Archive for the ‘Religous Values’ Category

Religious Boxes and Spiritual Cafeterias

December 14, 2012

My friend is arguing with me and blurts out, “you can’t just choose your values,  religion is not a cafeteria!”

I laugh and realize his quick synopsis catch-all answer has some merit.

I reply in kind and state just as firmly and just as loudly that “religion is also not a box.  A provincial viewpoint will never be a Universal Truth.”

How is the Religious/Spiritual World Organized?  That is a recurring theme in our lives.  It’s a philosophical question as well a question of placement.   Where do we belong?  It becomes a question of structural reality and placement.

When we are born in this world we are usually raised in a particular religion.  It is usually the religion of our immediate predecessors(i.e. our parents).   I currently believe that whatever religion we are born into is the possible continuation of the religion that we have built and established in our prior lives. But it could also be the religion that teaches us the lessons that we need to learn most in this lifetime.

I was raised as a Methodist and believe pretty firmly that it’s a carry over from my last life.

I believe that there are currently both Boxed Religions and Spiritual Cafeterias and that we are headed for a world in which Spiritual Awareness is completely and totally self-evident.  We are entering a world in which our spiritual consciousness is so evident in our lives that we can finally understand the greatness, the interconnectedness and beauty of all things.

The merits of boxed religion are that the individual can learn discipline, order, respect, progression, and teamwork.  The faults of a boxed religion are possible continued spiritual error, polarization, self-righteousness,  domination, constrainment of creativity and individual initiative.

The term Spiritual Cafeteria alludes to the idea that we can cherry pick our values and religious ideas. I don’t belive that we can pick our own Ideals and Values but that we sometimes grow beyond earthly systems.  Yes some people do abandon systems and abandon God(at least temporarily).  But some of us do seek greater spiritual answers and we “choose” to partake of the right Spiritual Nourishment.  We do know that “man cannot live by bread alone” and so we do exercise the right to choose responsibly.   We choose the Spiritual salad and vegetables that provides fiber and vital spiritual nutrients.  We choose the Spiritual meat/legume protein that grows our Spiritual Body.   We utilize the Spiritual carbohydrates that gives us the energy to fulfill our Spiritual Goals.   If we do not exercise our own discipline we may revert back to a religious method that instills the proper self-restraint to make wise choices. The clue isn’t will we choose individual answers that are self-serving but whether we will finally adopt Universal Laws and Understandings that have never been owned or constrained by any one group.

I believe that actually each of us is micro-managing our way back to God.  A system or box has merits and we learn from those until we outgrow them.  We stop believing in a paternalistic Santa Claus/Grandfather God and realize that God has greater dimensions than we could possibly perceive.  We realize that God is not an external agent controlling our lives as little puppets.  God is greater than we can imagine and is in all things. If we strike out on our own to learn greater truths those steps will inherently lead to some missteps. Those mistakes will be our own and we won’t have them thrust on us from someone else.

The box religions serve their purpose. Imagine a solder that hates the Jewish people. It doesn’t matter what era, Roman times or the modern era.   He completely doesn’t understand the Jewish world and holds it in great contempt and disdain. He dies and goes to heaven but God forbids him to enter(at least for now).   Finally they have a meeting.  The soldier states his case but God decides that he still has lessons to learn.

God tells him that he will return to earth and live in Brooklyn, U.S. A.   He will return to earth and become an Orthodox Jew.  Not as a punishment but as a spiritual lesson. He will learn to play accordion in a Jewish Klezmer band. He will observe the Sabbath and read the Torah. He will learn the values of family, community, discipline and order.    Most importantly he will learn to love others as he loves his own being.  He will love those he didn’t understand.

Another person has lived their prior life with blue blood sophistication, modern gadgetry, urbane polish, and social networking for career and a socially upward life.  In his next life he “gets to” fulfil new direction as a Pennsylvania Amish midwife.  From these the soul learns lessons of simplicity, earnest work, child-rearing, and a return to nature that brings great spiritual meaning.

