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Velociraptor
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18 Dec 2016, 10:40 am

I am a writer with High Functioning Autism and I would be interested to hear people's experiences with respect to their spiritual journey.

Whilst I would be pleased to hear from anyone, I would be particularly interested in hearing from people in the spectrum who have an interest in the Christian contemplative tradition as well as those who hold an interest in nonduality, the Perennial Philosophy and Eastern ways and practices.

Wishing you all well from London.



Biscuitman
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18 Dec 2016, 4:37 pm

I have always felt quite spiritual. Was taken to a Buddhist meditation group at 18 to help relax my mind a bit as I had spent a few years dealing with depression, eating disorders and heavy drug use. Went on and off for 15 years. Have always been very interested in spirituality and religion. Went to south East Asia 12 years ago for a long holiday and with the plan of meditating more but good times got in the way.



Kuraudo777
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18 Dec 2016, 5:36 pm

I am very Zen. 8)


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downeaster59
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18 Dec 2016, 6:09 pm

Greetings! I'm from the USA. Long before anyone over here knew anything about Asperger's or High Functioning Autism or the spectrum, I grew up and became a Catholic priest. However, I soon found that the social demands of parish ministry were too much for me - though I did not understand why at the time. While ministry was making me more and more exhausted, I also felt an attraction to solitude and a more contemplative spirituality. This grew into a sense of being came to the hermit life. I plunged into contemplative spirituality, beginning with Merton and then moving on to the Desert Fathers and Mothers, Christian mystics and monastic spirituality through the centuries. I found Parker Palmer, a Quaker, very helpful in my discernment process. It is fascinating to see the parallels between Christian contemplative spirituality and Buddhist spirituality. The study of Catholic theology has also nourished my spirituality. I find myself sensitive to social justice issues.

I now live a kind of hybrid life, with limited parish ministry but having a place to myself where I can be alone most of the week and be centered on my relationship with God. A sense of harmony between my "outer" life and my inner sense of my call is extremely important to me.

Like biscuitman, I have always known myself to be spiritual. Even as I was reading about a number of areas of science that fascinated me, I remained someone of faith. Faith is not irrational. It is a reasoned and reasonable response to something that we experience. (It is more than that, too, but that can be for another day.) In the same way, science begins with a kind of faith - a faith that the world is knowable. That can't be proven scientifically, but it is not "blind faith". It, too, is a reasoned and reasonable response to elements of our experience.

I first learned about Asperger's about five years ago, and began to wonder if I was an Aspie. After some reading, I began to believe that I was. I had a formal diagnosis about two years ago.

I'm very interested in how being on the spectrum influences and marks one's spirituality. I've been pondering that question for a while. I have recently started a blog, where I offer some little reflections on the Biblical readings for that day's liturgy. When I feel ready, I may write a bit about this question, as a way of discovering what (if anything) I know about it!


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18 Dec 2016, 6:15 pm

I am very interested in esoteric traditions of the Abrahamic faiths such as Kabbalah and Sufi. I feel these can bridge the gap between east and west as they have very strong similarities to Hinduism and Buddhism in particular.


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18 Dec 2016, 7:02 pm

I have Aspergers, and I am not very spiritual. I have not seen any empirical evidence of anything supernatural in this world, and if there is, it is hiding and the world goes on as if it wasn't there. Though, the existence of a soul might be plausible, since I often think about how I feel as though I am in control of my body and my perception is just from that body alone, when everything is really just the result of a bunch of molecules interacting with one another.



Jo_B1_Kenobi
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19 Dec 2016, 2:22 pm

I have a diagnosis of ASD and a history with various contemplative traditions. It began when I practised as a Buddhist under a teacher called Brother Raymond from Throssle Hole Buddhist Abbey up in the North East (of the UK). He used to come down to Cambridge and teach a group of us there who followed their tradition. I practiced Soto Zen which is basically 'just sitting'. I found it really very helpful.

Initially I just found peace and a closeness to others which didn't need language. (For myself and perhaps other people on the Spectrum, language is itself is a foreign tongue. In my head it's all pictures and every word is a translation.) After a few years as I began to get deeper into practice I began to find God. This didn't really fit with Buddhism although I don't think anyone minded.

