Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

I changed my mind … what now?

Woke up today in a very dark place. At 5:00 AM the world is very dark here, but not as dark as the place where I was then. Looked at my wife of forty years, sleeping beside me.  Thinking about detachment.

Death takes everyone … death is what binds us all together … no one escapes, no one buys their way out, no one. No one, no matter the extreme sacrifices made on the alter of self to appease the gods of our secular lives, no matter the banality of the attachments of this world of flesh and passion and decay. No matter the pride and achievements in this short night in this bad hotel … no one … escapes … Brother Death.

I Am In thy Hands, O Mary”, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Doctor Scott Piper, Sir Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP & Sr. Maria Miguel Wright, OP;  from the album “Mater Eucharistiae”, (2013)

Got up, had a long hot shower, put the wash on. Still in a very dark place. Thinking about detachment from material things, and especially creatures. Some creatures are hard to detach from, others go out of their way to make it easy, without realizing that is what they are doing, not realizing that they are so attached to themselves that there is no room for attachment to anything else.

Those self centered creatures are surprisingly easy to detach from but creatures where attachment is reciprocated, where there are mutual consolations experienced, are more difficult to approach true detachment from. Brother Death is the culmination of detachment. the ultimate detachment from material things and creatures.

Got dressed and headed out about 5:45 for a long drive in my 1 ton – I like to think while driving – silence – solitude – hum and rhythm of the pavement and the low rumble of the diesel … sometimes I get consolations and inspirations while driving like this.

I have been meditating on detachment for months now. Fasting brings a sharp focus to the concept of “detachment”. Been fasting, full fasts and 1 meal a day fasts since January 2017 now. Body is stable probably won’t loose any more weight unless I fast totally and continuously. Maybe that’s what I need to do. Having become seriously detached from food I now have a better understanding of what detachment from other material things and creatures involves.

Thinking about my father’s death 33 years ago. Thinking that he understood detachment, if not as a spiritual thing then as a rejection of a kind of slavery to material things. I think, like Roy Batty in the scene at the top of this post, he understood that it was “time to die”. At age 57 he stopped taking all his meds one day without asking permission and without consulting his doctor or anyone.

A few weeks later he collapsed and died after taking a long hot shower – massive brain Aneurysm – some of my family attribute the arterial weakness to an injury sustained while serving as a paratrooper in WWII. Whatever, he swore he would never grow old but would keep going full bore until he dropped and that is exactly what he did.

Detachment from all earthly things and creatures is certainly fully realized by Brother Death. And suicide is certainly not an option. On the other hand Brother Death has a comfortable feel, no fears, and end to all trials, peace, welcome. At times I envy my father. Here, at the end of all things, Brother Death takes our hand and leads us towards the light at the end of the tunnel of the tomb … and the light … is the glorious light of Eternity’s Sunrise, or the smoldering glow of Mount Doom.

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ shall come again“, sung or chanted after the consecration, the Memorial Acclamation, at every Catholic Mass. This is the Christ who died, descended into Hell, then rose that Death shall have no dominion.

We live, if we live at all, in Him. He is The Eternal Sunrise. Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.

Changed my mind – lots of geese calling overhead on their southward trek … still lots of work to do before we are done … “Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep”

pray for a good day

Joe

 

Standard
The Inner Struggle

Brother Death Take My Hand …

Into the West”, performed by Annie Lennox, composed by Howard Shore, from the LOTR soundtrack, (2003)

Thinking about my father, gone from this mortal coil some 33 years now, and still fresh in my memory as if I had coffee with him yesterday. Wishing, with all my heart, I could sit down and talk with him about things I have learned in those 33 years.

Death takes everyone … death is what binds us all together … no one escapes, no one buys their way out, no one. No one, no matter the extreme sacrifices made on the alter of self to appease the gods of our secular lives, no matter the banality of the attachments of this world of flesh and passion and decay.

No matter the pride and achievements in this short night in this bad hotel … no one … escapes … Brother Death.

Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… then you see it!
Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?
Gandalf: White shores… and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: Well, that isn’t so bad.
Gandalf: No. No, it isn’t. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Here, at the end of all things, Brother Death takes our hand and leads us towards the light at the end of the tunnel of the tomb … and the light … is the glorious light of Eternity’s Sunrise, or the smoldering glow of Mount Doom.

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ shall come again, sung or chanted after the consecration, the Memorial Acclamation, at every Catholic Mass. This is the Christ who died, descended into Hell, then rose that Death shall have no dominion.

We live, if we live at all, in Him. He is The Eternal Sunrise. Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.

Cheers

Joe

Praying for Humility … at the end … of a short night …

Standard
Life in a small town, Politics and Economics, The Inner Struggle

Guidelines, Vested Interests, and Politics …

Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan, from the album “Highway 61 Revisited”, (1965)

Can anything good come out of a post about Guidelines, Vested Interests, and Politics? Possibly, some minor “good” in the immediate today, but less likely “Good” in the eternal, when all comes down to the Vanity/Humility ratio.

In the arena of politics, sitting in Wendy’s burger restaurant in a nearby city (nearby meaning only 2 hours of driving involved) and witnessing some political barbarian setting up a “Registration Station” on the next table to ours, to “register” voters in the upcoming provincial United Conservative Party leadership race.

Brian Jean ...

Brian Jean …

The leadership contest is between Brian Jean, leader of the Wild Rose Party, and Jason Kenny, leader of the Progressive Conservative party. This “Political Operative’s” target demographic: retired seniors taking a coffee break with friends , no cost folks, just a little of your time and your personal information, you don’t even have to actually turn up to vote, just “register”.

No credentials displayed … is this guy really a political party representative or is this a blatant fishing expedition?  Nobody lining up to offer up their personal info seemed to have a clue or to doubt the truth of his sales pitch. No permission to be there either just walking in off the street and setting up in a private business.

Jason Kenny ...

Jason Kenny …

Trespassing on private property and perhaps misrepresenting his “cause” as having the endorsement of The Wendy’s franchisee … hmmm …. aren’t there laws against this sort of thing, the act of trespass, the act of misrepresentation and fraud?

I suppose in some deliciously Canadian way he belongs to that large class of Canadians to whom the rules just don’t apply, the laws just don’t apply, right, they are special. When the manager phoned it in she was told that he couldn’t use the site for political activity.

She tried to get him to leave.  The “Political Operative” refused both to leave and to stop his recruiting activities and embarrassed her into not making a scene.

I borrowed the next bit from David Warren’s post a few days ago, on this very topic, this very Hallmark Characteristic of modern progressive Canadians everywhere:

Dysopia (no relation to “dystopia”) will be our Greek word for the day. It is from Aristotle via Plutarch; a term held to be untranslatable into our modern tongues. By the dictionaries it is defined as “the embarrassment that compels us to grant an unjustified request.” The closest we come in English is “compliancy.” They get no closer in German or French. … So mark it down in your commonplace books, my dears: dysopia. Pour a shot of rum, and swear off it entirely.

Compliant, complaisant, acquiescent. Docile, submissive, ingratiating. Servile, tractable, obsequious. Ever deferential, glad to be of use. This is what my fellow Canadians have become, though we were not in the past, according to my elders (now mostly dead). When unreasonable demands were made upon them, their inclination was to stiffly resist.

