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All you need is love… and maybe a little wisdom

This morning I replied to a Tweet that said the important question is whether a person is “alive” before death.

I suggested that it might be more fruitful to talk about being “awake” before death because to imply that someone isn’t alive – i.e. dead – seems a bit judgmental and final.

“Awake” and “asleep” are softer terms than “alive” and “dead.” And rarely do strong proclamations or insinuations do any good in helping ourselves and others.

So afterward, I walk to my local parish. And funnily enough the theme (and wording) for today’s Mass was about the soul not dying!

It made me think…

What did Jesus really say? The Bible has so many additions, glosses, translations, contexts, versions, and deletions that sometimes we can’t be sure. Even scholars and linguists quibble over the precise meaning of biblical terms (probably partly why I never bothered to learn Hebrew and Greek).

Dead Awake

Dead Awake (Photo: Wikipedia)

After a short while I came to the tentative conclusion that we’re all different and have unique roles to play in the grand scheme of things. So even someone who seems spiritually “dead” could be doing something vital. And even someone who seems spiritually “alive” could be out to lunch on other important issues.

Instead of a “this or that” approach, I think it’s more realistic to view people as complex, evolving creations. This involves a multi-dimensional or, if you like, a multi-factorial model of consciousness instead of a binary one.

With a multi-model we would be less inclined to judge and more open to finding out the inherent strengths in others. And more importantly, we might be better disposed to love, even if the “dead” or “sleepers” irritate or harm us.

Now let me be clear. I’m not talking about being a doormat. Nor am I suggesting we don’t defend ourselves or speak out against perceived injustices. I’m just talking about making practical instead of ultimate judgments.

For sure, I steer clear of people if I have reason to believe they’re borderline and possibly violent. You get people like that in big city churches. But I don’t hate them. And I don’t think they’re hell bound or simply going to disappear at death.

Loving people who have insulted or hurt us is not always easy. It might take a while to work through our own resentment. But I find that choosing to love usually works best for everyone, provided it’s done with discernment.

Discernment is a Catholic term with two related meanings. On the one hand it means finding out God’s will for us. On the other hand, discernment is learning to recognize the good and evil influences acting on our souls. Like anything, sincere seekers tend to get better at this over time.

So what will you choose?

Related articles

 We gather together to share our faith (helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com)

 Sermon: It Finally Happened, Acts 2 (grantspasschurchofchrist.com)

 Be a Good Steward (danpolecheck.info)

 New Bible Study, “Dynamic Studies in Hebrews” by Fred Scheeren, Helps Readers Who Long to Live a Life More Pleasing to God (prweb.com)

 6th Sunday of the Year: Choosing the Lord with all our heart (studyprayserve.com)

 We Were Made For Something Greater (faithandfootsteps.wordpress.com)

 God Hates Pride (challies.com)

 We’ve handed over Buhari’s death wishers to God – Community leader (vanguardngr.com)

 Overcoming Your Fear of Death (pakalertpress.com)

 Scripture Verse Of The Week ‘Philipians4 Verse 4’ (mylordmyfriend.com)


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EP Today – When teachers get creepy

eptoday-copyWay back, when Earthpages was a website instead of a blog, the main page had a feature called “EP Today.” Some of my early web pals might remember this.

I’ve decided to go back to that name for commenting on current news and general interest stories.

So here it is. Our first reinstallment of EP Today!

Today I’d like to briefly touch on the (imo) silly idea of the perfected being. The more I get into the spiritual life the more I recognize the importance of humility. Also, to think that someone is more evolved or pure than another may carry potential dangers. Some gurus and charismatic figures can really disrupt family relations.

I remember living in a small town about 100 miles out from Toronto. A group of local devotees would drive every weekend, abandoning their spouses and children, to be with a high profile NYC guru. That’s a pretty long drive to make every weekend!

At a gathering designed to welcome and orient potentially new disciples, some devotees’ family members showed up and openly spoke out. They said the guru was stealing the hearts and minds of their loved ones. I was surprised. The concerned family members seemed almost angry. And I must admit, back then at my young age, I leaned toward the side of the devotees whose manner suggested that their families just didn’t quite get it. They weren’t enlightened enough to understand…

But about 25 years later, I can empathize with the complaining family’s perspective. Imagine if your wife or mom was rushing off every weekend to be with a NYC guru? Wouldn’t you be a bit concerned? I would.

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The difficulty, as I see it, is this:

Most gurus claiming to be perfect often emanate some kind of soupy, numinous power. It’s not clear like the Holy Spirit. But it’s still there. A buzz, if you will. And sensitive but naive followers pick up on that buzz and are impressed. They’ve never encountered numinosity (spiritual power) before. Or perhaps they’ve never experienced anything better. So they believe, mistakenly, I’d say, that the guru’s ‘light’ is ultimate.

To me, true spirituality isn’t hero worship or getting spiritually drunk or stoned. Instead, it involves realizing that we carry each other, and on many levels. Healthy spirituality is not a one-way street with some pampered, contented teacher at the top, supposedly raising up disciplines who are far beneath them. No. The dynamic is multidirectional. And anyone who says otherwise is probably naive or, if they’re squatted at the top of an unhealthy guru-disciple relationship, an egotist and possibly a mind-abuser.

