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Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

What makes someone a “Spiritual Warrior?” Is it something one does, or something one decides?

You will have joy only when you focus on having it and settle for nothing less.

Orin, as channeled by Sanaya Roman in the book Living with Joy

Making sense of the term “Spiritual Warrior” has always been a challenge for me because each word seems to hold opposite meaning. Today while reflecting on the book I quoted from above as well as on a psychic reading I received, the true meaning of Spiritual Warrior came to me – and it finally made sense! (Insert caveat – if I felt more and thought less, this probably would’ve come to me awhile ago… 🙂 )

We’re conditioned to believe that “doing” is what’s most important. Most of us grow up hearing things like “Idle hands are the devil’s playground” and similar nonsense. Because at a societal level our worth is measured by this standard, many of us move through life checking off a predetermined list of “shoulds” – going to college, getting a “square” job, buying a “nice” house and a “nice” car, getting married, having kids – and on and on. As part of this process we reduce living with joy to simply existing, passing our days in a zombie-like trance. You know the routine – get up, shower, eat, commute to work, spend 8-10 hours doing something we dislike because we feel we have to, commute back home, eat, sleep, rinse and repeat. UGH!

What would happen if we decided we deserved better and decided to trust that if we focused on having joy, it would come???

Does the Warrior wear faded robes of apathy, resigning to live without joy because he feels he must? No – she dons bright colors and resolves to have joy regardless of what the day brings.

Arise fellow Warrior! Let us go forth and conquer together! 🙂

 

Living with Joy is the current selection for the online book discussion group A Novel Paradigm. All who are tolerant and desire to better themselves and our planet are welcome!

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To believe that one has found the single spiritual truth or “correct way of being” and to then react emotionally when others don’t agree is to walk on dangerous ground.

This self-righteousness seeks and often finds our greatest weaknesses and latches on. I’ve observed its poison course through myself, others, and humanity as a whole time and again. We can see the precise areas where it festers when others hold up the spiritual mirror and show us.

Not long ago I would seek out evangelical Christian blogs simply to pick fights and poke holes in the authors’ beliefs. Was this because I was certain their beliefs were wrong, or uncertain that mine were right? Who did this exercise hurt more, me or them? It probably hurt us both. And it turns out it’s not about being “right” at all – it’s about finding your truth and living it. Part of “living it” means allowing others to find and live their truth as well, and to avoid judging them when they don’t live up to your ideal.

The truth is, it’s impossible for anyone…including you…to completely and unwaveringly live your ideal. From the most depraved criminal to the highest and most compassionate spiritual leader, every one of us is perfectly imperfect and will remain so as long as we live and breathe.

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Give a definite name to Deity, He would be no more than what the name implies. To [name] the Deity is to give him tradition, nationality, limitation, and fixity, and it never brings us nearer to Him. –Kaiten Nukariya in The Religion of the Samurai

An unfortunate side-effect of critical thought – one more prevalent in the Western world than elsewhere – is the tendency to “tidy up” the unknown by categorizing and labeling it. Though this has helped us gain an understanding of our physical reality – plants, animals, our bodies, the solar system, etc. – it has little value when applied to something intangible, like spirituality.

I’ve always struggled with how to refer to God. Creator, God, Father-Mother God, the Divine, the Goddess, the Source, the Great Central Sun…none of these have ever completely fit. Though it’s the most common and accepted label, “God” feels too patriarchal and has too many negative associations (Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps, et. al.). Of the other options, I find “Creator” too nebulous, “Goddess” too matriarchal, “the Source” too impersonal, and so on. It wasn’t until I read the passage by Dr. Nukariya above that it became clear why I feel this way. How can limitless Love be confined to a name?

Labels applied to things that can be observed and measured typically stick. Though I see bits of God everywhere, I can’t measure those bits. So where does that leave me? Without control – which is precisely the fear that drives us to label everything to begin with. Pagan and Christian, black and white, gay and straight – we fool ourselves into thinking that by assigning a name to something, we gain a measure of control over it. Perhaps this perceived control helps diminish our fear of the unknown?

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Truth empowers. Belief stifles. 

Truth is innate. Belief is acquired.

Truth is to peace as Belief is to conflict. 

Truth is to spirituality as Belief is to dogma.

We yearn for Truth, but sabotage ourselves with Belief.

Truth transcends critical thought. Belief is a construct of the mind.

Truth is simple and self-evident. Belief is complex and requires justification.

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At different points throughout my 31 years I’ve been immersed in Christianity, Paganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Zen. Masters who walk two of these paths have called me student. This might lead some to the conclusion that I’ve amassed a good deal of wisdom – but that conclusion would be incorrect. Recognition of the novice I really am has recently humbled me in a big way.

The Cup of Tea, a Zen parable: 

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Yesterday while reading an article on Deepak Chopra’s new book I was reminded of a concept I was introduced to several years ago. Deepak spoke of meeting a woman at one of his book signings who demanded a great deal of dedicated time while others waited in line behind her. Eventually he politely asked if she could step aside and allow the next person to come forward. Apparently this infuriated the woman, who proceeded to cause a scene. After the signing he was still shaken by her outburst and, knowing the truth of the spiritual mirror, asked himself what qualities this woman displayed that bothered him so much. After determining she was demanding, selfish, angry, and impatient, he immediately called his wife and asked if he behaved in those ways. His wife was silent…and he got his answer.