Eventually I moved on from there to my local Quaker Meeting (part of North East Thames Area). I found the silnece and acceptance and fellowship there even stronger and went there regualrly as an attender for three periods of a number of years. During the last one I became a member of the Society of Friends. The silence was just wonderful - restorative and gentle - it was exactly what I needed. With the Quakers though I didn't really properly understand the rules of behaviour, of social interaction and especially of ministry in the silence. At the time I was undiagnosed so I didn't know why I needed to know what to do explicitly and never thought to ask and couldn't explain. Also, my local meeting was mainly with people who would not, I think, describe themselves as Christian. Some would say that they were Buddhist and others humanist and most would not want to be put in a category. My experience of God in the silence continued to grow and then, with some help from a friend of mine (who is a Baptist Minister) , I suddenly really understood what Christianity is, at least for me. It was like a complete inward change, a paradigm shift, it made sense of my life.

I tried many times to bring this breakthrough, this undiscribable joy that I had found to my Friends in Quakers but I wasn't able to find the language I could use which they might truly understand. I became very frustrated. It was the most important thing I had ever learned spiritually and couldn't share it with them. After about six months I resigned my Membership and joined the Baptists.

Our Baptist Church is not contemplative - it is basically very down to earth, straightforward, loving Christianity, but it can be loud and I carry ear plugs to church just in case it gets too much for me. But I do love it. I am accepted there and this growing faith and relationship with God is known by others there, it's recognised and honoured. I still practice silence and have a contemplative approach to worship at home but at church I don't anymore. (Instead I play piano which gives me some distance from the hubub. Playing piano also helps me to worship in such an environment because I don't have to use words.)

Hope this is helpful.


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Jo_B1_Kenobi
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19 Dec 2016, 2:40 pm

downeaster59 wrote:
Greetings! I'm from the USA. Long before anyone over here knew anything about Asperger's or High Functioning Autism or the spectrum, I grew up and became a Catholic priest. However, I soon found that the social demands of parish ministry were too much for me - though I did not understand why at the time. While ministry was making me more and more exhausted, I also felt an attraction to solitude and a more contemplative spirituality. This grew into a sense of being came to the hermit life. I plunged into contemplative spirituality, beginning with Merton and then moving on to the Desert Fathers and Mothers, Christian mystics and monastic spirituality through the centuries. I found Parker Palmer, a Quaker, very helpful in my discernment process. It is fascinating to see the parallels between Christian contemplative spirituality and Buddhist spirituality. The study of Catholic theology has also nourished my spirituality. I find myself sensitive to social justice issues.

I now live a kind of hybrid life, with limited parish ministry but having a place to myself where I can be alone most of the week and be centered on my relationship with God. A sense of harmony between my "outer" life and my inner sense of my call is extremely important to me.

Like biscuitman, I have always known myself to be spiritual. Even as I was reading about a number of areas of science that fascinated me, I remained someone of faith. Faith is not irrational. It is a reasoned and reasonable response to something that we experience. (It is more than that, too, but that can be for another day.) In the same way, science begins with a kind of faith - a faith that the world is knowable. That can't be proven scientifically, but it is not "blind faith". It, too, is a reasoned and reasonable response to elements of our experience.

I first learned about Asperger's about five years ago, and began to wonder if I was an Aspie. After some reading, I began to believe that I was. I had a formal diagnosis about two years ago.

I'm very interested in how being on the spectrum influences and marks one's spirituality. I've been pondering that question for a while. I have recently started a blog, where I offer some little reflections on the Biblical readings for that day's liturgy. When I feel ready, I may write a bit about this question, as a way of discovering what (if anything) I know about it!



Hi, What you say about the Desert Fathers puts me in mind of a brilliant book I read a few years ago called 'Letters From the Desert' by a chap called Carlo Carretto. It's one of my favourite books of all time and speaks deeply to me, showing me a way of Christianity which I can manage easily because it's good for ordinary people and yet brings me so close to God.
I think being on the Spectrum does affect the path of ones spirituality - it has for me anyway. I would love to read your blog - would you consider posting a link, or PM me a link?

