Jun 29 2011: Helena,

    ,To answer your question as a religious person raised in the episcopal church..whole nine yards..soloist in the choir, pouring tea at receptions a bona fide religious person to whom you say your question is addressed..you want to know from us in religion why these things are recited?

    Well it's an ongoing issue, at least for some, in my church. Many of us just refuse to do it and keep lobbying for its removal..especially the ceed which has not one thing to do with anything Jesus ever said or claimed about himself. ( there's a whole interesting and not very pretty history behind the creed which was written at the council of Nicea in the 600's under Constantine. He was newly converted and wanted t make his kingdom a Christian Kingdom and wanted a "proof" of who really was christain and who was not. That's sort of the moment when things went very wrong in the church and in chiristianities place in the world.

    Whenever the rebellious within the church challenge the inclusion of the creed we are told some line like "it's a traditional affirmation of christian fellowship" or some such gobble de gook. In my diocese ( and that must be therefore for the whole episcopal church) we are not allowed to have a celebration of mass that does not include the creed.The elements of each "official" observance are in "The book of Common Prayer" and the form of each servce requires many responses and affirmations. Straying from that is neither encouaged, nor officially permitted

    .I think it is akin to the codes of professional ethics or pledges that accompany many organizations and their official meetings. Brownies, Girl Scouts and Biy Scouts are required to recite their pledge at every official meeting. Same in many civic organizations. Same with saying the pledge of allegiance every morning in school. No one ever questoins it. I ts just something that you are expected to do and say if you are a member of that group.Pro Forma

    .So that is the short answer to your question.
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    Jun 27 2011: Helena

    ,I see many people turning up here at TED Conversations equally blindly accepting and believing in memes half truths and spurious information pedaled in email forwarded and links shared through social networking.

    It is exactly the same blind, passive fumbling along.Your premise that this is somehow just a foible of people in organized religions is not correct , I think

    .What this blind acceptance and passing along without critical evalutaion points to is the question..and I am not sure what the answer is

    .In part I think lots of folk like things that are canned and prepackaged. If the "group idenity" that goes with that "package of information" is otherwise attractive, feels comfortable, people aren't too actively engaged in re-evaluating it on their own. These group affiliations ( whether its "atheists", "progrssive" liberal"" tea party" "conversative" "fundamentalist") create a syle , an identity, that is ready made, pre digested, comes with an information"kit" that is just accepted, repeated passed along.

    Its the same thing. No difference. Why ? Is the question. Why are so many people unwilling to do the hard work of their own critical thinking, their own determining of what is true or not.? Why do so many people just accept whatever nonsense comes to them through Facebook and email and social networking and pass it on as gosepel, as some sort of cache?

    I'm not sure. I'm thinking though that it has something to do with disenfranchisement, with estrangement..certainly it is a passivity.. That wonderful TED talk on why we surrender our judgment to so called "experts" is pointing to the same thing I think. What that "thing "is I am not so sure.
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      Jun 27 2011: Can you please elaborate on this:

      "Your premise that thi sis somehow just a foible of people in organized religios is not correct , I think".

      You have me completely lost. I've read your comments so far and still fail to see any realtedness to what I'm actually enquiring after, and don't get me wrong, I'm willing to take full responsibility on that because few people seem to have gotten me.

      I'm very tired right now and can't really put enough focus and energy into this however, tomorrow I will read through again.
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        Jun 27 2011: These particular elements from your question:

        "That one thinks? That one did not think at all and just accepted the ideas imposed on them? That one does not doubt that your words correspond to your conviction? That one can believe the sincerity of your testimony however doubt its content? That one has no doubt that this event took place like you describe it? That for an illusory comfort one has chosen the death of one's brain?"

        Applies as much to folk right here at TED conversations..many ,any who pedal memes and half truths that are their "shared beliefs".

        .the problem you point to of not thinking critically, swallowing it whole is not an ailment only within organized religions..it is everywhere in our culture.

