Category Archives: New Age

A sane look at abortion…

For years now there has been something that bothers me about the abortion argument.

I tend to view it as a symptom of a larger problem caused by the entitlement culture devaluing life, its meaning, getting rid of virtue based ethics, offering incentives for short term thinking.  Abortion isn’t the problem it’s the government spending and rules that encourage it that are.  So I find the near obsession with abortion to be a distraction from the real cause.  But what’s worse is that in the desperation to win, the religious wing of the Republican Party to whom I tend to refer to as Progressives for Jesus are giving progressives every bit of ammunition they need to further wreck society.

 

Did we forget we’re conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

I have noticed for the last few years a disturbing trend—and that trend is the biggest problem I have with these progressives for Jesus, they have given in to the leftist materialism.

Here is the problem with the modern anti-abortion movement: they hold as gospel truth the idea that life begins at conception.  They maintain this because somehow just because a sperm cell and egg cell join together then you have a full genetic code and the modern anti-abortion movement is based on this idea that if you have a full genetic code then you’re a human being.  Thus every single embryo frozen in fertility clinics is a human being—I’m sorry but this is certainly one of the dumbest, and certainly in the running for the dumbest, idea I have ever heard.  A human being is something far more than just a genetic code.   But the modern abortion movement in its desperation to oppose all abortion and prove that abortion at any time, for any reason, under any circumstance, for any purpose, in any place, by any person, in any manner, way, shape or form is evil has given into the leftist materialism.  They hold that human life is nothing but genetics.  That it is our genetics that make us special.  That the complexity of genes somehow puts us above all other forms of life.  You know that .1% that sets us off from a chimp can’t be the source of our uniqueness in the universe.  (Nor can even the 30% of our DNA we don’t share with the sea sponge).    I’m sorry this is wrong, this is as wrong as wrong can be.  What makes a human life have value has nothing, not a single thing, to do with DNA.   It has to do with having a soul; the human soul is what makes a human being have value…so unless you can PROVE that the human soul enters the embryo at conception then you have no case that human life begins at conception.  None.

Now an intelligent person realizes that a human is more than just an animal with a certain genetic code, no, what makes humans humans and not just mere animals is our souls.  When the soul is present in the body of a homo sapien you have a human being, when it leaves you have a corpse…before the soul takes up residence, you have something that could become human, but is still lacking the single most important quality of human existence.
Okay, so if it’s the presence of the soul, when does the soul take residence?  Well if you read the Bible it seems to associate the soul with breath, so that might suggest the soul takes up residence only upon birth…but we’re not really going to deal with Judeo-Christian beliefs, we’re New Agers, we try for more.
Now in most studies of life-after-death and reincarnation, which I think it’s safe to say, the idea that there is more than a single body surrounding your body but several “etheric” shells that are each shed  through the process of death (see the Tibetan Book of the Dead for a more complete discussion) but conversely these bodies take time to form.  And from what little science can glean from life-after-death and reincarnation studies (see Life After Death by Chopra and Evidence of the Afterlife by Long) and tradition (see God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Yogananda) the soul is not directly tied to the body until well into the third trimester, sometimes not taking full residence up until birth itself.  (This does however vary).  However, as any New Ager is likely to believe evidence from respected mediums, it appears that the souls attached to fetuses that may be aborted know what they’re getting into and bear no ill will if the fetus is aborted (see Talking to Heaven by Van Praagh).
Thus the best way to describe the soul’s relationship to the body before birth is  at best a lease with an option to buy, with a not so hidden clause in the lease where the owner may terminate the lease and the house if they so choose.   So in this respect it is not murder and certainly in favor of abortion.

So from my New Ager perspective it’s pretty clear the soul does not enter the body until the third trimester…but Progressive for Jesus will not even entertain what I consider evidence so it’s really not relevant to this conversation.  You could argue that it’s still living cells but that doesn’t work because if you remove my kidney for a transplant it’s still a living clump of cells, but it does not have rights in and of itself because the soul is not directly attached to the kidney.

 

cute baby

This is a human being. Not because of genetics. Not because of its brain. But because of its soul.

 

Now why have social conservative done this?  They didn’t use to hold this line.  But I think they got tired of having to argue a spiritual point with people who aren’t very spiritual…and you can’t really prove when the soul enters the body (at least not from a traditional Judeo-Christian viewpoint)…and then there is that problem that as far as I remember the Bible only ever associates the soul with breath (as was the common metaphor in the ancient world), which kind of has that problem of suggesting the soul only enters upon birth.  Of course that would at least suggest a far more logical God than the idiot that the modern abortion movement implies—an idiot who despite infinite prescient knowledge will stick a soul into a frozen embryo that could sit there for years (think of that soul’s existence, that’s about as close to Hell as you could possibly get if God is really that dumb). I refuse to believe in an idiot God.  God does not follow arbitrary rules for the sake of following reason, because to do so would mean that God does not believe in reason.  And if that is the case, then God is not God.

But instead they chose to go with a simple scientific argument and completely ignore the soul.  You can get people in the middle with a purely scientific argument.  You can get them to more than agree to ban 2nd trimester abortions and put even more regulations on first trimester abortions if you’re just making the argument that life begins at conception because of genetics.

Yeah, they could prove that the soul is there before hand if you turned to modern science and studies on life after death and reincarnation, or just to modern psychology which shows that children learn even in the womb…but none of that evidence goes back to conception, and remember that the unwavering goal of social conservatism is that ALL abortion must be outlawed. THERE MUST BE NO EXCEPTION.

The goal is that all abortions will eventually be banned (as if you can stop black markets, but let’s ignore the economics for a moment*).  And all other points of policy, philosophy and goals are secondary to abortion when it comes to social conservatives.   Since social conservatives can only win with the genetic argument that life is nothing but a full genetic code and living cells, the soul and its importance gets left behind.
And this is where it gets dangerous.  What have we seen in history?  We have seen, time and time and time again that when the soul is not valued, that when religion or spirituality does not have a place in society, that when government and society say that human life is merely a pack of genes and a group of cells then you see the value of a human being fall apart.  Why?  Because genes are chemicals. They have no intrinsic value except what you can use them for, what you can get out of them.  They become merely a means to an end, and cease being the end in itself.  You see ethics fall aside and utilitarianism prevail. You see eugenics or transhumanism say these genes aren’t any good or aren’t good enough, let’s get rid of them and replace them with something we deem better (who deems what is good is only guided by utilitary value, because if human life had intrinsic value you’d never go down this road).  You see the argument of let’s get rid of these people because they are of no value and aren’t getting rid of themselves fast enough on their own.  You see this or that group is deemed inferior because they do not serve the utilitarian needs of those in power.  Let us sterilize and put them off to the side because we can get nothing from them…you see tyranny, fascism, communism.  The argument of that life is just being living cells, an argument detached from the soul, leads to a mind-set based in materialism.  I would be foolish to claim all atheists are unethical, but history has shown that when society embraces that kind of materialism that denies the soul (1930’s Germany, Russia, China) you get that kind of mass genocide, without exception.  You could say that religious people could never lead us down the path where the soul isn’t valued, but look to every time that religion has gone insane, it is always in the name of dogma and policy on Earth that leads to religious bloodbaths—it never comes from a side that believes that the soul, by virtue of being a human soul, has value.  The places that believe people are equal throughout history (from an early version of this ideal in the Hellenistic Era, to Poland not giving into Europe’s anti-Semitism, to the spread of religious liberties seen during parts of the Enlightenment, to America stating “that all men are created equal”**), when people value human life because of the soul (whether that’s the word they use or not) you see prosperity…when they don’t you see misery.  Without exception.

