Customization Fiend Beaux and More Fantastic Ramblings

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There’s something strange about the way that I love to customize things. When you have options, when you have multiple ways that you can create and make something, it becomes endless and challenging.

Such was the case when I had my PC years ago, and I was customizing it, oddly enough, to look like a Mac. The whole process was fun, but then it also never ended- no matter what I did, I could never create the “ideal” that I wanted to create. Eventually I had to accept that no matter what I did, my PC would not be a Mac, but man, it sure was close, and lovely at that.

Now I’m customizing my chat client, Adium. Adium is a great multi-protocol chat client, and the website offers all kinds of plug-ins and customizations.

I’ve found sound schemes from Super Mario Brothers, the Legend of Zelda, and best of all, Earthbound. It’s something that I almost couldn’t believe.

Yet I can’t get everything arranged just to how I want it. This is the problem- having options can complicate things really quickly, and it becomes easy to overanalyze and stress one’s self out.

To bring this to the topic of spirituality, I think that’s rather a problem we run into with spirituality- there are just too many paths that are laid out, and it’s too easy to want to customize our paths. While it is indeed true that each of us is unique and will walk the path differently, we’re still going to end up walking to the same Truth, so our paths must somewhere overlap.

Sometimes a religion doesn’t give the proper outlet to one, and I think that if the proper outlets are absent, then the truth we’re seeking cannot be reached. Instead, we’ll be ever trapped, looking over guard rails into the Garden of Eden.

But there is also something that worries me in trying to break a system down when it’s already together and at least appears to be in tact or coherent. Why destroy something that already makes sense?

Because it isn’t telling you the Truth. That’s the why.

The systems, all of them, are ultimately a means to an end and not an end in itself. Bernadette Roberts seems to suggest that the Holy Eucharist is an end in itself, the Absolute Truth, and not a means to an end, and she may well be right. I’m not sure if I agree with her, though.

But it is also true that without the systems and paths, we cannot begin to express the Absolute Truth. We can try, yes, but it’s difficult, and we end up with statements such as my saying that it was like being friends with every atom in the universe.

Yes, like being friends with every atom in the universe, but that doesn’t explain everything that was going on, and the simile was just the closest conception I had during the experience.

Dharma Overground is an interesting site that deals with a concept near and dear to my heart: they aren’t concerned so much with the theological and theoretical framework as they are with the actual techniques that are used. This is something I’ve been saying for years- the practice of the religion is what is important, the actions and methods one takes, not the framework, which typically is somewhat outdated anyway.

This is why I think Catholic traditions trump Protestant traditions- there’s actually something that you do, as in the sacraments, instead of it just being a theoretical framework. The modern Gnostics have largely gotten this right- the theoretical framework in which Gnostics find themselves is a backdrop of sorts, a reference point, a context, but the emphasis is actually on the sacraments and contemplative prayer.

So, too, is this the case with Bernadette Roberts- she, much in the same way as I, wondered for a long time if she could even be Christian in whatever sense because of some of the terrible teachings of the Church. To this her father responded that the Church does not ask us to understand the faith, but to practice it- and that only by practicing it will we ever come to any insight of it.

Of course, there’s also the challenge to my Sufi sensibilities. I considered the paradigm differently the other night, and in that way I began to understand something about my own position in things. Instead of my particular spiritual path being something that is shoved together logically as equals, I looked at it as a group of expanding circles.

Imagine this: Sufism is my personal method, as per the Golden Sufi Center’s practices and codes of ethics. That is, I do the meditation of putting Love in the Heart, and I recite the dhikr. I love Sufi poetry and imagery, and of course I’ve lived love- I know what it means to be in Love, I know what it means to Long for someone, I know what it means to have a terrible need for something that isn’t there- the Heart Ache, in other words.

Now, imagine a larger circle around Sufism, and this circle is Christianity. Because I am not Muslim and did not grow up in a Muslim culture, my understanding of Sufism cannot be the same as the Muslim understanding of it. Some would argue that you must be a Muslim in order to be a Sufi, but I disagree, though this blog is not meant to tackle the issue. Sufism falls into the Christian context for me as its primary reference point. The understanding of a Longing for Christ, a Love for Christ, the Beauty of Christ, and so on, makes perfect sense to me, whereas this is more difficult for me to do conceptually with the Prophet Muhammed.

Now imagine an even larger circle that encompasses Christianity and Sufism both- this circle I would call Gnosticism. Gnosticism, of course, can be argued to be any number of things, but I mean to say that the basic orientation with which I understand Christianity is a Gnostic mode. One most directly experience God for salvation, in other words, and “God” here means something very different than the old-man-sitting-on-a-throne.

