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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post Holly

It is now February 5th and I notice that I haven't blogged on here for a while. This is the point where I wont mention how I really should bang out my thoughts more often than I do....although I just did.

I have thunk many thoughts since my last post.

What if I just said "I am?"

I fear that someone would accuse me of trying to be blasphemous, but that is far from my intent.

I am come to find that I am all and nothing.
I am a very smart fool. / I am a very foolish intellectual.
I am a very particular slob. / I am a very sloppy perfectionist.
I am a very spiritual naturalist. / I am very naturalistic in my spirituality.

I used to say "I am a Christian" and nothing else. Recently I was asked what my religious affiliation was and all I could do was look at the lady and say "yyyyeeeeesssssss.?!.?" It turned out that although we were not exactly on the same page that we were at least in what seemed like the same chapter of the same book. [as a side note, the answer "yes" really has much more to it than that; I find pieces of many of the major pillars to be agreeable to me, but right now they would mainly be anything between Taoism, Zen Buddhism, Vedanta and the religion that Jesus probably adhered to....see below for more of that one]

When I titled this blog, I did not actually enter anything into the text area for the actual "blog" like I am now. Rather I titled it, got distracted/confused/frustrated/finger-tied and then just let it sit. So now today, about a month later I come back to it....not totally sure what my motivation for it is.

Christmas had just passed when I titled this. I guess I probably started out with the intention of doing some kind of post-holiday summary but I don't think I'll do that now. I think I'll do something else.

I did reflect at Christmas on the man Jesus. It is hard to miss him amidst all the fanfare and hoopla. I reflected on his words [or at least what we believe were his words] and what was actually there verses what we are typically told from the pulpits that he said.

Poor Jesus.

I often feel like he was misunderstood as so many revolutionaries and gurus are.

As I see it, he never claimed to be a or the messiah or saviour. I would even argue against the traditionalist that he neither ever claimed to be God. I do, however, believe that in much of what he said that he did at least presume to speak on behalf of God; and from what I have spent over the last several months learning about the other various religions of the East...he very well could have been speaking on behalf of God....but was misunderstood as a result of it; just like we would probably do the same today.

I do not believe the fancies that Christianity imported into the Jesus stories- his virgin birth, his unique messiahship, his post-humus resurrection.....although, oddly I am beginning to be OK with believing the possibility that he may have actually done miracles. Bottom line is that I don't believe that he was all that he has been built up to be.

A very intriguing lecture that I have listened to on multiple occasions is from the Myth and Religion series by Alan W. Watts. The lecture is called "Jesus and His Religion." The audio has been broken up into 9 or 10 minute bite-sized portions on YouTube but they can all be found at

It is a very distinguishing question- A religion about Jesus - Or the religion of Jesus?

The short story here is that, for me, this question and its answer really throw out the importance of celebrating Christmas.

So then, once you get the message of the first lecture you might wait a while and then take a bite of the 2nd course which is even harder to swallow at first but really brings the functionality of the universe into perspective.

The 2nd course is another lecture that he gave called "The Karma of Christianity." This can also be found at

I think that is enough for this post, but I am curious as to whether any of my readers would be interested in seeing some of my thoughts along these lines in a more formal format such as a paperback book? I'm not trying to be self-serving; I'm just curious.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Extension of Actions

Karma does not mean that if you are living a good life that good things will happen to you. It does not mean that if you are living a bad life that bad things are going to happen to you. Karma simply means "doing." So if an Easterner says "it is my Karma" it just means that their doing is with them, whatever it is.

This does not mean that Karma does not have both positive and negative results.

The actions, or Karma, that one lives by certainly do extend into the Karma of others.

Be mindful of this.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Value of Silence

I did a quick "Google" on this phrase this morning and I found an article by Rabbi Boruch Leff that is kind of a devotional that he came up with while reading a book called Tuesdays with Morrie.

As one who practices meditation prescriptively I found this Jewish perspective particularly appealing. The question being asked is "Why are we embarrassed by silence? What comfort do we find in all the noise?"

The question got me thinking. Noise lets us ignore our most difficult struggle and our most precious possession: our true and profound selves. Very often, it is painful to face one's true inner core. It is hard to be absolutely honest with oneself. Shakespeare writes in Hamlet, "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day," but we often fail in this regard. We fool ourselves, and the noise and distractions of life help us in this effort. Constant external stimuli and occurrences allow us to avoid dealing with our inner being.

When we're alone in the car, do we immediately reach for the radio? Is it any wonder that talk radio is such a booming international business? We are so afraid of silence, so fearful of the opportunity to be with ourselves and penetrate our inner world.

