Walking a different drummer/spiritual path in a secular world

A little over a week ago I started participating in an on line class called “Co-Human Harmony“.  The idea is to work on understanding and tools to help create bridges in a divisive society or situation.  I signed up because I think it’s so important right now and because I realize I even have a problem quite often about joining groups who are working for peace or justice (i.e. theoretically same view as mine) because I frame these issues so differently.

I’m loving the class but also struggling for the same reasons.  The quite valid point of the class is to learn tools for bridging divides where people are, which is generally not in a place of understanding or accepting non-duality.  And I’m realizing I’ve moved so far along the path of looking at everything from a spiritual/metaphysical viewpoint, I’m having trouble answering some of the course questions within a more “practical” framework.

I believe so thoroughly we’re all divine beings who are made of energy which is part of one unified field.  And I am so used to using tools like (1) moving into heart energy and shifting a room with it or (2) chanting lovingkindness for someone with whom I’m at odds or (3) doing a meditation that balances energy between me and another person before we actually interact, that I think in those terms for bridges and healing rifts.

The teacher has pointed out it’s fine to think in those terms (and has encouraged me to continue) but for these situations we’re addressing how to be in a room with, say, a Neo-Nazi, and find a way to connect as humans so we can talk.  And I’m guessing as we move from studying the theoretical framework to more practical applications it may become easier to just use and apply new concepts.  But right now I’m floundering in attempts to talk about my understanding of various passages, videos, etc. on which we’re asked to comment without talking about energy and chakras and stuff.

I’m really seeing how far down this spiritual path I’ve gotten.  I know, I know, seems goofy after this many years for this to be a new thought.  But I’ve wound up mostly hanging around with other spiritual seekers who’ve been at it for years and though I know intellectually that most people don’t think this way, I’m rarely confronted in person with how totally different the drumbeat to which I march really is.

Since most of the folks who regularly read and participate here lead deeply spiritual lives I’m very interested and curious to hear your thoughts and stories about participating as a spiritually-enmeshed person in secular affairs.  Comments are welcome but I’d be even more excited to see some of you write posts about living spiritually in a secular world.

BTW, I’ll still be continuing the People Power series but as I work through this class I’ll likely switch back and forth in topics.

People Power: The Rambling Intro :-)

I’ve been pretty excited lately about some epiphanies I’ve been having about the world and where we can choose to head, with ideas on many levels and many fronts/aspects of life on earth.  As has increasingly been happening in recent years, the aha arrived from some other dimension and without words.

An influx of images and feelings that translate only partially into words and thoughts, which leaves me both excited and frustrated as I try to figure out how to explain it.  It’s clear that multiple posts will be required.

We, the 98%, Have the Power

The entire things boils down most simply to that thought but there’s so much more.  It’s an evolution of a thought I’ve played with for years, that we vote at least as much — probably more — with our dollars as with our trips to the voting booth.  And that there’s power in how we choose to spend.

I’ve been tossing thoughts off on other social media for a bit now about how puzzling it is that the 2% seem to have a delusion that the well-being or lack thereof of the 98% doesn’t affect them.  Simultaneously my long-time thoughts about power elites and their control of the military industrial complex have landed on really comprehending how we’ve let global corporations take control of the world and its governments.

But their wealth and prosperity are entirely dependent on us, the 98%, buying their goods and services.  If we withdrew our monetary support of their enterprises and instead created local trade, manufacturing, service and community efforts to provide goods and services while electing more reps into government who have been backed only by “people funding”, their power would collapse.  And yes, we have to face possible disruption and reprisals could go along with that.

My concerted effort at finding positive news has also shown me the widespread expansion of an idea I noted 25+ years ago via ads in places like Yoga Journal and New Age magazine.  At that time I could see a small and growing alternative economy thriving along side the normal corporate robber baron economy.  And now I see small personal and local efforts around the world taking charge of creating change without government or with only local government impetus.  Key to where I see us moving.

I see this possibility operating in so many ways, the series of posts will more specifically explore individual aspects.

It’s All Been Leading Here

The personal thread in these insights that excites me is I can now see the long eclectic journey from studying political and economic systems in college through multiple studies and jobs to the more recent spiritual journey and its insights, everything has added up to this.

