Archive for May, 2011

Spiritual Perseverance

May 29, 2011

Recently it was brought to my attention that “I’ll never find what I’m looking for.” The point was made that it’s obvious that I’m searching and I need to settle. I disagree, no surprise here. I’m not purposely trying to surf or spin. I’m not trying to say I’m constantly dissatisfied.  I’m not trying to be obstinate. 

Much of what people think that I need to settle on is “an external object.”  What’s my book? What religion am I in?  Who’s my Savior? What teachings do I adhere to? I believe that I’m a spiritual being and that you are too. 

I once read a story(recalled to the best of my memory) about a CIA analyst/Salt Treaty Advisor that was being interviewed on the history of the cold war and the US/Soviet Arms Race Buildup.  He was questioned at length about the cold war, what it was, how it happened. The interviewer finally inquired on the Advisors’ role in the Salt Treaty.  “Since you’ve worked for about 25 years monitoring the weapons and the Russians, why are you working with them now, what is different now?” he asked. The advisor put down his coffee and looked the interviewer right in the eye, “Yes, you’re right, I’ve been at this a long time. Most of my career, in fact. The difference today is that the Russians now are actually going to give something.”  The interviewer looked at the analyst and said, “You mean you have sat in your chair for twenty-five years just waiting for the Russians.”   The Analyst smiled and said “Yep, waiting for them to give something of value, something of substance and something real.  Everything before this was just words, research and posturing. We now finally, after twenty-five years, really have something we can hang our hat on.”

That’s the way I feel.

Part of what I’m trying to say is “We aren’t there yet.” How can we be since the world is so divided?

Spirituality is a process, not an object. It has no beginning and no end.  I or we, will never arrive.  We can stand still(an illusion), step back or step forward but no matter what we are in constant spiritual flux.

I, as much or even more than others, would love to find that spot or Ideal realized. Like a moth to the flame, wouldn’t any of us sacrifice ourselves for greater and total reunion with God.

My position is not anxiousness, it’s Patience. It’s not wanderlust, but the insistence of Spiritual Certainty.

I believe that our greatest communion is self to God, our greatest values are worked through our community, and Truth & Justice transcends Religion and Borders.

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

                                                            – Matthew 18:20

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Moral Theory Part 2 (What Liberals Need To Know)

May 22, 2011

I’m trying to cover all facets of Spirituality so that includes the practical.  My Spirituality posts includes prayers, dreams, relationships, people, history, & how things work. Morals would certainly fall under that category so lets look at Moral Theory. Moral Theory is sometimes hard to understand. The reason it’s important is because we are no longer children.   As adults we can see that things are no longer wrong or right, black or white.  In trying to make moral decisions we have entered the realm of Abstract Thinking, trying to balance multiples of concerns to find right answers.  Take your time to assimilate Moral Theory research. It can be examined at the websites as shown at the bottom of the post.

When I became aware of Jon Haidt’s(and his colleagues) research of new Moral Theory concepts it totally amazed me.  Most of my life I’ve been a bleeding heart liberal.   Mr. Haidt and his colleagues have pursued research beyond some of the Original Moral Theories.     In essence there are more deciding issues of  moral decision-making then if things only fall into the 1) Harm/Care and  2)Fair/Reciprocity categories.   He(and his colleagues) have  investigated an ongoing realization that  3)Authority, 4)Ingroup/Loyalty, &  5)Purity/Sanctity were concepts that many people use in the moral decision process. 

Liberals make decisions  principally with:

       1) Harm/Care

       2)Fair/Reciprocity

                 Or put another way : Does it Harm anyone and is it Fair?

Conservatives also take into account the issues of:

      3)Authority

      4)Ingroup/Loyalty

       5)Purity/Sanctity

               So Conservatives also add in :  What Authority does it have to make it right, is it in the group and are they loyal, &  does it uphold sacred values and purity.

 These precepts are important reasons why Liberals and Conservatives are different.   While liberals are deciding if the issues are doing harm or if they are fair, conservatives are also asking What does the Boss think, does it fit the group and loyalty model, & does it uphold sacredness and purity.

Mr. Haidt(and his colleagues) realized the Psychology/Sociology/Moral Theory Community was mostly liberal and so in some ways couldn’t really support their theses and Scientific Papers on their selective and subjective research methods.  In essence, they suffered themselves from confirmation bias(the idea that they favored their own position).  The Psychology/Sociology/Moral Theory community was about 80 – 90 % Liberals and so they could not even judge real Moral Theory because they only listened to their own voice. 