At this point, though, we’re working with an extremely abstract world view- the Gnostic world view entails a very basic understanding of the world for me, a very basic orientation that is far less defined than Christianity or Sufism, which have increasing specificity.

If a circle existed around Gnosticism, it would then be “mysticism,” and there would be no argument here from anyone. I am certainly, with no doubt, a mystic when it comes to spirituality, and there’s no denying that.

But I also mean to explain that, in everyday life, my understanding is quite Sufic in nature. Christianity, Gnosticism, and Mysticism are less of a personal identification and more of a contextual categorization. The whole situation sounds more complex than it really is, because I don’t know that most people bother creating a tier of identity.

When you look into the eyes of someone who has seen the Beyond, you see thunder and lightning. I’ve seen this many times. There’s a “knowing” within that person, and it is absolutely terrifying and alluring all at the same time.

Also, enlightened people are not the sort of people you want to fuck with. Seriously.

Okay. I’m done rambling. I know this post is late in coming and isn’t entirely coherent, so please forgive me; my mind was in several places at once.

Beaux


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Purpose of Blogging

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Blogging has many purposes, it seems. For me, I can list several off the top of my head.

  1. Blogging is an OUTLET FOR EXPRESSION.
  2. Blogging is a way to INFORM.
  3. Blogging is a way to THINK ALOUD.
  4. Blogging is a way to INTERACT.
  5. Blogging is a way to LIVE LIFE.
  6. Blogging is a way to DOCUMENT.
  7. Blogging is a way to be PRODUCTIVE.

Creativity isn’t the only thing that happens here. I don’t just have random thoughts or musings- something really happens on the unconscious level, until suddenly it all comes surging up into the consciousness.

These are just my random thoughts at the moment.


Weakness and Strength

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There’s the kind of wisdom existing among the ages that our weaknesses are our greatest strengths. This is even indicated in the book A Wrinkle in Time, and there’s a Sufi story about a pail of water that has holes in it that I’ll share now.

The bucket has holes and loses half the water each day as the man carries it back and forth- it feels incompetent around the other buckets. Then one day, as they’re walking along the path, the bucket notices flowers growing. The man carrying the bucket tells him that he knew of the bucket’s weakness, and used it to his advantage.

The ultimate idea is that God will use our weaknesses to His advantage; our weaknesses are actually hidden strengths.

Bringing this to practical reality:

How in the hell are social anxiety, reclusiveness, and shyness supposed to be my strengths?

Anxiety, specifically, social anxiety, has set my entire life on the weirdest course I’ve ever seen. I’ve avoided so many things that normal people give no thought to, and I’ve been uncomfortable and quiet in situations where normal people flourish. To make the point, it just doesn’t make any sense to say that it’s somehow a strength- at this point in my life, it seems like the anxiety has taken more from me, more from my happiness, more from other people’s happiness, than it has given.

So the tactic I’ve developed in life has largely been one of avoidance, has largely been one of making myself scarce and staying out of other people’s way. I feel like if I can do my thing and not obstruct other people, if I can just stay out of their way, I won’t succumb to their wrath, I won’t anger them, I won’t get in trouble.

So I try not to make waves.

When I do become louder and more open, I feel like people largely just think I’m annoying, and so I prefer the quiet aura. There’s no reason not to- it’s historically been effective and kept me safe, whereas being more extraverted has historically caused me pain.

Maybe I just go to extremes and should seek a balance, but then I’m always one for questioning the dogma of balance that pervades modern thinking. Maybe life isn’t meant to be balanced- maybe the chaos is the natural way of things.

Who knows?

Someday, I think I’ll know and understand all this. Maybe the whole point is to keep me away from people so I’ll turn to the contemplative life. Maybe the whole point is to make sure I’m in a place where I can have meditation and quiet. Maybe the whole point is that I have social anxiety because I’m so open to other people that I get all their superficial levels AND their bullshit hitting my energy core and it sends me reeling.

I pray that one day, it will fall away, and that people won’t make me want to break down into tears, or that suffering will be so minimal that I can bear more than seems humanly possible.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus will guide me, I know. God’s Love will guide me. The better and more I understand God’s Love, the more I’ll know what to do in life.

Beaux


On the Statements Made by Governor Robert J. Bentley of Alabama

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I feel like this blog needs to be written, especially at this point in time.

Recently, the freshly inaugurated Governor Bentley of Alabama made a statement to Alabamians.

“Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters,” he added, according to the paper. “So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

Now.

People are making a mountain out of a molehill on the one hand. I think some people are trying to act shocked and appalled that a governor from Alabama would even begin to make statements of a religious nature.

