Life Without Religion

“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” ― Eric Hoffer,

Many people, especially North Americans, pride themselves in their non-religious beliefs. Too many of us believe that religion has caused more social damage than good, therefore it cannot have had, is having, or will have a positive influence on human relationships.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

A superficial glance at religion, both present-day and ancient, they appear superstitious and practices that defy reason … that is until we apply the initial purpose of ritual to many religious practices.

Since I profess to be a practicing Christian, I’ll use Biblical and Christian-oriented examples in my reasoning. However, they can equally be used in any religious practice to understand the reason behind the ritual.

The ritual of Christian baptism is one example. Without going into the deeper meaning behind the ritual of baptism, there is no magic in the ritual itself, other than it denotes the person being baptized is now a member of that specific religious belief, and is expected to follow its rules, and appreciate its many benefits like receiving guidance from the Holy Spirit, special study groups to help one become more spiritual, strength in group prayer, and more.

Liken it unto a person joining a co-op grocery store. The initial fee could represent the baptism: becoming a member, and the ‘baptism’ would include a briefing, or explaining—and involve the member’s acceptance — the rules governing his new membership. Upon accepting the regulations governing The Co-op, the recent member would now have access to the benefits of special bargains, unique products, and other savings. Like discounts on travel or hotel lodgings.

Another advantage of belonging to a religious group is the power in numbers that it can influence on our society at large. However, this power is a two-edged sword: it can literally benefit the community at large, or it can be a detriment, and this is where the great debate comes in—and probably the biggest reason so many people renounce any belief in God—and sadly, are missing out on wonderful opportunities that conscientious religious organizations can offer a person.

The history of religion is old, its roots forming some time when we, Homo sapiens, first established their superiority over the rest of the Homo crowd. And, yes, many wars and much cruelty has been committed in the name of religion. But, one reason we even rose to the top of the food chain is, that “Tolerance is not a Sapiens trademark.”[i] In short, most times, we fought our way to the top, so violence is in our basic nature—and this is where religion comes in: it can help us become more spiritual, more compassionate, and more loving to each other. Here are a few examples. But, remember, it’s your choice. We can accept the spiritual aspects of religious benefit into our lives, or we can revert to our ancestral ways of getting what we want through violence. Don’t blame religion. Blame our genes!

One last point before deciding about accepting religion. Don’t pay any attention to all the negative stories you hear about religion. Think of any institute in our society: the police, our school system, our legal system. Do any of them have a hundred percent flawless record? No person is perfect—and even then, what is the definition of perfect? Criticism isn’t a positive way to view society. It’s actually a copout, an excuse for some to do nothing. Here are a few positive points to help you get started.

  • Helps in spiritual growth. You’ve heard the expression, “I’m a spiritual person, not a religious person.” Well, here’s your chance to become both spiritual and religious.
  • Accepting good morals can improve honesty.
  • Strengthens family ties.
  • Faith reduces fear and promotes mental health.
  • Improves creative skills. Art has its roots in religion.
  • Helps you become more compassionate.

A great article in Philosophy Talk, titled “How Can Smart People Still Believe in God?[ii] written by Kenneth Taylor can be an excellent start to becoming a more religious person and put meaning into your life. You’ll be glad you read it!

[i] Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, p.19

[ii] How Can Smart People Still Believe in God?”  https://www.philosophytalk.org/blog/how-can-smart-people-still-believe-god

Living a Meaningful Life

Some people die at age 25 but aren’t buried until they’re 75” –Benjamin Franklin

Destination: Earth!
Destination: Earth!

If you’re married and have small children, I know you’ve heard them complain, “Dad, I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!”

I can understand such feelings and comments coming from young children. After all, they’re still quite new to life on earth and depend heavily on their parents for almost everything, including instilling meaning and purpose into their lives, but it really is the problem when you hear adults complain that life is boring?

For me, even as a kid, I was seldom bored. My whole life has been an exciting adventure! I’m a senior-senior now, and know that soon it will be time for me to “return home.” But I’ll go with satisfaction, with no regrets or remorse, knowing that I’ve lived my life to the maximum without malice or harm to any of God’s creatures, including man.

I am blessed with a great imagination—maybe that’s why I love the craft of writing: writing allows me to creatively visit exotic places and do exotic things that normal finances or physical ability wouldn’t allow me to do. I’ve always been that way. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.”

