IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are genuinely interested in helping to create a better world, please take the time to read this entire document carefully.
1a) About Enlightenment (and Spiritual Literacy)
It seems that all sincere truth-seekers and mystics eventually conclude that all sincere religions contain (symbolically) the same essential truth and wisdom; and that "God" does not refer to a fictitious white-bearded wizard that lives just outside of the known universe, but to the infinite and eternal universe itself.
That our human family is a conscious and able aspect of the universe is significant! It means that we have the extraordinary opportunity to consciously make a substantial contribution to the well-being of all that exists within our ever-expanding sphere of awareness and influence (which is presently best represented by Earth).
Unfortunately, there are many members of our human family who don't recognize the ancient spiritual symbols (like "God" and "Self") as such; and, instead, interpret them literally.
True "spirituality" has absolutely nothing to do with adopting a specific religion or believing in a fictitious God. Instead, it is the natural result of realizing that the entire universe is connected, if only by the mystical flow of cause and effect at every scale.
Truly spiritual beings realize that as we go about our lives striving to be healthy and happy, we should also be striving to help the world around us be healthy and happy.
Of course, spirituality ultimately means far more than simply living according to what should be common-sense ethics (see "The Theory of Wholistic Ethics"); it also means balancing one's limited sense of self, self-knowing, self-guidance, etc. with one's mystical relationship to the infinite universe.
To the extent that one is successful in balancing one's own finite identity and significance with one's infinite identity and significance, one will be overcome by authentic and unconditional love. Love of all that is, all that has ever been, and all that will ever be.
Love is the true sign of true spirituality. And love is the key to a better world!
1b) Why GLOBAL Enlightenment IS CRITICAL
Existential Ignorance* (which comes along with spiritual illiteracy, which is the inability to recognize spiritual symbols as such) is the most significant reason that life-threatening agendas have been able to flourish virtually unrecognized and unchallenged. The masses, being brainwashed, hypnotized, and deeply confused; are easily divided, disabled, demoralized, distracted, and controlled.
The result of unmitigated greed is not only the devastating manipulation, enslavement, and selective reduction of our human family, it is also the devastating decimation of the very natural resources that make continued life (all Earth life) possible. Ultimately, it is the unnecessary torture and murder of both humanity and Earth!
However, if we can awaken and enlighten (which comes along with spiritual literacy, which is the ability to recognize spiritual symbols as such) some critical mass of humanity, we will effectively liberate an astounding number of intelligent and creative people who can (and almost certainly will) help to create an ever-better world.
Literal religions (which tend to promote the erroneous and unhealthy belief that they are the one true religion with the one true God) have effectively divided and disabled people for centuries. It is time for all who understand the problem and the solution to stand up and speak out. For more information, please visit Religious Revolution.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There are many different paths that lead to existential enlightenment. Rather than choosing one of them (or creating yet another path), the Center focuses on validating and illuminating existing paths by promoting "Global Enlightenment" (one of our Eight Empowering Intentions).
I believe that global enlightenment is, indeed, critical to the well-being of our world; but I feel strongly that each individual person should choose and follow the path that they feel is best for their current perspective and circumstances.
*Yes, there are many other extremely important realms of ignorance and division (such as politics, nationality, race, gender, etc.); but existential ignorance is the most fundamental and the most important because, ultimately, it facilitates all destructive divisions (not just those between literal religions).
For more detailed information about why GLOBAL Enlightenment is critical to creating an ever-better world, please read "Know Thy Enemy".
2a) About the "God-based" Philosophical Classification System
People are frequently fundamentally classified by their beliefs about "God".
THE OLD COMMON CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM
According to the old common "God-based" philosophical classification system:
1) Those who believe in "God" are classified as Theists.
2) Those who don't believe in "God" are classified as Atheists.
3) Those who are undecided about "God" are classified as Agnostics.
Unfortunately, the term "God" has at least two extremely different meanings:
1) Generally, (traditional) Theists and Atheists define "God" as:
"An entity external to the universe that created and rules the universe"
2) Generally, enlightened (and spiritually literate) people define "God" as:
"The personal name given to the infinite and eternal universe"
As radical as the difference between these two definitions of "God" is, the common "God-based" philosophical classification system makes no distinction whatsoever!
For this reasons (and others described further below), I propose a new expanded philosophical classification system.
THE NEW EXPANDED CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM
I propose that a new classification be created in order to represent enlightened (and spiritually literate) people (and people on the path towards enlightenment). I further propose that the new term be either "Spiritual Atheism" or "Non-Literal Theism", but any successful term would be fine. ("Spiritual Atheism" is currently in the lead.)
According to the new expanded "God-based" philosophical classification system:
1) Those who believe in the existence of an entity external to the universe that supposedly created and rules the universe are classified as Theists.