 

you are a soul

I love the picture and the quote, because it’s true… but C.S. Lewis probably did not say this .

It is the eagerness of Progressives for Jesus to win on this one little issue of abortion that affects a miniscule amount of society that is giving this kind of materialism the long range tools of philosophy to devalue all life.  They have given progressives the inroad to destroy the true value of human life. They devalue life with their argument and they perpetuate it…sure we don’t see a lot of it now (although caring more about body counts than liberty when it comes to foreign action, when a country doesn’t go into full on demands for heads to roll when some asks “what difference does it make” to the administration aiding and abetting murder, where people care only about their right to put poison into their body more than the need to fix the system…you could say we’re already seeing the devaluation of human life, but maybe I’m reading too much into that).    And to save lives they have given their enemies the greatest tool to destroy life. And I am seriously worried that in the desperation to win the abortion argument by giving up the religious based argument and going for gross materialism social conservatives are actually sowing the seeds for a worse blood bath than the one they believe they are stopping.  And all for bans on 2nd term abortions. What a bargain!
What profit social conservatives should they gain abortion but lose liberty?

Of course their support of a man who admires and wants to be a tyrant shows they don’t really care about liberty in the first place.
**Yes, none of these are perfect examples and you will always be able to point to people or groups or policies that contradict the value of the soul.  It’s because people and society are a mass of contradictions, but in the eras I list they were more dominated by valuing the soul than not.

*Now let’s deal with the economics
Then comes the economic facts.
Fact 1:  Making things illegal has never stopped the market; it only creates a black market.
What does this mean?  Well, aside from the extreme image of back alleys and clothes hangers (I think overdoses on birth control are more likely…not to mention that the upper middle class and rich can always get a D&C at their OBGYN, just as they did before Roe) it means you’ll still have abortions being performed by doctors.  Now I don’t think that, like with most black markets, you’ll see an increase in demand, but you will see an increase in supply.  Doctors who don’t do abortions now because they can always refer a patient to someone else will take a stand and start doing them so I doubt you’ll see any major decrease in numbers in abortions from accidental pregnancies (I’ll get to why I make this distinction in a minute)
Fact 2: Black Markets can’t be regulated and are open to more corruption.
Which do you think stops more abortions a 48 hour waiting period or making it a blackmarket under absolutely no regulation?  Having to see a sonogram of the fetus or going to a doctor’s office in the dead of night for a procedure that is done as quickly as is humanly possible?  Banning late-term abortions or making the whole thing a thriving underground industry?
An intelligent person knows that regulation is a greater killer of any industry as most people are willing to jump through preposterous legal hoops before they consider illegal means.   And I think most people are open to sane requirements like having to view a sonogram or having a waiting period or banning late-term abortions…whereas underground markets are a free for all.
Or how about banning gender selective abortions?…which apparently are going on in this country.  Now while I’m sure we can all agree that anyone who would abort a fetus because it was the wrong gender is too sick to be allowed to have a child of either gender, I’ll simply settle for making it illegal to even ask for one…maybe with heavy jail time involved.
But if you just outlaw abortion en masse, you won’t have any of those controls.
Fact 3: Enforcement costs on black markets are insane.
As we saw with Prohibition and with the war on drugs, enforcing rules against a black market are prohibitively expensive.  Prohibitively expensive.  Not to mention making it a federal law requires federal enforcement…like we need another government agency getting involved with our medical choices.  Then you have the costs of prosecution, which I promise you will have a remarkably low conviction rate, and probably the cost of suing states which rightly believe this is a state’s rights issue and legalize it.  (Yes that would be the one benefit to outlawing abortion at a federal level, liberals would finally believe in state’s rights and the limits of federal power.)
Fact 4: A good portion of abortions now are caused by subsidies.
And the final fact that most conservatives miss.  Right now an unhealthy portion of abortions (especially late-term abortions) are because there are extra welfare benefits to being pregnant…get more money for a few months, abort the fetus (on the taxpayer dime), and keep the money without the hassle of a kid.  We subsidize abortion.
Now the majority of abortions are women for whom their pregnancy is an unplanned accident, they have an abortion, and probably are more careful in the future and never have another abortion.  Bully for them.  Unfortunately about 20% of women who have abortions are having 3+ in a life time I don’t have the figures on this group, but I’ll lay even money that Uncle Sam is picking up most of the tab for that 20%.  Why?  Because there is no cost for this idiotic kind of behavior.  Because Uncle Sam subsidizes it.  And as any economic conservative knows when you subsidize a behavior you get more of it.
So what should we do?  Well, eliminate all taxpayer money going to abortions.  (And if I had my druthers I would also ban any welfare support on a second unplanned pregnancy.  The first time was a mistake and I’m willing to be generous…the second time it’s stupidity on the part of the mother.)  This would dry up the well very quickly for those who are abusing the system.

 

In short.  It is not ethical or possibly to ban abortion and anyone who cares about limiting the size and power of governemnt (which should be everyone) should stop trying to outlaw it and work more on creating a society where people don’t feel the need to do this (may I suggest economic growth through things like balanced budget and free trade).

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Filed under Conservative, Constitution, Economics, God, New Age, Uncategorized

Ten New Age Movies that Should be Made

Over at Elementary Politics I just completed a list of 10 films I think conservatives should make.  Now to balance out my beliefs, here are 10 films I think New Agers should make.   Why because, regrettably our ideas are not getting out there enough.  There is scientific proof that the afterlife exists (and not just for Christians but for everyone) and that reincarnation is a fact—evidence that it is our souls and our free will that dictate everything in our lives and that we are not the victims of fate or circumstance beyond our control…but so little of it gets out there.  There are the few good movies out there (What Dreams May Come, Dead Again, the early Shaymalan stuff) and there is some stuff that tries but fails at quality film making (The Celestine Prophecy comes to mind).  But there is so much out there that could be made that would help bring these ideas to public attention The MessengersT

he Messengers:  If you’re not familiar with this book you should go out and find a copy. The story of a man who through past life regression therapy finds out that he was Saul of Tarsus…better known as St. Paul.  And that he knew Jesus well before the road to Damascus.  As a film it has that thing Hollywood loves, parallel story lines (the modern story of the man finding out who he was and coming to terms with it, the ancient story of Jesus’ true teachings)—and both stories are compelling.  And while controversial (as if that never brings in box-office numbers) it tells a slightly more accurate story than most are familiar with. the_alchemist “What’s the world’s greatest lie?… It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.”

