During our last trip to Key West, we had dinner with a new couple, George and Izzy. About 15 years longer on this earth than us, they’d been Key Westers longer as well, but we’d never met. That’s rare. In a small town like Key West, you’ve usually met everyone at least once at some gathering or other.
Libertarians, they’d found us through Hal’s blog. George had even run for governor of his home state as a Libertarian! That takes some fortitude and strength of character. They are well-traveled, well-read and know a thing or two about living. It was a really fun evening, delicious food and an immediate connection. We wish we’d known them for years; we look forward to more.
We’ve exchanged a few emails since returning home. In his most recent, George said this:
"My years in politics evolved into frustration and mild anger and even humor. Comedy and tragedy are truly first cousins. … I am not sure the political situation can be resolved within the political system. It is a "catch 22" mess.
Education, politics, economics, society … nothing can truly change until we effect a spiritual (not religion/church) awareness that man cannot continue to feed on man. A new awareness must come into play for change to occur. Man can realize that his own enlightened self interest includes the interest of all.
I am building a site now… It will hold that we are responsible for our own reality and project the magnificence of man. And proclaim the end of victimhood as a goal in life."
That speaks to me, right to the heart. Gives me hope. If there’s a cure for the human condition today, it’s got to come from a spiritual shift. Not our physical or intellectual selves. They got us where we are today. If I could just remember I’m a spiritual being having a physical experience, perhaps I could avoid the Sturm und Drang. Stay more in acceptance. I’m pretty good about not being a victim on a conscious (physical and intellectual) level. It’s the spiritual depth that eludes me. Criticia gets in the way…
I’m looking forward to his site, to reading more like the above. I’ll be sure to pass it on.
Very interesting. Maybe this is the spiritual “shot in the arm” I’m looking for also.
Hmm. I like that. I can’t articulate why, but I *get* it.
Your husband’s words do strike a chord with me. At the same time, however, I have always had a problem understanding the word “spirituality”. I don’t like using words which I do not fully understand.The dictionary defines spirit as :”The incorporeal part of human beings.” Are we talking about ghosts here? Is there some part of a life that exists outside the physical?
When I try to imagine separating the force that seems to animate me from the physical world, all I can come up with is a corpse. What seems more likely is that people like to believe there is something special about us as a species, a soul, which animals don’t possess. Instead, the more likely reality is that the animating force that humans have, animals have as well, and that this force is a product of the physical world. It doesn’t exist apart from the physical world. This is what I observe.
I believe the advanced intellectual capability is the main difference between us and the rest of the animals. We organize ourselves in a similar manner as many other species and, like them, we fight amongst ourselves for resources. If there is a problem with this system, it is a natural problem which nature will resolve one way or another. That resolution may be the destruction of our species.
If there is any hope of avoiding this natural resolution, it lies within our superior intellect. Logic has to dictate the solution, not a move towards a vague feeling or suspicion of some ethereal concept called “spirituality”. That is religion and mysticism any way you dice it, those things have caused a lot of confusion and suffering.
S&J, I’m on a quest here… there is more going on than meets the eye. I think the times we are living in require us to move outside the box to heal. Outside the box has always worked for me. Not that I could live any other way; I seem hard-wired for it. Then found a matching husband and children. The darndest thing…
/=;-) Pura vida, Arp! (that’s me with my wild hair and bangs winking and smiling at you)
Mother Nature may know what she is doing.
Our proclivity as a species is to proselytize all others to our way of thinking and doing in the name of efficiency and peace by use of forceful ideas or force of arms. What usually happens is that only a portion of the population converts. The converts eventually end up in conflict with the rest. And then, of course, there is the never ending battle for scarce resources. Maybe technology can pull our bacon out of the fire on that one. Maybe not. But the ideological wars will go on and on with no winner.
It doesn’t seem possible that our entire species can be lead to a new paradigm of peaceful coexistence any more than a horse can be made to drink if he is not thirsty. Either the “thirst” for peaceful coexistence exists as part of our nature, or it does not. It apparently does not when resources are so scarce. It may be that nature intends for the “experiment” to continue by ensuring conflict within the species.
It’s all too complicated for me and I am not able to worry about humanity as a whole. The best I can do is live and let live. Maybe scurry away to some remote mountain in Costa Rica and watch the fireworks from afar.
James, I haven’t written back to you all day because I been mullin… There is much to mull! I will answer tonight or tomorrow. All good thoughts… more soon!
I think physics does a good job at pointing out that nothing really ever dies and that the world we perceive as form is quite the opposite. When we get outside this “box” and ponder on the magnitude of what we know about creation it does cause most conscious people to consider what some call our “spiritual” aspect…or the world of non-form. Thinking and what you call logic will not lead you to answers…just more questions. “Being” must be experienced it’s something we all at one time in our life have felt even if only briefly glimpsed. I think Einstein did a wonderful job of expressing this in some of his letters and writings as did Thoreau. Yes of course all life possesses this non-form dimension, how could it not? I think you need to broaden the scope beyond the sign posts (religion) and the dictionary regarding “spirit”. Everything you need to know about the universe is encoded in every particle you are made up of. And you don’t need to go off to a mountain top, or India or even recite some sacred text..when you want to be in touch with it you will right here from the only point that is real…the present moment.
