Friday, December 29, 2006


"These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. ... Great necessities call out great virtues." Abigail Adams

I decided to go a bit further with this based on some of the comments I received. (Thank you for those :) Some very interesting questions were asked and I'm going to respond in no particular order, just addressing what I see as the core issues.

Greed, power-over, competition, selfishness, criminality and materialism all come from fear.

Compassion, benevolence, charity, justice, mindfulness, service and spirituality come from love.

There are probably many more qualities that could be included but those are the ones that come off the top of my head. (If there are important ones I missed, please leave them in a comment and I will edit the post to include them.)

The most important question is "how do we become transformed"?

In the simplest presentation, it would be "we choose it".

The more accurate answer is far more complex.

I believe it will be different for every person, but the linchpin is in how we define ourselves. We are not material beings. We are spiritual beings. I'm not talking about religion. I am talking about spirit. Religion works for many people and it is important to feed the soul but I'm not saying any one spiritual system is better than another. There are many paths to the same destination.

The first step, though, I believe is to identify our role models. For some, it might be Martin Luther King, Gandhi or Buddha. For others, it might be Carl Sagan. And yet others will find meaning in the words of Mohammed, the great rabbis or Jesus Christ. It all depends on what resonates most with any given individual. Most spiritual disciplines adhere to the same basic moral principles. Study these people or belief systems. What did they say? How does it manifest its basic tenets? How did they deal with ethical dilemmas? If a belief system offers absolutes, run like hell.

My spiritual path works for me because it doesn't require me to accept anything on faith alone. In fact, it doesn't even address the existence of a deity. I took a test in college that was supposed to identify one's way of thinking. I scored equally in the areas of science and religion. I'm a "solid intel" kind of gal. Don't give me a bunch of unproveable data and tell me to believe it because you want me to believe it. Don't crap on a biscuit and tell me its a muffin. I respect the scientific process too much. For that reason, I found something that leaves it up to me personally and my conscience to determine matters of faith while providing me with a solid ethical system. I am a person of faith on certain things. I accept on faith that we live multiple lifetimes because it meshes with my understanding of natural law. Everything in nature recycles. I accept on faith that there is something bigger than all of us in the universe. I believe it is natural law. Sometimes for convenience, I call it "God".

Still, ultimately, we are responsible for the choices we make and the ethical/moral decisions we make and how we live. We are co-creators with God, which leads us to the second step.

The second step, and perhaps most important, is to change our lives. It is a matter of identifying faulty thinking and correcting it. Not all of us are capable of that kind of introspection (well, at least I'm not) which is why we need mentors. In my opinion, mentors help give us a foundation that allows the introspection to evolve into something more than navel-gazing. Most of us, left to our own devices, would be like the proverbial dog chasing his tail.

Mindfulness is a full-time job. Respecting others, respecting community, respecting the earth, respecting animals, respecting the food we eat, respecting the water we drink, respecting resources, respecting the energy we put out into the universe is all a part of remaining mindful and making decisions that benefit all, not just individuals.

It can be done in chunks. Like Mehmet Oz says in his new diet book, "Just eliminate 100 calories a day". Choose to be mindful about one thing at a time. Don't try to change everything at once. Like a good diet, take it in rational and liveable steps.

If we all choose to do this, I believe we can change the world. It won't happen overnight or next weekend, but it will happen. As Gil Scott-Heron wrote so many years ago, "the revolution will not be televised." It will come from re-thinking and making different choices in how we live. It will come from recommitting to essential truths. It will happen because of a massive turnaround in the way we view, and live, our lives.




heartinsanfrancisco said...

Still with you, line for line. I also believe in reincarnation because it doesn't make sense to me that all things in nature are transmuted and recycled except the human animal. (And I do not agree with those religionists who believe that humans are not animals.)

My own spirituality is an amalgam of beliefs I have taken from various religions, but the one that has the most touch-points for me is Buddhism. I think that any belief system that urges its followers to be good and to do good, to practice compassion, generosity, justice and mindful lovingkindness is a good system.

I am turned off by the competitiveness of most organized religions, the idea that certain people will go to heaven and everyone else to hell. Love is far more persuasive than fear, and also a more accurate assessment of the kind of reality we could all live in if we chose to, and accepted no substitutes.

jen said...

chani. beautifully put, and I very much agree.

although when you wrote Don't crap on a biscuit and tell me its a muffin i about lost it.

and while not the point of your post, still has me cracking up.

ok. i'll compose myself. it's such a personal journey, but every light has a shadow, and you captured it perfectly. mindfulness. yes. yes. yes.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with much of what you write - and, about what you said yesterday :"We believe that sharing our emotional resources with others means that there is less for ourselves", I am grateful that you share here your emotional resources - I wonder why you need an "elsewhere and later" (Thailand)instead of "here and now" ? Is it in the human nature ?

Anonymous said...

the breaking it down into manageable bits - it's key.
So many important things can be too big & overwhelming to take on all at once or we're too impatient from living in this society to take the baby steps, but approaching it that way, we're bound to fail.

Anvilcloud said...

I would hope that we're all transforming all of the time, but I suppose it isn't true. Sigh. However, I'm not at all sure of your sweeping assertions that all things emanate from either love or fear. I suspect that it might be a little more complicated than that.

My Heart Runneth Over said...

We have a great deal in common. My very own spirituality fits better outside of a housed community. No matter what book you believe I think they all express God being everywhere we are.

Dr. Oz is a great guy. We had the fortune of him operating on my father. I can only say I wish I could have spent more time learning from him. I am reading the same book.

All the best... ~M

Pam said...

I have taken bits of my spiritual philosophy from all of the people you mentioned, the rest from my own experiences and observations.
I think that much of the human population looks for fullfillment in all the wrong places and with all the wrong "stuff". When what we make for a living, what we have and how much control or power we hold over others becomes the barometer for how good we are doing here on planet earth, I fear for the outcome. Honor and respect are getting lost in the mad scramble.
On a lighter note, I, too, lost it with the muffin remark!

KC said...

I think it's possible for committed, insightful individuals to be transformed, but I suppose my question about transforming referred to our society as a whole. Is it possible to tranform our American culture individual by individual? Or does there need to be some greater unifying movement?

Gaining mindfulness in chunks...I like this.