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Previous religions - Baggage

Post  Nikitas on Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:16 pm

Hello everyone,

I need your help.  I really like Olympianism, but I have doubts and fears impressed on me from previous religions, such as fear of eternal damnation if I no longer practice their religion, etc.  Would you guys be willing to give me some encouragement and advice on how to deal with this problem?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:41 pm

Well, I got over my Pentecostal upbringing because the philosophies of Plato and the subsequent geniuses of that philosophical tradition made more sense than the teachings of Pentecostal Christianity. When I decided that the new belief system was mores sensical and more correct than the old one, I stopped focusing on the old, because it was no longer relevant to me. Everyone is different. Usually, it's just a temporary thing that dissipates as one immerses themselves more into the new belief system and practice and stops focusing on the old one. Just takes time.

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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  Erodius on Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:16 am

Nikitas wrote:Hello everyone,

I need your help.  I really like Olympianism, but I have doubts and fears impressed on me from previous religions, such as fear of eternal damnation if I no longer practice their religion, etc.  Would you guys be willing to give me some encouragement and advice on how to deal with this problem?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

There is no eternal damnation. The soul takes birth in one world or another until her debts have been paid and her sins purified. No birth, whether upon the world, in a lower world, or a higher one, is truly permanent. Only the Final Death of ectheosis is permanent, beyond which death is no more, and the soul abides in its rightful nature until the end of this universe, upon which all is absorbed again, and the beginning of another, ad infinitum.

Even the souls of the incorrigibly wicked are not punished forever — what purpose does it serve to punish one who will never relent? And what is it to continue to punish one who has? Nonsense. Such totally corrupt souls are simply torn apart, and their elements refashioned — divided up, perhaps, to dilute their corruption.

The cycle of the cosmos has no beginning, and will never end.
This is one of the main points of Greek and other — such as the Hindu Vedanta — philosophies: that existence is, ultimately, without beginning or end.

I would recommend familiarizing yourself with the story of Er, from Plato's Republic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_Er

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  Nikitas on Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:00 pm

Thank you so much you guys for your help.  I can't express how much it helped me.  Anyone else who wishes to comment, please do so.

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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  Linda on Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:20 pm

Another point to take in mind, Christianity (now, I don't know if you come from Christianity, I'm just guessing) is really permeatet with the idea of sin and crime and punishemt and eternal damnation. And the reason for that is that, for centuries the Christians have been using that card to keep their faithfull in order and not having them thinking too freely or questioning things and thus becoming hard to manage. And what better to keep them in order than to scare them with eternal punishment in hell if they don't behaved. More efficient than any labour camp or Gulag. And fear have always been every tyrant's best weapon - cheap, efficient and convenient, and easy to upgrade, should that be needed.

Just remember that Christianity, the way it looks like today, was 'invented' by Roman emperors to get an empire more easy to manage than one with a heterogen popolation and cruise-ship load of deities. Christianity, with it's jewish origin of dessert-land harshness and rigidity was easy to hijack and model to suit its purpose. (Earlier C had just been a religion for poor people, slaves, rebells and outcasts)

Just as earlier posters have been pointing out, the very idea of hell is pointless. Besides, where in the universal order would such a place fit in? The Christians used to believe that place to be down under, in the centre of the earth, which we now know is empty of such things. And it doesn't fit with any laws pf physics we know or can even imagine.

No, I wouldn't worry if I was you, save for upon encountering some die-hard Christians who keep on jabbing about their hell ideas. Just ignore them if they don't get the Not Interested message.
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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  Erodius on Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:09 pm

is really permeatet with the idea of sin and crime and punishemt and eternal damnation. And the reason for that is that, for centuries the Christians have been using that card to keep their faithfull in order and not having them thinking too freely or questioning things and thus becoming hard to manage.

I think one must not be so quick to point fingers. The Christian ideas of sin and redemption are very characteristically a part of the religious fabric of the Hellenistic era, and are by no means peculiar to Christianity; the same ideas are at the heart of Classical Hermetism, Orphism, likely Mithraism, Manichaeism, and a whole host of Mediterranean and Near-Eastern mystery religions and Gnostic movements. The idea of the soul suffering in the world as a penance for having committed a grave transgression against the Divine in the distant past, and then the potential for hope of escape from such a fate, are Hellenistic Greek ideas, not Hebrew ones, which came to feature in Christianity as a result of its heritage as a fusion of Hellenistic Greek and Pharisaic Jewish ideas.