"The vehicle for wisdom is silence" (Ethics of the Fathers, 3:13), as King Solomon tells us, "Closing one's lips makes a person wise" (Proverbs 10:19)

Genuine spiritual heights can only be attained through introspection which only comes by dint of the medium of silence.

Thus Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel says, "All my days I grew up among the wise men, and I have found nothing greater (for the body) than silence" (Ethics of the Fathers 1:17).

How is silence good for the body? Why not say that silence is good for the soul or for a person in general?

The Maharal, a 16th century mystical commentator, explains that man is comprised of body and soul (Guf and Neshama), the physical element and the spiritual. Everything man does has its basis in one of these two dimensions. When one dimension is active, the other is passive. Maharal explains that speech derives from the physical facet of man. When we speak, our physical aspect is controlling us. Silence allows our spiritual dimension to regain control. Since the spiritual mode of man is silence, quiet allows the spiritual to lead the physical, while speaking gives the physical the leading role. The best thing for the body is when it is guided by the soul. Thus, there is nothing better for the body than silence.

Why is speech derived from the physical facet of man? How is silence the mode for the soul? Silence allows us to remove all of the external and physical distractions in our lives and lets us focus upon the essence of our being, the soul.

Though I would go a step further and suggest that our soul, or essence, is really not just isolated to us, but rather connected to the greater interconnectivity of all other things; the value of silence still remains.

Quotation taken from


As a writer I have come to find that one can having three different approaches to writing:

Write what you know
Write what you try to know by entering into another perspective
Make up what you write

In doing each of these there are three more approaches:

Be brutally honest
Be partially honest

In all of these one ends up with their readers having three possible differing reactions:

Being able to totally relate to what is written
Being able to take things in with a grain of salt
Being offended or hurt by what is written

In some ways, I hate being a writer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Human Corruption

Genesis 6 in the Bible starts out talking about "Nephilim" in the land that had sexual relationships with the daughters of Israel. Scholars are not in agreement as to what exactly these "Nephilim" are. Simply translated it is alleged to mean "sons of God."

Sons of God has been interpreted to mean a few different things: fallen angels, giants or another type of man.

For the sake of saving space here on my blog, I have decided to leave a lot of the extra explanation of the Nephilim to others who have already done so, as to keep me from just rewriting what has already been written.
More on the Nephilim can be found here.
It was because of the offspring of the interchange that God had decided that he was no longer going to strive agianst man, as all their ways were wicked. The King James translation of the bible even goes as far as saying that God wished that he had not created man. The solution? A flood to purge the evil. Did it work? Ultimately, it did not because later on the Bible the story then looks the same. By the Gospel accounts, God was now seeing that he couldn't wipe people off the face of the earth again, so he had to take a different approach; wiping out their sin.
Sin, as originally described simply means "missing the mark, or missing the point." The evolution of the idea later turned it into transgressing certain commands or failing to act when one should. I prefer the idea of missing the point, because that seems to have the most significant application throughout all Hebrew, Christian and other applications across various religious experiences.
Corruption is corruption; it cannot be changed. It might be possible to better deal with letting the corruption guide one's every move, but ultimately the Christian messages is that once saved, one must live a life of self-denial through the power of the Holy Spirit which will empower them to no longer live "according to the flesh, but after the Spirit." Sounds like God is still striving.
No black without white. No round without flat. No day without night.
No righteousness without sin. Corruption just is. There is no getting around it. One either deals with it by means of the Spirit of God, or through Buddhic meditation and contemplation, or through Zen consciousness where everything has it's place, or through naturalistic animism where it is the point of indulgence.
The world and all that is in it is corrupt to some degree; but I see it as necessary for all other things to still survive.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Familiar Update

My dad and I are talking again.

I know that we both have things to work on through this but it is better than what we had.

Sometimes things do get worse before they get better.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bible Examples of Tao- The Strife of Cain (Genesis 4)