The Alchemist:  I will fully admit that previous attempts to bring Paulo Cohelo to the big screen have been less than spectacular (I actually enjoyed Veronica Decides To Die, but I realize that I’m one of the few people to actually see it and that if you hadn’t read the book it would have made little to no sense whatsoever).   But The Alchemist and its ideas that all of life has a purpose and is directed to that purpose whether you see it or not is a tale that should be brought to the screen. I’m not sure if it can be done without a healthy amount of voice over or narration to help the audience with some of the events and concepts (or at least quite a bit of exposition) but it can be done.

Waldo:  No not that one.  The short story by Robert Heinlein.  Not familiar with it?  Basically it’s The Secret if the secret were put into a futuristic sci-fi story.  Centered around a physically Waldodisabled, but mentally superior inventor named Waldo whose physical deformities mean that he has to live in the zero gravity environment or be just above a paraplegic. This handicap has caused him to be very estranged from others, living in space adds to it, and his extreme genius even further drives him apart from his fellow humans…and the jealousy, envy. And lack of empathy leads to Waldo becoming a misanthrope that puts Dr. Greg House to shame. But in amongst all of this, Waldo is presented with a problem that has to be fixed if the world economy is going to continue-the source for the world’s power seems to be failing. The answer Waldo discovers to this problem–that the science of the energy source is not the problem, but that thought creates reality, and it is the general misanthropy and cynicism/fear of the world that is causing the downturn/destruction block to infinite power. What follows is a recovery not just for the world but for Waldo himself. Quite frankly a story that puts the Law of Attraction in terms that most people understand is something that is desperately needed. Yes the name of the protagonist is going to have to be changed…we all know what you thought of when you saw the title, but aside from that this could be one of the most effective ways to bring the idea of the Law of Attraction to the general public.

Stranger in a Strange Land “Mike is our Prometheus — but that’s all. Mike keeps emphazing this. Thou art God, I am God, he is God — all that groks. Mike is a man like the rest of us. A superior man admittedly — a lesser man taught the things the Martians know, might have set himself up as a pipsqueak god. Mike is above that temptation. Prometheus… but that is all.”

Stranger in a Strange Land: Honestly how has this movie already not been made?  I realize that Hollywood has a terrible track record of actually appreciating Heinlein. But this is probably his most popular book. You would at least have thought the liberals of the 60’s would have done a poor job that showed they didn’t get anything out of it beyond the subtext of free love, but they didn’t (just as well, it would have been disappointing as that godawful Atlas Shrugged trilogy). But I still do not grok why it has never even been attempted. Am I the only one who can see Hugh Laurie playing the sharp tongued Jubal?

Portrait of Jennie: This was a great movie.  The story of true love separated by a fluke of Potrait of Jennietime and fate that the universe tries to atone for by ignoring the laws of time.  And it is actually one of those rare movies that was superior to the book.  So why does it need to be remade?  Two reasons.  The first is while it is a great movie with a New Age sensibility of time and destiny, and that love is a force that transcends all other limitations, it was a message that was not made particularly clear and only made sense to those who already understood what it was saying.  And I feel a very skilled writer could help make some of these ideas more accessible while not sacrificing any of the depth.  The second reason is that while Jennifer Jones does an Oscar worthy performance as Jennie         , the movie is actually about artist Eben Adams played by Joseph Cotton, an actor so inept, stiff and lifeless you’d think he walked out of an Ayn Rand novel*. It’s a testament to the power of the movie that it still shines when its lead actor who is in every scene is a man who makes Keanu Reeves look like Laurence Olivier.  I would love to see the power of the film with a competent actor at the helm of the narrative.

Lost HorizonLost Horizon: The story of Shangri-La, a mystical realm of peace and understanding hidden in the Himalayas.  Another great New Age tale that already has a film.  But the existing film has two problems.  One is that the early days of film had the problem that film decayed and Hollywood only discovered this part after many films had been lost. Lost Horizon is one of those films which could not be completely saved, as such there are several parts of the film that are missing. The second problem is that director Frank Capra decided that instead of just telling the story from a great book, he would insert his own political beliefs into the film.  This is bad enough, but the supreme irony is that his politics in this case is an argument for complete pacifism in a movie made one year before Hitler decided to acquire Polish real estate.  It doesn’t belong in the film in the first place, but in context it makes the rest of the film and its message look naive and foolish which it is not.

Just then Joshua (Jesus) stumbled through the gate and crashed into us. We were able to catch ourselves and him before anyone fell. The Messiah was holding the little girl’s bunny, hugging it to his cheek with the big back feet swinging free. He was gloriously drunk. “Know what?” Josh said. “I love bunnies. They toil not, neither do they bark. Henceforth and from now on, I decree that whenever something bad happens to me, there be bunnies around. So it shall be written. Go ahead Biff, write it down.”–Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore, the wedding in Canna scene

LambLamb the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal:  If you have not read this book you need to.  It is one of the most hilarious stories ever told.  The story of Christ’s life from someone who was actually there, Levi bar Levi, known to his friends as Biff.  Biff is Jesus’s (in the book called Josh**) devout friend and protector as they grow up together and then leave Judea so that Josh can learn to be the Messiah.  So, while searching out wise men in modern day Afghanistan, China and India, Josh learns the balance in Taoism, the serenity in Buddhism, and the wisdom of Hinduism…while Biff learns to blow things up with alchemy, martial arts, and the wisdom of the Kama Sutra.  The book is one of those rare works that can balance humor and grace.  And besides being so funny it needs a movie, it is a movie that shows that most of the world’s religions share more in common than they have separating them. Illusions Bach

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”

Illusions: while I prefer Bach’s novella Jonathan Livingston Seagull I seriously do not see any way to turn that into a movie.  Even with CGI it still won’t work. So history of a barnstorming Messiah and his handbook of advice for how to be Messiah is the second best option.

Autobiography of a Yogi:  I am not usually in favor of biopics.  They’re so incredibly hit and miss that they turn me off for the Autobiography of a Yogimost part, and the better ones are often the ones that play fast and loose with the facts and don’t let them get in the way of a good story.  That said, the life of Yogananda and his message of the unity of religions and God is one that I feel people should be more familiar with.

Life before Life: This is a book that I think offers a lot of room to work with for a film. Life after LifeObviously there would have to be a lot of composite characters, but you could do well with a tale of single research looking into one case after another of children who have memories of their past lives. If the more close minded are going to put out made up tripe like Heaven if for Real (honestly I believe in near death experiences but have no faith in that kid or his family’s story) then a movie with actual research into what happens in the afterlife is something that should be out there. Now certainly there are other stories that depict the principles we hold so near and dear, but I think these 10 would be an excellent place to start. *It’s no shock that he’s the star of the few screenplays Rand wrote in her brief Hollywood career. **It does correctly describe how the Aramaic name Yeshua become Jesus if you translate into Greek then English, but Joshua when you go straight from Aramaic to English.

