Category Archives: Love

Why is idiotic theology all the rage on the internet?

It constantly strikes me as odd how, despite the fact that the human race makes major jumps in technology, politics, economics, our spiritual growth seems to be very slow…and in some cases it appears to be making giant leaps backwards.

 

For instance over two thousand years ago in works of the Greek philosophers makes a clear point that has been the basis of correct* theology ever since. This point is that God is pinnacle of all virtues. That might seem overly obvious so let me expand on what the argument was. In a dialogue of Plato’s named Euthyphro the question is

A lot of the basis for this government is in this picture...not a lot of these people are from the Judeo-Christian background.

asked: are things just because the gods say they are just, or do the gods say they are just because they are just. If things are just only because the gods say they are just then what is just is merely the dictate of a tyrant, a universally powerful tyrant, but a tyrant nonetheless. It is to say that might makes right and the gods as the mightiest of all clearly are right because of their power. To accept the second option, that the gods say things are just because they are just, is to say that there is something called Justice higher than the gods to which even the gods have to bow down to…but then why worship the gods and not just skip to that higher thing. This can quickly fall into a series of does that higher thing say what it does because of some even higher law or just because it says so. Now no answer is reached in Euthyphro, an early work of Plato’s, but he eventually gets to the answer over the course of his works. The answer is a third option. God isn’t dependent on some higher concept of Justice, nor is Justice dependent on God, because God is Justice and Justice is God. God is Beautiful, and Beauty is God. God is Truth, and Truth is God. God is Good, and the Good is God. God is Reason and Reason is God.   God is the pinnacle of virtue in and of himself, it is not his power that dictates justice, it is his quality of justice; it is not his might that makes something good or right, it is the fact that he is good and right. And eventually this idea became so prevalent within Platonic philosophy that they gave it a single title to encompass the entire concept of a God that is the pinnacle of all virtues. And to distinguish it from the myriad of other gods wandering around the numerous pantheons of the ancient gods they didn’t give it a name like Zeus** or Apollo, but rather the title the Logos from the same Greek word that we derive the word logic from. They chose this word because this conception of God was that he was the logic, the reason, the purpose, the driving force behind the universe. And this idea of the Logos is the only logical way out of this paradox (or at least the only one I have seen proposed in over 2,000 years of philosophy and theology). Anything other than this way out leaves you with either having to search for a higher power or admission that God is God only because might makes right (in which case he is no better than any dictator).

 

And while Aristotle may have proven there is a God, his logic does not conclusively prove what that God is like, it is here that Plato shows that your only options for God are that God is the Logos or that he is a petty tyrant not worthy of worship because his only claim to power is that might makes right. And while I’m not going to unravel the problem of evil here, experience and common sense show that the petty tyrant is not a viable option in reality…but it is absolutely not something you should be arguing for. God is God not because he is subject to Reason, Good, Truth, and Justice, but because he IS Reason, Good, Truth, and Justice.

 

And for any logical person that should be the end of it.

 

But then I saw this drivel on Tumblr getting reblogged.

 

idiot theology 1idiot theology 2  idiot theology 3 idiot theology 4 idiot theology 5

 

 

So let’s break this down. You have the title card that God is Love but love is not God. Let’s leave this stupid thesis for a second.

 

The next two slides deal with the issue of the problem of evil. In a very inarticulate way these cards are showing the basic problem of people saying, “How can a loving God allow suffering to happen?” Again if I were to get into a severe deconstruction of the problem of evil (which at very least would make this post ramble on for another 10 pages…and nobody wants that) you can come to two conclusions. The first is the one first proposed by St. Augustine and has been the center of intelligent Christian theology (the person who made this little slide show is clearly not in this camp) that God allows evil because he has a plan that will bring an even greater good out of the world than would be possible without evil. It is the logic that we punish our children and sometimes force them to do things that they find terrible because it is good for them and will make them better people in the end. Or you can take the Eastern version that this world is merely an illusion and that evil doesn’t really exist, once we wake up and reach Enlightenment the evil of this world will be nothing more than the suffering of a nightmare, no real harm so no real foul, and it will be quickly forgotten. Both of these answers allow for evil to exist in the world without violating the nature of God being the Logos. And the shortest way of dealing with the objections of the first two slides is “If you could see the full plan of the universe, as God can, you would see that what you describe as something terrible is in the grand scheme of things nothing more than the cosmic version of a parent forcing their child to eat their Brussels sprouts.”***

 

But this slide then goes onto to say:

idiot theology 6 idiot theology 7

Okay the first line is fair enough. Using the problem of evil to attack the idea of God is a bad line of thought, and it can lead to some terrible theology.

 

But it’s the next paragraph where things start going off the rails into the very same bad theology that the idiot who made this complained about just a sentence ago. So the problem here is with the argument is “How dare you say God has to conform to an idea of Love” or Reason, or Justice, or Truth. Not the more rational, you need to admit that your idea of Love (or any of the others) may not be perfect because at this point you’re a human being capable of error. No we went with God cannot be judged by anything because God is beyond Love, Reason, Justice. God may have given you reason and told you repeatedly to use it but apparently it is no way a guiding light back to God. Any serious theologian would say that if that your conception of God and the facts don’t match, then we must defer to reason that either our conception of God is wrong or that you don’t have an accurate understanding of situation.

 

Or as a famous atheist who never applied her own logic to her bad understanding of theology, “Contradictions cannot exist. If you think you’ve found a contradiction go back and check your premises. One of them is wrong.”

If your idea of God doesn’t match up with your idea of love, according to reason, one of these ideas is wrong.

 

Except that this little slide show, that again I kept seeing several times so it’s not like this is just one idiot reblogging this is that your reasoning is not wrong, it doesn’t matter that there is a contradiction, but God is not subject to Reason, or Love, or Justice, or Truth. God is somehow above these things and cannot be limited by them.

 

This is terrible theology. No serious theologian of any faith remotely associated with God would make a claim this stupid.

 

But, you say, you’re blowing this out of proportion. So what if this idea is catching on, it’s not like it’s going to destroy civilization or anything. Which seems like a fair point…except that history actually demonstrates what happens when this idea is prevalent. You see this philosophical battle actually happened before around 1100 in the Islamic Empire. You had two main factions at the time the Mu’tazilite Sunni’s who believed, like Plato, that God was bound by concepts as Reason and Justice, because God was those things; and opposing them you had Ash’arites Sunni’s who believe that God was all powerful and thus could not be bound by concepts of Reason and Justice, because God was beyond those things (just like the idiot who made these slides). Long story short, had the Mu’tazilites won, Islam would have become a civilization of reason, scientific development, capitalism likely eventually…but regrettably the Ash’arites won. And it’s a strange thing when God is not bound by Reason or Justice or Truth, because if he is not those things, those things cease to be relevant to a society. A society that is run by a God whose only claim to rule is might makes right strangely tends to create governments where laws are unimportant and might makes right. A society that worships a God that is not bound by Reason doesn’t value Reason as it serves no purpose in reaching the ultimate goal of life…thus society stagnates as science, medicine, technology all become vain pursuits with no purpose. The idea proposed by these slides is actually the bane of all civilization….don’t believe me, then look at what it did to the Islamic world which is still in many ways stuck in the 6th century.

 

But then comes my favorite part of trying to justify this bullshit.

idiot theology 6

Okay let me pick up a Bible. If they’re correct there should be some very clear passages in the Bible that God cannot be bound by anything and cannot be compared to anything (thus making reason about God impossible) as you see several times in the Koran. There isn’t. But you know what there is in the Bible. The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, which actually says that the idea of the Logos , which states that God is Reason/Love/Justice/Truth and that Reason/Love/Justice/Truth in a very subtle way when it begins with

 

“In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.”–John Chapter 1, Verse 1

John1_1-5

Okay yeah, really bad translators have badly translated the Logos as “the Word,” which while literally correct, misses the philosophic idea packed into that particular word. But even if you want to try and say “well they didn’t mean Logos in that sense” your case falls apart because of the clearly self-reflexive nature of the line which goes to prove that this is the self-reflexive Platonic ideal of the Logos.

 

So whoever put this together might want to actually read the Bible, not just in translation, but go back and find out what it meant in the original language. I know that’s so hard, small minded bigoted theology that requires me not to use reason is so much easier…and it will eventually lead to a justification for blowing up people in the name of my God, so win-win for idiots…lose-lose for actual civilization.