Another soul still has lived a life as an ardent religious priest who values duty, self-sacrifice, and carries an attitude of serious composure and restraint.   His next life finds him as a tuba player in a New Orleans Jazz Band.  He finds that joy, happiness, music and laughter are important in life for himself, but also for others. He derives his greatest joy playing in the New Orleans funeral processions.  From these he feels value from his work ushering the deceased into the next world while bringing solace to the people of this world.  He plays at every party and enjoys the parties like it’s 1999.   In this instance it’s a tradeoff of one box for another.   One was the monastery, the other being the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

Meanwhile, the religiously graduated Boxed  Saint realizes  that there are new lessons of Love and Law that were not taught within his prior systems.   He/She has matured to a new point that places the onus of the Spiritual Life on Him or Her.  In this manner people can learn their co-creativity with God.

Rest assured that real life will find the weaknesses of any boxed religion. Real life also provides the crucible that enables us to amend, correct, and adjust our own lives according to God’s Laws.  Part of the difference is if it’s better to be compelled to conform verses us choosing God’s Laws based on knowledge, experience and wisdom.  It’s a question of Spiritual Maturity.   While in our infancy, WE DO need guidance, direction, focus and discipline.  As we Spiritually evolve we can see that the Spiritual kindergarten is over.  We must now attend High School, College, or Graduate School.

When you think you have to defend something is when you will realize the deficiencies of your philosophy.  I’m unable to describe the meanings of all Religions or Spirituality. I’m unable to describe all boxes and paths.  I believe now though that every individual is somehow forging their own Reunion with God and that relationship is between him and God. Whatever God’s plan is, somehow it’s Natural and Real.  It’s not given to man’s own proclamations and utterances. The answer is you can be wherever you want to be and we all choose when we will change, amend and apply ourselves to God’s plan.  The mature realization is that everyone is on their Religious/Spiritual Path.  The mature realization is that individually and collectively we all are choosing our Spiritual Destiny and our Spiritual Reunion.

“Think outside the box”                      

but remember…..

                               “No man is an island”

Advertisements

I’m not scared of Hell but my impending Karma terrifies me!!!

June 22, 2012

I don’t believe in Hell.  I don’t believe in an unjust and eternal place of torment and regret.   I think it’s just a scare tactic to compel me to do what others want.  “If you don’t do A, B and C then you’ll rot in Hell forever but if you follow us we’ll get you on the right train” they say.   It’s the basic “carrot and the stick theology”.  The God I believe in could not be so A) mean, B) unjust, and C) unloving.

However, that being said, that does not mean that God is not a teacher, that God is not working with me, that God does not have plans for me.   He does.

His plans require me to eventually conform(of my own choosing) to the Universal curriculum of Love, Law, and Truth.  The more I resist, the more bad Karma I incur.  The more good Karma I fulfil the more good Karma comes back to me.

When I first became aware of what Karma was I realized that it was only just and fair that I receive the bounty of my actions.  When I loved, love was shown to me.  When I did otherwise, that was shown to me also.

When I think of my impending Karma it really does terrify me.  In fact though, it seems worse then Hell because it will by so very, very real.

Instances of a Karmic Path:

The time I was arrogant…..

………I guess I can expect arrogance to me.

The time when I was stubborn…..

……..I guess I can expect stubbornness coming to me

The time I was a gossiper……

……..I can see that people will gossip about me

The time I was clannish….

……..will find me next time being excluded from the group

The time I insisted on deference to me…..

……..will find others asserting their own will on me

The time I analyzed so completely……

……..will find me being under the microscope of others

The time I made nice to win people over……

……..will find others fawning all over me to compel my confidence

The time I needed to exert my power over others….

……..will find me powerless with others

The time I boasted of truth to others…..

……..will lead me to my own untruths in spades

The time I was cold and callous…….

……..will find me shivering in my shoes from my interactions will others

The time I was rebellious…..

……..will find insurgency against me

and last

The time I sold out others……..

……..will find me being betrayed by others

Although this post may seem somewhat ominous I must point out that I still believe that God is fair, just, and loving.   The lessons we incur are our lessons. We chose them.  As we modify and amend our own behaviour we incur the good Karma. We incur God’s blessing.  The beauty, symmetry and logic of such a system really is unassailable.  In all honesty I can’t think of a better system.  Like King David, we can each seek to redeem ourselves and seek God’s own heart.  From this day forward I will change my Karma.  Not as a system though, but rather again as those values, principles and Ideals that I have subsequently outlined in my other posts.  I resolve to be Loving. I resolve to be Universally Lawful. I resolve to seek Truth.

“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.”
                                                           – Audrey Hepburn

All We Need Is Love(…..and Law,…..and Truth)

May 18, 2012

As I’ve progressed through my life I’ve realized certain things that seemed self-evident actually require further exposition and explanation. Growing up as a child of the 60’s and the 70’s many of the people of my generation became very acquainted with the phrase, “All you need is Love.” It was the height of the hippie era and life actually seemed quite simple and direct with that wonderful appealing mantra. “Yes, all we need is Love and the world will work, the world will be better, our Universe will be Grand.” An old rock group “The Beatles” even had a song called “All You Need Is Love.” I want to abandon, change, or modify that singular concept.

I now believe that we should actually expand that Ideal to include Law and Truth. A trilogy of Ideals that are all completely intertwined and are in fact ONE IDEAL.

LAW: Somehow, someway the Universe needs, wants or has A STRUCTURE. It has a bottom line, it has a remedial and corrective force in our lives that propels us ever upward toward greater and greater goodness. We can call this Man-made Law, Natural Law, or Karmic Law.

I believe that Man-made Law is like a reflection in a pool of water. Man-made Law is just a mere watery reflection of God’s Law. In the end it is found wanting. It’s less than perfect and in fact seems to rely quite a bit upon punishment instead of remedial, corrective teaching. Still, temporarily, it’s the best that we have and the best that we can currently understand.

More attuned to God’s Laws and acting more as a true “mirror” is Natural Law. Most of this is observable by mankind in his everyday environment, i.e. Nature’s Law. When we look at our external world we find the discoverer of real world Laws: Newton’s law of universal gravitation, Newton’s law of heat conduction, Gauss’s law for magnetism, Faraday’s law of induction, Faraday’s law of electrolysis, Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.

If I understand these correctly, most of these laws are immutable. I can’t fly, I can’t go backwards in time, I can’t create a perpetual motion machine. However, if I work within the laws, I can fly in an airplane, I can learn from history, and I can become a steward of God’s earth and energy.

Last is Karmic Law. True Law. The total embodiment of Law. The will of God made manifest. What goes around, comes around. What you sow , you also shall reap. Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule. This Karma is both a backward correction and a forward momentum. It is a Universal Mill Grindstone that grinds down to make a renewed substance in refined Spiritual Flour. It also works like a Universal Weaving Loom that is constantly creating new weaves of Love and Opportunity. The one(the mill) is wearing and grinding down the supposedly useless weeds into a Renewable Spiritual Nourishment while the other(the loom) is building newer and finer tapestries of Spiritual Cohesion and Fabric.

This is why it’s important to understand science, it’s describing our world.

This is a good point also to show the main connecting point between two supposedly opposite institutions, Religion and Science. In various degrees both are interested in the…..

TRUTH: Both Religion and Science want to know how the world works. While religion frequently expounds on the truth, science tries to discover it. For one, it’s self-evident and for the other it’s a frontier. While one(religion) may appear delusional the other(Science) can appear as Godless. I don’t just gobble up the dictates of religious authorities and I also don’t believe in a world of just rocks, stars, and DNA. In actuality we are all trying to find the Truth whether we are religious scholars or scientists. We all want answers that really are self-evident and that are real.

As I expounded in my earlier post, Truth is like light. It broadcasts and illuminates everything everywhere. We all seek the truth and we all have various ways of concealing our own falsehoods. Besides the song “All We Need Is Love,” one the songwriters of the Beatles, John Lennon, wrote another great song of Spiritual Ideals called “Gimme Some Truth.” The song is really a plea for honesty, sincerity, earnestness and justice. It’s a simple plea from a single man on the state of the world.

Part of my point here is not any exaltation of the The Beatles or John Lennon but to illustrate that these ideas and Ideals are actually very common. These Ideals are sought out among Rock Stars, Religious Scholars, Scientists and everyone. Everyone wants to know the Truth. Everyone knows a little bit of truth.

LOVE: I could write a ton of words about this subject but it’s actually our greatest life lesson. It will permeate every facet of our lives as Mother, Son, Spouse, and Elder. We will each change seats in our lives and take up the different positions to learn new facets of Love and Connection. As I stumble through this life I keep finding myself in each of those different positions and marvel at the thought of each new assignment. “Oh, this time I’m the Good Son, now I’m the Good Dad, soon I’ll be the Good Grandpa(I hope I can do it).” Try as I might to write it down and capture it in a phrase or a word, it just doesn’t translate, it has to be lived.

These three Ideas are actually ONE IDEAL that are all absolutely interconnected and inseparable.

To understand how these truly do fit together we need to understand that actually each precept overlaps the other:

We can be responsible, structured, scientific and lawful and still be unloving.

We can be Truthful and still be a loveless being.

We can be Truthful and still be irresponsible, unruly and unlawful

We can Love another but still be unfaithful and untruthful.

We can Love another but still be irresponsible, unruly and unlawful

Although I could probably make an analytical Venn diagram of these three components I think that the point is made that these three are all part of ONE IDEAL. To have one without the other is a short selling of Spirituality And God.

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend upon the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.

– Albert Einstein

Water, Land, and Religion

March 30, 2012

In 2005, a movie called “The Corporation” was released.  In that movie they told of the Water Rights Movement of Cochabamba, Bolivia.  Apparently in the year 2000 the water was privatized and Law #2029 gave the water rights to a private company. The broadness of this law debatably gave the company control of people’s irrigation systems, personal water wells, and even the rainwater. The protest movement of the Coördinator questioned whether God’s rainwater from the sky could ever be properly or rightly owned. Eventually the people of Cochabamba had their own water rights restored to them, The “Corporation” book/movie was certainly highlighting the overreaching control of corporations. I have since been informed that the rainfall water rights of Western America are controlled by the Government and related water corporations.

In 1626 Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan from the Carnasee Indians for gifts with a value of 60 Dutch guilders.  While this has variously been described as being worth $24.00, when it’s truly adjusted for inflation it’s a sum more than $1000.00 in today’s market.  The nearby Raritan Indians supposedly sold Staten Island at least six times.  This probably means one of two things: the Indians either knew what they we doing or they didn’t understand what property rights were.  There’s no evidence that either party attempted to swindle the other but it seems to me that the Indians must have at least pondered what was going on.   Did they in fact wonder whether they could also sell the moon, or the sunshine and the stars?  Did they think the land was being leased?   Again how can land be owned?  Does anyone anywhere have the deed from God?  Did Mother Nature give anyone the title to those resources?  Isn’t it really just a manmade invention.

Mankind has an inordinate desire to own things and this has even been seen in our Spirituality and Religions.   Many people want to OWN God, to make him their own.  Religion has become a possession. “In my church….”,  “In my religion….”,  “In our beliefs….”!!!  It’s a natural expression of wanting to belong to something and to have that thing belong to us.

I feel that we should release our feelings from the temporal qualities of this world and realize that we are just passing through.  Yes we should adhere to God’s laws and we should be part of the community and we should love  one another but beliefs of ownership polarizes us.   You and me, yours and mine, us and them are just examples of claiming God’s world as our own.  Mankind frequently does that to control others and to control resources.

It also undermines our real relationship with God because we put others up as intermediates to God and others put themselves up as intermediaries to God.   No person, group, institution, or organization has greater connection to God than your own self.   God wants me to ‘remind’ you that your greatest connection to God is your own Self to God. No one anywhere can speak for your needs better than your own Self to God.

Lastly, I hope that we can realize that we walk through God’s rain, we travel through his Land. The rivers and mountains and streams are his domain. God’s plan is his alone and we can’t own it, change it, amend it or control it. We are stewards of God’s land and we can walk through it but we will never own it.

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books”
                                                                                                                                                                 – John Lubbock
 

Spiritual Book Review: Dating Jesus

August 30, 2011

The Spiritual Book reviews actually covers ANY book that has any spiritual/religious insight or meaning.   Slight Spoiler alert: If you are an ardent believer in God and your personal faith and feel that your faith is sufficient than you may not want to read anymore.    I personally believe that God is working everywhere all the time.  I believe that God is teaching things in those individual religions for an individual instruction to fulfil that person’s total reunion with God.  Sometimes though God wants us to grow in other ways and we may have a path that is less than traditional. 

“Dating Jesus” was written by Susan Campbell and published in 2009.  In trying to write an honest review I have to be truthful about the less than good things about this book.   Please keep in mind though that I feel the book is meaningful and worthwhile to read otherwise I wouldn’t write a review at all.  

1. The book could have been longer, it was only 205 pages long.

2. She skips important and meaningful things in her personal life that probably had a direct impact upon her religious/spiritual values.

3. The larger development  about her faith is questioned as to whether it crumbled away or a full-blown spiritual realignment occurred. 

I believe that the editor and publisher should have compelled a greater input and direction for the answers to the above shortcomings.  

There….I got that out-of-the-way.  I don’t like being negative but at the same time if it’s the truth I can’t paint over it and let future readers believe that the book  is supremely great.  It’s just merely GREAT.

I admire Susan Campbell for her courage to write this book. It’s very honest account of growing up in a bedrock, good as gold fundamentalist religion from Missouri, the back bone of middle America.  This is not altogether a book about spiritual growth as much as it is a book about the spiritual realizations about her own faith that she was raised to believe in. She still believes in God, but differently.

As a child growing up she followed her faith and did as she was asked.  She was Baptised and then Baptized again.   He community, her friends were almost all belonging to the same church. She and her friends would proselytize door to door to find new members.  Frequently she made clear to others that belief in God and Jesus were not sufficient, that their church was the one true church. Any other church wouldn’t do.  She attended church three times a week.  That was an important facet of their social world.  She became an excellent Bible student and would attend Bible camps.   It soon becomes apparent that Susan Campbell does know her Bible because several Bible quotes are referenced throughout the book.  

As she states so aptly, “”So begins my memorization of vast snatches of the Bible-Old and New Testament. I can recite the books and the apostles and the Beatitudes.”  Her teachers proclaim, “that girl know her Bible.” 

Her realizations of unfairness and differences came as she watched her brother ascend to a beginning ministry position.   It was made clear that she could never do that or be that. Further dashed hopes were the differences in the sports area.   The boys were encouraged and applauded.  The girls were merely tolerated.  One was real and earnest, the other was just entertainment. When Title IX was enacted to promote equality in high school sports some things even changed.  It still took a long time to bring about even a semblance of fairness and equality.

The most important thing that I learned from the book is that in 1909, two bothers named Lyman and Milton Stewart, compiled a number of religious writings of the time and published them as The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. It was originally a twelve volume tract that essentially defined and gave birth to the beginnings of Fundamentalism.   These books were then sent FREE  to several ministers, missionaries, YMCA and YWCA  secretary’s, College Professors, Church superintendents and other like-minded leading Christians throughout the United States and the World.  While many of these ideas are  subject to great debate and controversy I believe that the authors intentions were sincere.   I am not an advocate of fundamentalism but  I understand now how these ideas became so widespread even though many themes have non-existent or debatable reference in the Bible and even the exaltation of the Bible. For more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fundamentals.

The other main point of the book is when Susan Campbell goes back to Missouri and visits with her brother and his family.   They attend church while she’s there and she sees that it’s different….very different.   The church has modern musical instruments while her original church didn’t even have a piano.   The choir doesn’t have that familiar closed four-part harmony.  It becomes obvious that many members don’t really know their Bible, at least not like her and her brother did when they were kids.  

This realization becomes something that she realizes is lost.  Not just for others, but herself too.  She laments and regrets that at one time she had total and complete conviction, total religious understanding, total purpose and spiritual meaning in her life.   There was NOTHING grey or fuzzy or uncertain.   Her religious life had purpose, meaning and direction. 

In moving from children to adults,  in seeing reality intruding, we observe that things are not always what we have been taught. Sometimes, such as in Susan’s case, we question ourselves and the so-called values we’ve been taught.   We try to find real answers for real questions.

Many of the things Susan has been through have occurred in many others, myself included.  I applaud her courage and vision to dispense with the old even if she doesn’t have a replacement of new values and spiritual understandings.   That’s what takes real courage.   She didn’t switch, she didn’t just change religions or try something else.   She just evolved and grew.  That is FAITH.   She truly is letting go and letting God work it.  

Even with all the things that I think I know, I pray that I will be able to discard my old ideas and rise to new understandings. I know that even now I’m relying on old ideas that are probably just a bridge to new understandings.

I rate this book an 8 out of 10 stars,    ********.  

Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl.      ISBN:    978-0-8070-1066-2

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.
                                          Confucius

When you listen, what do you Honor?

June 13, 2011
I’m trying to tell her but she just doesn’t get it.  She brushes me off. I explain again. I try to make her see how crucial this is to me.  I become more emphatic.  She ducks and dodges and weaves from my finest arguments.  Finally, I really am arguing and she is too.  Our voices get louder and more and more sarcasm enters the picture. Finally we both are in full-fledged battle.   We break apart……and lick our wounds. 
 
It’s taken me a long time to understand how most of us have learned to communicate with one another.  We learn from our parents. We learn from TV and the movies. But most of those experiences don’t really reinforce positive communication.  From the media, movies, and TV world, positive communication is not good drama or entertainment. A most striking example is the English Parliament where insults and embarrassment appear to be the standard fare. The resolutions appear disappointing if people resolve things without acrimony.
 
Frequently when people discuss things, their focus can be on winning, scoring points, laying down the gauntlet, embarrassing their opponent. Sometimes it can manifest as absolute and total denial.  People want to preserve their identity and their illusions, particularly about their own image. Especially in America where we definitely have a whole sports culture that says that winning is everything. Every issue is engagement.
 
In marriage, relationships, and sometimes the work world this doesn’t work well.  We can’t run over our spouse, dominate our kids, and do whatever we want. 
 
One way to have a more adult relationship is to be “continually & willfully mindful” of what we are saying and what we are doing. I call this CWM.   When I fix this thought with a little axiom I can then fix it in my mind.  This CWM can be hard to do since our upbringing has indoctrinated us by TV and Movies to act less than our best.
 
Recently(the past two years), I’ve been trying to not honor power, force, sarcasm, winning and self-righteous behavior. Not that I consciously honored them, that’s my point, but that I have been taught to honor them.  I’ve been trying to pay attention to how I talk, how I sound, what I mean when I say certain things. 
 
I’ve made a list of conflict resolution arguments that I stay away from. Most of this list if from TV, Movies and personal experience. It’s a lengthy list of “don’t do’s” for avoiding arguments and staying on track, getting what you want without resorting to boorish behavior. It’s difficult to do.
 
 
It’s important to not:  use sarcasm
It’s important to not: use knee jerk reactions,  in responses or baiting.
It’s important to not: change the venue, “Another thing you did…”          
It’s important to not: use name calling, “Doodlehead, Crazyman,…”
It’s important to not: use Demonizing or Polarization, “You did..,” Us vs Them
 
It’s important to not: use one-upmanship behaviour, “At least I am…….”
It’s important to not: use a negative tone, another form of sarcasm or disdain
 
It’s important to not: use a cavalier manner or attitude 
It’s important to not: use impunity, “That’s too small to even worry about!!”
It’s important to not: Gesticulate, arm waving, finger-pointing, giving the finger…
 
It’s important to not: use tagging, “Yea, Jim is that way.”  indirect positioning
 
It’s important to not: use inverse tagging, “I’m the good one.”
It’s important to not: use Short Shrifting to undermine others 
It’s important to not: use  Buckshot Charges, “You did A, B, C, D, & E.”
It’s important to not: use Blanket Denial, “It’s ALL WRONG, the WHOLE PACKAGE”
 
It’s important to not: use Stonewalling, (defensiveness) 
It’s important to not: use Stiff-Arming
It’s important to not: use “So What” Answers, People’s feelings, ideas & opinions count
 
It’s important to not: use Brush-Off Answers
It’s important to not: use Plausible Deniability
It’s important to not: use Punt, Fumble, Out oF Bounds Answers
or Arguments
It’s important to not:…………..
 
There are an endless supply of bad arguments and answers.
 
I’ve been trying to shift to good responses, earnest responses, and real answers to real questions.  I found that it wasn’t enough  to just agree with GOOD ANSWERS.  It wasn’t enough to just try to work with people.   I had to HONOR the sensible way out.  I have to lift that good measure up as an ideal and make it and keep it real.  
 
I realized from my list of conflict resolution arguments that it’s real easy to mess up and it’s extremely difficult to stay on track and resolve things honorably. 
 
The things that I HONOR now are civility, kindness, dialogue, others input, truth no matter the source.  It’s important to value the merit of ideas regardless of another’s high or low status.
I’m willing to take the short disappointments because now I’m playing the long game.  Not as a game but as a way to treat others and myself honorably and respectfully. 
 
P.S. This is a work in progress for me.
 
Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.
                                         -Mary Wortley Montagu
 
 
The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.”
 
        -Socrates

Empathy(101)

June 4, 2011

I was thirteen. I knew as much as any other thirteen year old boy which was almost nothing. We were crossing the football practice field on the way to my house.  My friend Jon was recently broke up with his girlfriend.  “What am I going to do now?”, he said. The breakup was not his idea.  He had been sullen and quiet all day. “I was really starting to like her a whole lot!  Do you think I should call her again in about a week?”   I started to say “Yea” but I didn’t really know and in fact I actually didn’t really care.   I didn’t really know what to say so I punted and said, “Gee, I don’t know.” I didn’t know anything way back then. Jon clammed up again.

We finally get to my house and sit down at the kitchen table. My mother comes in, says ‘Hi”,  and proceeds to take care of the dishes she had washed earlier. I’m talking to Jon and he really isn’t responding. My mother senses that something is wrong and asks Jon point-blank  if he’s OK. He blurts out that “Nancy and I broke up with each other.   She wants to see other guys.”   My mother just looks at him and then she says, “Really, did you want to talk about it?” He says “Yea.”  She sits down and him and her start talking.  He starts talking about Nancy.

I just sat there.  My hands propping up my head, my eyes going back and forth with their words.   I didn’t really want to do this.  I didn’t even know it but I was afraid to “go there.”

At this point an amazing thing happened.  I started to see. I listened and saw that my best friend, Jon, actually had very strong feelings for Nancy.  I saw that my Mom knew how to talk to him and how to listen to him.  I saw my friend and I saw my Mom in a totally different light. They talked for about 40 minutes.  For sure my Mom had talked to me like that before but she was my Mom, that’s what Mom’s do.  I didn’t know she could talk that way with others or that it was even acceptable. 

 My Mom saw a need that wasn’t food, wasn’t warmth, and wasn’t security.   She saw that my friend needed some solace, he needed a balm.  Her words weren’t magic, in fact I can’t remember one sentence that stands out from my memory.  She somehow managed to find out how he was feeling. More importantly she allowed him to vent his feelings and to validate them. She listened to HIM.  She affirmed that many people have had the same feelings. She shared some of her own experiences and knowledge of boyfriend/girlfriend stories.

He still didn’t feel great, but I could tell that what my Mom had said, had made an impact on him.  Finally he turned to me and said “lets go back to my house.” We left and made our way across the practice field.  Jon turned to me about halfway across and said without judgement that “the way your Mom let me talk and explain myself was the way I wanted you to talk with me.”  At the time I fumbled some sort a of an apology.  Inside I knew he that was right. What good are your friends if they can’t lift you up or support you?   But for me at that young an age, I didn’t even know what the word was for what had happened.  Later I learned the word was Empathy. The word means “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another(Dictionary.com).”

My Mom showed me.

My friend told me.

The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.
                                                              -Meryl Streep

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

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