I hope you’ll bear with me as, for me, I feel a need to write out as much of the eclectic path as I can recall:

  1. Attending college at the height of the anti-Viet Nam protests got me interested in “the power elite” and that, combined with calls for revolution in the air, led me to put together my own “major” outside my declared one.  I studied political philosophy and science, the history of power, comparative economic and political systems obsessively.
  2. In graduate school I intended to hone in my power elite study, but funding wound up sidetracking me into a big study called “Reaction to Crime” and my journey through a huge literature survey on crime statistics led to many insights and realizations that continue to unfold.  Bottom line:  probability of being a victim of most crimes has not changed in at least 100 years but manipulation of how it’s reported and how the statistics are presented has created a FALSE perception that crime is getting worse and it’s now deep in the consciousness of our culture.  Not the only arena in which we have a shared view that’s been manipulated into being.
  3. Law School.  None fun (as a cousin used to say in childhood), but provided so many tools for understanding and insight, not the least of which was an incredibly demanding Constitutional Law professor.
  4. Becoming a lawyer on nuclear power plant cases helped me to understand many ins and outs of how regulated systems work as well as nuances about the many problems of nuclear power.
  5. Doing that lawyering for a government agency in Illinois I came to understand a lot about how power in government operates behind the scenes.
  6. My foray into the world of meditation, yoga and metaphysics while still practicing law led to a complete turnaround for me, including seeing how harmful law practice was for my well-being.
  7. Shortly after leaving the law I went through Nine Gates Mystery School in 1990.  A life-changing experience, it led me to embrace my spiritual journey much more deeply.  I also wound up studying with several of the teachers from the school, one of whom in particular led me deep within my psyche and helped me let go of SO many old beliefs.
  8. A part-time gig doing some editing and proofreading for a little (and crooked as it turned out) publishing company landed a right wing Christian book in my pile that was eye opening as to the level of lying and making things up ingrained in that thinking.  Yup way before The Rump evangelical preachers were already training their flocks to buy any crap they made up.
  9. Another part time gig at Institute of Noetic Sciences brought so many resources into my life and introduced me to a number of teachers whose work continues to influence me.  I also learned what it’s like to work for a place that genuinely likes and appreciates its employees.
  10. After moving to KY I wound up in a part time job for the local Unity church. It was supposed to be a little clerical gig after the church lost its ministers to lack of funding.  As the only person around, I wound up doing bits of everything from filling in for the pianist to playing a leadership role I would never have conceived of myself doing.  I was surprised to watch myself step up to a visible role with a fair amount of ease after a lifetime of trying to be invisible.  A great affirmation of how much change I’d accomplished and a huge shift in self-conception without which I doubt I’d have the hubris to be writing this..
  11. I wound up creating a new exercise program to help with my muscle issues and, in trying to share it with others, discovered many people don’t want to do their own self care.
  12. As I worked on creating a more positive outlook I began looking for positive news, a venture that accelerated exponentially after the 2016 election.  It has wound up helping me to see the whole world differently.  People everywhere are stepping up and changing things for the better and there’s a reason the mainstream press doesn’t highlight these stories.
  13. I’ve been able to use all my background in historical, political and sociological studies as well as my law degree and experience in working for government to read along in current events much more closely than I’d done in years.  All helps to read between the lines and see a lot about what’s going on, including many issues and beliefs buried so deep in our culture that even many highly aware people don’t seem to see how they’re locked into it.
  14. The long spiritual journey and lots of release and letting go practices are helping me immensely to stand back and evaluate issues from a different perspective.  Meditation and mindfulness, etc. also help me to see how much change we really need and to contemplate the potential upheaval with calm.  And I see a major spiritual component in both what is happening now and in creating change.

I’m not claiming to have some high level of expertise as I’m clearly more of a dabbler.  But I have a mind that both finds the heart of the matter readily and synthesizes information from multiple sources with ease and those often combine to help me see answers no one else is seeing.

I don’t have all the answers for how we get to where I see us going but I have a sense of the basics we need to address if we truly want to change the world.

Compassion for the Unlikeable

In my last post I explored the puzzling contradictions of the right wing evangelical movement.  It’s easy for liberals and leftists and spiritual types who pursue love and peace to shake their fists in fury and despise the hatefulness and hypocrisy rampant in the white nationalist propensities of so many folks who call themselves Christians.

