feeling sorry

If an agnostic has the quality of not having to be right, do we automatically know what an atheist feels when he or she claims the belief that there is no God? Would that feeling be the same feeling the religious fundamentalists love to feel? The rightness of it all, with the “all” hidden in a cloud of faith and words.

It’s wonderful to know and feel one is right. But what makes it wonderful? Traditional religions are zero-sum games, so everyone not believing as one should believe gets the ax.

The members of each of the thousands of religions are feeling sorry for rest of the world because even the very good and faithful folks of all the other religions will not end up in their god’s favor because their god has not been acknowledged.

And yet a deep natural freedom and relaxation can be found by living life not having to know for sure about some of the most important issues which confront us in life. And the benefits of freedom and relaxation are hidden because as human animals we are unknowingly trapped in a stream of language of our own making. Being trapped allows us to experience becoming free and relaxed. Being trapped by language is the setup to the ultimate spiritual game.

How is the game played? Sometime during a person’s life he or she may begin to ask the questions of Who am I? and Why am I here? When one gets past the answer “You are a child of the only true God and you are here to serve Him”, then one may start looking for better answers, and all of a sudden, folks with answers are everywhere, and normally, they are asking for money. 

Eventually, one might come to the sayings of the great sages of history. They give the same answers but expressed in a different ways. Of the major religions, Buddhist teachings come the closest to reality for me.

There are many factions in Buddhism just as there are many in Christianity. Main-line Buddhism teaches there is no afterlife, or god, and we suffer and are trapped by the strong habit language.

Buddhists use Zen meditation to escape from the language corral and as a centering tool to deal better with suffering and desire.

Only in the sweet silence of the present moment can a human sense the universe as a tree senses it. How is this possible? We are able to feel the universe because our bodies are units of its expression just like trees are.

We identities are in the way, and can be explained away, but what we need most is a daily period of silence.

It’s best to have the practice of sitting down in a comfortable position daily and then with eyes closed paying attention to one’s breath or a mantra for at least 20 to 30 minutes and by calmly coming back each time without blame or regret for not paying attention to every moment.

Getting better at paying attention is part of the trip, and this skill opens up the world to the seeker.

In this game, everyone can win because attempting is the only posture needed, sitting comfortably with silence as the horizon.

For those interested, I recommend the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal talks on Zen meditation and practice by Shunryu Suzuki. It is a small book (138 pages) and is full of practical advice and insights. In it he states “The world is its own magic.”

I learned to meditate using Transcendental Meditation (TM) which the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi made popular in the western world a little over two-thirds of the way through the 20th century. Shunryu Suzuki arrived here in the USA a little before the Maharishi, and their messages are still changing lives.

Their work prompted science to test and then adopt meditation as an important tool. We are fortunate to have had these missionaries from the east.

Suzuki’s book recommends you eventually be able to sit with legs crossed to meditate which takes a bit of dedication.

TM recommends “a straight-back chair with feet flat on the floor.” I have found that a comfortable car seat works well too. (Of course the car stays stationary if you’re in the driver seat.) The traditional Hindu mantra “OM” will work for anyone.

While researching TM in the early 1970s, Dr. Herbert Benson used the word “one” as a mantra instead of a TM mantra and found almost the same results as a similar group of TM students using the TM mantra given to them by their TM instructor. All of the participants of both group’s breathing rates, types of brain waves, and galvanic skin responses were recorded during their meditation and the results were almost the same. For the full story read Dr. Benson’s famous book The Relaxation Response.

It turns out almost any short nonsensical sounds ending with m or n will do the job. These two sounds have ending sounds which vibrate naturally (the mantras can be repeated silently in the mind or sounded out) and the vibration can last several breaths until it fades on its own and then restarted after a period of silence.

There are no rules. It’s what feels best for you that counts. TM recommends two twenty minute periods of meditation each day. A seeker can use meditation to lessen stress, gain a more positive attitude, better sleep, etc.

Today there a various digital meditation aids available which give positive results and work well along with traditional meditation.

It’s best not to be concerned about enlightenment. Then and only then, the sages say, can the mystery: the universe (in the form of your amazing body) come calling.

There are copies of the two books above being sold for bargain prices on Amazon.com and ebay.com. Libraries also may have copies.

All the best,

Marvin

is time a fountain

Do we actually know something if we

aren’t changed in some way?

Does mindfulness equal

meditation with

our eyes

open?

Is

time

a fountain

for each of us and

do we naturally

balance at

the top

in the

froth like

a beach ball?

One day will we

fall from the fountain?

Has one never fallen from a

fountain? Nor anyone ever drowned in a mountain?

a way to make things happen

The first thing is to know for sure it’s doable. If you’re not sure, research it to see if it is. If it is, in your mind, picture or find out what will be the trail of doings to produce the completed project. Create a plan.

This mental process removes doubt, and doubt removal is the proper foundation. The doable nature of the project creates the sureness it will come to be. Knowing for sure gives rise to an intelligent desire.