The act of sacrifice that is first mentioned in the Bible is a mysterious one. The written presentation does not account any commandments from the divine concerning the practice. In any event, we find both Cain and Abel offering a sacrifice to God.
Cain offers fruits and grains, Abel offers meats from animals.
God accepts Abel's offering and rejects Cain's.
Cain becomes angry with God and then questions as to why his offering was not pleasing to him. God responds with:
"Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."
One day the two brothers were in the field talking. Something happened that made Cain angry enough to kill Abel. For the sake of discussion I will work from the traditional presupposition that the two were fighting about why Cain's offering was not acceptable. Whatever was said was upsetting to Cain and sin was apparently crouching at the door.
When God comes back around he asks where Abel is and Cain responds by saying "Am I my brother's keeper?" [or we might say today "how should I know? Today wasn't my day to babysit him] But in the story God knows exactly what has happened and the response is interesting.
"What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mough to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth."
From the perspective of the Tao this could be put simply as:
"What have you done? Your action has caused a disturbance in the force [for the Star Wars fans] that will now echo into the very ground on which you work. Your working against this force, or the Tao, has caused you to now be at strife with everything."
Cain was then in the place of being half-sorry. His biggest fear was now death but God promised not to let anyone kill him. That would be a further disturbance to the balance of life.
Now, the parallels are not word for word, line by line, but there is enough there to see a principle. If actions do not have re-actions, they still at least have consequences...and there is no speaking here of atonement.
Cain in Hebrew means producer; Abel means breath.
Incidentally Cain, according to tradition, had to work at what he offered to make it grow. He created his own garden rather than just randomly picking from the wild growth. Abel didn't have to work at his offering. He took from the lesser species which was already prepared of itself.
The possible moral of this story is that the Tao is of itself. The Tao does not need direction. The Tao, in simple yet insufficient words, is the Force that gently guides but does not lord over anything. The principle means of living in harmony with the Tao is to live in a state of "non-action" or just naturally. When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.
Just as Cain killed Abel, forced production of something in life takes away the breath.....or more accurately, it suffocates life.
Just as God promised that anyone who would try to kill Cain would suffer seven times as much, the same is true when we try and purposely become passive. It is impossible to force passivity. The more we would try and force gentelness the more abrasive it becomes.
Jesus illustrated this when he said "he who seeks to save his life shall lose it; but he who loses his life shall find it."
Let go. The earth is going hoarse.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bible Examples of Zen- Good & Evil/Original Sin? (Genesis 3)

I am not very good at keeping up this blog, but a friend of mine emailed me tonight about my last post and it kind of gave me a kick in the seat of the pants about putting this next entry out here since I've been thinking about it for a few months now.

The Knowledge of Good & Evil

Sounds pretty safe, huh?

Sounds like it might simplify a lot of things in life; like it might give a clearer cut definition of the way things should or should not be.

Many of us know the story of the Fall of Man where Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden and God tells them "of all the trees that are in the garden you can freely eat; save for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." Many of us also usually just hone in on the part where even though God said not to eat.....they did it anyways.....and then assume that is the point of the story that initiates man's separation from God.

My take on this story is going to be from a naturalist perspective in that I don't believe that there were ever any talking snakes that tempted anyone. I am also firmly convinced that the majority of early Jewish and Christian [Gnostic & Mystic] readers of the story agreed. The "snake" [who actually starts out as being referred to as the "beast"] is just there for interpretive purposes.

So which is the bigger deal; that mankind ate from the tree? Or the kind of tree from which they ate? I think that God answers the question in the story.

Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—" therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. [Genesis 3: 22,23 emphasis mine]

To know good and evil, according to God here, was to become like God....which has long since been forbidden. And now, since their eyes had been opened to the negative enlightenment, God didn't want them to stay in that state forever by then also eating from the Tree of Life so he kicked them out of the garden before they had a chance to put their hand to it.

There is a story in the Gospels where the rich young ruler approaches Jesus and asks him "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" To which Jesus replies and asks "Why do you call me good?" Most would say that Jesus is just being modest, but I believe that it was a challenge to one's own notion of Good and Evil.

The point is that the fruit that brings the knowledge of Good and of Evil is the fruit that leads to the road of death....or in terms of Zen or enlightenment it is our own identification or labeling of things according to our certain perceptions of good and evil that do us the most harm in experiencing the bliss that comes from sometimes either just not knowing or just not worrying about it.

Taoism offers the notion of P'u: [from Wikipedia]

P'u (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: pǔ, pú; Wade-Giles: p'u; lit. "uncut
wood") is translated "uncarved block", "unhewn log", or "simplicity". It is a
metaphor for the state of wu wei (meaning: without action) and the principle of
jian ().[29]
It represents a passive state of receptiveness. P'u is a symbol for a state of
pure potential and perception without prejudice. In this state, Taoists believe
everything is seen as it is, without preconceptions or illusion.[30]

P'u is usually seen as keeping oneself in the primordial state of
It is believed to be the true nature of the mind, unburdened by knowledge or
In the state of p'u, there is no right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. There is
only pure experience, or awareness, free from learned
labels and definitions. It is this state of being that is the goal of following
wu wei.

