Episode 2

July 11, 2023


Part 2 Alchemical Dialogues' Spirituality and Religion: Similarities, Differences, and Implications

Hosted by

Joel David Lesses
Part 2 Alchemical Dialogues' Spirituality and Religion: Similarities, Differences, and Implications
Unraveling Religion
Part 2 Alchemical Dialogues' Spirituality and Religion: Similarities, Differences, and Implications

Jul 11 2023 | 00:56:35


Show Notes

Part 2, continues the vital disucssion regarding the implications of spirituality, of religion, or neither?

Continue listening to this panel discussion with five practitioners who are either involved or have been with both spirituality and religion, as they explore their views and experiences.

Aude Chesnais, Ph.D., has encountered various spiritual traditions before finding her family on the Sufi path since 2017. She is a political ecologist and senior researcher for the Native Lands Advocacy Project, and has been working closely with native communities in the USA for the past 10 years on issues of land sovereignty and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, particularly in support of regenerative food-systems transitions. Aude’s work reflects strongly on her positionality as a white researcher working in Indigenous settings. Although her spiritual path has led her on the quest to understand oneness, Aude’s professional path and commitment to social justice constantly reminds her of the real social impacts of human distinctions on their lives. Reconciling these two coexisting realities is Aude’s lifetime quest. Aude received her MA in social and solidarity economics from Université de Haute-Alsace, France and her Ph.D. in sociology from Colorado State University, CO, USA.

Henry Cretella, M.D., is the host of Alchemical Dialogues and co-director of Amber Light International. He is a retired psychiatrist who received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and his post-graduate training at the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Henry was raised Roman Catholic and later began initial studies in Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as in the martial arts before finding a home in the Sufi lineage of Inayat Khan. Henry no longer practices an exoteric religion, but teaches and guides others in a mystically oriented spirituality that incorporates the wisdom from many traditions and disciplines. For Henry, he believes that we are in an era calling for each of us to find and follow our own unique spiritual path. He also believes that we can connect with others and a power greater than ourselves, in order to further a positive expansion and evolution of human consciousness.

Tania Day-Magallon is an artist born in Mexico City and has collaborated in various art events and exhibits in Chicago, Mexico City, and Rochester, NY. She identifies as Muslim and is a Sufi practitioner. Tania started her art education at a young age, and she attended prominent art institutions in Mexico City. Tania’s art frequently uses symbolism and imagery emphasizing her own cultural identity and spiritual views. Tania became a member of the group formerly known as Women of Color in the Arts (WOC-Art) collaborative, where she curated an art activity and installation titled “Hands of Sorority”. Tania was also commissioned to design the cover of an issue for the academic journal Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies entitled Deterritorializing Frontiers. Tania earned her BA in Visual Arts from SUNY Empire State College, where she continued her studies in visual arts and psychology. She is currently earning her MS in Mental Health Counseling at SUNY Brockport. Tania believes that mental health, spirituality, and the arts are interwoven, and her current work is focused on exploring her roots, the Divine Feminine, and decolonial mental health approaches that include the creative process as a fundamental aspect of human wellbeing.

Margot VanEtten has a wide and varied background in spirituality and meditation, interfaith study and dialogue, martial arts, and ministerial practice including as a lay minister in the Catholic Church for many years. She holds a Master’s degree in Sacred Theology from St. Bernard’s Institute in Rochester, NY. From 2000 to 2019, Margot was the campus minister and director at the Brockport Newman Center where she was involved in ecumenical and interfaith work with the local ministers, student organizations including the Muslim Student Association and Campus Ambassadors, Interfaith campus ministry organizations across the Rochester area, and with the Diocese of Rochester’s Catholic/Orthodox Commission exploring relations with Eastern Orthodox churches. After retiring, Margot began working as a pastoral minister for St. Monica’s Church and Emmanuel Church of the Deaf where she became the first woman who was not a nun to be named Pastoral Associate in the Diocese of Rochester. Prior, she was a sign language interpreter and liaison to the chaplain’s office at the Rochester Institute of Technology. This fits neatly into her early background: Margot grew up in a town on Long Island (Great Neck), which at the time, had a rather diverse religious and cultural population, and it was there that she grew to deeply appreciate the Jewish tradition, as well as her own Christian faith.

Joel David Lesses, who has lived in Nepal and Israel, is a poet expressing the landscape of our existence and capturing the mystical elements of our human being. He believes world religion, poetry, spirituality, and meditation encompass the makeup of our mind and life. The crux of his own journey is the manifestation of questions and answers to his own koan “What is the matter with me?” For Joel, this reveals the individual and universal aspects of our inherent and potent creativity. Everything is flux. Everything is poetry. His other passions include the intersection of poetry, spirituality, science, and phenomenology shared and disparate in the human experience, along with the transformative power of self-inquiry and introspection through contemplative and meditative practices. Joel holds the belief that the fundamental transformation of individuals and our collective comes through barreling inward, relentlessly asking the questions, “Who am I?” or “What am I” or “What is the matter with me?” The latter, for Joel personally, shattered a false sense of self. Joel was previously voted ‘Buffalo’s Best Poet’, founded WNY’s ‘Ground and Sky Poetry Series’, and created the podcast Unraveling Religion, which explores world mysticism and spirituality. His autobiography, Odyssey of Autumn’s Breath, is in-progress, and combines much of his life’s poetry with prose.


