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Reincarnation revisited, not really

by Lily Sun Apr 18th, 2010 at 02:10:00 PM EST

Many moons ago, I wrote a diary on this blog from amidst my own spiritual journey and in which I explained the truth I had found in the idea of reincarnation, as it can be found in Eastern philosophies.

I found that reincarnation would explain injustice in this world or the unequal distribution of pain and suffering. Besides, ever-reincarnating souls would also provide an explanation for the rapid growth of our world population with the problems pertaining to it that are also a sign of biblical "end times".

I knew I wasn't the first to put forward such view and to associate it with Christianity.

I had tried to talk with other Christians about my views, not many, but they either did not react, were not interested or simply indifferent towards my findings. With no proof of the contrary, I felt confirmed in my newly found convictions and shared them here.

The ensuing debate revolved more around the existence or not of a god than my new discovery. I hadn't meant to proselytise this blog though the underpinning of my diary had been my faith in God.

Time has passed since, and my faith has been questioned, i.e. not my faith in God but my comforting views on reincarnation. For myself, it was surprising and particularly painful to learn that what I had believed to be true would finally be a misconception and not compatible with Christianity. I had asked earlier and found no criticism, mainly just indifference. Meanwhile, this wrong belief had become part of me, like my second skin.

It explained so wonderfully what I hadn't been able to understand or accept before about our suffering, and it acknowledged the reality of a belief prevalent in large parts of humanity. I felt judged by this criticism and through the arguments that stood against my convictions, also in the name of Hindus and others. Everything in me revolted against letting go of it.

This was an almost incredible experience, and I assume that I appeared almost ridiculous in it. I did not grow tired of asking, "Why? But why?" -

The idea of reincarnation fit so beautifully into what I wanted to believe in. It was almost too good to be true. But can anything be any good at all when we're not aware of what is True and what is Real? Can what others tell us to accept as true ever be the criterion? I believe that we need reference points that reach beyond our own (self) interests.

Eventually, I became aware of the mistake. I call it a mistake though its measure was not scientific evidence but the precepts of the Christian faith. I struggled but felt relieved because I dropped this distorted reality in my life.

This was the beginning of a larger process of transformation and change that I'm still undergoing . I'm peeling off onion layers one by one, or some outer force, God, is there that pushes me to continue the work begun. A friend of mine talked of `revolution'.

I also heard somebody say that from a Christian point of view, "sin" refers to a missed target. It has no substance in itself. It means that something is not the way it is supposed to be. Truth can correct this wrong and induce necessary change by which, little by little, our selves become purified and grow in the likeness of God. This sounds high-flying and easy but it is not.

I am still in the middle of this revolutionary process. My change of mind didn't end with dropping the idea of reincarnation. I am already in another painful but necessary change process and not sure where this is going to lead me. Letting go always comes with a loss of security and comfort. It is destabilising and scary. Everything may look chaotic around oneself when we're in the middle of it. We feel lost. The good thing to know is, that out of the chaos arises, a new order.

Out of the feeling of being totally lost, I wrote to a friend a couple of days ago, and she replied that it was amazing to see that the chaos was always producing order in the end. She had already seen this in my words - while I had not.

I sincerely hope that this diary won't stir any trouble. I simply felt the need to correct my earlier assumptions. I have not gone into detail to show why exactly I don't believe in reincarnation anymore since that earlier debate didn't revolve so much around this particular question, either but more around the existence of God. I have found explanations within the Christian faith. Should anybody be interested in those, I can get into more detail about them but I've discussed these questions already a few months ago, so would need some time to reply. Ultimately, though, it will remain a matter of faith.


Display:
May I request a "Tip Jar" so I can give you some mojo?

You have guts and Intellectual Integrity and THAT combination deserves respect.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 12:23:18 AM EST
and for what it's worth, will throw in an anecdote which my uncle told me years after it happened (I had no personal recollection of it).

When I was five years old, my family was visiting him, and one day when he, my mother and I were riding in the back of a car, I looked up at him to size him up and for some reason asked:  "Uncle, how can I go to heaven?"  Taken off guard, he was annoyed, too.  (He called me a "cheeky brat" as he recounted the story.)  For he was a proud atheist but at the same time, he knew that my mother was a devout Catholic.  So he was in a bind.  Quickly, he came up with the following answer:  "Just keep walking forward, putting one foot in front of the other, and one day you'll get there."  (My mother, knowing him, had been expecting something much more mischievous.  He recalled with glee the look of surprise, relief and new found admiration in her expression.)

I had to admit, that was some swift thinking on his feet -- and it wasn't such bad advice either.

And while it may be a bit melodramatic for this context, I was reminded of ARGeezer's signature while reading your diary and remembering my own bouts of confusion involving "Big Questions":

     As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

The point is not to be right, but to get to right.

by marco on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 07:35:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you ATinNM and others. I only have time in the evenings right now. So, I'm going to reply some more tomorrow.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 05:34:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's no reason for this diary to cause any trouble. Thank you for telling us about the development of your belief.

