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ok, you cleared up some stuff for me there.

i would like to apologise for the slightly testy tone i adopted that day, i was stressing about some different stuff, and i see it was making me a bit 'off'.
Lily:

I am not going to ask your permission to write.

good! you more than have it anyways... i wasn't intending to say that you were hiding nothing, btw, but more that as you explained more your pov, more is revealed.
And God did not make me stupid :), a bit silly sometimes, yes, but not stupid.

i know, Lily, that's why it's a pleasure to discuss with you, not to mention you have patience and tolerance for my own silliness :)

Lily:

Then there are you, and you like the objectivity of the material as opposed to the oppressive power of the Catholic Church that claims to be spiritual in nature but rules by worldly means. At the same time, you acknowledge that there is more to our lives than our material reality, and you feel drawn to the spiritual side of our existence.

i don't think i opposed the material 'reality' to the 'oppressive power of the Catholic Church', i think they are strangely similar, actually, basically the other pole from st francis' mystical world. i find those both to be extremes, and i'd like to embrace widely (and catholically!) as far as i can go, while staying centred and balanced between both extremes. there is much to be learned anywhere on that continuum, and one has phases in one's life that sway one more to one side then to the other.

many people experience some degree of childish faith, then let it fall by the wayside as they mature, preferring the hard realities, rather than the often woolly world of mysticism. the catholic church is a sideshow, overdressed clowns is a brilliant term. they are interesting more as an historical socio-political phenomenon, than as an expression of spirituality, (of which i feel they are sadly bereft, presently, maybe since the inception).

i am fascinated with freedom of mind, and therefore am more attracted to religions which encourage that, as buddha's directive to 'seek out thy salvation diligently', for example, a saying which jives perfectly with J's admonitions to seek the kingdom of god within us.

Lily:

All I say is that I believe in an absolute God.

fine, you have that right, and i am not really arguing for or against that, though i happen to agree with you that if anything is not subject to relativity, it would be a 'cosmic constant', a concept which einstein pursued, then relinquished, iirc.

i have no comment to make about that faith, it's an entirely private matter between you and your Creator, but i wonder if we can really apprehend the absolute with our limited perceptions, for more than a few moments at a time, and then only perhaps depending on the conditions of our own readiness and openness.

for our reception to be absolute, we would have to be wondrously evolved, and whilst i do pray for that eventuality, and consciously work towards it in thought and deed, i see that god's essence might always evolve beyond our capacities to comprehend the moment. you could almost say that's his job, lol.

Lily:

You have faith in the personal-absolute value of individual experience.

did i say and mean that? i'll try and elucidate, so there's less chance of being misinterpreted:

i believe we transcend relativity in mystical experience, and being touched and blessed by those transcendental moments that inform our deepest souls of the rightness of creation, the wisdom of its parts, and the yearning for wholeness that is born into us, as in the annihilation of our own petty selves, the drop reuniting with the ocean.

as we form our characters from the impure lessons of a tainted world, we adopt defences and fears that estrange us from the wellbeing that is a gift of grace, and this yearning is our need to return to the One, so we ignore or follow it, according to where we are spiritually. ultimately there is no separation between the material and the spiritual, one informs the other, they are 'stereo antennas' and we need to develop them both in tandem, or we become out of balance, and start lurching and staggering, instead of dancing on life's highwire. some like st francis, see and feel great love for what is ignored and dismissed by many as unimportant (for example the belief that animals are soulless), and are sent, imo, to remind us of those great respect gaps in our philosophy.

i guess i believe in absolute good, somewhere, somehow, and i think this faith comes from feelin a personal relationship with some entity which makes me feel loved, guided, nurtured and protected as i wend my way through this vale of tears, even granting a liberating, though often bewildering joy right in the middle of it.

through many years of curious reading, i discovered kinship with many 'great souls' (i am not there, just a humble aspirant!), who expressed similar paradoxical states of being, such as hesse, james, huxley, rilke, rumi. their words showed me they too had looked through the veil, and tried to reorganise their worldviews after the insights they had been privy to.

they were not priests, they demanded nothing, certainly not relinquishing the power of critical thinking, in fact they embodied and expressed the subtle union of the so-called 'opposites', and the creative progeny of such blessed union.

each grappled with the angel/demon of their own unbelief, and squared the circle, resolved the dissonance, signing their successes into our literary history for all to enjoy, excluding no-one, asking for no power that that of love.

Lily:

Faith in anything by anyone that is considered absolute outside the personal experience, worries you, while it comforts me.

i am comforted too but i am aware my perceptions are not omniscient or everlasting, therefore i take them with a pinch of salt, even though they are sweetness itself, that grain of salt makes them all the sweeter, because i know that i didn't condition them, they were way too huge for me to have had a hand in, they flattened me, in a good way.

nothing worries me about you Lily, but i am concerned about the effects of religion on some people, and the murderous certainties it has engendered in so many through the ages.

i think of god, and the gift of the world, and our lives in it, and i wonder how it all got so twisted, with priests wearing rings worth the GDP of a small country on their fingers, while admonishing the poor widows to give up their pennies, and telling them the meek and luckless will inherit the earth... (when they croak, perhaps?).

it makes me feel ill. it's not god's absoluteness or relativity that's my problem (how could we ever know, maybe far above our paygrade!), it is the absolute certainties of those followers, who, drinking deep of their own religion, become so inebriated by their own conviction-placebo loops, that their muddled vision sees other paths as inferior (only god can judge, surely?), and act accordingly...

my god's bigger better faster badasser than your's, iow.

