Tag Archive: philsophy

side-by-sideIn the 1950s a mathematician/entertainer by the name of Tom Lehrer created a song called “Poisoning pigeons in the park.” The song in its opening verse posits the observation that with the onslaught of spring comes life. “Life” is described as full of skittles and full of beer.

I digress. Many today would think that Mr. Lehrer is referring to rainbow-coloured confections but would in fact be incorrect. Skittles first emerged in the early 1970s and the song is 20 years the elder. Skittles in this case is referring to either a pickup game of chess or a game of lawn bowling. this life is being compared to being full of thoughtful, strategic warfare or triumphing at knocking things down. Eitherwise (sic) it is not ‘tasting a rainbow ®.’

Sadly, we are not at the beginning of spring; life cannot necessarily be described as receiving it’s endowment of beer; but mayhap the metaphor of conquest and destruction may not be too far off the mark.

So, here we are at the beginning of autumn (also known as fall). This is the season where we harvest what we have sown so far this year and prepare for old things to die in the hopes of every birth in the coming spring. The Church that at one time I was heavily involved with has a series of rituals called initiations. (I would like to point out here that “Church” is both an accurate and inaccurate term. I use it for simplification and will not go further on that specific topic.) Members of The Church often describe these rituals with the term “karmic acceleration.” Personally, I have not attended one of these rituals in probably close to five years. Further, I have not personally gone through an initiation ritual in my Church in about a decade. One could hazard that I have spiritually hit what one could call “karmic stagnation.” I however would not. I have spent a good amount of time living life while at the same time trying to understand my direction, my failings, and my personal growth.

My personal growth has been around a philosophical analysis of one idea:

“For pure will,unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”

For quite some time I have wrestled with the concept of actions ‘delivered from the lust of result.’ While I could write on this topic for pages and pages; suffice it to say that after a great amount of time; I find myself focusing on the act for the motivation and purpose of the act; and not a desired outcome.

In some ways I could believe that I am ready for a personal initiation, but that must be brought about on my own at my stage of life and spirituality. This being said, over the weekend of the equinox I attended an initiation ritual presented by a branch of my Church. I have not actively participated in The Church in about five years. Oddly, it would seem that the “karmic acceleration “that is often felt by those taking the ritual is not limited to those individuals involved in the ritual. To say that my life changed overnight would be a gross misrepresentation, however I would be remiss to say that far too many coincidences have occurred within a short period of that event.

Surprisingly to me, I have felt murmurs of change in just about every aspect of my life over this weekend.  It would seem; all of these changes are helping to improve these aspects of my life.

About five years ago I found myself moving away from being active with my Church. Between moving around the country and having a new child, certain things reprioritise in your life. By the time the family had resettled in Pittsburgh I’d drifted into inactivity that was further exacerbated by no official outlet in town. While at one time I’d been a champion supporter of my Church, now I had neither the time nor the energy to try to motivate a local presence.

About a month ago I took what I referred to as a Drive-about. (Walkabout at higher speeds) I found myself driving from Pittsburgh, through Columbus, to Chicago, and back by way of Cleveland. At each stop along the way I saw someone from different parts of my past. This unto itself was an experience because there are so many pieces from my past that I have changed in myself by either walking away or sweeping under the rug.

In each case, each old friend welcomed me with open arms. There is something special about people you were close to that you haven’t seen in time that can be measured in decades. Each one, in their way, gave me back a piece of my own history. The last one… a person that I had not seen in almost exactly 10 years was a member of my Church. They invited me to ‘come back’ when there was an event.

I wish I could say the invitation settled easily on me; however, it was in fact a difficult process. Time and distance weren’t the only motivating factors influencing my lapse of participation and turning that around was also going to be a huge fight against momentum and cynicism.

Over the next month I put thought into the invitation and decided to accept. At the time I believed it was for two events: Initiation rituals for some new members of The Church and a private Mass. There was an irony in attending in Cleveland as this local branch was the place that I first was introduced to The Church over 15 ½ years ago. An introduction that would lead to my own process of learning to be a better teacher, person, Church Officer, Ritual leader, and eventually Ordained Clergy.

