To End Suffering

I grew up loving the candles, the quiet, the chanting, the sitting and waiting, that I found in religion. The ceremony. It was serious, pure, and poignant. Which to my mind as a child meant powerful. Like weddings and presidential inaugurations.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. Dalai Lama

To End Suffering

Humanitarians try to end human kind’s suffering by making the world a better place. To make society better. Can you feed your family? Can you get water? Education? Equal rights? Equal access to funding or resources?  Top 5 Humanitarian Aid Organizations – BorgenProject.org

The Buddha taught that suffering came from our mind. We resist. We think. We worry. Stop these and suffering ends. When suffering ends, we simply are. There is no more “I.” There is no more “Want.” All that remains is the stillness. Even when the good things in life happen, there can be suffering. Good days, bad days. The Buddha, himself, was a man. He also left his religion. He left his home and family. He left his gods. He never claimed to be a god. He only claimed to be awake. In this awakening, he wished to teach others. There was no conversion or baptism or cutting of the flesh.

The wisdom of the Buddha is currently trapped within the religion of Buddhism.  Killing the Buddha – Sam Harris

Buddhism vs. Humanitarianism

I’d always respected Buddhism with their mindfulness and care for others. Recently I wondered how it differed from Humanitarianism? Don’t they both with to help others? I didn’t know until I explored. There is religion in Buddhism. But how much you want to get into it is up to you and which version of Buddhism you study. Some are heavy on the Karma. Karmic debt. Karmic cleansing. It wasn’t as clean and simple as I had once thought it was.

I never believed in Original sin from my religion, so I can’t see myself picking up Karmic debt. I’ll be as good as I can and see what happens. I can’t follow a guru or wear a toga. I can be kind. I want to see society change. It won’t happen overnight, but I think it can happen. It can happen if we change who we are first. Because, isn’t that how all things start? You can’t make good coffee out of dirty water. And you have to pull the splinter out of your own eye before you can remove the board from another’s eye. At least that’s what I heard from another wise man.

My Take

Helping and giving is my religion. I don’t need people bend their knees at my prayer mat or light their candle with my brand of matches. I hope they can be well and help others to be well. You don’t even have to know my name.

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Being Chosen, Blessing or a Curse?

Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme of a veiled Circa...
Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme of a veiled Circassian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you like it when you get special attention from your boss? Do you want to be the favored son or daughter? Or is it better to fly under the radar? The sad fact of being special or chosen is that it’s difficult to be known for anything other than your trademark. You’re special. You’re chosen.

I was watching the show Reign, on Netflix this past week and although it’s not true to history, I was enjoying it. It showed King Henry’s two sons, Francis and the bastard, Sebastian. Francis had privilege and status and the future betrothal to Mary,  but the bastard was freedom to take chances and explore. Which made me think of other “chosen” types in history. One big one I think of is the people know to be the most beautiful in history.

The Georgian women, from the North Caucasus mountain region in European Russia, are known for their great beauty. So much so, that families were known for selling their own children for the same price as a horse. They sold as their children as sex slaves, as circus beauties, as sultan harems, or whatever else.

An advertisement from 1782 titled “Bloom of Circassia” makes clear that it was by then well established “that the Circassians are the most beautiful Women in the World”, but goes on to reveal that they “derive not all their Charms from Nature”. They used a concoction supposedly extracted from a vegetable native to Circassia. Knowledge of this “Liquid Bloom” had been brought back by a “well-regarded gentleman” who had traveled and lived in the region. It “instantly gives a Rosy Hue to the Cheeks”, a “lively and animated Bloom of Rural Beauty” that would not disappear in perspiration or handkerchiefs. – Wikipedia Circassian beauties

And then there is this blog, which I’ll only show you the first paragraph, but I’m a geek, so I find these things fascinating. I hope you don’t mind.