Ours is to be chumps, patsies, dupes, treacle saps. In our vanity we think that we are “nice” people, and celebrate our own gormlessness.

And that is why what we too mildly call “political correctness” has advanced so far, through barrier after barrier, erected by our ancestors against perversion. It begins with a small minority of fanatics, bent upon turning our world upside down. It continues not by conversion but by dysopia. We look upon those making the demands, and can no longer see what they are, owing to the pain in our heads. We think we can buy peace with concessions. But the devils are encouraged by our every retreat.”

And from one of my own previous posts of not too long ago :

Canadian figureheads ...

Canadian figureheads …

Lest we forget, or maybe we never knew it, but the generation that fought and died at Vimy Ridge was in no way “nice” and “gormless”.

The generation that sang: “D-day Dodgers knew everything there was to know about push-back against gormlessness (great series of YouTube videos at this link – none of this shows up in Social Studies, does it?).

Lest we forget, Canadians were not always a mob of gormless poltroons. Where are they now? Realization dawned one day in the midst of World War III, that the real enemy was not, most undoubtedly not, that young kid clinging on to the Soviet frigate 100 yards away. He was me.

The real enemy was back home in the comfortable office towers and media redoubts taking pot shots at the ones doing the bleeding.  The real enemy was back home in the Kremlin, and in Washington, and in Ottawa, and in London (and in REDmonton). The real enemy was the figureheads and their agenda of “What is Truth?” 

Just in case we missed something and mistakenly understand “gormless” as synonymous with “nice” we can look at a definition of sorts: “Gormless began life as the English dialect word “gaumless”, which was altered to the modern spelling when it expanded into wider use in the late 19th century.

Running Rachel ...

Running Rachel …

The origins of “gaumless” are easy to understand; the word derives from a combination of the dialect noun gaum, meaning “attention” or “understanding,” and the suffix -less. “Gaum” also functions as a verb in some dialects, where it means “to pay attention to” and “to understand.” An unrelated verb gaum means “to behave in a stupid or awkward manner.” There’s also a noun gaum, meaning “a stupid doltish person.” But none of these are as commonly used nowadays as “gormless”, which itself is most frequently seen in British English.

True synonyms, for the Canadian context, would be: airheaded, birdbrained, bonehead, boneheaded, brain-dead, brainless, bubbleheaded, chuckleheaded, dense, dim, dim-witted, doltish, dopey (also dopy), dorky [slang], dull, dumb, dunderheaded, empty-headed, fatuous, stupid [chiefly British], half-witted, knuckleheaded, lamebrain (or lamebrained), lunkheaded, mindless, oafish, obtuse, opaque, pinheaded, senseless, simple, slow, slow-witted, soft, softheaded, thick, thickheaded, thick-witted, unintelligent, unsmart, vacuous, weak-minded, witless.”

Kenny ...

Kenny …

Now don’t I just feel SO much better in my nice Canadian gormlessness … sigh. “What is Truth?” And what about Gratitude? Is there really anything to be grateful for in a polite society lacking in sincerity and justice?

And the Political Barbarians, the corrupt exploiters of the gormless masses, the 30 second sound bite voters, the predictably Liberal Progressive categorization of this target demographic as the “low information voters” this just SO Lame-Stream straw-man.

Was the barbarian ever ejected from his lawless squatting or was he allowed to stay like the “Occupiers” south of the 49th. Who knows, we moved on before the final inning and never did find out if the manager was able to muster the fortitude to face down a brass balled social bully preventing her from exercising her responsibility by causing embarrassment that compels us to grant an unjustified (illegal) request.

So we look forward to a Provincial election, somewhere down the road, in which we are faced with a choice between the Cancer of the “New Democratic Party” commanded by Running Rachel, or the Leprosy of the United Conservative Party  most likely commanded by Jason Kenny. Quelle Dommage!

Cheers

Joe

We The People ... In Our Hot-tubs ... Low Information Voters, eh?

We The People … In Our Hot-tubs … Low Information Voters, eh?

 

We The People … In Our Hot-tubs … Low Information Voters, eh?

Standard
Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

World Problems and Joy?

A part of the ancient Hadrian’s wall in northern England. Image from: http://catholicexchange.com/peace-and-security

So what does a country boy see out there in the “REAL” world? What are the “world problems” that I think might affect myself, my family and my life here in rural flyover country, what gets on the radar?

I am thinking about peace and conflict, and how I choose to drink at springs of peace or springs of conflict. After yesterday’s outburst of emotion, about observed events which I chose to observe and judge, courtesy of lots of folks with nothing to do but emote and “create content”.

“Wind of the Western Sea” Bill Douglas, from the album “Songs of Earth and Sky”, (1998)

Am I one of those “emoticons in suits”? Well, maybe an emoticon in Levis, and pretty thread bare Levis at that. No suits around here any more – that was all in a previous life, long, long ago. Don’t even have a tie anymore.

It’s 06:55 and the sun is coming up on a cool dawn. With quiet time for second thought, the truth is, there are not really any problems anywhere which directly affect my immediate life … my “real” world is full of beauty, and peace, waiting for room in my soul … if I make the time and make the room to just let it in, if I don’t fill it up with other stuff.

So, I pray for “Purity of Heart”, that purity that goes beyond simple passions and pleasures. Speaking of purity here I am intending to evoke the purity which not only implies an absence of sin but goes much further to invoke the absence of all earthly affections.

I think that is the scriptural sense of “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5,8), and with this Purity of heart, this directing of my entire capacity for affection and attachment towards God alone I may achieve clearer vision of my ultimate goal.

I get glimpses of the target but they are frequently obscured by the up-welling of my passions and self-love and I frequently loose sight of the path, and the world struggles mightily to re-establish dominance in my soul … and I fall … again …

… Prayers to start the day …

O Lord, give me right sentiments about You and grant that I may seek You with a simplicity of heart. My heart says to You, ‘I will seek Your face.’ When my heart seeks You, O Lord, it is Your presence it is seeking. Your home is where You dwell, and where do You dwell, if not in Your temple? My heart is Your temple: teach me how to welcome You there. You are a spirit, and I must adore You in spirit and in truth. Come into my heart, and all the idols shall fall.”

“Now I shall listen to Your voice and learn to long for You and to prepare myself to see You. Blessed are all who see You! And if they do see You, it is not because, while they were on earth, they were poor in spirit, or because they were meek or merciful, or because they mourned or hungered and thirsted after justice, but because they were clean of heart. Humility is good for attaining the kingdom of heaven; meekness is good for possessing the land; tears are good for receiving consolation; hunger and thirst after justice, for being filled; mercy is good for obtaining mercy; but only purity of heart permits us to see You.”

My desire is to see You; what I desire is great, but it is You who tell me to wish for it. Help me to purify my heart, because what I desire to  see is pure but my means of seeing it, impure. Come to me, O God, and purify me by Your grace; purify my heart with Your aid and strength. If I receive You into my heart during this present life, after my death You will admit me into Your presence.” (St. Augustine)

and

“Come, Holy Spirit, speak to my heart; or at least, if You wish to remain silent, may Your very silence speak to me, because without You I am always in danger of following my own errors and confusing them with Your teachings” (St. Bernard)

prayers from : (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.  from the book “Divine Intimacy” meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 907)

Cheers, and have a blessed and peaceful day …

Joe

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. Spread the Flame of Love of your Immaculate Heart over all of humanity, now and at the hour of our death, Amen

Standard
Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Counsel and Mercy … listening and acting …

“Wind of the Western Sea” Bill Douglas, from the album “Songs of Earth and Sky”, (1998)

Everything mentioned in my previous post may well be provably “true” but the focus of the post is not on “facts”, and “truth”, but rather on my personal “agenda”, my own “truth” so to speak, and my observations of my own conduct in what I am saying about “others”.