This desire creates a bond with the sureness of the results you have visualized and pushes you forward to build and and keep improving the actual product or service.

The final part is working on the project some every day until you cause your vision to come into actual existence.

Whatever we do is where we are going.

better now than later

How does a person keep a relationship fresh? Does the joy begin to fade when one or both parties begin to take the other for granted?

So, don’t start taking the other for granted by reminding yourself how it feels when it happens to you. To check up on a relationship, you can ask the question What would life be like for me without this relationship? Count the options.

If you feel it would be a terrible loss to loose this friend or partner, express your gratitude to the other party more often and in more ways than one. Allow your gratefulness to show.

If imagining your life without the relationship turns out to produce a good feeling, I can’t think of what to say because it’s your situation. You know to be honest and gentle.

If you ever feel you are about to be dumped, don’t be afraid to ask “Should I not call again?”or “Should we not go out again?” These questions will clear up the situation quickly by the other’s response: Why are you saying that? or “That’s a good idea.”

Better now than later.

this everlasting moment

Is the bad not worth remembering
unless there’s a really
sweet lesson
learned
well
and
revisiting
it is inspiring?

Dwelling on the past or the future
uses up time from
the present this
everlasting
moment,
that
we get
so little of,
is all we have.

Is time the highest currency?
Does it, as always,
depend?

Spinoza (taken from Wikipedia)

The remaining twenty-one years of his life established Spinoza as the most dangerous man in Europe, read secretly everywhere in spite of the official prohibition of his few texts.

The most explosive of those published in his lifetime was the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus of 1670, a tract which portrayed God as the immanent cause of the natural world, and nothing more.

Employing his training as a Hebraist, Spinoza pointed out the startling coincidence between biblical authors and the ideas about God and law that they put forth.

Undertaking an extensive investigation of the motivations of each author, he showed that what generations had taken to be the deep truths of Scripture were really just the result of various authorial perspectives, and often ignorant ones at that.

Not understanding nature, and desiring the universe to be shaped according to their own personal natures, these authors called ordinary events miraculous and ventured absurd and self-serving notions of how God worked in the universe.

Pressing the point further, in the notorious Chapter VI, Spinoza argued against the reality of miracles, stating that they were either ordinary events viewed by people unschooled in the workings of nature or fits of imagination bleeding over into reality.

The God of Spinoza does not act in the world, does not have emotions, does not support one people over another, does not wish for things, and does not ask for worship. He is, rather, the substance underlying the universe, a completely indifferent source of natural law to whom prayers and sacrifice are nothing whatsoever.

This view of God, one who could not be bribed or pleased, and who offered neither punishment nor advice, was a trident in the heart of standard theology.

While theologians argued over aspects of God and definitions of good and evil, Spinoza offered the sober reality that, if even the authors of the Bible couldn’t clear away their local historical prejudices in interpreting God’s nature, a man coming thousands of years later, with an incomplete knowledge of the base languages involved and a totally different historical context, had no chance of saying anything except the pre-existing content of his own religious fancy.

Good and evil are just what we call things that are useful and appealing to us or not, but nature makes no such distinction. Tragedy is inflicted upon the innocent as often as triumph is meted out to the villainous, all following rigidly mechanical laws emanating from the structure of the universe, and there’s nothing to be done about any of it.

He would expand these ideas in his posthumous masterwork, the Ethics, which had to be smuggled out of his house in an unmarked crate lest it fall into the wrong hands and be destroyed in manuscript. It is a towering work which attempted to display Spinoza’s complete system with geometric precision, the philosophical counterpart of Euclid’s Elements. It was his final statement of belief, and if written in a more sober tone than the Tractatus, was even more radical in its content.

Since God is essentially just a nom de guerre for nature, and nature is governed entirely by mechanistic cause and effect, there can be no such thing as free will in any meaningful sense. Rather, there are just people, striving to actualize their personal natures to the fullest extent possible, and forming societies to do so.

When such people come across something that meets their needs, they have a natural tendency to think it was made specifically for them, and so they craft notions of Providence from crude matter, and when they are foiled in their ambitions, they seek an outer source to propitiate, and thus are born superstition and the power of priests.

Spinoza exhorts us to turn away from anything that demands the sacrifice of our reason, or the freedom to investigate the workings of nature. Any government or church that claims power over minds or knowledge of God’s thoughts is unworthy of its authority.

Each person must employ the full power of his or her reason to understand his nature, work against self-defeating desires, and pursue the needs of his particular self in joint purpose with his fellow human beings.

Because the universe is fully determined, along with our actions in it, there is no need to feel envy for those who happen to have done better, nor to feel superior to those who have had a rougher lot in life.

Instead, we are to approach other humans with compassion and understanding, realizing that their conception of good might not be our own, and that there is no way to judge one person’s path as objectively better than another’s.

In a Europe still finding its feet after the destruction wrought by the Thirty Years’ War, Spinoza’s call to relinquish self-satisfied superiority in favor of a broad-based sympathy was strikingly original, and formed the positive ethical core of modern humanism.

