Short Meditations on Topics of a Spiritual Nature
|We are good. We love. And we are strong. We choose to love, love under will.|
Love is the Law
The law of God is love. Utter obedience to the law is what God requires, that's the standard, this is what God requires of us. When we love one another with full and genuine hearts we fulfil the law of God.
1 Peter 2: 5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests.
The assertion of Christianity is that when our lives are really joined, when our lives are shared with one another in genuine care and affection, then we become a holy temple. A house, built of living stones, where God dwells. That when in spirit and in truth we live as one people, then the power of love amongst us is literally unstoppable. From amidst us can rise a perfect and divine love. And love is not weak, love is strong.
From 1 Peter 2: 9 You are royal priests, a holy nation, belonging to God.
Building this, making it real amongst us, is the work of the heart. As a Royal Priesthood it is our duty to enforce the law, to make real the reign of heaven by putting it into practise. This means building social structures that require of its members that they love one another. Building living structures (a culture) that notice when people aren't loved and doing something about it. There is patience, grace and forgiveness, because loving hurts, but ultimately if you refuse to love you cannot remain. So who remains?
This Christians call "building the New Creation", a renewed humanity. "We, with tears, together build the New Creation".
Incidentally, my experience of those who try to put into practise third wave feminism is that they are attempting to build social structures that require of its members that they love and respect one another. This is why I believe that at the heart of the practise of modern feminism is a move of God, a movement of love. My experience of the practise of feminism - by both men and women - is of good people (often beautiful people) working hard on building programs and communities to ensure that people feel loved and included. They work hard to provide a route into careers and communities that have traditionally been closed or difficult for many types of people. They talk in terms of building loving accepting communities and their actions and characters reflect their words. This is why I find the violent rejection of feminism so repugnant, because what people claim to reject has little to do with reality (unless your main experience of feminism is arguing with teenagers on tumblr) and is a rejection of much that is lovely and of the heart of God.
I had the privilege of being in a church service recently and seeing the hearts of many beautiful women and feeling how they have given their lives to love. How they have loved, and how it has hurt them, and how they still love. I know of nothing more beautiful.
I am undone. I can only aspire to that love. That is what I long to be.
My strange, and sad, conclusion is that the true nature of men is war and the true nature of women is love. I do believe however that they can come together in real unity, and when they do the result is beautiful, glorious and terrible.
I have "spoken" several times about the particular virtues of women. Not necessarily in contrast to the virtues of men, but standing as a thing of its own. To revere [some] women is not to disparage men. My own limited experience of interacting with women (42 years) along with my understanding of the current conclusions of modern human biology and my understanding of gender identity, is that men and women are largely psychologically the same and that differences in general can be explained by systemic rather than innate causes.
However that is not a thing to be taken lightly. Men and women are socialised very differently, the experience of being a woman is different to the experience of a man due to the differences in the systemic social pressures they are under. In general women are socialised into taking on more caring roles and to think less of themselves for doing it. This means that the values I hold as most precious tend to be exemplified more, in general, in women than in men. Although this is societal, society itself is a symptom of evolution (of consciousness particularly).
In general I tend to find women more caring, less proud, and with less tendency to think they already know it all than men. Therefore I think it is fair to say that it is possible to simultaneously hold that in general women are no different than men but that in general women tend to be better people than men.
Additionally, the relationship between mother and child does seem to be special. Both because of the way that children are formed in relationship to the mother and because mothers tend to take on the role of primary carer. It is well understood that one of the most powerful forces in the world, not to be messed with, is the love of a mother for her children. Motherhood seems to instinctually inspire a deep sacrificial love in women. I hold sacrificial love to be the highest form of love and visible in the character of women who are shaped by their experience and practise of motherhood.
It doesn't matter where you start from, it really doesn't. All that matters is: are you on the way?
Buddhism teaches that the essential nature of life is suffering, which is to be escaped. Taoism teaches that life is sweet, if only you can find the way. Buddhist meditation (the deliberate practise of stilling the soul) has probably taught me more than anything else, for which I am grateful, but to this extent Taoism is better than Buddhism.
The early disciples of Jesus were known as "followers of the way". The way is love. Love is the way.
Love and Pain
Loving people hurts. This is because, as you love someone you start to feel their pain. And everybody hurts.
We must not turn from this though, it's the sweetest pain in the world. If you feel the pain of another person without flinching you help them to bear it. This is the only way any of us can really make it, by bearing one anothers' pain in love.
In Christian terms we call this a participation in the wounds of Christ. "My life poured out, just bread and wine".
What feels like death, the vicious cut of the fire, is actually life. The refiner's fire is something to be enjoyed not feared. Let it cut, it is merely an unmaking.
This reminds me of a poem I wrote for a "tweet" (140 characters): There is a poison at the heart of beauty. A molecular unbinding. And if you won't be unmade, perhaps you die.
On the Discipline of Children
Raising children, the making of family, is a sacred trust and duty.