I am poking at the frailty of the faceless undefined “class” of persons who are “dealing” with the problems by ignoring them or just walking away, intentionally avoiding responsibility and commitment.

I am observing how I react to this perception and the offense I take at the actions of “others”. My reaction to the perceptions seems to be a wellspring of unhappiness which I choose to drink at.

Roaring Hairy EGO!

Roaring Hairy EGO!

“Sniff …” obviously crass lower castes, every mother’s son of them. And well, wouldn’t you know it, the great roaring hairy legged EGO strikes again. I find nothing considerate, merciful or charitable in judging perceived actions of “the others”.

Isn’t it really more reasonable, and merciful, to assume a level of misery on the part of the “others” that may be even greater than my own in my observations and feeling of desperate helplessness, Oh Lord, the problems are so BIG and my ability is so small.

I used to have a default position with respect to the goings on around me to the effect that “one should never assume malice on the part of actors when simple stupidity and incompetence  will account for what is going on“. Another iteration of these sentiments is any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice“.

Better Get My fire Suit Ready ...

Better Get My Fire Suit Ready …

So my almost daily experience ofActive Stupid” on the part of many managers and directors in government service (outside my 8 years in the military but including my 15 years in “Social Services”, “Justice”, and “Health Care”) informed my acid view of all bureaucracies everywhere and my uncharitable opinions about the incumbents of these civilian food chains.

Even these “charitable” defaults of giving the actors “the benefit of the doubt” about motives fail the sniff test for Charity and Mercy. Every event may be a “fact” but reality on the ground indicates that if God judges me the same way I have been judging others for years, then I am truly screwed and I better get my fire suit ready.

Isn’t it truly more reasonable to assume a level of misery which blinds the “others” to everything except their very own ocean-like puddle of misery. Charity, charity, charity, compassion, compassion, compassion, mercy, mercy, mercy. What am I blinded to, and by what?

So, once again, regard the position of modern man, Progressive man, secular man, and consider the spiritual life of that subject man. In looking at myself as an example of the subject man, I am like a child, walking a dark path without help or guidance, and finding myself at a fork in the road, I find I cannot proceed alone.

While I have a few clues about which road leads to home I fail at every turn to act upon those clues. Two roads lie before me, one leading to the kingdom of the spirit, the kingdom of God, and the other to the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of the flesh, of Mammon.

On the one hand, we have the calm peaceful kingdom of the spirit. I think we all inherently wish to choose the kingdom of God, but unfortunately the Kingdom of Mammon also has it’s attractions, and these attractions try to seduce us to their path. We struggle against these attractions and allurements.

How is one to deal with the kingdom of the flesh and all its passions and attractions and appetites? A couple of things come up, the first being listening to God’s voice … Huh? what does that mean … I never “hear” God’s voice.

The world I live in is so noisy with all the various temptations of the secular yelling their mating calls at the tops of their various voices. I am distracted and deafened by the voices of creatures and filled up with the noises of the world and the answering noises of my own appetites.

The voice of the Holy Spirit is the “whistling of a gentle air” (I Kings 19, 12). To hear this voice we must be silent, silent exteriorly and silent interiorly, only in silence can the the voice of God be heard. Second, I am attached to my own judgement and the limited councils of my own wonderful mind. Even a little attachment  to my own ideas is sufficient to deafen me to the voice of the Father.

Attachment to my own opinions seems to be never good, even when the opinions are about good things. These attachments to my own opinions and views seem to be rooted in my self love, and as I have remarked before, if I am full of myself there is no room for God, and I think I am unlikely to hear his gentle voice if I have shut him out of a soul which is full of myself.

Like a sailing vessel which cannot be moved by the wind as long as it is moored, so my soul cannot enjoy the precious influence of the voice of God if it is “moored” to it’s own opinions. Trying to practice awareness of the presence of God, and trying to stay recollected minute by minute, hour by hour, so easy to say, so hard to do, overcoming the noisy habits of a lifetime. Listening to the “whistling of a gentle air“.

Speak then, O Lord, for Thy servant heareth; Thou hast the words of eternal life. Speak to me, that it may be for me some comfort to my soul, and for the amendment of my whole life, and also to Thy praise and glory, and everlasting honor” (Saint John of The Cross Imit III 2, 1-3)

Anyway, more thinking … more praying … listening

Cheers

Joe

Shikamaru’s expression “What a drag.” was “めんどくさい (mendokusai)” in the original Japanese Naruto manga and anime, which translates as – “troublesome” or “bothersome”.

This is a very common phrase to use when you don’t want to do something. I find behaving myself with charity and mercy and listening to the voice of God to be troublesome and bothersome. Not easy to put into practice.

Standard
Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Two Kingdoms … A Tale Of …

“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)

Hong Yi

Hong Yi (23 October 1880 – 13 October 1942; Chinese: 弘一; pinyin: Hóngyī), born Li Shutong (李叔同) was a Chinese Buddhist monk, artist and art teacher.

My last thought, in my last post was “Sitting under a tree, weeping, thinking … praying …” accompanying the above image by Hong Yi. I think the image is intended as “the Buddha sitting under the tree rather than as a self portrait – the source site is unclear.

My prayer would be something like “O Lord, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful.”

A GOES-13 satellite image captured at 17:45 UTC on January 2, 2014,

A GOES-13 satellite image captured at 17:45 UTC on January 2, 2014, depicting an ongoing blizzard across portions of the Ohio River Valley and the Northeast United States as cold air from Canada moves across warm air from the Gulf of Mexico

I purged over 4 thousand emails yesterday from assorted accounts. Found an item from my pre-blog era when I was busy annoying email contacts with long rambling emails about what was wrong with the world IMAO. Can’t hear myself think over the barking of my EGO.

So out of my personal Way-Back machine from the dark winter of 2014, back before I started my ranting in this blog … this monster rises from the slab of my Atelier …

A writer of great talent and no small amount of clarity regarding our daily grind and happily, at last call, still amongst the living, at least we are happy he is still around even though his mileage may vary, finding as he does that the Hoi Polloi for the most part do not share his sensibilities with respect to eternity. It sometimes seems to us that the Progressive idea of eternity is how long it seems between coffee breaks. But that for another day.

Anyway, he once remarked on ways to lose readers … mention church (and hell) … mention the poor … criticize a (any) Liberal Bureaucracy. And in a “Me Too!” sort of way I leapt on board his wagon.

The Church Militant ...

The Church Militant …

On the topic of Church:

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, in his Erasmus Lecture for 2014:
If we ignore the poor, we will go to Hell. If we blind ourselves to their suffering, we will go to Hell. If we do nothing to ease their burdens; then we will go to Hell. Ignoring the needs of the poor among us is the surest way to dig a chasm of heartlessness between ourselves and God, and ourselves and our neighbours.”

