personal path to salvation
It's very difficult for me to write about this topic because everyone has their own unique path to their own unique brand of salvation, but i will try..
It's not enough to say "keep love in your heart" because human beings need something to fixate (you could say obsess) on. When i was a child, i Loved astronomy: it made me high, it made me happy, it 'brought me closer to God',.. In a real sense, i was in love with astronomy .. Over the years, 'objects of fixation' changed .. Many high school crushes would change on a weekly basis but this was bothersome to me; it felt so unstable, so unsound, so tenuous,.. to focus my love on something so temporary. So i found girlfriends and physics - more stable things to pour my love into .. But even though physics will always accept your love, it's not easy to get physics to love you back. ;) It took many years in my case .. The girlfriends? They were a longer term version of the crushes, still temporary and unsatisfying .. They say when you have a child everything changes and it's true: they need patience and love in tremendous amounts .. What do i pour my love into now? i confess i still love astronomy and physics but they must take a back seat to more personal interactions. My son cannot accept all of my love, i need to give, because i'm still a man with tremendous need to adore a woman .. So instead of saying "keep love in your heart", i'd rather say "find someone/something to love". If they/it won't accept, find another..
Violence is a Huge problem in our society/culture/species. Not just physical: verbal, emotional, and even mental.. The basic internal problem with this issue is that we cannot suppress our violent thoughts/feelings - we must embrace them and find their roots. We cannot 'fight with ourselves' - this is only more violence. When we attempt to subjugate a part of ourselves, no matter how repulsive it may seem, we do violence and hurt/destroy ourselves. We must accept, embrace, fully realize and understand the roots of our violent thoughts/feelings in order to be more whole. You don't need a psychiatrist for this - sometimes a trusted friend can listen thereby allowing you to work things out for yourself .. When i say listen, implicit is the word care. i don't mean a blank stare just waiting for them to shut up. i mean Listen. So when we listen, when we care, we help them discover the roots of their violence. In so doing, they heal themselves and the world. It's not automatic but a good step forward .. They always say "we hurt most the ones we love - the ones closest to us". The reason we do this is basic selfishness: we lash out when we should embrace, we attack when we should caress, we punish when we should forgive,.. We don't realize it but there's Always a choice when we give in to violence: violence or love. There's Always a choice .. Many years ago, i tried to emulate the two fictional characters Spock and Kwai Chang: logic and peace. But my spirit was not ready for continuous logic and peace. i needed time to 'grow up', to experience, to find out what happens when you give in to violence,.. After many years of 'watching myself', i observe that violence SOLVES NOTHING. It may temporarily satisfy to 'let loose' your emotions, feelings, rage, anger,.. but violence only leads to destruction / hurt / pain. To clarify, i'm not a physically violent person but my thoughts and emotions have been Very violent in the past .. Sword fights, interstellar battles, WWIII,.. i visualized all these things in incredible 3D detail .. These did not bother me so much as when i would do personal violence, in my mind, on another .. So when i found myself visualizing some act of violence on another real person, i decided on another tack, another approach: don't .. i found i can choose not to be violent. Perhaps it's my time in my life, perhaps i'm ready for continuous peace, whatever the case - i choose, on a continuous basis, to be non-violent: in thought, feeling, words, and action.
Anger is much the same way. Anger is a Violent emotion. When we give in to anger, we let loose our internal demons .. True, anger is like an energy source. If we're fighting, if we're a soldier in battle,.. anger can help us win. But when anger wins, we lose. Our humanity dies. In the past, we needed soldiers to fight for us, we needed battles of conquest and domination, we needed anger,.. But not anymore. Presently, we don't actually need soldiers anymore, we don't need battles of conquest and domination,.. We don't need anger anymore .. Many will argue: Sam, you're Wrong, we still need anger in a street fight: when somebody punches us out of the blue, when someone tries to take our girlfriend, when someone tries to hurt our kids,.. We need anger to protect 'our turf'. In the first place, if someone is determined to hurt you or your family, it's damn near impossible to stop them if they're clever and patient. So violence for violence is NOT any solution to your problems; revenge Sucks - it's an endless cycle of despair .. If you're 'lucky' enough to catch them in the act (of hurting your wife, child, property,..), do you know kung fu? Or perhaps you have a gun? Think before you pull the trigger. And THINK before you give in to anger. Make the choice: anger or love. Anger/violence solves NOTHING .. As with violence, i found i Always have a choice regarding anger. And i choose: don't.
