Posted in Society Sunday

Of Study and Struggle

Learning can done be either way. You can read up to learn about a thing or you can learn by doing and enjoy the struggle. I like some of both. I quit college quickly the first time partly because being right out of high school, I had no idea what to study. It’s pretty scary to spend thousands on an education for a career your not sure you want. But mostly I quit because I suffered from such extreme shyness I was unable to ever ask a teacher a question when I didn’t understand.

I had struggled my way through twelve grades, guessing at what my teachers wanted. Most of the time it was okay. A few times it was embarrassing and other times it meant giving up on a subject entirely. But I had to pay for college and when I started having problems my first semester, with no way to ask for help, giving up made the most sense. (There was no internet then, I had to ask questions face to face, email wasn’t an option.)

The good news is that the struggles, I went through, getting jobs, getting married and having children did make me stronger. When I finally went back to college not only did I manage to ask questions, but I was able to participate far more in discussions because I had life experiences to share. I found that I got more out of each class as an older student than I ever could have when I was a teenager. I also found I got more out of my classes by taking only one or two a semester. While having three children and a home to take care of makes taking full time classes too much anyways, I have noticed that I like to ruminate over each new thing I learn. If I don’t allow enough time for mulling over new information I get frustrated trying to take in so much (the classes instruction plus my own intuitive absorbing of knowledge.) Taking only one or two classes and then spending time in meditative activity, gives me a stronger sense of learning, and of knowing what I’m learning. I think it is a sad waste the way young people are urged to hurry through college today, focused entirely on grades and getting that degree, to get that job, to earn more money, to be happy. I’d rather be happy now as I grow.

My happiness comes from the struggle to keep living and learning, to become a better person. Maybe someday I will get my bachelors, I finally decided the one I want, Multidisciplinary. It suits me because I do believe we need to learn a little of everything to see the amazing, wonderful connections in life all around us. Right now I’m too busy trying to help my daughter pay off her debt to think about the thousands I’d need. But that’s okay because I know how to keep learning with or without a teacher. The longer it takes me to get back to the classroom, the more I’ll knock their socks off when I do!

Posted in Society Sunday

Of Single Awareness and Self-Love

Happy Single Awareness Day!” The first time my daughter said that to me, I just stared at her like she’d spoken some alien tongue. I am a bit slow. Finally I said “ Yes thank you, Happy Single Awareness Day” and laughed. It felt good to laugh about it.

I don’t joke about it enough. I’ve managed a few years where I could honestly say I was single and happy, but not nearly enough. Not enough compared to how much more I am single and miserably heartbroken. I usually take a year or more to get over someone.

Somehow I have this infallible sense of who is the least able to return my feelings and that is the one. The funny thing is how he always gives the appearance of being totally single right up until I profess my love, then “poof”. Out of nowhere this woman he only just met or the woman who had turned him down 10 times before or his family friend . . . pops up and they get engaged and married so fast. But I’m in luck because he still wants to be friends (with benefits as long as I keep quiet.)

No thank you. I’d rather be single.

I shouldn’t be surprised I’ve done my chart, Venus in the twelfth house. Love is my weakness, unless I can learn to be secretive. But my Moon in Gemini means I must show my feelings or explode. Even the Chinese Astrology hits where it hurts, born the day of the water dragon, I can heal any wound except a broken heart.

I chose not to believe that last bit, (we dragons tend towards egotism.) I chose to believe that even broken hearts can be mended with water. Tears. I tried not crying about one guy for a couple of years and felt dead inside. It wasn’t until I fell in love with a new person. The first moment he said something to remind me of my ex. the dam broke. I cried and cried and couldn’t stop.

I don’t need astrology though. I have this inkling that I know what causes every man I fall for to run so fast. I am doing something really important with my life. He feels guilty for wanting me to himself. My talking to God and dead people doesn’t help. That part I could hush up if I wanted to, and did when I was married. But I can never hide my severely autistic son. So there’s no point in worrying about the rest. I’m a weirdo and either you love me for being a weirdo or you don’t love me.

It makes sense. Guys fall in love with me for my weirdness, but get scared when I get serious. Weirdness is fun in little bits but terrifying in a big chunk. All of a sudden, he has to find someone else as quick as he can. The other woman knows he still has feelings for me and insists on his marrying her to prove his devotion to her. I don’t know, but it’s my best guess. It makes me feel better than sitting around saying they’re all jerks. They’re not. Relationships are hard for both sexes. All the choices today make it even more confusing.