Or the poor:

This is so true that, it would seem, the opposite is also true. This is Christ’s dismissive reply to some liberal posturing from Judas, when He said, “the poor you will always have with you, but me you will not always have.”  suggesting that if we ignore God, we will go to Hell.”

Or criticize a (any) Liberal Bureaucracy:

Ambassadors

Ambassadors of … a Big Red Shiny …

“Our progressive society has programmized fraternal charity in a desperate ongoing attempt to sanitize and manage reality out of existence and has created the perfect system to facilitate ignoring our neighbours.

Enter the The Nanny State, queue marching bands … Big Red Shiny Maple Leaves Forever … long may they wave from Sea to Shining Sea … over the home of the brave and the land of the free lunch, in which daily we willingly participate, and which State provides us with a wonderful opportunity to ignore the poor, in our spare time while we are ignoring God full time.

The Pool of Worship ...

The Pool of Worship …

After all, there’s not much time or room left for God when every waking moment of consciousness is totally focused on self worship. Said State even gives cover and plausibility deniability for the murder of any fellow inconvenient souls in the name of dignity and health care, at least until our turn comes … It allows every enfranchised taxpaying citizen to declare glibly, “I gave at the office.”

Meanwhile, the bureaucracy itself ignores the poor, reducing them to an economic transaction, within an administrative routine, whose heartlessness must be experienced, to be believed.

So what’s the point here?  Who’s the target here? What are the goals which lead to the perpetuation of these heartless situations? What are the Brass Rings of goal, desires, and rewards of this life, this road, this set of choices for a secular self centered society?

REALITY CHECK FOR PROGRESSIVES: Not too many years ago I spent 18 months pushing the bureaucratic system strings to get a 50-something year old handicapped man enrolled into a program to assist the handicapped for which he had been manifestly qualified as a candidate for almost 50 years.

running Rachel ...

running Rachel …

Nobody cared enough to ever do anything about him. Because nobody cared, nobody helped, everybody thought somebody was looking after the poor handicapped nobody.

Then I got involved!  WTF! Why has nobody ever done anything for this somebody? And even with myself, a motivated, talented highly vocal, champion working hard on his case, phoning and following up and visiting face to face, and – well you get my drift –  it took a whole bloody year and a half to get get him enrolled in the program.

The government agency and program which existed solely to help people like this man was mired in requirements and vacant positions and proofs and every conceivable bureaucratic obstacle to prevent people from qualifying instead of helping them to qualify.

Truly, Truly, Heartless. The real goal of the managers and directors charged with overseeing these programs is to PREVENT candidates from qualifying because then you can preserve your budget for doing the things the management bureaucrats think are important. Actually Helping Candidates?  Where’s the fun in that?

I’ve was told many times, over the years, by those infinitely my superiors, while working in Social “Services”, “Justice”, and “Health Care”, that the situation merely has to be properly “managed”. Heartless, the putative target of my self-righteous anger and judgement is the uncaring self centered bureaucrat and his/her self centered goals and objectives. But didn’t someone famous recently say “Who am I to judge”?

“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000)

Lots of going to hell and pissing in other people’s soup in the above topics, BUT, IMAO, the ultimate fart in the elevator show stopper is to mention Man’s (or even worse – Woman’s) frailty, especially in a spiritual context:

Frailty  from an old site called “Liturgy that Works” even thought some of the links therein seem to no longer work as they originally might have.

Let us pray (in silence) [that we and the whole church may be kept by God’s love]

pause

“God of grace and goodness,
you know that by reason of our frailty we cannot but fail;
keep us always under your protection
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.”

New Zealand Prayer Book p. 571b

Glenstal Abbey House

Glenstal Abbey House

The old monk was asked, “So what do the monks do here in this monastery?” To this he replied, “We fall, we get up. We fall, we get up. We fall, we get up.” It is a story just as applicable to ordinary Christian life. Another version has it ending with variations of “…one day we fall and we get up in heaven.”

For you Latin Scholars, this Gelasian Collect for Trinity 15 in the Sarum Missal (11th century) read, “Custodi, Domine, quaesumus, ecclesiam tuam propitiatione perpetua: et quia sine te labitur humana mortalitas, tuis semper auxiliis et abstrahatur a noxis et ad salutaria dirigatur.”

Cranmer translated this for 1549 (Epiphany 5) as:
KEPE we beseche thee, O Lorde, thy Churche with thy perpetuall mercye: and because the frailtie of man without thee, cannot but fall: Kepe us ever by thy helpe, and leade us to al thynges profitable to our salvacion; through Jesus Christe our Lorde. Amen.

An Irish Abbey ...

An Irish Abbey …

The 1662 revisers restored “for all things hurtful” (lost again in the collect at the top):
KEEP, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

International readers of this page may echo my surprise: I cannot find this collect revised in any Anglican prayer books except New Zealand’s! Do let me know if your province’s revised prayer book has it. Just when the church needs all the prayer it can get – as well as acknowledgment of our frailty!

Roman Catholics have this collect tucked away for Tuesday in the second week of Lent, where ICEL has it translated as:
Lord watch over your Church and guide it with Your unfailing love. Protect us from what could harm us and lead us to what will save us. Help us always, for without You we are bound to fail. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

The great roaring hairy legged EGO

The great roaring hairy EGO devouring all …

Our frailty, never more immediately obvious than in my own comments here, designed to provoke those who may not share my own views of reality and eternity. How does what I have said above conform to what I wrote on September 23rd, Saturday last.

Everything mentioned may be provably true but the focus is on the frailty of the undefined persons embracing the problems by ignoring them or just walking away, “Sniff …” obviously crass lower castes, every mother’s son of them. The great roaring hairy legged EGO strikes again.

So behold the position of man, with respect to the spiritual life, like  a young childe who, finding himself at a fork in the road, cannot proceed alone and knows not which road leads to his home. Two roads lie before him, one leading to the kingdom of the spirit, the kingdom of God, and the other to the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of the flesh, of Mammon.

Which to choose, the calm peaceful kingdom of the spirit? I think we all inherently wish to choose the kingdom of God, but unfortunately the Kingdom of Mammon also has it’s attractions, and these attractions try to seduce us to their path. We struggle against these attractions and allurements, “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another, so that you do not the things that you would.” (Gal 5, 16-24)

Oliver Ridge, 2016

Oliver Ridge, 2016

So just where WAS I going with this?  Oh yeah!  Two Kingdoms, two paths, two realities, two universes, one centered on self and spiritual stagnation and the other centered on God and spiritual growth, and the choosing, Ah yes, the choosing … seems obvious when regarded at leisure, in calm thought, seems obvious, the path of Peace is rooted in humility, the path of Mammon is rooted in pride.

Pride in seeking the first place, at table, at meetings, the first place spiritually, the esteem of others, the regard of others, our self love always tries to make us take a higher place than that which is due us.

There is great harm and great evil in wishing to elevate ourselves above what we are and in preferring ourselves. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.

Last Days Of Summer, 2016

Last Days Of Summer, 2016

If we have trouble translating these ideas into real life then perhaps a tangible media example of this idea works for us, as portrayed in the film “Last Days Of Summer” which won a gaggle of prizes and critical recognition in late 2016. This Festival Circuit darling, produced by British born OLIVER RIDGE, appeared at the Whistler Film Festival.