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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:21 Welcome to a Chemical Dialogues, a special Amber Light podcast panel. Join Dr. Henry Corella with Chena Tanya de Magdalene, Joel Lesses and Margot Vant for part two of their discussion on spirituality and religion, similarities, differences and implications. The information provided on this website and these podcasts is for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website and in these podcasts is intended to be a substitute for medical health, therapeutic diagnosis or treatment. The opinions expressed by the guests in these podcasts are not necessarily the opinions of Amber Light International and anyone associated with this organization. Speaker 2 00:01:06 So welcome back everyone. For those of you that are listening, if you haven't listened to our first podcast on spirituality and religion, I really suggest that you do that. We had a pretty intense discussion on what the differences and similarities and overlaps might be between spirituality and religion, and I'm not sure we all agreed, but I think we were coming close. And this second podcast is gonna delve a little more into the implications of, of that. So I want to reintroduce, uh, the panelists, and again, please listen to the first podcast. But welcome again, o aziza, Margo, Tanya, and Joel. Let me summarize again, what I think we are coming up with is that religion is more structured. Structured in terms of culturally is something people share, dogma, what their belief system is. Spirituality is more like the essence that fuels their religion. And Tonya introduced the word din that Margot thinks is kind of a transition between the two. Speaker 2 00:02:19 Not quite as structured as religion might be, but not quite as, I don't know if loose is the right word, but as unstructured as spirituality might be. Is is that a fair summary? More or less? Cause I'm not even sure I agree with my own summary, but that's what I think we were kind of getting to. So to start this off, I think there are huge implications to what we're talking about. So again, from a developmental perspective, I think much of what we're talking about and how we're talking about it is reflective of how conditioned we are. We cannot think out of the box. We can't imagine not having some sort of structure. It makes us all nervous. I mean, to me, that came out loud and clear. Personally, I get nervous with that too. I wanna be in, in spite of me saying how diverse I would like to be, I gotta admit I'm more comfortable with people I recognize and people who share similar beliefs. Speaker 2 00:03:24 And it's really a stretch, especially if people have beliefs that are quite different or they're coming from a cultural or other orientation, including religious or spiritual. That's very different and foreign to me. And I, I don't know, it's like I've lost my anchor. I, I, I feel lost. For me, that's the era that we're getting into. The new, I don't know what form it's all going to take, but there's something new that's developing that's much wider, much broader, much more feminine, collaborative, interactive. We're breaking down barriers that's happening naturally. And boy, is there a backlash. There's a political backlash, there's a religious backlash, there's a cultural backlash. So in terms of implications, I think religion's on the wrong side, religion, thinking of it, the way we've been discussing it is on the side of, no, no, no, stay in your box. This is your box. Speaker 2 00:04:30 Be comfortable. It will bind you together. And at best I can tolerate these other ones, but they're not as good as mine. And don't force that on me. Spirituality is more in line with what blocks, except this is going back to what Ode had said earlier where she said, yeah, you could have a culture where there's no spirituality, where there's no, she used the word sacralization. There's just, alright, we want to be nice to each other, but there's no sense of there's something greater than all of us. Whatever you want call that. I don't, I try not to use the word God anymore cuz that comes with a lot of other baggage too. But when you lose that sense, oh sure you can run into trouble, but that's not spirituality, that's secularization. So for me, and this is the seed thought that I want to present to the panelist, is religion is promoting continued conditioning. Speaker 2 00:05:33 To think that we have to have the degree of structure that I think is slowing us down and creating all the conflict, not all the conflict, much of the conflict in the world. And it's there because we're afraid. We're afraid of what's going to happen if we really, really do relate without that boundary. Not that there's no boundary again, uh, din I think that's spirituality by the way. But maybe there's something different or what Ode said in, uh, earlier, yeah, you don't wanna throw the baby out with the bath water. None of us are saying that. Some people will say that. Some people will say, you, you don't need any greater power. You just have to be nice to each other. Even the Dalai Lama says, the best religion is kindness. Just be kind To me, that's spirituality. But some people that's, they get an allergic reaction to that word too. So that's how I would like to start. I think for me personally, and when I'm presenting to the panelists and to those that are on the recording, I think there are a lot of implications to what we're talking about. So Tonya, you got your hand up first. Speaker 3 00:06:49 So Yeah. The way we think about religion now, right? It is very different from what religion was intended to be originally, right? I mean, we think about religion and, and we think about war and we think about institutions and we think about, uh, this idea of thinking that I'm right, you're wrong and this is how you have to be. This is the way, right? And it's, it's almost unavoidable to think like that about religion because what we've seen, I mean, look at what happen in Iran or look what was happening everywhere. Like for example, the hijab, right? It was, it was meant to be a choice. It was a symbol and not something imposed by man, right? <laugh>. So this is the concept that, and and I feel that more and more spirituality and religion, they're just parting separate ways just because what we've seen. Speaker 3 00:07:50 I just wanna say that those in power, those this system of patriarchy is a system of control. And they have used not only religion to mask their colonialization to mask this intent of control and power and to maintain the power. They have also used science. They have committed atrocities in the name of science. They have committed atrocities in the name of democracy. Does that mean democracy is, is is wrong or, or science is wrong? Or this is my thinking that if we want to decolonize our land, we also have to decolonize our religions From that paty, from that, uh, concept of power and