A Freakish Whiteness: The Circassian Lady and the Caucasian Fantasy

by Gre­gory Fried
Published March 15, 2013

When I first stum­bled across the photograph repro­duced below, over 15 years ago at an antique show, it struck me as ludi­crous, inex­plic­a­ble, and yet also some­how haunt­ing. Per­haps it was the jux­ta­po­si­tion of the young woman’s abstracted gaze with the absurdly wild mass of hair flam­ing around her head. I found a name, inscribed by pen­cil more than 130 years ago on the back of the pho­to­graph, “Zublia Aggolia,” and a title, “Cir­cass­ian Lady.” Even today, I still know noth­ing about Zublia her­self apart from her name, and even that is not what it seems. Despite that, her por­trait has taken me down a path of dis­cov­ery whose con­nec­tions I would have never guessed.

https://i0.wp.com/mirrorofrace.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/zubliamedium4.jpg
Mirror of race

I don’t want want to be chosen. I don’t want to be special. This is good as it is. Ordinary. Regular. Gotta get up on Monday morning and go to work and all of that kinda of stuff. Right. I’ll let someone else enjoy the limelight. That’s why I will win survive the zombie apocalypse.

And if you are really interested in the subject, I’ve included a YouTube video of a black professor speaking about why white people are called Caucasian.

I’m Not Dead Yet

When I first walked away from Christianity, the one thing that scared me was dying. And the no-life-afterwards stance of Atheism. I felt like a child whose Halloween candy had been stolen. I’ve held on to the opinion that Atheists could be wrong. Denial in the first degree!

People like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens, have stripped away my belief in a separate soul, so what would be left to carry on after my body dies? Energy particles? It’s taken some time and lots of truth seeking. Richard Dawkins attitude has really helped with my perspective. Yeah, I may not have eternity in white robes, but I can live a full life and celebrate every day right now.

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?” 

Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

Denying truth doesn’t make it disappear. What happens after I die can’t be prearranged. The events are out of my control. Maybe I’ll be happily surprised with more candy or maybe I won’t. Either way it’s done. Richard Dawkins is right. We are the lucky ones.

Verifiable Results

There’s an interesting fellow I see often on my drive home from work. He’s a boxer. You can see him almost daily along the Riverwalk in Tulsa. He stands in the middle of the drainage ditch and he jumps rope and shadow boxes. I’d like to know his story, but I haven’t ever had the nerve to find out. I wonder if when he was a younger man that maybe he did real boxing, but now he might be living in his imagination, but then I think that my thoughts are presumptuous. Maybe he just likes the exercise.

Youngsters

When I was younger I spent a lot of time praying. I prayed for the children in Africa and the people I saw on the news. I had no way of physically helping, but somehow the praying didn’t feel like a copout. I felt satisfaction after I prayed and I thought it was proof of results. It seemed that it was a ping back from the source telling me Yes, that’s it. You’re on target. But it wasn’t. It’s not. It’s just the chemicals in my brain telling me I’ve done an action that my belief system approves of. It’s not confirmation of it being effective. Otherwise the continent of Africa would be full of healthy people. The bad guys controlling the countries would be dead or disabled. The wildfires of Texas, Colorado, and California would be over as well as the long drought. And yes, when I prayed for these things I had faith. I got the ping back.

If only

If there is a god and the precepts are true then the results should be verifiable. If a disease or tragedy hits because of sin it should harm only the ones doing the wrong deed, or am I a simpleton. I’m thinking the arrow of disease is coming from the hand  of a just god.

Christians should be by a verifiable percentage of reality these things:

  • healthier than other religious people
  • impervious to disease more so than other religious people
  • not dying from snake bites
  • above only, as in, not enslaved to debt
  • lead happier lives
  • wealthier or having the ability to obtain wealth

Further, the Bible makes specific promises, but these promises are never fulfilled. For instance, John 15:7 states, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This is simply not true! How many Christian people have prayed all over the globe for a release from the grip of terrible suffering just to be left in their circumstances with no way out?  Lydia @ DogmaDebate

If something exists or a pattern is true then you should see results. For example, if you take a medication that has been approved by the FDA Federal Drug Administration, it’s already went through Double Blind testing. There are certain tests that show it works. The man on the side of the road is getting exercise. I don’t wish to mock or belittle someone for their efforts. I only want to acknowledge the difference between efforts and results. If you want the exercise of meditation or praying or even shadow boxing, yes they do have their own benefits, but if you want to knock someone out you’re going to have to punch them.

So what works?

In the Bible, James says,

Faith and Works

17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

 

 

The Final Cut of My Dangling Faith

Love is patient, love is kind, This is the Christianity I was taught overtly. The icing and the pretty decoration. The hidden “healthy” side was God is a just God.

