Sunday, December 20, 2015

When the Shoe No Longer Fits

     What happens when the religious / spiritual group with which you closely identify keeps punching you in the nose with its simplistic immaturity?

    The original founders of most major religions - Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam - were profound mystics who deeply inspired small numbers of followers, AND usually met with violent opposition from orthodox religions, and other established political organizations.
and even today, Judaism, Christianity & Islam continue the violence, even internally - one faction against the other, "orthodox" against "reformers," and the majority against their own, few mystics, who (like their founder) are serious reformers ie 'real shit-disturbers.'
surprisingly, religious orthodoxies are only comfortable with the first 3 of Fowler's 6 stages of faith, deeply troubled by 4&5 (equating these stages with 
psychology, and thus 'anti-religious'), and are dead-set against 6 (calling it 'madness' - which ironically sounds like pop-psychology). .
    For the past 18 years,
important international research is been carried out on well over a thousand "Finders" - people who have stabilized at stages that start at Fowler's level 6. Instead of 'madness,' Finders report experiencing deep, foundational inner peace & joy that far surpasses common experience.
Dr. Jeffery A. Martin. “The Finders.” Integration Press, 2019.

      How strongly one identifies with their particular take on religion / spirituality becomes clear when being questioned in a thoroughly intelligent, reasonable, & well-meaning manner.
     If the best they can do is an emotionally anguished, irrational counterattack, then they're actually defending their EGO (personal ± group). This may be a "shipwreck" moment - a "crisis in faith," when they might realize that the short catchy slogans of their sect are no longer enough.

     Their current worldview / self-concept may now need to be upgraded to a more mature model - one that better matches reality. They may need to go DEEPER in their own religion - membership alone is like being a fan of a sports team instead of engaging as a serious athlete. OR, maybe it's time to find a group that is capable of understanding & nurturing their current & higher levels of psychosocialspiritual development.
     Going deeper & moving on is a normal, recurrent event for normally maturing, healthy human beings, though sadly many of us neglect or even actively resist this process. One reason for remaining stuck is the fear of being shunned by your current group.  
     But perhaps the key aspect of maturation is having the courage to leave behind dogmas (that once seemed to provide certainty, but now feel claustrophobic), and move towards love, freedom & spaciousness.

     "The small man builds cages for everyone he knows. While the sage keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners."                   Hafiz

Seaport Market, Halifax, NS


Friday, December 4, 2015

Desire, Noisy Ego, & Mental Torment - Merely Visitors Passing Through

      “ ‘The kilesā are not at home in our hearts; they’re merely visitors.’
         ( kilesa - defilement; a torment of mind )

     Somebody once asked a well-known Indian spiritual teacher, “What is renunciation?’ He replied, ‘Renunciation is the giving up of any sense of self’. ‘And for that do you have to give up all your possessions, give up all that you own?’ The teacher answered, ‘Above all, you have to give up the owner. 
     The act of renunciation is, of course, an important principle in Buddhism too. It is often associated with people who are in a very obvious way practicing a way of renunciation, such as monks and nuns and holy men walking the streets of India. But this is only the outward form: giving up worldly possessions as an act of renunciation. More important is the inner sense of renunciation, giving up any impulses, thoughts, feelings or emotions which are coming from a sense of ‘self’, from egoic identity.”                Ajahn Khemasiri 

        “Seeing The Way Volume 2, 2011” Aruna Publications, iBooks.

     "With the development of wisdom, you will understand that sensual desire is not pleasure; it is suffering; it is a force that inhibits the deep peace and rest you seek."

        Shaila Catherine. “Wisdom Wide and Deep. A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana.” Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"As good as it gets"? - Really?

     Happiness consistently eludes us as long as our understanding of happiness is limited, by and to, a common level of consciousness ("ignorance").

     The Shorter Discourse on the Mass of Suffering indicates that repeated bouts of greed, hatred & delusion cause anguish, and that at the very root of this spiritual anguish is sensual desire (kama). 
     Sadly, most of us already “understand that sensual desire provides little gratification and often leads to much suffering” but because we’ve never experienced anything better, we "remain in thrall to the joys of sensual desire.” 
     And how can we experience the transcendent bliss we're really after? Deep states of meditation.

       Stephen Batchelor. “After Buddhism. Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age.” Yale University Press, New Haven, 2015.