What’s Going On–An Open ? from Nan

If anyone was to ask me, how would I describe the position of living beings in our universe, I would have to guess we are slowly learning how to come to terms with ego, and how to open spirit. This is not just a human task, but a life task. Every living being (Is there any other kind?) has spirit, and spirits are the parts of us that progress, or, using other words, are raising their consciousnesses. The thing is, there seem to be three levels of consciousness in my experience: physical, mental, and spiritual. Spirituality informs all levels, but the spirit cannot do much until the physical (ego) is tamed, and the mental (mind) is opened. From the mind all connections can become visible, at which time the spiritual (spirit) is able to awaken, and take over the consciousness it centers. This is about the simplest way I can speak to my own experience, but there is great complexity behind this simplicity.

This relationship, ego to mind to spirit, can be comprehended on the spiritual level of life, but it cannot be easily described in English (the only language I have mastered enough to even try. I would probably need to write a book to try, and I would likely forget to include things that would need to be included to give a full and proper description. (Someday, I may try to construct such a book, but at this point I am still learning. I need more information than I have.) My mind can grasp a lot, but not as much as my spirit feels the need to tell.

As for what is spiritual progress, again I can see more than my spirit can explain. The biggest thing, for me, is understanding why I cannot explain. How does one describe understanding that life has no known goal because knowing the goal would invalidate the journeys we are all on, whether we realize it or not.

Imagine you are Christoffa Colombo. You set off on a journey from Spain convinced you are going to reach India. When you find land, as you expected, you call the inhabitants Indians. Yet even when your error is discovered, you still insist on calling these new people Indians. You want so badly to have reached your goal you are willing to tell one of the biggest lies of all time to hide your mistake. You call the land the Americas after your good buddy, Amerigo Vespucci, but you insist the occupants are Indians. 600 years later this same lie is still being repeated. Indians are from the Americas, not from India. How absurd! Indians are from India, true Americans are from the Americas!

But this is only half the lie. Whatever else you did do, when you discovered America, you failed in your goal. You thought you knew where you were going, but you went somewhere else instead. The Colombo example starts to fall apart now. The Americas interrupted his known goal, India. But what if Colombo did not know where he was going, but he still went anyway, and succeeded in discovering what no European knew was there. How would that have changed the history of the last 600 years? Of course, we can never know, what happened is what happened. The is no changing that!

Therefore I will suppose a new example. Here we all are, on our personal journeys not only to discover our spirituality, but also looking for the goal, or purpose, of life. First of all, how do we know life has purpose? In all the time life has existed on this earth, we have never seen an actual purpose. At best purpose is like time or borders, we can only see them by the influence of human ingenuity. They are thought constructs, without physical reality. Purpose has no physical reality! Or does it? Through first the story of evolution as discovered in the fossils from the distant past, we can read snapshotss of the story of life.

All life started as one-celled beings, or things that became one-celled beings. All life consisted of one-celled beings for millions or possibly billions of years. Then came the first advancement, two one-celled beings joined together and gave forth a new kind of life. Two-celled beings were stronger, more likely to live longer, and procreate better in order to prolong individual lives, and species life. So for a long long time, the most advanced beings on earth were two-celled beings.

Until three-celled beings appeared. Then four-celled beings. At some point life started to become multi-celled beings, with every cell contributing to the life of the whole organism. Do you see what was going on? Life was advancing, all on its own. Given enough time, and enough chance joinings (chaos), life was becoming stronger, and more efficient. Somewhere along the line, life discovered bisexuality. Instead of just splitting into endless copies of of the same original cell-beings, using two genders to reproduce produced many more combinations of possible lifeforms. Progress happened.

DNA was another part of the story of life. I myself do not know much more than the basics about DNA. But I do know we can use human DNA to tell part of our human history. DNA can help us follow the spread of humanity all over the earth. I believe, if we had the know-how, and the equipment, we could probably follow our DNA right back to the DNA of the earliest one-celled beings. Can you imagine the stories that search would tell us? I can! They are amazing! And that story would be the history of life’s progression from the start of life on this planet, right up to the present.