it's THE recipe for trouble, sure as eggs is eggs, and so when i meet someone who has obviously done a lot of homework, and is obviously sincere in their questions, obviously desirous of seeing beyond the gossamer of maya, i am always supportive, as i see far more in our culture erring to the side of uber-materiality, just as in asia i observed so many who were more um, franciscan in the passionate extremity of their beliefs. i remember the first ttime i walked by a hundu temple in s. india and saw a man prostrate on the ground before a shrine, his whole body racked with sobs and throbbing with spritual desire, and i wondered at it, having never seen any thing remotely approaching this level of devotion. perhaps he had just lost a child, i don't know, but it became clear to me his involvement looked pretty darn close to absolute, and made our own expressions of belief seem quite diluted, even anaemic, in comparison.

i was still young enough to believe in comparing such things...

now since then there is a more fullthroated response to religion in the form of the huge pentecostal revival churches of the usa, but they give me the willies, frankly, they are so over the top, (from where i stand, obviously).

passion has its place, even in religion, but with age i seek serenity more than excitement, just as i seek simplicity of character in friends, rather than complexity-because-it's-interesting, as i have so often before.

what's rarest, in my experience, is the combination of modesty and depth, signs to me of great evolution, and gifts of clear thinking.

Lily:

Are you aware of the absolute quality that you attach to the necessity of our standing, relative to one's personal experience?

perhaps i do, but i shouldn't, as it seems a bit presumptuous to attach to any belief system unreservedly.

Lily:

You feel that faith in an absolute God rules out intelligence.

haha, that's the opposite of what i claim, actually.

i believe unquestioning faith in any absolute is pride asking for a fall, that's all.

we gather the rushes, and braid them into a nest to abide in, but ultimately they will all wither and pass away, and we'll be left naked as we were born. if we have lived correctly, our intelligence will be the last thing to go, that's what i believe...

but to keep our intelligence bright until the end, to me means allowing it the freedom to sample and taste without limits, if we can. in that diversity and range we find what stays more constant than not, in the proving ground of our own intellectual rigour, there and nowhere else, full stop.

we can fool ourselves so much, so long, but thankfully, there comes a time where that is no longer an option. for some it is the deathbed that liberates people from the fear of saying what they feel, and have hidden their whole lives, for fear of shame or such, i would like us not to have to wait till the end to enjoy that level of honesty with ourselves and others.

Lily:

When you said that you couldn't think of positive examples of Christians, I immediately thought of a group of Dominicans who live close to where I live. These monks are intellectuals - and modest. Most of them studied theology but I also know an Art Historian, `musicologues', philosophers. They, too, want to understand with all their heart and put all their energy into understanding but they don't hope to find answers within our passing Earthly manifestation but are curious about everything that lies beyond, the unseen, the spiritual, and about those aspects of our lives where the spiritual manifests itself (art, music...). They seek answers in the unseen.

did you not see my comment included references to the nuns at greenham common, or the godly courage of archbishop Melo, (quite the strange fluke i stumbled on my handle, meaning 'apple tree' in italian), and now i am proud to be his namesake in blogistan.

when you say the opposite of what i have said, such as the above example, i wonder if you are listening as much as you are talking.

btw, those monks sound like very interesting people, it would be a privilege to meet them.

Lily:

At Eurotrib, members are more inclined to look for explanations in matter.

yes, but they will come to some interesting conclusions one day because of their (our) great interest in energy.

right now wind and solar are 'higher octaves' of the gross energy sources we are gluttonously addicted to right now, (dammit!), one day we will have refined our perceptions to see there are other energy sources as higher up the scale as these are to now's.

step by step...

On "absoluteness": I believe that we have an inborn longing for absoluteness

so do i, Lily, so do i.

the problem is we tend to want to take the short cut, and that way lies Death.

...which also attends the long way round, but the quantity and quality are what makes the wait and distance travelled indispensable.

you can inject heroin into your veins and find bliss that way, it's the best example, though there so many more too.

but it'll kill ya, sooner than not.

Lily:

The newborn baby after having taken its first deep breath has only one interest, and that is its mother's breast - that will nourish and comfort it, keep the baby warm and protected in the mother's arms that are part of the experience. The baby has this instinctual, healthy and absolute need...

yes... and when we find love, it gives us that feeling of acceptance and contentment too. trouble is, just like the baby's supply, these are temporary measures. we grow out of some 'absolutes', titties dry up, oil deposits too.

friends and lovers die...

Lily:

You ask me to define God. God is Almighty, Word, Truth, Love, Power, Wonderful, Saviour, Unfathomable.... We don't have words to fully describe, define God. If we had, He would not be God.
God IS Power.

if there ever was a word i'd like to un-invent, it would be POWER.

not because the word is bad, per se, but because people don't realise that power is not zero-sum. the more it's shared the better.

that's why i keep coming back to the crucial difference between power-over and power-with.

that's the real crux for me. the former is arrogant and the latter is humble. until we clearly discern the difference (night/day), we're better off eschewing the notion.
...which is strangely empowering, but there you go, paradox is never far on this road...

Lily:

Truth being exclusive is the nature of Truth.

taut with tautology!

i agree that the universe is an exquisitely wrapped riddle inside infinite shell enigmas, and it yield its jewels with discrimination. you get the teacher you're ready for, usually the last place you might expect it... situations are teachers too.

Lily:

Still, when you say Jesus was but one of many more, you show ignorance and lack of respect for Jesus

with great respect, Lily, nonsense.

i may to your concept of him, but not to mine.

as john lennon said, (no, not that one, lol):

"whatever gets you through the night, it's allright, it's allright"

thanks for sharing so, we are covering some interesting waterfront...!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Apr 26th, 2010 at 01:37:35 PM EST
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