The Rationality of Religion

“The resurgence of shamanism in the modern world is an anomaly and contradiction,” continues Winkelman. “These kinds of practices were suppose to disappear with the development of modern rationality, yet they persist and grow in popularity, especially among the more educated segments of the population.”The Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healingby Michael Winkelman.

The question is – WHY?
πŸ™‚

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The greatest intellectual freedom of my life to date started about 2 years ago.I found myself on a course where I could discuss and ponder religion and science without the assumption that the two were mortal enemies out to disprove the other. Actually our western religions and science come from the same place and share many of the same problems, in my opinion : the big one being -if it’s not literal truth it’s lies, falsity, illusion – and thereby a waste of time.

This is what makes me smile the most : the smug neuroscientist or geneticist who claims to have found “the god gene”, or the “part of the brain that generates religion”, as though somehow they have solved the mystery, proved the religious nuts wrong, and rationality reigns supreme. “It’s just your brain sparking, man creates god, we proved your wrong, la la la”

But hang on a moment. What has this science really demonstrated? Spiritual practice is reflected in changes in your brain..changes that generate feelings of joy, peace, insight, connection to “the infinite possibilities of life”, hope and general well-being..psychological integration, ectasy, heightened awareness, reduction in stress… All this without the use of drugs or expensive psychotherapy! Excuse me, but I want some of that! πŸ™‚

People have sneered when I try and get them thinking about spirituality or religion. “It’s a coping mechanism for primitive man to deal with an uncertain universe. We don’t need that kind of shit anymore. We have progressed”

Oh really? How many people do you know who are really coping with the world around them? Not just coping but really -living-? Seems to me sometimes that our science has been a bit too hasty to “disprove” all religion without really replacing it with an equivalent practice. Instead we seem left with one insidious myth – money will solve your problems (and for goddsakes don’t stop spending it!)…

I’m not trying to “push a religion” here but merely point out that whether it’s “literally true” or not, there can be real value in “spiritual experience”. I’m sick of people scorning or dismissing something just because they “don’t get it”

When it comes to self liberation, if that’s your aim, whatever works for you my friend πŸ˜‰

Just some food for thought….if this kind of area interests you, follow the link below for a set of much more coherant essays

find out more

imagination cross over: fresh input?

Looks like I will have up to four weeks of mon-fri training which means sitting about in a hotel room with not much to do…perfect oppurtunity for some drawing!

I’m going to go back to what I enjoy which is drawing animals…however I seem to be stuck in a bit of a groove of drawing wolves, or foxes, and then some wolves again.

The other area I want to start drawing is illustrations for myths, legends, fairytales etc.

To introduce a random element, and oppurtunity for me to learn about something new, if you’ve got a minute please could you leave a comment with a suggestion for either/both :

  • A random animal – can be anything, obscure as you like. Or just your favourite
  • A myth,story,folk-tale,god,hero etc…

I can then go an track down reference pictures, stories etc and see what I can do.
thank you! πŸ™‚

Words I wish I could express . Remember your winter dreams!

“Winter, with its chill wind and its tones, stark in their silvers, grays and whites, marks a time when our world seems to have gone to sleep. Few people seem to notice this, and fewer still seem to recognize that this is also a season for dreams. Within, our remembrances come and go, and perhaps we make plans for the coming year. And as what is old gets pushed aside, most people bustle and shop and prepare for the holiday gatherings, taking scant notice that nature is slowing down.

But I like to dream at this time. It just seems natural. I dream of being a writer and I dream of having time to devote myself to the creation of a story, and as the chill begins to break, and the darkness lift, I find a restlessness developing within; I want to move forward.

Yet time presses in. I have responsibilities. I am actually a blue-collar worker and not a writer; there is so little time available to me to work out a story on paper. It would be so easy just to set aside my winter dreams and forget about them as most do with their night dreams. Just carry on, and scurry about; just forget about it. But the forgetfulness that makes things new belongs to the season just passing.

It is coming upon spring and to just ‘do’ without a guiding dream is to hold fast to the sleep of winter, and not to awaken to winter’s purpose. To awaken and awaken fully, one must act and act fully. Some see awakening as happening by sitting quietly and doing nothing, and some even seem to consider full human involvement with the world as the furtherance of an illusion that causes them pain. But pain for me is knowing that I’m letting down my own dreams, and that this is, in a way, letting down the dreams or our natural world as well; for perhaps it is the world’s dreams that give rise to the “ten-thousand things,” that in their turn, give the quietude of unity its meaning.

Yes, I still sit in meditation, but I also sit with a different purpose, for who knows what urgings push the grass upward and stirs the blossoms within each bud? If pain is a part of this purpose, so then pain is a part of this life. And so I sit now, not facing a blank wall but a blank page, and I watch the page fill with these words, and know that this has been a good sitting.

Outside, a persistent wind is blowing through the chimes on my porch, and as their music washes over me, I notice that this same wind has washed away the clouds and melted the snow. The sleep of winter is giving away to a new season, and I am filled with a gratitude I did not know before I began to truly honor the seasons of the world.”

Michael Gibson
La Grande Oregon
sparky3@eoni.com

Lupercalia :: spring time

At first, I thought there were only two options to dealing with the over-commercialised festivities of our modern day society – scorn and whinge about them from a distance, or grudingly expend time and money to take part.

But what I do now is basically ignore all that altogether and instead look for the parts of the festival I *can* relate to and celebrate. So at Christmas time I thought about the winter solstice, the end of the long nights and return of the the light..spending time with family and eating well.

