I have just spent the whole day listening to the Brett Kavanagh versus Christine Ford Senate hearings testimony on ” he said”‘ ” she said” and I say good luck to America. There are no winners in this debate…….. and America is less for this? God Bless America.
“Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.”
― Fulton J. Sheen,
Imagine an overly crowded room, with two hundred people packed tightly in that room, shouting and arguing with each other. Imagine this just goes on day after day. Finally your mind blanks out, there is just this incessant noise that keeps droning on and on. That is how I felt when I decided to leave twitter this month.
I had such high expectations when I decided to join Twitter in March of this year. I dreamed of it opening my mind to various experts in their field, analysing and discussing in 280 words, the important issues of the day. With this in mind I initially followed a number of ” commentators” on all sides of the political spectrum and religious beliefs. As the weeks past I discovered new people to follow based on replies and retweets by the initial people I followed. At its peak I followed around sixty people.
I then discovered “Trolls”. One Saturday night in replying to a tweet on Christianity, I received a confusing answer to my reply. This went on for a while, my confusion increasing, till the penny finally dropped. I asked point blank am I being “Trolled” and I received a like and a retweet. My final reply before I blocked them was ” Goodnight sweet children, hope tomorrow is a better day for you”. When I was very young, perhaps from six to nine years old, we played a game called ” knock down ginger”. We would knock on someone’s door and then run as fast as we could down the street in fear of being discovered. Trolls were a little like that, making noise and quickly moving on to the next victim. Of course these trolls were adults and not six to nine years old. Some people just never grow up.
“A dozen more questions occurred to me. Not to mention twenty-two possible solutions to each one, sixteen resulting hypotheses and counter-theorems, eight abstract speculations, a quadrilateral equation, two axioms, and a limerick. That’s raw intelligence for you.”
― Jonathan Stroud, Ptolemy’s Gate
Disillusionment comes slowly. I followed some main street media columnists, as a way of getting instant Twitter feed to the columns they had written. These were media personalities, with about eighty thousand or more followers, that I found, personable, articulate and credible. It was a shock to me that their Twitter comments were in stark contrast to the persona they projected on the main media stage. Their comments were usually sarcastic, defensive and demeaning and rarely answered any critical question put to them. One such reply from a few of these columnists was, ” If you’re so smart why do you only have forty followers on Twitter”. The pure arrogance of this. Intelligence equates to the number of followers you have on Twitter. The Kardashians, Justin Bieber and Donald Trump must be the greatest thinkers in the world.
Current numbers for Twitter are around 335 million users. After large annual increases in users over the last twelve years the numbers have stagnated in the last three years. When I told my teenage grandchildren that I had left Twitter because there was a lack of intelligent conversation to be had, they just laughed at me. “You don’t go to Twitter for intelligent conversation bro”. They’ve always called me bro since we did a family rap session. As an example they showed me a tweet of a photo with dog poop on the bed with the caption ” my dog just pooped on the bed”. I forget how many hundreds of thousands of likes it received.
Perhaps my experience of negativity was because I followed so many political and religious commentators and people are very passionate about these subjects. It may also be because there is such a great divide these days in all spectrums of politics and religion. I find religion is becoming very political, political ideology is intruding more and more into the Christian church and dividing it’s members.
My cup tends to be always half full, so I may return to Twitter at some point, after rethinking who I should follow.
Deep within, there is something profoundly known, not consciously, but subconsciously. A quiet truth, that is not a version of something, but an original knowing. What this, absolute, truth [identity] is may be none of our business…but it is there, guiding us along the path of greater becoming; a true awareness. It is so self-sustaining that our recognition of it is not required. We are offspring’s of such a powerfully divine force – Creator of all things known and unknown.”
― T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with “The Divine Presence”
When my grandchildren were younger I used to read them a story book about a child playing hide and seek with God. Is God in the toy chest? I would then open the flap on a picture of the toy chest which revealed a teddy bear. No. God’s not in the toy chest just a teddy bear. Where is God, let’s try to find God. Is God under the bed? I would again lift the insert on the picture of the bed and a pair of socks would be revealed. No. God’s not under the bed, just a pair of socks. Where is God, where can God be? And so the book would continue this game of hide and seek. On the last page was the portrait of a child and on opening the insert a heart would be revealed. So that’s where God is hiding, deep within you.
