Friday, October 28, 2016
Being in a fit spiritual condition means, in part, that our pause button is working. We are not perfect, nor need we to be on our spiritual growth. That is false pride. We are still flawed, but the pause button allows our flaws to be noticed by us, but not acted upon. We hit the pause button, and thus do not activate our bad habits or weaknesses. An example: someone does something that upsets you because you have drifted into "the world is all about me," or you are frightened about not having something work out according to your plans. You are about to say or do something that will solve nothing, and make matters worse. Your spiritual condition suddenly remembers the pause button. You realize bad behavior on your part needs to be de-energized. You have an inspiration to act in a much more positive and constructive way. Feelings and thoughts simply arise. The pause button frees us to choose not to act on every thought and feeling that we have.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
I think that you can have a spiritual life even if you do not believe in a personal God separate from yourself. I hear people say, "Find God and good things will happen." It sounds as if God is a thing that you look for. I think that spiritual experiences are in behavior that makes us better persons. Like what? Well, become more honest. Accept others as they are instead of judging and gossiping. Be come grateful instead of complaining. Be compassionate for the sufferings of others. Become more helpful and less self-imploded and fearful. Ask a person of good behavior to walk with you on your spiritual journey, so that you are not so much self-directed. Find people who are tolerant of your non-belief. I have met some very good people of the behavior just mentioned, who don't believe in a personal God that they have had to go find. If I want to become a chemist, I need to find chemists who know a lot more about chemistry than I do. I find a lot of spiritual wisdom when I make the effort to look, search. I don't find much wisdom when I sit around thinking about it in my head. Non-belief is OK. Isolation, not so much.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
A prophet is someone who identifies your behavior and tells you what will happen if you continue on your present course, but people don't listen because they see no problem or change "in the present moment." In essence, the behavior of the moment has not yet reaped prophetic results. The first drink for an alcoholic would be an example. The first drink is "prophetic." It is announcing, as much as a drink can announce, that this first drink is a bad idea. It will lead to craving for more. More drinking will lead to more drinking, and then disaster happens. But the alcoholic does not listen because the first drink makes them feel good in the moment. Now consider a good spiritual practice. Meditation, prayer, is prophetic too. Say what? Well, it is telling you that if you continue on a daily practice, your life will change for the better. You tend not to believe this because day one of this prayer seems to bring no great change, if any. Keep at it and good things will happen. For the recovering alcoholic, what if you spent as much time on spiritual matters as you did on drinking? Wow! That is a lot of prayer.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
A lot of young people don't even think about God. It is not that they have lost interest or rejected God. They never had an interest. Clergy are not getting the memo on this one either. We are like physicists talking about neutrinos. The physicist is all excited about neutrinos and wants to explain it all. But a lot of people, like me, are not interested in neutrinos. We neither think about them or find them at all important in our daily living. We don't care. God and neutrinos are taking a big hit nowadays. I find that I cannot begin talking about God with the idea of God's existence, as if that is a given. I have to start out with someone's experience. Too many clergy dismiss a person's experience, as less than important. If you want me to be interested in neutrinos you had better start out with my experience of daily life, and then connect me with the importance of neutrinos. See if the light goes on.
Monday, October 24, 2016
Some of the health issues that I now have, originate in bad habits, or unhealthy patterns of many years ago. I look back and remember when I used to smoke, sunbathe, eat lots of sugar and drink. When I first began any of those things they seemed to be pluses or at least harmless. Having a nice summer tan, or better, a winter tan from vacation, made me look good. Sunlight is a good thing, right? Alcohol at parties and sport events made things more fun. Sugar always tasted good in whatever form, except fruit. It caught up with me. Even bad habits, stopped long ago, seem to be having their effect. I puff and pant when I run. My dermatologist is always having to do something with my skin. Now if bad habits have long term effects, what about good habits? Maybe I might start a good habit, like a daily reflection/meditation time. At first, maybe no seeming effect. But over time, I suspect good habits will have lasting effects, just like bad ones. Never too late to start a good habit, and drop a bad one.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
The nuns always told us to wash our hands. Dirty hands were unacceptable. Why? Jesus did not mind dirty hands. What were those first disciples doing when Jesus called them to "come follow me?" They were cleaning their nets. They had just finished handling dead fish. Not only did they have dirty hands, but their working class dirty hands made them ritually defiled. They were simply outside the law, kind of low life, or you might say working class trash, if you were an uppity temple priest. Jesus did not say, "Wash your hands first and then come follow me." He invited them to come as they were, imperfect and all. So the next time some Catholic school teacher or Christian parent says dirty hands are unacceptable, just pull one of those WWJD (What would Jesus do). Don't tell them I said this. It will get me in hot water and wrath. How you look is of little importance to Jesus.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
It is one thing to be anti-culture and another to be counter-culture. Someone who is anti does not want to have anything to do with the surrounding culture. They generally would not read the local news or participate in local events. They participate in their own world that does not depend in any way on the wider cultural world of sports, concerts, festivities and seasonal gatherings. Consequently, they have very little influence on the larger cultural. Counter-cultural people are ones who do participate but with their own set of values that might go counter to the prevailing mores of the larger world. The more immature person thinks this means that they dress differently, or look a certain way, or act a certain way. They have no influence on the larger world. The young person who sits at the mall dressed in black, tattooed, unemployed, along with like people would be one example. So what might be counter cultural that would make others pause and think? At times, carry no cell phone. Take the bus or train. Read opinions that disagree with your own. Eat meals as a family. Avoid plastic. Watch a sunrise or sunset. Work in a community garden. Give to the "undeserving" poor. If you run a consumer business sell at lower prices than supply and demand would fetch. Monasteries do this. Periodically, have a day of fasting. Become willing to suffer from aging or illness as an opportunity to witness to life on life's terms. Don't drink or drug when everyone else is getting wasted. If in a college dorm, go to bed earlier than others and get up earlier to have some quiet time, maybe going out to look at the stars before dawn. Drink only as much caffeine so that were you to stop you would not get massive headaches. Study without headphone music. Practice a little silence and solitude each day. Offer rides to people in your high end luxury car. It will make their day. Read poetry.