Flat Earth Physicists

I recently watched a cool movie (Rocketman:  Mad Mike’s Mission to Prove the Flat Earth).  The documentary is about this dare devil guy, who built his own rocket from salvaged materials, lit it off with him strapped in, and soared up and up……..so he could prove that the Earth is flat.  Well, he is either an ingenious and brave man……..or just plain missing some nuts and bolts upstairs.  Probably both.  The rocket fire, he did soar, it did work, he landed hard, but I ended the film shaking my head and not sure whether he found out what he needed for his proof.

Later I watched a “debate” between a Buddhist teacher and a physicist.  The physicist, one of the more brilliant and respected minds of his profession, has become trapped in his research that has led him to believe that the quantum theories and cosmological stuff he works with is “all there is.”  To him, when we die, we die….the end. El Fin.

But the Buddhist teacher reminded him that we humans have not really made any attempt to research and explore the human consciousness like we have the physical world.  Of course there are in fact quite a few physicists who are now (actually for decades) at least thinking about our human consciousness and if (there is) a universal consciousness, and how these relate and how they relate to the physical world and universe that we humans apprehend.

But this particular physicist just reminded me that the majority of humankind are still “flat Earthers,” believing that we individually exist apart from all that we observe.

More and more I respect thinkers like Magellan.

 

Look to What You DON’T Know.

Will Rogers, one of yesteryear’s revered comedic and philosophical figures, once said this:

Renaissance of African Spirituality in North America (Black Millennials Return to Their Ancestral Roots)

For the last 25 years I have been on my own spiritual journey, but along the way and continuing today, I delight in learning more and more about Earthlings’ belief systems, and non-belief systems.  Although I consider myself a neo-Buddhist (a term I coined), I have no issues with looking into the panorama of beliefs around the world.

One such spiritual system – call it a religion if you wish – is that which is of the Yoruba peoples of Nigeria.  The Yoruba have been around for centuries B.C., and have their own creation story.  Readers may know that when Africans from many tribes were brought to the Americas against their will and enslaved, those same Africans who survived the Middle Passage brought with them their beliefs.  What white masters found is that you can take an African out of Africa, but you can’t take the Africa out of Africans.

Africans were soon shown the white man’s religion in North America, Protestant and Catholic Christianity – and the White Jesus.  By exposing Africans to this religion, there were two goals, one to “pacify” slaves, and the other to control them.  Remember Africans were not even regarded as fully human, so the masters really did not care what happened to the souls of their chattel after they were hung or beat to death.

However, Africans accepted the Christian system and the white Jesus, but in a variety of ways, many of which either adapted Christianity to serve their own spiritual and emotional needs, with lots of singing and dancing, and for many, Christianity – particularly Catholicism – was secretly combined with their African practices, hence today’s Santeria, for example.  Such practices were much more common in South America, Cuba, and Haiti.

Here in North America grew a strong, yet diverse, African American-centered Christianity, but reflecting many innate aspects of African culture.

But today the attraction and magnetic hold on many Christians at large is waning.  Christians are leaving their churches in large numbers, and young people especially are leaving.  Many of these “leavers” are now in the “noner” category, having a religious affiliation of “none.”  However, among young Black Americans, more and more they are seeing themselves as Africans in America, and finding what their hearts are yearning for, in various forms of Yoruban Ifa and other practices.

I personally am acquainted with many such young people of color, and the attraction is not limited to only Blacks, for many Whites are also studying and being initiated into these spiritual systems.

The main elements of Ifa, sometimes referred to as ancestral worship, is the belief in venerating ancestors, divination and identification/initiation as followers of various Orishas (“gods”).  Moreover, the practices, ceremonies, initiation rituals and dancing, and identification with nature, is a powerful call to many looking for a touchstone in their troubled lives.

My best friend is a fully-initiated Osun priestess.  Osun is one of the Ifa orishas, the Goddess of love and sensuality,  fertility, rivers and caring for children.  Our home has her altars and mine, so it is a happy mix of loving understanding on the highest plane.