The Beatles, in the sixties, searched for God through transcendental meditation, as practiced by Maharishi Mahesh. Richard Gere, the actor, is searching for God through the Dalai Lama and practice of Buddhism. My searching for God was within the parameters of the Roman Catholic Church. Then, ten years ago, the sexual abuse of priests and the subsequent cover up by bishops hit the news and I left the institutional church in disgust. But I have never lost my belief in God, and since that time have been trying to puzzle out what loyalty I owe as a Christian believer to the institutional Catholic Church. I have been trying to separate the moral teachings of the church from the institutional, administrative and human oversight function of the Catholic church.
“If I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it – keep going, keep going come what may.”
― Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh
We are all searching for God in different ways.
Some seek God in ancient books, Tao Te Ching, Vedas, Buddhist Sutras, Torah, Bible, and the Quran.
Others seek God through prayer and meditation.
Some people find God in nature.
Some people find God in beautiful works of art.
I find God in people.
The Bible states that we are made in the image of God. In my simplistic way, I see this as meaning that God gifted to us the power of creation. This power gifted to us has to be nurtured and worked on over time, for even God took six days in the creation process. I am absolutely left amazed at the great works of science, architecture, art, music, literature and poetry that have been created by us humans, both in the past and the present. We all have these creative gifts, to a lesser and greater degree. We humans should constantly try to create for the greater good, rather than aim to destroy. It’s an evolutionary and transformative process we have to learn for our survival.
“This world isn’t a battlefield. Someday you will realise how your success depends on a bunch of other people and that day you will be wiser. You will know how connected we all are.
Either we all make it or none of us does.”
― Jasleen Kaur Gumber
I stare at my computer in despair, my mind is empty, I want to type words that come straight from my soul, but there is only emptiness. I feel nothing. I stare into space ,concentrating, slap the side of my head with the heel of my palm trying to stir some thought. All in vain. I give up and decide to read some blogs that I follow on WordPress. I become absorbed in other peoples thoughts and feelings and my soul begins to stir. The emptiness of my soul is filled with new patterns , a new way of looking at things and I am suddenly inspired. I go back to my blog and begin to type, the words flowing freely again, inspiration flowing through my brain. I am not an island entire of myself, I am a part of the main and I am involved in mankind. We are all connected and need to learn from each other, inspire each other and reach out to each other.
“Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor by product of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here.” Paul Davies
At some point in the evolutionary process, the creator decided to add awareness to the universe. On our planet the creator chose a two legged primate and breathed awareness into it, transferring it into a self aware being. This self awareness was not part of the material substance of this transformed being but existed in unsubstantiated form within the being. This self awareness is known as mind, consciousness or soul. Ever since self awareness entered the body the soul has been trying to calm the evolutionary survival instincts of the body.
The soul feels the inner workings of its body, knows its limitations and evolutionary desires and tries to guide it towards transformation. The body only knows it wants to feed its senses and ready itself to respond to perceived dangers. The soul in turn wants to guide its body, to be its instrument in helping other souls to become more mindful, so that all the souls on this planet can live in harmony with each other and their creator. For a soul is never happy until it finds rest in its creator.
When you meet another person don’t judge them by their body for it is only the vessel that carries their soul. Rather look into the other persons soul and rejoice in its existence for we are all created in Gods image.
Oh, living flame of love
That tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest centre,
Since thou art no longer oppressive, perfect me now if it be thy will,
Break the web of this sweet encounter.
St. John of the Cross
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
― Rachel Carson
I close my eyes, take a deep breath, relax and form an image of this planet spinning on its axis in space. I concentrate more and project my mind past this planet deep into the cosmos….and I start travelling, watching and feeling the universe engulf me. I sense its magnitude, it just keeps going on and on, surrounding me, wrapping me in its embrace. My body starts to exult in the wonder of it all and ecstasy racks my soul and my whole being screams THERE IS A GOD. And wrapped in Gods embrace I indulge my senses and allow this to continue for a few moments……and then I come back down to earth and try to analyze the feeling. What was that? Is that the same feeling I get listening to my iPod Playlist. I wasn’t praying so where the heck did God come into it. Was it just conditioning from my Catholic background. I feel a sense of peace despite my analytical mind.
I’ve always imagined our planet as being in the eye of the storm of the universe. An oasis existing amidst the turbulence and energy of the cosmos. ( The “observable universe,” has a radius of 13.7 billion light-years and a diameter of about 93 billion light-years.)