At this point in time Mr. Haidt(& his colleagues) also realized that History & Anthropology showed a preponderance of evidence that people have mostly used the added Conservative Values of 3)Authority, 4)Ingroup/Loyalty, & 5)Purity/sanctity.  Our county, America, is one of the first nations that ensured Liberty, Freedom, and Independence. Because of that we have a very modern Liberal constituency that could argue with Authority, deny Groupthink, and to even  question and oppose Sacred Issues.   Most countries and societies are still Authority, InGroup/Loyalty, and Purity/Sanctity oriented. In essence the Psychology/Sociology/Moral Theory Community was wrong(or at least very slanted) and they should have at least considered these values in their research, papers and books.

NOW WE COME TO THE REAL POINT OF THIS EXACT POST

It appears the Mr. Haidt considers his position now, not as a liberal, but a centrist liberal(he used the words liberal Democrat and centrist Democrat).   I THINK THAT I DO TO.

As a former bleeding heart liberal I NEVER CARED WHAT THE AUTHORITIES THOUGHT,  I DIDN’T CARE WHAT THE GROUP THOUGHT, AND I DIDN’T CARE ABOUT FALSE SANCTAMONIOUS ISSUES.  I now realize that I may have been at least partly wrong(…a little crow,….slice of humble pie,…gulp).

The quick and dirty way that I can finish this is to give those examples of the other three Moral Theory choices that I know now have enriched my life.

Together we are greater than the sum of our parts(Authority, Ingroup).

Without my family I would be a mess(Ingroup, sanctity)

Without these things the center will not hold(Authority, Ingroup).

Mob rule needs direction and cohesion(Authority, Ingroup)

Preservation of society is important(Authority, Ingroup, Sanctity)

Children deserve to mature to adulthood(Ingroup, Sanctity)

Authority  & Society can sometimes provide role models, leadership, & direction(Authority, Ingroup, Sanctity).  

More sometime later on “Why I was only liberal.”

The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.”

             – Mark Twain

 These are the big ideas that take some time to wrap our heads around, the full meaning can’t be understood until we digest it slowly and completely. Because of that I highly recommend that you, the reader of this post, examine it at length on you own.

Here is The MoralFoundations.org Site: 

http://faculty.virginia.edu/haidtlab/mft/index.php

John Haidt’s Morals lesson in video.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs41JrnGaxc

New York Times article         

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html

Take a test to find out your “Morals position” 

http://www.yourmorals.org/explore.php

Prayer(105)

May 20, 2011

There are about 6.8 billion souls on the planet(in human form). Obviously more souls have reincarnated at this point  in time than at any other time(we think). If you’ve read my Prayer(102) then you know that I’ve made an argument for praying for the supposedly deceased souls in the hereafter.

Since I believe in Reincarnation and since there are about 6.8 billion souls on the planet, many of the people who I’ve prayed for are probably NOT in the hereafter. In the prior post I made the statement of prayer for the deceased, even those that entered the hereafter centuries ago.  My tweak on that concept in this post is that since so many souls currently inhabit the earth, many of those that have supposedly passed on in the whole skein of time have probably been reborn NOW. They are right here with us on good old planet earth.   They are our peers again, or we are their peers.

 The people who by some providence had happened onto my prayer list may in fact be in our current time. Today’s prayers for the hereafter include Charlie Parker, Grace Kelly, Winston Churchill, Redd Foxx, and Claude Pepper.  But they may very well be in the Here and Now learning new lessons.  So again, why would we stop praying for people based on the theory that they have ascended or again been well-placed in the hereafter. Maybe they have been well-placed in the Here and Now. We can stand to think of reasons to pray.   Idle moments create a vacuum that can be filled with prayer.  Referencing the theme of my prior post, we can pray for the waiter, the bellhop, the bank teller, the mechanic, & the accountant.   But we shouldn’t pray on up and down status…so, we should also pray for the Kings & Queens, Presidents, Prime ministers, Senators and Representatives,  & CEO’s. Then we should also pray for the Minsters, Mullahs, and Priests.  We can decide to pray for ALL people like it’s one world. Dead, undead, reborn, recently returned, status or no status, religious and irreligious…makes no difference.   We are all ONE, all the time.

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”

                                              – Mahatma Gandhi

 
 

Spiritual Capitalism: Who is our customer?

May 17, 2011

Recently I saw an online poster picture of a saying that said, “A person who is nice to you, but is not nice to the waiter is not a nice person.” That kind of sums it up. When we go out and about in the world are we aware that God is everywhere always. It’s a hard consciousness to acquire because for us mere mortals that’s what it is, coming into consciousness.