What I wanted to do for valentine’s day was send out cards to my friends to remind them that I love and appreciate them more than I often realise. I also wanted to say : “look around you, can you see spring coming? There are signs all over the place, here’s to the spring time and fresh energy, the end of winter!” But last week was so hectic and draining I just didn’t get round to it (kinda ironic I guess)

This time last year I was getting all tangled up in new romance and too many men. It was -exciting- to get valentines cards because it all added to the intrigue of it. However this year is all about learning to love and look after myself..so I came up with an idea.

Tonight, and if not the rest of the week, is going to be about treating myself and not feeling bad about it. So I’m going for scented baths, night-time walks, good wine, good food, and trying NOT to pack every evening full of social events so I actually get time to lie back and relax. I’m also hoping to do a bit of spring cleaning and sort out some finances and stuff. At the end of the week I’ll be moving into a new house with Rachel and John, so there’s a lot to look forward to!

I sorely need something like this, and to me it seems a suitable antidote to sitting about moping over relationships and missing guys and feeling jealous of couples πŸ™‚ (yes, I know I ‘have someone’ but I’m not convinced that dealing with missing someone most of the time is any different/worse than not having someone to miss..)

I’m already planning a meal for tonight; chicken with white wine and tarragon sauce. Sarah is going to come over and we are having a girl evening with good drink and chocolate..

hope you are well

Yay for short heroic women!

In my last post on fear, I mentioned that seeing someone else battle and overcome their own fears is part of what gives me the strength, courage and determination to tackle mine.

So I’d just like to say how inspired and overjoyed I am by Ellen MacArthur arriving home after an epic round-the-world journey – she single handedly sailed round the world non-stop in record time. I’ve been following her on the breakfast news, catching snippets about her almost colliding with a whale or fears that the wind would drop.

But why all the fuss? This particular feat has been done before, and she wasn’t actually racing against anyone ie she is not a “winner”. As this page points out, “the answer to that probably has more to do with who she is than what she has done.”

This woman is just 28 and only 5’2″ – about the same height as me and only a few years older. She’s demonstrated that you don’t have to be big, strong and male to do such a thing. If you look at the tributes, time and time again you see people identifying themselves with her – “makes me proud to be British” but even more than that thanking her for the inspiration. It even made one guy give up his Estate Agent job and go back to teaching Sailing! πŸ™‚ It’s truly wonderful to see something uplifting in the news.

I also recommend following her journey to anyone that needs reminding that such feats don’t come without their share of disaster, hopelessness and hardship but also how quickly things can turn around.

I don’t know much about sailing myself but something I particularly like about this whole thing is that despite how superb the boats technology, or Ellen’s training, she had to have good wind.

I love the blend of technology, natural elements, and human spirit expressed in this adventure. πŸ™‚

Facing Fear

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
(Dune)

Fear, I still reckon, is one of the single most inhibiting factors to having a vital, active and flowing life. On a basic level, yes, we can’t do without fear – it can help us avoid death and pain but even then you’ve got to pay attention to choose the right response – freezing in front of those on-coming headlights is helping no-one.
Continue reading Facing Fear

Symbiogenesis

β€œWhen God made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks made them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and dumb.” p. 86 “Their Eyes Were Watching God”

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I’ve started reading a book called “the symbiotic planet” and suddenly I can believe in evolution again..I KNEW there was a big piece missing from the theory I was taught at school.

And I found the quote above from a journal of the only other person who has “symbiogenesis” as an interest. I will let you know all about when I’m able to write coherantly again..

What the hell do I believe anyway? Testing Cat’s subconscious?

I’m in Exeter and trying to get my life back into balance. I think it’s happening, slowly, and I have more patience than I used to.

I’ve started my job as a “Wet Stock Analyst” though as one of the initial team members I’ll be part of setting up something to compete with these guys.(who have a rather nice webpage which tells me more about my job than the total lack of information here.)

Anyway, until we get training from the people whose jobs we’re most likely going to be taking (..yay..), I’m working on various pretty diagrams to describe all kinds of processes..one thing I’ll be doing is educating the people coming in next to join the team. Not too exciting but doing these things always highlights the places where I don’t quite understand whats going on, or where I need more information. I like drawing big diagrams with boxes and arrows and circles and question marks..in fact I’ve done my best thinking this way, but far too long ago now.

Frankly, in the last few years I’ve taken on far too much information, more than I know what to do with or reconcile coherantly. My thoughts on life and the universe have dropped straight into my subconscious, emerging only occasionally in inspired moments or, more usually, in dreams. This has left me feeling weak and impotent in the face of anyone who tries to engage me with debate, or, more importantly, try and understand what I’m thinking. I’ve learnt SOMETHING That’s made my life happier more vibrant, but what?

Also, in a way I can’t explain or justify, I am basing life decisions round this strange sense of ineffable and vague instinctual fumblings. If pressed, the best I can answer is “I’m looking to find my groove/flow/nature/bliss/passion and follow where it goes.” Time and time again in the last YEAR I’ve realised I’ve got to get something a bit more tangible, workable, or perhaps simply defendable against all the other shit that presses in on you from people, life, society and so on.

I keep avoiding the answering of difficult questions mostly because I keep avoiding to ask them. But until I try and say -something- out loud, how can I see where the holes (in my thinking) are?

So, as and when I think of them, I’ll be asking some questions or writing down what I can currently extract from my mind. Criticism, arguement, comment definitely welcome! (if not encouraged )
question one : on Truth