control. It's not, it was not intended to do that. And just real quick, I just wanna clarify a point that I didn't clarify. In the, in the, in the first part, uh, when I mentioned the five parts, uh, connection, language, expression, symbol and traditions. I just wanted to say that it all is all comes together with the ritual. And I don't think I clarify, I didn't mention that in the first part. Speaker 2 00:09:01 Yes, thank you. But even rituals, right? So I've done a little bit of studying with the work of Michael Mead. He is very into rituals. He creates the re rituals with the group on the spot and they're really powerful cuz they're in the moment. Are there elements to the rituals that you can see across the different rituals? Sure. Repetition. There's a mythology that the ritual symbolizes that is shared by the people. There are elements to rituals that are important, including some rituals that are handed down over generations that still have a lot of power at the same time, look at how many empty rituals we have. There's no power left. There's a form and you're going to be cast out if you don't follow the form. But the form doesn't have any power anymore. And that's another podcast about why doesn't it have any power anymore? Speaker 2 00:10:02 And there could be empty rituals in the moment that don't carry any power either. All of those things can be true. But to me, again and again, that's not an essential element of a religion. And I think religion can take the lead and decolonization. It can stop with the rigid boundaries already. It can loosen up, it can say we're just cultural. If you live around Rochester, New York, it's kind of like living around Rochester, New York. This is what we tend to share. But you don't have some ipro something on it that says, oh this is so special. And, uh, we have, I think we have to decondition ourselves from that kind of thinking. And you don't do that by staying in a box, you know, keep the library, but you know, loosen up with the entry already, you know. So Margot and then Joel, Speaker 4 00:11:09 Boy, there's so much here, but I wanna stay with what I was originally thinking when I raised my hand. Something very interesting started happening in the last century and was the actually the upshoot of a lot offshoot of a lot of upheavals that were going on because of the Russia. And it, this is gonna sound like it has nothing to do with what we're talking about, but it's not because of the revolution. Russian Revolution, a whole slew of rough Russian Orthodox theologians and, uh, clergy fled and wound up in Paris where they set up, you know, little churches or communities cuz they didn't have buildings and all that. But at any rate, they also started interacting with Roman Catholic and some Protestant people. Speaker 4 00:11:57 They brought a whole bunch of stuff that had been lost in the western tradition with them during the sixties when, um, people, there was a sort of awakening and a whole slew of, of young people hiked over to India and eventually to Nepal and other places because they couldn't find a religion that taught them how to find the spiritual at home. Meanwhile, the Chinese had invaded Tibet and whole slews of llamas and GCEs and high ranking teachers fled and began to disperse to the west, bringing with them knowledge, spiritual training, spiritual practices that we had had never had access to. Okay. In the various, just to take three examples in the various, uh, civil rights and ecological rights battles that have been going on over the last, uh, part of the previous entry. And the early part of this, people actually started listening to Native Americans and learning from them about how to relate to nature and about spirituality. Speaker 4 00:13:08 These are just three examples. Our world has gotten very much smaller and very much more interconnected as a person of faith with a small f I don't believe this is an accident. I really think there is a movement in the universe to try to bring us together. And many of us have had the opportunity for the first time really ever to be exposed to different perspectives, different religious traditions. Um, and two things have happened. One is techniques have been brought. Spiritual technologies so to speak, have been brought to bear, which different people in diff have shared. And so they've infiltrated, if you go down to the abbey of the Genesee, a great, at least up until recently, I don't know what it's like now that they've remodeled a great deal of, it looked like a zen temple that was eastern influence. It didn't just pop up. Speaker 4 00:14:03 And Vatican II encouraged that, you know, there has been major sea changes within religious, do denominations and, uh, a change in the spiritual and religious landscape as a whole. And again, it's these people bringing the spiritual technologies and sometimes discovering places of contact, mindfulness. If you talk to somebody who really is familiar in the Eastern Orthodox Church, that's a very ancient practice of the, uh, mana early desert monks and fathers and mothers who fled once Rome took over Christianity called Nepsis mindfulness, paying attention to your thoughts. This is a spiritual practice. So if I wanna be spiritual, where do I go to learn this stuff? Now I have access to all kinds of things. They all came out of religious movements. So I think there's a, a great coalescence of things and an opportunity to see how many of how to find our commonality through these things. Speaker 4 00:15:09 When a Tibetan Buddhist teacher talks about the dharma, the emptiness, this vast luminous space from which all things arise and you listen to them really go on and on, as one of my teachers says effing v n fable, then it starts to sound an awful lot about like what John of the cross was talking about in some of his writings. So there's a spiritual reality, there are ways of approaching it, and those ways are interacting and I think a great deal of what we're talking about, about the freedom people are experiencing now, the way they're seeking arises out of that. And to me that's the one of the few things that gives me hope right now is that all of these things somehow are bringing up the spiritual in a way that I think is marvelous. Speaker 2 00:16:01 I learned mindfulness from John Cozen at a psychiatric intensive conference. And Dhar Mackay sounds a lot like the quantum improbability state. So boundaries are coming down. Does this mean you and I were agreeing actually? Speaker 4 00:16:19 Yes. I think western thinking is very dualistic and whenever some I or anyone else makes a dualistic statement, I break out in hives. Again, truth is paradoxical in most, at the deepest level, it's light. A waiver of particle. Tibetans are gonna talk about a bird needing two wings to fly with. So again, that's why I want an intermediate language thing between dead institutional, cold, purely structural and formal religion and spirituality. Because first of all, they're