When we meet people, those meetings are not happenstance encounters. There are no accidents. If we look at people we can see God’s Love/Karma to fulfill in every moment. God is always there in the waiter, the bellhop, the bank teller, the mechanic and the accountant. God is also our boss, our wife, our children and our parents. We can just see them as examples of Christ or spiritual beings and treat them as such.  The waiter example is perfect. Are we normally nice, civil, courteous to ALL.   Especially since a waiter has to fulfill their job.   If anything goes terribly amiss can’t we find recourse always with the management.  Isn’t it up to us to give people the benefit of the doubt.

We would do well to emulate that consideration of the other person, like we were the waiter, the bellhop, the bank teller, or the accountant. We should serve them. Not as a role reversal, but as Spiritual Beings ourselves.  We should pay it forward. 

If you want to invest in something(because we believe in ourselves), if you still think you want to promote something, why not advance the ideas of God’s economy: Love, charity, civility, tolerance, understanding & kindness. Not in personal selfishness but in collective wholeness. Not in “I’ll get mine” but “someday we’ll get there…together.”

My co-spiritual advocate Souldipper has stated it best in one of her comments, “not as promotion but as example.”  I’m not saying be nice to get yours, I’m saying that the seemingly simple act of love and consideration is the most meaningful thing we can do.  For all intents and purposes our world normally might say”Well, I didn’t get anything out of that gesture.” In fact though those considerations may very well be some of the most important things in the universe.

I’m saying that as we walk out and about that we should not be thinking, even subconsciously, “oh, an important person, an unimportant person, an important person, an unimportant person….”, they are all important, all the time. Everyone is our customer.

When chance meeting that other person we should remember this,

He who is not a good servant will not be a good master.
                                                                   Plato

Spiritual Book Review: Your God Is Too Small

May 11, 2011

“Your God Is Too Small” by J. B. Phillips is an excellent book . This is a classic Religious/Spiritual book that was originally published in 1952.   I read it for my first time around about 1989. The book details the outdated ideas and misconceptions that people may have about God.  First, let me say that I don’t know if God is definable.   I have matured(a little) that I know a lot of what God isn’t.   This book basically shows how our childhood, teenage, & even adult definitions are probably out of date and that we ourselves don’t believe them.   After dispelling some old-time myths and misconceptions it then goes into thinking of  what God could be and such like that.  Because this writer was a thinker with abstract thoughts, it can sometimes seem dry. The book sections are Destructive Concepts and Constructive Concepts.

Allow me to cite some chapter names with some observations, that kind of says it all.  

Destructive concepts

1. Resident Policeman  

              This is God as a disciplinarian

2. Parental Hangover

            This is God as the nagging parents.

3. Grand Old Man

             God as GrandDad

 Excerpt interpretation…a research project of teenage youths revealed their sub-conscious thought about God being outdated.  When asked in the research “Does God understand radar?”  Instinctively many answered “No”.  Then they laughed because obviously God knows more than radar, Right?

4. Meek and Mild….

              Sweet Jesus

5.Absolute Perfection

              God is perfect, I think,….but is he/she static and inert or is he/she constantly growing also. Perfection may not exist.

Eight more Destructive Concept chapters.   You’ll have to read the book.

Constructive concepts

1. God unfocused

 My take on this chapter…..one of man’s projections of God with human attributes is the belief that if God is impersonal and gigantically huge than he can’t possibly know all things about all people.  This is making God out to be as a CEO or President of the United States. He can run the store but has little conception of the detail.  If we stop ascribing to God human attributes then we could see that God probably does know all things, everywhere with everybody. This is the belief that God is finite and his energies will thin out and be less applicable. In truth God is the Ultimate multi-tasker.

2. A Clue To Reality….

…….

11. Christ and the Question Of Sin

14.The Abolition If Death

A total of 16 Constructive Concept chapters. You’ll have to read the book.

Why this book is important is because as children we are told what God is and slowly over the years that initial idea may be tweaked or modified.   The problem with that is that the nature of God is very rarely completely explored and examined in-depth. 

I would rate this book 8 out of 10 stars, ********.  In all honesty I have to say that this book is NOT inspirational, I didn’t feel uplifted as in a sermon or a feeling.   However it does give great insight and understanding about our wrongly held beliefs in God.  I personally found that very  helpful.  It may be in the local or university libraries.  