Jo


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19 Dec 2016, 2:41 pm

Not really the spiritual journey you asked for, sorry. I'm not diagnosed either, but am currently seeking an assessment.
When I was young (5-8) I was Christian. I wasn't really brought up that way, but I decided that I wanted to believe that (I started contemplating religion at about 5 years old); however, when I was 8 I decided that I couldn't believe essential elements of Christian belief (anything supernatural, including the Immaculate Conception, miracles, and Resurrection). I thought about it for about a week, and came to the conclusion that I did not believe in any religion, so I became an Atheist. I describe my self as an Atheist even though I know that I cannot be entirely certain that no God/s exist, because that is my belief, regardless of my humble uncertainty.


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teksla
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19 Dec 2016, 2:56 pm

Im autistic and i am an athiest


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quaker
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19 Dec 2016, 3:18 pm

Thank you everyone who has shared with me their experiences.

One of my favourite all time quotations is by Meister Eckhart. "I pray to God to rid me of God." It seems Eckhart, like most mystics, had little desire for what God was wrapped up in, and like myself only really interested in the experience of being one with what IS.

Thank you Jo for telling me about your journey. I was very moved indeed.

I trained as a spiritual director and enjoyed working in this ministry for ten years or so. Then one day I could no longer believe my beliefs. In fact, if I'm really honest, I never did.

I became a Quaker because I wanted to liberate Christ from the straightjacket of Christianity. I ached for a new language that was free of belief, dogma and creedal definition. I ached for silence.

After seven years or so of regularly attending Quaker meetings I too became a member, and then was asked to become an elder, which I still am to this day.

I love those sublime words of Isaac Penington "The end of words is to bring men to the knowledge of things beyond what words can utter.”



Skibz888
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19 Dec 2016, 3:41 pm

I was never raised in any manner of religion, but I've always considered myself a spiritual person. Around my teens I began accepting the cosmological notion of a higher power and spent several years studying and practicing various belief systems, including Christianity, Unitarian Universalism and new agey stuff. I eventually grew embittered with organized religion, and though I still have some gripes about it, I prefer to have at least a semblance of structure to my belief system, so in recent years I've reconciled with (progressive non-denominational) Christianity, simply because it feels right to me and it's spiritual territory I've studied well and often, though my spiritual journey is still ongoing. As far as how it relates to my autism, I really can't say.



downeaster59
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19 Dec 2016, 5:09 pm

Jo_B1_Kenobi wrote:


Hi, What you say about the Desert Fathers puts me in mind of a brilliant book I read a few years ago called 'Letters From the Desert' by a chap called Carlo Carretto. It's one of my favourite books of all time and speaks deeply to me, showing me a way of Christianity which I can manage easily because it's good for ordinary people and yet brings me so close to God.
I think being on the Spectrum does affect the path of ones spirituality - it has for me anyway. I would love to read your blog - would you consider posting a link, or PM me a link?

Jo


Hi, Jo,

Thanks for your response. Yes, Carlo Carretto is very good. Let me offer you a few suggestions (just in case you haven't read them); In The Heart of the Desert by John Chryssavgis; Poustinia by Catherine Doherty; Desert Christians by William Harmless; Thoughts Matter by Mary Margaret Funk. Each comes at desert spirituality from a different angle, so you might like some more than others. But most people who read them find each one helpful. (Besides, what's an Aspie without a book queue?)

If you are interested, here's my blog: www.theanchorite.net. I generally offer reflections based on the scripture readings of a given day in the Catholic calendar, trying to write in language that any interested person can follow (not too "churchy", in other words). At the same time, I try to express the core of what our doctrines are all about. I come out of a Roman Catholic perspective, but people from other faith traditions might be comfortable with a number of my posts. There's a page where I give a brief bio, and a "contact me" page where people can send me comments if they wish.

This blog is still fairly new. I have a number of things I plan to write about over the coming weeks and months.

I regard each of my posts as a "beta" (to use app language). One more attempt to express the inexpressible.


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19 Dec 2016, 5:24 pm

I grew up doing karate from the age of 11, and got interested in eastern spirituality from an early age.
Over the years i have learnt much about the religions of the world.