This can be seen in not only Taoism but also Buddhism and Jainism.

This does not extend itself to say that society as a whole should throw out this notion, as the society would crumble. Life would be less significant if murderers walked the streets without being stopped. The economy would collapse at the action of continuous thievery. Law must still be law, by principle, to keep the peace.....but on a personal level it is imperative for simplicity to drop the self-held dogma of the nutrients from the forbidden fruit.

The results of this cursed tree?

Emnity between the offspring of the woman and the serpent: a constant competition between differing minds which are both striving for superiority.

Pain in childbearing: the struggle in producing offspring that will hold our exact morals and ideals that possibly hold us captive

The husband shall rule over the wife: whenever desire overcomes a partnership, the partner will win out because the desire makes one weak. Buddhists call this "attachment."

Work turns into punishment: because judgements and values are placed on activities, seldom will one find himself "happy" in whatever they are doing....unable to recognize that in order for our world and societies to continue in motion, all vocations are necessary and play vital roles. Without these judgements and values work could become play.

God kicked them out of the garden so that they wouldn't eat from the Tree of Life and stay stuck forever in their state of misery. I see that as an act of mercy. The tree of life is only for those who experience an enlightenment.....

That enlightenment is often as simple as seeing that knowing good from evil doesn't keep one from doing evil or being just stops things from being what they are in the natural process of things.

A practical example of this comes from the classic tale of the Taoist farmer that goes a little bit like this:

A farmer had a horse that ran away. When the neighbor caught wind of it he
came around and said to the farmer "what a terrible thing to have happen!"

The farmer replied by just saying "maybe."

About a week later the horse returned home and brought another one with it
that it had found out on its journey. When the neighbor heard about it he came
back around to congratulate the farmer. "Wow, not only has your horse returned
but you now have TWO horses. What great fortune you have!"

The farmer replied by just saying "maybe."

One day the farmer's son was tending to the horses. While he was brushing
the new one it kicked him and in his fall he broke his leg. When the neighbor
heard about this he came around and said "oh, how awful that your new horse has
broken your son's leg!"

The farmer replied by just saying "maybe."

The next day the area's military recruiters had come around to the farmer's
house. When the farmer said that he had a son they immediately wanted to sign
him up for service. When the son came out and they saw his broken leg in a
splint they immediately turned him away as a useless cripple. A week later all
of the other boys that had been enlisted from the town were all killed in
service when they became the victims of a surprise attack by the enemy.

When the neighbor heard about this he again praised the farmer's good
fortune by saying "you are indeed blessed that your son was not also killed in
the war."

The farmer again just simply replied by saying "maybe."

The horse running away seemed to be a bad thing....but it brought back another.

Now having TWO horses seemed to be a good thing.....but then the new horse hurt the farmers son.

The farmer's son's injury seemed to be a bad thing....but it ended up saving his life.

Since it is impossible to predict such outcomes it is also then silly to try and make judgement calls about the things and events in life.

Admittedly though, this enlightenment can also only be experienced and not explained.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The feeling of a death

Anyone who has gone back and read the archives of my blog from last year will remember me writing about the divorce of my parents. Divorce sucks.

Over the last year I have watched in curious anticipation of what kind of relationship I might have with my dad. When he was a teen his dad left his family to go be with another which left him fatherless.

Over the last year or so I have had sporadic interaction with my dad and have seen him a few times but I can't say that it was really very deep or meaningful. His life has seemingly moved on and is happening with another family.

He and I have emailed back and forth with each other since November. Some of the emails were frustrating, some were sad, some contained misunderstandings and some were just empty. I was hoping in all of it that I might gain some sense of direction as to where he might take things.

The biggest feeling that I was getting was that he was just too busy with his new family to really make time for me and mine. He works a lot and it also sounds like he also does most of the work in his new home. Between this and the time that he spends with my Grandmother, who has been in and out of the hospital and care facilities since early October, it sounded like he didn't really have much time for anything.

I had been preparing myself to let go of any hopes for a continuing relationship with him. He was getting angry and frustrated that my family was not yet interested in meeting his girlfriend or her family. He was right that we didn't want to meet them yet; the reason being that we felt like we had been abandoned for them and so we didn't feel that it was merited for us to just open ourselves to his new life when he just walked out of ours.

Last week I wanted to get together with him to talk about some of the things that we had been feeling about the situation. We had talked about it before but he didn't really do anything about it. He became increasingly frustrated that we didn't want to accept his other family yet so he backed away from us more. He's been under this assumption that we are just mad at him because of the divorce itself. I wanted to talk and clear this up with him and try to figure out a way for both of us to have our needs met in the relationship.