At the time of the weekend, I really didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Honestly, I still don’t; but I feel the need to write about it and my personal observations. With the exception of family, and the officers of The Church I was visiting; few people were notified that I was coming out of my personal tomb of hibernation.

The initiatory ritual was as beautiful as I remember it. And I was utterly surprised at myself at how much of the ritual I remembered verbatim. Granted, I have also performed this ritual several times. I remembered my own experience as the recipient of the experience, which again was over 15 years ago. I remember how much the experience spoke to me internally as well as externally. And I was very touched to be there for three strangers who took their first steps in The Church.

That evening was a general social event/dinner for the public at the temple to celebrate the Equinox. When I opted to visit, I did not realise that the weekend was over the Equinox. I have found a wonderful passage that I think deserves to be included. This is from an excerpt from “The Path of the Spiritual Sun” by Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard:

The autumn equinox is a mysterious time. It marks an essential passage in the process of enlightenment that is often overlooked, misunderstood, and mistaken as dark and heretical.

It is the time of balance between day and night, before night takes over and brings the coming winter, a time of darkness and death. This duality between light and dark exists within humanity, and in the work of spiritual transformation. All things must die before they can be born, all spiritual ascent requires descent first, and all those who long for light must firstly face their own inner darkness and overcome it. The autumn equinox symbolizes a stage of inner preparation in the process of enlightenment—to make way for the Son to be born within at the winter solstice.

That evening was a level of kinship, fellowship, and fraternity that I think had been missing from my life for potentially too long to even note. Granted this kinship included an extended game of “Cards against Humanity” which is always an open chance to push your own morals and ethics to the edge against your own tolerance for humour and political incorrectness.

The next day was a private Mass. And here was the full circle of my spiritual process in the Church. The branch that had shown me the Mass as my first event was now the branch showing me Mass after a long hiatus. And it was amazing to see both how much it had changed in the eyes of one who had travelled from Tabula Rasa to Traveled Ordained Clergy while at the same time how much was innately the same.

I was so taken with the ritual that I have to admit that I actually stumbled through the process of communion. Granted, in my own defense, I am used to branches of the Church that offer small (shot glass sized) communal cups, and the branch I attended was offering full glasses of wine. As a communicant I don’t think I have felt the mass as a whole so deeply as I have since being a communicant under the clergy/church officers that taught me in Los Angeles. Again, despite time and practice, the liturgy was sharp in my memory.

With the mass over, I had to bid farewell and make the solo drive back to Pittsburgh. You’d think that I’d spend the several hours while driving mulling over the experience; but there was no need. It was what it was and to elevate it beyond what it was would be to give it unnecessary power. In retrospect a few weeks later, I think that this mindset it what makes these rituals so strong when left to their own devices.

Earlier, I mentioned that the “Karmic Acceleration” inherent in these rituals, especially the initiation is often quite powerful to the participants. This ritual can also have a profound effect on the officiator(s), the congregation, and on the local branch itself. I would be greatly surprised in short order how quickly the effects of this would be felt.

Upon arriving home without going into too many details, I find myself completing several work projects and taking others onto new levels. One new implementation project that had hit several blocks opened up very quickly and is for lack of a better term blossoming.

The continual process to improve home financing and budgeting turned a major corner. This corner includes not only finding more available budget starting… nearly immediately, but also the realization that several longer-term debts are close to closure (our 2nd car for example becomes paid at the end of the year) I give immense props to my MiL (also an ordained member of my Church’s clergy) for giving me a lot of advise, smacks to the back of the head, and support on the rebudgeting.

I also was able to bite the bullet and clean and arrange parts of the house that were still lacking in move-in organization. And as of this past weekend have expanded my DIY talents by replacing an old, rusted mailbox. (See the picture at the top of the post.) Similarly, I was greatly surprised to see a crossover of hobby and work when one of the other Architects told me he was looking into exactly the type of electronics I have been experimenting with.