Having taken the grand prize for best feature at the Rhode Island Film Festival, the acclaimed drama starring WILLIAM FICHTNER competed at the prestigious Canadian event.

And our point is: “The film tells the story of a suburban husband whose quiet life is turned upside down when he becomes obsessed with the beautiful young woman who moves in next door”. Obsessed with the things of this world, earthly affections, sensual pleasures, all the golden rings of our material society.

The Beatitudes”, from the album “Biscantorat – The Sound Of The Spirit From Glenstal Abbey” – The Monks of Glenstal Abbey – (2009)

In the face of all that life has to offer, honors, satisfaction, affection of creatures, comforts and riches, the path of peace offers humility, to desire nothing more than what one has, even to give up what one has, not to be eager for riches and pleasures, consolations and fame, or any earthly affections and sensual pleasures. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.

Son rise …

The things of this world, the golden rings of our material society, do not occupy our soul nor cause it harm. The things of this world are neutral with regards to man.

But out of the will and desires of man spring all the evils and joylessness which plague our lives. When we remain attached to our own will and ideas, or remain too fond of our independence, we are “rich in ourselves”, in our self love and pride.

It seems to me that if we seek the affections and approval of creatures and the joys and satisfactions which they can give us, we find only increasing hunger for more.

We find unhappiness with what we actually get, and instead of satiation we get misery with what we find. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.

DP130155, 2/7/06, 11:18 AM, 16C, 6856x8852 (180+693), 100%, Rona Copywork, 1/30 s, R93.8, G57.6, B56.4<br /> Working Title/Artist: The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji)Department: Asian ArtCulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: 10Working Date: 1831-33<br /> photography by mma, Digital File DP130155.tif<br /> retouched by film and media (jnc) 8_17_11

Choose Wisely, lest we be overwhelmed … (The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji))

We choose … so choose wisely … so far I am trying to choose NOT to be critical of the choices of others, at least not vocally.

I am choosing NOT to preach about how I think things should be done (and why).

I am choosing not to express my annoyance when things are not going my way.

I am choosing, so far with mixed results, but lots of opportunities to try again keep showing up so I will keep on trying.

And praying … “O Lord, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful.”

Cheers

Joe

This Purgatorial struggle to choose the right path, to choose to put away self and make room in my soul …

Standard
Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Humility … revisited.

Hamachidori“, by Ryutaro Hirota, played by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra & Kazumasa Watanabe, from the album “Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

“Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

“Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

Been writing about all the NO JOY places in my life, my personal raised bed garden of negativity and resentment. So, where to go from here?  Presumably to a better place, I hope, a place more accepting of my own failings and the differences of opinion and point of view encountered every day. A place where the resolutions I have made about change and dealing with my failings actually get realized in my daily life and not just muttered about when I am talking to myself, by myself.

How about trying to spend more time contemplating my own faults and less time opinionating (is that even a word?) about the faults of others. So what to do about the EGO thing, namely MY ego. No fragile shy retiring flower is THAT ego, just one forged titanium armor plated battle bot, which believes that the best defense is a good offense.

I love my opinions, and I enjoy having them, and I enjoy writing about them in this blog. After all, that’s why I started writing so many posts ago, to get this stuff off my chest and this is all about me, right?  Isn’t it?  You mean it’s not all about me?  (8-(

My opinions are big brain opinions, and require serious judgement, and thinking about what the judgements point to. And where’s the fun in opinions that are flawed and imperfect, no, I’m aiming for “practically perfect in every way”, I want Poppins Opinions! 

Oh, anyone at all can have lots of opinions, even without any thought at all, but where’s the fun in that? I hear all about that in the media every day whenever I bother to turn on the news. Anyone can do that, anytime at all. No, what I want are opinions with real weight and credibility, and these sorts of opinions require some amount of critical thought in order to at least determine if they pass the sniff test, and that is what I’m trying to achieve, right?

If I hope to achieve “respected” opinions, I have to give some consideration of the likelihood of this opinion balloon getting a lift, if this particular batch of hot air has more lift than the surrounding hot air.

No point in judging and articulating exactly what is irritating and frustrating in others, in what they say, in what they do, in making wild ass guesses about motives and intentions if I can’t prove logically and in detail why I’m right about them being ass-hats.

Hairy Roaring EGO!

Hairy Roaring EGO!

Great big hairy legged EGO roaring it’s superiority for the whole world to applaud. This is the driving desire underlying the whole opinion thing, and there is truly “No happiness here for Joe” … DAMN!

Seriously, I just have to chuck all these NO JOY modes of thinking, gotta chuck all these judgemental habits, the resentment of opinions and actions which differ from mine … No Joy HERE! My life depends on this.

Examining my conscience, thinking and listening, and trying to find what is wrong with me and not confirming it by expounding at length on what is wrong with others.

Thinking about anger and humility, thinking about meekness, cultivating detachment from the perceived “rightness” of my own opinion and the turmoil generated by defending that “rightness”. If I was not so attached to my superior position and the need for validation I would feel less anger and resentment (maybe none at all?) when not accorded the adulation I feel I deserve.

Meekness, Humility, aye, there’s the rub … sincerity … being completely honest with oneself about oneself …

So, being completely honest with oneself seems to be rather painful, admitting to myself that in fact I am not “practically perfect in every way” hurts. What to do about this?

Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965

Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965

I am thinking that I have to keep on doing this until it doesn’t hurt anymore. Or, at least keep on doing this until I can simply accept what is and accept the hurt … to paraphrase Frank Herbert’s Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear:

I must not fear the hurt.

Fear of the hurt is the mind-killer.
Fear of the hurt is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear of the hurt.
I will permit my fear of the hurt 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 of the hurt has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

Reference the novel “DUNE” 1965  which I thought was a great book back in the early 70’s, along with Atlas Shrugged,  “The Virtue of Selfishness“, by Ayn Rand,   Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig  and  An Introduction to Zen Budhism by D.T. Suzuki.

Kumo ga Ngareru  Gogo”, Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

Ah, those were the days … back when I was all knowing and immortal and certain that Man was the pinnacle of all things. Back then I hadn’t yet discovered that “man as the pinnacle” had all kinds of unhappiness attached to it.

But, back to “Only I will remain” … here I come upon a whole new world of effort, because if only “I” remain then where is the room for God? All these problems of judgement and arrogance and resentment and pride start with the foundational problem of “Only I Remain”. God cannot come to us if we are full of ourselves, if I am full of myself God has nowhere to sit in my soul. God is polite and loving and will not force Himself onto a “self” centered soul.

I can’t be God centered if I am self centered. And developing a “self” that is not “self-centered” involves chucking out all the “No Joy” opinions and behaviors of the past. Even the idea of a “Self” which is not “Self-centered” is kind of an oxymoron, right? It’s sort of like that stupid old joke favored by the Lefties about “Military Intelligence”.

Steering a course away from the shoals of “Self-centered” means adapting myself to the mentalities, preferences and needs of others and doing the right thing with good will. Yeah …  doing the right thing with good will … a whole world of struggle and discipline in that little task.

If I give myself a free pass to say whatever comes to mind because “the other” whoever, is wrong, rude, ungrateful, malicious, stupid, they don’t understand, they never learn … then I have already run aground on the reef of my ego.

