Rewiring the System


god or dog

Posted in Uncategorized by rewiringangel on June 22, 2009

Ilsa Bartlett                                    Interfaith Spirituality    June 2009               ilsa.bartlett@gmail.com

Do I believe in god or ? My family asked me every year on my birthday, do you believe in God?  Is there a one true God, and if so, what is God like? One year I would say God is a matrix constructed by people to explain our material existence since we have lost the memory and connection to the non-material essence.  The next year I would say that scripture was divinely channeled.  In my heart, watching my fluctuations I thought, ‘O Dog’, the cute puppy, the puppy who bleeds leads in the news.

What is God to me? Backward and forward, I identify my vision of God as the locus of all consciousness (as in the complete set of all points from Geometry, but the other definition as the center of control fits coincidently).  From this definition, I could claim the ability to prove the existence of God without need for belief; the set is not empty and exists even if you are the only conscious being in the universe. I am just one of the many billions and billions of organized stardust.

Since most people are not able to live the spiritual path, life seems to be lived from the perspective of ‘I am nailed to my cross’. My personal feeling is that I am not a ‘chosen one’ by God. I am not suffering on this cross but see this as a deck of cards I am dealt, for complex reasons, I have not yet the lofty vision to see or understand.  I do not have a sense that I have any ‘special’ uniqueness. I just move and exist in the universe. I try to go with the flow. I am one of the many billions and billions of a variety of beings.  The true history of my thought about deity is that Peace happens when we flow in harmony. The spirit entered with me at birth and I could not separate from its truth.  In choosing the spiritual path, I am choosing a path of self-knowledge, which is always involves discipline. The spiritual path asks of us to examine what we have to change. I study every morning and every evening and reflect before retiring on how I actualized the teaching throughout my day.  There are always pains in changing proclivities and habits. I might want to check emails instead of spending time reading and quiet meditation.  I know that the spiritual muscle always needs to be exercised.  People have trouble accepting my boundaries, which are necessary for my study and introspection.  They misunderstand me as I trudge this path toward direct knowledge and service.  Some people choose to sit with me and share reflections of personal theology.  I have a choice on the spiritual path, one of suffering on the cross as Jesus did or spreading the gospel by embodying the ideal as St Francis. Both suffered because they were often misunderstood.  Both the hanging and marginalization for choosing a life of poverty are painful. I have empathy for those who are unable to walk along the spiritual path. Spiritual discipline is strident and exacting. Individual localized spirituality and historical knowledge of truth are at all times hard personal work, which can cause pain. The problem of suffering, what is it and why is it constantly lurking in a corner of spiritual systems, seems never to change.

True spirit is not news. All people need time with the ‘Idea’ of paradise. I hear people talk about what is the beginning and where will ‘it’ end. They are grappling with spiritual concepts about values, purpose and destiny. Life and death are both the process and the progress in this dance.  Is death more terrifying than life?  I have a deep ecumenical place for Judaism, Quakerism, Unitarianism, and Vedanta through Vivekananda, Buddhism and Agni Yoga.  Each has deposited their gifts as I studied and thought deeply about their process.  Judaism and Buddhism are very much about the actual literature of the Torah and the 84 thousand written sutras with the accompanying rituals. Unitary Unitarianism is a protestant reflection of the living story of Jesus.  The Quakers sit in silence for a directive from the guiding force of light into an individual.  The collective silence gives energy for world service through voluntary committees. The Vedanta and Agni Yoga are both about inner peace striving for service to the greatest number through the greatest good. I think that religion is the highest achievement of philosophy; which is the highest form of intellectual achievement; giving all other achievements meaning.  To blindly accept religion is a beautiful demonstration of faith and respect, but intellectually hollow and leaves one unprepared to live in a diverse world. This causes the human mind to be driven by expectations rather than drive in reality. It is natural for us to have expectations formed from our experiences and values, but this is misleading.  I believe we are here on earth simply because we can be, because we chose this place to work on true spiritual knowledge. By being here we get the opportunity (some would say obligation) to powerfully choose to create virtually anything. Through our thoughts and actions, we make our life and world. We possess limitless opportunities.

We imagine clocks and time as a component of spirit but time is artificial. I am a timeless being doing the best I can to build with my own hands and feet, a better place in the areas where I can be of service.  Before Descartes, there were three hours in a day: before lunch, lunch, and after lunch. The Renaissance replaced direct knowledge of holiness moving in and around form and function with a tick, tick, task toil. The clock has brought questions about why am I here on Earth and why do I feel like I am suffering?  These questions were not important when humanity functioned within a three-hour day. Before the blessings of a priestly class, humankind saw the radiance in both prayer and possessions. Humanity lived in Vajrayana holiness where the kiss and the cooking, the walk and the walker were all praised as Deity.  The masses knew that the orange I was eating was as spiritual as the ritual preformed by the wise hermit.  The clock separated us from this birthright of direct knowing. We were each one tear in the ocean of tasty water.  Now we behave as fish swimming in the ocean struggling and asking everyone, ‘Where is the Water? ‘Where is Paradise?’