I am not a physicist but we all know now that the universe is NOT static. It is expanding. Eternal life would be a static condition and would contradict what we know about the world. All forms continually change from one state to another but they remain forms. Life is one of those states (forms) and death always follows. I don’t believe “nothing ever dies”. Of course everything always dies. Forms always change and life and death are some of those changes.
All is materiality, form. There is nothing else. Energy and matter are the same thing at different speeds, or, in different states if you like.
I was asking what is meant by “Effecting A Spiritual Awareness”. Is it not enough to simply say that we need to redirect our focus toward our mutual needs and similarities in order to come up with practical solutions? I don’t like the term “spiritual”. It infers mysticism and religion and since it is so expansive and open to interpretation, it causes confusion and division. That is the opposite intent of the article. The word “spirituality” is just another brick in the Tower of Babel.
James, have you seen the movie What The Bleep? That was a really fun movie, blows my mind every time I see it.
Spirit is material, is energy, it is form. Just not touchable. I have a real spiritual life. Maybe it’s just a sugar high, but I have conscious contact with a higher power. It’s very real to me. And unexplainable if you have not had any experience of this. There are things in my life that I have not been able to solve with reason, with understanding. Only with listening and waiting.
In the world of matter, nothing dies. It just changes form. Energy doesn’t die. I guess one could argue that our bodies die… returns to dust. But isn’t dust energy? Yikes, too deep for me.
Thoughts are things: they have matter, can be measured. Just because you can’t touch something doesn’t mean it’s not there, that it doesn’t effect you and the world. The word “spiritual” may infer mysticism and religion… but so what? That doesn’t mean they are absolutely related. Your mind does that relating. Mine doesn’t.
Can this world be healed by a lot of people thinking good thoughts? I don’t know. There is some pretty strong evidence – concrete, tangible, touchable evidence – that energy creates change.
For me, if I can heal myself and create a little ripple effect out from me, that’s going to have to do. For a start.
I really don’t know what you mean by eternal life? This is not something we can argue about, I am trying to introduce you to the idea of the awareness of consciousness, consciousness becoming aware of itself. I am not speaking about religion, of course you will not find this in the current scientific literature. It is in stillness. Space is not form-really it does not exist it is no-thingness, but by naming it you label it and it becomes a form. The twofold reality of the universe consists of things and space as do you..the great space between the atoms that are you. According to recent discovery’s by physicists we are 99.99% space, although we perceive ourselves as form. Light travels at a constant speed of 186,000 miles per hour,light from the galaxy closest to ours(Andromeda) takes 2.4 million years to reach earth(light from our sun 8 minutes). How awesome that our bodies are just as spacious as the universe. Space is not form…and you are 99.99% space, you can never answer what consciousness is with thoughts which are form…
Ahhhh! The little 5 watt bulb just illuminated for me. If I just replace the word “spirituality” with the word “intuition”, I think I can move on here.
I said before that I don’t like the word “spirituality”. It is based on the word “spirit”. Spirits don’t exist. But the Mind does and the Mind is made up of two tools for understanding the world; intellect and intuition. We all use some varying combination of both. I suspect you and Keith lean more to the use of the intuitive tool. I use it too. Those magical moments of understanding and connection to the universe which cannot be explained happen to most of us, I think.
With me, the experience comes most often when I am in my sea kayak. A pair of dolphins will arc out of the sea between me and a rising sun or I will silently drift around the bend of a mangrove creek and come upon hundreds of herons resting in the branches. Overwhelmed by some sense of connection and communing with the natural world, my eyes fill with tears of joy. It is an intuitive experience because I can’t explain with reason why those events cause me to react that way.
There is some visceral connective experience going on all the time in humans and animals. But I feel it is material and has form. It is not spacial and formless. It is something, not nothing. Space is the nothing which defines the something.
Let’s throw out the superstition and language of the past. Let’s dump religion and superstition as ways of experiencing humanity and the world. If something can’t be explained, then let’s just keep looking for understanding rather than inventing some gobbledygoop fairy tale to fill in the blank space. I think we can live with blank spaces. I don’t think we do too well with lies and superstition.
Nothing is something. I like that. Dumping dogma sounds good to me. Dogma would be the intellectual route to hopefully having a spiritual or intuitive experience. I don’t think the intellect can lead us there. Except to hear and understand the words “shut up and listen.”