First snip – trusting another’s version of the truth

I was walking up the stairs to get to my condo when I overheard my neighbors talking about God. “God only wants you to be healthy. He wants you to be happy and live your life.” I realized how far I’ve come from that statement. I said that many times myself in the last few years and believed it. But contrast that with other people who spout offensive words. God hates >>insert ugly word here<< and will cast them into hell. One person claims God told them to build a building that cost millions of dollars, while another person sells all his stuff, moves to India, and helps dying patients in a leper colony.

Second snip – infallibility of the Bible

For years this dichotomy bothered me. I taught voraciously that it was only about love and our personal relationship with God. Maybe I didn’t cling to the infallibility of the Bible, but I had my Jesus. I had a friend. Until…

Third snip – my friend in Jesus

With all the erosion that happened in my spiritual life, the last connection was my personal relationship with Jesus. This is what holds most people in Christianity. That feeling that no one wants to let go of. “But I know He’s real. He comforts me.” And yes it often feels that someone is holding you, even smiling lovingly on you. Here’s the counter, each person that tells you that they know what God expects, is only mirroring what they believe already. Those that are loving believe in a loving god. Those that are critical believe in God’s judgement. And He’s not here to correct them. The only proof we have is the Bible and our inner conviction.

My faith dangled 

Where’s my proof that I really am not hearing from God or being comforted by him? Derren Brown showed me how it is done. How To Convert an Atheist – short version.  In his simple demonstration with a non believing girl, he showed how quickly it can develop.

  • First, picture a loving father. He picks up his child and holds her tight and kisses her boo boos away.
  • Second, imagine the awe and wonder of life. The grand plan of the universe and it’s beauty.
  • Third, bring the feeling of being loved by that wonderful father together with the awe and wonder.

Poof! She felt it. I felt it. This is how it was for me almost exactly. Preacher after preacher. Song after song. Just as Derren Brown brought those concepts together in the atheist’s mind so did my influences. That was when I realized, there may not really be anyone there. Here’s a link to the full version, Full Version-Fear and Faith part 2.

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Teach the Children What?

Many years ago I wrote an article called, It Takes A Team. I admit, I was coat tailing Hilary Clinton’s book, It Takes A Village. I wrote about things that I still believe firmly in, that children and teens learn from all the people around them. It doesn’t matter if you were the one to teach them to tie their shoes or if it was their classmate, your little one learned an important lesson.

A friend asked me recently what she should teach her young daughter. The grandparents are religious but she, the mom isn’t. My kids are raised and at that time I was religious, but I’m happy that they are not. Although I did put them in the middle of some indoctrination, I also raised them to think. For that I am happy. What would I want them to learn if I were raising them now? Would I raise them in a religion or not? 

  • I would teach my children to think. Compare. Look. Explore. I would teach them that messing up or being wrong is just another step in learning. It’s more important than getting an A+ on their spelling test.  The trying, failing, and trying again keeps your brain active.
  • I would teach my children that we are all living beings. We are made up of tiny parts and those tiny parts make up the entire universe. The water that flows from my faucet at one time may have been at the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps or in a stream that touched the feet of Alexander the Great. The same water, the same air, the same dirt was here 1,000 years ago. It was here 10,000 years ago.
  • I would teach my children to show kindness. But not only kindness. I would teach them to show anger and fear. To see people for what they do, because that’s who they are. Not to be deceived by pretty words or words that they want to hear, but to listen to the other person’s actions as well.

If children know these things, they can know people. It’s not necessary for people to know the facts of all religions or beliefs in the world. Most adults rarely stray from the religion they were brought up in. They also believe it’s the right one. I heard someone say that he believed his religion was the right one so it was important that he preach to the others who unfortunately were born in the wrong religion. Really? That seems so arrogant. Being arrogant is the first step to being deceived. This world we live in now is not a world for the sleeping. It’s a world that we and our children need to be awake and ready to live in. Most of all, I think I would teach my children to enjoy their life and if it’s not how they want it to be, change it.

Resources:

http://www.skepticmoney.com/breaking-the-cycle-promoting-critical-thinking-in-children/

http://evolvefish.com/fish/kidsbooks.html

I must admit, I want to read this book, K-PurpleDragon.gif

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