I was into buddhism for some time and still am to some extent.
I previously had friends who were into different religions which i talked with for sometimes about their interests and beliefs, although not always being a "believer", I did and to some extent still do find all things metaphysical interesting.

I had mates who were into Rastafari, buddhism, christianity and hare krsna. I also had a very short painful marriage to a woman who portrayed herself as a jehovah witness but whom i now believe is a satanist or neo-nazi neo paganist.

After a slim escape from the hands of the JW's and the Satanists (who I still believe conspire against me)
I now enjoy a relatively moral life free of the abuse of authority that comes with organised religion.

I may not be considered one of the chosen by the JW's, Righteous by the rasta, enlightened by the Buddhists, forgiven by grace of JC or an higher incarnation by the Hare Krsna, but I have to admit that i am much happier being me, doing what good I can within my power while not judging myself or others too harshly for being human.

I may not live up to the religious authorities preached standards, but you know what. I am not bothered about this. I will if i can help people, if they are genuinely in need. I will also entertain myself and follow my urges (as long as they hurt no one). I don't feel guilty for doing these things, even if someone out there has a problem with it.

If i want to drink alcohol, i drink alcohol.

If i want to watch (legal) porn, i watch legal porn.

If i want to use foul language (which incidentally is different to cursing someone, curse as in putting a curse on someone) I will use foul language. as these things are cultural and no longer considered as serious as when the bible was written.

If i want to do martial arts, i do martial arts.

None of the things i do i regard as particularly damaging to society, the people around me or myself.

I am miles happier living this life of no restrictions and do not believe for one second that i have sold my soul to the devil because i do them.

But in the rare likelihood that the Jehovah Witnesses do have the only genuine take on the meaning of life, and that they are right. Then, i don't mind if I get wiped from god's memory, as i do not want to live for eternity with the Jehovah Witnesses under their totalitarian rule. That, in my opinion would be worse than any concept of hell (not that the JW's believe in hell).

...
I still really like Buddhism and feel that some of the Tibetan buddhist monks whom i have met are among the nicest people i have ever met. Whether they can sustain that level of niceness for ever, i can not say. But i have to say i like the way they are. Their meditation may also offer some relief from the anxiety that we all suffer.

These days, I guess my religion is more Budo than anything. When i say budo, I mean quasi buddhist influenced martial art practice. I now do Judo and the moral code is a lot like samurai Buddhism / christianity.
I also think that Judo is very good for the mind and body.



Snowcone
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19 Dec 2016, 6:08 pm

My parents were into eastern philosophy and taught me meditating, vegetarianism and I was raised to believe in God and that it was the goal to be spiritual and unify with God in the afterlife. For most of my childhood and youth I was strongly convinced that God existed and that spirituality was important. However as I aged I became less attached to these ideas. In early adulthood I would perhaps believe in God or be open to it, but I would be the first to flame and discuss against religion on forums. It is because I saw the writings in religious texts as a primitive attempt of philosophy and it infuriated me that people would believe in it. If it could be argued that some sort of reasonable definition of a God could exist, it would still be jumping to conclusions to associate it with anything else (such as what is written in religious texts).

So at this stage of life I am publishing theories about how physics may be emergent properties from properties of consciousness. I'd say that any religious text is much more likely to be a tool designed to manipulate people than reflecting some deeper reality due to breaking reliability principles in science in all kinds of ways. Spiritual revelations are just mental states, e.g. a perception of God and a potential real God is different just as the perception of a cup is different from the real cup (which is a sum of atoms (but what is atoms?)). However feeling spiritual feelings may have more effects on the universe and causation than we currently understand. Also there is talk of a global superposition which could be a consciousness confining the universe? Do I still believe that spirituality is important and what about vegetarianism? Well it is quite strange that we can feel value-related emotions, positivity and negativity which we associate with all kinds of thoughts. Perhaps it can have a purpose beyond our imagination? At least if everyone act with positive emotions the world will most likely just be better for us and others. And what about vegetarianism? While meat is tasty what we do to animals is like the holocaust x 1000. So yeah vegetarianism may be a nice goal.