2) Those who do NOT believe in the existence of an entity external to the universe that supposedly created and rules the universe are classified as Atheists.
3) Those who do NOT believe in the existence of an entity external to the universe that supposedly created and rules the universe, but do recognize the inter-connectedness and one-ness of the infinite and eternal universe, are classified as Spiritual Atheists (or Non-Literal Theists).
4) Those who are undecided about the existence of an entity external to the universe that supposedly created and rules the universe are classified as Agnostics.
THE NEW EXPANDED CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM
This generalized table is provided in order to stimulate intellectual and conversational inquiry. Please excuse any omissions and exceptions.
Ayn Rand's Objectivism
Anton LeVey's Satanism
(or Non-Literal Theism)
AGNOSTICISM represents those who are undecided about "God".
*PLEASE NOTE: Spiritual Atheism (or Non-Literal Theism) is NOT a religion or a philosophy! Instead, it is a critical addition to the "God-based" philosophical classification system. (see above for details)
2b) Why an EXPANDED Classification System IS CRITICAL
Naturally, when using the old common God-based philosophical classification system, enlightened people (and people on the path towards enlightenment) are almost always stuffed into the "Theism Box" by Atheists and the "Atheism Box" by Theists. Due to the inherent limitations of this old philosophical classification system, this is understandable (and even a bit humorous); but it is not very rational or useful!
Just for laughs: You know you are an enlightened Spiritual Atheist (or Non-Literal Theist) when all of your Atheist friends insist that you are a Theist, and all of your Theist friends insist that you are an Atheist!
Furthermore, when collecting statistics, Spiritual Atheists (or Non-Literal Theists) are almost always classified as Theists (which seriously exaggerates* the number of people who supposedly believe in a literal "God") because the surveyors simply ask, "Do you believe in God?", which naturally elicits a simple and friendly "yes" response from many (not all) enlightened people. It is impossible to know how many people classified as Theists are actually Spiritual Atheists (or no Non-Literal Theists).
Spiritual Atheists (or Non-Literal Theists) are often people who have consciously chosen to dedicate the remainder of their lives to the cause of helping to create a better world, yet they have virtually no collective presence or voice in the world.
*For example, on February 16, 2004, on ABC News' PrimeTime (a nationally broadcast television program in the USA), Diane Sawyer reported that 82% of all Americans claim to be Christians. Were all atheists and all other "flavors" of theists really carefully excluded from this number? (This particular episode featured an interview with Mel Gibson about his film, The Passion of the Christ.) IT'S TIME FOR ENLIGHTENED (AND SPIRITUALLY LITERATE) PEOPLE (YOU!) TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!
UPDATE: It's been 14 years and things are looking better! READ THIS: AMERICANS & GOD
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACT OF THE OLD COMMON SYSTEM
As long as enlightened people (and people on the path towards enlightenment) remain unacknowledged, belief in the false (literal) "God" of traditional Theism will remain prevalent. And as long as this belief remains prevalent (and regularly reinforced), the masses will be easily divided, disabled, demoralized, distracted, and controlled; and extraordinarily destructive agendas will be able to flourish virtually unrecognized and unchallenged by the masses.
In short, in my opinion, our collective future depends upon Global Enlightenment. And Global Enlightenment will be greatly sped up when enlightened people (and people on the path towards enlightenment) are officially acknowledged as having a life perspective that is significantly different from that of traditional Theists, Atheists, and Agnostics.
If you agree, I strongly encourage you to promote the new expanded philosophical classification system and the following directly related web sites.
3) The Centers for Global Enlightenment and Spiritual Literacy
The following web sites were created as a direct application of the above insights for the purpose of liberating, uniting, and empowering as many people as possible to help create a better world.
Please Note: These web sites were created almost two decades ago and have received very little attention since then. If you would like to help improve them, please let us know.
The Center For Spiritual Atheism
Mission: To promote awareness of Spiritual Atheism so that Spiritual Atheists can have a collective presence and voice in the world for the ultimate purpose of nurturing wholistic health and happiness.
The Center For Non-Literal Theism
Mission: To promote awareness of Non-Literal Theism so that Non-Literal Theists can have a collective presence and voice in the world for the ultimate purpose of nurturing wholistic health and happiness.
The Center For Religious Revolution
Mission: To nurture enlightenment (and spiritual literacy) within Literal Theistic churches via their very own Non-Literal Theistic church leaders and other influential church members for the ultimate purpose of nurturing wholistic health and happiness.
Additional note from the author (Soren Sorensen): There is a lot of profound wisdom buried deep within spiritual symbols that could only have been put there by intelligent and creative people. It is time that currently living intelligent and creative people recognize this and resume guardianship of this invaluable legacy. The golden baby (timeless knowledge and wisdom) has been thrown out with the dirty bath water (literal interpretations of spiritual symbols).
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Working Together for One and All