Folks, in Alabama, politicians don’t make a clear distinction between Christianity and the government. That’s not news. That’s an understood reality.

But that’s not my personal beef with the statement.

Do I think it should have been said? Probably not- because in saying it, Governor Bentley has opened up a whole can of worms and turned the unwanted spotlight onto Alabama and its people.

Admittedly, though- and I think we need to be intellectually fair in making this assessment- Governor Bentley’s statement was coming from his own theological system, and he was stating that he wanted to be the brother of those to whom he was not.

In essence, without twisting his words or altering the meaning, Governor Bentley was asking for others to come to salvation in Jesus Christ- which for him was an act of compassion, a reaching out, a sharing of his own spirituality.

He apparently meant it to be a charitable act, not an inflammatory one.

We need to understand that first.

Now that we’ve understood that his heart was in the right place, we can begin the intellectual and theological breakdown of the statement, which is a different matter.

First, he is representing a government office- the office of Governor in Alabama, namely. The inauguration is meant to be a ceremony of the bequeathing and acceptance of the political office, and as such, it must reflect and abide by the rules, regulations, laws, and oaths of the USA. The political office does not require and does not necessitate one to make a religious affirmation of any sort, nor does making such a statement enrich the office. If anything, it detracts from it.

So the real issue here is that the fresh Governor took a private matter of his own life and inserted it into the middle of a ceremony that had nothing to do with the private matter. There was not a reason to bring it up.

Theologically, I could argue from a Gnostic point of view, and go into the extremes of “Jesus-as-Liberator” as opposed to “Jesus-as-Savior” in order to argue that the whole point is that we’re all already brothers and sisters, and accepting Jesus as a Savior gets in the way of following Jesus’s example on how to become liberated.

But I’m not going to argue from that point of view right now.

I think the main issue is that Governor Bentley shared an opinion- a theological opinion– and assumed that the audience shared his theological opinion.

He misses the point, though- Christians aren’t to treat non-Christians as though they weren’t brothers and sisters. To the contrary, the essence of Christianity, as reflected in history and as reflected in the Scriptures, is that Christ Himself helped the poor, the disenfranchised, the tax-collectors, the prostitutes, the sick, the hungry, and the general rejected and neglected of society.

Summarily, Christ was there for those who needed Him.

That is, Christ was there for those people that normal-people society looked down upon.

This is not a difficult concept to grasp.

However, I am familiar with the particular theological angle that Governor Bentley was using as well- the idea that if we are not adopted into God’s family by Christ, then we are not Children of the Father, and so on. It’s a rather superficial and patchwork understanding of Christianity, and that particular approach does more to create a division between the “Christians” and the “non-Christians” which is a false dichotomy, and honestly, categorizing people according to “Christian and non-Christian” doesn’t sound like something Jesus would had advocated in the first place.

So in closing, I would say that Governor Bentley’s statements were at best shallow theological opinions, and that the rest of us, the Thinking Minority, should probably ignore them.

Despite all that, I still wrote this blog.

Beaux

 

 

 

 


Reflection

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Now I understand.

Spirituality comes with a grave sort of responsibility that many people may not understand or may be unwilling to accept. To not understand that one’s actions, thoughts, and feelings can have external affects in a way that most people are unaware (a psychical sort of way, you might say) is to be extremely ignorant of the damage one may cause.

So I see that the roughness that’s happened recently has all been a reflection of my own inner attitudes, my own aberrant desires, my own faults and failings, all affecting other people. This is not to suggest that I’m all-powerful- this is rather to bring me to the realization that my connection with the inner world has a very real and tangible effect on the outer world, and that I must surrender my Will to God or risk hurting and devastating others.

I don’t want to hurt anyone- myself, my boyfriend, my friends, or even strangers. So I have to work towards greater perfection within myself. I have to continue along the Path, I have to continue to seek God, I have to continue to live out my sense of self while looking deeper and deeper within, potentially to the highest experience of the no-self- if that is indeed the highest experience.

It is true that in our world, so many things seem unstable, so many things seem random, chaotic, and unaffected. To think that our thoughts affect others is seemingly preposterous and almost sheer heresy by modern standards, so to see the actual effects of our own internal world on the external world (without a direct physical connection- no verbalization, no acting out, no body language, no hidden references and so forth) is bewildering and takes us into the realm of the unknown.

The connection, at least for me, is not necessarily a stable one. The instability, though, has a pattern to it, not unlike my mood swings and my social anxiety- all of it is cyclical, the so-called “spiral path” that I’ve mentioned.

But to chart it would be almost impossible, other than to literally write down my mood from day to day and write down when exactly it changed. In some cases, our moods do change because of certain psychological cues- something happens, and we’re affected accordingly- but in some cases, there is no external cause.

