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Do Spirituality & Religion Increase Overall Happiness?

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Let’s examine briefly the fundamental difference between religion and spirituality. Religion is defined as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. Most religious involvement usually involves devotional and ritual observances and often prescribes a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

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“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” Matthew 5:3

Spirituality refers to our ultimate reality, the human experience or understanding of the world. It is the innermost path which enables a person to discover the true essence of his or her being. Religion is based around order and usually revolves around an establishment such as the church, synagogue, or mosque, along with some external guidelines. Spirituality is based on the individual’s internal processes. It is aligned with how it affects the human spirit or soul.

Can Religion Bring People Happiness?

Studies have revealed that people who are involved in religious participation report greater levels of happiness than do those who are not religious. This pattern is typical of religious involvement and is associated with modest increases in happiness. Professor Clark, from the Paris School of Economics, and co-author Dr. Orsolya Lelkes, from the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, used information from household surveys to analyze the attitudes of Christians – both Catholic and Protestant – not only in relation to their own happiness, but also regarding issues such as unemployment. Their findings suggested that religion could offer a “buffer” which provides a level of protection from life’s disappointments.

Other studies in psychological research, including a 25 year study on 60,000 Germans, indicated long-term happiness is determined by lifestyle decisions such as choice of partner, employment, and religion. University of Melbourne Associate Professor and study leader Bruce Headey said the “study turned the long-term notion of happiness being linked to personality on its head.” The study found people who prioritise altruistic and family goals over career and material success are more satisfied with life, while a link between religion and happiness was also evident. “Religion seems to work for people. People who regularly attended church or a mosque were a bit happier on average than people who were non-religious or non-attenders,” Professor Headey said. “So having some kind of belief system that gives you a sense of meaning or purpose is important for happiness.”

Sociologists agree that the practice of a faith and a broad happiness with life do seem to be related, though nobody has much idea why. “We don’t know whether people go to church because they are happy, or whether they are happy because they go to church,” says Andrew Clark, an economist who helped conduct a survey of 30,000 Europeans in 21 countries. Another recent analysis of more than 550,000 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index interviews conducted over 2009/2010 found that in America, those who are the most religious also have the highest levels of well-being. The statistically significant relationship between religiousness and well-being holds up after factoring in numerous demographic variables.

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While there are some studies that disagree with the correlation between religion and happiness, an overriding majority link some increase in happiness to religious connection. Why might this trend exist? There are many possible explanations, some of the more obvious ones being community and the social networks that many religious organizations foster. The feeling of connectedness to something bigger than oneself could also explain the greater happiness levels attained by individuals. Religion generally focuses on the greater good and positive aspects of life and living. Unconsciously this permeates into the individual and helps endorse and foster a happier and emotionally healthier individual. An individual’s relationship with God can provide a source of comfort, sense of peace, calm, and unconditional love which to the devout can be unrivalled. Religion and spirituality can give guidance and help people give or find meaning in their lives.

Happiness & Spirituality

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” Lao Tzu

Spirituality may mean different things to different people. The main differentiator between religion and spirituality is that there is no set of rules or guidelines one must observe to be spiritual. Spirituality is entirely a personal thing, it is found deep within oneself. It can be the knowing and understanding that there is a higher reality and that the universe does not revolve around the self. It may be harmony, wisdom, compassion and a divine presence in every moment in life. Spirituality can be fostered through quiet meditation, maintaining a tranquil lifestyle, practising a life of contemplation or bringing forth a gentle awareness to one’s life. It is getting to know our true self, understanding the nature of consciousness, and transcending the physical world as we know it. Once we have discovered inner peace and lose the need for worldly desires, it is easier to live happier and unconditionally loving lives.

Dr. Mark Holder from the University of British Columbia and his colleagues, Dr. Ben Coleman and Judi Wallace, recently conducted some research into spirituality and happiness. Their research revealed that children who feel their lives have meaning and value and who develop deep, quality relationships – both measures of spirituality – are happier. It would appear, however, that their religious practices have little effect on their happiness. These findings have been published in the online edition of Springer’s Journal of Happiness Studies. Holder and colleagues wanted to understand the nature of the relationship between spirituality, religiousness, and happiness in children. Three hundred and twenty children between the ages of 8 to 12 were surveyed. The authors found that those children who said they were more spiritual were happier. In particular, the personal (i.e. meaning and value in one’s own life) and communal (i.e. quality and depth of inter-personal relationships) aspects of spirituality were strong predictors of children’s happiness. Spirituality explained up to 27 percent of the differences in happiness levels amongst children. According to the authors, “enhancing personal meaning may be a key factor in the relation between spirituality and happiness.” They suggest some strategies aimed at increasing personal meaning in children. These include recording acts of kindness by writing them down. Other acts of altruism and volunteering – may help to make children happier.