That history is the history of progress. And progress illustrates a drive to purpose. What do I mean by this, a drive to purpose? Purpose might be the raison d’etre, of life–the reason to live. Do we, living beings, have purpose? Most of us think we do, or at least hope we do. We want our lives to mean something. I think that reason, or purpose, is to progress. But progress cannot be purpose, it can only be a way of moving towards purpose. And while we might not know that there is a true purpose of life (although we can have our suspicions), we can fairly reasonably assume life is heading towards something–and we hope that something is purpose. This is what I call the drive to purpose. It is that which fuels us to find purpose.

But here I need to say that which many will disagree with: we on earth, or anywhere in our universe, cannot know the purpose of life! Why not? Because life itself does not know yet what it’s purpose is. All our lives so far are shaped by chaos, by things happening haphazardly. Nowhere in our history has life shown any propensity to progress in a straight line. Don’t you think, if life had a purpose, and knew that purpose, it would move in a straight line towards that purpose. Evolution, or progress, has never moved in a straight line. No, progress is chaotic! As long as chaos exists, and chaos still exists, no one can know true purpose of life–because it does not exist yet. We can reason only as far as the seeming fact life is searching for something by every means possible. And whether we look at physical life, mental life, or spiritual life, there is a drive to find purpose. But until we living beings find it, it cannot exist.

As crazy as this might sound, and I’m sure you will agree with me this does sound crazy, there is no purpose of life. So, in a direct way, you can say I have not really said anything at all in this post. But I have given you what my experience has given me of what is really going on. We, the beings of this cosmos, are looking for the purpose of life, even though we know it does not exist. Yet that purpose, whenever we find it, is the most important thing that life will ever discover. Search on.

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WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW

Are SEX SCHOOLS!

I’ve been batting this idea around in my head for awhile now, knowing I want to write about it, but also knowing I had to think of something better than teaching sex in school, although that would not hurt either. Starting teaching children about sex cannot start too young, and done in an honest way, grade by grade, would give the next generation something we do not have now, healthy knowledge about sex.

My motivation for writing about this presently “taboo” subject is in the answer to the question “How many people’s lives are ruined EVERY DAY by an unhealthy introduction to the realities of sex?” When young children are sexually abused, they have no idea it is wrong, and they should tell someone about it. They believe the abuser when he or she tells them not to say anything to anybody or bad things will happen. These children need to know what is happening is wrong, and that they need to tell someone about it, especially if the abuser is a family member. Silence, despite the threats, is by far the worst reaction.

Older children and young teenagers need to know there are right ways to have sex, and a whole number of wrong ways. Boys and girls both need this knowledge. But what they do not need is to be told sex is dirty, or wrong before marriage, or any of the other puritan teachings that pervade our societies today. Sex is a beautiful thing, whether you are married or not. To deny it when your feelings are strongly in favour of it is affecting your whole being, physically, mentally, and spiritually. But knowing about sex is just one part of the equation–these young people also need to know how to have sex so they don’t get hurt, or pregnant! Not knowing how to have sex can hurt a person just as much as denying it.

Older teenagers and even adults can also be affected in myriad ways if they don’t know what they are dealing with, or doing. They need to know how to have sex as much as anyone else. Bad sexual experiences can damage the psyche, and lead to rape, sexual assaults, and even murder. Sex is something everyone wants, and mostly needs. But if you don’t know what you are doing, you are risking your future.

Why should we have sex schools? Sexual crimes are not like other crimes. They are intimately connected to who a person is, and who a person wants to be. And, sexual crimes are so prevalent in our society it is very apparent we as a society are doing something wrong. Like parenting does not come with a manual, neither does sex. Especially when the latter can lead to the former and wreck many people’s lives, we need to protect ourselves against that. Sex schools are but one answer. Until something better comes along, I will advocate for sex schools.

There is a lot more to be said on this subject, but I would like to hear people’s thoughts on this opening of the topic. Yea, nay, or otherwise, all comments are welcome.