 

Please Christians, you don’t have to accept my particular New Age version of God if reason doesn’t lead you to those conclusion…but don’t think idiocy like this is in any way a legitimate understanding of God.

 

 

*Don’t get me wrong, Plato made a lot of mistakes, but this isn’t one of them.

**You really can’t because the word for God and Zeus is sometimes the exact same word in Ancient Greek.

***I’ll fully admit that I have no way of justifying any of this without the idea of Reincarnation—if there was just one life, you would have a hard time making this as a serious argument. Lucky for me science is beginning to show reincarnation is a fact.

 

 

 

 

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Heaven is for Real…but this movie won’t even begin to convince you of that fact

Heavenreal

 

Shallow. Unmoving. Poor support of the point it was trying to make. Oh let me tell you how much I just loved Heaven is for Real.

 

In a world where there are thousands of Near Death Experiences where people who have been blind from birth can tell you what color the doctors in the OR were wearing while they had flat lined, where people come back with messages from dead loved ones with information that they could have no way of knowing beforehand, or where the person having the NDE goes completely brain dead so there is no way their brain could have just been hallucinating…we bring you a movie about a kid who never actually died and came back with information that any skeptic could tear holes in. Oh, then the movie just sucked on any standard of film making as well.

 

Let’s first deal with how bad the movie is.

 

The film follows a family, the Burpos, as they deal with the fact that their son nearly died and claims to have gone to Heaven. They deal with their own crises of faith and with being somewhat shunned by the community as others deal with their own crises of faith.

 

Well first off there are the numerous financial and personal problems the family in this film had to deal with (beside the kid almost dying). None of them get resolved

The entire film seems to be about everyone, the family, the parish, the community having a hard time accepting the concept of life after death—this does little more than to portray most Christians as shallow people who cling to the church out of fear, which I personally don’t think applies to all Christians, yeah we’ve all met some people like that…but it’s everybody in this film. It’s a little bizarre that this is what is being hyped as a faith based film given that it shows most church going folk to be hypocrites when you just scratch the surface. Yeah, real inspiring.
Also I felt that the writers didn’t even recognize their own hypocrisy in the final sermon in the film (which I’m guessing was supposed to offer some kind of catharsis, though I didn’t get any) among other things chided people for pride…even though it came from a guy who throughout much of the movie refused help from a friend even though he’s $20,000+ in debt and there was no resolution to this (except maybe the paycheck they got from writing the book but I’m trying not to confuse the movie with reality).

 

But the real problem is that none of it is all that moving. From the actors I recognized I have seen them all give better performances, and none of the crises of faith I see anyone go through in this film ever seems to fully make sense to me (I don’t get how all these people who are so active in a church can all be so full of doubts and disbelief…I understand individuals having a crisis of faith, I don’t understand a seemingly entire congregation becoming hostile to what should seemingly confirm their beliefs). No single character’s story ever seems to be dealt with in detail in the film and it just is all half-assed through the run time.

 

Oh and there’s some girl in Lithuania painting pictures…I never really got the point of this and could ponder for eons what possessed the director to put this random and pointless part in.

 

Now a lot of this could be due to the fact that as an NDE goes, this kid’s story isn’t what I’d call ironclad. He never died, his story isn’t particularly consistent, and none of the information he gives is beyond all doubt that he never heard it from other people. I believe in NDE’s the soul actually does touch the afterlife and see Heaven…but I also happen to know from research that there are cases that leave no logical explanation other than a person’s soul actually did leave their body and touch the other side. There is no such certainty here. I’m not saying the kid didn’t experience exactly what he describes (or at least as well as the movie relays it) but there are so many logical ways one could also be skeptical that the movie is only going to affect people who already believe (and in my case, not even that).  I actually am a little annoyed as you can only get so many movies with a theme like this made and distrusted to a general audience…and if you really want to get people to believe in the truth that there is an afterlife, I would not put a movie with such weak backing.  Also I’m just a tad annoyed that one of the most important facts about NDE’s: that everyone goes to Heaven, Christians, Jews, Pagans, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, everyone (because God doesn’t care about that sort of thing) seemed to get lost in a lot of talk of Jesus (I have no problem with Jesus or what he taught, but this film veered a little too much to the you only get into Heaven through Christianity bend for my tastes given that serious research into NDE’s shows exactly the opposite).

 

I have not read the book, and this movie certainly doesn’t convince me I should.
If you want a good movie that is actually moving about the life after death go watch Hereafter. If you want good well researched material about proof of life after this one I would suggest starting with Life before Life–Children’s Memories of Previous Lives or Evidence of the Afterlife.

 

 

Final Grade D-

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Movies that show the rich as good #2: Meet Joe Black

“Should I be afraid?”
“Not a man like you.”

Meet Joe Black is a great movie for several reasons. A powerful love story. An insightful look at what life is about. And oddly enough a story about a businessman making sure his life work remains great. (Also the only time in history the IRS was even tangentially heroic…and not, you know, worthy of the treatment at the end of Braveheart).

Meet Joe BlackNow some might think that the story about the businessman trying to keep hold of his business when he knows for certain he will die in the immediate future is really a secondary plot line—that the love story of Death (Joe Black) and Susan is far more important than Anthony Hopkins business tales. And people who edit movies for TV and in-flight movies would agree with those people. However the director Martin Brest thought that it so ruined the movie that he got the Director’s Guild to agree that his name could be removed from the cut without the business story line—the Director’s Guild receives hundreds, some years, thousands of requests to have directors names removed because the director was unhappy with the result…virtually all of them are denied.* So that this was granted tells you that this plot line involving Hopkins’ character of Bill Parish is absolutely important.

Why? Or as Death puts it:

Joe Black: Bill, why at this juncture are you letting yourself be so concerned by business matters?
William Parrish: I don’t want anybody buying up my life’s work! Turning it into something it wasn’t meant to be. A man wants to leave something behind. And he wants it left behind the way he made it. He wants it to be run the way he ran it, with a sense of honor, of dedication, of truth. Okay?

Because this film shows us that life isn’t just about love. It is about life. The big and the small things (like peanut butter). And this movie shows the depth of love, not just romantic love, but the love of parents and children, of friendship, of siblings, and of life itself. Love is one of those massively important things…but so is accomplishment. In fact, if you look at the needs of people’s accomplishments, achievements, the attainment of goals is, according to psychologist Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, is the next thing we need to achieve in our quest for Happiness.

Now the liberals out there are probably rolling their eyes when they hear attainment of goals or achievement, as theyMeet Joe Black Dance think that you attain goals you must do so by taking from others. They see a world of static wealth and prosperity, where if I am to be successful another must fail, where if I am to be wealthy another must be poor, where if I am to be happy another must be miserable. Which is why they must tear down the strong, the successful, the happy, because in their warped mind those people are taking strength, success and happiness from others. Reality tends to be quite different. Whereas historically most economic and political systems have done the liberal thing and only shifted money and resources around, or at best created wealth at an astoundingly slow rate…capitalism literally creates wealth where it did not exist before. It takes work, ideas, creativity, individual and cooperation, risk, and planning to create wealth…but capitalism is the only system that can sustain long term innovation to create wealth out of what was previously worthless. Wealth thus has no limit, so long as there is liberty and drive to keep creating it. It parallels the other thing we seek for constantly in life: love. Just because I love my spouse doesn’t mean I have to love my parents, my siblings, or my children, or my friends less…they may all be different kinds of love, but an increase in one does not diminish the others. And the movie is quite clear; we need love in our lives:

Bill Parish: Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I’m not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this.

To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.

But again back to the Maslow’s hierarchy, life isn’t complete with just love, we also need accomplishment. And the character of Bill Parish certainly has accomplished as the founder and chairman and CEO of a multinational media empire. As he discusses his business he states:

Meet Joe Black ConfrontationSee, I started in this business because this is what I wanted to do. I knew I wasn’t going to write the great American novel, but I also knew there was more to life than buying something for a dollar and selling it for two. I’d hoped to create something, something which could be held to the highest standards. And what I realized was I wanted to give the news to the world, and I wanted to give it unvarnished. The more we all know about each other, the greater the chance we will survive.

Sure, I want to make a profit. You can’t exist without one. But John Bontecou is all profit. Now if we give him license to absorb Parrish Communications, and he has his eye on a few others after us, in order to reach the world you will have to go through John Bontecou. And not only will you have to pay him to do this, far more important, you’ll have to agree with him.