Ezra Pound in Canto 92 answers our question about Paradise or Nirvana:

Le Paradis n`est pas artificial

But is jagged    For a flash,    For an hour,     Then agony

Hilary stumbles, but the Divine Mind is abundant      Unceasing     Improvisators     Omniformis     Unstill

The spirit of life burns deep in my heart. It is what moved me from a very early age. I see my Spirit in my brain as a historical set of events. I see spirit in my heart and Pound gives me a glimpse of the Divine Mind as timeless, abundant and moving with agony.  I remember noticing people who walk in the light and those for whom the light is just beyond their ability and possibility to integrate with everyday life. My truth is that we are all going to get to the other side bathed in our divine light.  This is who we are truly right now, even if our light blinds us.

I knew, as a child and know now that the experience of feeling meaning as Truth in Action is our human gift.  I believe in beauty and Love for one another is as holy as it gets.  Beauty is all around me as I soaked up knowledge from those just ahead on the path. Discrimination is essential to set aside the time wasting chaff in favor of the kernel. When I was three I was sent to a parochial school, Beth Jacob, where the girls are sent to art and housekeeping and the boys learn the aleph bet in preparation for studying the Torah. I attended against my tiny will until I was in third grade. I learned to cover both my head and my spiritual side and keep my mouth shut about what I believed as Spirit of Love. About 6th grade, I walked myself over to attend the 12th and Samson Street Quaker Meeting house, in Philadelphia; I sat in the silence and perceived the gathered spirit as a group effortless effort. During High School, I found Buddhism initially through Herman Hesse, Siddhartha. It was my first contact with the practical Direct Knowledge that arrives full-blown and is usable by my brain and body.   In my twenties, I encountered Helena and Nicholas Roerich and Agni Yoga

There is a fundamental problem in the United States of America.  Most people I have met and are meeting find it difficult to respect those who do not think the same way they do. Yesterday a woman told me that if I brought up my belief again, she would have nothing to do with me and I would not be welcome in her home. Religious correctness has turned people away from community. I wrote back that I would always respect her as she is for the wonderful person she is to me and out to the world. She and her Orthodoxy include me in what I will call my extended family.

Allowing ‘different strokes for different folks’ is a dream of mine that is having birthing problems. Each of us needs to practice wisdom in action by caring about and for the people in our lives. As the wonderful Domo Gheshi Rinpoche wrote on her facebook page, the posting of the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva, “We need to practice arising Bodhichitta strongly now, so at the time of energetic calling to transformation, we will reject the lower nirvana and go on to the higher training”. The gray fear of fear of dying can be understood as a fear of fear.  Realistically dealt with, fear dissipates by our positive energy when our actions are based on kindness, to family, friends and strangers. I especially value giving kindness with no idea of return to strangers.  We might become friends by the shared act of kindness, or not. The act of thinking of others brings good reactions back into my life. This is a correct give and take, which opens the book of knowledge about the meaning of life.

There is a fundamental problem of our world.   The problem is that the cover story is solid. The cover story is that there is meaning to life.  However, the answer to the question, why am I here on Earth, remains a muddled cloudy mist in a mirage.  Either there is nothing solid about belief or your belief is my way or the highway. Interfaith leadership is a very important bridging from calcified separatist systems across the divide to the broader view of Truth, clothed in different fabrics. Each religion can empower its practitioners.  Success of religion creates community and buildings.  Of course, there are other factors in its success, like ability to recruit and fundraising. Personal living ethics does not fundraise.