TEACHING OTHERS–WHY? part one

In my early life, as I was developing my life philosophy, I wanted to tell others all about it. I was excited. I wanted to spread that excitement. Why? Because I thought I had something the world should know. Mighty arrogant of me, no? In the end I decided to talk about it in little-traveĺed spaces, websites like livereal.com, websites like the one I built at one particular time in my life, and now my website here on WordPress.com. But this website is not aimed at teaching anyone anything, it is aimed at leaving a record of my thoughts, of my philosophy, and of who I have become over the course of my life.

I am going to be honest with you. There was a time I wanted to start something new, something not a exactly religion, but a way of living, a way of understanding the world and helping people manage to find their way through it. In other words, I thought I had knowledge others were seeking. Everywhere around me I saw people seeking for something that they didn’t seem to know exactly what it was, but they were sure they wanted it. And they were sure it could only come from somewhere not inside of them, but outside of them. And I thought I had “it.” But when I tried to give it away, I found nobody wanted my “it.” And I am now glad they didn’t.

Because, in the meantime, I learned the errors of trying to teach anyone anything. To explain, I would like to use as an example the religion of christianity, not because I want to make fun of it, or destroy it, or even try to explain it. I choose this religion simply because it is the one I know best, the one I was brought up to believe in.

I was taught Christ was a man who supposedly called himself the Son of God. I say supposedly because it is quite possible when the books of the New Testament were written (many years after the death of the man) his actual words were forgotten, or mistranslated, or maybe even intentionally changed. There was no video in those days, no tape recorders, nothing that could be used today to confirm the actuality of a person or event. (And in this day of fake news, or alternate news, even recordings and videos cannot be trusted, because they can be changed without the consent of the doer or speaker!) Imagine what could be done to things that happened decades or centuries ago. History is not reliable, it can always be changed. But I digress.

Let us say that Christ was an algebra teacher, and he proved that everytime he multiplied x by y, he came out to the product xy. And so he began to teach x multiplied by y equals xy. He goes to his grave believing and teaching this equation. However, two hundred years down the line, some other teacher suffers from dyslexia, and one day he accidentally teaches that x multiplied by y equals yx. There is no real difference, because xy = yx, yet it looks different to his students, and they believe yx is actually different from xy, so they start teaching x times y equals yx. Then, in the next 1000 years, someone who was taught the product was yx discovers that the original teaching was xy, so he tries to change it back. X times y = xy. This starts a war between the xy crowd and the yx crowd. Christ, when teaching xy, could never have imagined there would come a time when his teaching could cause a war, yet it did. Could he have done anything to prevent this war from taking place? What do you think?

I know he could have prevented it, by never teaching xy in the first place. But once he taught it, then it was out of his hands. Because someone had dyslexia, a fairly common problem, what Christ taught was changed. And later, when someone discovered the error, and tried to change it back, not everyone was willing to let him do that. That is how simple it is to make something wonderful and beautiful into something ugly and destructive. And that is what can happen when a teacher loses control of whatever it is he is teaching.

What happened between the time Christ was alive, and what religions today teach about him, is obviously not as simple as my example above. Yet look at the difference between 2000 or so years ago, and today. Christ’s words, to the best of our knowledge, were never written down in the language which he spoke, or any language, for that matter. They were words handed down by mouth from generation to generation before anyone ever realized how important they could become. Then, when they were written down, probably in Latin, the concepts behind the words may not have been presented factually because there may have been no words for the concepts in the first place. Then, by the time anyone decided to translate the words from Latin into German, or French, or English, and then further translate them into modern versions of those languages, who can know the concepts of today have any similarity to the concepts Christ tried to teach 2000 years ago. I am not saying this was ever intentional, though it could have been, but it is more probable than getting every concept exactly right. Much much more probable.

