Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘religion’

We can’t deeply experience hard pride or shame without believing people are more or less worthy based on our behavior, our beliefs, or even just how we were born. To allow ourselves to feel superior or inferior, we must first embrace the idea we are separated from one another by our fortunes or failures. This idea is harder to hold onto each time we feel that spark of true connection from one heart to another. Each moment of pure acceptance of the divine beauty inherent in the human soul.

It is important for us to do our best to live up to our ideals for ourselves, and maintain a self-awareness that helps us recognize and remedy where we’re slipping. It is equally important that we practice patience and lovingkindness along the way, recognizing that who we are — our innate human worth — is eternally true regardless of what we do or say. We are not our successes. We are not our failures. The types of Pride and Shame that try to mark and set us apart based on such things are hamartia, missing the mark.

We are each human beings, learning to do the best we can with what we carry inside us. The ideas, experiences and opportunities that come to us shift from moment to moment, and we can’t reach out to them if we’re holding onto our judgments of what we thought we had just a moment before.

This applies both to judgments of others, and of ourselves. Love one another, as we love ourselves. That’s the path of wisdom, and the way ahead toward our truest selves.

Read Full Post »

I was trying to think of a truth that is very difficult to embrace.

What came to me is, “This is all there is.”

I started to think about how that can be a fear, accepting that this present moment is all we really have.  The feeling that accepting this means settling for less than we would want things to be in the future, as opposed to merely dropping our resistance to observing what’s in our present.

I also thought about the idea of what we see, hear, feel, and so on may be the sum total of existence. That is, the perception that there’s nothing beyond these senses of any substance or meaning. And objectively speaking, that possibility really needs to be considered and brought to heart. If we’re forced to stop and accept that our physical life holds such weight, it places a huge responsibility on us to make the most of it. We can’t shrug off that responsibility figuring that there’s better things later we just have to hold out for. There’s a real value to that.

I then realized a third and even more difficult way to embrace that truth. Who, what and where we are: it’s all interconnected. Time, space, the resonance of matter that forms the particles we are now experiencing as our breathing lungs and beating hearts… there’s no hard barrier once you start to follow the threads. On the vast continuum of Indra’s Net, we are holding the space of just one of those dewdrops, reflecting every other bejeweled node on the net.

In this moment, we hold a connection to every other moment.

In this space, we resonate echos of every other space.

In this experience, we enjoy a reflection of all there is.

Those can be easy things to throw out there as words and concepts, but harder to make “feel real” to our own psyche. And if we do let it “feel real”, what does that mean? What potentials are there for us in the here and now? What responsibility do we have to discover and use them?

If this is all there is, what are we obliged to make of it?

Read Full Post »

I’ve been thinking again about the addictive nature of certainty, and how tough a habit it is to break. Our Commander Brain tends to require certainty in order to feel it knows who “I am” and has the control “I need” to keep structure and predictability in our lives. That’s why it’s so important to first learn how to break the addiction to certainty, so we may be able to learn HOW to learn more about what we don’t yet know.

To break this addiction, I once spent possibly a whole year practicing being uncertain. Each time I felt I had a solid ground to stand on, to start building a new “what I know” foundation, I deliberately went searching out alternate ways to think and feel, pulling the rug back from underneath my feet. I wanted to stop allowing the habit of trying to find one solid place to stand firm forevermore. I wanted to get used to walking a path of personal growth and lifetime discovery. There will always be core values that will guide and comfort me, but these are gifts I carry in my heart, not anchors that hold me down.

Allowing myself to be trapped in the comfortable chains of certainty endangers that freedom to learn and grow.  I have to thank an article I read today for describing these dangers:

Certainty is the most dangerous emotion a human being can feel in politics and religion. Certainty stops all outside thought or reason. It closes the door and is a metaphorical spit in the face of anyone who disagrees. Changing one’s mind is the essence of critical thinking. As Thomas Jefferson himself said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

Fox News tried to tear my family apart: How they failed to incite my father, by Edwin Lyngar on Salon.com

We are blessed with a bright and beautiful world, and equally bright and beautiful minds with which to enjoy it. Let us practice freedom and skill in our minds, that we may live our lives with skillful freedom.