He veers almost into the territory of an Atlas Shrugged hero there…Yes I love making money, but I love making my creation more and you could offer me all the money in the world to scrap what I have built and I would throw it in your face. He is a man of morals which are more important than just money. Which is something else that correct philosophers from Aristotle to Maslow understood, while there are charlatans that can make money, they often can’t keep it going and can’t create. Yeah there are terrible businessmen out there, but the majority of the rich, from the so called Robber Barons to Mitt Romney the rich who come to their money through work and achievement are among the most generous people in the world (Please see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks for further proof).

And it is this mixture of accomplishment and love and morality that makes the character of Bill Parish so admirable that even Death views him as someone to learn from.

The man from whose lips fall “rapture” and “passion” and “obsession”? All those admonitions about being “deliriously happy, that there is no sense in living your life without” all the sparks and energy you give off, the rosy advice you dispense in round pear shaped tones. […]It requires competence wisdom and experience, all those things they say about you in testimonials. And you’re the one.

And as we see through the course of the movie as he cares for his family and their happiness more than his business, and the achievements he has made more than just buying another day or two of his life, why when right before Death takes him he asks, “Should I be afraid?” The obvious reply to someone who has built and accomplished and loved the only answer can be, “Not a man like you.” Bill Parish stands out as a man who has excelled in every aspect of his life…and it’s amazing that Hollywood would show such a character as being.

Meet Joe Black Death

*If you ever see a movie directed by Alan Smithee, there is no Alan Smithee. That’s the name the Director’s Guild puts on films they allow the real director to distance themselves from. Producers or a studio have to ruin beyond the telling of it a director’s film before this is ever granted.

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The Importance of Religious Pluralism in the Journey of the Soul

Not sure why, but I’m seeing an upsurge in the frequency of people becoming more hostile about their religion being right and everyone else being wrong (and even for the people who aren’t making a big deal out of it, there is a certain ‘my religion is better than your religion’ arrogance in lots of groups, and it just feels like its getting worse).  And I’m not just talking about the psycho-fringe here (or I’m really underestimating the size of said “fringe”).  I always find this a puzzling concept.  Sure there are a few really insane beliefs out there–mostly the ones that dictate ‘my way or else I’ll kill you!’–but for the most part, most religions all have the same core values and differ only in forms, names, and rituals.  And quibbling over these relatively minor issues is pointless. First off most of these people who want to scream for their own religion and no others seem politically motivated (I’ve seen all sides engage in this religious idiocy) given that it only alienates people away from your political causes.  Further, reason doesn’t hold this up?   I mean, do you seriously believe that God, a being of supposed infinite love, compassion, understanding and wisdom, cares about what ritual you use to get closer to him, rather than if you actually get closer to him or not?

And it’s not just implicit in reason, recent scientific research into reincarnation and near-death experience also demonstrate this. Scientific studies have shown that reincarnation is a fact and that you change from religion to religion based on your life—if that’s the case it can’t be that God loves one religion and hates all others.  Similar studies have also shown that during near death experiences everybody goes to heaven, doesn’t matter what their religion is…it’s almost as if God doesn’t give a shit what name you call him by.

potala palace lhasa

The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet…it seemed like a place both remote and spiritual enough to serve as the starting place for the soul.

So does this mean that all religions are worthless?  That there is just God and his children and it doesn’t matter what you believe…not exactly.   Now, with that knowledge of near death experiences and reincarnation studies, it seems to be that the majority of religions are correct, that life is a series of rebirths, a progression of lessons and stages of learning all leading to Enlightenment…but that still doesn’t invalidate the idea that you should follow the religion you feel called to. If the soul is on a journey toward Enlightenment, let’s think of it as a journey.   For the sake of metaphor let’s say all souls start out standing in the Potala Palace in Lhasa.  High in the Himalayas, disconnected from the rest of the world.  And you know you have to get somewhere (Enlightenment) you have had it roughly described to you, but you don’t quite know where you are going or exactly how to get there.

How you get there would be comparable to the mode of transportation you take.  Some ways like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, New Age belief and modern Paganism might be equivalent to walking, taking a bike, a boat, a car or a plane*, other religions maybe more like trying a unicycle with a flat tire, spinning in a circle believing you will magically teleport, digging through the center of the earth using a rusty spoon or launching yourself into orbit using high explosives and hoping you land in the right place. ** While in the minority there are religions that are all but useless in all cases…however most religions are more dependent on where you are in your journey. In this example if one religion is equivalent to riding in a car and you’ve hit the Pacific Ocean, it may have gotten you to this point but you need a different mode of transportation (a different belief system) to advance on the next stage of your journey.

Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona

Now for the sake of argument in this travel metaphor let’s say that Enlightenment exists at the Devil’s Bridge in Northern Arizona (chosen for the fact that it is beautiful, and the irony was just too good to pass up).

Now to get from our stating place in Tibet and ending place in Arizona there is no way a single mode of transportation is going to cut it the whole way.  You are at best going to have to walk part of the way, either take a boat or plane part of the way, and probably have to travel in some other forms of transportation for part of the journey.

The Journey of the Soul Metaphor

If only the journey of the soul was this short a distance.

Let’s add to the fact that you’re not always sure where you’re headed.  Granted as long as you’re moving you may be getting closer, or at least have a better chance to learn where the right place is as opposed to the stupidity of staying still, but that still doesn’t always mean you’re moving in the right direction (as some religions that could be used to progress can be misused to put you further away from God…Westboro come to mind).

You could use this metaphor for a lot of things, and show it flawed in numerous other ways.  I just want to show that even on a journey you may use different modes of transportation, as different religions may serve different souls on their journey to Enlightenment.

And my overall point here is that reason tells you God is too perfect a being to care what name you call him by or what rituals you go through to honor him, it’s silly to think that one religion is the right one and all others are false.  Yes there are some blindingly stupid beliefs out there, and there may be beliefs that are wrong for you in your life (take a car when you’re on the ocean) but just because your religious beliefs work for you don’t assume they would work for everyone. The most you can do is ask if you find that your beliefs are leading you to God (if they are, bully for you) and if someone else’s beliefs could never in any way, shape, or form lead a person to God (a religion that calls for stoning people in the 21st century for instance) and oppose those vile beliefs will all your heart and soul.

So even if you aren’t decrying that your religion is better than all others, it might also be best to not always believe that (I know some will think I’m only critiquing Christians here, but really this my religion is better than your religion arrogance can be found in almost every religion)…your beliefs may be exactly what you personally need in your journey right now, but don’t believe that your beliefs will work for everyone at every time.

sedona rainbow

you can never have too many random pictures of Sedona

*Try not to match those up, the religions are in more or less chronological order and the modes of transportation are more or less random.

** I may or may not have had Scientology, Atheism, Keynesianism (it denies basic reality so much and requires so much be taken on faith it’s pretty much a cult) come to mind here…oh and I can’t think what religion I had in mind when I mentioned strapping high explosives to yourself…certainly not a religion of peace.  Not everyone following those beliefs is stuck at a stand still, it’s just highly, highly unlikely they’re going to be making a major push forward in that life.  And this is the balance to an acceptance of other beliefs, admitting that there are some really dumb beliefs out there.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Thou art God

 

 

So, for some reason (I think fear) I’m seeing a rise in the religiously zealous (and I meant that in the most insulting form of zealotry).  I am seeing far more people claim such preposterous things such as “True humility is inspired by a knowledge that we are less than God, and will always remain so.”  Yeah some psycho wack-job felt the need to tell me that.  First off this is just stupid because true humility comes from acknowledging not only your strengths and potential but that of everyone around you, it recognizes that you are not necessarily better than others, but that you are worthy of pride, hence the phrase “Don’t be so humble, you’re not that great.”  To just say that you are inferior isn’t humility, it’s self-loathing.

 

Second of all is this idiotic concept that we are less than God.  Why would a perfect being create anything that wasn’t perfect?  Why would a being of love create something only to worship it?  Why would an all knowing being create something that could only sin and make mistakes?  Unlike some people, I don’t believe God is stupid or psychotic, nor does he bear any of the personality disorders we see in people.  God would have no reason to create something inferior to himself. Just because we’re caught in the bad dream that is this world, doesn’t mean that in reality we are inferior to our creator.  If we were, God would be the worst parent in existence because it would mean he intentionally wanted his children to be inferior to him.  A true/good parent only loves and wishes the best for their children and only want to be loved and respected back from their children.  Only a sick person would want worship from anyone.