What does the word God mean?  Are we a less refined reflection of the Holy Father? Is God a ‘being’, conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, as the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions? However, I ask, who chose this name and title? I use this word, as do countless Americans, as an interjection as an oath or exclamation of surprise or annoyance, Oh God! I do not believe that an incorporeal supernatural being has powers to affect the course of my life.  I believe that we are all cells in Gods being. Each form of living substance relates to every other through the interconnected essence of ‘spirit in form’. The Vedas describe this relationship as Indris’ Net with sparkling spots at each intersection. My relationship to the Divine is as a being of light.  I am a light within my core, I Am That I Am, which moves with my body activating in a serendipitous fashion my thoughts, my emotions, actions, words and me. I Am That, Aum Tat Sat.  I try to imitate the Christ in thought and emotion as well as speech and deed.  Brother Thomas a` Kempis, (ca.1380 to 1471) a late Medieval Catholic monk, author of the Imitation of Christ, is the best-known Christian book on devotion.  Kempis alludes to the true meaning of I Am That I Am, to imitate those ahead on the path.  Shortly before his death, Easter Week, 1963, Pope John XXIII issued his encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris.  It is of monumental significance for (all) mankind, especially now as we are in the time of paradigm change. Inner and outer relational peace must be our law if the human race and our very earth are to survive.  In it, Pope John XXIII reflects ‘the right order between men and the imitation of the Christ as the way forward between states that harmonizes peoples and nations.’  He states that ‘society needs to be well ordered that every human being is a person endowed with intelligence and with free will and rights and duties of his own living in grace as the children and as friend of God and heirs of eternal glory.’

How are people to work with all the sudden changes in life with painful beginnings and endings? Little Marty Nemkowitz asked his Dad, who had been incarcerated in Auschwitz, “Dad you are always so positive, you never mention Hitler,’ Why?  Marty senior said, “I gave the Nazi’s 4 years of my life. I won’t give them one more second of my time.”  This is what Marty Nemko, career counselor on Life Lessons learned from his Dad.

“Whatever you do, don’t shut off your pain; accept your pain and remain vulnerable. However desperate you become, accept your pain as it is, because it is in fact trying to hand you a priceless gift: the chance of discovering, through spiritual practice, what lies behind sorrow,” Sogyal Rinpoche tells me in his daily email delivery. He is the author of the popular book: The Art of Living and Dying.

“Grief,” Rumi wrote, “can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” In times of crisis, it is important to know why you are in the intersection moment.  It is important to know what aspects are in play. It is essential to be able to say with total confidence, ‘I know why I am here.’  I am here to work with the material world to bring transformation and spiritualize people, places and things.  In 2008, a group of Agni Yoga students in New York City made a video about their city and the Museum. They are the servers to ‘Peace through Beauty’ in the modern idiom.  Posted on YouTube, it shows the city in its richness and the living neighborhood where the Museum nestles waiting for visitors and friends.  Here is the link for the YouTube video of the Roerich museum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksmO2sQ03xA&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.squidoo.com%2Fagniyoga&feature=player_embedded There is a Stone is given by The Brotherhood to the Evolutionary Leaders on our planet and is taken after they complete their task.  Them the next Leader of High Consciousness receives it – to lead the way for humanity…. The Stone came from Sirius, Orion. It is moldavite. The Stone is part of the Agni Yoga tradition, but not a central part of the Teaching. As a three year old, I identified with Serious Sirius. I have a special homey feeling about that planet. I just keep looking up!

The difference between ecumenism, now mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater religious unity or cooperation and syncretism, refers to reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous. “Syncretism of the Senses”, the skin is protecting the contents of our body. We could not live as we do as humans without our skin covering.  This skin has protected us for eons and now we have to protect our skin from the sun.  The skin is visible and exposed, as it displays our character and emotions; yet, it is also hidden and private, as it covers the curves and creases of our bodies and breaths with us each breath, sigh and quiver.

We are all striving. Some look to faith in its many forms. Others believe that science is the real basis for life. Those who have no desire for an anthropomorphized supreme deity to proselytize ‘good’ conclusions for them, they shall also be welcomed. Mickey Mouse is an example of a well-known messenger for morals in the movies. Some believe in ‘Mickey Mouse in Diapers’ is a likely deity. I hear a wide spectrum of thoughts and feelings.  I, in my thoughts, emotions, words, and actions need to demonstrate the strength to do, and live, in a moral and ethical manner.  This is my living definition of Deity. I must not separate who is worthy from who is not worthy.  When I choose whom to judge, I marginalize without seeing what I lose. Individual striving is important. ‘Be’ basic goodness. Do this without judging. This is essential for both inner calm and world peace. What we each do and how we behave is important in our multinational and multi cultural society. Live a free search for meaning. This is our only hope of finding truth.  I as an interfaith spiritual leader want to help people wake up to their Life’s purpose. To start each day with a song is what I suggest. I want to rejoice from deep in my heart at the song inside me and the songs meeting me from every direction. I sing a song written by Bunessan, “Morning Has Broken. “

Morning has broken like the first morning; Black Bird has spoken like the first bird.  Praise for the singing!  Praise for the morning! Praise for them springing fresh from the Word!

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One Response to 'god or dog'

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  1. sehnen said,

    A very excellent, intelligent post. I’m glad such things can be found in the blogging world. I am an atheist, but I enjoy reading intelligent thought.


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