Read Full Post »

I’m not sure how I missed it, but I only just now read about the book “The Grand Design” by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, that’s been out for some time. In it, they make the claim that analytical philosophy is dead, because it has failed to keep up with what science can tell us. Instead, we must turn to science to understand our origins and meaning.

I find that kind of funny, because I was talking just yesterday with someone about how dogmatically rigid science can often be. This is increasingly true lately, when funding is (again) driven primarily by corporate or other entrenched interests who benefit from squashing challenging viewpoints before they can even obtain credentials. It’s human nature to try to protect the world one believes one knows to be true, and to feel personally threatened when attacked by competing views.

Good philosophers know this. Not to say that it’s always easy to remember, of course. Philosophy, like any other field, has had its own tendencies to fall into a “defensive phalanx” of what’s considered Serious & Proper. This means it sometimes gets stuck in an echo-chamber rut that doesn’t exactly keep in touch with the humanity it is supposed to explore. You know, like any other field.

And that brings us back to science.

Science, at its purest essence, is expanding the sphere of the observable, and refining the ways in which we record those observations. The way they’re recorded have a direct impact on the way they’re utilized, and the consequences they wreak on human experience. Because of this, it is vital that scientists become acutely aware of the schema they are holding in their minds while making and interpreting these observations. When “doing science”, we must continually be questioning not only the data, but ourselves, and the ways our own histories and expectations are shaping what is being observed. Yet I have found this level of self-awareness to be in the minority far too often.

Spend any amount of time reading scientific studies and journals and the backstories of how data is included, omitted, misrepresented… soon you will see how very human science is, and how heavily discouraged is the practice of questioning predominant assumptions. This is so frustrating because of the truly talented scientists I’ve been around who are also well-read philosophers, and really should know better. But still, they put their dogmatic faith into “the purity of science”, as though the data and developments they were working on were etched into stone tablets without the taint of human error. Not all scientists fall into this trap, certainly, but this kind of arrogance is too often encouraged, endangering the effects of scientific work.

What really boggles me is the idea that “science” and “philosophy” are again considered separable. How did that happen? The very foundations of science are from curious and patient philosophers who stayed with the workings of their minds long enough to find new ways to observe things about how our world works. The best developments in philosophy have been from those who have turned to the world and used those observations to refine the ways the mind perceives. Both are really just ways to find out details and make sense of them, using very slightly different methodologies. They’re not even “two sides of the same coin”, they are a marble: a single sphere with occlusions that play shapes within the clarity depending on the angle. You can hold it up to the light to see the patterns, or flip it against the ground to see how it bounces, but it’s all the same game (unless you lose it).

Not to say that trying to put a hard division between “study of things” and “study of people” is just a modern thing. Socrates would have a lot to say about that, and the editors at Wikipedia summarized this better than I could:

A major turning point in the history of early philosophical science was the controversial but successful attempt by Socrates to apply philosophy to the study of human things, including human nature, the nature of political communities, and human knowledge itself. He criticized the older type of study of physics as too purely speculative, and lacking in self-criticism. He was particularly concerned that some of the early physicists treated nature as if it could be assumed that it had no intelligent order, explaining things merely in terms of motion and matter.

The study of human things had been the realm of mythology and tradition, and Socrates was executed.

Science, “Philosophical turn to human things” subsection in Wikipedia

Studying things can be hard. Studying oneself is harder. This is why it is so very important we not let ourselves off the hook of continually examining our conclusions just because we have numbers and data. This makes it equally important for the study of the mind to keep up with to the conclusions that are now being made in the rapid churn of modern life.

As a field, philosophy must certainly study what is being observed about our world, from scientific and political and religious and every other way the mind plays with experiencing. We must remain aware of what has led us to these points, and the assumptions we’re bringing with us. This is especially true in the field of science, where we are finding brilliantly refined measures of the physical that don’t bring their context with them. We provide the context, we interpret what it means. And we do so from the foundation of the assumptions we’re holding, and how we react when they are challenged.

