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Rory
Post  Post subject: God as a conceptual focal point  |  Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:00 pm
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Recently I was in a (what is, for me) mildly stressful situation, and I noticed that after a while spent diverting my attentions in different directions according to the available stimuli, I had started staring at a rose and just appreciating it calmly as a beautiful and perfect thing - at which point the irritants fell away. It occurred to me that perhaps this focusing is analogous to the behaviour of Christians when they focus their energies on God; perhaps God is to the religious authorities, not so much a real agent with the capacity to directly influence the world, so much as 'He' is a conceptual representation of the Christian ideal of 'goodness'. While the authorities might not admit this, since the comforting effects of placebo are easier to administer when professing that the 'sugar pill' is the real deal, it would probably increase their popularity and effectiveness as a religion if they were to revise their definition of God, so removing one of the biggest distractions.

The 'focusing' experience was also similar to the act of Buddhist meditation, and while it might not be helpful in the sense that if all that you focused on was the positive, then no problems in the world would ever be addressed and resolved, it might help in situations in which one has no control over the outcome. E.g. in situations in which one is being interrogated or harassed by negative influences, focusing (even on a mental focal point, it does not have to be physical) may help to prevent the transmission of negative forces.

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Macgyver1968
Post  Post subject: Re: God as a conceptual focal point  |  Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:16 pm
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Interesting point...although when I'm stressed I focus on a beer. :)

When people are freaking out, many times they are encouraged to "go to their happy place", and it seems to work some of the time. Whether that's imagining yourself running through a field of flowers....or for me imagining I'm in the shower of the Dallas Cowboy's cheerleaders. :) Maybe for Christians or other religious people, focusing on "god's goodness" has the same effect.

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: God as a conceptual focal point  |  Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:50 pm
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Agree there's some validity here. The problem, of course, is that the concept of God comes with so many peripheral implications and ramifications.

The underlying idea above is that our attention is a finite resource. Focusing more on one thing means fewer resources available to focus on other things. If you're focused on God or a rose or a beer, that means less available attention to focus on other things.

Stack then on top of that the general principles of meditation. Let go of all thoughts and focus on your breath. God could very well be aN object of focus while meditating, but then again... So too could be a tree or a blade of grass or a Buddha statue.

The idea here is that God may sometimes fill that need, but the need could be filled by other things that don't have all of the additional baggage.

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bunbury
Post  Post subject: Re: God as a conceptual focal point  |  Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:39 pm
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One advantage God has over, say, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders in the shower, is that God is always there everywhere you go. A major disadvantage is that the former exist and the latter doesn't.


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Macgyver1968
Post  Post subject: Re: God as a conceptual focal point  |  Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:33 pm
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I'll take naked cheerleaders over god any day. :) As you said...naked cheerleaders exist....IMHO god does not.

Distraction can be a wonderful thing.

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: God as a conceptual focal point  |  Posted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:14 am
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Frankly, whatever distracts us from acute suffering and stress in these instances can largely be viewed as a good thing... In the short-term, of course.

Distracting oneself for too long from stress and/or suffering and not properly/healthily processing and dealing with it can lead to significant issues with rumination and neuroses... Which (interestingly enough) we VERY frequently find among the most deistic and pious among us who tend to use the God concept as a primary source of peace.

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