The value of physical punishment (spanking) is an ongoing debate and can still be a controversial topic. It is a topic on which many people with good and genuine hearts have a different opinion to me.
It is possible to have a good and genuine heart and still hold opinions and beliefs that are objectively wrong (or perhaps merely "objectively less right"). And yes, that applies to me just as much as anyone else.
On this particular topic there is a growing consensus amongst scientific communities, based on study and evidence, that spanking appears to be harmful - even when those subjected to it don't feel it was harmful (and are themselves more likely to spank their own children).
Our experience as parents, so far, has been that we haven't *had* to spank our children in order to effectively discipline them - in which case, why *would* we?
I always assumed we would spank our children, but before we had any I watched my sister and her husband, Kate and Simon Biddlestone, raise a gaggle of very well disciplined children without it. To them I am grateful for their example.
Fear has just one trick - to make you afraid. If you can lose your fear of fear, if you become willing to face your fear, then its power is broken and it cannot stand.
Becoming truly free is a long journey, but there's a clear path. Face yourself and choose to love.
We often think that the enemy of love is hate. That isn't quite right, fear is the real enemy. Hate can be good. It is said of God that he loves what is good and hates all evil. That hate is a strong fire of goodness. Be willing to hate but refuse to fear.
True art is not paintings or music or sculpture or poetry or words of any kind. The most beautiful creativity, the purest art of all, is how we shape and reflect beauty in the lives of those around us. Our artwork is the transformation of the people and world around us into a better, more beautiful place. This is the work of the heart. Show me your art.
The Reality of Being
The psychedelic experiences of my youth, which did such damage to me and everything I cared about, also taught me a particular lesson that I cherish. LSD made viscerally clear that everything I *perceived* and understood about reality was a subjective mental construct - and subject to deception and alteration.
This is why humans make such bad witnesses, our recollection and understanding of reality often diverges wildly from any "objective" truth. Of course some people even doubt the existence of objective truth.
The assertion of many spiritual systems, all utterly unproven by anyone, is that reality itself is a "mental" construct (as mental as you like really).
I find this assertion in Christianity in the myth (a word which of itself says nothing about the truth or otherwise of the events portrayed) of Moses meeting God in the burning bush, the fire that burns but does not consume. Asking the name of God (of course a real name conveys true nature - fundamental to several magickal systems incidentally) he gets back the answer "I am". YHVH. "Being" is at the heart of reality, the foundation and source of life.
I often find in geeks (the worlds of software engineering and computer science where I partially abide) minds and hearts that are open to interesting ideas and willing to explore new ways of thinking. However they generally think that all that Jesus stuff is bullshit and I'm odd (well, odder I guess) for giving it any time at all.
I more often find in Christians, minds and hearts that think refusing to see things in a new way is actually a virtue.
Nonetheless, in Christian fellowship and worship I find a valuing, above all else, and revering of the deep and perfect love that is sacred to me and has irradiated my soul.
This disparity leaves me feeling somewhat spiritually stateless at times. The gradual rise of progressive Christianity, and its understanding that love is indeed God, gives me cause for much hope.
In my experience of Western Buddhism the Sangha (spiritual community) is primarily taught as a route to individual enlightenment.
Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven (on earth) was all in all. The kingdom is the means, effect and purpose of spirituality. Our present and future hope.
As a Christian I don't worry much about sin, I don't give it any time. That's what being forgiven means.Just work (hard) on having a genuine heart, everything else follows. When you do make mistakes, or do things that you don't know whether or not they're a mistake, deal with the consequences and move on. Being freed from sin doesn't mean being free from the consequences, we still have to face who we are what we've done. What it does mean is that sin cannot, and does not, separate us from God because of the blood of Christ.
Repentance is still real. When you see your sin, all the ways you've hurt people, sorrow over it and let go of it. You are forgiven. These things are not held against you. The past is gone and dealt with.
Warriorhood: Wing Chun
- One who excels as a warrior does not appear formidable.
- One who excels in fighting is never aroused in anger.
- One who excels in defeating their enemy does not join issues.
- One who excels in employing others humbles themself before them.
- This is the virtue of non-contention and matching the sublimity of heaven.
I often wonder if the "attitude of the warrior" can be made to mean anything in normal life. We certainly have modern warriors, that's real enough and a source of great harm and destruction.
I am trying to cultivate genuine strength in my life as I think that great gentleness, which I aspire to, requires great strength. In Krav Maga training, which I did for six months despite my physical ineptitude, I found a path to releasing great aggression whilst remaining in control. This has been useful in life, to help master myself, but I did find the training was making me more aggressive in general so I stopped. I still cherish what I learned though.
Anger, like sexuality, is something that when untamed can do great harm. People hurt each other because they can't control themselves. Be angry and do not sin!
Anyway, some interesting maxims above. I shall meditate...
"I don't believe in the supernatural. I merely believe that the natural is more super than we give it credit for."