The excuses I use to heal my self image and justify my bad behaviour are endless. And they are all completely useless in the quest to steer away from being self-centered. The fact is that if I am full of myself God has no room to come into my soul. The fact is that in everything … in essence and in act … in natural and supernatural … I depend on Him and I can do nothing without Him.

I continue to exist, even in my self-centeredness, because He wills that I exist. Divine Charity …

More thinking about humility and meekness … and charity … more thinking …

So far what this is all about is the Wimbledon of Pride, the endless back and forth of pride and the offshoot of pride, anger, and the endless search for approval so necessary to self. So lets see what Father Gabriel has to say about humility.

Charity is the essence of Christian perfection, for charity alone has the power to unite man to God, to his last end. But for us poor, miserable creatures, whom God wishes to raise to union with Himself, is charity the ultimate basis of spiritual life? No. There is something deeper still which is, so to speak, the basis of charity, and that is humility.

Humility is to charity what the foundation is to a building. Digging the foundation is not building the house, yet it is the preliminary, indispensable work, the condition sine qua non. The deeper, and firmer it is, the better the house will be and the greater assurance of stability it will have. Only the fool “built his house upon sand,” with the inevitable consequence of seeing it crumble away very soon. The wise man, on the contrary, “built … upon rock”; storms and winds might threaten, but his house was unshakable because its foundation was solid.

Humility is the firm bedrock upon which every Christian should build the edifice of his spiritual life. “If you wish to lay good foundations,” says St. Teresa of Jesus to her daughters, “each of you must try to be the least of all” That is, you must practice humility. “If you do that … your foundation will be so firmly laid that your Castle will not fall”.  Humility forms the foundation of charity by emptying the soul of pride, arrogance, disordered love of self and one’s own excellence by replacing them with the love of God and our neighbor.

The more humility empties the soul of the vain, proud pretenses of self, the more room there will be for God. “When at last [the spiritual man] comes to be reduced to nothing, which will be the greatest extreme of humility, spiritual union will be wrought between the soul and God.”  (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.  from the book “Divine Intimacy” meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 301 – 302)

Cheers

Joe

Sitting under a tree, weeping, thinking … praying …

Standard
Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Can We Find True Happiness … or is happiness JUST a problem?

“Hotaru” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

Rise Up, by Lesley Oldaker

“Rise Up”, by Lesley Oldaker

I have been writing lately about aspects of life which I have come to believe are probably both obstacles and paths to happiness.

In this case, the obstacles are our failures to perceive and act, on and in reality, and our inclination to indulge in self-harming behavior and magical thinking. These are our failures to be “sincere” about ourselves to ourselves.

The obstacles are those behaviors or thoughts which impede our efforts to “see the truth” about ourselves and so prevent us from ever fixing the nasty or even evil aspects of our lives and our behaviors. We have to “Rise Up” from the dark mob and struggle with our demons and overcome them.

Stephen Covey, 2010

Stephen Covey, 2010

The paths are those parts of life where we “get it right” … those parts are, in the words of Stephen Covey,  where we tailor our circle of concern to match our circle of influence, and then we put all our energy and effort into realizing those dreams and desires which fit into our circle of influence.

The paths are the behaviors and thoughts and processes by which we slowly amend the obstacles and discard them from our lives. The paths are painful, and winding and torturous and take perseverance and fortitude to keep walking.

Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo

Another author, Marie Kondo,  a young woman who specializes in de-cluttering our lives, in fact owns and operates a company delivering service, instruction and advice on de-cluttering and the healing power of tidying up. Her razor for deciding what has to go is “Does It Spark Joy?”

There is a lot of writing around about how happiness and the expectations of same are the foundational groundwork for the pursuit of the “good” life, the pursuit of “Livin’ the Dream” the prime motivator for the successful life.

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” seem to pretty much define most of Western Culture and Western Society these days. On closer observation one might profit greatly from using Marie’s razor for shaving the legs of our ego’s and desires.

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

Answering “Does It Spark Joy?” with honesty and sincerity about everything we think and do is a huge service in attempting to follow Mark Manson‘s advice about not “Giving a F—” about far too many things we should not really be “Giving a F—“ about .

For example, does this mental image spark joy? “An alternate societal path to a sort of quasi-success seems to be that if we are not engaged in the actual pursuit of these goals ourselves (for whatever reason suits us at this moment) then we adopt a kind of semi-permanent career victim-hood through which we blame others for our failures in our personal “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Not very charitable …

If in fact this thought sparks something less than joy, if it’s just an old habit of thought, unconsidered and reflexive, if it’s useless, harmful, why OH why not just throw it  in the dumpster of useless emotions which don’t help me live in peace and happiness?

Al Pacino, "Devil's Advocate", 1997

Al Pacino, “Devil’s Advocate”, 1997

Does this thought spark JOY: “And in that place of failure we attempt to virtue signal and guilt trip others who are perceived to be more happy or more successful into providing for our happiness or at least compensating for our shortcomings by sharing our unhappiness.” No Joy?

Again, why not just throw it in that dumpster of useless emotions? Why indulge in joyless thoughts and the behaviors and bitterness resulting from thinking them?

How about this follow on from the above thoughts?  Does this thought spark JOY: “And if that doesn’t work, then we engage the government in providing for our happiness, in validating our victim-hood and ensuring that our fair rights and expectations are met by other actors however willing they may be. We call that whole industry “Social Programs”. No Joy?

Again,  yet again, why not just throw it in my dumpster of useless emotions?

November 2016

November 2016

Why do I indulge in joyless thoughts and the behaviors and bitterness resulting from thinking them? How about this thought: “At the lowest level we don’t believe we can be happy on our own steam so we just vote Socialist because it appeals to the “victimy” self-pitying part of us and we feel that a bigger gang will get us better results, and the successful folks don’t deserve what they have anyway. Definitely No Joy here …

NO JOY used to refer to some task or trial or exercise engaged in by some squad or group which exercise was ending in failure and frustration, as in: “DID YOU FIND THE FUEL LEAK YET? Negative Chief, No Joy”. Of course when the result is “NO JOY”, then we are expected to try harder to fix what is stopping the joy, right?

Or finally, this thought: “In Canada we call these gang lovin’ folks NDP’rs and Liberals, and in the U.S. we call these same folks Democrats. and that pretty much sums it all up except for the small detail that our Canadian Conservatives are actually more Socialist than any American Democrat on his wildest “share-the-wealth” day“. NO JOY!

No happiness here for Joe … gotta chuck all these NO JOY modes of thinking, these judgemental habits, the resentment of opinions and actions which differ from mine … No Joy.

But is unhappiness the only natural outcome, and is the only answer to simply accept that and get on with our lives, coping as best we can with chronic unhappiness and telling everyone to “suck it up princess”?

Look into the mirror and “turn your eyes back upon yourself, and see that you do not judge the doings and sayings of others. In judging others you expend effort for nothing, often are mistaken, and easily offend. But in judging and looking into yourself you work with good results.

We often judge things, actions and speech according to our own biases and beliefs, our heart’s preferences and desires. In this we very easily loose site of true vision and judgement due to private affections and personal preferences.” Thomas à Kempis

Does it spark joy?

Cheers

Joe

Does It Spark Joy? Suck it up Princess? On the other hand “in judging and looking into yourself you work with good results.

 

Standard
Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Meekness, Sincerity and Happiness … What’s the Connection?