If science is to continue providing meaningful guidance in understanding and shaping our world, it must maintain a firm grounding in the insights found in mental, social and emotional study. If philosophy is to serve as a lighthouse in understanding and shaping our work and our lives, it must be continually incorporating what we are learning about the physical. All types of knowledge, all observations are integral to one another, and must be woven together for us to understand the picture before us.

Call it science, philosophy, literature or religion. It all comes down to the same thing, and each of us are doing it every day. We’re all playing the game of experiencing life; it’s long past time to stop considering different fields of study as opposing teams.

Read Full Post »

We are but one heart 
If you should meet the Buddha
Bow to your true self

Read Full Post »

I’ve often heard songs and poetry written to express Love to the Divine, and wondered what it would be like to have messages of Love from the Divine to us.  Below are the thoughts that came out of this wondering, which I wish to share with You. ~ Nyn

My dearest child,

Above all else, I desire for You to know how deeply, eternally, and unconditionally I Love You.  You are infinitely precious to me, and the Love I have for You is uniquely Yours.  Nobody else has exactly the relationship to me that You do, and this makes You irreplaceably special.  To me, You are a treasure beyond price.  Whatever else You may think of what You see or experience, please always remain open to the warm feeling of Love in Your heart.

In the end, the one eternal answer is Love.  Love is what helps You feel more deeply connected to Your inner self, and through that core, the inner selves of all who are around You.  Through the connections of Love, I have meaning in Your world.  Through these connections, You heal the deep wound across creation that is Separation.

I wish to take a moment now to apologize to You for Separation.  When You came into being, I never meant for You to feel Separate from me, nor from those around You.  You were born to provide a unique experience of Existence through Your own special Lens, but more in the sense of those in the eyes of a fly that work in unison to create the whole picture.

You were meant to be an individual, yes, but as one aspect of a unified whole.  Some level of boundaries were necessary for You to individuate, but these divisions are illusory and were never intended to be mistaken for real.  Yet for reasons as varied as each one of You, my children, these illusions gained power over You.  They created in You a feeling of being cut off from me, from Your siblings, and, most tragically, from Your own Divine core.  And since this Separation prevents You from feeling Your own core self, You instead feel the Void, leaving You vulnerable to the hurtful desperation of emptiness inside.

This causes You immense pain, which causes me pain, as well.  When You were first created, I promised You Love.  I promised that I would always honor You and called for You to be one within me.  Yet when the Separation arose, I didn’t dispel its hurtful delusions.  I didn’t want to interfere with Your progression and risk destroying Your individuation in the process.  Perhaps that was wrong, or perhaps it was a necessary process for You to grow into the beautifully strong and resilient soul You are.  Regardless, I see the pain that this Separation has caused, and for that I am immensely sorry.

I promised You Love, but instead You felt loneliness and pain.  I wanted to embrace You in unity, but allowed You to feel Separate and powerless.  If You have it in Your heart to forgive me, I ask that You please allow forgiveness to send away that pain, and replace it with a resonance of my Love for You.

No matter Your answer, I want You to know that I forgive You for every harm You may ever have caused Yourself or another, because I know that such sins arise only from this feeling of Separation.  I also wish to ask You to please forgive Your siblings for any harm they cause, because they also act in response to this Void inside that they never asked for, and also do not fully understand.

Please work to prevent harm and heal what has been done wrong, but if You can, do so through a labor of Love for all involved.  Even if you can’t always voice the Love you feel in your heart, it will help clear away the Separation from around their own hearts, helping them have a new opportunity to make things right.  Their choices remain their own, but your Love will help me complete the circle that encompasses You all, sealing our family with the healing light of unity.

I ask You to practice this Lovingkindness for me, because You are the expression of my power in Your world.  I can Love each one of You wholly and completely, but You must forge your own connections among one another to strengthen the web of life in which you each are a nexus point of pure and shining light.