Sometimes, in my more serious moments, I wonder, “Why am I hear? Is there a purpose to my life?” In order to find an answer, I have to go back to the beginning … way back … pre-earth beginning. In my mind I envision myself being bored, living somewhere in the spirit world: a place we call home. My problem in this ‘home’ is, I’m bored, doing nothing all day but float around on clouds—at least, that’s how many of us envision life at ‘home’—or also referred to as heaven! To overcome my boredom, I visit my favorite spiritual Travel Agency. Actually, I suspect this guy’s my Soul, assigned to me as a Nanny by The Boss, while I playfully, and even irresponsibly, wander through creation until maturity. My Nanny can be a little blunt and abrupt at times, but then, there are times when my actions deserve such treatment. After all, I’m not the easiest guy in the world to get along with.

“I want to go on another holiday,” I tell my Soul. “A nice holiday this time, not like that plaque infested, volcanic lump of hot sand you sent me to last time!”

“Serves you right for being so egotistic and hot-headed! Hope you learned some manners while there,” he smirks, then takes me to his massive, almost endless vault of tourist and holiday files and pauses at the shelf titled “Best Spots” and begins searching … and searching … endless searching. I become impatient.

“Why don’t you digitize all these files?” I ask. “It would be a lot easier for you to find things.”

He doesn’t reply, but keeps searching. Finally, he stops, points his scrawny little index finger to some sparsely populated area on the outer fringe of the galaxy.

“There! Earth!” He exclaims. “Best planet in this galaxy, where I only send my best friends!”

“And I only want to be born to the best parents!” I demand another condition. “Not like that three-eyed toad with the long nose you ported me through on Java-Hava-Ho way back when I was still young and more trusting.”

At that remark, my soul laughs hysterically. I never heard him laugh that hard before.

“You think that was funny?” I got a little peeved. “I nearly committed suicide over that prank of yours!

“O.k., o.k., I admit, that was a bit of a joke I played on you that time,” he wipes the tears of laughter from his eyes. “But you shouldn’t be so gullible and think for yourself once in a while instead of having me do all your thinking for you.” Being satisfied that he found the best place for me, he closes the near endless rows of tourist information points and turns to me.

“Tell you what. To make up for it, I’ll port you through the best, most decent parents available on earth during this cycle.”

“Well … it better be good this time!” I hesitantly agree, pouting a little to show my disfavor for having ported me to some of those previous, more nasty places. “When do I leave?”

“You have to wait nine months. You can’t go sooner because you first have to make a few adjustments to your personality. Not my fault you still have problems with women!”

Nine months!” I exclaim. “I’ll get all mouldy if I have to live in those damp clouds for that long—”

“Nine months, no sooner!” my Soul insists. “Boss’s orders! Just because your royal stock doesn’t mean you can just go traipsing, willy-nilly, through the universe having a jolly old time without also learning a few things—and maturing in the process. You know you’re going to be a god yourself some day, so you better start taking that role seriously, and I’m offering you a chance, while on earth, to become more serious.”

“Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”  –  Scott Adams

Well, that wasn’t exactly a word-for-word conversation that I had with my Soul on that fateful day when plans were made to port me through to earth for another interesting holiday, but you get the idea that my time here has been, as I said earlier, quite an adventurous holiday! I’d sort of like to stay here a few more years, but I don’t know exactly when my “school year” will be over. My Soul—Nanny—wouldn’t reveal that info to me. “Depends on how well you behave yourself,” is all he muttered then pretended to dismiss me by turning his back to me. But I hope you get the idea from all this talk that, for all of us, much of our time on earth has been pre-planned, and we, ourselves, had a lot to say under what conditions we’d come here. I like to think of it like entering school here on earth. The School Board, your teacher, and all others involved in your education (angels, spirit guides) have a loving, pre-planned course laid out for you. It’s all to your best interest. However, how well you do, depends on you, personally!

Our time on earth can be a nightmare, or it can be an adventurous holiday like mine has been so far. Because of our royal status, we do, individually, have a lot of say if we wish to learn and mature or not. That’s always a choice open to us! I would just like to offer a final remember: we are of royal blood, and predestined to co-rule with our Father and Mother in an Infinite Universe.

Don’t screw it up!

A Sunday Chat with Myself—”I feel Deeply Offended!”

“People get addicted to feeling offended all the time because it gives them a high; being self-righteous and morally superior feels good.” —Mark Manson

This morning, my mind is on the recent kerfuffle over the removal of the statue of John A. Macdonald from several locations throughout the country. John A. was one of our Founding Fathers, and Canada’s first Prime Minister, spanning a political career from 1867 to 1873, and again from 1878 to 1891.

Macdonald was a leading figure in the discussions that lead up to the creation of the British North American Act, resulting in Canada becoming a nation on 1 July, 1867.