And what better to keep them in order than to scare them with eternal punishment in hell if they don't behaved.

Nor is that idea 'Christian' any more than it belongs to other religious movements, or even simple methods of moral instruction in general. Many people will listen to reason only after being told what may await them should they continue on the road they follow. This is no different from using images of car wrecks as deterrents to reckless driving, or emphysema-patient interviews and images of blackened lungs to deter smoking.

In any religion wherein having a human life is seen as a precious gift and a rare chance to achieve something much greater — perhaps even deliverance altogether from any further ills — dark and dire imagery is incorporated to highlight just how precious one's life is and what one does with it, by underscoring the alternatives, should one reject one's chance.

The images of the hell-realms in many streams of Buddhism, as well as Orphism, and related philosophical movements, are hardly any less grim. The only difference being that Christianity posits only one chance, whereas Buddhists and Orphics recognize multiple chances. However, that is hardly to be taken lightly. Sure, the sojourn of a sinner in one of the Dharmic Narakas, or Orphic Underworlds is not a stay for all eternity, but both Buddhist and Orphaic writers have spoken of tenures in such worlds of tens or hundreds of thousands of earth-years. And, as an aside, I would question how much of a true difference there is in motivational power between facing an eternity in Hell for one's errors, or thirty-thousand years.

And fear have always been every tyrant's best weapon - cheap, efficient and convenient, and easy to upgrade, should that be needed

Fear is perhaps the most powerful motivator there is. Every moral and legal code is ultimately fear-based. But I would strongly disagree that this makes them 'bad.' I do not drive drunk because I am afraid that I will hurt somebody else, myself, or both, and, beyond that, the legal repercussions I would face if I were to cause an accident, and still beyond that, I fear killing someone not only for the legal repercussions on earth, but for my sentence in the hereafter, because my religion teaches me that it is among the gravest sins of all to take from someone his/her chance at living, and the opportunity life provides for the soul. Fear is anybody's best weapon. Fear has no alignment of its own; good people utilize fear for noble purposes, bad people utilize it for wicked ones, and I think most, if not all of us, have at some point or another used both.

Christianity, with it's jewish origin of dessert-land harshness and rigidity was easy to hijack and model to suit its purpose. (Earlier C had just been a religion for poor people, slaves, rebells and outcasts

Classical Greek religion, especially in its public/state form, was hardly any less rigid than Judaism — both incorporated all measures of complex prohibitions and observations and obsessively-detailed ritualism; and in many cases, prohibited the introduction of deities to the state cult every bit as stringently. While, in private,  religion exhibited features not expressly condoned by the state cult (i.e. the Temple in Jerusalem, or the State Cult of any given Hellenistic state). Many, (if not most) of the customs of Judaism were also features of the religion of neighboring Canaanite nations and other peoples of the near east. And, if one reads the Prophets of the Old Testament, it becomes expressly clear that 'idolatry' was rampant among the Israelites for virtually all of Biblical history. Classical Judaism in practice, as well as pre-Deuteronomistic Judaism in principle, were really not any more or less rigid than the religions of any other contemporaneous nation.

Greek writers thought the Jews rather odd, certainly, for some of their customs, but, actually, the typical caricature that the Greeks and Romans had of an excessively-] legalistic, ritualistic, hyperreligious person was the Egyptians, far more than the Jews.

However, that aside, a simple logical question that ought to help you, Nikitas, is why you would concern yourself about what X-religious group says if you are not a member thereof and do not consider their legal code to be genuine? If you are afraid to break a rule, in any situation in life, not just this one, that says to me (and this is neither an inherently good or bad thing), that some part of you still believes that code to be binding.

Food for thought.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  Nikitas on Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:41 pm

Thank you Erodius.  You certainly gave me a lot to think about.

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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  hhodios on Fri Dec 20, 2013 12:08 am

Nikitas wrote:Hello everyone,

I need your help.  I really like Olympianism, but I have doubts and fears impressed on me from previous religions, such as fear of eternal damnation if I no longer practice their religion, etc.  Would you guys be willing to give me some encouragement and advice on how to deal with this problem?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

Well, what everyone else wrote surely applies. But just fundamentally (no pun intended), if you're not in that religion anymore you don't have to worry about its punishments. ;)Hellenic polytheism is much more in tune with current science, in fact I can't think of a counterexample but there are more theologically knowledgeable people on the board. There is no 'hell', there is only the place of Hades, and Hades isn't the 'devil', he's just "one who receives many guests."