Personally, I think the order that may come out of chaos is self-chosen, meaning that it is likely to be a pattern that it is helpful or comforting (or energizing or joy-bringing) for us to see. It may be useful to us -- it might be the condition of human psychic stability -- but I'm not sure it gets us nearer to "truth".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 01:58:06 AM EST
afew:
nearer to "truth".

maybe the 'truth' is that there is no one truth, but as many as there are perceivers.

i like the vulnerability of this diary, Lily.

wasn't the church open to reincarnation until some council or other, way back in the early part of the last millennium?

i don't see the need for any conflict between jesus' teachings and the concept of reincarnation at all.

but i do see an unhealthy power taken by the church in denying it, making the fear of retribution more intense, as eastern religions posit one has eternity to pay off one's karma, as many lives as it takes to become enlightened, and let go of sorrow.

you can't fear-manipulate people so easily with that eternity clause, because there is always possibility for redemption by climbing out of where one finds oneself, that's empowering.

the church's intransigency in denying souls to animals, preaching hell for unbaptised infants or unshriven dyings, and affirming its patented exclusive DRM type control over the rights to salvation are all insultingly stupid doctrines, as if they only wanted uncritical thinkers in the fold.

of course there are many very advanced intellects and souls in the church as well, such as two jesuit astronomers i enjoyed a fantastic podcast of recently.

http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2010/asteroids/

in fact i had no idea the vatican had an observatory and was so deep into astronomy, even that the U. of Arizona has an astro research centre run by the vatican.

it's the dogma that holds back the church in the past, the (ridiculous) certainties, baldly expressed without reservations, without humility...

i think jesus would want us to make up our own minds, and not just be told what to believe. the church has become a political organisation, built on hierarchy and unquestioning obedience.

both of which have no place in modern progressive thinking, imho.

They are taste, courage, individuality, and irreverence. These are the qualities I want to retain in my music." ~Stan Getz~

irreverence is an important feature of free thought, and yet the church seems blindly uncognizant of this.

until a priest can move my emotions like stan getz does, i know whom to believe...

reincarnation is a satisfying answer to many mysteries, it is a shame to have it denied to one by anyone who claims higher knowledge. they have no proof after all.

'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 19th, 2010 at 02:58:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo,

You are picking up my old arguments, and if we could agree today, this would mean that either none or both of us would have changed since my earlier diary.

It is true that I had based my belief in reincarnation among others on the Churches explicit ban on reincarnation teachings.  It is true that the Catholic clergy in particular have abused of their power through the ages. There are also other less powerful and less scandalous-prone Christian churches/congregations, though. Various structures are meant to help our faith and provide good guidance.

This doesn't always work out as it should, and we then like to blame the Church or a priest or a congregation. When we do this, we deny that none of these structures have any value in themselves. They're only meant to help our faith in our human weakness. Christians believe that there's a God behind, in, through it all, and they believe that Scripture tells us about God, and that God speaks to us through this Scripture.

No one has to believe this. This is what Christians believe, though. Ultimately, it is not relevant whether the Church ever declared the belief in reincarnation to be heresy or not. Jesus' own words contain the answer, at least for the Christian. I find comfort in taking Jesus' teachings as absolute reference points. Early Christians didn't consider Jesus' words to be somewhat true or relatively okay. They agreed that He's the Son of God, the living Word and Truth.

Hence, there is a conflict between Jesus' teachings and the concept of reincarnation.

"i think jesus would want us to make up our own minds, and not just be told what to believe."

He used many parables and was explicitly telling those around him that they should believe in one God, and him, his only Son and the Holy Spirit. This is how he spoke to persons of free will, - free to make up their own minds, yes, but he also clearly told them what to believe.

`Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6'

You speak against doctrines and dogma, ridiculous certainties, since the church "wanted uncritical thinkers in the fold". Well, yes, I don't deny that the Church as a political power leaves much to wish for but Christianity is based on certainties, and from those certainties dogmatic teachings were derived that any Christian is invited to cross-check with God's word, be that in the interest of Church elders/the clergy, or not.

"certainties, baldly expressed without reservations, without humility... "

What is humility? Should we humble ourselves in honour of other people's beliefs, or should we live humbly since we're God's children who are here for some time in our human bodies, limited in space and time. What is it that makes us really humble? Can it ever be our firm belief in our selves, our own limited knowledge first?

"the church has become a political organisation, built on hierarchy and unquestioning obedience.
 both of which have no place in modern progressive thinking, imho"

Christianity is more than "the church". You are right, however, that the absoluteness of Christianity is hardly reconcilable with a political current that relies on the "self" to find answers to our existence.

"reincarnation is a satisfying answer to many mysteries,"

Some believe that it is. So did I.

"it is a shame to have it denied to one by anyone who claims higher knowledge."

Who decides to acknowledge the Christian God and His higher knowledge may be glad to humbly accept God's denying it.

`Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, Hebrews 9:27'

"... they have no proof after all."

That's right. We don't. It's a matter of faith.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Tue Apr 20th, 2010 at 06:47:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and if we could agree today, this would mean that either none or both of us would have changed since my earlier diary.

i like your point, though it's stated as an absolute here.

 you can step in the same river twice, but the water will not be the same.

i don't think it's necessary to believe in reincarnation, Lily, it's just another mansion in the great house, certainly not worth arguing about, lol!

so little is known about so much of Jesus' life, and the fact that some book in the bible says we die once doesn't remotely cut it as basis for decision, imo.

not that you asked, but i base my comprehension on the fact that some are so precociously talented at something that it seems impossible to me that they have advanced to that level in one life, that there is an enormous sense of familiarity and recognition with some people that simply does not jive with the short amount of time knowing them, and the fact that i see it clearly that for a god whose ultimate characteristic is compassion, reincarnation puts eternity in service to spiritual progress, as opposed to submitting it to circumscription by our childish notions of linear time. redemption by sell/by date, lol.