To say that our first Prime Minister was A Character, would be to oversimplify his nature! According to the National Post, when Macdonald dispatched troops, in 1869, to put down the Louis Riel Red River Rebellion, his son, Hugh John, “deliberately defied his father’s wishes to stick to his law studies and instead joined the militias heading west.”

To say that our First Prime Minister loved to occasionally imbibe would also be describing his drinking habits mildly. John A. was a lush! His Kingston address that once housed his law office, is now a “traditional Scottish Pub,” and his Glasgow birthplace is also now a bar! When he was supposed to be protecting Canada from marauding Irish armies, he couldn’t be reached because he “was on a bender.”

Macdonald was an enigma! While he presided over mass die-offs of Plains First Nations, he also proposed giving indigenous people the right to vote, and he really, really wanted to see Louis Riel dead!

In 1880, Macdonald proposed extending the right for women to vote, while at the same time, he “fervently warned” against Chinese immigrants upsetting the Canada’s “Aryan” character, and for years, along with several other Prime Ministers, extorted a head tax on Chinese immigrants.

It’s easy to fill up several pages cataloguing Macdonald’s escapades while he was in government, because he really was one of Canada’s most unique and colorful characters—but then, so were many other political persons during his time. For example, according to the National Post, “It’s ridiculous to judge figures from the past by beliefs of the present. Thomas Jefferson, who declared that “all men were created equal” owned hundreds of slaves and repeatedly impregnated his favourite one. Winston Churchill held a dim view of [East] Indians in general, and Mahatma Gandhi in particular, other than as handy fodder when needed for warfare. Blacks needed the civil rights movement in the 1960s because, 100 years after the Civil war, it was considered perfectly acceptable to practice discrimination in the U.S., and to a lesser extent in Canada.”

And this brings me to my main point of argument. Should we whitewash our history and blatantly discard any part of it that we find offensive? What would our history look like if we just erased all offensive aspects of our history?

It is true, history books are written by the victors in all situations, but it’s also true that we are becoming a more compassionate and empathic nation than our forefathers were, and we are paying greater attention to the way we mistreated the minority of Canadians in our past.

“Tough times don’t define you, they refine you. ‪” —Carlos A. Rodriguez

I grew up in a rural area in Saskatchewan, quite near the Cree Indian File Hills reserve. One of my first, and best friends in my youth was Elmer Ross. In those days, it was quite normal for white people—and even many Indians—to refer to Elmer as an illegitimate Half Breed—a Metis, born of an Indian mother and a French-Canadian father. However, his birth status didn’t matter much to either of us because, I, again, was Canadian born to German immigrants. It was the war years: World War II was in full swing and our family was considered outcasts—Bloody Germans—Hitler supporters— who were responsible for all the war and hatred in the world.

Because we were so discriminated against, Elmer and I had much in common, and it was that, which we shared in common, that made us the best of friends.

When I see how “politically correct” our politicians are perverting Canadian history, I often have to wonder: how should I write my own life’s journal, to be politically correct?

Should I write, “I was born on a farm in Central Saskatchewan?” But, I could take that as offensive. To say that I have been born on a farm denotes I was not afforded the rights of having experienced the amenities that a large city offers. Should I be deeply offended that I wasn’t born in a city?

On the other hand, if I simply say that I was born in Saskatchewan, I might also have a legitimate complaint that I was denied the privilege of having experienced life in other provinces: I was robbed of having experienced life in the mountains, or life in more densely populated areas, or to have experienced what it was like to live near a large lake, like Lake Ontario.

So, to be politically correct, the best that I can do is say, “I was born!” That should be quite a neutral statement!

Next, I would write in my life’s journal, “I went to school.” Well, I can’t see anything politically incorrect here, so we can leave that sentence stand, other than I must investigate any possible chance that I might have attended one of John A. Macdonald’s Indian Schools, which could give me great cause for concern … except, truth be told, I went to a legitimate, all-white, Christian school—as did my good friend, Elmer Ross— so I can’t be “deeply offended” there! I went to school: a politically correct statement!

I could go on and on about factors in my life that I could list as offending me, including times in my youth when the community branded our family as hated “Nazis” because of my parent’s birth origin, but really, all of those rich life’s moments—the good, the bad, the ugly—offered me a chance to grow and develop my character. I am quite happy with the way my life turned out …

… except for the fact that I am deeply offended that Canadian society, in our weak-kneed drive to be fair to all, should allow our “politically correct” politicians to so screw up our history to the point where we no longer know what, or who, we are as a country!

That deeply offends me!

A Sunday Chat with Myself—Opposition in life

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness”  —Genesis 1: 3-4

Right from the beginning, our Creator—”God”—made it plain that His third dimensional (third density ) created universe we live in at present had to have its opposites in order to manifest. Light-dark; cold-heat; good-bad; love-hate. Can we comprehend joy without knowing what it’s like to have felt glume?