The thing is, once anyone writes something, or even just says something, that person loses control of what he or she was trying to say, or mean. Christ said things in his own words, in his own language. Today, those words have been retold uncountable times, translated numerous times, retranslated many times, interpreted a million times, and reinterpreted billions of times to the point they may look like something he would never recognize if he were alive today. All this, and not even knowing if a person known to modern times as Christ even existed…

In my algebra example above, I postulated only two groups, the xy group, and the yx group. In reality, I cannot even count the number of different religions or sects that believe they are teaching the words of Christ. One estimate I found was for 43,000 differents denominations, with still more sub-sects and sub-sub-sects under them. And each one of these believes they are the best representatives of what Christ said, and meant. One man, and only one man, and now he has been split into so many parts it is amazing if any one of them even come close to teaching what Christ, in his short time as a teacher, tried to teach.

So how does any of this apply to me, or to anyone else. We, if we want to be teachers, or philosophers, or some kind of leader, all have to remember, once we say them, OUR WORDS NO LONGER BELONG TO US. That is significant, because anyone can take our words, and change them… And we have absolutely no control over what those words are used for…

OLD HIPPIES NEVER DIE–THEY JUST GIVE PEACE A CHANCE

Dear Readers,

This post is not a usual one for my blog, it is only about spiritual atheism in a very theoretical way. Rather, it is more of a reminiscence, probably btought on by a surgical procedure I went through last week. Waking up from the anaesthetic was not an easy process, I am told. No matter what the doctors did to wake me up, the typical response from me was about 10 seconds of speech, then falling right back to sleep mid-sentence. I was in the recovery room the same length of time as I was under the anaesthetic. And when I did finally wake up, in my head were thousands of little memories I had all but forgotten. They were a sort of history from my first year of school to my years as a hippie. The saddest thing about this memory, except for my own family, I now know no one from that entire era but myself. Friends, acquaintances, school chums, bullies, sports teammates, even the authoritarian voices in my early life, all gone, almost completely forgotten… Until now. The ones I miss most were my hippie friends, first those from Winnipeg, and then those I met in Toronto, but mainly in Vancouver. These were the people among whom I came to best know myself, to discover myself, which set me on the path I have been on for fifty plus years. This is NOT their story.

Nor is it anyone’s story, really, just a quick trip back in memory to a time when every song had a particular memory, and there were thousands of songs, and thousands of memories, until the memory bank got so full the earliest memories had to be archived to make room for the new memories flowing in to take their places.

You can’t remember anything from previous lives, or at least nothing meaningful? Don’t worry, the memories don’t need to be remembered in order for you to know their effects on you. You are the sum of your experiences, even if you cannot remember the experiences themselves. You have done much learning. Don’t stop now.

Look! There’s a new memory on the horizon. Go to meet it. It will soon be yours.

“All we are saying is give peace a chance…”

 

LIFE–AS I BELIEVE IT TO BE (part 2)

In part 1 I wondered about life, and how it can be defined. If you have read it (or other posts I have written), you will have seen that I took life to be connected to religion, but that is only because in my early life it was connected to religion. I had no idea what hell was, but I had been told I would go to hell if I did not obey God’s laws, or, in different words, if I committed a sin. Apparently it was a sin to break a law made by god. But everywhere around me adults were breaking god’s laws. They couldn’t seem to do hardly anything except break what I was told were god’s laws. But God told different people different laws. And it seemed he told some people it was okay to break his laws, as long as they went to something called “confession” and told someone else about all god’s laws they had broken, and even man’s laws too, if what I was told was correct. Then along came even others who I was told had been god’s chosen people, but they had not believed him when they refused to agree that he had sent his son Jesus amongst them to save them from burning in hell. They didn’t seem to know why they would burn in hell because they already worshipped god for himself, but apparently that wasn’t good enough for god, so he unchose them, and chose Roman people to be saved and worship his son Jesus as well as him, and he even added someone called a holy ghost to be worshipped too, though no one could ever tell me who this holy ghost was. But, they said, they also worshipped the virgin Mary too, even though god had not told them to worship her also. But near as I could decipher, the virgin Mary was given to women to worship, because they needed their own god…

