Monday, September 27, 2010
When I was a teenager, the summer I spent with my grandmother in La Jolla, California, I had an early intuition: Virtue is really enlightened insight! Many years later, after a not especially virtuous life, I began to see the profound wisdom of this. I had grown up with religious assumptions of sin, guilt, if not hell, and that being virtuous was a trade-in for Brownie Points to heaven. This was the standard cultural background for being “ “good.”
Today, almost 88, and a lot wiser, I have learned that if one takes the message on its own worth, eliminating all religious aspects, it becomes a matter simply of common sense. Cause and effect! If you lie, you won’t trust anybody. If you hate, you will make enemies. If you steal, you will fear loss, etc. On the other hand, as I have written elsewhere, “A mistake is a loop in consciousness made to expose a greater surface to experience.” A tree does not grow like a telephone pole; it needs leaves, which grow on branches. It’s as if each leaf, exposed to the Sun of wisdom, is an Aha! helping the tree of life to grow.
So the concept of virtue noted above has to be redefined. The word’s origin comes from vir, Lat. for man. According to the dictionary, Plato distinguished four cardinal virtues: prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice. Christians apparently termed these the “natural virtues” and added the supernatural, theological, or Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity, or virtues infused by God.
All of these smack of Pollyanna, and, as I suspect, Jung would point out, ignore the Shadow of the opposites in the unconscious. This very day, yet another spiritual “Bishop,” a pastor, with a congregation of 25,000, is accused of sexually deviate behavior on the sly. This is a common theme, alas, and from the sad tale of the Roman Catholic priests, it seems to be a warning to all of us. Christ gave it the term of being a “whited sepulcher.”
Perhaps, such religious leaders start out sincerely and, as the kundalini force starts rising, it gets stuck in the first two chakras, which rule sex. Come to think of it, there are plenty of such characters who misuse the third chakra of “power”! The Inquisition is a collective example of that: In trying to exorcize the “Devil” in sinners, the “Devil” entered them! There is a huge difference between good and “good”. . .
Jung put it in psychological language but pointed out essentially that trying to be too “good” is bad for you. So what are we to do!! Perhaps the answer is just to be kind. That word in Old English was kinde and Dame Kinde was Mother Nature! In short, be natural, humble, and thoughtful of others – no Brownie Point agenda.
Not namby-pamby, mind you. “Tough Love” can also be kindness. We need to remember the Milk Stool Principle” (CREDO XXXVIII), that trinity of Love, Wisdom, and Power. Power actually can be a force for good when guided by Love and Wisdom. Think of Jesus chasing the moneychangers out of the temple.
Astrologically, Taurus (money) and Scorpio (sex) are opposites, and Jung advises us to try to balance all opposites, positive and negative, consciously. If we don’t, the rejected one falls into the Unconscious and gets projected out onto someone or some collective group and causes havoc.
If you imagine that I know the answer to all this, think again! Honestly, I only can raise good questions. But here is a prayer:
O Holy Sophia, Holy Wisdom, Holy Joy
hidden for so long
come forth and reveal yourself in the world
and in our souls!
Help us to see with a loving eye
Help us to hear with inwit and intuition
Show us how to be natural and kind
Show us how to find ourselves in one another
Lead us from who we think we are
to who we really are
Let us learn from the flowers
that we need not strive so hard
Teach us to allow that Light from within
to unfold us as a gift like your Rose.
P.S.: I realize that I may have referred to some unfamiliar concepts and terminology in this Credo! Note the words and google them. You won’t be sorry! In his autobiography, Jung refers to his curiosity being the words Why? and How come? which led him from passive acceptance to positive understanding. And look at the results!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
It would seem that each of the three great religions of the Western World, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (in their historical order), have large groups of believers who believe that theirs is the "Only Way" to God or salvation. This has caused centuries of argument, wars, and persecutions. Each developed rules to be followed, guilts for not conforming, and threats. The problem is that the word "way" is always seen as a noun: a single road, a path. Yet, "the way" also has another meaning, as an adverb, or "how to", as in "This is the way to do it!" If you look at it that way, it opens the concept to as many people on earth who are interested in the actual meaning of life!
Furthermore, science tells us that every human being has a unique DNA, fingerprints, etc. Each individual reacts to life according to his own nature. Someone can give a lecture to a hundred people but it will be heard a hundred different ways. Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher of one-liners, put it this way: With our eyes open, we share the same world but with our eyes closed, each of us enters a private one. True.