I firmly believe that there is an Intelligent Mind behind all this sophisticated, complicated universe. Only intelligence can create: unintelligence—ignorance—cannot create; it can only destroy, because it’s the opposite of intelligence that can and does create!

I also  believe that, among God’s other creations, He created us—humankind—loved us very dearly, and wanted us to grow up and be gods in our own right. To accomplish this, Intelligence had to create a ‘school’ for us to learn in. Then, we—our souls— had to ‘fall’ from the higher densities that we originally lived in,  to live in this lower, third density, so that we could experience ‘good’ from ‘evil,’ and eventually grow into being gods ourselves.

By the way, this ‘school’ we’re in was created complete in every detail: water, land, sea animals, land animals—everything—before we were finally allowed to ‘attend’—born—into our school, not much different than a modern, earthly school division would first lay out the plans and needs for the students, then build that school according to those specifications before admitting a single student into its classrooms.

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” —Genesis 1:31

The so-called “fall” that we took from the higher realms was a choice—a gift from our Father to His children that we were free to accept.  Our brand new school would be a tool so that we could learn the destined “good from evil.”

Few men and women that I know of who have reached their greatness in the world have reached it without having first suffered their share of setbacks. To some, their birth into poverty and low status was their springboard to riches and fame.  To others, personal sickness, or the death of a close family member may have been the springboard that made them become outstanding doctors in the field in which they had experienced that earlier emotional or physical setback.

It takes dedication and determination to earn a college degree. Partying all night, skipping classes and general irresponsibility will not get me that degree that I would like to have! Glancing around, I see where irresponsibility has had a negative effect on a former college classmate: I can learn from his mistakes; I am free to choose a better path for myself. God has given me that choice in my continuing spiritual development! And, in that understanding of choice, He has shown me the responsibility that each choice carries with it. I can continue to destroy myself, or I can reach for the stars!

Children do not always appreciate what parents do for them. It takes patience, long-suffering and love to raise a child; the opposite of impatience, intolerance and indifference. And yet, without understanding impatience, intolerance and indifference, I would not be able to exercise my will and devote myself to raising my children to be responsible adults. and to understand, I must know the difference between ignorance and intelligence: good from evil.

I may be working at a mundane job that involves a lot of physical routine. I get an idea: I know a way improve on this physical routine and make the job completion faster, and less boring. Should I keep the idea to myself, thinking that, why should I tell my boss about it? He probably wouldn’t appreciate the idea anyway? Or should I explain the idea to my boss and, even if he wouldn’t appreciate the improvement—forget about a possible raise, explain the idea? The choice is mine. God has given me the freedom to make a choice—a chance to grow, spiritually—a gift that He has not bestowed on many other of His earthly creatures!

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”   — Albert Einstein

A Sunday Chat with Myself (Abandonment)

If you leave someone at least tell them why, because what’s more painful than being abandoned, is knowing you’re not worth any explanation.

Earlier today I read an article in a pet magazine dealing with the subject of how cruel it is to abandon one’s pet. The author headed his article with a photo showing a recently abandoned dog left in the middle of the road by his owner. The dog was anxiously glancing down the road, painfully watching his former owner disappearing out of sight. Dogs are social animals and will usually form a very close bond with anyone who calls himself the dog’s owner. That was a cruel act!

The longer I looked at the photo of that abandoned dog, the more aware I became of the dog’s feeling of just having been abandoned. I finally had to turn the page of that magazine. If that dog’s heart didn’t break at that moment, mine almost did! I wished that I could have run up to that dog, embraced it, and assured it that it was not abandoned: that it was loved! But, a greater tragedy is, how common abandonment is in our world today, and how negatively indelible such an experience is upon the soul … examples: a father abandons his wife and children often without explanation or forewarning; a student, having difficulty with a school assignment, finds the teacher disinterested in his problem—go figure it out for yourself;  a young girl, madly in love with a young man is left stranded on the dance floor; or, probably worst case of all, praying to God for help and find that He has seemingly left you to face your problem alone. This happened to me once.

Many years ago when I was still in the military. We had just come home after spending six weeks in intensive military exercises. I missed my wife and children and, as I walked down the few remaining sidewalk steps to my front door, I had visions of being greeted by a loving wife and children. Also, I was tired and was looking forward to a restful night in my own, comfortable bed. However, as I entered my house, instead of finding the love and warmth of a family that I was anticipating, I found a note that my wife, along with my children, had left me for the arms of another man! My world crashed!

