Posted in Society, Winter 2016 - 2017

Seeking Harmony

I haven’t written for so long. I am all torn up inside about the seeming inevitable creation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Monday, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in the US, another clash occurred. Don’t expect to find out much from national media, once again, they weren’t there. They all went home after the Army Corp of engineers denied the easement that was needed to legally build the pipeline. But the pipeline is still being built. And all those militarized police? Instead of doing anything to stop this illegal pipeline, they are shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at unarmed water protectors, one woman was hospitalized after being hit by a police officer on a snowmobile.

The water protectors are still there, praying, with or without media coverage.

But today’s word is Aesthetic and I found it just now in a pair of photos on a site called Native Paths. The site explains the history of the American genocide of the Indigeous People of these United States.

everyone-used-to-have-a-home

I find the tipi’s beautiful, little mountains on the prairie. They are aerodynamically safer in tornados and high winds than modern rectangular homes. So in harmony with nature, what was the matter with the men who tried to change these people, who attempted to get rid of such a creative, natural and gentle people? How could they not see the beauty of such a rich and independant way of life?

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Posted in Society

Creativity Versus Copyrights

It’s a difficult subject. On one hand the artist who deserves recognition, not to mention money, for the work they do. On the other hand, how can you own an idea? In art history I learned that the early artist was employed for spiritual purposes. The sculptors and painters made works of art to please the spirits and teach rituals. The writers would have been speakers, reciting prayers and poetry for ritual and teaching. In each case their tribe would have given them food and shelter in return for their service.

In today’s world the artist has to become a salesmen/ lawyer to get paid. Yet to the spiritually devoted, self-promotion and legal technicalities are incompatible. Lucky are those who have promoters separate from themselves to help.

I struggled many years with this problem as I wrestled with wanting to share what I have learned. But I am no lawyer, nor salesperson, after eight years I realized the only choice I have is to share or not, to speak or be silent. Eventually I decided telling my story was more important than making sure I got paid. 

What it is worth depends less on me and more on you. True artists should be open and sensitive to the needs of the soul, to the spiritual and cultural needs of their community, but how can they when they are constantly pushed to be marketable, profitable? You can see the cost in movies and shows that are overdramatized or have unnecessary violence and sexual content put in just to sell it. Do you think it’s right to make artists sell themselves or is there a better way?

 

Posted in Society

The End of the World

Finiteness is a concept I have never been able to grasp, at least not from a spiritual perspective. Some years ago a pair of Mormons visited my home. It was quite nice, to sit and talk about God in the sun of the front yard while my son danced in the driveway. They gave me “The Book of Mormon,” and said that it and the Bible held all of God’s message for us. I had so enjoyed meeting them, I put off thinking about it.

But the moment I did, I knew I could not be a Mormon any more than I could be a Seventh Day Adventist, or a Catholic, or a Jehovah’s Witness. Though I’d had friends who were, I could not. It is not my path. I can not believe in a single day of judgement. Everyday is a new judgement day to me and we each are judged separately, according to our own knowledge and destiny. I can not believe there is one vision of right and all other visions are wrong. I believe we are each given our own part to play, our own gift to share. I cannot believe that God can be found in one book or three or a million. I believe that God is in every book and tree and grain of sand. Look for God in your heart if you need to, but even there, only a fragment can be found. My God is alive and like anyone living, He changes and grows every moment. I cannot believe that there is one last prophet because He will always have new things to say as He teaches us more and more amazing truths.

I have never been able to believe in death as a final end. When a puddle disappears, some of it joins the clouds in the sky and some is absorbed into the ground. That what death is to me. Sentience traveling as it could not in its earthly shell. It bonds to something bigger, like the cloud and the earth. Eventually it will become a puddle again, through rain and osmosis. It may be changed or look the same, but never was it gone entirely.

Think about history, the world ended for many Eastern Native American Tribes with in a few years of the white men visiting (due to small pox.) Yet a new world was born and though most of the tribes were decimated by decease not all died. They live still with a history and a memory of their lost world. But who can say that world will not return when the time is right. They were one with the land and the land holds their spirits still. Walk barefoot and listen, they are there.