Imagine a spiritual baseball park with an entrance for each religion the world over: we would have temples, synagogues, churches of all denominations with rituals and rules to go by. These could be considered exoteric or conventional forms of expression. So a devout Christian or Jew or Hindu could enter and, if truly successful, would exit into the park itself, where there are no divisions whatever! This is the esoteric surprise! Each of the great religions has this mystical dimension: the Jews, for instance, have the followers of the Baal Shem Tov, who, besides great love, had a great sense of humor. The Christians have the Mystics, including one of my favorites, the poet George Herbert; and the Muslims, the Sufis. Few realize that the most popular poet in the USA is Rumi, an irresistible Sufi, and there is also a humorous character who teaches wisdom called Mullah Nasruddin. There is a mystical dimension to Russian and Greek Orthodoxy, and in the East among Hindus, Budddhists, Taoists and followers of Zen, the characteristics are all kindness, love, and joy. Tolerance! In the Old Testament, Holy Wisdom, (Grk. Hagia Sophia) is described as "full of delight"!
This interfaith compassion is being expressed at the moment, in New York City by a Jewish mayor, a Moslem imam, and several Christians in the matter of the placing of a mosque two blocks away from the destroyed World Trade Center, a destruction instigated by a fanatic Muslim, Bin Laden.
By contrast, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is a joyful man, who says, "Really, my only religion is kindness."
Let's try that!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
We owe Martin Buber, the great Jewish theologian, philosopher and writer, an enormous collective debt! In those four short words, he has summed up the greatest problem of all relationships in the world and offers us the wiser choice.
Buber was a follower of Hasidism and, in fact, wrote about our mutual love, the Baal Shem Tov (see CREDO #117). He believed that you met the sacred in the commonplace and that we can meet the Divine hidden within ourselves and find it in others when you realize that, as I put it, the flame on every wick of Self is the same flame! I suspect that Buber was a joyous individual.
As I understand it, Hasidism in this country, several centuries after the Baal Shem Tov, has undergone a kind of enantiodromia, in that it now has very strict regulations for conforming.
Always remembering that the Latin for “I” is ego (!), it is easy to see how ubiquitous the I-It relationship is.
* It is the basis for all murder and wars of today.
* It is the basis in most business and educational relationships: customers, pupils.
* It is the basis in psychiatry and medicine, where patients are “cases” or even reduced to statistics.
* It is the way we perceive the living creatures we eat and animals in general.
* It is the way some of us regard people of other races or the poor.
* It is the attitude of the guy with the gun, thinking “Don’t take this personally, bang! you’re dead!”
Freud placed his patients on a couch. Jung did not. They sat face to face. For him it was always I – Thou, and he even spoke of the psychic space that two people generate, its content becoming the hidden third. Ego and ego meet and invite the recognition of the Spirit implied by the Self. It is as if we are all different lamps but the Light in each is the same Light.
Buber, like the Baal Shem Tov, knew the Joy of Wisdom and the Wisdom of Joy, that true religion was happy and full of delight and love, not just a preoccupation with endless study about definitions or raking one’s soul about guilt. I, for one, when I was eight years old, was indoctrinated with the latter issue in a so-called Christian school in San Remo, Italy, and I spent years feeling guilty. Even today I can feel guilty of not feeling guilty about something!
If you think about it, how careless are we in treating those who casually serve us as “its.” And, yet, each is a human being like yourself, easily comforted by being recognized as a “Thou”!
I may be repeating the story of the breakfast my beloved Walter and I had one early morning at a Hartford Airport hotel. I observed, as the tired salesmen and others went up to the middle-aged cashier, how she greeted each one, without fail, with a friendly comment and a big smile. There was a visible shift in attitude in the shoulders of each customer, as if a silent spark had been transmitted. When it was our turn to pay, I couldn’t resist commenting on my observation. She glowed almost mischievously at being found out! Yes, she admitted, it was her spiritual intent to recognize the human need for recognition. Today, twenty-five years later, I have not forgotten her. Martin Buber would have loved her.
Psychologically, I suppose, when we take the I-it stance, it comes from our unconscious need to feel superior or perhaps the fear that a stranger might otherwise take the Thou as a come-on, especially these days, But a quick smile can do.
As I am old and handicapped, I walk with two tall Scottish cromags (shepherd’s crooks), up our narrow dirt Hupi Road. I wave to each driver who passes, and most of them wave back or even stop to say hello. But a few summer people stare ahead and rush by. One knows right away that these are city people still encapsulated perhaps in the fear of any intimacy, though a crippled old lady shouldn’t really pose a threat! What they miss is that tiny spark transmitted by the briefest of I-Thou.
Theologically, it can be a moment of agape or transpersonal love, now celebrated in many Christian churches post-communion by greeting the ones standing close to you, a nice custom, that came much later in my experience.
It is summarized in Mother Teresa’s creed: I believe in person to person and that God is in everyone. In this Age of Aquarius, the person-to-person is in great danger of getting lost. Even this post is just words magically transmitted by technology!
Any road, as the Scots say.
I sign this
cyber-lovingly, and hope you get the “pook” I send trying to make it Martin Buber’s I-Thou!