Because our unit had arrived back in camp from field exercises late in the afternoon, and we were all quite tired, our Captain said that we might as well just take our weapons home with us, and we could hand them back in to Ordnance Stores in the morning, so I still had my sten gun with me, our unit’s assigned weapon. I recall sitting down on our couch trying to make sense of a world that had just collapsed around me. What had I done to deserve this?

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  — Matthew 27:46

My sten gun held approximately 30 rounds of .9mm bullets in its magazine. I held the gun to my head. The trigger pull was about one quarter of an inch, then it would fire … in a moment, I would be able to ask my Maker, personally, why He had abandoned me, and what I had done to deserve such an unwelcome homecoming from military exercises!

But even in my grief, my trigger finger froze and refused to “pull.”  Try as I might, I could not pull that trigger! In frustration, I threw the gun onto the floor and covered my face with my hands and began to sob. Then I heard it: that almost imperceptible voice in my head that quietly, calmly, lovingly said: “Is she worth you taking your life like this?” They were only nine simple words, but in that brief, calming moment, a volume of understanding unfolded inside of me.

My God had not abandoned me!

In time, my failed marriage began to heal and my life started taking on new meaning. I found that the experience with my failed marriage greatly strengthened my spirit, and as a result, was able to better handle many of the future challenges that life was about to bless me with. I learned that, when one door closes, God opens another, often a better one, just to the right of the closed door!

I found that life was really an adventure, and it was all the good times, mixed in with the bad,  that made my soul blossom into the great person that I am today!

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy”       — 2 Nephi 2:25

A Sunday Chat with Myself (Experience)

“Experience is the teacher of all things.” –julius Caesar

It seems curious to me that, when we talk about what living the perfect life might be like, we think of life lived as we see in a Lotto 649 ad: exciting!–like diving off high cliffs into azure pools below, relaxing with invited friends on deck of our own personal luxury cruise yacht, laughing and partying with not a care in the world. Yet, when one hears years later about these lotto winners who’ve tried this type of life,  the majority of them–or anyone, for that matter, who tries to live the good life as advertised by these get-rich-quick companies as the perfect dream-life, we see total disaster.

From all this I gather that such an artificial life–unearned luxuries–isn’t what we came here on earth to experience. Yes, dreaming big is part of our purpose, and it’s a noble purpose, but dreaming big involves effort and personal involvement on our part in order to accomplish those dreams. Then we can say to the Universe, “I’ve earned my accomplishments!

I can clearly remember, many, many years ago when I was still a kid living my innocence on a farm in central Saskatchewan. It was the middle of the 1930s. The whole country was still agonizing itself through the Great Depression, and effects of that terrible time were present everywhere. But, still, we considered ourselves to be among the lucky ones: we lived on a farm where we raised chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, cows and had two teams of work horses that we used in working the grain fields, so if we had nothing else, we always had plenty to eat. Yes, our mother often had to sew patches over already worn out or torn patches on our clothes, but that was life in those days. Everyone was in the same boat.

Since we lived less than a quarter of a mile from the Canadian National Railway that linked Canada from east to west, we saw a lot of out-of-work Eastern “Railroad Bums”  riding the rails  to Alberta in search of a better chance at employment. Often thirsty and hungry, many would jump off the moving rail cars and stop at our farm to ask for a handout. Money, of course, was out of the question, since we never had any money ourselves, so we were unable to help anyone else, financially.

But mother always made sure that she had a pot of something on the stove so that our “temporary guests” didn’t leave on an empty stomach, and that usually included  packing a tick, double-sliced beef sandwich on fresh, homemade bread to take with them for their remaining journey to a better future.

It’s funny … not  like today, in those days, we never treated these “Railroad Bums” with suspicion: that they might want to rob us, or were perverts running from the law. We knew that they were someone’s husband, father, or son, who had the misfortune of being caught up in the Great Depression, and were looking for work–somewhere, anywhere, as long as it provided an income so that they could feed their families. It was our Christian duty to show compassion to those men who were less fortunate than we were.

It was exactly these hard, depressive times that taught our community compassion. But, it was a youthful experience during this depressive hard time that taught me, personally, the difference between showing compassion, and letting a person work out their own destiny in their own time, in their own way, without my interference.

As I said, we had chickens on our farm and it was usually us children’s job to go around to all the chicken’s hiding places around the yard and stables to collect the eggs for the day. Occasionally, the chickens were smarter than we were, and hid their laying nests so well that we didn’t always find them–that is, not until many days later when the hens had brooded their eggs to the point where they began to hatch, and we’d only spot the nests after little chicks were running everywhere.