The point of this post is just to inform the readers about aspects of available spiritual practices they may be missing.

osun goddess

Painting of Goddess Osun

Here are some links related to this post:

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/11/black-millennials-african-witchcraft-christianity/574393/

https://www.businessinsider.com/christians-are-leaving-the-faith-in-droves-2015-4

A Most Wonderful “Thing”: IMPERMANENCE

As a child of the country, I had the opportunity to roam, explore and interact with nature.  One favorite, yet fleeting, past time was finding dandelion blooms, open and ready for the next breeze.  To pluck a stem and then gently blow on the bloom and see the seeds carry away in the breeze so carefree was perfectly synchronous with my feeling at that time, as a boy…..carefree and changing daily, letting my next idea move me to the next idea and activity, my mind open and being filled with learning.  I only lived in the moment, this moment, and the last and the next were just flickers of the film of my living.

Fortunately dandelions grow just about every where, rural and urban, but I wonder how many children today experience that almost mystical moment of blowing on such ethereal blooms to become one with nature and observe this signal of impermanence? Seeds to be carried by the breeze, perhaps close, perhaps very far, finding a tiny place on the Earth to await just the right amount of rain and sun to sprout to begin the cycle once again.   The cycle of life, the cycle that permeates every bit of space within our bodies, within our consciousness, in every organism and throughout the entire physical universe.

All things change.  This is one of the core axioms of all Eastern spirituality, a point totally missed (sadyly) by Western religions (at least as practiced today).

If we just pause a bit, and consider, the relationships we have with Everyone and Everything at this moment is not what it was yesterday, and really even a moment ago.  It is easier for us to perceive over time, facilitated as memory – that construct that our brain facilitates with its divine algorithms – and we see changes in how we interact with our children, with our lovers, with everyone we know, and then meeting knew people, even our spectrum of relationships itself changes.  To be opposed to such social change is to stagnate and begin to die within…..but count on impermanence to move even the worst person to another “place.”  Nothing can defy impermanence.  To live and move through this life we must embrace impermanence.

While impermanence is the nature of the universe itself, and is the only constant in the universe, we have within the ability to nurture and create an attitude of LOVE that also can be a “constant.”  Learning to LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY penetrates all states of compounded change in our relationships.  It is not an easy thing to do at times, but if cultivated, increases the light on our own paths, and will brighten the light of those we love and illuminate our worlds.

Buddha’s last words –  more or less (there are various translations and interpretations of those last words, of course) –  were:  everything changes; and strive to free yourselves.

So he was just reminding his monks of the impermanence of all, and that they needed each to free themselves from the cycle of existence (in accordance with Buddhist view).

While I as a Buddhist continue to explore the teachings,  the simplest thing to accept is the fact of impermanence.  I have found in my life that to be open to impermanence, to welcome and embrace it is to become one with Living.

What I have found in doing so is…. less suffering, greater vitality in relationships, dampening of ego, a knowing that I can create my world and change things for the better, all by realizing there is this wonderful aspect “thing” of impermanence that creates the space to make things better in the next moment.

So have an increasingly wonderful impermanent day!

 

 

 

Change Gonna Come!

As we look toward the coming week, the soul sustenance all good folks need is to have faith in the timelessly proven adage, “a change is going to come.”  Nothing in this universe, no phenomenon, even what so many call God, is inherently unchanging.

Our mission this week, as the last and all those ahead, is to put our prayers and shoulders into adding to the slow momentum that carries morality arching toward the positive.  If all good people push at the same time, it does make a difference!

So today let us gather our wisdom, organize our spiritual energy, and recommit to affecting positive change ahead.

All that is happening as a result of those who are ignorant, those who hate, and those who are confused, will move on down the river, albeit slowly, and will be dissolved in the mighty sea.  There is only one ocean, and there is only one humanity.

Best we all began to learn that.

I leave you with Sam Cooke’s immortal song,

The Unique Burden Humans Bear

Maybe one day we humans will be able to actually communicate with some other species, perhaps primates, or whales; or what about ravens, or octopuses, highly intelligent creatures themselves?  If I had the chance, one question I would want to ask any of these is “Do you feel complete?”