Creation of Adam

To believe you are inferior to God means you believe he couldn’t or wouldn’t create something perfect…which kind of violates the very concept of God.

“You have not only been fully created, but have also been created perfect.” –A Course in Miracles, Text, Chapter 2, I:1:3

 

You, your soul, are a creation of God, it is perfect, and it is divine. There are only three belief systems that fully deny this divinity. Atheism, Islam (except for the Sufi’s), and close-minded Christianity which doesn’t know how to properly read their own book.  (And remind me of all the problems those belief systems cause?)

 

Don’t believe me?

 

Let’s look at some of the texts throughout the world.

 

“An eternal part of Myself [God], manifesting as a living soul in the world of being”  Bhagavad Gita 15:7

“It is God, and God alone, who has encased Himself as the soul in the many human beings He has created.”—Paramahansa Yogananda, God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita

Lesson 35 from the Workbook for Student of A Course in Miracles

My mind is part of God’s.  I am very holy.

 

Even the Buddhists who are agnostic as to the nature of the soul and God, and believe that every living thing has a soul, still recognize the special place the human soul has in creation as the most perfect opportunity to reach enlightenment.

 

Imagine a wide ocean with a golden yoke adrift upon it. In the depths of ocean swims a single blind turtle, who surfaces for air once every hundred years. How rare would it be for the turtle to surface with its head through the hole in the yoke? The Buddha said that attaining a precious human rebirth is rarer than that.—The Dalai Lama The Way to Freedom 

 

And of course the central line in the Bible that shows this point:

 

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him” Gen 1:27 (New American Bible)

 

Did you think this was in reference to your physical appearance?  That God is a biped that looks like a highly evolved chimp?  No it’s in reference to your soul, that the soul of a human being is something divine and perfect.  (Even more so for Christians for whom Christ, who is the image of God, (2 Corinthians 4:4) thus connecting the image of God which has already been connected to all humans, but to Christ, and what made Christ special).

 

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.  Every sane religion is based on the idea that the human soul is divine, every religious belief that is at the heart of suffering and misery denies this basic truth.

 

We are made in the image of God, we are a part of God, and we are divine.  We just have forgotten that.

 

Why do I bring this all up as this week’s mediation?

 

Because it is falling for this lie of the ego that we are inferior, that we are not good enough, that nothing we can do will ever be good enough, that more than anything keeps people held back.  It is a belief that engenders self-loathing, because if you are imperfect what possible reason could there be for God in his perfection to love you, and if God can’t, who can?   It is a belief that engenders fear, because if you are not divine then you have no control over your life and your free will amounts to nothing. It is a belief that engenders hatred, defeat, hopelessness and everything that is not God.  And if you think that I’m taking these little ideas to an illogical extreme, remember that your ego wants you to take them to an illogical extreme because when you realize you are God and not your ego, you ego will cease to be and you will at once be one with God.  And your ego will fight violently to protect the illusion of its existence.

 

I bring it up, as I have brought it up in various other forms, because the belief that you can with God’s help and the help of beings who are already enlightened (the true meaning of “No one can come to the Father except through me” isn’t a call that everyone should be a Christian, it’s statement that only through enlightenment—Christ-consciousness as some would call it—does one become one with God again) once again regain the self-knowledge of your divinity and return you to your place of perfection as the Son of God.

 

So for this week every chance you have, remind yourself that you are the Son of God.  You are perfect.  You are divine.

 

Or you can pull from this list of mantras from A Course in Miracles:

God is in everything I see because God is in my mind

My mind is a part of God’s.  I am very holy

My holiness blesses the world.

My holiness is my salvation.

God is my Source.  I cannot see apart from Him.

I am the light of the world.

Love created me like itself.

I am entitled to miracles.

I am as God created me.

I am one Self, united with my Creator.

Our Deepest Fear

Yes, theoretically this could give rise to arrogance and pompousness…but you know what, I’m not seeing that as being the biggest problem in the world right now. Let’s deal with the problem at hand.

 

But if you really feel yourself drifting to the arrogance repeat this one from the Course:

 

Forgiveness is the function of the light of the world.  Let me not forget my function.

 

That should bring you back to balance.

 

Who are you?  What do you believe in?

Every symbol on here is a belief in the divinity of the soul.  It is silly to think they’re all wrong.

 

 

 

Do you grok?

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BiWeekly Meditation–Looking for the Win-Win Solution

“[Adam] Smith noted that in all transactions, both parties come out better for it.”–Republicans And Reincarnation 

Weekly Meditation: The Sixth Chakra.


Okay, first let me say that I’m switching to bi weekly mediations.  I’ve been doing this for two year and (taking the few weeks I skipped) that’s about 100 meditations, (That’s a lot of meditations) if you need something to focus on to center your mind, it’s not like they have a shelf life and go bad after two weeks.  So rather than keep coming up with stuff every week, I’m going to switch to doing these every other week.

And I think that works out best for everyone, it allows me to take more time to plan these, and you more time to get something out of every meditations.

It’s a win-win.  Which happens to be the theme of this meditation.

As many of my more loyal readers know, I am a huge fan of capitalism.  And besides the fact that it’s the only system that works and is sustainable, there are all the ethical reasons I support capitalism.  One of them is that capitalism is the only system that allows for a win-win scenario. Every honest transaction in capitalism benefits both the seller and the buyer–you both get something you want and you both make your lives better for it.  It’s why this system is the only one that creates prosperity, creates wealth, creates ideas and innovation, and creates a better society.  It’s a system where no one has to lose.  Every other system there HAS TO BE a loser, with liberty and true capitalism the only losers are the ones who don’t engage in the system of free exchange and try to be the most virtuous person they can.  It is the system that models the growth of our souls to enlightenment, everyone can get there, but it is only by choice, work and will power they will.*

But one of the reasons I think so many people are opposed to it is because they are stuck in a win-lose mind set.  They think that every situation has to have a winner and a loser.  If you’re doing better I’m doing worse.  In reality this isn’t so.  With the exception of the artificial nature of sports, life doesn’t have to be about winners and losers.  If one company does well it doesn’t mean its competition must fail, it only means that its competition must adapt, possibly by improving their product, possibly by going in a new direction…and the consumer benefits from both (Microsoft AND Apple seem to be doing well, as well as they myriad of companies that benefit because they do well and the chain of thought goes on and on). Just because you get a promotion doesn’t mean I lost, I now have further opportunities to shine, and I don’t have to feel pressured by the comparison (or a thousand other ways to look at it…a lot of situations come down to how we choose to interpret them and react to them.  If you look at most situations as opportunities, you will seldom find a loss).

But let’s be honest, since there are people with the win-lose attitude instead of the win-win attitude, it does spill into our lives whether we want it or not.  So we have to show people that there are win-win solutions where we can find them.  We have to look for them, we have to propose them to those around us, and we have to convince people.  But the first part of this is that we have to look for them.  So I would recommend either in the evening to spend ten to twenty minutes reviewing all the situations you had during the day that devolved into win-lose situations (or the morning to look back on the previous day).  Look for the ways that they could have been win-win solutions for all involved.  Run it through your mind for to see if there were multiple ways it could have been a win-win.  And do this not with guilt or self-recrimination.  You’re looking at this to get you mind in the habit of looking for win-win opportunities, not to chide yourself for not seeing them at the time they occurred.  The only way you’re going to be being to see them as they occur is if your review previous encounters and see what other possibilities were open that you did not see at the time. And, like so many of these meditations, isn’t something you’re not going to pick up immediately.  It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured, refined, and practiced before you get really good at it.

Now, I do need to point out that just because you can see the win-win solution it does not mean you can convince others.  I remember a time I tried to help someone with a project at work and they incredibly behind on.  This person at first attacked me because they saw my attempt to help them get through the project faster as an insult and responded rather angrily with comments like “I said I’ll get it done and I’ll get it done” (even though they were past the deadline) and then told me “if you want to do this all, fine, I would rather be doing something else.”  This person saw only the win-lose, either they did all the work, or I did all the work, only one person gets free time (yes this had bled into working on the weekend).  It became clear that the win-win of if we both do this we’d both get out of here quickly wasn’t open to this person.  So I shut down my computer, went home, and finished the project later that night when the portion I was waiting on was finished.  If it’s going to be win-lose, I have no intention of being the loser.  And it is at this point that you need to understand if someone makes it clear that there is only a win-lose situation, you should not act like a martyr and think that you should be the one to lose.  Like the Constitution, spiritual enlightenment, is not a suicide pact.  If it’s going to be win-lose, and you’re tried to make an attempt to show any win-win opportunities you can think of, if it is the other person choosing the losing philosophy don’t let yourself be harmed by it.