not dual fighting entities. Yeah. So yeah, we're all in agreement. We're just nuancing and trying to find vocabulary and of course reflecting our own personal experiences in there too. Speaker 2 00:17:01 Joel. Speaker 5 00:17:03 So I, I've been trying to really deconstruct, uh, the conversation in a way that makes sense to me. Sort of like a place that I'm at right now is that spirituality, I think names for spirituality, Jesus called it truth with a capital T, the unseen and, and Buddhism and Sufism Dharma and Hinduism and Buddhism, God and Judaism, this emptiness, that is reality is not a concept. It is reality. And it's the reality that it can't pervade cuz there's nowhere that it's not <laugh>. So with that being said, when we try to honor and appreciate it, we have religion. And really what is religion like? I thought about this, religion doesn't exist outside the psychology of a human being. Each individual religion is psychology. And psychology in a certain sense is religion. So when we talk about broad sweeping strokes of religion as this or that, we're also talking about broad sweeping strokes of like psychology that's individual and specific to each person, which both means that the tendencies are probably overgeneralizations, but that we have the power to as individuals shift monitor and change that relationship to religion through our psychology. Speaker 5 00:18:34 And I think what religion is bridged by is psych psychology because it's the bridge of the truth with the capital t through the human incarnation into action in the world, which seems part of the point of this. I think a zen student or teacher once said, the universe wants to know itself through you. What is that like? What is being expressed there? So, and it's nothing other that's, it's just your original home. It's your original abode, it's your original welling place. And, and then this concept of din i i I feel is a beautiful concept that is related. The bridge is itself psychology, that sort of like din and psychology together with spirituality manifests appropriate religion. Speaker 2 00:19:27 Thank you. So you mentioned dharma. There was a question that came in, uh, discussing dharma and considerate in regard to the ideas that have been suggested. And I think you were touching on that. Can you say a little more about what you meant by dharma? Joel? Speaker 5 00:19:44 Dharma is the, the fruition of incarnation after incarnation. It's recognition, realization, manifestation, and implementation to manifest dharma is to eradicate one's own ego. It's the same as like Buddo. If you're at all familiar with concepts, the Japanese concept of Beto or Budo, it's, there's no external enemy. There's no external opponent. But the, the craft or art is to master oneself to a place where you recognize that while necessary to relate to people and the world in a healthy way, ego can be very problematic in the senses of, uh, separation us versus them. And collectively very problematic in, in a lot of ways, which have already been discussed. So dharma or truth is what we are. And in this incarnation we have this aspect of psychology called ego or, or identity, which separates us and creates a, a, a feeling of specialness. But our relationship to our relationship to dharma is only impeded by our own inability within ourself. To see ourself clearly everything is truth, everything God is everywhere. Buddhahood, Buddha, nature, Buddha, Buddha meaning perfect. This, the, the sutra say from the very beginning, not a thing exists. So what is this? Speaker 2 00:21:12 Thank you. I had first learned dharma as a translating into truth with a big T, and then I learned it as duty, which always bothered me until I translated duty into purpose. When I find the purpose for my incarnation, yes, that's what I hold onto. So again, I, I guess I'm the one who wants to be provocative here. I think institutional religion more than spirituality gets in the way of that. It's telling me who I am. It's consolidating an identity that I've been conditioned to think, and when I break out of that, I have a greater chance of finding my purpose if I don't fragment. And then why? Well, what if if people fragment, doesn't that mean they need religion? No, they fragment because they've been conditioned. This is gonna sound very much like James Hillman. They fragment because they've been conditioned to think they need it and we're too fearful. Speaker 2 00:22:21 You know? And it's like when you can get through that, it's like a weight's lifted from your shoulder. You mean really? That's me and not the little me that you're talking about. We're gonna have a workshop in a few months on what the ego means too. So that might be an interesting thing to segue into at some point. But it's like, yeah, it's more open. I don't have that imposed boundary anymore. Not that I don't have a boundary going back to what o had said before. Yeah, the boundary is, yeah, just remember there's something greater than all of us and there's a way of relating to that. We can have a relationship with that. That's really important from a provocative stand. I'm, I'm doing this to the extreme. I think religion for the most part right now is getting in the way of that. And we're so conditioned to think we need it that we freak out and that prevents us from maturing and thinking for ourselves in connection with more and more of us, not just the people we're comfortable with. Speaker 2 00:23:35 Not just the people who share our particular belief system, but interacting with more. And like Margo was saying, and when Margo introduced herself in the last podcast, she had such a diverse background. And remember me, I had such a narrow background. I paid a price for my narrowness. I didn't have to have that and my Roman Catholic Catholic upbringing condition me to be that way until I got brave enough. I don't know if brave is the right word. I got irritated enough to say, did there's something wrong with this? What's going on? So I hope that answered the question that the person wrote in about dharma, different ways of thinking of it. So Tanya and then Ode, and then Margot Tanya, Speaker 3 00:24:28 When we talk about, when I hear you talking about institutionalized, uh, religion and, and we've been talking about that, right? How toxic it has been, how it's based on control, how it's based on this ity that I'm, uh, I'm up here, you're down there, I'm right, you're wrong. That kind of dynamic. So that is not religion though. That in my perspective is not religion. So it's like religion is death. We just have power. We have, uh, politics, we have people in power and, and all, in my perspective, in my feminist perspective, that all comes from paty, that all come from, from this toxic masculinity that is embedded in, in, in every, in, in every aspect. Not only in the, in the, in the West, but now in the whole world. Like we see, we see this, these systems, right? And, and it's embedded in, in like not only