I know the key to being happy single is to fill my own cup. If I want something, I do it or at least make a plan for how I can do it alone. I don’t wait for someone else to tell me it’s okay. Perfecting the art of self-love is a matter of survival. Rubbing my own stiff shoulders and feet may not be as fun as getting a massage from a partner, but at least I have no regrets the next day. I make a lot of mistakes, but that’s where a glaring of cats to hug and believing in God comes in handy. I am never really alone. My fiery Venus in Leo passion and Mercury in Cancer intuition may scare the living away, but it’s just what the dead are looking for.

Posted in Society Sunday

Of Honor and Atheism

Last week after publishing Of Science and Spirituality I received comments from a fellow blogger heliopolister (who writes some of the most beautiful invitations to awaken the spirit I have ever read.) I simply could not reply to in less than 300 words. I can see where it might be supposed that by saying . . .

If a person denies the importance of spirituality in today’s world then “From where,” I must ask them, “do you derive your morals and ethical beliefs? If you throw away spirituality then how do you know that deceit, thievery, rape or murder are wrong? Is this not the basis of the now popular line, “It’s only wrong if you get caught.””

. . .that I think people who do not espouse a spiritual belief are without morals.

Rather I was attempting to explain that in my experience I have yet to meet a person, whatever they may say they believe spiritually, whose morals, when examined did have roots in spirituality. In other words, I think you have a spiritual belief whether or not you say you do.

I do know Atheists who have the highest morals, that is why I mentioned Humanitarianism, to show that Atheism and Humanitarianism are not incompatible, nor do I see Atheism as not being spiritual. Buddhism is highly spiritual but does not require a belief in God. It requires the belief that all life is sacred. Is not the belief that all life is sacred a form of spirituality? Here is where I made my mistake, in looking up spirituality as well as Humanitarianism, I find that there is not a clear definition for either. 

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines spiritual as:

adjective

1 of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things: I’m responsible for his spiritual welfare | the spiritual values of life.

(of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits.

Where spirit is defined as:

noun

1 the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul: we seek a harmony between body and spirit.

such a part regarded as a person’s true self and as capable of surviving physical death or separation: a year after he left, his spirit is still present.

such a part manifested as an apparition after their death; a ghost.

a supernatural being: shrines to nature spirits.

Therefore when I use spirituality as a noun I mean anything which is meaningful to the nonphysical, true self which is capable of surviving death.

As for Humanitarianism, wikipedia defines it as:

a moral of kindness, benevolence, and sympathy extended to all human beings. Humanitarianism has been an evolving concept historically but universality is a common theme in its evolution. No distinction is to be made on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, race, caste, age, religion, ability, or nationality.

I continue to suggest this as code of morality to all people I meet no matter their religious affiliation. However I do realize that the roots of Humanitarianism are not only highly spiritual but also highly religious. For they stem from the moral maxim known as the Golden Rule which is a

“ principle of altruism found in nearly every human culture and religion, suggesting it is related to a fundamental human nature.” – wikipedia

As for Atheism there is the same potential for corruption as in any belief system that becomes popular. In fact, it is the popularity of a belief system that tends to corrupt it. No matter the religion, once it connects to enough other people to be used for personal gain its spiritual sanctity is jeopardized, for where there was once only spiritual value in the religion now there is the temptation of material gain. This more than anywhere else is where Atheism gets a bad reputation, for nowhere can we see the result of its corruption better than in its use in communist countries. Communism, like Atheism, started as a good and moral ideology but both have been corrupted due to their lack of a clearly stated axiom regarding the spiritual rights of each individual person. While other religions such as Christianity and Islam have been corrupted to serve cruel and murderous people, scholars who study their texts can revive the true and loving heart from which these religions were born. But I do fear it may be much harder to cleanse an ideology, that lacks any maxims of spirituality, of corruption. That is why I urge you to look to the roots of all religions (including Atheism) to find the common principles of spirituality. 

Again I apologize for any offense or misunderstanding, but I must speak as I find. Dark as well as light must be acknowledged in order for truth to be revealed.

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Posted in Society Sunday

Of Science and Spirituality

When I was a child I asked my mother why a book I found had so many jokes about the weatherman making bad predictions. She explained to me that before satellites, weather forecasts were far less accurate. Without the use of technology weather prediction as we know it would be impossible. It is funny to think that what has become one of the most useful sciences in our world today, weather forecasting, was once considered a waste of time, a joke.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.-Arthur C. Clark

I come from a family of scientists and I do love science myself. But I find the notion that there is no space in the scientific community for spirituality utterly ridiculous and a bit frightening. If a person denies the importance of spirituality in today’s world then “From where,” I must ask them, “do you derive your morals and ethical beliefs? If you throw away spirituality then how do you know that deceit, thievery, rape or murder are wrong? Is this not the basis of the now popular line, “It’s only wrong if you get caught.””

