Alternative Spiritualities

A Simple Common Morality Across All Religions

Alternative Spiritualities

Our biological and cultural evolution involved an emergence of the feeling that there must be a higher power, and the compulsion to seek it out. This feeling remains embedded in the basic cognitive structures that we all share today. Belief in a higher power can instill compassion and humility in us. If we live consciously and think critically, we will realize that there is much about the world we still do not understand and there is much about our lives over which we have no control. What we do have control over, however, and what we do know for certain about the world, is that we can choose to treat each other with love and empathy and that this is the only way our species flourishes.

Additional Quotes

Lao Tzu
Daoist sage

“Imagine a nebulous thing
Here before Heaven and Earth
Subtle and elusive
Dwelling apart and unconstrained
It could be the mother of us all
Not knowing its name
I call it the Tao
Forced to describe it
I describe it as great
Great means ever-flowing
Ever-flowing means far-reaching
Far-reaching means returning.”

David Foster Wallace
American novelist
Art & Literature

“Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.”

Aldous Huxley
British-American writer
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Men live in accordance with their philosophy of life, their conception of the world. This is true even of the most thoughtless. It is impossible to live without a metaphysic. The choice that is given us is not between some kind of metaphysic and no metaphysic; it is always between a good metaphysic and a bad metaphysic, a metaphysic that corresponds reasonably close with observed and inferred reality and one that doesn’t.”

Bill Wilson
Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“I had always believed in a power greater than myself. I had often pondered these things. I was not an atheist. Few people really are, for that means blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe originated in a cipher and aimlessly rushes nowhere. My intellectual heroes, the chemists, the astronomers, even the evolutionists, suggested vast laws and forces at work. Despite contrary indications, I had little doubt that a mighty purpose and rhythm underlay all. How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, and no intelligence? I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the Universe, who knew neither time nor limitation. But that was as far as I had gone: With ministers, and the world’s religions, I parted right there. When they talked of a God personal to me, who was love, superhuman strength and direction, I became irritated and my mind snapped shut against such a theory.”

C.S. Lewis
Christian theologian and writer

“The position of the question, then, is like this. We want to know whether the universe simply happens to be what it is for no reason or whether there is a power behind it that makes it what it is[…]If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe — no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house. The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that is just what we do find inside ourselves.”

Chuang Tzu
Daoist sage

“I just compare myself with Heaven and Earth and my life-breath I receive from yin and yang. I am just a little stone or a little tree set on a great hill, in comparison to Heaven and Earth. As I perceive my own inferiority, how could I ever be proud?”

Founder of Confucianism

“Tzu-hsia said, ‘I have heard it said: life and death are a matter of Destiny; wealth and honour depend on Heaven.’”

Wassily Kandinsky
Russian painter
Art & Literature

“First of all, the artist must seek to alter this state of affairs by recognizing his duty toward art and toward himself, regarding himself not as master of the situation, but as the servant of higher ends, whose duty is precise and great and holy. He must educate himself, immerse himself in his own soul, and above all, cultivate and develop this soul of his so that his external talents have something they can clothe, not like a lost glove from an unknown hand, which is a purposeless semblance of a hand.”

Buddhist monk

“All other virtues, like the plantain tree,
Produce their fruit, but then their force is spent.
Alone the marvelous tree of bodhicitta
Constantly bears fruit and grows unceasingly.”

John Lennox
British mathematician and philosopher of science
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“What is happening in our world as I understand it is that we are being offered a story. And every person is interested in a story into which they can fit their lives. The story of the origins of the universe way back – why does that fascinate us? Because our past determines our identity. A person without a past – who has amnesia – doesn’t know who they are. And so our book shops are filled with books attempting to explain who we are in terms only of the basic material of the universe: that’s materialism. And there’s a great fascination with this, because people are interested in whether it’s true or not. Against that, there’s the other story, that says that matter and energy is not all that exists: there is transcendence, there is a God who created it. And I tend to believe with Augustin that, granted, there is a God-shaped space in our hearts, and we have that sense of longing, that there must be something more. And it’s there I think that many contemporary people and many university students are at: Is there something more than a pure, materialistic explanation of the universe?”

William James
American psychologist and philosopher
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“[Religion refers to] The feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.”

William James
American psychologist and philosopher
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Psychology and religion are thus in perfect harmony up to this point, since both admit that there are forces seemingly outside of the conscious individual that bring redemption to his life. Nevertheless psychology, defining these forces as ‘subconscious,’ and speaking of their effects, as due to ‘incubation,’ or ‘cerebration,’ implies that they do not transcend the individual’s personality; and herein she diverges from Christian theology, which insists that they are direct supernatural operations of the Deity. I propose to you that we do not yet consider this divergence final, but leave the question for a while in abeyance—continued inquiry may enable us to get rid of some of the apparent discord.”

Pew Research Center
April 25, 2018
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Only one-in-ten Americans say they don’t believe in God or a higher power of any kind[…]Finally, among those who describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated—also known as ‘nones’—72% say they believe in a higher power of some kind.”