Although it is hard to find empirical data and research into the impact spirituality has upon individuals, it would seem that spirituality plays a significant part in all aspects of our lives. Spirituality exists in our literature, music, art and even to some extent science. It affects the way we think, feel, behave, and love. It is feeling good about ourselves and being at one with nature. Was the message Christ taught, “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” referring to the spirituality that exists in us all, the oneness, the connection to a higher purpose? Was he referring to the ability to access our higher consciousness which is itself God? Whatever your thoughts, be it religious or spiritual, it has been written for centuries for all to see. In the Qu’ran, The Bible, Zen Buddhism, and the ancient scriptures such as the Mundaka Upanishads, they say that God is the way to happiness. God is the only way. Whether you find happiness in a religious context or a deeply personal spiritual context, it doesn’t matter. And whether you refer to this greater being as Allah, God, Buddha, the universe, or higher self also does not matter. What matters is happiness. Whatever enables you to achieve lasting happiness from within is all that matters…

excerpts from One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future… 

Article compiled by Andrew Martin, editor of onenesspublishing  and author of One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future… 

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Awareness

Why Vegan and not Vegetarian? Vietnamese Monk Thich Nhat Hanh Answers The Question

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Vietnamese Monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains why he chooses not to consume any meat or dairy products, and points towards the overwhelmingly cruel food industry.

  • Reflect On:

    What gives us the right to torture animals, steal their babies, abuse them simply for our consumption? Where is our compassion, morality and empathy? Have we been made and brainwashed to believe that it's ok?

The most heartbreaking thing to see and to witness is an innocent benevolent being getting tortured and suffering. This is the realty of eating animal products today. Billions of animals are raised for slaughter every single year, and the overwhelmingly large majority of them go through horrific and terrifying experiences. It’s hard to imagine how anybody could eat or wear the clothes of diseased animals knowing what they went through. It’s also hard to believe that anybody who does eat or purchase products that have used animals in their manufacturing process would do that kind of “labour” themselves.

The truth is that many people still don’t know what these beings are going through. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, immoral, and unethical. Morality, empathy, and love are all emotions that need to return to planet Earth, and as long as we have multiple industries exploiting animals, that can’t happen.

If you’re unaware of what these animals are going through on a daily basis, a recent PETA investigation on two of the world’s top cashmere exporters revealed extreme cruelty, including the violent killing of cashmere goats. You can read more about it and see some footage of that here, if you’re interested.

You can view more examples of graphic footage in the trailer of “The Buddha Bowl,” a documentary in the making featuring personalities and some of the most influential and renowned spiritual leaders from all over the world sharing their perspectives on veganism. These include viewpoints from Buddha himself and from spiritual leaders from the past and present, totalling about 30 interviews on animal rights, environmental issues and health.

One of the people in that documentary is Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who is recognized as a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist. The video below is not part of the documentary listed above, but from an interview taken a few years ago at a conference.

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Are We Even Designed To Eat Meat?

There is no doubt our world is becoming more awake, aware, and compassionate. Millions of people around the world have transitioned towards a plant-based diet. This represents the kind of compassion and empathy our world needs more of, and this diet can do nothing but benefit human health, the planet, and the animals.

It’s no secret that eating meat and animal products is destroying the Earth, as clearing land for animal grazing and slaughter is one of the leading causes of deforestation, and factory farms are an environmental disaster.

More people are also starting to become aware of plant-based diets and their health benefits.

A recent study conducted by researchers in California and France found that meat protein is associated with a very sharp increased risk of heart disease, while protein from nuts and seeds is actually beneficial for the human heart. The study is titled “Patterns of plant and animal protein intake are strongly associated with cardiovascular mortality: The Adventist Health Study-2 cohort,”

It’s one of many studies that’ve emerged over the years showing the benefits of plant-based diets and their ability to reverse diseases. On the other hand, many studies published have shown how the consumption of meat has the exact opposite effect.

Below is a clip from a recent CETV episode where CE founder Joe Martino and I go into the discussion a little deeper, with a specific focus on plant-based protein compared to meat protein. If interested, you can watch the full episode here by signing up for your free trial. CETV is a platform that we created to combat the censorship we’ve experienced over the past couple of years.

I also go into this type of discussion, if you’re interested in reading about it, in an article I recently published: “Another Study Suggests Humans Are Not Designed To Eat Meat.”