 

So for the next two weeks look for the win-win opportunities and see you can reduce the stress and increase the moments of peace (and maybe even enlightenment) in your life.

*Okay there might be divine grace in there too, but that has no parallel in any economic system…unless we want to get into voluntary charity, which again is a liberty/capitalism thing.

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Movies for Conservatives: Les Miserables

Les Miserables Posters

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men.  It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.”

Les Mis a movie for conservatives?

Yeah.

But let’s first talk about the qualities of the movie apart from political or philosophical points.

The High Points

This is the play in all its glory.  And the play is a truncated version of one of the most moving books ever written.  All the passion, all the empathy there.  You will cry for Fantine.  For Eponine.  For Gavrouche.  For the revolutionary Friends of the ABC.  For Javert. And of course for Valjean.  Bring tissues this is movie that you will cry at, a lot.

And this movie has a few truly wonderful scenes that supply motivation that was missing in the play.  For instance it has Javert arrive on the same day that Fantine is dismissed from her job, which gives a reason for Valjean not taking a more serious interest in her case.

The movie also supplies little moments from the book that were never in the play, like Grantaire standing by Enjolras at the moment of execution.

I think director Tom Hooper created something truly genius with the live singing way this movie was made…however it appears in the early scenes that there was certainly a learning curve involved in using this technique (I wish this wasn’t the first movie to do it so Hooper could have had something to reference).  But for any inconsistency it brings up at some moments, it adds deeply to the rest of the film and emotional impact of the songs.

Les Mis HathawayAnne Hathaway deserves an Oscar.

And Russell Crowe’s singing was a pleasant surprise.  He added more humanity to Javert than any actor I have previously seen.

The Low Points.

I feel there was a lot that got left on the editing room floor. At 2 hours and 37 minutes this was pushing it for most movies nowadays and I’m pretty sure if all the little things that were taken out were put back in it would be well over 3 hours.  And since Hollywood has no intention of returning to the idea of an intermission (to me this makes no sense as most of the money comes from concessions and if there is a break at an hour and a half we would be more willing to buy soda since we wouldn’t have to worry about running out to the rest room and we would buy food at the halfway mark as we would be hungrier by that point…but at least it seems that way, real data I’m not privy to might show otherwise) they were probably forced to make some heavy cuts to the movie.  This creates some odd pacing issues, where certain parts feel a little rushed.

Also, and it may be a personal issue that others may not have a problem with, I was not overly impressed by Jackman’s singing. It wasn’t bad, but I’m used to a deeper more sonorous voice for Valjean.

On the technical points, the movie is one of the best of the year, the acting and visual work was spectacular. The editing needs work (or at least a director’s cut DVD…please.) and the directing while exceptional still could have been just a little better (I think the high cost of production may have prevented doing reshoots that other films might have done)…Hooper gets an A not A+.

The Political/Philosophical Points

Did you know this was Ayn Rand’s favorite book?  It was.  Kind of puts any thoughts that Les Mis is liberal out of the “obviously” category doesn’t it.

Okay let’s look at some of the points. On their own merits.

“I am the master of hundreds of workers, they all look to me.  Can I abandon them, how will they live if I am not free. I speak I am condemned, if I stay silent, I am damned.”

Jean Valjean is a convict, yes. But while that’s all that Javert sees, we’re supposed to see more.  We’re supposed to see the successful businessman who not only created a whole industry in a town, bringing it out of poverty and into an economic renaissance, but who also out of Christian charity (not guilt, it should be noted that if you read the book Valjean is motivated by a desire to be a better person, not by guilt about his prior actions) creates hospitals and schools for the poor.  In a day and age when lesser writers like Dickens would just recycle the terrible image of the robber baron, Hugo gave us a noble businessman as an example of what others should be. It should also be noted that in a very Atlas Shrugged kind of way, Hugo has no illusions that once Valjean is forced to run the industry and the town is not able to survive in its thriving state without Valjean’s leadership. The book to a great degree, with touches still in the movie, shows that prosperity is driven by captains of industry.

“Take my hand I’ll lead you to salvation.  Take my love, for love is everlasting.  And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.”

Further it should be noted what a deeply religious story this story is.  It is God and the Bishop of Digne, not government that redeems Valjean.  God and faith permeate all levels of this story.  Faith ironically is what drives both Valjean and Javert.  And it never condemns any form of faith, showing that all those fallen (except sadly Javert, whom I’m sure Hugo would have placed there) together in heaven.

The novel, the play, and now the movie praise faith.  It’s a rarity these days in serious well produced films.  And given the desperate need for spirituality in our modern world, something like this must be embraced.

“Let us die facing our foe […] Let others rise to take our place until the Earth is FREE!”

And dare we forget that much of the second half of the story is taken up by an uprising by Republican revolutionaries, seeking a return to law and not the capricious whims of a king.

“But, but, but” some liberals will complain.  The book is about helping the poor, and how unjust the criminal justice system is.  Those are liberal issues. And what they fail to realize is that these are different times and different issues.  The poor in 19th century France were starving (a problem with accuracy is that even the slums of France look too pretty in this movie…honestly we wouldn’t have felt comfortable actually watching what the “The Miserable” of 19th century France looked like…it wasn’t quite Nazi Concentration Camp, but certainly not as pretty as this film depicts it), the poor in 21st century America are suffering an obesity epidemic.  Hugo critiqued those who were lazy and those who felt entitled.  Poverty of the kind Hugo witnessed in France was what he wanted us to feel empathy for, modern poverty would not likely bring as much empathy from Victor.  And he would be horrified by the lack of the churches and religion in the government welfare that modern liberals champion.  And don’t even get me started on the fact that you can’t compare the legal system that punished Valjean for 20 years and hounded him for life for stealing a loaf of bread to our modern system…yes we have problems, but we have the kind of problems Hugo would have only dreamed of.

“Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free.”

Of course for me one of the most revealing passages in Les Miserable is when Hugo takes a moment to critique communism.

(It should be noted the terms Socialism and Communism at the time do not have the same meaning now…what he calls Communism would be more in line with modern European Socialism…the term Capitalism was first used in 1854, 8 years before Hugo published Les Miserables—it took him nearly 20 years to write—and its usage as a economic system did not begin until Marx used it in 1867, 5 years after Les Miserables was published.  So he could never expect to hear him use the term capitalism even thought that seems to be what he’s calling for.   He certainly did not have the term cronyism which describes the economics of 19th century France better than anything.  So pay attention to the systems and practices he is referring to, not the titles, as he had no access to the title we currently use.)

“The reader will not be surprised if, for various reasons, we do not here treat in a thorough manner, from the theoretical point of view, the questions raised by socialism. We confine ourselves to indicating them.

All the problems that the socialists proposed to themselves, cosmogonic visions, reverie and mysticism being cast aside, can be reduced to two principal problems.

First problem: To produce wealth.

Second problem: To share it.

The first problem contains the question of work.

The second contains the question of salary.

In the first problem the employment of forces is in question.

In the second, the distribution of enjoyment.

From the proper employment of forces results public power.

From a good distribution of enjoyments results individual happiness.

By a good distribution, not an equal but an equitable distribution must be understood.  The highest equality is equity.

From these two things combined, the public power without, individual happiness within, results social prosperity.

Social prosperity means the manhappy, the citizen free, the nation great.

England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth admirably, she divides it badly. This solution which is complete on one side only leads her fatally to two extremes: monstrous opulence, monstrous wretchedness. All enjoyments for some, all privations for the rest, that is to say, for the people; privilege, exception, monopoly, feudalism, born from toil itself. A false and dangerous situation, which sates public power or private misery, which sets the roots of the State in the sufferings of the individual. A badly constituted grandeur in which are combined all the material elements and into which no moral element enters.

Communism and agrarian law think that they solve the second problem. They are mistaken. Their division kills production. Equal partition abolishes emulation; and consequently labor.

It is a partition made by the butcher, which kills that which it divides.

It is therefore impossible to pause over these pretended solutions. Slaying wealth is not the same thing as dividing it.