i do not judge the individuals, but the institution which subscribes to such blatantly foolish attitudes has lost any respect or credibility by its inability to be humble, and candidly and transparently eschew temporal power, something Jesus and Francis had no difficulty with, because they had values grounded in compassion.

a god of love who would design a system where souls are cast into eternal hellfire is the acme of oxymorons, yet the church even in this day and age, stubbornly clings to to such archaic idiocy as a matter of course.

the greatest sin is spiritual pride, and the vatican is the poster child for this.

how many centuries did it take for them to climb off their high horse and apologise for ruining great mens' lives, such as giordano bruno, or galileo?

i have never seen such a calcified, sclerotic, patently absurd set of beliefs gathered into one basket in nigh 60 years of life, and fully don't expect to again.

of all the people furthest from Jesus' teachings, none have gained that dubious prize more than those who profess to follow him, and i have met his spirit in many who are content in other religions.

the mere idea that these overdressed clowns hold any arcane truths with their track record demands faith alright, but it's not a faith that i can feel much respect for.

the good news is that even flawed faiths can sometimes improve human behaviour.

reincarnation doesn't explain one very important mystery, that is: if god is so benign, why didn't s/he just give us the complacency of cows, set us down in a meadow and quit right there?

so there goes any illusion that the Creator is purely benign in our human terms, ie, s/he may be in the long term, but to get us going, reflects aspects that are anything but.

as a human i can rail and curse a fate that kills thousands of children a day from starvation, and cannot get my head around an idea of an omnipotent god that would permit such wastage, yet in moments of more lucidity i realise that my human limitations might not yet permit me to understand a divine logic that enabled that, and struggle to see through the apparent perversity of injustice. reincarnation may explain some of the 'how' but it doesn't help deal with 'why'.

so i have come to see the Creator as ultimate love and ultimate darkness, and we pilgrims as fumbling lovers, lost sheep, who are trying to find a thin path to wholeness and fulfillment in the dark, surrounded by croc swamps full of false prophets and cavilling charlatans.

if a creator made a character school out of existence, that would give a moral to this fable, and yet that's too linear an assumption for existence in the multidimensional plethora of phenomena that is our floating home, on the lake of infinite possibility.

i believe the Great Novelist has a moral arc to the longterm plot, and character is built, more than given, but i never expect certainty about anything to last, as we are all spiralling in a vortex of continual change.

and since we just passed the frontier of paradox, i should add that the only thing i am certain of is there are no certainties, the only absolute is that there are no absolutes!

thanks for sharing, it's always a pleasure to discuss such matters with someone who reasons with grace...

one request...could you perhaps tell me more about what you feel and believe, and not bother trying to speak for others, who may not be present at this discussion?

'christians believe' is so vague, and a perception, possibly projected. what makes you feel capable to claim that you know that, might i ask?

many roads lead up the mountain, but they all meet at the top. for christians to claim exclusivity of any trailhead merely shows ignorance and lack of respect for all the great sages who have lived and taught us through the ages, of whom Jesus was but one of many more, though the one who lived sacrifice the most graphically, as was befitting during the age of pisces, era of union through surrender.

:>)

'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 Tue Apr 20th, 2010 at 11:16:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo,

I understand that you have faith. It is not carved in stone, and you know what kind of faith, or religion for that matter you despise of: Christianity as represented by the institution of the Catholic Church.

You remind me of someone: me. I grew up with brothers in a small town in Germany where we lived in a residential area. Our home was made to last; we had a garden and family in neighbouring villages; our life was quiet and unexciting. I dreamed of a more exciting life abroad but when our first child was born, I felt most comfortable imagining living somewhere quiet and peaceful with lots of green, and with every child, this way of life appeared more appropriate and justified...

When you say,

the only thing i am certain of is there are no certainties, the only absolute is that there are no absolutes!

Your are serious when you use this paradox. You never ceased to think in absolute terms.

You say,

i don't think it's necessary to believe in reincarnation, Lily, it's just another mansion in the great house

This is what you think. It is your personal opinion but what do you base your believe upon? How would you know that reincarnation IS just another mansion in the great house?

but i base my comprehension on the fact that some are so precociously talented at something that it seems impossible to me that they have advanced to that level in one life, that there is an enormous sense of familiarity and recognition with some people that simply does not jive with the short amount of time knowing them,

You speak of a fact. Some are amazingly talented. I agree. Therefore, it seems impossible to you that they got there in one life. But then, how much do you know about Creation? And why would it not jive with the short amount of time knowing them? What do you, what do we know about time that troubles us so much? What is a "short amount of time" given eternity? What is a "short amount of time"? How can you, can I, can we judge what that is? Sometimes it passes quickly, sometimes so slowly. We neither created space nor time. How would we be able to judge what can be possible in time for the one who set it?

and the fact that i see it clearly that for a god whose ultimate characteristic is compassion,

It is a Fact that You see it clearly that... ?

God's ultimate characteristic is compassion, well, yes but is it really unconditional compassion? "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son..." - These words speak of compassion but we are also free to choose, and He won't forever bother those who deny His existence. Can God pour his compassion unto those who don't want Him?

reincarnation puts eternity in service to spiritual progress, as opposed to submitting it to circumscription by our childish notions of linear time.