I long for the ego to fall away. Maybe I don’t really long for this as much as I say I do- I wonder if great mystics of the past ever questioned if they really wanted God as much as they felt that they did. What I cannot deny is that the ego is a great, great burden to carry around, that the ego creates more than enough problems for me in my life, and that if God were to take the ego and replace it with Himself, things in life would be much, much easier for me and everyone else.

I’ve learned something else recently- the difference between actually redirecting your focus and reasonably dealing with one’s feelings to lessen their intensity and outright repression or suppression of said feelings. The difference is specifically in that redirecting your focus happens after you have embraced the feeling- “Yes, I feel angry, and this is why I feel angry. However, there are more important things in life, things that make me happy, and to focus on the anger is to feed it, whereas to focus on the things that make me happy not only lessen the anger but also expands my view of the universe.”

That came out sounding way more Positive Thinker than I meant for it to, but the point is that one doesn’t deny feeling angry (or sad or what have you) or deny that it exists, and at some point in time, an analysis is in order of one’s anger and why something provokes one to anger in the first place- whether it’s an immediate reaction or related to some deeper inner trauma.

Right now, I’m exhausted, and the exhaustion, I think, has stunted the ego’s overall influence. I can’t say that there is no ego whatsoever, but it definitely feels less in tact than normal. That being said, I’m going to try to read some and sleep.

Beaux


Wow, I blew THAT…

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So much for celebrating Post a Day 2011 on here. I thought I had posted a few nights ago, but apparently I had failed to post for a few different days in a row.

I’m also falling behind on my novel writing, but this week, I plan to catch up really quick.

To my credit, I have been blogging double-time on Holy Poached Eggs, so in that case, I’m actually doing well and doing just fine.

Also to my credit, I have several blogs that I’ve actually written on here that are just not posted yet. The drafts are uploaded, but some of them are, in actuality, not really complete or don’t have my thoughts completely written out.

I still haven’t figured out what to do about writing a blog that just documents my life in the mundane sense, and maybe I should revise my stance on the whole perspective of the mundane and spiritual being separated.

So Craving Aletheia shall henceforth be both a blog about my life and my spiritual life. Maybe the whole premise of the blog can be both. There’s no law or rule saying that it can’t be!

In fact, right now, I feel so crack-happy that I think I’ll be writing a few more posts on here!

Beaux


This Whole Spiritual Thing is Progressively Confusing

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So much of spirituality and mysticism seems to conflict with itself.

But one thing I know is that the Great Void I remember experiencing way back when I was younger was actually not the finality of all things. This was my mistake, the assumption, that I had been making.

When Llewellyn talks of their being no goal and then talks of one’s problems not getting any easier in life, I find myself becoming belligerent and wanting scream, “Then what the fuck are we doing all this for?”

And it’s true- if the mystic’s path does not ultimately culminate in the end of suffering and the realization of “what it’s all about,” if it indeed has no end and is something through which we endlessly circulate, then it makes no sense to pursue it and in all honesty actually makes more sense to go play cards, have a gin and tonic, and try to find happiness in external things in life instead of worrying about meditating, God, or the Holy Eucharist.

Yet I am disinclined to think that there is no end to it all. I think, rather, the notion of their being no end is the product of people who have not yet arrived but have mistakenly assumed that the lack of an ego is the end of the journey.
I find it extraordinarily odd that Bernadette Roberts and Richard from the Actual Freedom Trust insist that they haven’t found any reference to the “no-higher-self” state in which they both find themselves in the literature. I figured it out from reading a website that dealt with mysticism long, long ago. Unfortunately, that website is now defunct.

But the point of the matter is that it was apparent that the Higher Self was not the Highest State, that it was not the end- and I was only a 15 year old in Alabama reading about this stuff.

To Bernadette’s credit, she does say that others have come upon the no-higher-self experience, and that eventually everyone will. I’m not sure if by this she’s referring to death, or if she means everyone will eventually hit Nirvana, or what exactly.
I understand, for the Sufis, the confusion is part of it. The confusion is naturally used to distract the ego, and the sooner the ego collapses, the sooner we can go on to a further stage of the path. But I wonder, too, about the ego and the nature consciousness.
Suffice it to say, I know that the ego can cease- I have been there, but it was only temporary, though it was pleasant. Predominantly what was missing was a certain pressure on the forebrain, and also tension that was in my shoulders. These things were completely gone- it was a state of relaxation, a state unburdened, and I wish I could exist in it all the time.
Maybe one day I will look back on the path and be like, “Great Scots, how much of an idiot was I to do this or that!” Hindsight is, however, 20/20.
Beaux


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