When we find something/someone to love, when we choose not to be violent/angry, we open a whole universe of possibilities within. We are free to be: humble, patient, kind, caring, compassionate,.. You find the love in your heart just naturally flows from you to them (those you care for). It's a kind of continuous miracle of Being .. Sound impossible? Not ready for it? Try. What's it gonna hurt?
.. This morning i had visualized several 'pillars of personal salvation', perhaps six. But above is minimal and sufficient. We don't really need any more to move forward - to truly make progress .. Next time you find yourself getting angry, talk to yourself: don't. Don't automatically give in to anger/violence. See where the path leads you. It may take you half a lifetime to find you're ready to live without anger/violence. Or it could be today. But you won't find out unless you try.
i Love you with all my heart, sam
Most often, we get caught in self-made traps which don't allow us progress on our personal path to salvation. The path is obscured and we get side-tracked on other paths which divert us and end up creating whole worlds within/on those diversions. They're convenient, comfortable, but we learn/grow little on those paths..
Typical traps we get caught in:
Self-pity trap: i'm no good, i'm a loser, nobody wants me, i'm worthless, i hate myself, i should just die, please pity me, please love me, i can show you i'm actually worthy,.. You can see the actual needs behind the statements. We all need love, affection, attention,.. And to continually berate ourselves because we believe 'we're not good enough' only highlights that fact. Needing love, affection, and attention is NOT a weakness - it's human. But the self-pity trap, that's a weakness we need to overcome, that's a trap we need to get out of, that's a diversion that keeps us away from our own personal salvation.. We can actually choose to avoid self-pity much like the mangey dog we're afraid to touch: "I don't want to touch that dirty old thing." We can treat self-pity just like that dog: I choose not to touch it; I choose not to embrace it; I choose not to pity myself.
Arrogance/vanity trap: I'm king, I'm god, I'm god's gift to women, I'm a goddess you must adore!, .. i'm not especially familiar with this trap but i believe too many humans get caught in it. Recently i've been watching some blogtv channels. i've met some excruciatingly interesting people. It's not my business to psycho-anal-ize them but i've observed some commonalities - even among really different personalities. We all need attention whether it's someone just listening to us or pretending to ignore us. We all need attention / someone to attend us. On blogtv, it can easily turn into a 'poon hunting' contest where many men will be hounding the same babe for sexual attention. The girl may or may not swing that way (she may be pretending to be innocent, or actually innocent, or something else). In a room full of horney men chasing one girl, you end up seeing the common threads.. There are guys that just wanna get in her pants / up her skirt. There are guys that are trying to conquer her like some territory. There are guys trying to prove to other guys they're more desirable / better conquerers. Some guys are just content with friendship. Contrary to what a few of you may be thinking right now, i don't walk into a blogtv room trying to be the most intellectual, smartest guy, group therapy guy, whatever label you want to throw on me. i enjoy the situation whatever it is. If it's a bunch of horn-dogs chasing drunken girls, and if the girls stand their ground (don't automatically give in to the horn-dogs), i root for the girls because, come on, is it every group of girls who can stand up to a huge auditorium of cat-callers, slobbery drunk horney guys who just want a peek up their shirt? Then of course it makes me wonder cuz it takes work to kick the worst of them so they usually have some guys moderate for them - kicking out the worst / most drunk / most disrespectful. ^^ It's bizarre. This is a relatively new form of entertainment / way to spend an evening. A girl who can appear pretty 'normal' (whatever that is) may be a 'star' at night on blogtv. Wear a bikini and do a little dance, your viewership can skyrocket to 500 in a few moments. It's an amazing phenomenon. In that kind of situation, you really need moderators to 'weed the