What are your words here based upon? What's your reference? Your own thinking? Do you believe this because You want to believe this? Why should this be true? "Reincarnation putting eternity in service to spiritual progress" - what for? What do we understand of spiritual progress - except our own, maybe?

i do not judge the individuals, but the institution ... its inability to be humble

Criticism of the Catholic Church is often justified. But then, how would you define "humble"? Humility begins with putting God first. God who? Which God are we supposed to put first? There are so many Earthlings, religions and differing perceptions of who God is. Who is Your God? Is He the God of compassion and not of judgment, the God of love but why is there suffering? May I search Him at the risk of either not finding Him or of finding disagreement with others who claim to know Him better or differently or who may deny His existence?

candidly and transparently eschew temporal power, something Jesus and Francis had no difficulty with, because they had values grounded in compassion.

Were Jesus' values "grounded in compassion" or was compassion rather the fruit of God's love for us? Isn't compassion rather grounded in our loving Father?

a god of love who would design a system where souls are cast into eternal hellfire

This God of Love is strict and absolute. The "hellfire" is the experience of being separated from God. We are mostly separated from God by our own free will.
Why do we have this free will? Where do we come from? - These are the great mysteries of our lives. I read the "Book of Enoch" not too long ago. Such early texts show that there exists more between heaven and Earth than what we can see when we look up into the sky.

the greatest sin is spiritual pride

IS that the "greatest sin"? according to what definition?

i have met his spirit in many who are content in other religions.

You have "met his spirit". How can this be possible? Jesus says he's the ONE way and there is NO OTHER. He says, he is THE DOOR. How can this spirit reign in anyone who is content in other religions? I don't deny that there are nice people everywhere but they cannot have "his spirit" in other religions.

god is so benign, why

a fate that kills thousands of children a day from starvation

God's ways are Higher than our limited ways. Yes, ask, "Why?" and acknowledge that you cannot read God's mind. If you could, he would not be God, and we could not be His children. Children often cannot get their minds around their parents' "no" or around chores that are expected of them. ... That's normal.

, and cannot get my head around an idea of an omnipotent god that would permit such wastage,

yet in moments of more lucidity i realise that my human limitations might not yet permit me to understand a divine logic that enabled that,

and struggle to see through the apparent perversity of injustice.

You have just spoken of "divine logic" and your human limitations, and there you go again, speaking of the "apparent" "perversitiy" of "injustice".  - `Apparent' in our limited eyesight, in our narrow human understanding. We see the Here and are blinded, unable to look beyond and through our human manifestation. `Perversity' - still rebelling against God's Greatness; `injustice' - can we really measure what is just and what is not?

i have come to see the Creator as ultimate love and ultimate darkness

There's ultimate darkness in His absence. His existence is the source of ultimate light that conditions the darkness where he is not.

existence in the multidimensional plethora of phenomena that is our floating home, on the lake of infinite possibility.

You sound like a god - in a floating multidimensional home of infinite possibilities. Is that who we are and how and where we live?

 

i never expect certainty about anything to last, as we are all spiralling in a vortex of continual change.

You don't expect certainty but seem to be so sure about all our spiraling in that vortex of continual change...

------

WHAT DO I BELIEVE? I believe that it is such a relief and such a gift that we do not have to create in our minds a God that will suit us. I am grateful that He is a living God and a spiritual reality. I am glad that His ways are higher than mine, that I can trust Him unconditionally and infinitely.

`Christians believe' is very vague, that's right. I should have said, "Those who sincerely follow the example of Jesus Christ."

for christians to claim exclusivity of any trailhead merely shows ignorance and lack of respect for all the great sages who have lived and taught us through the ages, of whom Jesus was but one of many more,

No. Jesus taught exclusivity to his disciples and all of us. His absoluteness is not to be mistaken for ignorance or lack of respect for other sages. Truth that is absolute is always exclusive. The ultimate power lies in this Truth, not in the Catholic Church or other structures, and how can you reproach to God(`s Son) that he'd lack respect for `other sages'. Someone who claims to be God's Son is not just one among others.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 06:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nice to be arguing theology with someone who cares about such mindstuff, even if this forum does seem a bit stretched for it.

ok, on with the fins and flippers, let's dive in...

Lily:

the only thing i am certain of is there are no certainties, the only absolute is that there are no absolutes!

Your are serious when you use this paradox. You never ceased to think in absolute terms.

no Lily, you are looking only at the surface in that sentence. think it through, it's a tautology. if there are no absolute certainties, then the first part of my statement must be false.

that's why it's a self-evident paradox, i was taking the mickey!

movin' right along...

Lily:

This is what you think. It is your personal opinion but what do you base your believe upon? How would you know that reincarnation IS just another mansion in the great house?

sigh, i don't know anything for certain, but i have intuitions, entirely unprovable, but why should i care? my opinion has no weight, it's just an opinion. if i sound like i think i know what i'm yapping about, it's because i don't have a macro rider attached to every statement, adding that this is possibly BS of the first water...

it's one of my favourite of Jesus' sayings, and fits here, imo. ymmv. reincarnation is intriguing, and believed in by a majority in some highly popular, ancient ways of faith. what worries me is how you seem to be clinging to a rock of certainty here, when i could ask you the same questions, as what makes you so sure. we might both be whistling in the dark, or not. i never said i considered reincarnation-belief to be crucial in any way, but it does have a tidiness to it.

i'm not attached to being right, that's why i enjoy discussing stuff.

i might seem to be dogmatic, but i ain't, at least i don't think so. i base an (uncertain) belief on what seems incrementally obvious, and i've wondered, and asked for help understanding this issue for half my life and more. i see no reason not to think it might be true, and much i find convincing enough to form a half-baked opinion about, no scientific proof.