Some might think… well, that’s easy. Obviously you need to re-embrace your Church. I’d obviously be lying if I didn’t indicate that the temptation is high. Happily motivated by a series of potentially corresponding coincidences; one could easily let resultant accomplishment drive faith. However, to do so, solely on this, would undo most of the personal work I’ve done. To jump on this with this motivation would be a lustful pursuit of result.

When I was an exchange student to Europe (which was a long time ago) there was effectively a contract that the American students (at least) had to sign with the organisation. The rule was that you would not travel back to the country you were in for a period of time. My memory seems to believe it was a year; it may have been shorter. The idea being that it was so easy to be seduced by a short taste that you do not take a fair consideration of the seduction and lose sight of a normal life.

I’m by no manner suggesting that it would be a year before I return again. The emphasis for me is understanding what has motivated me away; what I’ve seen that motivates me back; and most importantly, what is are all the things in the middle that I’m not seeing that will pull me in both directions?

So, the bottom-line: The leaves have begun to change. Some older parts that wither while turning colours are going to fall away. The bitter night must be given its fair chance to wipe the slate clean with a dark yet pure white blanket. As the spring approaches, life begins anew. Life built on the survivors of the dark, cold winter, but also Life grown new from the old giving way to start fresh.

The future is as it always is… an unwritten book. But now I have some old books and binders put away on forgotten shelves to find and read again. Some to influence my next chapter and some to be reminders that everything is always new again.

When I was a kid (and that statement now feels valid)… I had the occasional person use some lines on me that I really wish could be kept away from anyone under the age of 30:

“You have a very old soul”
“You have more power than you could possibly imagine”
“Everyone is special in their own way, but you are going to change the world”
“8th Avenue doesn’t come thru to High Street, cut up to 12th”

okay, maybe not so much the last one….

As a result (and the genetic propensity to paranoia from my mother) I always felt there was something more to the universe than droning thru Hebrew and sitting and standing a lot.

Kids in school used to make fun of me. Well there were lots of reasons for that… but it happened for this reason too.

Then college occurred. I went to college in Southeastern, Ohio. We like to refer to that as the worn hole on the bible belt. The nearest synagogue was in West Virginia about 90 minutes away. They used the tambourine. I never really kept kosher to begin with. But at least Kosher was a good excuse to make the college break their Pepsi exclusivity contract..

3 semesters later. My devotion to academia earned me a 6 month hiatus at the dean’s request. I returned home and hung out with the Pittsburgh Rocky Horror crew. Thus meeting the previously mentioned dearest friend.

I believe our religious views at that point could be defined in D&D terms. “Chaotic Good”… Maybe “Lawful evil”… maybe “Psychotic Crunchy”…. This was about the time that I was introduced to the Tarot. That’s right… theatre boy and his cards to tell stories.

I also met my first Wiccan. Well, not really. This was a militant, feminist, Dianic wiccan. She explained to me that Wicca was not the path for me due to my birth defect. (She did in fact use the words ‘birth defect’ among other elabouration that I’ll leave out)

Life was not really that good that spring. High School had been traumatic. Family life sucked, and well, my social circle… not the healthiest thing. I think even FH will look back and say, “Yeah, they/we were really kinda f*#&-ed up” But we did believe through meditation we turned into animals that could fly on the ‘astral’.

So, I walked down to the pond deep in Schenley Park (A park that is always FAR BIGGER, than you think) and had a chat with “God” (Who still pretty much had the big beard and bad attitude)

I wanted to know why it was all sucking so hard. I wanted answers. I wanted a sign. I even said I’d consider ‘selling the soul’ for a sign. I suppose this loopholed on many levels. One… I said “I’d consider” rather than saying “I’d sell”. Of course the bigger loophole is with a Jewish upbringing there is also no belief in ‘a Hell’ or ‘the Devil™’… So it was all just empty threats.