        I am suggesting that to visit those questions menaingfully..they need to be looked at as cultural relaities that are pervasive and oetrhaps even growing..not just in organized religiouns, but everywhere around us.
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          Jun 29 2011: Hi Lindsay,

          I have not asserted nor implied at any given moment that this is just a foible of people in organised religions. I hear what you are saying and yes, I absolutely agree with the fact that not thinking critically is not only an aliment within organised religions.
          My debate simply happens to be focused on religion., that's all. I was particularly interested in hearing the opinions of religious people otherwise I would've omitted the extract from the Apostles Creed.
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          Jun 27 2011: well, sort of Jim..I am pointing to it as a much broader cultural phenomenon . I guess what I am pointing to is that most of us like our information pre packaged..if it comes from a trsuted source..the pope, a friend, someone we admire..we just accept it as gospel.

          As a culture, we don't have the habit of critical thinking, of doing our own homework, of really looking at the truth and relevance of something before we just pass it on to others. I think in most things that concern us in our daily lives there is an objective discernible truth or at least a more complete truth than we are given and that most people don't do that work of unpacking the whole truth behind what is given as truth.

          And yes, we can't talk about "belief systems" as if they only existed within religious community or only applied to belief in God. As we explore in my conversation on belief systems, we all have them, whether we declare ourselves atheists or humanists , Christians , jews or muslims, cultural ethicists..whatever. We all have "belief systems" and initially a lot of what fills up that space in us is just handed to us as "the right way to think", the "right thing to believe". Over the course of our lives it gets built inivisibly giving us a "lens" on he world..a lens on all we see, all we encounter and we don't even realize its a lens.

          .Look forward to unpacking the "semantics of belief systems" at your conversation.
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          Jun 29 2011: So,Helena, I just want to understand what you are saying

          You are asking us here to limit our comments , only want to hold up for scrutiny those in religious practice who, in your judgment, must have suspended critical thinking to say these things?

          And that's not religious intolerance?

          I am not telling you anything.

          All of my comments have been clear and center on topic and will continue to be.

          All conversations belong to the entire TED community and to all members..
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        Jun 29 2011: Well then Helena, I woud argue that the phrasing of your question amoun s to religious intolerance if you did not intend the underlying prnciple at issue to be considered as it applies to all people.

        That makes your conversation essentally about challenging ONLY people within religious practice while tolerating or not being interested in the same behvavior across an entire culture. And it misses a critically important and obvious reality which is that people who do this in the context of religion do it because it is culture wide..it is what most poeple do in one way or another.
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          Jun 29 2011: Put it in whatever way you want' I'm not going to urgue with you about this any further. Me focusing on religion does not mean I am not interested in the same behaviour across an entire culture. That is your assertion and It's simply not true. I kindly suggest you start your own debate and refrain from telling me how to ask my questions and to whom.
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          Jul 4 2011: How did I miss this? 3 cheers Helena for standing up for yourself and not accepting any cr-p. My regard for you has gone up a couple of notches.
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          Jul 3 2011: Hi Jim,

          I think you'll find that comment was directed to me. And I never meant to silence anyone either, Lyndsay is free to say whatever she wants, and it seems she already knows that.
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          Jul 4 2011: Hey Jim,

          You would probably like Edward de Bono's book, "I am Right You Are Wrong." In it, he provides a very playful but accurate model of how the brain processes information. The model was presented in an earlier book (1969) called "Mechanism of The Mind."

          Computer models have been developed based on the books and they function largely "as predicted."
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          Jul 4 2011: Jim..that is a fascinating topic and one I would love to see you help us unpack more in a TED Conversation all by itself. Expectations definitely form what it is posisble for us to see and understand. That is exactly how belief systems, in the broadest sense and how mindsets and memes drive culture. The more narrowly focused and drawn the lens..the less of reality is perceived and understood. I like what Sam Harris was trying to say in his TED talk but I think his main point may have been missed or misunderstood by many.

          And by the way, even though mistaking mu commentto Helena as my comment to you, I appreciated your very respectrful reply and of course aniticpate a continuation of exploring worthy ground with you here and in other TED Conversations.
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          Jul 5 2011: Hi Jim,

          Strangely enough, a few days ago, I was trying to explain this to a friend however failed to do it as eloquently as you just did, thank you.