religion, but in all the, the institutions and all the, the systems, right? Speaker 3 00:25:30 And we can learn a lot, you know, from, again, from indigenous cultures that they still keep some sort of, you know, uh, balance between the female and, and the masculine. But I, and and I I was reflecting on what Joel said about, uh, religion being, uh, part of, of the psyche, part of who you are. And, and I was thinking that like, uh, also, uh, not only at the individual level, right, but the colle a collective psyche that bring us all together. In that sense, I will say that religion is connected to culture. And since it's connected to culture, then it's not meant to be ecstatic or be like in inside of the box. If we see religion, um, indigenous religions, we see constant transformations, constant transformations. Uh, actually when, uh, you know, one group, like for for example, the Maya and the Aztecs came together. Speaker 3 00:26:29 It was like, it was not like, oh, don't bring your guts here, right? Like the, the Gods merged, right? And uh, they kind of build a new identity because culture is always transforming. No, that doesn't mean that they didn't have the concept of unity, the concept of the one God, right? They had a, a concept, it was called Otto. Otto was the one, like one energy, one source of everything. And not, not many people know about it, but they have different gospels, but they also had <foreign>, and that was like the source of everything. So, you know, there was this sense of unity, but there was this sense of, of transforming and, and, and, and, uh, being in, in constant change. However, in religion, there's also identity, right? Uh, I mean, it, it is, it goes with what I'm saying, that, uh, because it's part of your identity, your identity also transforms. So again, like, uh, these, these dynamic of I'm right, you're wrong. And being inside the box and not being flexible, that's not in the essence of religion is, is religion also transforms. So, uh, I I I think I cannot have religion without the spirituality. I personally cannot have, I will wouldn't call myself a religious person if I wasn't a spiritual. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:28:01 I think the only thing I would quibble about is I heard you say is religion. And then the patriarchy took over, got interested in control and power, and that's not religion. And I would say we had spirituality. The patriarchy took over with power and control and created a religion. That's the problem that I have. Everything you're talking about to me is spirituality. And then you share it with people in your culture. But it doesn't have to become, to me, we start with a religion. We start with the essence and then something coalesced around it that might have been cultural. And then the pat patriarchy really came on. But I think the religion is an outgrowth of the patriarchy, but that might just be semantics. So let's see what Ode says. Ode and then Margot. Speaker 6 00:28:58 I think it's just fascinating how we're just getting to the core here, but, um, so many things to reflect upon. Uh, I wanted to reflect on Margot's and then Tanya, and then you would do, but um, Henry, it's all connected together. Anyways, um, what really struck me is, Henry, when you say, uh, religion is at the root, somehow that oppression, uh, what I hear more is behind what you're saying is ege is behind that oppression, not religion itself, right? And so it might be a semantic issue in a sense that we think we're talking about the same thing. First of all, when we talk about spirituality and religion here, I think all the panelists are talking about different things. And for, um, Tanya, for instance, it totally is obvious that when she's referring to Dean, which is this con a concept I'm very familiar with as well, uh, she's really talking about the ins, the inability to separate those practices. Speaker 6 00:29:52 What is her dean with spirituality, right? So I think for a lot of people is inseparable. And I think what we're touching upon here, and going back to what Margot was saying about that, it gives her hope in the world how there's all these movements towards a greater collective consciousness and, and all these movements towards liberation. In the meantime, we'll also observe all these backlash towards, uh, more religious states and, uh, what's happening in Iran, what's certainly happening in India as well, and what's happening in, in all these places in the world, in the United States, certainly politics is very imbued within that Christian religious extremism as well. So, going back to what Tanya was saying though, which I think is really fundamental, and, and, and, and tying back to what, what I wanted to highlight was, it seems to me like that divide between religion and spirituality might be more of a divide, be between, uh, the feminine and the masculine for real. Speaker 6 00:30:48 Because when we are talking about how this religious states are operating and how all of these, uh, oppressive frameworks are operating with this leadership, it's always under leadership of men. And we are never highlighting that part. It's almost like we take it for granted that, you know, we, we centralize it so much that these, uh, oppressive frameworks, uh, might be led might be caused by religion or by ideology, or that we forget that they're so much gender based. And how much of the most progressive societies in the world right now are those led by women, uh, and how historically speaking, the oppression of, or the taking over a monotheistic religion over more polytheistic or indigenous ways of knowing and, and believing is also, and has also been historically, uh, uh, taking over of, of patriarchal leadership over matri linear and matriarchal, uh, matriarchal, uh, lineage. Speaker 6 00:31:49 So I think maybe, maybe that's the core of the issue that we're, we're getting at is that, uh, fundamental oppression right now, or, or dysfunction, I might rather say of the yang, um, of the yin basically. And, and how the yin has been taken out of the picture for so long that we've essentialized as this form of young, as like the only ways that humanities can exist when in fact really it's about reintroducing and, and re-empowering that feminine, which is more about the heart, uh, as opposed to the masculine, which is more about the mind and those ideological, uh, debate that we're having right now, ceaselessly between spirituality and religion. And we feel like there's, there, it's, it, we, we think we, we mean the same thing, but we don't. And it's this like ceaseless battle of words, right? An ideological battle, but it's still the mind, right? Speaker 6 00:32:39 And it's still a battle that's fought in the mind when in fact, really the issue might be more about re-centering around the heart, which I mean, we know people like, uh, you know, harahan and, and other, uh, great leaders, spiritual leaders of, of, of really encouraged is that reclaiming of the