The two problems require to be solved together, to be well solved. The two problems must be combined and made but one.

[…]

Solve the two problems, encourage the wealthy, and protect the poor, suppress misery, put an end to the unjust farming out of the feeble by the strong, put a bridle on the iniquitous jealousy of the man who is making his way against the man who has reached the goal, adjust, mathematically and fraternally, salary to labor, mingle gratuitous and compulsory education with the growth of childhood, and make of science the base of manliness, develop minds while keeping arms busy, be at one and the same time a powerful people and a family of happy men, render property democratic, not by abolishing it, but by making it universal, so that every citizen, without exception, may be a proprietor, an easier matter than is generally supposed; in two words, learn how to produce wealth and how to distribute it, and you will have at once moral and material greatness; and you will be worthy to call yourself France.”

[Emphasis added]

You will notice he is proposing such things as universal education, due process of law, and property rights.  He condemns any attempt for everyone to have their fair and equal share and envying the wealthy.  He proposes that people be paid just wages for their work (which was an issue then, not so much now). He proposes to make every man his own master, that everyone may earn wealth.  I can’t speak with certainty what political path Hugo would take in the modern world, but I can be fairly certain that if a modern day liberal went back to see him, Hugo would try to slap the stupid out of the Occupy trash.  I can also be mildly sure that Hugo might encourage the building of a few barricades against some of the government overreaches of the modern world.

All in all, the story is one of the value of liberty, of the individual, of redemption through works and of God.  Those are conservative themes if I ever heard them.

“Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night

It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the Earth there is a flame that never dies,

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

We will live again in Freedom in the garden of the Lord.

We will walk behind the plowshares.  We will put away the sword.

The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?  Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums?

It is the future that we bring when tomorrow comes!”

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The Weekly Meditation: Setting Goals For the New Year

So the new year is upon us.  I don’t know about you but 2012 is not going down as the best year in my life…and I wish it will go down as the worst year of my life (but I feel certain tyrants will put the next four in the running).

That aside, let’s look to the new year.

About now is when people start thinking about making New Year’s Resolutions.  This is usually a mistake that turns into a miserable failure.  Usually, I think, for two reasons. The first is that people make these grand resolutions and then when they don’t get done in the first couple of week people just give up. The second problem, I think because people tend to focus on only one aspect, thinking that improving one thing about themselves is all they need to worry about, when in reality were a multifaceted beings, and each part is connected to all other parts.  To just work on one small thing without adjusting all the parts to work in harmony will often fail.

 

So I’m going to propose for this week is in three parts the first is to meditate on areas of your life where you can improve for each of the seven chakras (to save space I’m not going to go over what each is unless someone asks).  If seven goals seems like too much, I might look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (which is deeply connected to the chakras) and look for 5 things you can improve on–look for 5 ways you can meet the 5 different categories of needs*.  The goal should be looking for multiple ways to make yourself a better person, a person you want to be, a person who is closer to God–way that in terms of habits, your physical nature, your emotions, your thoughts and beliefs are all better.

 

Chakra

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

 

After you have your goals in mind, goals that look to you as a whole person, I would recommend taking time to break that goal into 4-10 steps.

Write these goals and these steps out…post them in your house, they’re going to be your friends for the whole year. Bare minimum that’s 20 intermediate goals.  You will see progress on that no matter what if you put even a modicum of effort into this, which means there will be less chance of giving up due to not seeing results.

Finally, if this part doesn’t take all week at the end of the week (and probably at least once a week for the whole year) you should sit and envision yourself at the end of the having met every goal.  See the person who you have become and believe that it will be a fact.  Even if you don’t believe in the Law of Attraction and that thought creates reality, the psychological fact is that this will help reinforce your habits and desire to meet your goal.

Now matter what this will help you in your path of self improvement, which is what life is supposed to be about because that’s what leads to Happiness.

 

 

 

 

* Yes I know it’s a hierarchy and one should meet certain needs before others…but the fact of the matter even if we’re meeting needs most of us probably have a flaw or two in how we’re meeting them and can improve (we’re only human after all)…and by improving the foundation it makes meeting other needs easier.  Also by look to needs we haven’t met we can help provide ourselves the needed motivation to get past problems that involve us meeting our current needs.

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Why I’m A Conservative and A New Ager

[I had a request to turn a comment I made on a previous blog into a blog of it’s own…so if this seems repetitive…that’s why…]

Recently a commenter left the following post:

I was really hoping to find a softer side of Conservatism here. I can’t seem to find that wherever I look. I also can’t understand how you can call yourself a New Ager and harbor so much anger? Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right… New Age = Love

It’s not hypocritical at all, and I’m sorry you feel that way.

New Age belief does not encourage or require that I turn off my brain or reason…and reason has a way of getting outraged when confronted with policies and actions that hurt others–you see it in the actions of Christ whipping the money changers, of Krishna telling Arjuna to slaughter his unjust relatives, in Lao Tzu talking about war needing to be conducted with the aim of peace, and in the actions and words of numerous other saints and enlightened beings in religions all over the world.

Yes New Age belief does believe in unqualified love of the soul…but not of the actions of the ego which hurts that soul. Those actions and the ideas that create them must be challenged both in ones own soul, one’s mind, and outside in the physical worlds. I cannot love the soul, and support the left which hinders the growth of the soul. And I cannot say obsequious appearance of concern for someone in the transitory moment is love, even thought the left tries to say it is. Love is caring for the true nature of the person, which is the soul and the soul’s journey to enlightenment.

May I ask you what you would consider “the softer side of Conservatism?” because is seems like all that term means is “a conservative who is willing to give in on any and every point, sacrifice any value, and capitulate on any policy just so liberals like you can be happy.”

If you’re repeating the liberal line about social conservatism, you’ll find none of that here. Social conservatism is simply liberal desire to control others by another name. As for my unwavering defense of capitalism and liberty, which parallel the New Age belief in free will, my support of charity over welfare, which parallel’s the New Age belief in spiritual growth…any moving from these points (other than in terms of practical compromise) to appear “softer” is to give into the manifestations of the ego in the physical world. I can’t be true to my beliefs in the New Age and not support them, defend them, and advocate for them. Yes I’m a little overzealous, (if you’re a New Ager you know it’s a habit of Indigoes to be passionate in the extreme)…but is there anything wrong in zeal for what is right and true?

Love is not opposed to reason, love and reason go hand in hand

But I would like to challenge your comment of “Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right…”
New Age belief believes in the free will. To support the leftist belief in government over the individual, entitlement over personal charity, control over choice…that would be hypocritical to support.
New Age belief believes that life is spiritual journey of learning. To support the left’s call for over-regulation that seeks to keep people from making mistakes takes away the ability to learn…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age believes that every soul must make it to enlightenment on its own…thus the left’s call to force equality holds back individuals, and thus retards the day when all will make it to enlightenment…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age belief believes in the quality of life, not the quantity…the left’s concern with income redistribution and entitlements of physical things places the focus on life on the wrong thing…that would be hypocritical of me to support.

In fact on every central tenet of New Age belief I can think of, New Age belief matched up with conservative economics and conservative foreign policy.

Almost every point of the left in economic and foreign policy is opposed the principles of New Age belief. And every belief of the left on social policy takes the correct idea to an illogical extreme. (I disagree with the social conservatism…but if you actually read a bit of my blog you would see that there are more than enough articles opposing that).

Is the right perfect. Nope. But it supports the individual. It supports choice and freedom and liberty. It supports my ability to grown and learn and develop. These are the bedrock principles of New Age belief as I understand them.

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Weekly Meditation: Sharing and increasing your energy

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek […] to be loved, as to love.For it is in giving that we receive.”–excerpt from the Prayer of St. Francis

For the last two weeks during the weekly meditation we have looked at cutting the etheric bonds that drain us of energy and restoring our energy by taping into the source of all love and energy, God.

However, taping into God isn’t as effective a source of energy as you think it might be.  Yes he’s giving infinite love and energy…but while God would fill you with infinite energy…you are not willing to accept infinite energy.  How do I know you’re not…if you were really open to it, you would be filled with it and you’d have reached Enlightenment. I have the feeling that most Enlightened beings are not reading the blog of someone who is still trying to figure out everything for himself…no insult to my readers intended, but I think we’re all still working on ourselves, and we probably have a ways to go.

So how do we increase the amount of energy we will let ourselves take in?

In a somewhat ironic way, by giving our energy away.