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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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Weekly Meditation: Miracles

positive energy

I’ll be the first to admit, complain too much. I like to think of myself as pragmatist with a bend toward optimism, but too often I use this blog to complain about the way things are, and at most point out ways that could theoretically be better but seldom do I actually talk about more practical ways to make things better—and it could be argued that this is quite foolish of me.

 

Which is why meditation is so important to help focus us toward doing what it right, because it is right now because we win, and to help up see the small victories in our daily struggles and focus on those. To help in our goal to push us further to what I would call the New Age (you almost certainly have a different term).

 

I have to help to create more of the positive that is in the world and not just try to reduce the negative, even if it’s only in small ways. As such I think I will once again try to once week propose a meditation, thought experiment or action to perform that I will help me focus in my work to make the world a better place and I can all but guarantee, if you follow my suggestion, will not only make your own life happier and more positive, but because positive emotions and ideas are more contagious than the flu, will make the lives of everyone around you better. I promise.
I’m almost convinced one of the most important meditations I would suggest for anyone to think about for the coming week comes from the great spiritual text A Course in Miracles. A Course in Miracles is broken into three parts, the first the text which describes the true nature of the world, the relationship between God and his children, and the simple truth that there is only love in the universe, all else is illusion. The third part is a more in depth description of several deeper questions brought up in the text. But the relevant part of today’s discussion comes from the second part.

The second part of the Course is a selection of 365 daily meditations (you can guess how long it should take you to get through the whole sequence). And while they all are uplifting and peaceful when meditated upon (I personally find if I go over the whole sequence while doing a very long set of yoga exercises will eventually leave me crying tears of joy). But of all the lessons in the second part of the course, I often find Lesson 77 most comforting and uplifting.

Lesson 77

I am entitled to miracles.

 

I know your first reaction to this is “no I’m not”. I would refer you back to a quote I’m think I use a little too much, but only because it’s blatantly relevant.

 

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. “–Marianne Williamson

I am entitled to miracles.

No, really you are. The very nature of the universe is actually a place where you should get everything you want. Think about it. Can you actually imagine a God who doesn’t want you to be happy? At every level of reason the idea that God wants you to suffer is either illogical or requires a really perverse vision of God. The problem isn’t that the universe isn’t set to give you miracles–and I don’t mean trite waking up every day, a sunrise, friends kind of miracles, I mean full blown call out the Catholic Church to just try and disprove this kind—it’s that all too often we’re not looking for and expecting those miracles. Sure, when we expect to wake up in the morning and see friends that day as a miracle that we’re entitled to, we get it. But we don’t often feel that we are deserving of the love of our life, the new job, the dream home, the spiritual revelation…and low and behold we don’t get it.
Now I’m not going to say that meditating on this idea for 5 minutes a day is going to turn you into a millionaire by next week—your ego has built up centuries worth of walls to try and make you deny this fact, and it will likely take time to tear down those walls (but kudos to you if you can to it in a week)—but it will help stem the tide against your ego’s defenses and begin to put you, your life, and hopefully the world around you on a more upward path to spiritual enlightenment.

 

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Monthly Meditation: Learning to Focus

I realized that while in my previous meditation I have focused on some of the more spiritual sides of meditation in the past meditations I have suggested I have just glossed over some of the basics.

One of the most basic and pragmatic benefits to meditation is that it allows you to improve your concentrations skills. By focusing a few minutes everyday on one thing.  By focusing one thing–a mantra, an image, a flame–it allows us to not only focus our mind during the meditation, but to keep our mind focused on things well after our meditation is through.  It also allows for our subconscious mind to sift through the vast amount of information it’s been sorting through all day without having to worry about new information.  This has multiple positive effects on your psychical and mental health.

But sometimes it’s hard to find a mantra that we feel comfortable with (as word have that sneaky tendency to cause us to actually think about the meaning and what it means to us and who said it and and and…the questions and the answers can be the very opposite of the single focus you want in a meditation). The same can be said of focusing on a picture.  And finding time to light a candle can be equally problematic (especially some of the time we need to focus are at work or while standing in a line or various other places that starting a fire might be looked down upon).

So I find that one of the easiest things to focus on is abstract shapes.  There is little to worry about or analyze so they don’t have much deeper meaning and they’re easy to manipulate in your mind (spinning them, changing color or size) so that you can still be focused on them without giving into the boredom that often ruins a good meditation session for those just starting to meditate.

So what I suggest is to either focus on a three dimensional figure (a sphere, a cube, anything you want) and just focus on it from various angles or distances in your mind.

If you want something that might take a little more mental power.  Start with a point.  Focus on it for as long as you can.  If you feel your mind veering off stretch the point out into a line.  Rotate the line the line on any of the three axes for as long as you can.  When that gets dulls  stretch the line into the a square.  Again look at if from all angels.  And when your mind starts to wander again stretch the square into a cube.

tumblr_mteejvVdU31s9jjn1o1_400

 

And then after you’re done looking at the cube take back to down reversing the order.  From a cube to a square, from a square to a line, from a line to a point.

This will help keep your mind focused. It will offer new stimuli as you think about the object you’re focusing on, but still keep you mind on a single object.

Ten minutes a day at the beginning or end of your day (or more if you like) and you’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll be  able to get done in a day.

Incorporate it with a daily more spiritual meditation and you’ll find you’ll get the best of both worlds.

And if you feel that you can stay focused enough, you might want to turn that cube into a tesseract:

240px-Tesseract

 

 

 

Or you could a triangle up to a merkabah like this:
002

Or whatever this is if you’re feeling very focused and just a bit over eager:

tumblr_muyv98xNXT1r1t8a3o1_400

 

 

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Why I’m A New Ager

So the other day I was asked by a friend “what does a New Ager believe?”. And I gave my usual piss-poor answer of “It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s a mix of a lot different beliefs.” And while this is true, it’s still not a great answer. Not that other religions are easy to explain, they’re not, every religion is complex and difficult to understand…however, those other religions have these useful books or pre-vetted collections of belief or maybe one or two major beliefs. “What does a Buddhist believe?” You have an answer “The teachings of Buddha and reincarnation and the releasing of karma.” “What does a Christian believe?” “The teaching of Christ as reported in the New Testament, love and forgiveness for all.” Now different denominations have variations, but those variations can be summed up in a sentence or two.

I’ve tried explaining my beliefs before to people, but have often come up to immediate challenges. There have been a lot of challenges involved with this before I even answered: If I didn’t believe in the Christian God how did I explain the problem of evil? If you believed in a more active God than eastern traditions why didn’t God just wake us up from this nightmare that is reality? If I wasn’t a Christian how come I still talk about the father, son, and Holy Spirit? How can I believe in any of the things I do since it was all contradictory? As you can see I do not always run into friendly audiences. So, I realize that as very few are going to initially agree with this interpretation, but before you raise

Who are you?  What do you believe in?

objections, read the whole thing.