Lily:

But then, how much do you know about Creation? And why would it not jive with the short amount of time knowing them?

good questions. how much? more than some and less than others, how long is a piece of string? you want metric or avoirdupois?

why would it not jive? because it is a matter of pattern recognition.

Lily:

How would we be able to judge what can be possible in time for the one who set it?

well, that's what makes me keep a bit of my mind undecided, i'm not looking for absolute certainty about anything, remember, rather the ability to contemplate flux with equanimity.

Lily:

It is a Fact that You see it clearly that... ?

yes, with the usual reservations, lol.

Lily:

Can God pour his compassion unto those who don't want Him?

 i dunno, but what do you think happened at Tarsus?

Lily:

What are your words here based upon? What's your reference? Your own thinking? Do you believe this because You want to believe this? Why should this be true? "Reincarnation putting eternity in service to spiritual progress" - what for? What do we understand of spiritual progress - except our own, maybe?

probably close to zero... which is why i try to make my own mind up as to what i believe, according to subjective experience, the only kind of evidence i need, until proven otherwise.

Lily:

But then, how would you define "humble"? Humility begins with putting God first

define god.

to me humble means scanning yourself for too much pride, and trying to be less self-important.

putting god first is fine, as long as it doesn't mean what most religious leaders have meant that phrase to mean, in other words, 'trust us and who we say god is, above your own perception'.

if your god is a complex, secretive banking system and a bunch of rituals, then i might suggest that's why the churches are in the sorry state they're in.

Lily:

Who is Your God? Is He the God of compassion and not of judgment, the God of love but why is there suffering?

that's the journey's fuel, that question right there.

the journey to understanding, which maybe never will have an arrival, but is the only thing that matters, if you feel that call to understand.

Lily:

May I search Him at the risk of either not finding Him or of finding disagreement with others who claim to know Him better or differently or who may deny His existence?

may i? from whom do you ask permission? do you think god gave you a brain to use, but it doesn't work without someone else's permission?

that's a belief that sounds infantile to me, and extremely vulnerable to others' abuse, i am surprised someone of your obvious intelligence would be so ready to give away your power to others in this way. history is littered with the tragedies of allowing so called 'experts' telling us when and what and why we should engage our higher faculties.

i prefer figure it out myself, with much help from reality.

Lily:

IS that the "greatest sin"? according to what definition?

well in my experience it is, how does it look to you?

definition is superfluous, and too final. that's how it seems to me, again ymmv.

Lily:

You have "met his spirit". How can this be possible? Jesus says he's the ONE way and there is NO OTHER. He says, he is THE DOOR. How can this spirit reign in anyone who is content in other religions? I don't deny that there are nice people everywhere but they cannot have "his spirit" in other religions.

sez you they can't, because your thinking is in a box. Jesus said he is in everyone, should they care to look. did you think the kingdom of heaven exclusive? why limit yourself here?

'don't deny' is a double negative, why not say 'i affirm' instead? then take another step and admit that you have no proof of what you say, admit its someone's speculation, and that god gave to you discrimination to form your own belief system from the evidence you find irrefutable in your life, first-hand, in the crucible of your own being, not prechewed from someone else who is not Lily. you think god made you too stupid to develop and exercise your own judgement?

 i don't.

Lily:

May I search Him at the risk of either not finding Him or of finding disagreement with others who claim to know Him better or differently or who may deny His existence?

what's the problem with either some risk or some disagreement? if we were all meant to face north together and moo in harmony, life would be dull.

unless you are of the bovine persuasion... ;)

Lily:

He says, he is THE DOOR.

well is he saying it now? to you? what accent does he have? is your understanding of aramaic sufficient to capture nuances?

maybe he thought it true, maybe it was then, but has since changed.

Lily:

You sound like a god - in a floating multidimensional home of infinite possibilities.

god is in all of us, we are part and parcel of divine creation.

stewart brand had a quote in the first whole earth catalog: 'we are gods, we might as well get to be good at it'

we are co-creators, angels-in-training.

Lily:

Is that who we are and how and where we live?

on the soul level, yes, and with infinite space and eternal timelessness to play it out.

we have limitations, sure, but without them life would have no sense, for our journey here is one of liberation, and that demands something to be liberated from.

Lily:

You don't expect certainty but seem to be so sure about all our spiraling in that vortex of continual change...

i eagerly await a sounder explanation.

Lily:

WHAT DO I BELIEVE? I believe that it is such a relief and such a gift that we do not have to create in our minds a God that will suit us.

well what did you get born with an imagination for then?

free will, remember, you don't have to do anything!

except maybe watch out for believing in a god that will suit unscrupulous folk to create and have you believe in.

Lily:

"Those who sincerely follow the example of Jesus Christ."

well they're thick on the ground, eh? maybe there are some people with that nobility of character and spirit of self-sacrifice around, but they aren't on my radar, i wish.

perhaps those nuns at greenham common, or the liberation theology priests in s. and c. america.

Lily:

No. Jesus taught exclusivity to his disciples and all of us.

bizarro world! jesus' preaching was 1000% INCLUSIVE, no-one under the bus.