But enough of this! I think you get the picture I am trying to draw with words instead of crayons or paints. Life centered around god, and those who believed the same all believed they were god’s chosen children. Since even I could see this was impossible, I had to figure out if any of them were right. So I started talking to different people about my conundrum,  and no one would explain their ideas of why god would make life so confusing, but they all tried to convince me their group was the correct group. So, as a last resort, I had to decide were they all wrong, or were they all right? I was too confused even to do that…

But, by this time, I was going to school. And the school I went to told me only the protestants were right, and even though there were all kinds of protestants, they were all more right than anyone else. Then, just to confuse me a different way, they told me the biblical version of creation was not the real story of creation. Some teachers said it was kind of right, while others it was kind of wrong, and still others who said it was all wrong. What and who was anyone to believe was true? Everybody seemed to know, but almost nobody seemed to agree.

And then suddenly someone said everything in the bible was a lie, and that it was just a story made up by men. I could almost believe that, but I was still too afraid of going to hell if I did, so I asked why someone would say that? Then I heard an altogether different story, that it wasn’t the bible that was wrong, but rather the people who interpreted the bible who were wrong. Oh my aching head! But, someone else told me, there were things that happened that weren’t in the bible, but should have been. One person told me the story of Jesus* going not into the desert for 40 years, but right through the desert to a country called India, where he studied under teachers of the great Buddha, who had lived many years before Jesus went there, but had taught others what life was really about. Then Jesus crossed back through the desert, and returned to the land of the Jews, where he tried to teach those people what he had learned. Only, nobody believed him, even though they wanted to believe him. So he changed what he had been taught by his Buddhist teachers, and made up his own stories based on his learning. Some people found his stories easier to believe than Buddha’s stories, and that was what they came to believe.

Och, it is time to end my story of what happened to me to start me on my path away from god, but I hope you can see what led me away. There were just too many things to believe, so one day I started to believe nothing. Rather, I chose to find out about life, and everything else not by listening to others, but by exploring my own self, and seeing what was in me. That decision was probably the most important decision I ever made in my life. And it was not one I decided on in the spur of a moment, but it was one that grew inside me as I grew around it. I was in high school now, and I was learning so many things there that most of the things I learned as a child no longer made any sense.

But, it seemed, I could not even trust what I was learning in school. Forget about religion, and how each religion wanted people to all believe their way was the right way, school wanted us to all be a different “same way.” School wanted us to all become little cogs in the machines of industry and economics. School wanted us to become identical little cogs in the machinery, and some of us didn’t want to become cogs, identical or not. And it wasn’t just me, or those of my friends who agreed with me, but there were young people all over the modern world who didn’t want to become cogs, and so we became something else. There were many labels put on us a a group, even though we didn’t start as a group, but first we were longhairs, then we were beatles, then we were monkees, and suddenly we were freaks and hippies. Amongst ourselves we were freaks, but in the world-at-large we were hippies, and we loved being hippies. And as a hippie I went through some experiences that showed me life was so much more than anyone had ever told me it could be. Life had been about growing up, getting a job, getting married, having kids, then growing old, and dying. For most people,  that’s what life for them had been about for ages and generations. We didn’t want life to be like that, and so we changed what we believed,  and we led our lives differently…

* – Jesus, as far as I am concerned, was a fictional character, but that is just my bias speaking. There could easily have been such a real person, though the miracles he performed seem to me more mythic than real. This is just my opinion.