Even if the Gods were only aspects of one supreme 'God', why would a supreme, all-powerful and all-knowing being think that it was a good idea for the limited beings it had created, and whose behaviors and thoughts it could foresee, to suffer for an eternity because of the lack of evidence one way or another. It just doesn't make any sense.  "I am the child of Earth and starry Heaven, but of Heaven is my birth" so your beliefs are just the most reasonable. Of Heaven is your birth, so your reason is yours to use as you see fit.

Why would Christianity have some monopoly on having access to God(s)? It's just another religion, and in fact its basis is much more flimsy since it's "messianic" and not natural like the Greek religion.
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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Fri Dec 20, 2013 12:44 am

hhodios wrote: Well, what everyone else wrote surely applies. But just fundamentally (no pun intended), if you're not in that religion anymore you don't have to worry about its punishments. ;)Hellenic polytheism is much more in tune with current science, in fact I can't think of a counterexample but there are more theologically knowledgeable people on the board. There is no 'hell', there is only the place of Hades, and Hades isn't the 'devil', he's just "one who receives many guests."

Depends on what you mean by "hell." In the Christian sense? Perhaps not. But there are mentions of punishment in the afterlife, even in the non-Mysterial myths. Tantalus, for example. Sisyphus being made to push a boulder up a hill repeatedly. Afterlife punishment exists in the myths, as well as in the Mysterial systems, though not viewed so literally. So, in a sense, there is hell in Greek myth and religion. However, as Erodius already stated, it's not how most people caricature it as.

Pluto most certainly is not the "devil," agreed. He's a god, and is therefore a being of light. There is no evil in him. However, he's not just a "receiver of many guests," he is, along with Persephone, a monarch of all souls between physical lives, and has great influence in deciding their fates. He's a judge.

hhodios wrote: Even if the Gods were only aspects of one supreme 'God', why would a supreme, all-powerful and all-knowing being think that it was a good idea for the limited beings it had created, and whose behaviors and thoughts it could foresee, to suffer for an eternity because of the lack of evidence one way or another.


Why, indeed? Erodius actually covered this issue in his first reply.

hhodios wrote: "I am the child of Earth and starry Heaven, but of Heaven is my birth" so your beliefs are just the most reasonable. Of Heaven is your birth, so your reason is yours to use as you see fit.

This means something else. This is an Orphic phrase, and it means that we mortals are the results of the divine part of ourselves, the Dionysian spark in us that is our inheritance from Zagreus' dismemberment at the hands of the Titans, being united with our materialistic and Titanic natures. When the Orphic initiates says this phrase, they are saying that they have conquered the Titanic portion of their being, and allowed the divine spark inside them to grow and overcome the material-driven body. And it is true that our reason is ours to wield as we wish, but there are right and wrong ways to wield reason, and their are good and bad goals which reason can attain. One should know the difference and exercise their reason accordingly.

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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  hhodios on Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:08 am

Icarus wrote:
Why, indeed? Erodius actually covered this issue in his first reply.

Yeah, fair enough. I'm no theologian.

Icarus wrote:
This means something else. This is an Orphic phrase, and it means that we mortals are the results of the divine part of ourselves, the Dionysian spark in us that is our inheritance from Zagreus' dismemberment at the hands of the Titans, being united with our materialistic and Titanic natures. When the Orphic initiates says this phrase, they are saying that they have conquered the Titanic portion of their being, and allowed the divine spark inside them to grow and overcome the material-driven body. And it is true that our reason is ours to wield as we wish, but there are right and wrong ways to wield reason, and their are good and bad goals which reason can attain. One should know the difference and exercise their reason accordingly.

Pretty sure I meant something along those lines, though Orphism is only one interpretation of the religion AFAIK. Just didn't want somebody to be scared because of Judeo-Christian baggage.
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Re: Previous religions - Baggage

Post  Erodius on Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:58 am

More specifically, Icarus was referring to the fact that the phrase "I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven, but my being is of Heaven alone." is endemically Orphic — one of a set of things that are unique to the Orphic religion, and not found elsewhere in Graeco-Roman religion — among the things, for instance, which are used by historians and scholars of religion to distinguish specific Orphic identity of a person or text, due to the fact that the majority of Orphism, in rite and ritual, in deities, and in mythology, is not readily distinguishable from non-Orphic Classical religion. In historical and religious academia, particularly, that phrase has been used for decades as a sort of calling-card or Orphic-indicative creed, for the simple reason that it is 1. a concise statement of the heart-core of Orphic theology, and 2. it does not appear anywhere else other than in Orphic contexts.