This is why You, personally, are so vitally important.  I need You to fulfill your greatest potential, so that all existence can become brilliantly complete.  The success of this world can be forged only when each one of You lends it your strength.  Just as one burned-out-bulb dims the whole display, it is important that You find Your light and allow it to shine.

And, my dear, precious, beloved child, I so dearly want for You to shine.  I need for You to look inward  and find that your beautiful, innermost center has always been there, patiently awaiting re-discovery.  I wish for You to realize that Your very core is a contact-point of pure and powerful Light, shining forth a brilliant Love that can never be diminished, and will never leave You.

As You allow this Love to shine within You, healing the Separation, You will glow with the Divine Connection that is Your birthright.  I promised You Love.  Please, with my gratitude, allow Love to now permeate Your daily life, that it may heal and transform Your world.

Thank you, my darling child, for being who You are.

In Loving Light,
Me

Read Full Post »

Today, Ed Kilgore posted a blog called No More “Enemy Turf”, about the importance of not writing off any potential allies in your fight for what you believe in:

Yes, certain demographic categories may be “lost” to conservatives if you insist on a winner-takes-all definition, and no, aggressively pursuing support among such voters isn’t worth it if it involves abandoning key principles or essentially adopting the opposition’s point of view. But reducing the margin of defeat on “hostile ground” is often achievable simply by paying attention and not wilfully repelling voters, and in the end a vote is a vote whether it comes from a segment of the electorate that progressives are “winning” or “losing.” […]

A vote’s a vote; reducing unnecessary losses on “enemy turf” has enormous political value; and progressives need not concede, explicitly or (by silence or evasion) implicitly, religious or military voters. It’s good to see these simple lessons are being taken to heart.

I think that’s a lesson that’s vitally important in all aspects of life, not just the portion of it labeled “politics”.  Where you think there are only enemies, you are missing vitally important allies.  They may not (and probably will not) always agree with you on things you’d really like to convince them of, and they may even try to convince you of some things you really aren’t on board with.  But so long as that doesn’t get in the way of coming together to work toward much-needed help for those who need it, the work itself will provide you with the common ground you need to move forward.

And that’s the sticky point: where we feel others’ actions or beliefs are antithetical to what we hold to be self-evident, it can be awfully hard for us to give up the habit of “I’m Right, They’re Wrong, and that makes this Their Fault”.  It becomes a default mental and even neurochemical response to throw up the barriers between “Us” and “Them”, creating an addictive feedback loop that works both ways.  So instead of taking responsibility for bridging those barriers and doing what we can to create new solutions, we either get bogged down in tracing blame or just abandon “them” entirely.  Gay Hendricks’ The Chemistry of Blame is a great article to read in full regarding how this works in terms of personal relationships and “becoming a conscious creator”-style approaches, but here’s the quotes I feel are most relevant here:

There is a great fundamental issue that overrides many of the things we can do to heal ourselves and the world: the human tendency to step into feeling like a victim and blaming others, instead of taking personal responsibility.

Usually in couples therapy, the first issue to be addressed is: Are you willing to make a commitment to solving the problem? One of the most typical responses is, “Well, I’d be committed if she were.”

“Are you willing to stay completely away from blaming anyone, and instead make a sincere commitment to resolving all the issues we confront?”

There’s only one solution, and that’s to take 100% impeccable responsibility – and create a space for the other person to take 100% impeccable responsibility as well. Responsibility has a contagious effect.

As a therapist, I point out repeatedly, “Okay, having said that your husband is a worthless piece of shit, tune inside. Do you feel happier?” The person begins to recognize that although they feel that “glee-gotcha” feeling that comes from assigning blame, they don’t feel happier.

“Do you choose being right or being happy?”

It’s the same with mastering personal responsibility. Once a person shifts out of glee and experiences the real joy of claiming responsibility, everything is changed.