I have had many dreams of Armageddon. People run everywhere, animals stampede. The earth shakes and rips itself apart. Fires flow like rivers. Demons march across the land causing panic. Ancient demigods awaken and demand bloody sacrifice. Yet in every one of these dreams I find I am holding a child or two. My fears tempt me to leave them and run, but I never do. I know these children are the future and I must hold on through the storm. If we are to die we will die together. Often the dream ends there, with me holding children, surrounded by chaos.

A few times though, holding them, loving them, I bow my head and thank God for the life I’ve had. He comes, He quiets the storm. He looks in my eyes and lets me know no harm will come to me so long as I believe. I hold the children close and wonder at how at peace I can feel at the end of the world. That’s when I realize it isn’t the end of the world at all. It is the birth of a new world.

Posted in Society, Winter 2015 - 2016

Light vs. Dark

Is the story of light versus dark the same as good versus evil? Dark demons and angels of light are integral parts of my tales so the question must be answered. To be brief, “no” dark is not necessarily evil and light is not always good. Rather, here is where I must credit the wisdom of Taoism because both light and dark are good in there own way and each can be destructive.

The argument for light is most obvious. Light is needed for most forms of learning. The Age of Enlightenment was called that because of the strides made by scholars, (not because the sun was any brighter.) Enlightenment in Buddhist terms also means an awakening to knowledge in a spiritual sense as opposed to actual illumination. 

Light has another meaning though in referring to the weight of something. Is that a coincidence? Maybe not, when someone is described as lighthearted, they are using the word not only to mean cheerful and carefree but also to mean with few worries to burden them. In my spiritual learnings souls that are light in appearance, glowing white like the moon, are also light in weight because they leave by floating straight up to the heavens.

The argument against darkness is just as plain. The Dark ages were named for the lack of scientific achievement and the accompanying rise in superstitious beliefs. My friend Vibrant used this meaning in his thought provoking piece, Beyond Being Helped. Interestingly by linking darkness to both ignorance and suffering, darkness becomes like a “heavy weight inside you.” My own experience follows this track. When I meet dark demons, they are tethered firmly to the earth by their pain and bitterness.

Fortunately, in my mission to help these trapped demons, I have been gifted with an alternate view of both light and dark. The argument for darkness begins with the womb. This is where our mortal lives begin. Again and again when I have known difficulties and pain, I retreat like a hermit in a cave. Reminiscent of the womb, I find my ability to heal and grow, magnified in an environment of quiet, darkness and security.

Sometime ago when I wished to become a teacher, I took a class on positive discipline and self-esteem. There I learned of emotional-intelligence. The idea, as I understood it, was that even when a child seems not to be progressing at all, in a visible manner, the child is likely learning essential things inwardly, emotionally. The theory made so much sense I converted immediately. Now I understood the need for darkness like I never had before. There is a reason we sleep better in the dark and (traditionally) had sex in the dark and like to cry in the dark. Darkness gives us a sense of privacy. It gives us a safe haven to experiment with new things, feelings and thoughts that allow us to grow inwardly; emotionally.

As for light, just as too much time in the sun can give you a painful sunburn. Too much time spent in front of an audience, being judged or tested is damaging to your soul. We all need to feel free to try new things, make messes and mistakes, to grow our own sense of spiritual well-being. That may be what Heliopolister was onto when he said, “contained in even that which is judged to be horrific is a certain divinity” in his stirring post Gratitude Unbound. Often it is from our greatest mistakes we learn our most deeply valuable lessons. I have found that the most grotesque spirits contain the most beautiful and powerful souls.

In the end, light and dark, like day and night, move in a cycle of inner emotional study and outer intellectual reaching. A floating detachment is associated with light while firm attachments tend to darken and weigh down our spirit. Neither is entirely good nor evil, both have their purpose. Attachments teach us how to care for our physical bodies and empathize with others, detachment allows our spirits to soar through intellectual learning and spiritual awakening. Attachments give us a sense of identity as a single unique being, detachment teaches us we are but a piece of a far larger whole. I believe we are on this earth to learn both and through the balancing of light and dark enrich our souls beyond the reaches of either alone.