The Takeaway

Human beings are born with compassion and empathy. What we are doing to animals on our planet today, and how many continue to ignore it and be unaffected by it, is simply as a result of mass brainwashing and marketing by big food corporations. The truth is that we’ve been taught to ignore it, we’ve been taught to believe that it’s OK and it’s our right to do this to others who share the planet with us. No child would ever stand for such a thing unless they were taught to do so. It’s the same thing as racism, we are not born with it, we are taught it. I urge all those who are reading this to do their research into where the vast majority of our food and clothes are coming from, watch what these animals are going through, look into their eyes and and feel what they are feeling.

The ability to feel and understand the emotions of others, animal or human, is a HUGE and VITAL step towards creating a better world and a better overall human experience.

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Alternative News

Marianne Williamson Admits “The System Is More Corrupt Than I Knew”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Marianne Williamson stated in an interview on Fox and Friends that she did not realize the political system was as corrupt as it is.

  • Reflect On:

    This is an important revelation of how leaders often don't quite see the full truth of our system at hand. Through them and their experience, we can learn a lot about what is truly going on. Is it time to let go of the systems we have?

About a week ago Marianne Williamson told the New Yorker, I know this sounds naïve, but I didn’t think the left was so mean. I didn’t think the left lied like this.” In a segment I did on CETV, I discussed the fact that Williamson is doing a great job of bringing a bit more of a conscious conversation into the mix here, which is very important, but seems to not quite understand what politics is really about and how things function in our world.

In my article about this statement I stated:

Some have suggested that Marianne already knows these truths, and she may, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she is only uncovering these things now. I say this as I belong to a group that communicates regularly that contains many high profile conscious industry leaders like Williamson and other big authors, speakers etc. Many of them are great with spirituality but seem to struggle to see how politics truly functions. I have witnessed this first hand and this is why I’m so passionate about what I do as I feel bringing together both personal transformation and hard truth is imperative.

Some felt that my analysis was off and that Williamson is just ‘playing naive,’ but to me, this did not feel true nor did it seem to be the case. While some might view this as an unimportant detail, it’s very important as for society to truly begin to shift we must not only personally transform but also realize the true nature of the world we live in.

As outlined in the CE Protocol, the formula I built to help awaken and shift the masses, the very first step is Breaking The Illusion about our programmed reality and understand what’s truly going on. From there, personal transformation becomes key.

Williamson Admits She Was Unaware

Here we are a week later and Williamson has stated what I observed in my previous segment, she did not quite realize how corrupt our political system truly is. In an interview on Fox and Friends Williamson stated:

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“I would say that I feel that I’ve learned that the system is even more corrupt than I knew and people are even more wonderful than I hoped,

I want to state this isn’t about picking on anyone as much as it is about understanding the importance behind seeing the full picture of the change that needs to take place here. For 10 years now I have built CE to include both personal transformation and truth seeking for the reason that either one of those topics on their own doesn’t create the change we all know is possible in our hearts.

I’ve seen many ‘spiritual leaders’ still deeply support the dysfunctional nature of our systems because they believe there is truth to them when in reality they belong to a consciousness we are shifting away from.

Our political system is built and exists within a system designed for a very limited state of consciousness, some call this 3D consciousness. The goal isn’t to shift our political system, it’s to let it go. Collectively we are shifting and the new state of consciousness emerging doesn’t support the political system at hand. Hence why the chaos around it is increasing, because it’s acting as a mirror for us to see how it doesn’t resonate with our emerging consciousness.

It’s like trying to install Windows on a Mac or vice versa, the systems aren’t designed for the operating system. Humanity is faced with a challenge of ‘letting go of the old,’ not trying to fix the old.

In a brand new segment of The CE Show I did on YouTube and CETV, I discuss Marianne’s latest comments and what I feel we all must realize as we move forward in this journey of shifting ourselves and our world.

The CE Show airs multiple times per week on CETV. Membership proceeds from CETV go towards supporting our journalism and future broadcasts. You can start a free 7 day trial here.

The Takeaway

I feel that we have become addicted to the systems of a state of consciousness that we are moving away from. The choice is up to us, we stop resisting and holding onto things of the old, move through the process of watching these old systems fall away, or we continue to fight tooth and nail under the belief that we must hold up the old systems, and suffer along the way.

Ask yourself within, do you truly feel that this is about changing our current political system to be more open and evolved? Or is it about letting go of the rigidity of our current systems and creating new ones that are birthed from a  new state of consciousness, not one that is centuries old…

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Pisces: Navigating Ideals

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We are having a Full Moon in Pisces which will be exact at 4:33am Universal Time on September 14th 2019. It will appear the fullest on the night of the 13th for most of the world and on the night of the 14th for the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand.

