Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Taking Responsibility (For Beginners)

What is "taking responsibility"? Convicted criminals are supposed to take responsibility for their crimes. Teenagers are told to take responsibility for pets, homework, chores and other things. Taking responsibility is pledging to provide a response to something. "It's my responsibility" is also, "I take the credit when it succeeds, and the blame when it fails."

Taking responsibility is a sober thing. We do tend to go off in compulsivity around giving blame and taking credit. A spiritually healthy person doesn't need to blame or take credit to prop up a self-image. Taking responsibility, properly speaking, has nothing to do with giving blame and taking credit. Taking responsibility involves two steps. 1.) Acknowledge that something is true or exists. 2.) Provide a response (if needed).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spiritual Training

People do better with spiritual training than without. Spiritual training consists of ideas and techniques that are passed from one person to another, starting with parent-to-child. By holding and comforting the newborn, we teach that there is succor in our existence. By letting the dry, healthy, just-fed infant cry for a while, we teach it to find succor for itself. This is the basis of all further spiritual training. One person gives comfort to another, to prove it exists. Then the teacher points to the student and says, "What I gave you, you have the power to give to yourself, and others." When the student is able to believe that, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Believing you can comfort yourself, gives you the power to do so. This is the significance of true belief. It is a self-actualizing idea, which means it must refer to itself. It is an idea _about_ referring to oneself in a certain way, which makes it real and true. This may be hard to grasp, but take my word for it - you _can_ find succor in yourself. It is worth believing. Everyone I know who truly believes it, also wishes to help you make this self-actualizing idea your own. (They tend to want to be loving and helpful in other ways, too.)

We Christians find this Way of being in the world through following Jesus. Christians of my kind are happy to evangelize this gospel, to gather in the like-minded, and to share God's love with others, using language and concepts only when this is helpful. If others groups of people have found the Way to God, or Allah, or nirvana, or Atman, we are happy to use their language, if we can comprehend it, and to share life and love with them. It is not possible for a human to judge the state of another's soul. All language falls short of the glory of God, and no thought expressed in language captures the reality of God. We can only go where God leads us, and be loving to others. Telling them that their language or ideas are wrong, is just plain _being_ wrong ourselves. Our command is to love them, and not to judge them. If we do, the gospel will be clear to them. Censoring, frightening, damning, condemning - none of these things can be done in love.

I hew to a strict interpretation of the Scriptures. That strict interpretation is that we are to love others no matter what.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don't Hold Your Breath

I just thought of something I have been trying to phrase pithily. It has to do with my feeling that much of the time I am ruled by fear. That state degrades my ability to deal with the current moment in a rational way. It demoralizes me, and just plain feels bad.

Holding your breath is an unconscious reaction to fear. The protective instinct of fear is to become as quiet as possible, so as not to give away one's location. How many times in your life has becoming quiet actually helped you evade something you feared? How many times, on the other hand, has a clear, calm mind helped to succeed in doing something? Which leads me to pithiness.

Don't hold your breath. You need plenty of oxygen for your brain to work properly.

Notice when you are holding your breath, and make use of the awareness that fear is affecting you. Practice letting go of instinctive fear, so that the appropriate parts of your brain-mind will be freed up to deal with the situation. I'm not saying to deny that you are afraid of something, but rather, make an intention not to operate unconsciously in fear. Express the fear in words, and let the rational knowledge of the specific fearful thought affect the rational evaluation of what needs to be done.

I can say from experience that this is easier to understand intellectually, than to do.

For example, imagine you are driving to work, and thinking about various things that are happening at work. You think about what you need to do when you get there. Something that might turn out badly occurs to you, and you are now driving down the road holding your breath. You might not hold it completely, as you would underwater, but you don't take breaths that are as deep (and loud) as you would if you were relaxed.

Every time you think of something negative, check your breathing. Take a deep breath. Yawning out loud is another good thing to do, if you are alone, or in a relaxed setting.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Being Led

If you have experienced what in Christian terms is called "being led" by Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit, then you will know that it is not an experience you can name. That is, we name it - being led by Jesus - but it cannot be defined in words. It cannot be limited by words, which are in turn, limited by their definitions. There ARE absolutes in reality, God's commandments so to speak, which cannot be denied, as a conservative Christian might say. This "being led" is one of them, or perhaps it comprises all of them. But any Absolute cannot be limited to that which can be defined in words.

This is why I am led to proclaim Jesus, and not deny Buddha, or Allah, or The Great Spirit. I have a lot more to say on that subject, but since I have not managed to post much recently, I will leave it to later.