One unique thing that we humans universally carry, regardless of who or where we are, is a sense that there is something missing in our lives.  Our very existence needs more – and that more is not to be found materially, or in our relationships or environs.  Of course such a thought or inner voice may not arise until one is mature, or should I say, one’s consciousness is mature…..it’s not an age thing necessarily.  But eventually, I would think we each, who ever we are on the Earth, have at least a fleeting question, “Isn’t there more?”

Likely each person of sufficient intelligence will have their personal speculative answer to that question.  When one considers how many belief systems there are in the world, and then considers the diversity of interpretations of even recognized religions and paths, why the number of different beliefs must approach the same number of people alive at any one time. Is is assured that if we ask anyone of we humans about her or his  beliefs about matters pertaining to spirituality and religion, inclusive of those who are agnostic or atheist, each will have a unique answer to the question “Why do you believe that?” although the question may need repeating a few times to reach the essence of their sense of awareness of more.

Our consciousness ask, “Is this all I am?” Deep within us all is the awareness, embedded within our self-awareness, this wondering, a pondering of how did we and all this come to be.  Since this question has been with us since early humankind began to develop consciousness, we can assume it is innate, not phenomenal.  Was the “apple” Eve offered Adam as told in the Bible possibly a metaphor for consciousness?  With a bite from the apple Adam became aware, and with that awareness surely came the question that we humans have borne through the ages, “Is there more?”  Of course in the Bible then God was pretty straight forward with the answer, which makes for a great story for believers of the Judeo-Christian faiths.

Within each of us is this question, in many it is perhaps latent, but it is there.  It may be the one thing that makes us unique here on Earth.

What do you believe, and why?  If you believe within some major religion, why? Do you just accept that answer as a given? Why? What is your basis of such acceptance, blind allegiance called “faith,” or historical/scientific proof?  If you opt for a humanist perspective, how do you explain this position to yourself?  I mean, don’t we owe it to ourselves to understand what we say we believe?

Personally, my belief is in continuing to search for the ground of being where my consciousness is one with the perceived and hidden universe.  To accept a finite answer to the question I have posed today would be an attempt to circumscribe the infinite.  Therefore, I choose to continue my Tao, where ever it may lead.

Finding Inner Peace in Troubled Times

Being a retired man, and a cerebral one at that, I have a lot of time on my hands to just think about life.  I see now why a lot of people have hobbies, for hobbies can take the mind away from thinking for those who think, and for those who do not think, it’s something to do besides watching the tube or the wall.

I enjoy thinking, in fact it is probably my hobby, as all the things that fall into the class of activities called hobbies by most, I have done in my life and never found any I wanted to be stuck with.  So I think.

But thinking too much comes with the real risk of becoming frustrated with a world that is now so troubled.  Is it my perception that it is troubled more, or is it really as bad as it seems?  Carefully considering the matter, I conclude it’s the latter.  I did not see WW2 like my parents did, but everything after that last world war I have seen, at least as a distant spectator.  And things are really bad now.

No doubt I am just one of hundreds of millions just in this country who are at their wits end with the current president and what he is doing to the country and the world.  But even if he was out of the picture, we have the problems of climate change, violence, health, etc.  Oh my.

So in these times it is good for each of us to have place to go to as often as we need, to renew our strength and refresh spirit.  My place is the river in the photo.

The Nueces River outside Camp Wood, Texas, on State Highway 55.
The Nueces River outside Camp Wood, Texas, on State Highway 55.

I grew up on this river, pretty much literally.  Although I have not been there in years, I can easily access it fully in my mind, its spring fed waters, the sounds, the touch, the smells.  Our minds take us anywhere, but we must be aware that we our minds are not captive in places that sap our energy.  We must replenish our vital spiritual energy by maintaining connection with the one sweet spot in our lives that is the portal to the divine.

This is mine.  I am the river, and the river is me.

I pray you have or find your own place.

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