The second point being significant because the belief in a dual nature of worldly embodiment, with only one of those two natures being genuine and the other illusory, is, in many ways, a central distinguishing feature of most Mystery cults in comparison with common religion. It was a tenet that, in many cases, made Mystery cults seem so odd to the uninitiated, and, at the more extreme end, even blasphemous. For, in the common religion of the time, the claim that one was, in basic nature, divine, but merely corrupted by the world, was about the most blasphemous idea one could hold in a religious framework in which the worlds of mortal and immortal were clearly defined and separate from one another, where one reality governed mortals, and another reality entirely governed gods.

though Orphism is only one interpretation of the religion AFAIK.

The other distinguishing aspect of most Mystery cults, of any religious phylum, is the fact that they are, typically, what one would call 'messianic', meaning, in the more general sense, that they consider themselves derived from, usually, a complete and inerrant revelation from a prophetic figure. Christianity is what usually comes to mind here, but there are a number of other religions that are often called 'messianic' by this broader definition: Manichaeism, Mandaeism, Orphism, Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, the Eleusinian cult, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Bön, many Hindu Bhakti movements, and, arguably Confucianism and Taoism. Nearly all of these also share the characteristic that they consider their parent religions (the ones into/out of which they were born), to have been basically true and correct (usually that they were originally true and correct), but have partially or mostly slipped away from the right path over time, and that their prophetic figures came into the world as teachers to set humanity back on the straight path. As such, by their basic nature, messianic or 'revealed' religions have in their followers a characteristic certainty in and dedication to their truths as a result, I think it's reasonable to conclude, of their general belief in such truths' being of direct revelation, rather than simple postulation. An aspect of this is what, I think, the best term is 'faith', a thing that has inspired confusion and mockery, as well as passionate devotion for as long as it has probably existed.

Just didn't want somebody to be scared because of Judeo-Christian baggage.

You're 150% correct. Leaving one's baggage behind is a vitally essential part of entering a new religion (if one is unwilling to do so, I think one ought to undertake a soul-search to figure out if the conversion is really what is best, would you agree?) I would argue, as an extension of my previous advice to Nikitas, that if one finds her/himself unwilling to part with certain proverbial 'bags' there is a part of him/her devoted to the bag's source and unwilling to 'move' to the new 'location.' I think it like, to use a somewhat off-color analogy, entering into a new, committed relationship; it is far easier to do the less baggage one has from previous relationships. Holding onto one's 'bags' I would compare to, in a serious case, continuing to 'hook-up' with one's ex while between or pursuing a new relationship with somebody else, or, in a milder case, being unwilling to part with that memory box you keep in the back of your closet that you want to throw away and know you should but just won't bring yourself to part with.

However, on the other side of this, I think it is also important not to overdo the bridge burning. One can achieve a separation without a dynamite blast and damnatio memoriae. Much, much, much too often, it seems to me, especially for those coming out of a Christian background, that such individuals, out of a combination of Christianity's own emphasis on it's (erroneous) 'uniqueness' — the historically common Christian practice of promoting Christianity by teaching that it is totally unique and completely different from all other religions — and the well-intentioned but overly sycophantic efforts of those seeking to advocate non-Christian religions, who, in the well-meaning effort to try to encourage those who have left Christianity (especially on poor terms), oftentimes slip into a practice of telling ex-Christians that 'you'll be happy in XYZ-religion because it's nothing at all like Christianity.' Sort of like, to go back to my analogy, telling someone with whom one is in a new relationship that 'you'll be so much happier and better off with me because I'm not at all like that nutzo you separated from.' When, in reality, by virtue of being human, you probably have numerous things in common with that other person. This is further damaging, in both relationship and religion, by encouraging a 'splitting' type thinking wherein the poor-terms separation with the other leads to one semi-consciously demonizing everything about that person, when, originally, one had only a certain set of complaints.

Yes, those leaving Christianity ought to leave their bags at the door, but, on the other hand, they should not be under the impression that X-new religion will be 'totally different'. For, aside from those religions that have arisen in modern times as conscious anti/un-Christianities, whose basis is in trying their best to be as unlike Christianity as they can possibly be, most world religions, from the perspective of one who has loved their study since he was very young, are really not that unlike one another.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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