Last Friday he sent me an email that made it very clear, going forward, where his loyalty and attention was. He proclaimed very boldly that "it wasn't that he didn't want to get together with me, but he just didn't know when he'd have time....." all because of how it would impact his time with his new family.

I then told him that we didn't need to get together anymore to talk about things. I told him that his unwillingness to make time for the family that he has always had [me] in lieu of his new family, make it pretty clear how he ultimately felt about me and my family; so I responded back telling him that since it was clear now what his intentions were that I was no longer going to pursue anything with him. I told him that if/when the day comes that he is ready to show me and my family that we actually mean something to him that we would be there waiting...but in the meantime we had to move on.

This weekend I was watching Revenge Of The Sith with my children and Master Yoda said something that resonated with me. It was reminiscent of Buddhism thought as well:

Yoda: Premonitions, premonitions. These visions you have....
Anakin: They are of pain, suffering. Death
Yoda: Yourself you speak of, or someone you know?
Anakin: Someone
Yoda: Close to you?
Anakin: Yes
Yoda: Careful you must be when sensing the future Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.
Anakin: I won't let these visions come true, Master Yoda
Yoda: Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is.
Anakin: What must I do, Master Yoda?
Yoda: Train yourself to let go...of everything you fear to lose.

I wasn't afraid of losing my dad. I almost expected it to happen.

I did think, though, that when it did happen that there might be some sense of relief about be able to finally let go and move on. I did let go...but as of yet, there hasn't been any more of the relief I just feels more like a kind of death in the family.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Spinning an old yarn?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Hang on, Grandma

Bible Examples of Zen - Creation (Genesis 1)

Zen is very difficult to explain. Many masters would say that it is impossible.

I found a good read about it over ----> here.

I am glad that the page also touches on the Tao a bit too because that is kind of where this little series is leading. I have no idea how many posts I will make on the subject but I guess I could just keep going until I run out of things to talk about.

I used to think that if one looked hard and far enough, or just simply "had eyes to see" that everything in the universe circled back to showing the ineffability of Christianity. Then the more I thought and observed as much of what I could that was going on I started to have more and more disconnects; at least with the particular frame of mind that I was using. The base of Christianity is the absolute belief in a real "tangible" god who can be explained and interacted with on that basis of understanding.

Much of traditional Western Buddhism is atheistic, in that it is a philosophical system that exists without god(s). It doesn't do so to the outright exclusion of god or in the sense of denial of a god or gods, but it just doesn't usually include divinity as part of the current landscape. It is more attentive to what is earthly and in the here and now.

Taoism seems to be a middle road between the two. There is a belief that the Tao is "god" but not in the traditional sense. The Tao is living and active as a general force that is transcendent over all things...but it is not personal, nor can it be explained. It can mystically be interacted with and experienced but it ultimately cannot be explained sufficiently.

With those ideas in mind, I was driving one day and thinking about the original "creation" and "fall" story from the Bible and these are some of the parallels that I drew between Zen-Tao and the Hebrew stories themselves. This one is on the creation account from Genesis 1.

The Creation story is all about contrasts.

Light and Darkness were separated but one would not be there without knowledge of the other since Light is the absence of Darkness, and Darkness is the absence of Light.

The "waters" were separated. Now, I don't know exactly that that might mean to the Hebrew mindset but what I do see is the contrast of Above and Below. An expanse separated the waters creating a dividing space between the two. We do not know Down without the relationship to Up and vice-versa.

Land and Water are separated. This is another contrast between two different states. Wet would imply the absence of land. Dry land would imply the absence of wet water. Another contrast that cannot be understood without both sides.

Each of these shows contrast and co-existence in order for validation of definition. We use these definitions all the time to separate classes of things....the problem is that we have classed the contrasts into "opposites." Even our own ideas of contrasting "what is" and "what is not" can too easily be defined as opposites....things that even stand opposing the other. We usually see opposition as a bad thing. Not always so.

The rest of the first chapter is all about places for things; birds in the air, creatures in the sea, beasts on the land, and man.

There is nothing by way of definition here concerning food chain. All of this just simply is. There is no force, no definition, no struggle. In a sense this is Zen. If this picture were to be painted it would depict a very peaceful co-existence between all of the animals and man and if any of these components from the story were missing then the picture would be incomplete.

Everything in this picture looks automatic. There is a design and something animating all things. This might be the Tao or a picture of it, but it is also Zen in that all things are one and co-dependent.

Bye for now.