Except fist shaking and fury are, you know, hateful too.  I’m guilty of it and up to a point I see it as a good thing to initially feel angry when people lack humanity and are prepared to sacrifice the lives of every group they don’t like.

But at some point it seems to me true compassion requires a step back and the application of humanitarian instincts even to those who seem to have no compassion of their own.  Brotherly love isn’t just for those with whom it’s easy to empathize.  At its heart it requires the ability to dig deep and find love for everyone, even when it’s hard.  Especially when it’s hard.

I see the hatefulness of the right wing as arising from huge fear.  It would be tempting to offer my theories as to why they’re so afraid (and trust me, I have some), but I also feel like Right Listening requires us to engage in a conversation with them that helps them to dig deep and offer their own truth about fear or to tell us it’s something else.

And then to ask them what would help to assuage the fear. Discuss programs and possibilities and really hear their input instead of the usual pattern of designing a program from outside and imposing it on people without finding out what they want.

At this point, like many I know, I’d pretty much vote for anybody not the guy we’ve got now, but I wish we’d see some of the liberals putting some attention on healing our great divide by turning some compassion toward the “other side”.

The Other Jesus

When I read quotes from right wing Christians and their preachers, I always feel as if I’ve entered an alternate universe in which Christ and the Bible offer teachings so foreign to the religion in which I grew up that I can’t recognize it as being the same.

Even though I live in a “liberal bastion” in Kentucky, if you live here you’re somewhat in the midst of the big divide of our country.  I don’t unfriend everyone with whom I disagree–especially if I see qualities I like in them — and if you live here you know people on both sides as do your friends so you meet the other side in comments too.  So I wind up puzzling over contradictions and mysterious ways often.

Like many on the liberal side and among other Christian denominations, I’ve found great confusion in their claims to be Christian and Pro Life while they display hatred toward so many groups.  As has often been noted, sometimes it feels like life is precious to them in the womb and for everybody after birth, screw ’em.

None of that reflects the Jesus I grew up knowing in the Presbyterian Church, nor the “Christ Consciousness” of love and compassion I follow and combine with other compassionate traditions now.  And a lot of their statements seem to come from a different Bible.

Some days I’m not altogether sure whether their Bible has a New Testament in it.

There’s something of a scale to this, as there are more moderate Baptists, for instance, who identify as MAGA but quote from the New Testament and do good works. They also find no hypocrisy in putting up a post about Pro Life followed by a post on their loathing of immigrants followed by a quote about kindness from Matthew followed by a diatribe about not letting a refugee group into the state.  It can make your brain hurt.

The scale moves on out to those who identify good Christian behavior with being Pro Life, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, against aid to the poor, and often racist, etc.  I can’t find the Jesus I know anywhere in that.

What Bible?

In my Bible there’s an Old Testament and a New Testament and Jesus has not been born yet at any point in the Old Testament and everything He taught is in the New–some of which was carried forward from Jewish law.  For these other Christians, if you follow a lot of the preaching, it’s mostly from the Old Testament.

And I’ve run into so many puzzling statements wherein someone says, “As Jesus taught…” followed by a quote from, say, Leviticus.  In my Bible not only did Jesus not say or teach anything anywhere in the Old Testament but in the New Testament He repudiated some of the old Jewish law of the Old Testament and forged a new path.

If they have a Bible with a Jesus in the Old Testament, seems like a different Bible and a different Jesus.

I don’t find a lot of quotes from the New Testament in the hard core statements I encounter, but they do love Corinthians 14:34-35, which is the basis of their insistence that Christ commanded women to be subservient and silent.  “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

The thing is scholars agree the statement refers to a particular situation in the services at the time not to mention that it can’t be considered out of context with the rest of Corinthians, which includes numerous passages saying both men and women can prophesy.

That passage taken alone also ignores many other N.T. passages indicating equality between men and women, such as Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So their Bible apparently either contains only a few passages from the New Testament or this version of Christianity allows people to choose only the teachings they wish to follow.

The Compassionate Christ

The Christ I know taught love and compassion above all else.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” ~ Luke 6:27-31

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” – Matthew 5:9

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  John 13:34-35

I can conceive of no way to reconcile such passages with the hate and vitriol on display by these so-called Christians unless they worship a different Christ.