          Please post here a link to the conversation you are planning to start on this subjet; I would be very interested in following it.
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    Jun 27 2011: QUOTE: I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY...I BELIEVE...I BELIEVE YOU...I BELIEVE IT. What does one actually mean when saying this?

    Well to focus on the "God the Father" part, that particular depiction - God as masculine - may be a fabrication of the "Church Fathers" (Ignasius, Irenaeus, etc.)

    Aramaic, the language Christ spoke, is richly and, apparently, intentionally ambiguous. For example, the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer, in Aramaic is: Abwoom d’bwashmaya.

    In the King James’ Version of the Bible, that line has been rendered as: Our Father which art in heaven.

    However, to capture the full meaning from the Aramaic, the line would be more accurately translated as something like this (all of it:)

    Oh Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos,
    You create all that moves
    in light

    Oh Thou! The Breathing Life of all,
    Creator of the Shimmering Sound that
    touches us.

    Respiration of all the worlds,
    we hear you breathing – in and out –
    in silence.

    Source of Sound: in the roar and the whisper,
    In the breeze and the whirlwind, we
    hear your Name.

    Radiant One: You shine within us,
    outside us – even darkness shines – when
    we remember.

    Name of names, our small identity
    unravels in you, you give it back
    as a lesson.

    Worldless Action, Silent Potency –
    where ears and eyes awaken, there
    heaven comes.

    Oh Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos!

    --------------------

    All of that is contained within the phrase: "Abwoom d’bwashmaya."
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      Jun 27 2011: Thomas thank you for this..translations are fixed in time and often are biased by ideology of the time so what is left is no longer meaningful even if what was originally spoke is eternal and compelling.

      I first heard the lord's prayer in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke in , at a retreat and was just mesemerized by its warmth and roundness and by the timeless universality and poetry of modern scholarly translations. I now only say the Lord's Prayers in Aramaic.,a different version, and chanat it often in Aaramaic. It's like Shakepeare with all its rhymes and alliterations. Liguistically just powerful and beautiful.

      Lynne Bauman is also doing some very lovely work in modern translation sof the psalms that makes them more meaningful and accessible to a modern world and again shows the universality of wisdom and thought that is lost in archaic translations.

      I had hoped you would visit my Conversation on Belief Systems..we covered some interesting ground there on how important it is to keep our belief systems relevant, fluid and dyanmic serving us in a modern complex world.

      We also explored in some depth that "beleif systems" are universal..that we all carry them around whether we believe in God or not or are associated with nay organized religion and that the belief system" we develop and carry arind outside of organized religion can be just as limiting personally and just as harmful and irrelevant.

      See Tom Atlee's very eloquent expression of that below in another post and also at my conversation..

      Nive to see you by the way, Thoimas.
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        Jun 27 2011: Hi Lindsay,

        You're welcome.

        The translation is by Neil Douglas-Klotz and can be found in his little book "Prayers of the Cosmos."

        I do not recall seeing your conversation on Belief Systems. I'm a pretty unsophisticated "browser" - if something pops up when I check in, I might have a look and comment ... if I feel motivated.

        I take it that conversation has concluded?
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          Jun 27 2011: It has but worth a gander..some lovely stuff there..I know the Neil Douglas-klotz..
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          Jun 27 2011: Jim ,

          I will see you there. We certainly only scrtached the surface although tere were many pentrating contributions there. And I am interested to see how you are bringing semantics into it.. I can see that would be very fruitful.

          It certainly has to be at the heart of the tea party movement. A lod bell went off or me th eother day listening to someone connect the creationist movement, for example, with the tea party's bizarrely untruthful claims and assertions..suggesting that the tendecy to hold something to betrue against overwhelming evidence to the contrary is at the heart of both..that fndamentalism sets up a willingness not to think critically about other fcat sin other relams of life. And a lot of it does revolve around semantics..or really rhetoric..choosing the right word or pharse toconnect even if the actions and parictulars are at the opposite end of the spectrum..e/g/ believing that the wolrd bank exists to eradicate poverty.. If we beleiev they are eradicating poverty we are not going tolook to see what they are actually doing.,
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    Jun 26 2011: We can transcend _a_ belief system, but we cannot transcend belief systems, as such. Even when we "know" something or have the "evidence" of our experience or trusted others, we operate on a belief in stories about how we know things. And, whatever we know, it is edged all around with what we don't know, a realm that grows bigger as our knowledge grows. (My own contribution to ultimate wisdom is this: "There's more to it than that." This applies to all situations and may well be the most important thing to know in any situation.)