 ISBN Number 0-7432-5509-7

124 pages

http://www.amazon.com/Your-God-Too-Small-Believers/dp/0743255097/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305072558&sr=1-1

Marriage (102)

May 6, 2011

 It’s amazing to me, that in most of the Western Civilized world, we predominantly marry for love(not that it’s a bad thing).  In the past and in certain geographical areas of the world that has not always been the case.  It’s amazing because its something that should really be taken with very much more consideration. 

Have you ever gone to the casino and bet the family business?  Me neither.  However a fair amount of us fall in love, decide this is “the one” and get married.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  We actually make the biggest decision of our lives based on an immediate emotional state.  Why is that important? Because essentially a lot of marriage is a business.  If you don’t believe me just ask the lawyers. They’re the ones that negotiate the fate of the company when it breaks up. Marriage is a legal obligation. This is why pre-nups were invented. Marriage is usually recognized by the church or the state or both. While the institutions have to deal with the custody, financial, and property rights it’s usually the individuals that have to bear the burden of the breakup. You don’t want to be in that spot.

In the prior centuries and in other countries people have also married for Royalty reasons, security reasons, status reasons, family loyalty obligation, and money reasons.  Examples: A Prince to a Princess(for the continued illusion of Blue Blood), a marriage between Royalty for the binding of two previous warring countries, the marriage to the CEO and in turn the Trophy Wife, an arranged marriage as done in Asian countries such as China until 1950, and the taking of a wife with the biggest dowry.

If you’re idealistic(naive) like me, you may think that Love conquers all……..well, sometimes it does, but not always.   There are other facets of love beyond mere attraction and likability. Things like respect, patience, understanding, tolerance, and even being blind at the appropriate moment.    

If I had my way( and I usually don’t), it would be mandatory that everyone would have about six months of therapy before they got married.

If I had my way( and I usually don’t),  it would be mandatory that everyone would have to take a marriage test. A written test; with multiple choice, true and false, and essay(although the test would not be a pass/fail determiner qualification).  I myself may not have passed the test, but the point being that people should think about their decision in an adult and mature fashion(is that naive or idealistic!!!).

Things to think about before marriage:

Will there be a Honey-Do list?   A reciprocal Honey-Do list(can they handle each other’s list)?  What is a Honey-Do list?

Are Spiritual/Religious Values important?  Is it necessary to be absolutely alike, or is each finding their own path.  For sure to have a succesful union to work it will have to at least have both people sharing the same Values and Ideals but maybe not necessarily the same institution.  

Sexual/Emotional compatibility is important also.  Sexual incompatibility can destroy a marriage.  If sexual abstinence is observed before marriage then it might be a good idea to obtain a Sex Manual and review and discuss EVERY page together. Sure we want discovery on the honeymoon but not unwarranted rejection or ignorance.  Sexual compatibility should not be presumed. Again another issue that can just be blindly misunderstood.

Emotional compatibility is important to compare and share very simple things.  Can he listen? Can she listen?  Is he morose and she upbeat?  Is she sullen and he anxious?  Emotional outlook is very important. Is he/she happy in other situations besides just being with you.  See how they are in the supermarket, the restaurant, long trips, short trips, and every other situation without them tailoring their needs to yours.   What you may find may shock you.   If they’re only nice in your presence then eventually they may be unnice to you.   If they’re not courteous to the help, waiters, attendants,and service people then they eventually may not be nice to you.

More stuff: In-laws, parents, children, discipline, household/yard/car chores, shared interests, vacations, travel, friends, food & cooking, politics, House & Home. Everything is on the table.

Beginnings:  It’s a very good idea to disclose ALL of your BAGGAGE if you can, ask them for their own. It’s a very good idea to declare absolute DEAL BREAKERS early in the relationship(but maybe not to early), request their own. It’s a very good idea to declare ABSOLUTE MUSTS early in the relationship(but maybe not to early), request their own. The very reason to declare this stuff is it won’t be nice and it won’t be settled later.  Address it now.

Last words almost: Men, marriage requires maintenance just like other things in your life, Ladies, don’t expect to change him after the marriage, it’s too late then.

None of these things need complete agreement from both parties, however, there should be a majority of agreement or at least understandings of the differences with future noted expectations.

With all that is said it should still be noted that even smart people get divorced, mature people get divorced, religious people get divorced, it’s not the end of the world.

I do believe that marriage for love is very, very good. But…I also believe that it’s OK to be smart.  The two are not incompatible.

I found this excellent quote(with no last name given):

It’s not who you are to the world, it’s who you are to me. It’s not how many times I say I love you… it’s how much I really do.
                                                            – Mary Ann