crowd' cuz it can easily turn into a free-for-all with text spamming / streaming where you can't see a thing on the chat-side. ^^ Just bizarre for me who's new to blogtv .. i believe the moderators are not special in any way except for the fact they treated 'the girl' with some modicum of respect and so got special privileges in her room. Not everything is about sex on blogtv. i just visited a room where all they do is talk about music (the host happens to be an aspiring musician). i can't hang there much cuz for one thing, i'm not an aspiring musician. My musical tastes are way different from them. And even though i think the host is incredibly talented, i get bored in a room where a bunch of guys are fawning / 'fighting' over one cute girl. The girl 'gets off' on the attention. The guys think they have a chance with her (more than just blogtv). That kind of room is really boring to me. Yesterday was my first time to co-host. (Btw, i suck at co-host!) In a way, i characterize 'the girl' as an aspiring comedienne. She's Awesome. i'm truly honored by her friendship. But the mechanics of blogtv remain the same: there are horn-dogs just looking for skin/sex (they avoided our room/chat like the plague), there are the niche groups (like the music group mentioned above) looking for something else, and then there are real people (people who don't try to hide their identity) looking for something real. This is the group i'm interested in. (Btw, i'm not knocking the music group as not real, it's just not my thing - i'm not talented enough to participate.) ^^ Anyways, it's fun, it's interesting, it's a way to spend a boring evening, and you can meet some extremely interesting people .. (God, now i sound like a blogtv commercial :( ) Wow i got sidetracked there, sorry. To get back to the thread/conversation, i don't think i'd make a very good comedian cuz i simply don't have the self-confidence required. As you can see above, i listed the self-pity trap first and for good reason. Most of my life i've wasted in that trap. i know it's a fault of mine but it's an extremely difficult trap to break out of. i've thought of joining a 'comedy workshop' locally but you probly know what i'm gonna say: i lack the self-confidence for even that. ^^ From personal experience, it's pretty difficult to be truly humble. You easily get caught in the self-pity trap or feel arrogant / confident about your humility (which is obviously not genuine humility). Speaking with my family the other day, i believe genuine humility is actually the toughest virtue to pursue. Let me say that again: the most difficult virtue to pursue is humility. ^^ i say this not out of arrogance but plain experience. Watch the movie Razor's Edge with Bill Murray - you'll catch my drift .. Since i had such difficulty with humility, i figured the better side to 'lay on' was self-pity over arrogance. But many of my friendships i started with the premise: don't you pity me? don't you feel sorry for me? What a pathetic way to start a friendship - i know. 8| But i think you can understand someone who values humility above else - why i could easily fall into that trap and stay there for many years .. Even my most recent friendships on blogtv have some elements of this self-delusion (wanting to be humble, having difficulty, preferring self-pity over arrogance, and using self-pity to form friendships). So i must break the pattern in those new friendships - if i'm to overcome / get out of this trap. If i focus on: i have a lot of love to give the right people, i can make people laugh just by being myself, i'll be fine.. i can break out. And so can you (those of you who are also trapped in self-pity).
i realize not everyone has humility as their prime value .. Not everyone admires Gandhi for his humility .. But we all have our own traps (cycles of behavior / mental / emotional patterns) which keep us from growing / learning / evolving as individuals .. Arrogance, false humility, vanity, self-pity,.. these are all traps which chain us to the past - keep us from growing. And believe it or not, we all have a choice whether or not to allow ourselves to get sucked into that vortex / sinkhole / whirlpool. For too many years, i've wallowed in self-pity; i've embraced it like a lover. But it's empty; it's unfulfilling. Self-pity is a lover who will only make you a slave to her every whim. And i'm guessing the others are no better.