None the less. There was no real sign during that time either. But there was individualization. There was also severe crushing on the new friend who’d introduced herself to me by bounding up in this sort of mid-80’s goth meets catholic school girl in Doc Martens saying, “Hi, I’m {name). I’m Psychotic!” with a big beaming smile.

I guess I can say that after that spring and the ensuing summer. I knew more of what God wasn’t. The beard was gone. The strings were gone. Personally, I think these were the times I got closest to Atheism. There was something… But all the Judaic definitions that seemed rather humanizing were getting stripped away.

I never have shaken the idea that God is singular. But then again, Hebrew school and synagogue tend to pound the “Shema” rather heavily into your head. The Shema is a prayer that is the Hebrew Equivalent of, “WE ARE A MONOTHEISM! GOT IT?!?!?”

So.. that one kinda sticks with me.

What does any of this have to do with God? How I see God?

maybe nothing… maybe everything. But it’s what I chose to type… And if you got this far… It’s what you chose to read… I have more to tell… And I do have a view of God now. 🙂

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In poker, what you don’t do or show in response to a deal can be a betraying as what you do.

The game of poker was best described to me as a game about people played by using cards. If you know your opponent very well, it really doesn’t matter what you have in your hand… just how you play the game.

The best hand in poker (At least Texas Hold’em) to be dealt is a pair of Aces. Against non-novice players, this hand will win a vast majority of the times it’s dealt. The trick is not to let people know you’ve been dealt it. You look at your cards and you start to think.

“Don’t react. First off don’t react. Okay, great hand… Do I play weakly and hope they play into me? What if they get ahead of me on a chance? Do I play strongly? Will they think I’m bluffing? Will they believe I’m strong and back off? Do I…”

And then it hits you… “How long have I been thinking?” In not giving any indicators… you give an indicator. The cæsura becomes just as much an enemy to you to betray the feelings you have. Your desire and need to hide a Tell has only created a bigger one.

I love Poker. While at the same time I suppose it should be more of a bittersweet acknowledgment of how deftly it reflects reality and the world around us.

end, part the first.

I dated someone (a while ago) that got into an argument with me over semantics.

We witnessed a couple (also) on vacation. The woman in the couple was walking about 10 feet ahead of her male partner who was following behind looking rather unhappy about the fact that he was dragging 3 large suitcases. The woman leading was carrying one small (personal?) handbag.

My (then) significant other noted that what we saw was how things should be. It was absolutely appropriate for him to be carrying the bags. I pointed out that he should be doing it if he wanted to.. not because it was expected of him. And thus the debate began. “Men should act in a chivalrous manner” vs. “Men should feel the desire to be chivalrous for its own sake not because chivalry is demanded”

As I was dumped within about 48 hours of this pronouncement… one can assume that agreement was never fully found.

To me the bottom line of this failed debate was that you do not live up to society’s expectations of you because society expects them of you. You live up to them (for lack of a better word) because you grok them or at least have made the conscious attempt.

Yes, you can fully do something for reasons that you are unclear on. But to deny the question of “why do we do this” is very foreign to me. Laws and rules are designed to aid society. I will happily stand up and state that there are laws and rules that exist that I disagree with in no uncertain terms. Do I therefore follow them blindly? Do I undermine them? Am I a radical felon hiding from justice?

I follow laws and rules. I’m also no fool, I will stand on the fifth amendment as to whether or not I have ever broken a law. But then again, let he who’s never driven over the speed limit throw the first accusation. That being said… following a law, rule, practice, or custom that I disagree with on a fundamental level takes careful consideration. Understanding of why I disagree with it. Doing my best to change it within the system if I reasonably feel it needs to be changed. And understanding the ramifications if it is broken. I may not wish to follow a law, rul… etc… but further, the consequences of violating it, may be more offensive.

At least in my world…

Truth is akin to conviction of belief with an understanding that your belief may always be wrong and that you must be open to change. The hardest part is hoping that others will afford you the same chance of change when their convictions are challenged.

The truth is… rarely are others open to having their convictions or belief argued with.

Selected quotes on belief