So many sham gurus and questionable spiritual leaders seem like bullfrogs posing as kings and queens. They rule from tiny little mudponds, like that creepy turtle in Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle. And until an oppressed turtle speaks up, the kingpin or Queen Bee will keep scamming cash and mental energy from the gullible and inexperienced below.

Would anyone in their right mind really want to have anything to do with that?

 People Theorize What It Would Be Like If Dr. Seuss Wrote Erotic Novels and Now Our Childhoods are Ruined (cheezburger.com)

 Health and Technology (forwardthinking.ashford.edu)


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Today’s Top Tweet is a no-brainer for me… neurology, psychology, spirituality and society

Today’s Top Tweet leaped off the page because my doctorate is in psychology and religion. I find the interface interesting… especially when we include societal issues in the mix.

Here’s an accessible but not overly simplistic story that makes a great stab at trying to weave together several elements – neurology, psychology, spirituality and society. I highlighted the main points. Follow the links for the full article.


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Today’s Top Tweet – Arrogance of some mystics?

Okay I’ll admit I just looked over this article, giving it a quick scan. But what I seemed to see is a view that I used to hold until, ironically, I got a little closer to God.

The author says that mysticism and holiness are not disconnected. And on that I’d agree. But to say that holiness depends on mysticism, I think, is a mistake.

Image via Wikipedia

Again, I used to think that way. But as I get older it seems that some people just “have it” without being terribly introspective. These people can be quite active and not sitting in a dark room meditating all day.

I think one of the biggest dangers of mysticism is self-aggrandisement. And the second you start thinking you’re better or closer to God than others because you have religious experiences, well, you’ve lost it my friend.

Simple as that.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~ John 20:29


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Today’s Top Tweet – What makes you happy?

Human beings are all so different I don’t think we can generalize. We all have our own yardsticks for measuring happiness. But for me, knowing that this life is short… well, life without spirituality at this stage of the game would not only be depressing but also quite meaningless. But again, that’s me.

What makes you happy?


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Today’s Top Tweet – Charlie, our paranormal witness

To start off the New Year I thought I’d discuss today’s top tweet using a fictional, gender-neutral person called “Charlie.” I’ll also use a literary device from my school days: S/he.

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So Charlie is a bit of nut. Or maybe not. It might depend on how we look at it.

S/he believes that “big picture” patterns appear over time, especially in the form of recurring numbers. S/he knows about Carl Jung’s idea of synchronicity, and that Jung gives the example of recurring numbers. Charlie also realizes that Jung never advocates actively looking for synchronicity. For Jung, synchronicity just happens after we make a choice.

Choice and the idea that synchronicity occurs after making choices distinguishes believers in synchronicity from

  • Religious fanatics who believe they see signs in everything and make choices on the basis of those alleged signs
  • Frightening mad persons who do bad things because they believe they see signs or recurring patterns telling them to behave a certain way
  • The paranoid who tragically hurt themselves or commit suicide because they believe they see patterns indicating that the world is out to get them

As for Charlie, s/he is only human and learns as s/he goes along. S/he used to believe that perceived recurring numbers were proof that s/he was on the right track, cosmically speaking.

But one day a friend said something that complicated things. The friend said “Charlie, what if you made a different choice and a different series of patterns came up?” This made Charlie think, which is usually good.

Maybe there is no single life journey or path, Charlie thought. And maybe every time I make a choice the universe splits and different Charlies live out parallel lives.

This idea makes Charlie a bit uneasy but s/he has read the Seth Books and all that subatomic physics, Dancing Wu Li stuff.

Charlie knows it’s a big mystery out there.

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Having read some psychology books, Charlie also considers the possibility that s/he is unconsciously selecting these numbers while ignoring or playing down a lot of other numbers that pass by.

“Of course,” most would say.

But Charlie doesn’t think it’s quite that simple. S/he still feels a sense of confirmation when numerical synchronicity arises, even after thinking and analyzing the phenomenon from different angles. Sometimes s/he even wonders if angels or other spiritual powers guide us toward meaningful coincidences.

After all, Charlie is just a person. Unlike the worldly wise, s/he tries to be humble and remember that there’s still a lot to figure out in this great mystery called life.

About the Author

Michael Clark’s PhD thesis is entitled, Synchronicity and poststructuralism: C. G. Jung’s secularization of the supramundane. He likes to think about things but believes that the intellect is, at best, an aid to spirituality. 


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Flip that tired old New Year’s resolution thing

Big Red Carpet Nursing

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New Year’s Day: it’s that magical time when people traditionally make grandiose promises, set ambitious new goals that soon fall by the wayside.

Again.

How many failed diets, how many unused gym memberships and dusty pieces of “miracle” exercise equipment result from this tradition?

Enough, I say. Enough!

Unless it’s sustainable, and sustainable in reality – not just in your impulsive imagination – such “resolutions” are huge wastes of time and energy. They’re also soul-killers. They set you up for failure. They teach you that goals and failure are one and the same. Bad, bad, bad!

So here’s your choice. You can slog along with all the other lemmings and endure yet another round of such futile, annual self-flagellation, OR you can try something different. A new approach is just the thing when an old one fails you. Learn and adapt! That’s how life gets better and better is, well…

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