Lily:

Truth that is absolute is always exclusive.

dear me, how far apart our points of view are! and how categorically you state this!

truth being exclusive is the whole thrust of the catholic church, that's their DRM, totally in- and subverting and corrupting J's teachings (such as they survive).

see how Hinduism and Islam welcome Jesus, see how the C. church returns the favour, invalidating the very meaning of the word 'catholic' and turning meaning and truth on their heads in their vain and ugly efforts to 'monopolise the market'.

are we all brainwashed to want our team to be exclusive? to win the pennant? to ace the avatar contest?

very unchristian, i feel.

Lily:

The ultimate power lies in this Truth

again sez you. why this wish for power? why?

Lily:

not in the Catholic Church or other structures,

you got that right!

Lily:

how can you reproach to God(`s Son) that he'd lack respect for `other sages'.

way to twist my words, Lily.

where do i reproach anyone but those who purport to claim exclusive rights to sell passports to heaven?

Jesus told us we all have the kingdom of heaven within us. you love Jesus, what part of that statement do you have difficulty with?

not exclusive enough? not powerful enough?

i am happy to stop boring ET with my drivel about subjects so few are interested to discuss here. there are many fora for this kind of exchange, but here we are.

maybe better to discuss offline if you still feel a need. i see we are on very different wavelengths now you have revealed some more about your beliefs, many mansions indeed.

good luck with your journey... we'll all meet in the middle.

'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 Fri Apr 23rd, 2010 at 06:57:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello melo,

Of course, I am not going to ask your permission to write.

You say that we are on very different wavelengths "now you have revealed some more about your beliefs". I don't know about our wavelengths but it is not that I would reveal now more of what I had been hiding before. My beliefs have been through an earthquake, and now is after the earthquake. Things have changed.

I am NOT attached to being right. I have shared my faith in an absolute God. This is not the same as wanting to be right for one's own sake.

And God did not make me stupid :), a bit silly sometimes, yes, but not stupid. I belong to those who want to understand and I have plenty of imagination.

Suddenly it is clear to me what the crux here is. Let's say, JakeS wants to understand, you want to understand, I want to understand, and St Francis wanted to understand. JakeS is going to look for answers in matter, in everything that can be seen, touched, felt, smelt, tasted - and proved. Nothing exists outside this material universe. Everything can be found within and be explained from within. On the other end, there's St Francis who's living in this world but who's not from this world. Matter is temporary, passing, and he's filled and driven by the unseen, the spiritual world. 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. Then there's me who I claim for myself to have faith in an absolute God - BOUMM! -, reminding you of those "overdressed clowns" of the Catholic Church who already hold the monopoly of absoluteness. The thing is, I don't hold it.

All I say is that I believe in an absolute God.
You have faith in the personal-absolute value of individual experience.
Faith in anything by anyone that is considered absolute outside the personal experience, worries you, while it comforts me.
Are you aware of the absolute quality that you attach to the necessity of our standing, relative to one's personal experience?

[Last night, I looked up the demographics of some countries, and `religions' more precisely. I found that there was a group in both Germany and England that was called "non-religious". In France, these same would be "atheists" while `Christian' means `Catholic', and in Italy, there are 16% of "irreligious" people, i.e. those who are fed up with the Catholic Church. This just as an aside.]

You feel that faith in an absolute God rules out intelligence. However, this is not so. I do have this faith AND a vivid interest in our material reality, and I know others who do. Faith and Science don't exclude one another.

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.

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

On "absoluteness": I believe that we have an inborn longing for absoluteness that is best illustrated in how we arrive here. 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...

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. The Catholic Church will never be able to attain this ultimate power of the Source, and I, for myself, don't seek power.

You claim that "spiritual pride" is "the greatest sin". In your experience it is, and how does it look to me?

First of all, pride closes the door to spirituality. Spirituality does not seek the self but God, and it does not seek God in order to show off the experience. Spirituality exposed like that ends in nothingness. What I expose here is humbleness, the clear expression of my dependence on God.
I'm not "proud" of it. This is my experience, just as I can tell you that sugar is sweet and water is wet. There's nothing to be proud of.

Pride expresses lack of faith, and is a sin in itself. Thus, spiritual pride cannot exist. What you refer to is pride all by itself, maybe.

What is the "greatest sin"? What is "sin", to begin with?

"Sin" as I understand it, describes our separation from God, our `fallen state' (if we can agree that this is the state we're born into). We remain in/affirm this state when we trespass. The measure of what we trespass against would be the 10 Commandments and by extension trespassing against the rule of loving God first and ourselves as our next.  

So, what would be the "greatest sin"? Murder hurts more than the theft of a loaf of bread. This means that the murderer will have more trouble finding back into union with God, to seek forgiveness and be forgiven after such a crime but other than that, I don't apply any hierarchical thinking to sin. When we sin, God is not in us and we are not in Him, irrespective of the nature of the sin.
I have found more. To sin also means that we don't understand our purpose in life.
I read, "sin is a poverty of the heart".
Lately, I have also been comparing it to a fever, a disease, and it's often addictive. It can prove difficult not to sin anymore like lies beget more lies and will only further confirm our separation from God.

You ask, do I think the kingdom of heaven exclusive? What I "think" does not matter. Jesus is living proof of heaven's exclusiveness but it's not God who shows some the door; we choose to, all by ourselves. Our free will can be a blessing as we recognise our kinship with God - or a curse, as we hold on to our fallen state, ignore or deny God's word and thus remain in the prison that we are to ourselves.