i wanted to spend some time talking about religions - being a kind of pacifier / false god in our modern world. If i choose Christianity, i'm sure i'll lose/reject many readers but that's the danger i must take. To my best understanding, the 'character of Christ' was created by Paul. Jesus was not Christ in his time. Paul created the fiction of Christ. Paul evidently needed someone to believe in that was God-like. So he created Christ. He also evidently felt our world required a messiah, so again he created Christ. We created Christ out of human need/weaknesses. And so we continue to believe out of human need/weaknesses. It's simply the Christian way of connecting to God. Not bad but a little perverse (if we remember the Catholic focus on crucifixion, original sin, virgin Mary,..). i know, not all Christians are Catholic but many are and this obsession with original sin, heaven, and deification (of Jesus) borders on delusion/group-insanity. i think you can see the connection with the discussion above: the concept of original sin only promotes 'group pity-party'. "We're all sinners!" (and must need the 'blood of Christ' to cleanse us) is a trick Christians use to convert and condemn. In the same vein, it's a pity party. Poor humans are so sad and weak we needed a messiah sent from God to save us from ourselves. It's pathetic. Christianity is a weak religion preying on our insecurities. It may sound like all i'm doing is railing against Paul and Christianity in this paragraph but there's another purpose: it's to highlight human tendencies to self-pity. If we look at Christianity from a psycho-anal-ytical perspective, it forces us to 'accept' we're dirty perverse disgusting creatures who only want to get off, kill, maim, rape, exploit, subdue,.. (i happen to agree with the latter two) and NEED salvation in the form of 'the blood of Christ' (you must accept Christ gave his life for our sins in order to be Christian). But realize the mechanics of Christian salvation: you MUST accept we're all bad creatures, you MUST accept the deity of Jesus, you MUST accept he's sent to save your soul from eternal damnation,.. Otherwise, you're not Christian. Notice the first statement: we're all bad (original sin). This is like children in a family when they know they've done something wrong - they know they will be punished in some way. But Christianity goes way beyond this simple transgression. "We sinned in the garden of Eden by turning away from God and now the whole human race is damned!" Please pity us oh lord, save our souls, wash us clean with the blood of Christ,.. 8| It's pathetic and only perpetuates a mass orgy of pity.
We're not worthy oh lord! We're not worthy yet you sent your only begotten son to save us!
It's almost comical.
But you can see how someone like me who has a tendency to self-pity could easily get sucked into Christianity (and so my Mennonite phase as a young man). But even then i knew something funny was going on .. Sure i had a little fun at Christianity's expense above but we learn a few things. We have a tendency through our religions to self-pity ourselves. We can get trapped in this like any other diversion. But technically explicitly and truthfully i believe it's a false salvation (believing only Christ can save you from Hell). Or any other religion. Let's cover them. Jews think they're the chosen people so their trap-of-convenience would be arrogance. Muslims believe Mohammed is the prophet of God so again arrogance. Hindu violence appears to indicate something similar. i was going to plug Buddhism here but they also subscribe to arrogance in the fact they believe Buddha was enlightened and should be followed over others. It's a kind of cultural / religious arrogance. Christians have the dual failure of self-pity (via original sin) and arrogance stating only Christ can save you from Hell. ^^ So we can't win via religion; no one religion can save us from ourselves.
There are groups who try to unify religious concepts and create a kind of 'consortium of faith' but i believe this is not progress of any sort. No one religion or groups of religions can help us individually mature / evolve as a whole. It has become clear to me we must dispense with all religions socially and individually - in order to mature - as individuals and as a race.
Clinging to one particular religion or even grouping together combining several is like a monkey clinging to its surrogate mother: pathetic. Harsh but true. Each and every religion (and therefore any grouping / merging) has some prime weakness which only perpetuates weakness in individuals and society .. i understand we have needs like community which church / synagogue / temple provides .. We need to feel like we belong, like minded people, similar faith, similar beliefs, and congregate occasionally. This is all fine and dandy. But we use those same places to exclude others, curse others, damn others,.. who are not like ourselves. Even 'praying for our enemies' is a kind of religious arrogance that assumes our position is better. Smug bullshit.
Why can't we just meet every Sunday/Saturday at some place and call it 'the community center', pray, hug, play, love, and laugh .. But not identify it with any religion or groups of religions? Why do we have to call it a church? Why do we feel the need to be 'the best' religion? Even those claiming to do what i describe in this paragraph have a kind of religious arrogance .. You might deny it but it's there, hidden, and divisive.
My point in these last few paragraphs is that every religion has some arrogance associated with it. Arrogance is a personal trap which keeps us away from individual salvation. There's an infinity of traps we can get caught in: self-pity, arrogance, vanity, false humility,.. These only chain us to the past preventing us from growing. Choose not to pity yourself, choose not arrogance, choose not vanity, choose not false humility,.. Choose not weakness. Choose to Grow.
i'm constantly reminded that expression "your path to salvation is like walking on a razor's edge" is not even close to reality - it's more like trying to balance yourself on a pin (the pointy end). There's an infinite number of ways to fall down from that point. But only one way to stay up. And only you can find that way. ^^ Find it; find your individual path to salvation. And walk it.