The Jewish Jesus

In my church, and every major Christian denomination I know, Jesus was a Jew. A Jew born to Jewish parents, who btw, were refugees.  So how can you be a Christian and hate Jews?  Or refugees?

While Christ taught some of the Jewish law presented in the Old Testament, he also rejected some of it and more importantly added His own, more kind and heartful path.  Personally I’ve never really understood why the early church chose to include the Torah in the Christian Bible.

But the bigger puzzler for me is why, if you hate Jews, would you follow Jewish law instead of Christ’s?  And if there is a second, non-Jewish Christ who apparently lived for hundreds of years, all before the New Testament Christ was born, why was this guy tossing teachings into the Torah throughout his life?

My head, my head…

In the end, even though it would feel somehow easier if there were a different Bible and a different Jesus so the inconsistencies could be explained, what I really see are a bunch of people so frightened they aren’t really making sense and their fear is making them hateful.

So, soon a discussion of fear and finding compassion.

 

Revisit tips for the holidays: people skills

For some years I posted some tips for coping with the holidays every year and then I drifted away from it. Thought I’d re-issue one with some links to others:

dont beat drum quote

Every year at this time I post about a teaching from Kahuna teacher Serge King that has had an enormous impact on my life.  Serge likes to keep it short and simple, so the basic principle is:  “People are who they are and they do what they do.

I believe that if everyone in the world learned this one and lived by it, peace would soon follow.  As with many of his seemingly simple teachings, if you started exploring this one you’ll find it has tremendous depth.

The greatest source of disappointment, frustration, and anger toward others arises from having your own agenda/expectations about who you want them to be and how you want them to act/what you want them to do..The deep reality is that people are who they are and they are going to do what they do based on who they are.  You can wish or will others to be somebody else as much you want.  You may even occasionally manipulate someone into doing something that’s not what they want.  But in the long run no one can be anyone other than who they are.

Your best defense, if you want to avoid being disappointed or upset by others, is to know them well enough to know who they are.  Know what they do.  Expect them to be who they are and do what they do.  You’ll never be surprised by anyone’s behavior if you really know them.

And then realize who they are and what they do isn’t about you.  Pretty much ever; even when someone attacks you, the attack has everything to do with who they are and nothing to do with you.  So Don Miguel Ruiz’s advice, “Don’t take anything personally”, fits very well with this teaching.  People are busy being who they are and doing what they do and none of it has anything to do with you.  So don’t take it personally.

Is Aunt Murgatroyd going to tell unfunny jokes at the annual gathering, as always?  Of course she is.  It’s who she is and what she does.  Is your cousin Snagglepuss going to bore everyone AGAIN with stories of his really dull job?  You bet.  Who he is, what he does.  Is your overly protective dad going to criticize you like he always does?  If his way of showing care is to fret and pick apart anything that doesn’t fit his view, then yup.  Gonna do it.  If he’s an unhappy guy who criticizes to express his dissatisfaction with the world, that’s who he is…  gotta figure he’s gonna do it.

If you walk in with a chip on your shoulder because you know the irritating behavior(s) are going to arise but you’re secretly hoping it will be different, you’re going to get what you’re expecting:  unhappiness and dejection.  A lot of times we enter these situations knowing what they’ll do and expecting to be angry because of it.  And you’ll pretty much get what you’re expecting — ongoing cycles of them being who they are and you being angry.

If you expect anyone to do anything other than what s/he does, you’re doomed to disappointment.  When you can walk in knowing they’ll all be there being themselves and doing what they do, you’ll get what you knew you would.  Know that nothing they do is about hurting, irritating, upsetting or disappointing you.  They’re just being themselves.

When you can step aside from the behavior, know that it’s about them and not you, and stay centered, you can defuse most of the emotional turmoil that can make the holidays stressful.

The question we’ll explore in the next post is:  can you love them anyway?

Love Them Anyway

Communication

Recognizing Love When It is Offered

Pro-lifers and precious lives — I don’t believe you

 

In my last post I explored thoughts on compassion and the need I keep feeling to try to understand the folks on “the other side”.  There are two big places where I keep hanging up, just incapable of understanding what the thinking process is.  Today’s ruminations are on the pro-life stance that they must oppose abortion because they believe all life is precious.  Next time I’ll get into some thoughts on claims to love Jesus.