“You exist in time, but you belong to
eternity- You are a penetration of eternity into the world of time-You are
deathless, living in a body of death- Your consciousness knows no death, no
birth- It is only your body that is born and dies-But you are not aware of
your consciousness-You are not conscious of your consciousness-And that is the whole art of meditation;Becoming conscious of consciousness itself.”
I closed my eyes, in my youth, and sexual fantasies would invade my dreams as my favourite film stars would enter from stage left and act out my wishes.
I closed my eyes a while later and my mind became filled with dreams of winning the lottery and bestowing on me the power that comes from the riches of avarice.
I closed my eyes in middle age and lingered on the regrets of lost opportunity to do the right thing, to say the kind word that needed to be spoken, the charitable act that needed to be performed.
And then I closed my eyes and said I need to do better, I need to be kinder, more attentive, more aware, I need to change.
I close my eyes and envision myself as being in the eye of the storm that rages around me in this world and I try to stay within the eye and not be swept into the storm.
CLOSE YOUR EYES. WHAT DO YOU SEE?
“The female mind is certainly a devious one, my lord.”
Vetinari looked at his secretary in surprise. “Well, of course it is. It has to deal with the male one.”
― Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals
In the early sixties, at the conclusion of soccer practice, a group of us would head for the café and order a coke each along with a pot of tea for the group. After downing a bottle of coke to quench our immediate thirst one of us would invariably say ” shall I be mother” and after receiving an affirmative chant, would then pour tea for the group. We were unaware of displaying any feminine side in this simple action and were just performing a simple task. For men do have a feminine side just as women have a masculine side. As a matter of fact we all, male and female, should be comfortable within our own bodies and treat our bodies with respect as the vessel that holds our soul. So why do some men and women these days feel so uncomfortable with their biological sexuality that they feel the need to transform their gender.
Medical science has steadily advanced since the first human heart transplant was performed in 1967, the cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1997 and the mapping of the complete genome in 2003. These advances continued with the introduction of hormone replacement therapy as a means to protect women from the discomforts of aging, and puberty blockers to treat the onset of early puberty in young children, usually triggered by a disease. So like the revelation in the movie Field of Dreams, “build it and they will come” as progress in medical science advances medical specialists are advertising their ability to reshape the human body.
“If people are honest with themselves when they choose a tattoo, the art will represent them better than anything that will ever come out of their mouth. The things that are most important to me are represented in the art that covers my body. My God, my family, my friends, my job, my social and historical beliefs and the aggressive or even violent nature with which I will protect all of them…..basically in that order of importance. Is it scarey or repulsive to some people? Yes. Does it change who I am? No. ”
― Troy Holloway
Since the dawn of time people have found ways to disguise their bodies. In ancient times it was through covering their bodies in clay and paint and in more modern times with tattoos and make up. We are never satisfied with the bodies we live in. With the advance of medical science we can now reshape our bodies to conform to some mental image of who we should be. The first act of wetting our toe in these waters was with cosmetic surgery, a lifted chin, a different angled nose or a needle of botox to firm the face. This has progressed to medical science now being able to change the sex of a person. Woman who see themselves as men perform mastectomies and receive testosterone injections, while men who perceive themselves as women undergo castration and receive hormone replacement therapy. I cry for these people who are so uncomfortable with their bodies that they find this need for drastic change. And having made that change I would guess they are still not comfortable with their new body as evidenced by the high suicide rate among transgender people…… and this all began with some influential members of society shouting that male and female is a social rather than a biological construct……. and the medical profession will do its best to make this social experiment happen and reap the financial rewards.
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
― Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy
If we are to survive as a species we have to put more effort into transforming our hearts and mind, and to use the body as an instrument to carry out this transformation. Learn to be comfortable with the body you were born into. Nurture it, understand it, do not abuse or disfigure it and learn to get along with it as a trusted friend. Be mindful and aware of life, of nature, of people and learn to reach out and help someone close by.
We in Western Civilization have evolved exponentially over time. We have abundant food, an enhanced life span and infrastructure and technology to ensure a comfortable life. But we have no purpose, we are bored and adrift on the sea of life. We need to focus our minds on a destination. We have to change our behaviour. We have to evolve and decide what comes next….. and please do own the body you were born with.