    So all of us have beliefs by the hundreds, many of them woven into systems of beliefs that manifest and reinforce each other. As far as I can tell this is kind of unavoidable...

    The issue, to me, is how we relate to our beliefs and to the beliefs of others. Do we nail them down in the "Truth" or "Falsehood" dichotomy, or see them as things that happen to make sense to us now, given our life experiences so far? Can we "suspend our assumptions" (as David Bohm said) -- recognizing them as just assumptions, open to inquiry? To what extent are our beliefs really ours, and to what extent have we adopted them without inquiry into their validity for our lives? Do our beliefs inspire us into actions that clearly serve life? Are we able to change them when circumstances change or evidence mounts that they are not serving us or Life? Can we live in inquiry together, exploring and evolving beliefs together, sensing how they resonate (or not) with Life in all its dimensions and learning from that?

    All this applies both to "belief systems" and to individual "beliefs". (You may have even intended this inquiry to be about mainstream cultural belief systems, but the opportunity to inquire into beliefs, as such, was just too tempting. :-) ...)

    Tom Atlee ( from my conversations on belief systems)
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      Jun 26 2011: Well said and many great minds in the world agree and have spoken thus..more or less
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      Jun 26 2011: Hi Birdia!

      I like your remark on selfishness and yes, it is related. You've actually got me rethinking about my proposal of general 'norms' of civility as a substitute for commandments...
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          Jun 26 2011: This conversation initially aroused out of my boredom of reading through conversations about the existence or non-existence of a god/s.

          I guess I'm targeting everyone.

          You are right, it's not fun but I find it very hard to turn a blind eye on certain issues.

          No problem about leaving you out alhough I have to say your comments are always like a breath of fresh air. Thank you. :-)
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          Jul 2 2011: It has also been erased, like footprints in the sand. Forgiven by Birdia but remembered by me.

          I do not forgive so easily. What do you reckon should be a suitable penance Helena? A few Hail Mary's? A hundred lines?
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          Jul 3 2011: Mr Dawson, so long as Birdia has forgiven me, it's all that matters to me. I am more inclined to take responsibility of my "wrongdoings" rather than say a few prayers, they just don't do it for me. Paying more attention to my typing will probably be more efficient. :-)
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          Jul 3 2011: Hmm.. looks like youre being obstinate. Careful typing of course, but can we compromise with one recitation of "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,...etc" or alternately The Lord's prayer?
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          Jul 4 2011: I'm not sure I'm the one being obstinate here...I'm afraid it's no deal. :-)
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      Jun 26 2011: I like that "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."

      Though giving it a bit of thought is not asking others to live as one wishes to live the very essence of bullying? Domination? Linked to selfishness as an antonym? Opposite?

      Your thoughts.

      Dont contradict me Birdia... I might challenge you to a cage fight... :)
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      Jun 27 2011: QUOTE: Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

      Nice quote (I have copied it to my quote file.)

      Do you know who said it? I have attributed it to you.
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    Jun 23 2011: Hey,

    I can't translate french, but get general idea. The statement you related is not in the Bible. It is a part of the "Apostles Creed.." Which the Church some time ago manufactured out of what 'they believed' was a statement of what the original Apostles believed. The reason for this is when Christianity began, it flourished quickly. There were misconceptions such as "they drink bood and eat people.." Statements were developed to make strong statements that were meant to give a siingular definiton that was widely held, etc. to make sure people understood the rumors were just that, rumors.

    I work a lot with teenagers. I don't fight about the concept of God existing or not. I move the conversation to one of Spirituality. That something larger than us exists in nature and in us... Proofs are nature, our natural inclination to fight our more carnal natures, our sense that we would be happiest if we reached our highest potential, etc.

    One last note is "Ontological Arguments." Which I use to illustrate that nature could not have fallen into place.. I use a variation of the "Watch Maker.' I as.. "if I took you cell phone apart, down to its smallest piece.. placed it in a bag.. how many times would I have to shake it before it came back together?"