So here goes trying to describe my beliefs of what it is to be a New Ager (and I fully acknowledge that other New Agers out there may have different takes on this). Now if you know me I would say the most important distinction of religion is the acts of the its followers, but since in the broad strokes almost all religions advocate for the pretty much the same external actions (with only minimal differences–and I’m excluding the act of fanatics here)–thus the ethical differences between New Age belief and more traditional beliefs is probably not the most efficient way to distinguish New Age belief. So let me go to the more useful metaphysical relationship of God to Mankind.

The first is if you were a parent and your small child was having a nightmare so powerful that they couldn’t wake up, you have two options. Either (1) you can slap your screaming crying child to wake them up or (2) you can hold them, rock them, and speak to them soothingly hoping that your voice will lead them out of their nightmare. Now most parents will probably choose option 2. Option 1 might be faster, but it certainly isn’t all that humane.

The second thing I want you to consider is that in dreams time and identity doesn’t quite work in the traditional sense. I think it’s probably safe to say we’ve all had a dream that seemed to last for days, maybe even weeks, but our perception of time was only part of the dream. A dream that lasts ten minutes in the physical world seemed to drag on in our mind for days. Also we’ve probably all had a dream were there is more than just ourselves in the dream. Our dreams often have a quite large cast, but really all of those people in our dreams are nothing but images of us taking a different form. Some of us may even have had a dream where we perceive the actions of two characters in our dreams at once.

The third idea I would like you to hold in your mind is the Christian relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you live in the Western world you should be familiar with this relationship…and since I don’t think I have too many readers in Outer Mongolia I’m going to just assume you already know this idea.

Now with those three ideas in mind let me tell you a story. God created the Son. You know this story up to this point. But then the Son had this terrible idea…God might not love him. This is a preposterous idea because God is an infinite being contemplating and giving love. But where the Son should have laughed at such a strange idea, the Son instead fell into a deep sleep (or the equivalent on an infinite non material universal scale). Now in this nightmare that the Son slipped into a whole universe was created with the pieces of the this infinite consciousness of the Son splitting apart into billions of pieces. Just as we may perceive more than one role in our own dreams, the infinite mind of the Son was able to perceive from billions of perspectives. The problem was that this fear that God does not love us latched onto each and everyone of those pieces and formed what New Agers call the ego. The ego is an embodiment of that base fear that we are separated from God, and it is attached to each piece of the Son’s consciousness, what we call the soul. This world is nothing but a nightmare in the mind of the Son (kind of like the Hindu belief that this world is a dream of the Brahman).

Now many complain that a loving god would not allow his Son to experience such a nightmare. But remember, as I pointed out in my first idea, a loving parent doesn’t just smack their child until they wake up. They hold them and speak to them, hoping that voice will bring their child out of their nightmare. In this case that voice appears in this nightmare as what is common called the Holy Spirit. Further as I pointed out time can get awfully fuzzy in a nightmare–What appears as thousand of years here is barely a moment in the reality of true existence. From God’s perspective this nightmare lasted barely a moment in eternity.

At this point the I think most people will understand when I say each of these pieces of consciousness, i.e. humans, are trying to free themselves of their egos and fear and reach a level of Enlightenment a la Hinduism or Buddhism. Ideally, of course the ultimate goal is for everyone to shed their ego/fears and return to the level of being an awakened Son of God. This might engender a idea that we must think collectively and put our own well being second to the good of the whole and others as our goal cannot be reached until all beings reach enlightenment…but that’s actually a false line of logic, as you can’t help anyone else until you yourself reach enlightenment. As such New Age belief requires not only the follower to not give into fear (i.e. you absolutely can’t be a “God-fearing” person as other religions might ask of you) nor can you ascetically withdraw from the world and condemn all the world’s pleasures as sin because that is also giving into the ego’s false belief that sin exists. What you say, of course sin exists! Not really, if this world is only an illusion there can’t actually be anything that God condemns us for, because to God doesn’t admit this world exists, thus there is nothing to condemn and nothing for God to forgive. Yes there are terrible things that happen in this world, but it’s acts of violence against ourselves, or actually against illusions we have created, certainly not against God or God’s laws. But the ego uses your guilt to keep your soul tied to it. I could go on, but to cut this short (and give me future blogs to deal with) the New Age belief is that Enlightenment will only be achieved through the full expression of ourselves and realizing that we are the Son of God and have a infinite power and nothing to feel guilty about because God loves us and anything contrary to that though (fear, guilt, uncertainty) is what keeps us in this nightmare.

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Monthly Meditation: Pray that everyone reaches enlightenment

 

Enlightenment If you have to pray for something, pray that you and everyone you know reaches Enlightenment as quickly as possible.

Wish everyone the best. At all times in all circumstances. Wish them what is best for the development of those souls.

Every person you meet, without exception.

 

Yes I know this sounds overly simplistic, but it’s not.

 

This point came to me recently when my best friend applied for an internship on the other side of the country. An internship that could very well lead to a full time position. Now while I want the best for my friend, it’s just a little hard to pray that someone you care about moves away.  So at least at a surface level there appears to be a Contradiction. Hence my resolution that I will pray for what is best for her path toward Enlightenment.

 

By praying for this I do not face the contradiction of having to choose between praying for my friend’s happiness or her company.   I don’t have to feel guilty about the very human desire to want to spend time with those you care about. I don’t even have to worry about the outcome, or judge it as good or bad because I have prayed for the best of all possible ends for my friend and be comfortable in any outcome because I know enough to know that no matter what happens in the next day, week, year, or even lifetime I know that minor setbacks or victories can always be necessary steps toward ultimate bliss.

And as an added bonus it works as a prayer for people you dislike as much as ones you care for. If there is a truly terrible person in your life pray that they reach Enlightenment quickly as well. Think about it, if your assessment of a person is accurate and they are as terrible as you think then the only ways for them to reach Enlightenment is either they will experience some kind of spiritual revelation that will radically change their outlook and behavior…or what is far more likely for this kind of wretched person to get closer to Enlightenment is for karma to come calling to collect on all those terrible things they have done. Let the joy of the Schadenfreude wash over you for a second…and now realize you never wished them harm or discomfort, only Enlightenment…so none of the negativity that would come from wishing harm to another is attached to you, if harm befell them it’s their own damn fault for incurring that karma, you merely wished them to progress on their journey.  By focusing on the final end you don’t have to worry about the intermediary stops, and you never have to be worried about whether or not your prayers have been answered or not as you can merely assume that they are being answered and you just can’t see far enough down the road to see how the pieces fit together.