” ゆりかごの歌”, William W. Spearman IV and Tomoko Okada, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs”, (2006)

What’s the connection between sincerity and happiness, or meekness and happiness?

About twenty-five hundred years ago, in the Himalayan foothills of present-day Nepal, there lived in a great palace a king who was going to have a son. For this son the king had a particularly grand idea: he would make the child’s life perfect. The child would never know a moment of suffering—every need, every desire, would be accounted for at all times.” Mark Manson.

About thirty years ago I would have described my first wife and I (which wife, BTW, I am still happily married to after 40 years) as WTDINKS (World Traveling Double Income No Kids). This supposedly was the apex of existence in the circles in which we circulated. We were “Livin’ the dream”.

Air Nepal Boeing 737

Air Nepal Boeing 737

We flew in from Hong Kong and spent some weeks in Nepal in the late 80’s before flying on to spend several weeks in Thailand. We landed in Kathmandu (काठमाडौं/काठमाण्डौ (Nepali) in the middle of the night, flying in an Air Nepal Boeing 737.

I remember the approach was … frightening … not rough. Everything appeared to be working right, cabin lights dimmed, power down, some flaps dialed in, wheels down and locked with a bit of rumble and turbulence now, cabin air smelled different, but descending peacefully.

The sudden sharp bank followed by full flap deployment and the powerfully increased whine of the turbines increasing thrust …HEY! What the heck are we doing on finale in utter complete darkness, not a light in view anywhere, … we are coming down in the Himalaya Mountain range (हिमालय, “Abode of Snow”).

These suckers are like …  23,000 feet high, impossible to miss ya know! Maybe too much knowledge and a vivid imagination are not helpful during these sort of experiences … maybe …

Langtang Range, Nepal

We are supposed to be flying into a large city of over a million people and not a single damned light anywhere!!! Is this the feeling you get just before you smack into a mountain side at 150 knots??? One line below the fold “Nepal Air Boeing crashes in Himalaya, no survivors”!

Airport and Himalaya, Nepal

Then suddenly, in seconds, runway lights, touchdown on tarmac, reverse thrust full power, brakes, and a short taxi to a dimly lit terminal building.

RELIEF! Things one remembers being grateful for even before finding God. I didn’t notice Him, but he was there all the time. Thank You God for looking after me even when I was ignoring You.

“早春賦”, William W. Spearman IV and Tomoko Okada, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs”, (2006)

So what about the Prince … well Dad was the King and very rich and could do whatever he wanted so he pretty much completely spoiled the Prince, lavishing him with food and gifts, surrounding him with servants who catered to his every whim. And just as planned, the child grew up ignorant of the routine cruelties of normal human existence.

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

All of the prince’s childhood went on like this. But despite the endless luxury and opulence, the prince became kind of a pissed-off young man. Soon, every experience felt empty and valueless.”

So, being a young man, and being rebellious, not meek, not humble, are any young men meek or humble? – I don’t remember that part, hmmm … ,

“… late one night, the prince snuck out of the palace to see what was beyond its walls. He had a servant drive him through the local village, and what he saw horrified him.

For the first time in his life, the Prince saw human suffering. He saw sick people, old people, homeless people, people in pain, even people dying. The Prince returned to the palace and found himself in a sort of existential crisis. Not knowing how to process what he’d seen, he got all emo about everything and complained a lot. And, as is so typical of young men, the Prince ended up blaming his father for the very things his father had tried to do for him.

It was the riches, the prince thought, that had made him so miserable, that had made life seem so meaningless. He decided to run away. But the prince was more like his father than he knew. He had grand ideas too. He wouldn’t just run away; he would give up his royalty, his family, and all of his possessions and live in the streets, sleeping in dirt like an animal. There he would starve himself, torture himself, and beg for scraps of food from strangers for the rest of his life.” Manson, Mark.

Lockheed Electra l-188A

Lockheed Electra l-188A

The Prince wanted to suffer, and He would suffer … a lot … and there is a point to this. Really, there is a point.

We “deplaned” – I remember one time a taciturn pilot coming on the cabin speaker, after a particularly violent landing somewhere in the Canadian Arctic, traveling in an old Lockheed Electra L-188A 4 engine turboprop and announcing “Survivors may deplane”. Nothing else, no welcome, no weather, no cheery cheery cheery …

Kathmandu Tuk-Tuk

Kathmandu Tuk-Tuk

Anyway, we deplaned, and paid a little brown man in some sort of uniform $10 U.S. to stamp our passport, skipping the loooooong lineup of people with visas and walked out into the cool Nepalese night.

Traveling in Asia with no visas, no itinerary, no schedule and no reservations is an adventure in living not talked about in any guidebooks. Flagged a Tuk-Tuk and rode to the Kathmandu Guesthouse in 5 horsepower luxury. Modern tourist sites describe this old old old hotel in the heart of the Thamel neighbourhood thusly:

*****

Kathmandu, Nepal

Travelers know that the frenetic pace of a crowded city like Kathmandu needs an escape. The Kathmandu Guest House, a converted Rana dynasty mansion with fragrant gardens and airy corridors, has provided the peaceful refuge of choice since 1967.

Since the days of being the first and only hotel in Thamel, the packed tourist district of Kathmandu, it’s become something of an institution. It’s close to everywhere and its gate is the meeting point that nobody can mistake. As a guidebook put it, “Kathmandu Guest House acts as a magnet for mountaineers, pop stars, actors and eccentric characters.” Even the Beatles stayed here in 1968.

Kathmandu Guest House prides itself on being affordable to all budgets, from those looking to treat themselves to total comfort in elegantly modern suites, to volunteers and scholars who take the famous no-frills rooms.

Whether you’re returning from the mountains or arriving from the airport, come and relax at the courtyard restaurant, order a cup of fine Italian coffee or a chilled Gorkha Beer, and escape for a moment in the historic surroundings of Kathmandu’s most loved guesthouse.”

*****

Looking at today’s online images of the Kathmandu Guesthouse low end rooms, basically 10 by 12 with bath but no AC, I am immediately impressed by the apparent luxury of the finish and appointments, must have been some incredible renovations since the late 80’s.

All I remember is damp bare cement and tile and surgical tubing for plumbing, and surface mount handyman special electrical wiring, and an old “Geezer” water heater in the loo which exploded one night while we were sleeping there … things are certainly looking up in Nepal, at least in the tourist adverts.

By Leofleck at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3686630

Elephant back safari, Chitwan, by Leo Fleck at English Wikipedia

And so the next day we began to circulate in Kathmandu and over the next few weeks we explored further into the valley and the south of Nepal and everywhere we went what struck me was the extreme poverty of most of the inhabitants of the mountain kingdom, and the joyousness of the population in general.

Basking Mugger Croc, Chitwan, Chris Hartford from London, UK

Basking Mugger Croc, Chitwan, Chris Hartford from London, UK

Poverty and suffering everywhere, and Sincere Joy everywhere … openness, honesty, friendliness, trust, in a city of over a million souls, without streetlights, or all the fancy modern amenities which we all take for granted here, I found a centre of unexpected Joy and Peace and peacefulness. And what set this place apart was the people who showed sincerity, meekness, and happiness.