heart, which is more of a, of a feminine, um, center and, and in, at least in, in a lot of indigenous traditions. And, and weirdly enough, they ha they all have that loose typology in common, right? And, and that agreement around that, that, that, that framework, um, the masculine and a feminine and, and structured somehow because there was some structure, I mean, talking about the lakotas, uh, you, you have the men's societies, the women's societies, and it's, it's all balanced together in that traditional framework. So yeah, perhaps that divide between spirituality and religion is more about how do we restore a place for the feminine <laugh>, Speaker 2 00:33:34 Thank you for pointing that. I think that's a really good point. And my hope is that as we become more balanced, more feminine and less patriarchal, then there'll be fewer religions. We'll just be more spiritual. That's actually what I think is going to happen. And I personally agree with you. I think the patriarchal way of viewing things is really at the, at the core of that. But again, I go back to religion as I experience it, and I think we talked about it in the first podcast, has bought into that hook, line and sinker. Now, maybe that's because the leadership was male and made religion that way, okay? But I think as we get more balanced, we're gonna see the boundaries start to, to not be as rigid. And then I don't, maybe we'll call it d i, I don't know. So, uh, I think Margot and then Joel, Speaker 4 00:34:34 Oh, I loved that. That is so true. Ud. Couple of things. One of which is we also have to be aware of how the different religions have changed and are changing. In the last century, in this century, what you experienced, Henry, was pre Vatican two religious education. The church does not teach that way. Now, in most places, the religious ed is actually directed mostly by women, which probably has something to do with it. But the kind of teaching is very, very different now. And I can attest having witnessed it beyond that, Speaker 2 00:35:10 When the pope, when the pope is a woman, I'll listen to you a little bit better. Speaker 4 00:35:14 Well, you know what? It isn't gonna get there if the women aren't edging their ways in everywhere else as they are now. And the Pope is adopting a more feminine way of, uh, running the church. This whole ality struggle is over exactly that. Is it a circle or is it a pyramid? I don't, you know what I'm talking about guys. The Pope is trying to say, we're going to start making decisions based on signage. So they're trying to get each continent, each country, each group input from all of the laypeople, all of the religious and the clergy, taking it to Rome, summarizing it. The summary is really fascinating. It's all the stuff we would like to see happen. Uh, and then, so that it's dis it's a wider, more listening, more universal decision making. And the big battle right now is with people who wanna go back to the old way. Speaker 4 00:36:06 I don't want that. And see it as very threatening to the usually male ego in the I am the center of the universe and must be defended at all costs thing. That's society issue. One of the things I have found, you know, in experiencing spiritual practices and parti particularly meditation at a fairly deep level from several different traditions, religious traditions, again, I said, when you get to that center, we are talking about the same thing. And we're talking about the same thing that quantum physics is discover. There's a convergence of all of this stuff, but the vocabulary, most of the practices come out of the spiritual and through that religious sphere. And, and the more it gets to approach the feminine, the indigenous, the heart, the non-dual, the closer we are going to be to having some kind of real commonality. I think religions need to transform. Speaker 4 00:37:12 But again, i, I too, I would not be involved in a religion that was not spiritual and did not have clear spiritual paths. Eventually the path gets transcended, eventually the ego gets transcended. We need an ego at a certain stage of development to set boundaries and so forth. Then we have to go through like giant two year olds, the discovery that we're not the center of the universe and stop resisting that. And then we suddenly discover that we really are in some profound sense you can only experience in, uh, and to talk about, it always sounds like babble. We are one with everything and with one another. There is no separation. There is no isolated, nothing is isolated. And no one, Speaker 2 00:37:56 To me, that's not religious, that's very mystical and spiritual. It could be in a religion. I agree with you. That's not what religion promotes. It's what's, well, how Speaker 4 00:38:06 Are you gonna learn it? If you're a little, a little two year old gonna grow up? Where are you going to learn this? I, you learned it from John Kazin who learned it from the Buddhist tradition, for example. Speaker 2 00:38:16 That's sir, he did do that. Speaker 4 00:38:18 So one way or the other religion is there. No, maybe I, Speaker 2 00:38:23 Ive been conditioned, I've been conditioned to think it has to be that way. I'm not, where Speaker 4 00:38:30 Are you gonna go to learn it? Where are you gonna go to learn it, Speaker 2 00:38:32 Go to the library? Speaker 4 00:38:34 Well, where and what, what in the library contains it? The religion. Okay, the religion is the library, right? Fine. But that's what it, but you need that library Speaker 2 00:38:44 If it's presented as a library, right? That's not how it's presented. Speaker 4 00:38:51 Well, again, you know, no, that is where the ego constructs, the patriarchal constructs come in. Right? Okay. And Speaker 2 00:39:00 Right. I don't have any argument with that. I think the patriarchy is at the root of a lot of the difficulties. Speaker 4 00:39:07 <laugh> patriarchy is at the root of all either, right, Speaker 2 00:39:09 Right. And it's heavily embedded in religions. Speaker 4 00:39:13 Well, it's, but they're embedded in a heck of a, it's embedded in politics. It's embedded in education. Correct. Um, one of, one other thing I think looking at Iran, looking at Russia, I think one of the critical things, and it hasn't happened, and i's one of the reasons religion has taken on some of the darker aspects, the separation of church and state is vital for religion to serve a real function. And I'm using state here to include the patriarchal structure. But you can see in India, in Iran, as soon as you get the power of the state, uh, you also get all kinds of bad things happening. And our own west, uh, western European history showed that, I mean, essentially wars were fought and people were killed over what the meaning of is, is this, is the Eucharist, is the presence of Christ. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what does that mean? Let's have a war. Right? And we see that here. Politics has taken on the nature of religion, not in the sense of connecting us with the spiritual or the mystical, but in the sense, the sense of being that I'm right, I'm wrong thing in a great deal of places. And it is abusing the name of religion Speaker 2 00:40:23 Yes. Speaker 4 00:40:24 In India, here in Russia. Speaker 2 00:40:28 Yes. Speaker 4 00:40:29 So, yeah, that was a scattershot. I will now mute Speaker 2 00:40:34 <laugh>. Hold on for a second. I wanna see what's in the chat. So there was two things, and bef and then Joel, maybe you can address some of this too after you make your comments. Where in religion could the symbol of the cross be accepted to be burned on the yard of a person of color? Perhaps spirituality might not merge the symbolism in this way. And then, uh, ode says, I think the way to tell the difference is by identifying when the faith framework does not encourage and starts to condemn and punish thinking, reflecting, questioning. For example, my experience with the hand slapping and so many other examples. Right? I think we're getting to some consensus, Joel. Speaker 5 00:41:16 Yeah. Well this is, uh, it's interesting terrain. I think Bass's question about, you know, that expression of hate, a person's expression or a community's expression of hate toward another person is through the vehicle in this instance of religion, the symbol of the cross and Christianity. But unfortunately the hate probably predates Christianity and hopefully not, but we'll probably be there after <laugh>. Christianity runs its course. It's a part of our human condition, our, the, the mix and meld of darkness and light. And I think the point of Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, all cuing, was to teach how to temper that, how to manage that, and how to tame it in a way where it becomes diminished. And so I I, we see it, we see it in so many different ways. It's in every, when, when we formalize things. And, and I think that this touches Henry very deeply, and it's sort of the resistance that Henry has toward religion. Speaker 5 00:42:21 And I don't mean to speak for you, but it's sort of the sense that I get Henry, that the, the problem with religion is the, the problem of certainty versus questioning or, uh, psychology baring itself in a way that it is certain versus the open, inclusive, all pervading nature of spirit, which is really what we are. And, and that interplay is a constant chronic battle that goes on, which I think is the true, forgive me for going here, but like the true meaning of jihad is not, it's the battle of the holy world within oneself to conquer the evil inclination or the dark nature or the, the, the, the wolf of darkness. Um, however you wanna frame that. And so, but that's not really what I want. I raised my hand cuz I wanted just offer this sort of as, as a, a thought that I had that really, when we talk about the imbalance of the feminine and masculine and the patriarchy and all the manifestations of like masculinity gone amuck, <laugh>, which has pervasive every place and has been going on for a long, long time, I really feel like as I was thinking about this, that it stems from like a disconnect from, from nature. Speaker 5 00:43:32 Like when we return to nature, things naturally return to a kind of balance. The feminine and masculine have an interplay. But this consumerism, this ownership, propriety thought of ownership, thought of amassing things and owning them and having more, uh, tends to be something that has contributed to the patriarchy, I think. And I just wander off with that as thought. Speaker 2 00:43:56 Thank you. So Margot, and then we're just gonna, gonna have to bring this to a close. Speaker 4 00:44:03 I used to use this on my college students all the time, and it would be well for everybody that is doing anything in a religious setting to be aware of the opposite of faith is not doubt or questioning. The opposite of faith is certainty. The demand for certainty. Faith is trust. I trust in the universe, I trust in the love the creator has for all beings. Certainty doesn't need to trust. And therefore it's a refusal to trust, it's a refusal to allow for there to be anything we don't know. And I think that is probably the greatest category mistake in anything to do with religion or spirituality. Speaker 2 00:44:55 I love that. Thank you. So I'm gonna offer the challenge to each of the panelists to just your last thoughts in just a couple of minutes since we have to close. Well, we could talk about this for days, weeks, months, years. Oh, can you go first? Speaker 6 00:45:14 Well, that is a challenge. Um, mm-hmm. <affirmative>, couple minutes. Two minutes. Yeah. I just wanted to reflect on, yeah, two minutes. <laugh>. Joel said, separation from nature, because I think for me it's really at the center. Uh, the separation of nature is really where it all, it all started with the masculine ta started taking a role beyond its boundaries. And that basically started this, um, movement towards accumulation, material accumulation, where in fact, the masculine was the power to gather. Um, so that power to gather can be empowering and it is essential, an essential force in the world. It can be very positive when harnessed in, in respectful way. But when it starts going beyond its boundaries, it becomes led by greed. And eventually, uh, reaches those structural and starting taking that shape of, of the, the monstrosity that religion, um, is the moral justification of which is, uh, that end endless greed system in which we are bound right now. Speaker 6 00:46:19 Which is why as we saw that question of religion is indistinguishable from that question of capitalism and that question of patriarchy. And so I think for me, uh, bringing back the spiritual into the world is about reclaiming that feminine truth in ourselves as women, as men, and learning to, uh, how relate to nature and redeveloped these frameworks of relational, relational cosmologies and cosmos, which were bountiful and plentiful, uh, before that, that event, those events starting phaco siding or completely, completely, uh, changing into or gem, basically those patriarchal frameworks. And so reclaiming within ourselves, those feminine truth, I think is the way to go. And to me, that's beyond, it goes beyond that divide between spirituality and, and religion. Speaker 2 00:47:17 Thank you. Well said, Tanya. Speaker 3 00:47:21 Absolutely. Yes. To what I would say <laugh>. Uh, we have, we have to go back to the divine feminine. We have to reclaim the divine feminine. We have to bring the divine feminine into our thinking. Doesn't matter what thinking we have, doesn't matter what culture we're from, we have to, a way to go back to our roots is, is going back to the divine feminine. I think our duty too, and well, at least my duty also because I'm in this mental health counseling journey, is to be respectful and to not only respectful, but to honor and appreciate every religion and every, uh, background. Like I love Christianity, Judaism, and all