The spiritual mirror is simply what others reflect back to us about our own deficiencies. What has it shown me lately? It’s shown me that I’m often arrogant, self-righteous, and scathing in how I communicate my views – especially to those who disagree with me. Who has given me this painful but valuable lesson? Christian fundamentalists.

They infuriate me when they arrogantly claim their way is the only way. The self-righteousness they embody when they condemn anyone who doesn’t think like they do makes me see red quicker than anything. The scathing way they communicate their black and white view of the world is maddening, mind-boggling, and (thankfully) sometimes comical.  But instead of standing up to their spiritual tyranny with calm and reason, I’ve become a tyrant myself. That’s not who I want to be.

Perhaps being a novice isn’t so bad. After all, if my “cup” is empty of “opinions and speculations,” I’ll have nothing to defend…

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Most Wiccans recognize two related moral codes – the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law.

The Rede states “As it harms none, do what you will.” In simple terms this means “do what you like as long as no one gets hurt, including yourself.”

The Threefold Law states that whatever energy one puts forth (in words, thoughts, and/or actions) will be returned after being multiplied by three.

The concept behind the Rede is not unique to Wicca. In fact, every other major religion teaches a similar ethic of reciprocity.

There are two reasons the Rede feels like truth to me. First, it guides one toward living a sacred life. If we view ourselves and all we encounter as sacred, we’re more likely to use the reverence that results as a basis for the decisions we make (decisions that would likely involve “harming none.”). Second, it’s based on the universal law of cause and effect (simply put, we reap what we sow). We can see evidence of this law all around us.

The Threefold Law does not resound as truth however. First, I see it as an unnecessary over-elaboration of the Rede. Second, in the words of attorney, activist, and well-known Wiccan Phyllis Curott,

“[The Threefold Law is] not ethics, [it]’s expediency. [It’s a] remnant of Biblical patriarchal thinking. It’s a rule based on punishment and fear. What it says is, if I do something wrong, I will be punished, and therefore I will behave. Expediency, self-interest, and this is the weak cousin of an ethical norm. It’s bad morality and it’s not the basis upon which we should conduct ourselves and our lives and our spiritual practices.”

(Expediency means basing current action strictly on a future desired outcome.)

I understand and accept that how I experience life is a direct reflection of the choices I make – I don’t need the Threefold Law hovering over my head to remind me. Also, when I do good I endeavor to do so based on genuine desire -not because I expect to receive a triple bonus of good in return.

It’s important for adherents of all religions to use discernment and to constantly ask questions. Digesting everything one reads or is told without first passing it through these filters is inconsistent with the value we as Wiccans place on personal responsibility.

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While reading Wicca’s Charm, a Christian commentary on Wicca, I came across a term I hadn’t encountered before: panentheism. I decided to visit Technorati to see what other bloggers had written on the topic. Of the posts I read, this one seemed to offer the best explanation of the term. Its author compared and contrasted it with another term it’s apparently often mistaken for, pantheism. An excerpt appears below.

Pantheism is the view that God is wholly immanent. God IS the universe. The pantheist God is not at all personal, and is often little more than a “metaphor” for nature, or “the ground of being”, etc. Some famous pantheists include Einstein, Spinoza, Joseph Campbell, and the followers of many Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism.

Panentheism, while affirming with the pantheists that the universe is included in God, distinguish themselves from pantheists in their belief that God is also personal and transcendent (or more than) the universe. God for the panentheists is more than a metaphor for being or for nature, but a personal transcendent deity.

While the definition of panentheism presented above strongly echoes my beliefs about the nature of the Divine, I feel it also places unnecessary limitations on God’s form (i.e., as a single deity rather than as any manifestation She/He/It chooses). Before I continue, let me say that though the labels we place on various schools of thought are helpful in establishing common understanding, they can also be limiting due to the myriad of different meanings each individual attaches to them. I don’t believe words are capable of fully and accurately representing how each person who believes in a Higher Power views and relates to that Higher Power. 

That said it should come as no surprise that I identify as a polytheist given my religious affiliation. However what polytheism means to me may differ from the meaning other Wiccans or Pagans associate with the term. My view of a Higher Power is thus:

  • There is a central, sentient source of Love that creates all that is. Every being, the earth, sun, and stars are all sacred because the Source is sacred and the Source is where all originates.
  • The Gods and Goddesses of Old are separate and distinct facets of the Source. One Wiccan author (I can’t remember who) described the Source as an immense diamond and the Goddess(es) and God(s) as separate faces on its surface. (In other words, this author and I see the Goddess and God as manifestations of the Source.)

As I continue to ponder how panentheism partially describes my view of the Divine (as both present in all creation as well as “a personal, transcendent deity”), I also start to wonder how this concept can be reconciled with polytheism (if at all). Perhaps these musings will result in my adoption of a new label to describe my beliefs – “poly-panentheist.”

 

 

 

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