 

LIFE–AS I BELIEVE IT TO BE (part 1)

Life! What is it? We all know what it is, we wouldn’t be alive without it. But look in the dictionary, and what do you get? The best English dictionary in the world offers us this as its number 1 definition: The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, […]

ife! What is it? We all know what it is, we wouldn’t be alive without it. But look in the dictionary, and what do you get? The best English dictionary in the world offers us this as its number 1 definition: The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continuous change preceding death. It’s number 3 definition is: The period of time  between birth and death… While I agree with these definitions, I do not find them particularly useful. Descriptive, but not definitive. They describe life, but they do not get down to the root of what life is. Do they give you a better understanding of what life actually is? They don’t do enough for me, which I guess is why I have spent most of the period of my life from my birth till now trying to gain a better understanding of what life really is. Why? Because I have a need to know…

I started this journey so long ago I can’t really remember when it began. But I do remember where I was at the time, at least as far as my understanding was concerned. I was brought up a United Protestant Christian, which is a distinctly Canadian church combining Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches as well as a few lesser known denominations. The first definition of life I was ever taught to believe was that life was a gift from god. This worked till I went to school, and discovered others claimed god for their own. The Catholics, for one, claimed my god, but he told them different things than he told those who taught me. That was step one, I guess. If the same god gave life to others not like us, to whom else might he have spoken even different words.  Next came Jewish people. One of my better friends growing up was Jewish, and the same god gave them life too. Later I came to learn that those groups, Protestants, Catholics, and Jews were further divided into different branches, and different sects of those branches.  Even later I was able to add Mohammadens (whom we now call Muslims) and their branches and sects to my list. I was in confusion city.

What you might ask, do all these different peoples have to do with the definition of life? Well, at the time, it was just that I believed life was a gift from god, so why did he give so many people so many different gifts? We were all people, that much was easy to see. But yet some people were red, some were white, some were different tones of brown, some even had a funny greenish olive tone. But yet we all had life, the very same kind of life, human life.

And then came two other observations that led me even further afield. For these two events I ask your understanding, I was only a kid, and didn’t know any better. My best friend (not the Jewish boy, but a Ukrainian Catholic) and I used to catch bugs, keep them in bottles for awhile, and let them go later, if they were still alive. Those deaths that did occur did not affect us, death happens, though we did not know why–we did not know we had killed them, and no one told us we had. But then one day we decided to douse a spider with lighter fluid and set it aflame, just to see what happened.  The flare-up was beautiful,  as we thought it might be. All fire has a cetain beauty. But we were not ready for what happened next. The spider began to scream. And I recognized that scream, it was the scream of pain, and I had screamed that way many times in my short life. I felt that spider’s pain. (Okay, it probably wsn’t a scream, though it might have been. Probably it was air squealing out of a tiny hole in the spider’s body. But none of that can be proven either way. I heard a scream, and I can hear it to this day.)

If you have read any of my works before, you may already know I was physically abused as  a child. Some things that were done to me made me cry. Some things made me shout. And still others made me scream bloody murder. And that is the scream I heard from that spider before I stomped on it to end that scream. I can only hope that was the last time I intentionally hurt a bug, any bug, for as long as I have lived. I wish I could say that as a definite fact, but I cannot. Still, I can hope…

The second event was visually worse, and I can guarantee I have not purposefully killed another animal since. My father took me fishing around the age of ten, and where he took me we could find no worms, which was what he told me were normal bait. Instead of worms, he had me catch two small frogs, which were plentiful in the area. He took one from me, and told me to put the second one on my fishing hook. I asked him how, and he said it didn’t matter how, a fish would eat it soon enough. I put the hook though it’s stomach. There was no scream, though the frog jerked. Then it looked at me, with bewildered eyes. What had I done to it, and why. Then my father spoke up, “Don’t just ook at it, throw it in the water. So I did. The little froggie tried to swim away, but all it did  was succeed in tearing its  own stomach apart. It tried swimming away again, and it got further than before, but its  guts were still attached to my hook. They got longer and longer, and still the frog tried to escape. Meanwhile, I was getting scared. I knew by then I was hurting that frog, why else would it try so hard to get away. I brought it back to shore, and killed it with a rock. Then I threw my rod and line in the lake, and sat down and cried. “It’s just a damned frog,” my father said, as he swung his fist at me. “Now get back there and catch a fish. That’s your supper tonight.” I refused. “I’m not killing anything else,” I said adamantly. “Fine!” he said, “Then you aren’t getting anything to eat for the rest of the day.” And I didn’t. And I was glad I didn’t.ý