My thoughts start from my firm belief that if you say life is precious, it should mean ALL life is precious.  And my problems with the pro-lifers’ statement of belief in all life is the vast amount of evidence I see that in fact they don’t find most lives precious at all.

Starting with abortion clinics.  The women who schedule abortions head to the clinic on what for many is the one of the worst days of their lives.  They’re women.  They’re living beings.  Instead of being met with compassionate people who value their lives and want to help them feel better, they’re met with screaming hordes who call them murderers.

They’re live human beings.  Why aren’t their lives precious?

When you say you think life is precious I don’t believe you.

Children are being ripped from their parents at the border and kept in horrendous conditions.  I have yet to see a gathering of protesters standing outside one of these centers waving Pro Life signs and demanding these little lives in being be treated as precious.  Nor have I heard of large contingencies of pro-lifers showing up to volunteer or demanding policy change.

They are innocent little living children.  Why aren’t their lives precious?

When you say you think life is precious I don’t believe you.

Black people are being murdered by police in every city in the country on a routine basis.  I have yet to see a bunch of people with Pro Life signs showing up at Black Lives Matter rallies to stand up for saving these precious lives. Or demanding policy change or sensitivity training…

People of every color are people.  Live humans.  Why aren’t Black lives precious to you?

When you say you think life is precious I don’t believe you.

Synagogues and mosques and Black churches have been under attack in recent years, particularly since the Terrorist-in-Chief took office and made hatred okay.  I searched to find an example of Pro-Life advocates rallying outside a synagogue or mosque or Black church waving Pro Life signs and proclaiming their intention to protect the precious lives who worship in these places.

People of every faith are human beings with real, functioning lives.  Why aren’t all of those lives precious?

When you say you think life is precious I don’t believe you.

Pro-lifers consistently vote for Republicans, who consistently want to slash every social welfare program in favor of the rich.  From school lunch programs to medical care to refugee aid, you vote to strip the fragile support offered by social welfare programs from all those who need them.  It’s perfectly fine with you for children to go hungry, for people to die for lack of health care and for refugees to be sent back to countries where their lives are threatened.

People in need are alive.  They’re humans.  Why aren’t their lives precious enough to earn your compassion?

When you say you think life is precious I don’t believe you.

If you really believed life is precious you would be showing up with your signs and rallies and votes and petitions to support all the struggling people whose lives hang in the balance.  But you don’t.

When you say you think life is precious I don’t believe you.

What I do believe is something other than “life is precious” is the driving force behind your adamant concern for life in the womb and only in the womb.  What I don’t understand is what that is.  But I would like to know what the real story is.  In the meantime,

When you say you think life is precious I don’t believe you.

Unconditional Compassion

Ever since the election, it’s seemed to me that the liberal left (and I’m a member) has been patting themselves on the back and feeling self-righteous because they’re the people of compassion and caring.  And the other side are evildoers and deserving of hatred.  It bothers me, because my understanding of true compassion is that it’s unconditional.

I’m a work in progress when it comes to living with compassion; not claiming to be operating from the ideal place.  But I’ve contemplated it, done practices to develop it within and read a lot of the thoughts and wisdom of people who have mastered it better than I and I think I understand the basic idea that true compassion doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t see an “other”.

Hanging around calling people idiots or stupid or worse demonstrates that you are just as hateful as they are  It sure doesn’t argue for your great sense of compassion.

When I look at some of the hatefulness and dip into my heart and sense of compassion, I see people who are totally frightened.  I don’t know why or have the answers that will end their fears, but I know that understanding the fear and figuring out how to address it is more likely to shift their terrified and hateful responses to the world than calling them stupid.

To me the biggest failure of democrats and the left has been the absence of using their hearts to explore how to address the fears of those who become self-protective and lash out at those they wrongfully blame for their troubles.

But while political types are working on their idea of change, I keep clearing every issue I find within myself.  I keep meditating and chanting and working to raise my vibration.  Because in the end the one significant contribution each of us can make to the collective energy that is All of Us as One is to raise our own energy.

Every time I shout at the television or shake my fist at one of the candidates, it means I still have anger to clear.  It means I still have more chanting to do.

Every time we lift ourselves another notch in vibration, we lift the world a little bit.  If a million of us raise our energy, we change the world.  Be the peace.  Live with compassion that knows no other nor any conditions, but is given freely to all.