The energy of the soul is an odd thing. When it is taken from you by another person it leaves you feeling drained and depressed…but when it is given freely that’s a very different story.

When you willingly and joyfully give energy to another person out of compassion and love it doesn’t drain you at all but does increase the other person’s.  In fact intentionally recognizing the connection that we share with all souls helps boost your own energy.

Now theoretically you could send energy and love to every soul on the planet. And again this is what Enlightened souls try to do.  However this takes balance of mind and soul which most of us haven’t quite mastered yet…and if the balance isn’t right and the intention isn’t pure, it can quickly devolve into the draining of energy.  So for this week’s meditation let’s focus on only one or two people.

Now you’re probably already sending energy to the people you love at a subconscious level…but for the purposes of this mediation let’s try to make this a conscious meditation.  Think about the person you care about most in the world and just as you cut cords that were draining you before attach a cord to this person and envision the energy flowing from you to them…(if you’re still a little worried about your energy being drained, first connect yourself to God, and then see yourself as a channel of that love from God to you to the person you care about). Just as with the previous weeks, I promise you will feel refreshed and more energetic and positive by doing this.

Now if the person you care about also does these meditations, it allows for a particularly positive meditation.  If you both meditate at the same time and both keep channeling and receiving energy from the other you will find it has the effect of a feedback loop.  As the energy goes back and forth it grows more and more powerful with almost no effort on your part.

Now if you feel very comfortable you may also want to extend your cords out to two or three people…but only do what you’re comfortable.

 

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Movies that show rich as good #8 The Family Man

“We have a house in Jersey. We have two kids, Annie and Josh. Annie’s not much of a violin player, but she tries real hard. She’s a little precocious, but that’s only because she says what’s on her mind. And when she smiles… And Josh, he has your eyes. He doesn’t say much, but we know he’s smart. He’s always got his eyes open, he’s always watching us. Sometimes you can look at him and you just know he’s learning something new. It’s like witnessing a miracle. The house is a mess but it’s ours. After 122 more payments, it’s going to be ours. And you, you’re a non-profit lawyer. That’s right, you’re completely non-profit, but that doesn’t seem to bother you. And we’re in love. After 13 years of marriage we’re still unbelievably in love. You won’t even let me touch you until I’ve said it. I sing to you. Not all the time, but definitely on special occasions. We’ve dealt with our share of surprises and made a lot of sacrifices but we’ve stayed together. You see, you’re a better person than I am. And it made me a better person to be around you. I don’t know, maybe it was just all a dream. Maybe I went to bed one lonely night in December and I imagined it all. But I swear, nothing has ever felt more real. And if you get on that plane right now, it’ll disappear forever. I know we could both go on with our lives and we’d both be fine, but I’ve seen what we could be like together. And I choose us.”

 

As we continue our discussion of movies that show the rich in a positive light we come to one I’ve already covered as a Christmas film…The Family Man.  I’ve said a great deal about this movie already.

 

Most of the movie is our central character Jack Campbell, played by Nicholas Cage, as he adjusts from wealth to middle class living, from single life to be the family man.  But one has to remember this movie starts and ends with him being wealthy, really wealthy…Penthouse in a New York high-rise, President of a major brokerage firm, sports car….the whole nine yards of wealth.  And he earned every penny of it starting at the bottom and making something of himself.

 

And besides working his employees hard (which is the idea of Wall Street investment firms, work REALLY hard for 10-15 years and retire rich) there is not a single complaint you could make about this man or his ethics.

 

In fact Campbell gets into the whole situation when he risks his life to save the lives of others in a corner store from an apparent hold up (it was a bit more complicated, the least of which being that the guy with the gun was actually an angel of some kind (?)testing people’s ethics…this part was never really explained…) so the whole movie occurs because the guy in the upper half of the top 1% is shown to be a much better person with more character than a couple of working stiffs in the movie who fail the angel’s tests.   (This actually is even a more rare concept to show that the rich can be noble and the poor without character in the same film, it’s amazing this movie was ever made.)

 

Now I can already see the objection “but the movie shows he is a better person in his middle class life without all his money.”  No…and it’s no for a couple of reasons.  The first is that he is hardly poor in his other life, he runs a small business (and is clearly going to inherit said small business), his wife is a lawyer who also works (trust me even a lawyer who clearly works for a firm that takes pro-bono cases is probably making more than the median level of income…and doing that kind of law is what you do when you don’t have to really worry about money).  Their kids want for nothing (ballet, violin lessons, etc.).  The reason they don’t have every extravagance in life is because they have kids, and kids are very expensive and you will give every dime of disposable income you have to raising kids if you can, not because they don’t have money.

 

The more important point is that his life is not better because it has less money, it’s better because he has a wife he loves and who loves him and has children whom he loves.  That’s what makes his life better.  We all want money, but we’d be an idiot’s idiot if we consciously chose money over a loving relationship and a wonderful family.  Money just helps it get better (as both I and others have shown money is necessary for happiness).

Yes there are things better than money, but the story of Jack Campbell shows that having money does not make you in any way, shape or form villainous or not worthy of respect.  It is what you do that matters, not how much you make.

 

 

Honorable Mention

It could happen to you.  Another great Nicholas Cage film (as anyone who watches film knows, Cage films come in two categories and only two, very entertaining and why-the-hell-did-they-make-this-shit?)

 

I didn’t include this movie in the official list, because honestly 2 million dollars (split two ways) isn’t rich, it’s well off…it’s a safety net not a license to retire.  Despite what Cage’s crazy wife thought in the film, it was not the kind of money that allows you to enter the upper echelons of society (even in the early ‘90’s when the film was made).  But that’s what makes Cage and Fonda’s characters so admirable, they knew that they still had to work; they knew that money wasn’t the answer to all things, and they knew that money could yield more happiness via philanthropy than through just buying things they didn’t need.  So while they aren’t a true depiction of Hollywood showing the reality that the rich are like everyone else, with their good and their bad, it does show that money is not the all corrupting thing most liberals think it is.

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Weekly Meditation: Dispelling Negativity

So I’m going to assume regular readers of this blog pay attention to both the political and spiritual side of things.  And if you pay attention to the political then you may have noticed that this election cycle is a little bloodier than usual (or at least it seems to be to me).  And I don’t mean between the candidates, I mean between their supporters.  The fact of the matter is that if you have acquaintances on the other side of the isle, there is probably some pretty bad blood stirring right now.  (I say acquaintances and not friends, because friends can say things you disagree 110% with and you’ll still love them as friends, when acquaintances say stupid batshit crazy things you probably have the urge to slap the stupidity out of them.)  Every day we’re surrounded by idiots and, sadly, the odds of a pandemic that strikes only stupid people seem rather low.

 

So really the best advice for dealing with people who infuriate you is nothing original:  Try to avoid them.  Overly unhappy, negative and stupid people are black holes of unlucky accidents and disastrous outcomes (the Law of Attraction works both ways and those people who want to dwell on the negative bring misfortune and sorrow to themselves).  Avoid them.  Delete them from Facebook.  Don’t sit with them in the breakroom at lunch.  Avoid having conversations with them—politely if possible, but bluntly tell them you have more important things to do if necessary.

 

But avoiding the unhappy and unlucky isn’t so much a meditation as it is just a habit of positive living.  The mediation comes in with realizing that people have not only contact with you on the physical plane but also the spiritual ones.

 

There are variations of this idea in numerous belief systems, but New Agers believe that we have numerous bands of energy connecting us both to God, our guardian angels and spirit guides, and all the people around us.  In a healthy relationship between two people these cords function as a source of energy for both people, each one giving and receiving energy like a circuit that operates off alternating current…and in the healthiest relationship this positive force of spiritual energy develops a feedback constantly increasing the amount of energy.

 

However there are a lot of these etheric cords that are not so positive.  A lot of times we will develop relationships where we draw energy from others, without giving it back, or we have it taken from us.  Neither of these are healthy and both in the long run leads to our souls being disconnected from others in any meaningful way and thus drained.*

 

We form these cords that take energy when we feel like being negative to the point that we must spread our negativity.  When we bitch to our co-workers in such a way not to commiserate but to make ourselves and our problems the center of attention.  When we demand a shoulder to lean on, but don’t reciprocate when our friends need it.   When we act with an urge that if I must suffer so should you.  And if we are not careful we are the victim to these actions when others act in this way, forming psychic bonds that continue to drain us long after the event itself is over.