I recall one particular incident when my younger brother and I were on an egg-gathering mission. We came across a hidden nest where some chicks were already hatched, but other chicks were still in various stages of breaking through their eggshells. My brother and I decided to give these partially hatched chicks a hand by breaking the shells for them, saving them the effort. Unfortunately, this proved a disaster! To our dismay, all the chicks that we tried to help, died while still in their shell! What went wrong? Weren’t we showing compassion?

It wasn’t until many, many years later, and weathering many of the bumps and bruises life has to offer , before I learned that God has a reason for giving us challenges: to break out of our own eggshells on our own, without outside help. He has a reason for making us apply effort to achieve anything worthwhile in life. We need challenges and setbacks in life in order for us to grow, spiritually!

I know of persons where, when everything is just handed to a person born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, that person became lazy and self-centred. They often just frit away the business worth that their father had built through his hard work.  They often become selfish and uncaring, and before long, they’re spiritually dead, much like those chicks that we tried to help years ago, became physically dead because we tried to give them something for nothing.

There is a reason for trials and shortcomings. They are not punishments from a wrathful or uncaring God. They are there to help one grow: to learn to love: to show compassion, so that I can, eventually, become the god I am meant to become!

A Sunday Chat with Myself — 11 February, 2018

“No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination; never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” — Lord Chesterfield

Life can have its boring moments if I don’t keep busy, but, to me, that raises  a question: is the idea of boredom a penalty for idleness, controlled by societal forces that have instilled in me the idea that I must always be busy? As the proverb says, “Idleness is the root of all evil.” Therefore, can I assume that idleness I sin, as many of our preachers try to convince us? .” We’re taught that “idle hands create mischief for the devil.” There are a whole bunch more sayings like this so, to me, it’s obvious, society has a serious concern that we citizens don’t fall into idleness, and furthermore, what is boredom? Is one the consequence of the other?

I have noticed mild forms of boredom in higher forms of animals, but not as intense as in humans. For example, my cat can lay on its soft blanket by the window all day long, stirring only when it’s hungry or needs the litter box, and not get bored at all. Life seems peaceful for my cat, but when I get bored, I become restless, and life is anything but peaceful! My mind, my fingers, are itching for something to do!

I also see yogas sitting cross-legged for hours on their mats and not be bored.  The only conclusion that I can come to that my boredom is conditioned; purely a state of mind. Boredom does not necessarily have to be a product of idleness.

In an article that I recently read by Jessica Leber, she claims that there are five types of boredom. I was especially interested in her first three categories of boredom. The first is Indifference. If I understand her correctly, indifference is when I watch the entire evening news hour while eating my sandwich, and come away feeling unmoved by all the negative events that took place in the world this day. In a sense, my mind was idle, but I wasn’t bored: my passive mind was being entertained to a point of indifference.

The next is calibrating. Calibrating is an unpleasant situation one might find himself in,”characterized by wandering thoughts unrelated to the present situation.” It’s like in my youthful days when I still went to school. The scene: an algebra lesson. My teacher would drone on in his monotone voice something about “a” plus “b” minus “c” equals”d” (unpleasant situation) while my mind was dreamily gazing out the window, preoccupied by imagining animal forms in the fluffy summer clouds above.

The third type of boredom Jessica Leber defines as Searching. Searching is like a “person might do to ease the discomfort of a situation one find himself in.” like, I remember once when I was still in the military standing guard in front of our Captain’s office where he was conducting an important training meeting. To relieve my boredom, I counted, then recounted, every one of the hundred plus (I forget the exact amount) of ceiling tiles that ran the entire length of the corridor! I was searching for something better to do, but military discipline demanded that my mind stay in the present moment of being ‘on  guard.’

Boredom: God’s way of telling me that what I’m doing is not interesting. I should occupy my mind with interesting, constructive “stuff.” 

During that military time I was condition not to think: just obey, that all my thinking will be done for me. “Hurry up and wait” was another common military conditioning, while not trying to be bored in the process–not having interesting, personal thoughts–was all part of that routine.

But all that was in the past; they were my life’s experiences. So, is that it? is idleness that causes boredom given to us as a gift that we inherit along with birthright, so that we’re guaranteed to move forward and have experiences?

The yogas have an interesting practice that addresses idleness. It’s sort of a yoga conundrum!  They ask you to try and make your mind blank and still so that you have no thought in in at all. It can’t be done, because, even if you should accomplish that impossible feat of not thinking, the very act of forcing your mind not to think, is a thought! Plainly stated, my God did not create me to have an idle mind, and boredom is the ‘kick in the pants’ for me to find something to do.