    I place alot of these types of questions into "I'll find out when I die (for sure what the answer is)." If I get up there and still care to ask, I will. Most likely I will want to find an old friend to play chess with.. :)

    Thanks for the interesting topic.

    Peace
    • Jun 25 2011: Your argument of cell phone is generally used against atheist , but "Which Maker " hmmm ?
      My point is ( without hurting anyone's feeling ) "how many " , I mean if there are more than 1 ,like 1 to "the right hand " of another , than there will be dispute , One will want to make a tree , but the other want to replace it, because both of them are Almighty and Powerful , in that case there will be chaos.
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      Jun 26 2011: Hi Neil,

      I'm not sure we are on the same track here.

      Since words seem to have great power I'm inviting people to reflect upon these, in particular those who constantly repeat them. Me making reference to the Apostles Creed is just one way of introducing my qualm about how religion leads people blindly and as a consequence many conflicts have arised.
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      Jun 26 2011: Hey Neil and many of the points I wanted to make as well

      Helena.. My conversation now closed, have we outgrown our belief systems ( http://www.ted.com/conversations/3357/what_are_the_limitations_on_fr.html )is I think to the same point you are raising and we covered a lot of good ground there

      "Belief systems" belong not just to parctioners in the major faiths who recite the apostles creed every week..it belongs as well to the self described atheists, to all of us who blindly and uncritically collect and build beleif systems. Perhaps as much or more actual harm comes to the world and to others from the" non-religious" belief systemswhich do are not based on a core notion of love and awareness of others

      .I haven't written my conclusion yet but where we came to in that discussion is that all of us, atheists included, have "belief systems" at work in our lives in all kinds of ways some of which might not be worth keeping and harmful for us and others to act upon. That all of us need to awaken to the presence of our own internal belief systems ..unpack all that ..lay it out on the table and make knowing conscious choices about what we want to keep and what we want to throw away

      .Wise man Tom Atlee who posted said it most beautifully and I point all who are interested in this converation to read what he said there. In essence he said we should be contsantly mindful of what our own "belief systems" are. think critically about the, and choose to keep and grow towards what serves life, what serves humanity

      .Albert Einstein said essentially the same things in his essay on Science and Religion. Essentially he said, as I have said here, that "religion: " includes more than what points to or aseserts the existence of any god orgods..that "religion" in its purest form is what expresses humanity..that part of us that is about "humanity"..that part of us that expresses and seeks morality, social and economic justice, truth, wisdom...
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    Jun 20 2011: Albert Jacquard says "Little it matters what I believe in; I must choose freely what I commit to".

    I completely agree with him.
    It does not matter to me that one may be Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Pantheist...what matters to me is who one is, what matters to me is that one commits to being someone who treats others, and the world in general, with respect, honesty and, above all, love.
    How much prejudice, how many absurd decisions, how many wars, how many deaths, how many atrocities executed in the course of human history to defend one's point of view in relation to one's religious beliefs. How much manipulation,how much nonsense, how much repression, how much imposed guilt, how much useless suffering ignited in the name of a god figure. And all of that for what?!WHY?!!

    See also the preposterous inception of religions and dogmas such as The Church of England with Henry VIII's whims, for example, or the John Frum cult in the island of Tanna. More than showing the level of absurdity people can acquire this shows the need to emphasize the urgency to inform or reeducate the collective intellect.
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      Jun 21 2011: Chers Hélène, si vous aviez commencé cette conversation en anglais, j'aurais été plus heureux. Mais depuis que je suis un expert dans toutes les langues, le français est OK aussi. :)
      Vous ne pouvez pas attention à ce que la religion d'une personne appartient, mais si cette personne en raison de la religion, pense qu'il peut le viol ou d'asservir vous, alors vous pourriez être dérangé
      Alors s'il vous plaît ne dénigre pas Henri VIII. C'est lui qui a secoué l'évêque de Rome, qui a finalement conduit à un laïc Angleterre. Et la fille défaite de l'Armada espagnole.
      Je ne comprends pas ce qu'on entend par «Peu importe ce que je pense. Je dois choisir ce que de m'embaucher."