This is the peak of the Lunar cycle which began two weeks prior with a New Moon in Virgo. The energies of it build up as the Moon increases its light and are strongest in the days before and after. However, it will still be a part of the backdrop over the following two weeks.

Full Moon’s are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Pisces and Sun in Virgo. It can reflect either a conflict or integration of both signs. We can feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Virgo side and others expressing the Pisces side.

Pisces is associated with sensitivity, compassion, creativity, and oneness. It is spiritually conductive, mystical, energy oriented, dreamy, flowy, imaginative, idealistic, and empathic. Negatively, it can be delusional, lazy, intoxicated, deceptive, confused/confusing, elusive, flaky, and lack critical thinking. Pisces energy is the least compatible with the mundane world and is associated with escapism in its many forms.

Virgo is about productivity, duties, service, physical health, cleanliness, and purity. It is organized, conscientious, skillful, diligent, efficient, analytical, detailed, and practical. Negatively, Virgo energy can also be overly critical, too cautious, fault-finding, irritable, discriminating, and overly perfectionist.

Full Moon Aligned with Neptune in T-Square with Jupiter and Mars

This Full Moon is close to Neptune which has many of the same qualities of Pisces that were mentioned above. It is viewed as a modern ruler of that sign and it amplifies its energies even more so during this period. Neptune is also associated with glamour, romance, and addiction. It has a dissolving, flooding, and watery energy that doesn’t comprehend boundaries.

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Neptune is completing its last of three squares with Jupiter in Sagittarius which will be exact on September 21st and will be strong into the following week. It began last January and peaked again this past June. At best, this can be an expansive period in a spiritual, creative, or compassionate way.

However, it can also be a time of confusion or lack of discernment around beliefs, ideologies, education, and teachers. It can also be a time in which we become aware of us being like that previously. We can be more excessive when it comes to how we express Piscean/Neptunian energies mentioned above.

At the time of the Full Moon, Mars in Virgo is also involved in this configuration along with the opposition of the Sun and Moon, forming a T-square aspect. This can be good for asserting ourselves towards our ideals or with a different Jupiter-Neptune approach (mentioned above). However this can also make our actions scattered, less assertive/direct, and make it harder to apply ourselves with practicality.

Full Moon Sextile Pluto Near Saturn and South Node, Saturn Going Direct

This Full Moon is in a tight sextile with Pluto which is near Saturn and the South Node. This could trigger some of the themes of the previous Lunar Eclipse (that is still reflecting this period) in a more harmonious way. Purging aspects of our past that are getting in the way of us moving forward. This can help to facilitate empowerment through some sort of release or transformation.

Saturn will be finishing its retrograde on September 18th and will move towards its final conjunction with the South Node which will peak at the end of the month and early October. This energy was also strong in mid Spring and part of it in early Summer.

Saturnian themes get amplified and we can be dealing with limitations, obstacles, restrictions, or perhaps issues around boundaries. We may feel a need to make changes around responsibilities, commitments, career, and structures in our lives. Similarly to the last Lunar Eclipse, there can be a sort of ending playing out around how an area of our lives is being expressed.

Full Moon Opposing Mercury and Venus Conjunction As They Change Signs

At the time of this Full Moon, Mercury and Venus are in a conjunction at the very end of Virgo, (Mercury’s sign). They will then be moving into Libra (Venus’ sign) in the hours following with the Full Moon triggering after it begins to wane.

This can be a time of heightened interactions, catching up with friends and other relationships. While it is in Virgo it could lean more towards its themes connected to work, service, fault finding, etc. For some people there can be a feeling of some sort of urgency.

After this conjunction moves into Libra, especially a day after the Full Moon,  it becomes more pleasant, social, and creative. Our interactions can be more harmonious, diplomatic, and less critical. We can more easily see both sides to something, find balance, and a great time to discuss relationship matters.

As a result of both of these planets transitioning near the same time, some people may experience some sort of significant shift in other areas of their lives within a few days following the Full Moon.

Things To Consider During This Period

How can you better balance the mundane aspects of life with your ideals, creativity, or spirituality? How have your beliefs been impacted this year and what is the conclusion to your experiences? Is it possible that you may have been confused about some aspects of newly or previously acquired perspectives?

What themes are coming up for you now that have been playing out since last April? What do you need to release? What changes do you need to make when it comes to your work, responsibilities, commitments, structures, or boundaries?
These are just some examples of what could come up during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out. If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime after the peak of the Full Moon when it begins to wane until the next New Moon in two weeks. The exact moment of this Full Moon is on September 14th at 4:33am Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology related content.

astrology, astrology readings, carmen di luccio

Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. 

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