 

If you only pray for yourself and that for others what happens is in the best interest of everyone reaching Enlightenment as quickly as possible (actually the universe already tries to do this but because people become fixated on wrong ends they make the journey unnecessarily longer and more complicated) we never have to be worried about  how everything turns out, we never have to give into our egos and wish ill on others, and we can rest assured that no matter what, we wish the absolute best for those around us.

 

I pray that whatever events occur it is the best interest of you reaching Enlightenment with as little delay as possible.

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Monthly Meditation: Long Term Goals

Looking to goal

It is the long term goals that should hold your attention.

 

So it has been a while since I’ve put up a meditation.  I’m sorry, but nothing has been coming to me on this front and I feel nothing is better than something that is halfhearted and forced out.  So I’m now going to title these monthly meditations, and hopefully will have something come to me at least once a month.

 

However, something has come to me at last.

 

There is an expression by the Dalai Lama:

“If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.”

 

This is an excellent thought and a variation in sentiment on the Serenity Prayer.

 

However, this or the serenity prayer isn’t always appropriate because sometimes, regrettably, we don’t always have the wisdom to know whether something can or cannot be done.

 

For instance a few years ago I was unsure if I should focus on my writing or use my time to find a new job as I was very unhappy in my job at the time.  Or should I split my free time between the two? At the time I made the correct choice and focused on writing, although at the time I probably didn’t consciously realize why that was correct decision.   But it was the correct decision because it focused on the long term problem and not the short term.

 

There have been other instances in my life that were like this, and when I reflect on them, when I focused on the long term problems and working to resolve those things tended to work out (as they did with my job…although admittedly not in the way I would have planned).  And when I focused on the short term problems, problems just kept piling up.

 

And suddenly in the last week I have realized that it is always the long term issues that need to be focused on.  Always.  It’s not enough to look toward the future, you have to look to an actual long term goal.

 

It’s ironic that I didn’t see this sooner as this has been my complaint about politics for so long, that our elected officials only see the immediate problems and their immediate solutions to an immediate problem which in turn only causes long term issues.  But this is true of personal lives and problems as well as in politics.

 

You need to focus on the long term issues, the long term problems and the long term goals first.

 

If you are directed toward the long term goals, the small things work themselves out either because you don’t focus on them as much or because God (or whatever name you want to use) tends to help you get over the small crap of the short term issues.

 

So the thing to focus on for this meditation is, as I’ve suggested before, make a list of what you really want in life.  Now prioritize them—what you want the most at the top, the lesser things at the bottom. (Hint: Happiness should be at the top, and the next few should be exactly what you need to have Happiness)   Now circle the top five or six.  And now forget about the rest.  Focus on those. Figure out what you need to do to get those, figure out what you need to learn, to find, to create to achieve those top three (four if you count Happiness, which your other things should all lead to).  Forget about everything else.  Every free moment you have should be focused on those things.

 

All the other small stuff will take care of itself, just keep focused on the long term goals.

 

The meditation for this month will be in training your mind to ignore all the smaller issues and stay focused on the major things.  Have a little faith, that if you are directed toward your ultimate goals, everything else will sort itself out to help you reach those goals.

 

 

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Causing small acts of positive energy

“They might be giants, and we might be pygmies; but we stand on the shoulders of giants, so we can see farther.” Attributed to Sir Isaac Newton

 

So by now you have probably figured out that for my meditations I prefer to list actions and habits to instill rather than just things to focus on during the typical quiet sitting type of meditation.  Now this is not to say that we don’t all need that 20-30 minutes of silent reflection every day (though we so seldom get it). But it is best when it is 20-30 minutes of keeping your mind as blank as possible. Focusing on certain things in your life or certain mantras can be wonderful things to do in preparation for the silence, but it is the moments of silence where you clear you mind of everything and listen to the universe is what is important.

 

But I like action.  Actions that help calm your life.  Actions that bring happiness into your life.

They bring a positive feeling that dispels worries and concerns that not only make your daily life easier…but actually also help with those moments of quiet meditation, because when you’ve dispelled the worries they don’t intrude on your trying to clear your mind of all things. If you’ve ever sat on the beach you probably know how you can close your eyes, empty your brain and then suddenly 20 minutes have gone by and you didn’t have a single thought…conversely after a bad day you can’t quiet your mind to save your life.  So it’s best to reinforce everything you do during the day with positive actions if you want to provide for the best setting for effective meditation.

 

So what I would recommend for the next two weeks is to make every place you go to better than you found it.  Hold a door for someone.  Compliment someone.  Pick up a piece of trash.  Leave a tip for the barista.  Help someone with their work.  Something, anything.  But no matter where you go make sure you did something that made it better than when you got there.  Now our knee jerk reaction to this is, why would that matter–so I do one thing, it’s not like anyone else is reading this blog, what will that matter.  But that is why I included that quote at the top.  It doesn’t matter how little your impact is, it doesn’t matter how small your actions are, even the pygmies who can see further can see further, and your action have made something better.

 

Just psychologically it will help dispel every single negative emotion because every single memory of the day will focus on the action you choose to take which made something better, wherever your mind roams you will see good…and that will lead to a much happier disposition.  From a New Age standpoint it gets better.  You will be spreading positive energy that will go every where, even if only in very small amounts.  But it will have a cascade effect.  Your aura will become positive energybrighter with every act and thus every place you go you will have more of an effect on those around you. If you could just get in 5 positive things in before you go to work every morning, (which I know is a lot given most of our morning routines involve avoiding people*) then you might by the time you get to work be very well immune to the usual low level negativity that surrounds the usual work place.

 

Just try it for two weeks.  Everywhere you go leave it better than when you found it.  Everywhere.  See if you don’t feel the change in your daily life and in your meditations.

 

 

*But if I may suggest…(1) compliment someone either in person if you live with someone or via whatever social media we all know we check first thing in the morning. (2) Share a blog, really it does make the author feel better (they like me they really really like me) (3) Leave a tip at Starbucks of at least a dollar and thank the person who gives you the drink, we often under estimate the power of a thank you (4) you will inevitably see a piece of trash somewhere between your residence and work, pick it up and throw it away (5) hold the door for someone on the way into work.  Just a suggested list but you get the idea. Small things.  Small things that pile up on each other.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Calm

Okay, so very quickly, here is this week’s meditation.

Rather than do something of my own I found a wonderful site you may not be aware of.  Calm.com.

It offers 2, 10, and 20 minutes guided meditations.

You can pick the nature scene with that is accompanied by the matching background noise and for a few minutes just relax.

Calm 1

There are others but I felt this gives you an idea of the kind of backgrounds they have.

Listening to 2 minutes of this is better than a 15 minute break.

The discovery of this site has been a godsend to me, trust me, use it a couple times during your work day, you’ll find your stress level goes down, your productivity goes up, you’ll leave work happier, you get more done in the day.

It’s a nice reminder to just occasionally clear out from all your troubles.

calm 3

The other nice thing is that even when the meditation is over the sound of the scene will continue and you can just leave it on as relaxing white noise.