Posted in Society, Winter 2015 - 2016

Unity Versus Trinity

I prefer to think of myself as spiritual rather than religious, but it feels dishonest not to explain, as best I can, what my personal theology is. After all to discuss God and spirituality without acknowledging the parts played by religion would be unforgivably narrow-minded. The Washington Times quoted a study as saying that “84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group.” I consider myself a Unitarian, which I fear labels me a Christian.

Christianity is definitely the dominant religion where I live. I was eight before I learned that most other Christians consider Unitarians the same as Pagans. I lost two friends to such religious differences before I realized just to avoid religious discussion as much as possible. Funnily enough, the only women I know who aren’t Christian are in fact, Pagans. I can’t blame them, here we get Trinitarian Christianity shoved down our throats at an early age. My daughter was seven when she came home telling me she was sick of her friends assuming she was a Christian.

While Unitarianism has its roots in Christianity, it is the duty for each and every devout Unitarian to build their own theology. As a group it would be more apt to call us Humanitarians, since we believe that every human has the inalienable right to their own beliefs.

On the rare occasion that someone asks me if I am a Christian, I answer, “that depends how you define it, I follow the teachings of Jesus, but I do not believe in deifying him.” With a confused look, that ends the conversation. Honestly though, many early Christians didn’t worship him either. In the fourth century, the Arian Christians refuted the trinity as well. Unfortunately it was decided that Arianism was heresy and many Arian tribes were slaughtered by the Trinitarians despite both, supposedly, believing in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I would like to believe that Jews and Muslims would be more open to me, since they also believe in one God and view Jesus as a prophet. Unfortunately I only know one Muslim and he does not not like to talk about religion, so many of his people being killed because of it right now. The only Jew I have known was a man who said that he was half, on his father’s side, and his Russian Grandfather died in a cell in Siberia for it.

Yes, I would rather think of myself as spiritual rather than religious. So much evil has been, and continues to be, done because of it. If only religion could be changed to an inclusive rather than exclusive force.

Wasn’t that what Jesus wanted when he said not only to “love thy neighbor,” but also to “love thy enemy?”

(732 days to go)

Posted in Society

Defining God

A great difficulty I face every time I try to rationally discuss God with anyone is that first we each have to define God. That discussion often takes up a great deal of time and inevitably some small point throws us into disagreement so that I am forced to drop all hope of discussing the question I wished to ask and instead must clarify my definition.

This happened most recently when I tried to explain to my muslim friend what I believed God needed me to do. I regretted immediately having used the word “needed.” God does not need us for anything, he told me, God is all powerful. I agreed with him. The God that I believe in is all powerful, but . . .

The God I believe in is both male and female though I use the masculine pronouns He, His and Him. He is an entity of infinite size that connects our universe in another, higher dimension beyond our present ability to discern. He is able to communicate with us at will and make any miracle we imagine possible save one. My God has one restriction.

This is perhaps the most difficult to talk about and yet to my mind without this one restriction there can be no purpose to discussing God at all. You see, the restriction I refer to is not one laid by outside forces upon God, but rather it is the single law that, in most religions, He made for Himself. It is the law of free will. Without this first law, what reason is there to discuss ten commandments, five pillars or 20 ni-yamas. Even the three-, seven- or ten-fold law I have read in assorted pagan books becomes void if you do not first give credence to the law of free will.

Thus when I tried to tell my friend that I believed that God needed me to do something, I should have said that God wanted me to do this something, of my own free will, because He shall not break His own law, though it may mean the destruction of humankind and this earth as we know it.

By all means pray to God for guidance, but if you would save yourself, your loved ones and this world, you and I must do it ourselves. That is the bitter side of knowing that free will is the first law. It is up to us to make right the wrongs of mankind.