By combining scriptural critique with an uncompromising materialism, and welding both of those onto a new secular ethics of inclusivity, Spinoza produced the foundation of not only the Enlightenment, but the basic vocabulary of present humanism.

Throughout his life, Spinoza’s motto was caution. He kept the sensibilities of his Christian audience in mind, seeking to wean them of their dependence on Jesus Christ by degrees, focusing on the Old Testament and letting the implications trickle through to the New.

For all his caution, however, the consequences of his philosophy were plain to all, and Spinoza watched friend after friend turn vehemently upon him, upbraiding him for his arrogance in supposing that he, and he alone, knew better than thousands of years of religious experts.

He was called the most vile, foul, and dangerous human being in the history of religion. His friends, the Koerbagh brothers, were put on trial for espousing atheistic doctrines.

Van den Enden traveled to France to foment his beloved Normandy rebellion and was hung for his troubles. Leibniz, the greatest mind in Europe, eagerly sought him out in private, and condemned him vehemently in public.

And yet, his life went on, supported by a handful of true friends and a growing army of those attracted to his views but too afraid to be seen publicly defending him. He was never arrested, never driven from his home country, and lived, to all appearances, precisely the life he desired, a simple life of the mind.

When he died, it was suddenly, without warning, though his health had always been precarious. Within a year, his Ethics was published, along with some of the secret correspondence that had flown between his humble rented rooms and the rest of Europe.

Spinozism became synonymous with atheism, and his philosophical system proved fresh for generations of intellectual outsiders.

His comments about the consequences of linguistic degradation for religious exegesis found their way into Herder’s revolutionary linguistic theory, while his observations about humans crafting gods in their own image inspired Feuerbach’s dialectic critique of Christianity.

From being the outcast’s outcast, he has become the philosopher’s philosopher.

Thank you Wikipedia!

a way to health

We all have heard the story of a doctor telling a patient, “Exercise is the best prescription I could write for you.” This is correct and all of the research says it is.

And it’s because exercise does so many positive things for the human body and mind. I’ll not list these things because the important things to know are what to eat and how to best exercise.

Walking is the best exercise. Work up to walking two miles four-to-five times a week (the fresher the air the better). After walking a while, jog or run fifty yards then start walking again. It’s a nice break from walking and it’s strengthening your lungs and you are increasing your lungs’ capacity. And the running and the walking do the same for your heart. In about six months or so, you’ll be a “well oiled machine” in a sense: blood and lymph going to all the right places.

Work up to four fifty-yard runs during the two miles.

Here is a technique I got from Dr. Al Sears’ book PACE which changed my life for the better, plus there’s a lot more in the book than fitness…

Here’s the technique: beginning at the last twenty yards or so during the running or jogging phase of your walk, surge ahead by running at 80% to 90% of full speed and then for the last seven to ten yards, go 100% if you can.

The reason for the surge and then going all out: it tells your lungs to increase their capacity and makes your lungs, heart, and body stronger when the surges are done each time during your running or jogging phase.

I’ve found it’s better for my recovered back to run going uphill. I’m fortunate to live in a hilly area; it has become my gym.

A really neat thing happens when I exercises regularly. There comes a point where little or no discipline is needed to get out and exercise because my body prompts me, and I exercise because it’s going to be a treat.

And while I’m exercising, I know in a deep way it’s the best thing I can be doing for myself. I’m talking about satisfaction and relaxation. The prompts started happening to me after a year or so of exercising by walking and surging.

As one gets older, one should also develop some type of body building program to remain strong because physical strength is the main ingredient of independent living. I lift and maneuver a kettle bell during TV commercials and also hike up and down a flight of stairs four to five times during commercials. It feels great to sit down after doing the stairs. Being in shape allows one to begin or keep participating in sports, hiking, etc. while aging.

The next thing is diet. In his book Dr. Sears explains how to use the Glycemic Index (listed in his book) to sort out the best and worst foods to eat and why. I went from 224 pounds to 185 in about a year and wasn’t hungry unless I skipped a meal, and I have kept it off without effort for the past five years.

You don’t have to eat only perfect foods. I cheat often but the health-giving food I do eat and my moderate exercising allow me to not even think about what I eat, except sugar.

One should know refined sugar is not only empty calories but robs our bodies of the micro-nutrients which are taken away to clean up the mess the sugar causes.

Essentially there are only two things. I should eat very little sugar or food which turns into sugar as soon as I chew it (the Glycemic Index is the key to knowing what these foods are), and I shouldn’t eat processed foods if I can help it.

  • The information above comes from my experience and is not given as health advice. For professional advice to build a healthy and strong body with a strong heart and strong lungs, ask a professional trainer or look up Dr. Al Sears on Amazon and get his PACE book.

(Dr. Sears has not asked me to mention or promote his book. I mention the book because it’s full of high-quality information all should know.)