Works wonders for trying to get to sleep too.

So this week I would recommend that you just try out this site and see if it helps you regain some quiet and control in your life. calm 2

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Fear, Emotions, Choice and Control

After Earth Stupid statements

And let’s also ignore all those times that fear is present when danger isn’t real…a common habit among people. It’s a terrible sign when you can spot more than a dozen errors about human nature on a poster that contains less than a dozen words.

I know I’ve covered fear before, but after months of seeing that stupid After Earth poster it seemed time to deal with it again.  What am I referring to?  Why the dumbest line I have ever seen on a movie poster or in a trailer:

Fear is a choice.

I’m sorry but this is perhaps one of the dumbest things I have ever seen Hollywood say.

Fear, is an emotion.  All emotions are real.  They are our subconscious’ way of telling us about the trillion and one pieces of information it took in and doesn’t have time to tell you about all the information and all the calculations, so it gives you a quick assessment in the form an emotion.

If danger is real and you don’t feel fear you are either too stupid to not see the danger or insane.  Fear is not a choice.  How we choose to react to that fear is a choice.  How much we choose to let that emotion have control is a choice.  But to act as if our emotions themselves are a choice is wrong.  To act as if we should in someway shut off our emotions like fear (or any and all other emotions as it appears everyone has in that movie from the trailer). Further this is endorsing insanity.  It’s saying you shouldn’t have a natural reaction to danger.  Courage isn’t not feeling fear (again that’s called insanity); courage is feeling fear and choosing to go forward.  By saying fear, or sadness, or any emotion is a choice will eventually lead to problems because people will feel inherently inferior because they can’t control their emotions. *

Emotions are in and of themselves not necessarily positive or negative.  Even anger, hate, and rage are seen in saintly figures. The question is not what emotion you feel, but are you feeling the right emotion because you understand the situation and value the right things, and are you letting the emotion take control of you to the right degree.  Yes fear is not something we should usually let take hold of us…unless you’re being chased by a rabid dog, then, I suggest giving into fight or flight, because only the adrenaline that comes from the fear is going to save you.  Or as Aristotle put it:

For in everything it is no easy task to find the middle, e.g. to find the middle of a circle is not for every one but for him who knows; so, too, any one can get angry–that is easy–or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble.

Nicomachean EthicsBook II, Chapter 9 1109a26-29 [Italics Added]

Emotions are neither good nor bad except when they are not in the proper degree.  The degree is your choice, the emotion itself is not.  Now all too often we give into certain emotions more readily (fear, anger, rage, desire) than we should.

Yes fear can be more destructive than most emotions when you give into it too much, which is why I have spoken about it before and why it must almost always be quelled when it comes up, hence the older statement that “fear is the mind killer”…but the quote comes with the point “I will face my fear” not I will simply not fear as if fear is a choice, but rather treating fear as a real thing which can be faced, dealt with, and not given into.  Fear is real and isn’t a choice.  The choice comes in how we deal with it.
But don’t we often say Happiness is a choice?

Yes, but we’re not referring to the temporary emotion of being happy, we’re referring to the culmination of all life worth living, Happiness with a capital H.  It is part of a slipshod way of speaking that people are all too fond of.  When people say we choose happiness it’s not because we choose one emotion or another, it’s because we choose thoughts and actions that cause the emotion we want over thoughts and actions that cause emotions we don’t want…but we can’t just change our emotions…we can train our brain to see certain things, and we can train it to feel certain ways, but we cannot just turn emotions off and on.

You can choose the thoughts you focus on, the situations you put yourself in and how you choose to act in those situations. But you cannot just choose how you feel.

So why is this a mediation?

Because all too often that annoying Ego of ours, our mis-creation that keeps trying to keep us from returning to God, using our propensity for emotions in the wrong degree against us. When in a frustrating situation it whispers to us to focus on the anger, when we are in a situation it nudges us to be centered on the fear, when under stress it tells us to focus on desires we don’t necessarily need (like stress eating).  The emotions themselves are not creations of the Ego, but the Ego wants us to focus on them because by focusing on these emotions at the wrong place and at the wrong time to the wrong degree keeps us from being centered and attaining Happiness.  And then as a coup de grâce the Ego tells you it was all your fault because fear is a choice, which just makes you feel even worse about yourself.

Litany Against Fear--I must not fear, fear is the mind killer

The proper way to handle fear…acknowledge it, deal with it, don’t dwell on it.

So for the next two weeks I want you to analyze your emotions at least once a day (If you can find three or four times a day to do a review even better).  Ask yourself if during every incident if you focused on the right emotion for the situation and to the right degree.  Was there an emotion you felt that you didn’t focus on, but would have resulted in a more positive outcome?  Did you focus on the right emotion but too little or too much?  The first step to changing how you react to your emotions is recognize when and where you’re making a misstep, it’s a long process, even a lifetime isn’t enough to perfect it.  But the first step is to look at your emotions and see if you are reacting properly.  And that is your mediation for the next two weeks.

*I could probably insult another work of science fiction here for depicting a race without emotions…but I’ve beat up on that franchise enough lately, and will say that at least they gave the excuse that this particular race’s emotions are typically so powerful and erratic that it was the choice between suppressing them entirely or giving into the chaos.  Not a great excuse, but at least it’s better than “Fear is a choice.”

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Clearing Your Mind

Carry OMSo I realized that my meditations have recently been focusing on more practical day to day applications.  These are important, and these are often neglected a little when we’re focused on more spiritual meditations…but I realized I was going a little too much to the other side.  And we should strive for balance in all aspects of our life.

So let’s start with a more traditional meditation.  Clearing your mind.

Try to find some place dark, with few as few sounds as possible(although maybe a little soft classical or New Age type music if it helps you).  Sitting in the Lotus Position (or as close as you can get) with your arms out stretched, hands open and the thumb and first finger touching, eye closed, start by focusing only on one thing.  I would generally focus on the mantra “OM”, you can repeat it mentally or actually chant it as you go.  Be sure to take slow deep breaths.  Fill up your lungs and breath from the diaphragm, and through the nose, hold the breath in your lungs for a moment, breath out slowly through your mouth, and then hold for a moment before breathing in. Try to slow down your breath as much as possible again (ideally you would like to work up to only 2 breaths per minute, but this will likely not be possible if you haven’t been doing this for a while).

Again as you chant focus only on the chant “OM” and nothing else.  Random thoughts will intrude, and you’ll think about them for a while, but don’t worry.  When you recognize your mind has wandered just focus on “OM” again.   Don’t chide yourself or worry about the fact that your mind wandered, it’s okay, just go back to “OM”.  The more you do this the longer you will be able to hold the thought. The goal here is to clear your mind of all extraneous thoughts and focus on only one thing.