You speak of "infinite space" and "eternal timelessness" that we would have at our disposal. Is that your experience? [I'm only asking for rhetoric's sake.] I rather think that this is your hope and an answer to the Churches monopoly on heaven.

I, btw, think but don't manage well to live that way, that it is enough to know that we have TODAY, NOW and fill this moment with sense.

Jesus preaching was NOT 1000% INCLUSIVE. No. "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21). "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34)

But no one has to believe this.

Truth being exclusive is the nature of Truth. God being absolute is the nature of God, as is that humans would be intelligent and free-willed (when healthy).

I don't WANT "my team" to be exclusive. There is no wish for power, either overt or hidden, in my quest for Truth.

-------------

You had said,

for christians to claim exclusivity of any trailhead merely shows ignorance and lack of respect for all the great sages who have lived and taught us through the ages, of whom Jesus was but one of many more, ...
(emphasis mine)

I replied,

Jesus taught exclusivity to his disciples and all of us. His absoluteness is not to be mistaken for ignorance or lack of respect for other sages. Truth that is absolute is always exclusive. The ultimate power lies in this Truth, not in the Catholic Church or other structures, and how can you reproach to God(`s Son) that he'd lack respect for `other sages'. Someone who claims to be God's Son is not just one among others.

And you replied,

way to twist my words, Lily. - where do i reproach anyone but those who purport to claim exclusive rights to sell passports to heaven?

And I repeat that you had not referred to anyone in particular above but to Christians who claimed exclusive rights... Well, yes, you may have been referring to the Catholic clergy. Still, when you say Jesus was but one of many more, you show ignorance and lack of respect for Jesus who clearly stated to be God's only son, and who died to take away our sins and bring us back into union with God.

All this from a material scientific point of view, is still quite mysterious and will remain a matter of faith.  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Apr 26th, 2010 at 09:23:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
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
[ Parent ]
"I think the order that may come out of chaos is self-chosen ... I'm not sure it gets us nearer to "truth"."

The order that may come out of chaos is self-chosen since we are free-willed humans. I'd like to explain what I mean by "nearer to truth", or to some absolute Truth.

There exists some evidence-based truth in every crime - who did what and why? Some truths can be found in nature, and we can prove them. The truth about the existence of God or his nature or our relationship to him IF cannot be proved in the same way. It can be experienced even though we cannot see him.

The truth about our relationships with other people is not much better, evidence-wise, even though we see each other, communicate, make promises and experience things together.

Let's take Claudio from Italy as an example. He's 40 years old and lives happily with his Mamma, Giulia, under the same roof. His father died when he was only 15, and he helped his mother over the loss and supported her. Out of this, the two of them became interdependent. Giulia cannot imagine life without her dear Claudio anymore, and Claudio had thought of moving away earlier but life as it is, is comfortable. He doesn't have to worry about being served a meal or shelter, and he knows that children are expected to honour their parents. Giulia's friends are jealous of her because she has this grateful son while theirs just do as they please and don't care about their poor parents. Claudio is sometimes sad. He would like to have a family of his own, and above all, a woman to himself but how -. He quickly numbs his wish since he knows how impossible and selfish his thoughts are. -

Some may say, the two should not be disturbed in their happiness. Mother and son chose to live that way.

Some others may say, "It is terrible to see this!" - He must take on some responsibility on his own. Giulia has no right to abuse of her son's goodness; she should let go and encourage him to leave.

No matter what other people may think or say, or whether they might want to take drastic measures and pull Claudio by his hair and away from his Mamma, - he will remain indebted and attached to her, unless he'd be able to see his reality in a new light and become aware of his trap. If He understands that his symbiotic relationship with his mother is unhealthful and that is should not be confused with "honouring" one's parents, he may wish to step out of his mother's shadow.

Let's say this inner transformation happens. It just happens. There may be many reasons. Maybe Claudio's suffering becomes almost unbearable, and he begins to understand and to see more clearly in his pain, and once he has begun to see, he cannot deny any longer what he has seen, and he will take a closer look, and another one, dig deeper, and - ouch! - it might be painful to look into the mirror, saying to himself, "What have I been doing all this time? - No! I don't want this. I don't have to go on like this." - And he may be relieved because he understands that he "is free" to leave and may still love his Mamma although he might also be angry at her or saddened. No matter what, he knows, he will leave but the following days, he has doubts. Life won't be as comfortable anymore as it used to be.
By then, it will be too late, however. He stopped looking away, and this is how he began his journey - towards "truth". No one will be able to judge whether what he will be doing will be any "truer" than the former relationship between mother and son. It was a convenient reality, and both may have thought themselves "happy" in it.

Claudio may be the first to know that this happiness had been based on a lie - that said he had to give himself up for his dear mother - and he will not want to remain in it anymore. It will be painful to change, both for Giulia and for Claudio but he WILL KNOW that by stepping out of his mother's protection, he will be closer to "truth".

Only those who experience it will be able to know with certainty.

There's "order" that looks fine and brings us comfort but not happiness.
True order may include discomfort and pain but it will make us happy.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 05:30:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Grossly simplifying, as usual, there appear to be two historical types of religious structures, and they correspond roughly to hunter-gatherer v agriculture systems.

One is the pre-science attempts to explain natural phenomena (hunter-gatherers) or what might be called folk lore. It's a kind of bottom-up organization of ways of looking at the world. These ways of looking tend to get formalized within the culture.

The other is a top-down imposition where, unable to provide relief for the wretched lives the system imposed on the mass, a life after death is promised: pay now, live later. This scam tends to wrap itself in ever more desperate ritual.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 10:25:01 AM EST
Protocol and ritual are important - they provide a pleasing illusion of power to the powerless, and an equally pleasing illusion of powerlessness to the powerful.

This is true whether you examine the medieval farming village or the boardroom of the modern corporation.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 01:20:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the recent research on this finds that it's the other way around: Protocol and ritual provide comfort to the powerful, not the powerless. The powerless are more likely than the powerful to abandon rules and ritual if it favors their interests:

How power influences moral thinking.
By Lammers, Joris; Stapel, Diederik A.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 97(2), Aug 2009, 279-289.
Abstract
The authors conducted 5 studies to test the idea that both thinking about and having power affects the way in which people resolve moral dilemmas. It is shown that high power increases the use of rule-based (deontological) moral thinking styles, whereas low power increases reliance on outcome-based (consequentialist) moral thinking. Stated differently, in determining whether an act is right or wrong, the powerful focus on whether rules and principles are violated, whereas the powerless focus on the consequences. For this reason, the powerful are also more inclined to stick to the rules, irrespective of whether this has positive or negative effects, whereas the powerless are more inclined to make exceptions. The first 3 experiments show that thinking about power increases rule-based thinking and decreases outcome-based thinking in participants' moral decision making. A 4th experiment shows the mediating role of moral orientation in the effect of power on moral decisions. The 5th experiment demonstrates the role of self-interest by showing that the power-moral link is reversed when rule-based decisions threaten participants' own self-interests. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)
by santiago on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 09:31:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We should consider that the powerful have usually made the rules and that the rules benefit them. The chief beneficiaries of an inequitable system are usually among the last to see or acknowledge the inequities of that system. The inequities are much clearer to those on the receiving end.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 20th, 2010 at 12:20:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's an interesting study, but I don't think it actually contradicts what I was saying. Specifically:

Much ritual and protocol is focused on making the powerless feel more powerful than they really are. This makes them a lot less likely to rock the boat. At the same time reinforces the comfortable illusion among the powerful that they are simply exercising power by reference to principles, thus (partly) absolving them of the personal responsibility for the consequences of their exercise of power.

Both of these effects (that the illusion of power where none exists would make people more conformist, and that the powerful justify their actions by reference to formal rules and protocol) seem to be reflected in this abstract (with the caveat that I haven't read the full paper).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 20th, 2010 at 06:11:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Careful. You seem to be looking for answers (capital T True and capital R Real) when an authentic practice or search for religious or spiritual meaning should really just provide you with better questions. If you're getting answers either you're misunderstanding it (this is usually the case), or it's just a cult.
by santiago on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 09:47:14 PM EST
Lily:
I also heard somebody say that from a Christian point of view, "sin" refers to a missed target.

I was once told that "all sins are sins against the Self", or the self. My own belief is that "reality" is a social construct, but that not many people understand that this is the case. Each of us makes crucial "decisions" early on in a totally unconscious manner, strongly influenced by our parents and surroundings, and then we have the privilege of living with these decisions while attempting to sort it all out. Shakespeare understood this as evidenced by his line by Hamlet: "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so," the modern version of which is "Nothing is but that thinking makes it so".  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 20th, 2010 at 12:39:03 AM EST
Heaven: A fool's paradise

Even some atheists regard heaven as one of the least-harmful religious ideas: a soothing blanket to press onto the brow of the bereaved. But its primary function for centuries was as a tool of control and intimidation. The Vatican, for example, declared it had a monopoly on St Peter's VIP list - and only those who obeyed their every command and paid them vast sums for Get-Out-of-Hell-Free cards would get them and their children onto it. The afterlife was a means of tyrannising people in this life. This use of heaven as a bludgeon long outlasted the Protestant Reformation. Miller points out that in Puritan New England, heaven was not primarily a comfort but rather "a way to impose discipline in this life."

It continues. Look at Margaret Toscano, a sixth-generation Mormon who was a fanatical follower of Joseph Smith in her youth. Then she studied feminism at university. She came back to her community and argued that women ought to be allowed to become priests. The Mormon authorities - the people who denied black people had souls until 1976 - ordered her to recant, and said if she didn't, she wouldn't go to heaven with the rest of her family. She refused. Now her devastated sisters believe they won't see her in the afterlife.

Worse still, the promise of heaven is used as an incentive for people to commit atrocities. I have seen this in practice: I've interviewed wannabe suicide bombers from London to Gaza to Syria, and they all launched into reveries about the orgy they will embark on in the clouds. Similarly, I was once sent - as my own personal purgatory - undercover on the Christian Coalition Solidarity tour of Israel. As we stood at Megido, the site described in the Book of Revelation as the launchpad for the apocalypse, they bragged that hundreds of thousands of Arabs would soon be slaughtered there while George Bush and his friends are raptured to heaven as a reward for leading the Arabs to their deaths. Heaven can be an inducement to horror.



You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 01:50:51 AM EST
The title is perfect for my comment because I could have written this over 20 years ago, before I had time to question anything.  

Our certainties are our best doubts and we just have to keep daring to face them, without going off on fixed tracks.  Lots of courage on all the stages of believing in Yourself! and what you can do, regardless of what any book says.  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 05:43:00 PM EST


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