For all creation, thinking is mandatory! Contrary to the hum-drum experiences in the military, or what I didn’t learn in school, life forces one to think!

But, I do have a choice: I can fritter away my time in daydreaming, or tightly center my thoughts on a specific topic or action and accomplish something that I’m desirous of doing. Act positive, as work ethicist’s might call it.

Which raises another interesting thought. Many companies have a special department, usually headed by their CEO, called a “Think Tank.” The purpose of the Think Tank is to come up with new or innovative ideas that the company can use in giving it an edge over its competitors. I’ve known people who had pleasure and honor of being part of a company’s Think Tank and one thing that’s decidedly absent during a session is concentrated thinking! Everyone seems just idly doodling and exploring all the possible “what-ifs” centered around the problem/topic of the day. It seems that our subconscious mind works best when our objective, conscious mind stays out of its way, and great ideas—solutions to vexing problems—often pop up seemingly out of nowhere when the mind is idle.

In conclusion, both an idle mind and an active mind are special attributes that we inherited  from our Creator. It is wise for me to know the difference of when to be idle, and when to be active!

“Focus on being productive, not busy.” — Tim Ferris

 

 

A Sunday Chat with Myself — 28 January, 2018

“Knowledge is the life of the mind”— Abu Bakr

One of my favorite poems is “Vestigia,” by Bliss Carman

“I took a day to search for God, and found Him not.  But as I trod by rocky ledge, through woods untamed , Just where one scarlet lily flamed, I saw His footprint in the sod …”

At present, I’m reading a very interesting book, “Children of a Living Universe,” by Paul Von  Ward. The author states, “A review of present conventional religious and scientific assumptions is necessary.” He continues, “most of what groups now label truth would have to be considered tentative, but not fact.” I tend to agree with the author;  creation is in a constant state of flux, assumed truths and mistruths. For example, according to Reference.com, there are a whopping 4,200 religions in the world today. Each one professes to “know the truth, to claim (know) their version of the word of God to be the only true word, and boldly claim that all other religions, except their own, have at least some wrong–mistruth–in them.”

So I ask, if I want to know God–the true God, which religion do I join?

Another burning question: countless wars have been fought over whether our universe came into being via the Big Bang, or whether God created the univers out of nothing–which, of course, begs another question, is there even a God?

Was the Garden of Eden really the birthplace of mankind, or was Zacharia Sitchin, in his book, “The 12th Planet,” more correct when he claimed, that “Life, scientist have concluded, evolved not upon the terrestrial planets … but in the outer fringes of the solar system.”?

If most of our history is written by the victor, what is mankind’s true history?

Heraclitus is credited with having said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Is that the same as saying, the only truth in the universe is change?  Is  Heraclitus saying that change is God? If every creation in our universe boils down to that simple quote, I can see mankind’s destiny as utter madness. Is there no stability, no anchor that we can fix our hopes and dreams on?

I believe that, if I ever want to find truth–real, eternal truth–I have to look inside myself, for nowhere else can it be. Inside of me I see Love. Love always has been. Love always will be–as the old cliche goes, hiding in plain sight from my frivolous mind. Love is eternal. Love never changes, and can be depended upon to always fulfill.

Love, with its opposite quality, hate,  is, beyond question, the primary, the most stable, the most powerful truth upon which the entire universe is built, and is the foundation upon which all other truths are based. Love and hate are the cornerstones upon which all my other experiences are built. What hate destroys in me, love can heal and resuscitate.

I can therefore conclude that recorded history–or any point therein– is volatile. It’s not constant. What seemed true to a nation yesterday, is no longer true today. If I unravel that history’s  seemingly whole into parts–into separate acts, I see that many of its pieces have changed, but where love or hate played a part at the time, the same result is today as it was then.

Through my rage/hate–let’s say as a Roman soldier–I burnt a peasant’s home and killed its occupants. The rage was the same then as it would be today, and its manifestation the same as if I go, today, and raze a jungle village in the Amazon in order to make room for my oil rig. Politics, opinions, justifications change: therefore they can’t be classified as Eternal Truths. But manifested hate, or rage then, in Roman times, as it would today, or any other time in our history, can be classified as an eternal truth.

Another, positive example this time: let’s say I become aware of the plight of refugee children in some war-torn country today. I take my funds and build them an orphanage with all its amenities to help ease their suffering. In other words, I have come to love these children. The manifestation of that love is the same–a constant–today as it would have been for the compassionate person who built the first hostel to ease the discomfort of the weary travellers along the ancient Chinese Silk Trade Route. Love, like its opposite, hate, is a constant.