As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying.- Arthur C. Clarke

Humanitarianism,” one friend of mine said. I smile and nod.

Then let humanitarianism be your religion,” I suggest.

In not really being a religion, humanitarianism is the closest I think we have to a philosophy of true spirituality. Even if you do not believe in spirits, there are now studies that have found belief in a higher power and the practice of religion to be beneficial to the mental stability and well being of most people. Thus even the atheist humanitarian must allow for the right to be religious.

But I can not help thinking those studies might never have been done were it not for brave spiritual people who used science to prove what was long considered superstition.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.-Albert Einstein

What would science be without spirituality but meaningless pieces of a great puzzle? What would spirituality be without science but a beautiful cloud that floats out of reach?

The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers.- Isaac Asimov

They are to me an awesome pairing of Yin and Yang. Science the bright and shining light and spirituality the dark mysterious yin. Look too long at the brightness of the sun and you may go blind as some scientists have gone blind to the necessity of ethics in human and animal studies.

Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.- Albert Einstien

Spirituality is the mystery that requires faith in the unprovable. Yet even in darkness we can feel our way if we have the courage to move in the dark. Still, in holding to spirituality alone many evil acts are and have been committed in the name of religion. We must ever strive to make sense of the dark by remembering the truths learned in the light.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.-Galileo Galilei

Once a cousin tested me asking how I knew if something I had learned spiritually was true. I replied that before I act on something I believe to be spiritually true, I imagine what would I do if I only had logic to rely on for the decision. If I can not find more than one logical reason for doing that which my heart tells me is spiritually correct, I keep my mind open and question, question, question. Those instances are rare however. Most spiritual truths are based on logical reasoning if you look closely enough.

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Posted in Society Sunday

Sexism Versus Taoism

Sexism is defining a person’s abilities, limitations and role in society by the gender they are born. Taoism is the philosophy which is symbolized by the yin-yang symbol. In my experience I have learned that a yin or feminine nature and yang, the masculine energy may have nothing at all to do with what gender a person is born. For the most part, people are mixes of the two but tend to be dominant in one or the other depending on the situation.

I know this is true because it explains so well why gender identity is so confusing and why some people simply can’t fit into the gender roles society demands.

On the other hand, growing up during the feminist movement, with a single working mother, only made my self-acceptance harder for me. I was supposed to want it all, but I didn’t. I wanted to stay home, have babies and make cookies. My husband expected me to do it all without his help, nor was I supposed need his respect or understanding. That was what feminism had taught my generation.

After three babies born in less than four years, divorce was inevitable. He was no help to me , I had no time for a fourth (adult) child who expected unquestionable respect yet took no responsibility for his family’s needs. I’ve been a single mom for over twenty years, I know what Hell it is.

That is why I am actually very sexist. I do believe that it is best if children have the input of both a masculine and feminine parent, one parent to be nurturing and another to be protective. Having a parent that takes care of the physical and financial needs of the family and a parent that encourages the emotional and spiritual growth of the family is obviously advantageous for any child.

Biology gives women a natural advantage to be nurturing, especially when breastfeeding. Men’s bodies are faster to make muscles and therefore have the advantage at working jobs that require strength. Many societies reinforce these advantages, when boys are taught to be tough and not cry, while girls are encouraged to be soft, compromising and care more about others than themselves.

Yet I am Taoist in that I think that these roles should have less to do with gender and more to do with each person’s awareness of their own yin and yang flowing inside. It is important to take turns for, always being yang is exhausting and, always being yin is depressing. Allowing each person’s energy to flow between the two is the best path I know to healthy relationships with others; parents, children, siblings, etc. Learning to move forward when the other moves back and back when the other moves forward may seem like playing games. (I hate when people say it is all just a game. That suggests that people break each other’s hearts on purpose or for their own amusement.)

Rather I think it works best to describe the nature of masculine and feminine, or yin and yang, relationships as a dance.

The first step to dancing is to show respect. Bow to your partner. The second is to hold hands, leaving breathing space between the two, gently enough that the other may pull away if they want yet firmly enough not to be pulled apart as you move. Third gaze into each others eyes, want to know your partner and let your partner know you. Fourth practice moving together, forwards, backwards, sideways or in circles. Last, end the dance as you began, with respect, bow to your partner.

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