Like it or not, “those people” are in this boat with us, and we’ll sink if they do.  It doesn’t matter if we think we’re the only ones trying to bail ourselves out while “they” are poking holes in the hull.  It doesn’t matter if “they” feel the same way about us.  Because in reality, there is no “Us” that excludes “Them”; there’s merely “We”, all in the same boat together.  And while we’re busy getting angry or despondent or vindictive or even just exasperated, the boat is slowly sinking.  It doesn’t matter who’s right, it just matters who’s getting their hands on deck to pull our ship out of the storm.

And the thing is, at the core, we generally want to steer our ship down the same basic course.  The problem isn’t that our values are different, it’s more that we’ve gotten so sidetracked by our different perspectives on why they’re important.  Once we can set aside those differences we can free our energy to finding ways to work together toward our shared values, even if it means taking our hat in one humble hand to hold out the other.  As I wrote in Fighting Fire with Water: The Christian Role in the War on Women:

[T]he answer to the War on Women isn’t to fight back against our perceived “enemy” with the same condescension, derision and dogma we feel assaulted by.  We can’t win by returning anger with anger, and fighting fire with fire.  Instead, we must fight fire with water, returning their anger with patience and love.  We must struggle to develop new ways to show them how we’re ultimately on the same team.  We want the same things: a peaceful world where families can grow up happy and healthy and complete, cared for by each other and their community.  We need to show them how their actions are preventing these values from bearing good fruit.  We need to find better ways of working together to make our shared goals real.

And we won’t build these bridges toward our shared goals by trying to convince them their values are wrong, nor by refusing to understand how they can be as sure of their rightness as we are of ours.  This is especially difficult because in today’s world, the strongest dividers of “Us” and “Them” are on religious grounds, with the American Political Theater cycling through nonstop reruns of The Righteous Religious Right versus the The Superior Secular Left.  Each side is constantly being poked and prodded with how dangerously unhinged the other side is, and how the only way to stop them from destroying our world is through political (or literal) scorched earth tactics.

But this story has worn thin, and more and more, people are waking up to the holes in it.  I wrote When Atlas Shirked to explore how this “Us Versus Them” plot is breaking down, and share the narrative of what happens when the characters are ready to fix it.  A very young, very patriotic Christian American learns from those of other faiths who are working to strengthen families and communities, bridging the gulf where others may have widened it.  Those of other/no religions find her Christian group to be staunch allies who tirelessly give of themselves for the hungry, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  After learning of all the many (very familiar) corruptions and injustices plaguing her Orwellian American dystopia, she and countless others set aside their differences to start the heavy lifting of building a better world.

It’s a fairy tale, sure, but it’s one that I sincerely hope could come true.  I truly believe that we each have the means to make our corner of the world a better place, simply by committing to finding ways to take responsibility for our place in it.  And we don’t have to storm a capitol or go all that far from home to do make this difference.  There are opportunities all around us to help those in our very own back yards.  The more we look for these opportunities, the more they’ll show us ways we can pitch in.  It doesn’t matter if we can give only a little at first; this is one of those times where every little bit quite literally does help.

Don’t be surprised if the opportunities might be with those that others might call “your enemy”, because there are no enemies when it comes to doing what’s right.  There might be good times and ways to gently share your perspective without having to call theirs wrong, but that’s not what’s important about doing good.  The most important thing right now is to make sure that good gets done.

People are hungry.  Children are being kicked out into the streets.  The sick and the hopeless are being abandoned.  They need our help, not our ideologies.  They can’t seek shelter under our philosophies, and they can’t eat our prayers.

So there we have it: it’s our job to do what we can, with whoever will join our efforts.  The task now isn’t to bar the doors against those “on the other side”, but to open our own doors, and knock wherever we think we see a light on.  Some will get slammed in our faces, and some will open for a while, only to slam shut again.  That’s okay, it’s not up to you to make anyone else do what they need to do.  Just keep taking full responsibility to do your part.

When you’re working to fulfill your part in all this, you’ll know it’s less important to convince people of what you think is right.  You know that what’s most important is to get out there and do what’s right.  The rest will follow.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: