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Paranoia – When the line becomes blurry

From shower curtains to tin foil hats. Here’s a post at earthpages.ca that takes a look at paranoia without lobotomizing the upper half of possibilities, as most ‘learned’ discourses do.


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Hindus shocked at Sydney Anglican Church lumping yoga with “worshipping false gods”

Holy Trinity Anglican Church Erskineville via Wikipedia

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus worldwide are upset over a Sydney Anglican Church in Australia reportedly associating yoga with “worshipping false gods”; and are seeking apology from the Anglican Communion.

A news item pasted under “Media Watch Around The World” on the “Sydney Anglicans” (official website of Anglican Diocese of Sydney) said: Anglican Church in Erskineville doesn’t want yoga classes, over fears of ‘worshipping false gods’.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that it was highly inappropriate and bizarre to unnecessarily and unreasonably tarnish an ancient, multi-beneficial and rich practice of yoga for which United Nations proclaimed June 21 as International Day of Yoga to raise awareness worldwide of its many benefits.

Zed indicated that it was dismaying for the Hindus to note that instead of disciplining the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Erskineville over such a baseless allegation against yoga, Anglican Diocese of Sydney chose to paste such newsitem on its website.

Rajan Zed invited Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies to study a treatise on yoga and attend few yoga classes to have firsthand experience of yoga. Davies would then realize that yoga did not create “spiritual confusion” (as blamed in the news item) but instead opened up and brought more clarity to the mind, Zed added.

Involved church officials should show some maturity as such wild allegations against the highly respected practice of yoga and attempts to ban it would leave many in 21st century multicultural Australia seriously disappointed, embarrassed and unhappy; many of whom might like to explore various valuable benefits yoga offered; Zed noted and urged Anglican Communion’s spiritual head Justin Welby and Archbishop of Melbourne & Primate of Australia Philip Leslie Freier to intervene.

Rajan Zed further said that Vatican Library carried many yoga related books, including “How to know God. The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali”.  Prominent US Roman Catholic universities/colleges—University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, College of the Holy Cross, Boston College, Villanova University, Santa Clara University, Providence College, College of Saint Benedict, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University (which offers Master of Arts in Yoga Studies program), Marquette University, University of Dayton, Creighton University, John Carroll University, Loyola University Maryland, Xavier University, Fordham University, etc., offered various classes and programs of yoga regularly; and so did Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven) in Belgium, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe founded in 1425.

Yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, Zed stated.

Rajan Zed stressed that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.

According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to a “2016 Yoga in America Study”, about 37 million Americans (which included many celebrities) now practice yoga; and yoga is strongly correlated with having a positive self image.  Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Zed added.

Roger Bray is the Senior Minister at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Erskineville, where both Church and Church Hall are currently being used for yoga. Cost of the church is from $38/hour, while cost of church hall is from $35/hour. “Room for Many” is one the programs of the church. Anglican Church came to Australia in 1788.


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Do you hear voices? Why spirituality and transpersonal psychology are so often overlooked

In my youth it was a juvenile joke to ask in a mock psychiatric tone, “DO YOU HEAR VOICES?”

Mature people realize there’s nothing funny about psychological suffering. But I think the joke was directed at the medical establishment’s understanding of mental discomfort instead of at the afflicted. At least, that’s how I saw it.

We shouldn’t laugh at people who suffer in mind and soul. By the same token, there’s nothing funny about how unusual psychological phenomena tend to be regarded by the medical establishment.

The tweeted article (above) seems to be headed in the right direction. But it overlooks two important factors that could play a role in hearing voices—spirituality and transpersonal psychology.

Michele Lamberti COMUNIONE DEI SANTI – SAINTS COMMUNION via Flickr

Spirituality and transpersonal psychology are usually linked. But they are not necessarily identical.

A Catholic churchgoer, for instance, may understand spirituality but knows little about transpersonal dynamics. And adherents of transpersonal psychology may have little appreciation for the Catholic belief in the Communion of Saints and the related idea of intercession.

There are many different stripes and colors among the spiritually sensitive.

So what is transpersonal psychology?

My understanding is that tangible connections among persons at a distance can be perceived by those sensitive enough to perceive them.

This can involve sensing others’ thoughts, feelings, their scent, what they see, hear, smell or physically feel. It can also involve a kind of subtle body awareness – to include sensuality and sexuality – because subtle bodies are said to interpenetrate.¹

For many people this is just New Age or Far-Eastern fantasy. And for most psychiatrists, it is simply “magical thinking.” However, for a certain percentage of the population, it is not fantasy nor delusion. For some, transpersonal psychology is quite real and far more complex and nuanced than a silly, reductive phrase like “magical thinking.”

The Wicked Witch of the West melts, from the William Wallace Denslow illustration in the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) via Wikipedia

This leads to another factor often overlooked or ridiculed by the medical establishment: The possibility of demonic deception. Quite possibly some voices could be caused by a demon messing with a person’s head.

That is a very uncool idea these days. Not in vogue. Great stuff for movies. But definitely not real. Debate over… shut the door. People who believe in demonic influence must be mentally ill.

That is, the medical trumps the spiritual paradigm.

Why does the medical establishment mostly turn a blind eye to spirituality and transpersonal psychology? Presumably this is because the majority of its practitioners are too worldly and conceptually biased to appreciate the subtler, finer aspects of life.

Some doctors might go to church, temple or mosque. But it is doubtful that they sense higher (and lower) mystical states to any great or advanced degree.² If they did, they would probably be monks, sisters or hermits instead of medical professionals.

Hence the mainstream dismissal of important spiritual possibilities.

Funnily enough, when I first became interested in Catholicism a priest pointed to his heart and confided in me by saying, “I hear a voice, right here.” He may have been speaking figuratively, but from our conversation he seemed to be saying that this voice tells him what is from God and what is not from God, and also serves to guide him.

Being a smart guy, this priest keeps his ‘voice’ under wraps. If that kind of terminology got out, his enemies might brand him a so-called schizophrenic, which could hinder his ability to help others.

Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves ~ Matthew 10:16

For the most part, psychiatric theories have a pretty firm grip on the public imagination. Many folks parrot the latest trends and politically influenced classifications as if they were the Gospel Truth.

The medieval Church once controlled others through fear and persecution. Today, science exerts its own kind of ideological influence. But the control is so pervasive and complete that most are hardly aware of it. They conform. They believe what the doctor tells them.

You don’t think so?

Take a look at sites like Quora.com and read how some individuals completely accept medical explanations (and labels) given for their psychological suffering. Some almost seem to enjoy playing the role of “good patient.” They praise their doctors for illuminating the “truth” about their illness. And they seem oblivious to alternative explanations.

Sadly, when alternative explanations are ignored, healthier remedies could also be ignored.

So instead of experimenting with, say, the Catholic Eucharist as well as attitudinal and behavioral changes for the better, sufferers take the latest medications on the market.

God only knows how those medications (arguably a euphemism for drugs) may affect the rest of their body. Long term side-effects (arguably a euphemism for harmful effects) are often downplayed but a quick reading of scientific journals reveals that known harmful effects can be debilitating, even lethal.

Let me be clear: I am not anti-meds. If drugs help a person to cope or if they protect innocents from potentially violent individuals, they probably should be administered. But I believe drugs should always be taken with a view toward finding a better solution.

We must consider alternatives and critically assess the medical and religious ideologies of our time. An integrative approach that includes medical science and spiritual teachings would probably be optimal.

Image via Flickr

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind ~ Albert Einstein

¹ In Eastern philosophy, this involves the doctrines of adhyasa (superimposition) and karma transfer. This kind of interior perception could also include sensing the spiritual environment and influences associated with another person. In contemporary parlance, good or bad vibes.

² The academic study of religion terms this the numinous, after Rudolf Otto‘s and later, Carl Jung‘s adaptation of the Latin numen. Some say that numen is based on the Greek nooúmenon. The English term first appears in 1647.


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I had a dream… but not like MLK’s!

Please don’t misunderstand me. I love MLK and his dream.

I believe we should all strive daily to make it reality. Not just for people of color but for all kinds of marginalized groups and individuals. Sometimes people are discriminated against merely because they are different.

This is sad.

I suppose animals have always herded, flocked and swam together, picking on those who fall behind or to the outside. But we are human beings, not animals. We have the brain capacity to reroute and overcome our animal biases. At least, some of us do. Others seem so entrenched in their rigid or pathetically elitist ways that they just seem unmovable. But let’s hope that’s just how they seem and not how they are.

Image via Wikipedia

So in the title of this blog entry, I am talking about a nighttime dream while I was sleeping that was not like MLK’s visionary dream.

Mine was not a dream about the way things should be. Rather, it was a kind of realpolitiks dream. A dream about struggle, cunning and power.

On the other hand, when I think about it, maybe my dream isn’t totally dissimilar to MKL’s “I have a dream.” After all, the results are based on merit, not on prejudice about size.

Here’s the link to my dream. You decide:


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Panentheism – Nope… it’s not a spelling mistake…

Over at Earthpages.ca I’ve been doing some heavy duty revising. It’s my way of being a scholar and journalist at the same time. If only I got paid for it!

Oh well, better to try to do the right thing than to peddle products in the name of God. So many ‘squeaky clean’ Christians do that and, frankly, it turns me off big time.

For me, washing the inside of the cup is far more important than washing the outside (Matthew 23:26). Keeping both sides clean is best. But given a choice, the inside is what counts most.

What does this mean?

Usually when I hear Catholic homilies about this teaching they seem to fall short. Catholicism is great but, let’s face it, there’s a lot of worldliness too.

Some people gloss over it. Others repress it. But it’s there. I guess that’s why I’m not a priest or a monk. I would have liked to have been. But it’s just too much polishing up the outside while ignoring the inside.

Familiar patterns may be necessary. But they can also be used as a crutch to prevent real change. Inner change. Reel off the printed prayers, go to confession, give the ‘offering,’ and you get to heaven!

Hmm. I’m not convinced.

As any priest or preacher worth their salt will emphasize, what matters most is internal change. We have to dig deep into our own faults and not dismiss them as “weakness” but, rather, work toward eradicating them. Not easy. And it takes time. But anything else is just whitewash.

But I digress. My intent here is to introduce another entry about different ways people conceptualize God. Panentheism is not a spelling mistake. It’s just another variety in the endless chain of trying to make sense of something far bigger than ourselves.

 Why it was once unthinkable for a US president to be seen with the Pope(businessinsider.com)

 Gay Catholic sitcom The Real O’Neals got cancelled and homophobes are overjoyed (pinknews.co.uk)

 Chris Selley: Saskatchewan ruling on Catholic schools could be historic – if it holds up (news.nationalpost.com)

 Why hasn’t there been a Catholic President since JFK? (irishcentral.com)

 There’s literally a startup accelerator at the Vatican now (mashable.com)

 Pope names cardinals for Laos, Mali, Sweden, Spain, El Salvador (japantimes.co.jp)

 Stephen Colbert won in another debate about the existence of God with Ricky Gervais (businessinsider.com)

 Ondo CAN Preaches Religious Tolerance Among Nigerians (sundiatapost.com)


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Coffee lovers? Read this…

Coffee is my only drug. Thank God it’s cheap. I’ve tried going off and generally have felt like half a person when doing so. Or, by way of analogy, a house with the top floor missing.

However, this article got me thinking. Maybe I’ll intersperse a little more water among cups.


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Sacrifice, Service and “The Holy Helper”

Today’s tweeted story got me thinking about sacrifice and service.

So many people find themselves in situations where they feel called to make sacrifices. If this truly is a call from God, then it’s a beautiful thing that usually bears fruit in unexpected ways.

But there might be another type of person who plays the role of the holy person when really, they’re not that holy.

A while ago I wrote that I hadn’t been to Mass over the frantic Easter season, and that I might never go again. Well, that didn’t last very long. And I’m glad it didn’t. Yesterday I visited one of my favorite downtown Cathedrals and saw a person who, in my opinion, is fairly spiritual but also playing the role of “The Holy Helper.”

The Holy Helper brags about being a saint and how people, even strangers, ask for her prayers. But she seems to have a dark side. An unresolved dark side.

Some months ago at another parish The Holy Helper began swearing obscenities at an Asian lady seated in front of me. The Asian lady was calm but also a bit startled. She turned her gaze toward me as if to ask, what the heck is going on here?

I’ve known The Holy Helper for over a decade and have watched her become progressively strange. After cursing the Asian lady the HH began talking to me as if nothing had happened. I couldn’t endorse her behavior by ignoring it, and gently suggested that swearing at others in public is not a good thing.

Then I tried to tell her that I went through a challenging phase in my own spiritual development. I never swore at people in public, but was trying to help by sharing my own story.

Before I could get my words out, The Holy Helper became angry and indignant. She knew it all and I didn’t understand. I suggested she seek professional help. Moments later she started swearing at me. “You are a F***** Loser!” she yelled.

I was shocked and somewhat traumatized afterward. Fortunately another person gently ushered her out of the Church.

Yesterday the Holy Helper was back at the Cathedral. It’s sort of frightening when I see her. She hasn’t apologized so I don’t know if she’ll start swearing again. Maybe she’s gone even further over the edge and will assault me physically.

A sign that designates no swearing in a city.

A sign that designates no swearing in a city – Wikipedia

I doubt it but am not sure.

Keeping my phone set to “video” gave me some confidence. Afterward I wondered what I would do if I captured her on camera swearing at me or someone else.

Would I report her or just let it go again?

I feel that if someone is roaming around verbally abusing people, they should not be allowed to persist. They need help. And if they’re not going to get it themselves then some kind of intervention might be in order.

Why do I tell this story?

Well, partly because I’m somewhat annoyed. When I go to church I don’t want to have to deal with borderline personalities. I just want to pray and feel close to God.

I also feel that The Holy Helper is a great example of someone identifying with the role of being a sacrificial saint without giving due attention to her own issues. Hence, a lingering shadow of resentment builds up. A shadow that comes out in abusive ways.

Anyone could all fall into this kind of mindset if they are not honest with themselves. We’ve all heard stories of nuns slapping even burning children in their care, priests molesting kids, and so on.

Repression is a nasty thing.

On the other hand, sacrifice can be beautiful but only when in line with God’s will. Everything else is probably based on some kind of psychological compensation. Compensation means we play up real or imagined personality traits that make us feel superior because underneath, we feel inferior.

That’s not true spirituality. And if left unchecked, a subconscious sense of inferiority can unexpectedly flip into its opposite.

That’s when the innocent have to run for cover.