Ideally you should try to be able to do this for 20 minutes at a time.  It may take some time be build up to this.   But the more you do this the longer you’ll be able to focus on a single thought.  The longer you can focus on a single thought the more you’ll find yourself connected to higher realms, you’ll find your thinking clearer, your energy higher, your happiness in general raised.

And if you can here’s a variation you can try if you can spare may be a few five minute spot throughout the day.   Instead of the simple chant of OM you can focus on each chakra with it’s own mantra.  Start the morning with a quick mediation on your root chakra work your way up throughout the day ending with an evening meditation on your crown chakra.

  • “LAM”- Chakra 1 (Root)Chakra
  • “VAM”- Chakra 2 (Sacral/Navel)
  • “RAM”- Chakra 3 (Solar Plexus)
  • “YAM”- Chakra 4 (Heart)
  • “HAM”- Chakra 5 (Throat)
  • “AUM”- Chakra 6 (Third Eye)
  • “OM”- Chakra 7 (Crown)

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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: Take a break.

 

So this is a little late for the bi weekly meditation. I needed a break.   I blogged nearly daily for two years hoping in some small part to take down the tyrant.  But absolute stupidity and a fair amount of cheating conspired to make the immediate payoff of my efforts pay off.  I am still not back to my peak energy levels, but it was very needed.

 

So among others things I took a week off and did nothing. Nothing.  Yeah I put out a few small blogs, but overall I just slept and sat around.  I’m usually not one for doing nothing…I’m not the physically most active but usually I’m writing or reading or doing something. But for a week I pretty much did nothing.  There may have been some Nintendo involved (and can usually go years without playing video games).

having fun

Now probably most people aren’t the workaholic that I am.  So maybe the a whole week of down time isn’t called for…although the Bible actually called for people to take every seventh year off (it’s impractical now, I can’t see how it could have been done pre Industrial Revolution at all,  maybe one day capitalism will have created enough innovation we can actually try it)…still the fact is that we should all take a rest, not necessarily meditate, not read, not exercise, but just have fun without thinking of anything else.  These other things have a valuable purpose, but every so often you need to not to anything to let your brain and your body just catch up and process everything.
So while I am not encouraging laziness this week.  Maybe when you have a moment ask yourself if you need just a few minutes maybe even an hour of rest.  Take a nap.  Play a game.  Just don’t feel like you have to constantly do something.  (Obviously if you’re very used to doing nothing, you may want to do the opposite).

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Books for New Agers: Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives

Reincarnation

So I just finished reading Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives by Jim B. Tucker, M.D.  Yes it’s a book about reincarnation.  But unlike a lot of books about reincarnation that will look at one case of past life regression…or another case of someone having spontaneous memories and working through each case this is a summary of a collection of cases. 2,500 cases covering decades worth of research.  All of them involving children under the age of six, you know before you could theoretically prompt a child to say things.   These cases are being reviewed by the University of Virginia, Division of Personality studies.*

Let’s review some of the main points.

All the children are under the age of six.

All children recall having been someone in a previous life.

About two-thirds of the cases have been “solved”, that is they have identified a specific individual that the child has memories of being.

About a fifth of cases the child has a birth mark or structural defect where the person they claim to have been received a major wound (e.g., a child is born with a birth mark where a shunt had been in their previous life or a child who had memories of being a cop who had died when a bullet destroyed his aorta, being born with a bad aorta that had to replaced).  225 of these solved cases that involve birthmarks and other physical markers are covered apparently in great detail in a 2,000+ page, 2 volume study entitled  “Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects”.

There’s a lot of specific evidence I’m not going over because I actually think you should read the book.  But trust me there is evidence.lifeafterlife

Particular cases are reviewed, their flaws and strengths are laid out and the author goes through other possibilities of explanation which are reviewed.  Tucker spends a great deal of time on the only other remotely possible answer for these children knowing what they could not, that being fraud on the part of the parents.  But given that numerous cases for the U.S. where subjects don’t believe in reincarnation, it seems odd that they would try to fake a case of reincarnation.  Further even fraud leaves too many unanswered questions…reincarnation does not.
The book is an excellent summary of the scientific findings of this group at the University of Virginia** and so while much of the scientific and statistical evidence isn’t presented, it does lay out a sound scientific case for reincarnation.  It deals with the challenges skeptics would bring up and addresses them, then tears them down.

I would highly recommend anyone interested in reincarnation, or looking for scientific proof to back up their faith, read this book.

Some of the more interesting highlights from the book include:

Apparently you are more likely to remember a past life if that life ended only a year or two before your rebirth, there are relatively few memories of distant past lives among these children.

Gender Identify Disorder may, at least in many cases, be related to a soul switching from one gender to another between the two lives and the confusion from change.

The after life, at times, may be as chaotic as this life.

Not everyone remembers heaven, but some do, and you are less likely to remember it if your death in your previous life was particularly violent or sudden.

If you meditate you are more likely to remember heaven in your next incarnation.

There are cases of children remembering their last incarnation being a fetus that was aborted or miscarried.

All that said this book raises some questions that I have and if anyone has any information on this I would love to know.  After reading this book it appears that cases where children are remembering their past lives are becoming more common, or at least it appears that way to me.  I’ll admit that it may simply be that this is only being studied recently, whereas in the past it was not.  However there are cases in the past of people remembering their past lives, Gen. George S. Patton for instance, but these seem to be very rare in the past, where the 2,500 cases collected by the University of Virginia (and you know if they can find 2,500 there have to be ten times that many they didn’t find) don’t make it common, but it certainly does not seem to be uncommon. This makes me wonder if the memories are becoming more and more common.  Since, quite frankly, none of the children in this book  come off as enlightened beings (nor any of their previous incarnations) these memories do not seem to be caused by the individual soul’s level of spiritual enlightenment, my question is does this maybe indicate a greater awakening in the collective soul of humanity?  Certainly this is not going to be answered anytime soon, but it’s something to think about.

Also, the birthmark and other biological signs described in the book are suggested to be related not to karma but more to the mind’s ability to affect the body (the book references the ability to make a hypnotized person believe they are being burned to the point that their skin blisters or the fact that signs of the stigmata are now believed to be caused by psychological not miraculous factors).  Now if the mind, and specifically it’s attachment to certain memorable events (usually what killed you would have a more powerful impact on you, or at least you would think), and we also take into account the issue of some souls not being able to fully adjust to their new gender in the form of Gender Identity Disorder…I have to ask in lesser cases could a soul attached to their previous gender affect the DNA of their new body, thus being the spiritual cause of the genetic factor in homosexuality?  And I bring this up because I have also seen this suggested in the book The Messengers and the issues of Gender Identity Disorder reminded me of it.

*The book was published in 2005.  And deals primarily with 1,100 cases that had been entered into a computer system for statistical analysis.  I can only assume that both the computer database and the total number of cases has increased since the book was published.

** For my conservative readers, it is funded by private endowment, not by tax-payers (although I assume the same researchers are paid by tax payer funds for any teaching they do at the University) so don’t even begin to question if money should be paid for this.

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