the religions, uh, indigenous and not indigenous. Just, you know, I think religions can provide, as Henry said, a library of knowledge and being, uh, respectful and and honor and, uh, uh, those religions I is, uh, also gonna make us more tolerant towards other cultures. Speaker 2 00:48:27 Thank you, Joel. Speaker 5 00:48:30 Well, I, I know that, uh, it's a Jewish, I don't know if it's even a mystical teaching, it's Jewish teaching that redemption for humankind comes through the feminine. And I think that's, we're touching on here, that within every human being resides the aspects of masculine and feminine, yin and young and, um, that intuitive self has been a fundamental component of my own journey. And it was very clouded for me, for <laugh> for a long time. And, you know, I'm still trying to add, uh, logs to it to increase its, its volume and my understanding of it to guide me. And that's my own feminine aspect. And so I think it's really vital just to start there, to understand that in every human being, whether non-binary man or woman, that we have this blended aspect of both sides, which both need to be nurtured, fostered, cultivated, and understood to be expressed in a balanced way. Speaker 2 00:49:36 Thank you, Margot. Speaker 4 00:49:39 Oh, I love this. I love this. It seems to me we're talking, it, it, it's almost like we have this giant, this large sphere that has sparkling facets all over it. And somebody chips some of those away and we're pulling them back in and trying to bring them together and then look at all of these different facets. So we're all really converging in that way. And it's just so beautiful. And I think I really, I agree, uh, with Carl Ronner, who is the theologian I was trying to think about before, only I would expand it. He said, the Christian of the future will be a mystic, or he will not be a Christian at all. I believe the fully human person of the future will be a mystic or they will not exist. So that whole rebinding of what has been lost and broken and wounded, refusing to be dualistic, but seeing in a holistic manner, bringing that feminine wisdom back, all of that is the vital task. And it's so beautiful to have everybody talking about that. And all of us looking at these things and our vocabulary differs, our perspective differs, but they all come together. That is just so marvelous. Speaker 2 00:50:58 Thank you, Mar. I think so too. And I, I think, I don't know about for all of you and those listening to this, this isn't just intellectual, it's not for me at least, this is really experiential and I don't think it's an accident that we started off with spirituality and religion, and we get around to patriarchy and I'm glad, Joel, you brought up the whole realm. It's not just feminine and masculine, it's non-binary. We don't have the words for this. We're, we're struggling with that. With that. It's my hope that what we call religion could take the lead in showing us what Margot was just talking about. Now, I think that that's mysticism. I think that's spirituality, that's not religion to do what we have summarized. I think religion's not gonna look the way it's gonna look, the way it's looked now or in the past. Speaker 2 00:52:04 It's gonna be something very different. The closest I can come to in my experience is what Margot said. What really what we all said, something more balanced, something more open. Not just tolerance, but real love and respect learning from each other. So we've all talked about this in our own way. We've all talked about, well, you know, I incorporate Zhan into this and I incorporate my, my Christian background into my present Buddhist. And I'm incorporating my psychology experiences into what I call my spirituality. Yes. Is that religion? I don't think so, but I'm willing to think. It's not the religion that's being promoted right now. It's something new is coming. And that's why I think this kind of discussion is so important. It's not just semantic, it's not just intellectual. I think discussions like this and bringing our feelings and our passions into this like we did, that's bringing something into the world. Speaker 2 00:53:15 I think the frightening thing is fundamentalist religious perhaps. Uh, see that as a threat. I see it as an opportunity. But that's, that's, you know, there are different viewpoints on that. And that's where I think we're really, we're really struggling. I go back to my developmental perspective, which is the more mature we get, whether you think of personality, psych, psychologically, like you were saying, Joel, if you think of moral development, if you think of cognitive development, all we've learned from modern psychology is the more mature you get, the more you get less cut by form, the more you learn what the principle behind it is. And that's what you hold onto, not the form. So we're in a toddler phase, maybe we're growing up to be adolescents where we're beginning to question all of this and all the turmoil that comes with adolescence. That's the turmoil we're going through. Speaker 2 00:54:23 But potentially it's a step towards maturity where we're really trying to find what's the balance, what's the essence of what we're talking about, and not get caught in some form. Form is just, oh, I recognize it and I'm comfortable. But that's not the be all and the end all. So I want to, uh, one more, maybe the next time we could bring in ceremonies. Sure. Ceremonies and ceremonies of the divide feminine. So I want to thank all of you. I find it really passionate and exciting, and hopefully we demonstrated we could have a real interchange with feelings and passions and agreements and disagreements. And, and you know, the, the title of these podcasts is A, a Chemical Dialogues Through honest discussion and dialogue, something happens that's transformative, that's alchemy. Something breaks through, and hopefully that's something that we've contributed to. I would love to continue this in the future. So please stay in touch with each other. And thank you all. Thank you again. Speaker 1 00:55:37 If you find yourself enjoying our podcast, please do us a favor and spread the word. Tell a friend about it. Give us a review on iTunes or post it on social media. If you or someone you know would like to participate in a future podcast, please connect with us through the Contact us page, see our events calendar page for dates to our next live podcast recordings. We'd love for you to participate and ask questions. And be sure to check out Joel Leslie's podcast, unraveling Religion on your favorite podcast app. Alchemical Dialogues are live and unscripted. Conversations recorded on Zoom. Brought to you by the great folks of Amber Light International, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Henry Corella, MD and Kathleen Fitzpatrick, L cs w. We choose topics from our current social and cultural climate with an emphasis on humanism and spirituality.

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