Moving Away From The Collective

I’ve been re-watching Star Trek Voyager lately, so this has a deeper meaning for me right now.

When I started this blog I felt like I was moving into a place where I was going to be a more integral part of several groups: a neighborhood, a workplace, a church.

I felt like I wanted an online place to gather my thoughts, gather my friends, gather individual energies into a common space. A “tribe.”

But lately I’ve been wanting to journal privately again. Even though I feel really over it.

What would it mean to let go of this dream I’ve had to belong to a tight-knit group? What would it mean to just take things as they come, be alone if necessary, engage as appropriate, work the crowd or connect with a single soul as the opportunity presents itself?

Sometimes I feel young and old, wise and clueless, in the same instant.

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Literally

I just finished reading the book of Genesis this morning.

I’m not impressed.

My mother, who is my spiritual mentor, told me not to. She told me we’d go through it together soon. She understands that it’s difficult.

Incest. Infanticide. Polygamy. (Which I actually have no problem with, assuming it’s amongst consenting adults!) Lying about a woman being your sister so that your wife ends up in bed with someone else. Floods wrought by God to destroy most of the world. Etc.

I’m cool with myths. I’m cool with parables, with literary interpretation, with grappling with cosmic issues.

But now that I’ve read these stories thoroughly, stories that I’d only heard piecemeal or in children’s stories, now I realize: if you take the Bible LITERALLY, word for word, I-can-quote-it-and-claim-it-as-literal-truth, then I have nothing to say to you.

“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”

Love Never Fails

1 Cor 13:8

Not the equivalent of “Hope is for suckers.”

Hope, I will agree, is often a lofty, unrealistic, weak cop-out. I’ll just sit here and hope instead of standing up and DOING something.

Love is real. Love is action. Love stands up to fight, sits down to comfort, walks hand in hand, stirs the pot of chili, folds the clothes, goes to work to bring home the bacon, plays catch, reads a story, listens to the wind in the trees, reads, thinks, watches, connects. Love does the very best it can, then trusts. Love loves, despite appearances.

Love never fails.

Journal & Blog

Lots of my studying lately has been bringing up evolution of consciousness.

I spent over 20 years writing my thoughts in journals read only by me.

Somehow I imagined blogging would be even better, inviting new perspectives to shine their unique light on my own point of view.

Despite the rare meaningful encounter, I have arrived at total disillusionment.

This medium appears to be all flash, self-promotion and tediously predictable argument.

I no longer know how to approach it.

That’s all for now.

Guilty by Association

I quit the Catholic Church when I was 13. Hadn’t really been into it for a few years at that point.

Just joined a Christian church, which is essentially alternative Methodist, a couple of weeks ago.

How much responsibility can I take for the horrors that have occurred in the name of Jesus?

My mother has been a devout and practicing member of the Catholic Church since she joined as a teenager.

How much responsibility must she assume for the horrors done by the decrees or the turned eye of the Pope?

The guilt of the individual as member of a religious group is something I hadn’t considered until recently.

First let me state the ways in which I feel I myself have been harmed in the name of Christianity (mostly by way of Catholicism):

  1.  soul-crushing guilt
  2.  a very dysfunctional and unhealthy view of sex
  3.  an image of a demented, angry, vengeful God who is an old man bent on tricking, coercing, threatening and bribing people to bow down before him. Or else.
  4.  the fear that truth comes from outside, that one cannot listen to one’s own inner voice, that one cannot trust
  5. the guilt and hopelessness that come from the belief that any negative/bad/unpleasant thing that happens is my punishment for being so wicked
  6. a focus on the negative, hell, the evil one, sin, the essential badness of humanity, etc.

I’m sure there are other effects I haven’t even thought of. But I have lately read enough about Jesus by people who seem to genuinely understand him to realize that throwing Jesus out with the bathwater is wasteful for me. For me. Allow me to emphasize, for me. I do not and will not subscribe to the belief that it’s my way or the highway. It’s my way for me, your way for you. If there is some kind of a judgment day, I’m going to have to answer for what I’ve done, and that’s going to be a big enough task without my having to answer for what others have done.

My goal in aligning myself with a Christian church at this point is to have an outlet for the deep desire I have for togetherness, for observable manifestation of Oneness, for the opportunity to serve the community at large through established channels. As much as I profoundly enjoy my solitary study and communing with the One, I know that I must at some point enter the world and apply what I have learned.

Just this morning I read this in the Hua Hu Ching as translated by Master Ni, Hua-Ching:

“My venerable teacher, should one spend all of his time and energy in quiet sitting meditation in order to remain above all worldly conditions and maintain absolute mindedness?

Kind prince, one who spends all of his time and energy in quiet sitting meditation for this purpose is establishing his mind to do something in a certain, definite way. By doing this, he clearly does not practice absolute mindedness, but instead demonstrates the narrowness and partiality of his mind. He cannot reach anywhere or become any kind of super-being. You see, the practice of absolute mindedness is not the practice of stiffness. That which is stiff belongs in the company of the dead, whereas that which is supple belongs in the company of the living. The mind should be like clear water that is always flowing smoothly. One should not designate a specific time or place in which to practice absolute mindedness, but should practice it in all aspects of life, whether essential or trivial.

My venerable teacher, should one intentionally and completely avoid all worldly troubles and activities for the purpose of practicing simplicity and keeping the mind clear?

Kind prince, if there are no worldly troubles and activities, where can one practice simplicity? Simplicity is the key to handling the troubles and activities of daily life. Simplicity is the law; the manifold, multiple forms are the events. Use the law to govern the events. This is the meaning of simplicity in the larger sense.

I want to expand my spiritual studies out from the realm of me, sitting in the early quiet hours of the morning by myself, reading and contemplating, and put them into action in the realm of Us.

Christ Church is, from my current point of view, my best option to achieve this goal.

But I recognize that by entering into association with a group, I am assuming responsibility for things done in the group’s name. Past things I had nothing to do with? Present things that I wasn’t in on the planning of? Future things that my input is not solicited for?

An interesting issue that I will revisit as more insight and information becomes available.

My To-Do List

This morning, following my husband’s example, I decided to make a list of all the tasks, duties and priorities I am aware of in my life. Surely there is something I’ve forgotten… but, to modify a quote by Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men, “If this ain’t a list, it’ll do ’til the list gets here.”

e’s To-Do List

Be a Good Mother

  1. Be loving and supportive unconditionally at all times forever
  2. Ensure all physical needs are met at all times
  3. Teach life skills, social strategies
  4. Listen and have meaningful conversations, develop critical thinking
  5. Play
  6. Set boundaries, impose consequences, teach values
  7. Inspire, encourage, feed on all levels
  8. Monitor scheduling
  9. Chauffer

Be a Good Wife

  1. Be the loving, supportive & compelling best friend he wants/needs at all times
  2. Cultivate intimacy on all levels (physical, emotional, intellectual)
  3. Listen
  4. Trust
  5. Maintain healthy, happy household with income provided
  6. Put my skills/abilities at his disposal at all times
  7. Find stuff

Run a Healthy, Happy Household

  1. Clean – as much as possible
  2. Feed – as healthy and delicious as possible
  3. Budget, pay bills, economize
  4. Restock supplies and organize
  5. Cultivate a loving, comfortable, inspiring atmosphere
  6. Garden & landscaping

Be a good person

  1. Be a loving, supportive friend, neighbor, extended family member
  2. Improve my character through study, contemplation & self-reflection
  3. Respond to requests for help when possible
  4. Share insight through writing and conversation

Build a freelance language empire

  1. Network – make connections by any means necessary
  2. Continue to improve my language, teaching and translating skills
  3. Generate opportunity/ideas/course development
  4. Rock the gigs I get
  5. Be available for unexpected opportunities

Be a good Christ Church member

  1. Attend services & events
  2. Participate in a Life Group
  3. Participate in a volunteer position
  4. Tithe when possible

Things I might like doing someday (when money/time allow):  Cycling, Kayaking, More reading & writing, More volunteering, More cooking & baking, Learn another language or two, Travel, Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, Crafts, Play piano, Hiking, Snorkeling, and ?!?

Religion as Language

If you’ve read any of my posts up to this point, you will likely remember that I’ve been struggling for quite a while with finding a church home and a religious label.

Well, my husband and I joined Christ Church, which has Methodist foundations.

So I’ve been getting used to calling myself a Christian.

Not that the label in itself felt wrong, just that I didn’t want to be associated with the hateful things done in Jesus’ name. The things I believe about Jesus are not very well reflected in many of the actions and words of people who claim to be Christian, so I thought that distancing myself from the whole thing was the best way.

The church we found seems to be based on just the things I do believe, such as love, enthusiastic faith, supportive community, a thriving children’s ministry, and other positive moves forward into a life of meaning and service. So I feel pretty comfortable aligning myself with this group.

I had a great insight into the label issue the other night when I’d decided to kill two birds with one stone by practicing my Spanish and praying at the same time. For a split second I thought to myself – does Jesus even speak Spanish?

I had a good laugh over that one.

But then it occurred to me — a religion is like a language. If I feel inspired to do something, I can phrase it as, “I feel called to do this.” As though God herself had spoken to me and pointed the way. I might also say, “My gut tells me…” which is acceptable secular speech. I could say, “The energy feels right,” which is the same thing translated into a New Age kind of understanding. Similarly, I could insert any sort of divine name and express my belief that this Spirit was indicating the correct path.

Each statement represents the same feeling in my heart/mind/center that a certain way forward is best. Is one a lie and the other the truth? Is English more true than Spanish?

After this realization, I came to the logical conclusion that, just because I’m a Christian, doesn’t mean I can’t study Buddhism or Taoism or Sufism anymore. Just like I don’t have to stop learning languages just because I’m fluent in English, but I can go on to become bilingual and trilingual, as many as I have the time and inspiration to learn.

The Great Spirit is not limited to one language, nor to one religion. God is bigger than all of our constructs.