James that was very beautiful but I will disagree with the idea of flat out dumping “fairy tales” . Myths, fairy tales and these other terms you lump into gobblegook can help us all understand the world and ourselves better, we can learn from them. From the traditions of the Hope Indians to the fairy tales of modern Europeans story telling can aid us all and give us great insight into life, not so much better than science but different. We don’t need to rid the world of myth we need to understand that it is not absolute truth, but that it points us towards an understanding of who we are beyond elements. The universe is full of magic and when I experience those moments of deep stillness I know that we are all connected- to the sky, water, earth, stars etc because with out one we could not have the other. I can feel the presence of the universe, the stillness of it or what some refer to as source or god. That experience you have while sea kayaking sounds wonderful…imagine feeling that way all the time even at the sight of a flower, or rock or when you gaze up towards the unbelievable vastness of space. I embrace science but I also embrace gobbledygook too, actually science lead me to gobbledygook…
Yeah, the intellect should quietly observe the intuitive experience. However, it might be possible to understand it with reason some day Until then, it’s good to quietly accept the experience as genuine and of value.
I have no problem with established belief systems as long as they are open to adjustment or even being scrapped entirely if necessary. They have to work in the meantime, though.
No problems with myths and fairy tales as long as we recognize them as such. I enjoy a good fiction as much as anyone else and stories can be instructional. But many people through ignorance and/or fear take these beautiful tales as factual representations. Putting allegory on steroids and then declaring holy Jihad is not a healthy way to proceed.
Okay, I don’t know if I will make much sense here because our softball team just won, and we have drank a lot of beers. Not Key West Sunset Ale or Imperial but good ole Michigan State beer.
Spirtual vs Religion…I think that spiritual is a very private thing between you and whatever higher power you think might exist. For me I am a Christian so I believe in the holy trinity and all that goes with it. But I will never condemn another belief as long as the believer truly believes.
I was awaken many years ago when Genesis was presented in my college class as a creation myth. I can not be so egocentrical to believe that my way and only my way is the right and correct way to enlightenment. I do believe in an afterlife, but I strongly believe that each person is judged as an individual.
So, again sorry if this is not where it should be. We won our game.
Congrats on your game (but perhaps not on your choice of beverage) :-}
You bring up another qualm I have with religion and that is the sensitivity and intolerance which many believers display. You may criticize any belief system I hold and as long as it is done with a sincere effort at rational discussion, I won’t be offended.
In fact, challenging a belief will either strengthen or diminish it if a good argument is put forth. I criticize the motives of religious believers and am open to any critique of my motives for my world view. That is as far as I go.
I think we can agree that there are correct paths and incorrect paths to enlightenment. I am not condoning any action to diminish religion other than the use of common sense. Unfortunately, religions cannot say the same. Violence is being used right now by religious fanatics. And ALL religions have been used as an excuse for violence since their beginnings. That is my definition of an incorrect path.
Carlita, congratulations on your game. An answer to your prayers. I was moved by your writing – it seems dogma and religion works in your life. As it should! Beautiful.
James, this is why we are taught to avoid sex, politics and religion at polite dinner conversations. They rarely stay polite because we are so passionate on the subjects with so little room for another’s beliefs. Or path to enlightenment. Every path, including religion, voodoo, mysticism, what have you, CAN work as long as a body doesn’t hurt another body physically, mentally or spiritually.
Guess what? It’s going to rain today!!!! Could someone be doing a rain dance to the appropriate gods?
We need rain here too. (Darned global climate change!) Let me know if a rain dance works down there. Maybe they have a dance for improving the stock market too.
The stock market needs no improvment for those shorting it…it’s perfect just as it is. Ok I’ll through a “lol” in there.
By the way, at dinner parties, I stick to talking about the food and the weather. While visiting blogs, I address the themes that interest me. Civility is such a subjective matter, though, and that is what I mentioned above. I can usually figure who might be offended and who might be up for a spirited disagreement when talking within a limited group in person. That’s not possible here because everyone is invited.
If you open a topic which involves the use of religious terminology, you run the risk that some rascally atheist might drop in and opine. That is sure to upset SOMEBODY out there who is NOT an atheist. There exists a tremendous imbalance in favor of religion but it should be no more insulting for a religious person to come across a critique of religion than for an atheist to come across religious terminology. I am not offended by civil discussion on this matter. Neither should any body who holds strong belief in religion.
Civil behavior at the very least involves avoidance of personal attacks, physical or intellectual. When I encounter religion, I oppose it as an institution and avoid personal attacks on believers. I consider that to be as rude as pointing out to a racist
that HIS racist attitude is evil. It is civil, however, to put forth my own disgust with the idea of racism.
I am almost always up for a spirited discussion on the blogs. Even when I can’t or don’t join in, it’s a wonderful way to learn, to broaden my mind. Not up for the personal attack… ever.
Re: polite discussion. At someone else’s dinner party, we never bring up taboo topics. But, at ours, we almost always talk about politics and money because that’s what interests us. We talk about religion sometimes, too. It can get pretty spirited.
We strive to maintain civility – there’s a learning process – and sometimes we have a guest who can only resort to personal attacks because they don’t know how to debate an issue. Very interesting for the boys to hear.
I have a hard time being civil to racists because of my family’s various skin tones. I try to be choosy who I bother to be civil to… If I think they are worth “saving” (IMHO – ha!), I can be gentle in my disgust. There are times I have been less than subtle or kind. Terribly un-spiritual of me. I try to remember to ask WWGD (what would Ghandi do)… see beyond the outskirts of my tiny mind!