Love and hate aren’t the only constants in our universe. There’s charity, with its opposite, greed; compassion with its opposite, indifference; morality with its opposite, immorality; industrious with its opposite, sloth, and let’s not forget intelligence with its opposite, stupidity!

These are all constants throughout the universe: unchanging, eternal. Did I finally find God?

 

A Sunday (Christmas) Chat with Myself — 24 December, 2017

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”  ― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The biggest iconic opposites polarity in humanity celebrating Christmas is between Jesus, or December 25th, the day we celebrate as Jesus’ birthday, and Santa Claus. To me, Santa Claus is little more than a sales gimmick created by Coca-Cola to increase their profits, and is an icon of the shopping frenzy that takes place during the pre Christmas season. Santa Claus is to the real meaning of Christmas what a plastic, ten cent diamond is to a real thousand dollar diamond: Artificial. It is the exact opposite of what the season is about.

Jesus’ birth–his gift to all earthly creation–is that there is hope, and that’s not what Santa Claus offers you! Jesus offers hope: a way to lift ourselves out of the hopeless misery that we are/were in, and the opportunity to turn hate into love, and be loved in turn; To replace wordly passion with compassion; To replace violence and war with understanding and compromise; To replace ignorance with true education; To replace selfishness with unselfish  deeds that  care for all creation, not just ourselves and friends; To replace punishment–prisons–with understanding and a helping hand.

A 2013 CBC  report states that Canadian prison population  has increased by 75% in the last decade. The report further states that, ten years ago, the number of inmates in federal Canadian prisons was nearly 12,000. It’s now over 15,00! Obviously, punishment doesn’t work! Until we start treating criminals as human beings that need help and not our contempt, our prison population  will never go down!

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. ” 
― Mary Ellen Chase

There was a time, before the Great Depression of the 1930s, that social assistance was provided by religious charities and other private groups. Today, welfare is big business and  has migrated from the offices of Pastors in religious institutions to government, and a report by the National Council on Welfare indicates that there are 1.7 million Canadians on welfare–obviously a growing statistic! And the last “Ho ho ho” that I heard from Santa Claus, he wasn’t too concerned about feeding the hungry and clothing the sick as he flits to and fro between us and the North Pole!

In order to survive, primitive man had to think of himself first. As we to evolve, Jesus the Christ was born to us with a new message: it is better to give than to receive. Is the idea of Santa Claus’s popularity just an attempt from the Dark Side to keep us primitive, to think only about our own selfish wants?

Giving and receiving is fine. It’s a Christian tradition. But charitable giving and receiving is Christ-giving and receiving! That’s what Christmas is all about!

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” 
― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

A Sunday Chat with Myself – Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

“Men like that — when they know they won’t be found out — they will do anything.” 
― Michelle Paver

I’m the secretary of our Cardston Home Safe Animal Rescue Society and one of my tasks that I’ve undertaken is to create monthly posters advertising compassion to animals, and distribute them to the bulletin boards of select businesses in town.

After completing the poster, I couldn’t help but reflect on just how insensitive humans are when it comes to dealing with Nature,–not just lost and abandoned pets, but Nature in general. For example, now with the holiday season upon us, many a parent will consider getting a puppy or kitten as a Christmas gift for a family member.

“They’re so cute and adorable!” We hug the animal, maybe even kiss it. “We’re going to take such good care of you and you’re going to be part of our family!” we fondly chortle. At the moment, everything sounds so good and mushy. However, a week after Christmas, when faced with a cleanup job after the kitten or puppy accidently pooped on our beautiful rug, out the door goes the pet, and with the same intensity of passion in which the animal was adopted, it is now abandoned, left to face the cold elements on its own! Forgotten!

But pets and Nature in general aren’t the only things that suffer as a result of our indifference. We’re just as mean and cruel to each other!

I do believe in karma and, although karma can sometimes be delayed to manifest in our lives another day, I  believe that many of the calamities that happen in our lives are a result of our actions. If we are prone to gossip, should we expect people to trust us? If we are flighty and inconsistent in our thoughts and behavior, should we expect stability in our lives? If we frequently get angry at our children and call them stupid, should we expect our children to love us and care for us in our old age?

I listened to an interviewee this morning who was describing his life in Yugoslavia under the Nazi occupation. He was lamenting the fact that no one stood up to defend their neighbor, or each other, under the strict rules imposed on them by the Nazis. This is why Naziism was so successful for so long, because so few people in the occupied lands stood up against them, and I believe that this is the reason so many of us have to suffer because no one is prepared to stand up for justice for the weak, including our animals and Nature in general. In frustration, I often have to conclude that we deserve what we get!

“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”― Fyodor Dostoyevsky