So this week I want you to start thinking about these cords.
This week we will start cutting the cords we don’t need; the cords where others are draining us of energy and the cords where we are draining others of energy.

 

Sitting quietly in lotus position (or as close as you can get) this will be easiest if you envision yourself in a black room alone by yourself.  Now envision the cords that connect you to everyone you know.  If you need to envision a specific point on your body that these cords are tied to, see them as being tied around your spinal column (the line of energy that connects your chakras).

 

Then seeing them you may notice that some are brighter than others and some darker.  It is these darker ones we need to get rid of.  You can cut them yourself in your mind but I think this is one of those times when it is helpful to call on God or an angel or ascended master.  For a job like this of dispelling and removing negativity I would recommend the Archangel Michael or the goddess Kali.

 

Let us start with the cords with which you’re draining others of energy (it would be hypocritical to cut others off before you stop draining others).

Say or think:

Archangel Michael (or whoever you feel comfortable calling on) I ask for your help in cutting all etheric cords where I am draining others of energy, what I did was out of thoughtless habit and not out of desire to hurt.  As we cut these cords please send my apologies to those whom I have taken energy from.  If they are open to it please connect this cord back to the source that is God** that they may replenish anything I have taken from them. 

 

Now take a moment to feel what it is like to have these cords off of you.  (Even though it was taking energy you should feel a little clearer and calmer…like the difference between energy from rest and energy from caffeine.)

 

Now time to cut the remaining negative cords.  Say or think.

Archangel Michael, I ask for your help in cutting all etheric cords that are draining me of energy.  As each one is cut please help send my forgiveness to anyone who felt they needed to take energy from me.  Please connect these cords back to their source that is God that I may be replenished and filled with the divine love that is always open to me. 

 

And again take a moment to feel the difference.  Hopefully you do.

 

Repeat this every day, not because the cords will come back on their own, but because we and other people have gotten into the habit of forming them.  Try to use each day’s events to help you learn what (and who) is causing them to form and if you can cut even as they form.

 

 

*I know this is making the soul sound like a battery, which is not my intent, but our thoughts and feeling do create changes which affect our souls and these changes can best be described with the metaphor of a battery and electricity.  When we are happy, full of love and positive it is as we are charged with lots of energy…and when we are depressed, fearful and negative it is as if our battery is empty.  Unlike electricity there is no limit to how much we can hold, and our own thoughts can generate it out of nothing by mere choice (or we can tap into the infinite reserve that is God) but habit of being in this world makes us act in a more give and take way, treating it as a limited resource that must be taken from or given to others rather than creating it within ourselves.

**One of the few things angels can’t do is violate our free will…which is often why we don’t get their help.  We forget to ask and give them permission to help and thus they can’t do much to help us.

 

 

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Weekly Meditation: Everyday advice…

I ran through several drafts of meditations (which I’m sure I’ll come back to at some point) but this week I decided rather than reading some quote I pulled out you should look to yourself.

Now there are certain quotes I pull out more than others (The deepest fear one comes to mind) because it really resonates with me and what I feel I’m supposed to be learning in this life.  But just because it resonates with what I’m supposed to learn doesn’t mean it is exactly what you’re supposed to learn.

This week I would recommend you go through your favorite books, movies and songs and what not and pull out the quotes and quips and words of wisdom that resonate with you.

Really look for them.  Write them down.

Look at them.  Ask yourself what do they mean? What do they mean to you?  Does it makes sense? Do you notice any patterns? Are you following that advice?

Your soul knows more about what you need than your conscious mind does, and it is the little quotes and lines that we are attracted to that are often our soul trying to hit us over the head, desperately trying to get our conscious mind’s attention.  So this week listen, and see where it takes you.

…and feel free to share your favorites below…

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Romney: The Man of Near Infinite Empathy and Compassion

Mitt does not like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point.–Ann Romney

So the continuing attacks on Romney are just getting more and more egregious.

In the last few days I’ve seen Romney called a fanatic and shameful for actually saying America should be defended and respected…and I’m apparently a fanatic for defending this belief as well. But then again apparently any defense of Romney is my “salivating” over him without using any intelligent thought. (This while the left ignores all of Obama’s flaws and slobbers over him.)

But apparently to some of those who support government any defense of the free market or American Exceptionalism is fanaticism and a call for genocide. Back here in reality it’s a defense of virtue, facts, and what works.

So just to annoy them, and I would recommend all my readers do the same in their personal lives (just for fun), let’s point out the numerous qualities that make Romney the kind of person I want to vote for.

Now I prefer intelligence and common sense in my candidates, but there seems to be a large call for a candidate with empathy. Now everyone but a sociopath* has empathy but some exude and act on it better than others***. Mitt Romney is apparently not one of these people who exudes a “I feel your pain” feeling on camera (I can however tell you from personal experience that he’s very charismatic and likable when you’re ten feet from him, but again that shouldn’t necessarily be a reason to vote for him). However, since liberals are hitting him as being a cold and vicious heathen for not exuding this empathetic claptrap on TV let’s look at his actual behavior to determine if this is a man who acts with charity and compassion to others.

This is the man who would give a struggling family $250,000 because he heard they needed help. 

This is the man who has saved a drowning family.

This is the man who shut down his company, possibly loosing thousands if not millions in the process, so that he could direct his company’s full attention on finding and saving the daughter of a friend

This is a man who gives millions in charity, giving more than what is tax deductible

A man who is so uninterested in money he gives up his salary as governor (about half a million over 4 years) and who took no salary for the work he did to save the Olympics.

A man who takes time to comfort the sick and needy, to care for those who feel they are in darkness and who need help.


And there are EVEN MORE STORIES HERE…
You know what, you can say a lot about Romney? You can say that, “Oh he has money, he can afford to be that generous”…true…but what about the people the left defends endlessly like tax evader Warren Buffett***. The fact is that he has earned his money and then does what few of us ever have the chance to do, and what few of those who have the chance ever actually do, use it to gain happiness by helping others. I guess you could claim that ALL these people are lying, but that would be fairly petty. You can claim that compassion and empathy and charity aren’t everything…I would agree, but do you really want to have an argument about intelligence and policy when your candidate is Obama?

But you can’t claim that Romney is not a man of extreme empathy, extreme compassion, and extreme charity.

Any attack on this man’s character is just silly.

*I could name some politicians, but I’ll be polite.
**I believe the word for exuding empathy is charlatan.
***If you bring up Romney’s tax returns, you’re an idiot. There is not a single iota of evidence to suggest Romney has cheated on his taxes or hid money. It is a fact on the other hand that Buffet and half the cabinet are avoiding paying their taxes.

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Weekly Meditation: Take another moment to think about your friends

“A true friend is one soul in two bodies”–Aristotle

One of the biggest problems with the ego in its continuing battle to keep you from reaching enlightenment is that it separates you from others.  It works to make us see the flaws in others and drive them away, or makes us look at those we like as special or extraordinary (as opposed to the truth that we are all holy and all capable of anything).

Now I know that second part about seeing everyone as perfect can be hard.  It’s hard enough seeing yourself as a part of the divine and completely perfect, let alone that dimwitted troll who spouts nonsense and is utterly impervious to reason.  It’s difficult and sometimes the saintly thinking of the parables of Jesus or Buddha or words of A Course in Miracles might be beyond us at this or that moment.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t move in the right direction.

So for this week I want you to take 10 to 15 minutes every day and run through the list of everyone you know, everyone you encounter, every person you pass and know who they are and wish them the best, pray for them, send them as much light and energy as you can.

Start with your loved ones, family and closest friends.  Move onto good friends and acquaintances.  Co-workers.  People you knew in college but haven’t talked to.  The barista whom you recognize but don’t know her name.  Keep expanding it further and further out.  Wish everyone the best, send them love and compassion in your mind.  Make as much of a mental and psychic connection as you can with them.  See the divine in them.

As you run through this list you’ll run across people you can’t immediately feel good towards.  The violent uncle.  The useless coworker.  The idiot client.  Don’t dwell.  Just skip them.  Yes if you can bring yourself to see the divine in them and love that, great…but better to move on than force a feeling you don’t actually believe in at this moment.

As you do this many of the barriers we put up around each other and around others will fall and you’ll probably find that you’re able to see the divine in more people at the end of the week than you did at the beginning.  And as you do this you will hopefully begin to see how your soul is connected to the souls of others. 

Remember that applies to everyone else as well.

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