Practices: Spiritual Growth and Transformation: Seeking Knowledge and Wisdom
“The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances,
the more certain it seems to me
that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through
the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith,
but through striving after rational knowledge.”
“Only wisdom based on self-understanding . . .
will save us.”
Religious naturalism is distinctive among religious orientations in having the natural world as the centering focus. With a view that nature is the cause of all that is, it is spiritually as well as practically useful to try to understand, as best we can, how things are and why things happen as they do.
While some have voiced concern about “unweaving the rainbow” (where scientific knowledge might diminish a sense of wonder), religious naturalists tend to feel that the opposite is true – that appreciation can be enhanced by knowing more. And beyond the expanding awe that can come as various aspects are revealed, exploration can give practical knowledge – about human nature, as well as principles and processes in the rest of nature.
Science-based inquiry has provided advances in understanding living beings, leading to insights in medicine and health maintenance that let us live longer and healthier lives. It has also opened our eyes to the nature of the planet and the universe. These understandings have psychic benefits, in leading to views that can help to minimize disappointments that come from misconceptions, and in attitudes that can contribute to peace of mind.
They can also contribute to wise choices when we’re faced with moral dilemmas, as it grounds decisions in how things are (as supported by evidence) rather than on concepts tracing to ancient times or how we think things should be.
As it helps us to maximize good and minimize problems, seeking knowledge can be seen as a path toward salvation (as in the root word “salve” to alleviate suffering or heal). Similarly, as part of the Buddhist 8-fold path, “right understanding” can contribute to avoidance of suffering.
Seeking knowledge can be done in a wholly secular way, but as occurs in study of scripture and in the Hindu path of jnana yoga and some other traditions, seeking knowledge can be embraced as a religious practice.
One resource for obtaining knowledge on topics relating to religious naturalism is this website.
Topics listed below each link to pages that provide a brief overview to the topic and links to additional resources.
Readers can explore these and other resources at-will (at whatever pace or focus may be desired), or a “guided tour” may be considered, where topics listed below can be explored in sequence.
…..Practices to re-orient the mind
…..…..Encounters with nature
…..…..Encounters with art
…..…..Meditation + Prayer
…..…..Pilgrimages + retreats
…..Spiritual growth or transformation
…..…..Developing religious attitudes
…..…..Seeking knowledge and wisdom
…..…..Marking life events (wedding, funeral, birth)
…..Putting values into practice