      Dear Helena, if you had started this conversation in English, I would have been happier. But since I am an expert in all languages, French is OK too. :)
      You may not care what religion a person belongs to, but if that person because of his religious beliefs, thinks he can rape or enslave you then you might care
      But please do not mock Henry VIII. It was he who shook off the bishop of Rome, which eventually led to a secular England. And his daughter defeated the Spanish Armada.
      I do not understand what is meant by "No matter what I think. I have to choose what to hire me."

      Sorry the original got messed up in translate
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        Jun 21 2011: The UK isn't strictly secular, it has an official State religion (the Church of England). Her point about the absurdity of the Church of England's birth is a very good point that my fellow students who belong to the Christian Union tend to forget all too often when they denigrate other branches of Christianity.

        You're using the wrong translation of 'since'. 'Depuis' is since as in 'ever since this happened' and 'puisque' is since as in 'since this is true that is also true'. Are you using google translate? :-p
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          Jun 21 2011: Matthew using Google translate? You are casting aspersions on my claim to be an expert in all languages? :) Well you are right. Thanks for the corrections. Google should do a better job. Oops Google translated your name also :)
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        Jun 21 2011: Hi Richard,
        The reason why I started this debate in French is because I read the book which inspired me to pose the questions in French and, since I'm actually in the process of learning French I thought it would be an opportunity to practise and learn a bit more.
        I'm no expert in French so please excuse me if I do not express myself clearly. If you like you can express your opinions in English or we can start this conversation in English too.

        I don't denigrate anyone...I don,t doubt the accomplishments of Henry VIII's however I can't deny the events through out history. Maybe I learned History in a different way. If you like we can discuss about this on another occasion. I am truly sorry if my remarks sounded offensive in any way, by no means was that my intention.

        I don't understand what you mean here:
        "Vous pouvez peut-être pas attention à ceque la religion...dérange"

        What I understand in - Little it matters what I believe in; I must choose freely what I commit to"- is that, religious beliefs should not dictate how we live in society, the label(Christian,Muslim,ect.) is not the person.

        Was I more clear? I think maybe I was a little too ambitious starting a conversation in French.
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          Jun 22 2011: Salut Helena,

          Je pense que c'est une excellente idée d'avoir la conversation en français si vous voulez l'améliorer. Je vous serais reconnaissant si vous ou Matthieu corrigé mon français.

          Qu'est-ce que je voulais dire en disant "Vous ne pouvez pas attention à ce que la religion d'une personne appartient, mais ..", c'est que vous semblez dire que ce qu'une personne croit n'est pas important. Croyances religieuses de la personne ne sont pas importants. Mais si les croyances religieuses de cette personne fait de lui empiéter sur vos libertés et vous abusez, il est évident que vous devriez soins. Il serait insensé de cacher votre tête dans le sable et dire que vous ne se soucient pas.

          Ce n'est pas une supposition hypothétique. C'est ce qui se passe avec l'islam, qui cherche à s'imposer sur les non-croyants.

          Votre "commandements" sont un autre ensemble de croyances et comment voulez-vous amener les gens qui sont religieux à les accepter?
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        Jun 23 2011: Richard, It's very brave of you to join a conversation in a language you don't find easy to express yourself; I really appreciate your interest and effort.

        My French isn't good enough to give you faithful corrections however I can give it a shot. You just sounded pretty articulate to me right now so you are on the right track, in my opinion.

        I'm wondering if it would be better to edit the debate and translate it into English. I've started other conversations in other languages and I don't seem to be very popular.

        Maybe we got our wires crossed lost in translation but I never said that I don't think what people believe in is unimportant. You seem to have focused on one part of my remark and completly ignored the second part which states that what truly matters to me is who people are and what they commit to-the label(Christian, Muslim, etc.) is not the person- how they engage with the rest of society that doesn't fall into their belief system, and that people, everyone, treats others and the world in general, with respect, honesty and above all, love.

        In regards to the "commandments" I proposed, first of all, they are not mine, I did not make them up myself, and secondly I do not expect anyone to accept my naive proposals however, as i said before, dreaming is for free...:-)