I found a place in this primitive Asian capital in 1989, where I felt safer, in the midst of poverty and suffering, at any hour of the day or night, in darkness or in sunlight, than I had felt anywhere else I had traveled up to then. I think at the root of it all, looking back with an understanding I didn’t have then, that what made this place special in the whole world of my experience was “SincerityandMeekness” and “Happiness“.

Sincerity and meekness, and acceptance of people and existence as it really was, generated a sense of profound Joy and Peace – in a word, “Happiness”. I think my Kathmandu experience was the first ray of light shining on my realization that happiness was not something one pursued and found but rather was a result of approaching life with meekness and sincerity.

Shakuhachi Flute Music”, from the album “Chinese & Japanese Koto Harp & Shakuhachi Flute Music”, {2008)

I couldn’t have explained this feeling, this understanding, at that time because I lacked the spiritual and cultural tools to understand. Mark Manson touched upon this insight when he wrote:

Travel is a fantastic self-development tool, because it extricates you from the values of your culture and shows you that another society can live with entirely different values and still function and not hate themselves. This exposure to different cultural values and metrics then forces you to reexamine what seems obvious in your own life and to consider that perhaps it’s not necessarily the best way to live.” Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 166-170). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

So what about that Prince from Mark’s story? Well … “The next night, the prince snuck out of the palace again, this time never to return. For years he lived as a bum, a discarded and forgotten remnant of society, the dog shit caked to the bottom of the social totem pole. And as planned, the prince suffered greatly.

He suffered through disease, hunger, pain, loneliness, and decay. He confronted the brink of death itself, often limited to eating a single nut each day. A few years went by. Then a few more. And then . . . nothing happened.

The prince began to notice that this life of suffering wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. It wasn’t bringing him the insight he had desired. It wasn’t revealing any deeper mystery of the world or its ultimate purpose.

In fact, the prince came to know what the rest of us have always kind of known: that suffering totally sucks. And it’s not necessarily that meaningful either. As with being rich, there is no value in suffering when it’s done without purpose.

And the prince came to the conclusion that his grand idea, like his father’s, was in fact a fucking terrible idea and he should probably go do something else instead. Totally confused, the prince cleaned himself up and went and found a big tree near a river.

He decided that he would sit under that tree and not get up until he came up with another grand idea. As the legend goes, the confused prince sat under that tree for forty-nine days.

We won’t delve into the biological viability of sitting in the same spot for forty-nine days, but let’s just say that in that time the prince came to a number of profound realizations.

One of those realizations was this: that life itself is a form of suffering. The rich suffer because of their riches. The poor suffer because of their poverty. People without a family suffer because they have no family. People with a family suffer because of their family. People who pursue worldly pleasures suffer because of their worldly pleasures. People who abstain from worldly pleasures suffer because of their abstention.

This isn’t to say that all suffering is equal. Some suffering is certainly more painful than other suffering. But we all must suffer nonetheless.”

Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 25-26). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

So, as I have remarked in other places, this thing called “Life” is a fatal STD. Or as an old CPO once remarked to his men, “Shake out of it ladies! Life’s a suicide mission, none of us are coming back alive!” Yea, whatever, I can hear it now as clear as yesterday.

And the punchline of all this is that I now believe that Happiness is indeed a problem, as Mark says, but not because there is anything inherently wrong with happiness, rather because we confuse happiness with something which we can find, like $100 dollar bill that we stuck in our jacket pocket last spring and we are now finding it this fall. Whoohoo!

And happiness isn’t a “something”. Happiness is really a natural byproduct of living our life right, of practicing virtues like sincerity, and meekness, and fortitude and just getting on with the daily trials of normal life with patience and charity and, dare I say, compassion for all the others with whom we are sharing this little lifeboat of suffering in an uncaring perfectly impartial world.

More on Sincerity, and Happiness, and stages of understanding, maybe in my next post or maybe the one after that, gotta think some more.

Cheers

Joe

Kananaskis, right here in Alberta

 

Don’t have to go half way round the world to find world class mountains

Standard
Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Gratitude … for what?

“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)

So many gifts ...

So many gifts …

Even the poorest beggar, having nothing to give in return for the alms he has received, can always acknowledge a kindness by showing gratitude to his benefactor. … Yet this, a natural need of a humble soul, is a duty so often neglected even by good people, even by those who have received the most favors.” Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

So much freedom ...

So much freedom …

We have received a plenitude of natural gifts, talents, circumstances, opportunities, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from war, freedom from fear, freedom from gratuitous persecution.

Most of us have a reasonable expectation of good health, and a long life barring natural disaster or mischance. Or at least we did have these freedoms in the past before we and our fathers ceded away those freedoms in return for the empty promises of Napoleon the pig.

Freedom from fear ...

Freedom from fear …

In this culture we still have an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity in fact, that it is more a case of choosing which opportunity to pursue, rather than desperately seeking just ANY old opportunity, and as Mark Manson says:

there existed (in the Anglo West) an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually be that way. Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship became more advantageous forms of expression”... trust lost it’s value, honesty lost it’s value, sincerity lost it’s value, gratitude lost it’s value …

Even under the current regime in Edmonton, and with the current economic climate we still have the luxury of looking for “appropriate” work rather than any work, and we don’t trust or appreciate anyone whilst getting ours first …. Why is Calgary a squalor of failing business (28 thousand a year at last count), while Edmonton is a thriving metropolis of growth and burgeoning government payrolls? Is there more fear in Calgary than in Edmonton? What do you see when you look around? What are we grateful for?

Freedom from want ...

Freedom from want …

Yet, even here, in this global centre of resource riches, we have the poor. Jesus remarked “the poor will always be with you.” and so it is to this day. The programed poor, the working poor, the abject poor the handicapped poor, the psychologically poor, the spiritually poor, all are with us everywhere around us.

Often, in our busyness, our selfcenteredness, we don’t even notice those in need, those less well off, those who are losers in the lottery of life. When we look upon those all around us who have been gifted with less, even, in some cases, a lot less, then for all that we have been gifted we would think we should feel some need to express gratitude, shouldn’t we?

But we are also supposed to be, identified as,  citizens of a womb to tomb nanny state which has promised everyone that all our “needs” will be met if we just acquiesce and faithfully follow our leader’s instructions. Following Napoleon’s instructions blindly, blindly, blindly …

Freedom of Speech ...

Freedom of Speech …

Are all these things which we receive as gifts, the talents and circumstances mentioned above, are they received as gifts from the all powerful state? At some guaranteed minimum level we are promised free health care, free education, free housing, a guaranteed income sufficient to our basic needs, and so on.

So what about those talents and circumstances which provably don’t derive from our political and societal masters, which seem to spring from the human person in spite of the desires of our masters? Where do all those gifts come from? And if our masters truly are capable of meeting all our needs then  how can there be poor people?

Freedom of worship ...

Freedom of worship …

In a society where even the least of it’s citizens are promised everything they need by their government what is there to be grateful for?

Unless there is something greater than the state, there really isn’t any reason to be grateful since everything we have is our due, and deserved, right?

What is there to be grateful for then, unless we look at the state’s relation to our talents and abilities.

The government line notwithstanding we are manifestly not created equal and there are great disparities of ability and talent and motivation within the bell curve of our population.

Even the notional IQ of 100 being considered “normal” for the purposes of program eligibility implies a tacit acknowledgement on the part of the state that some people are “more equal” than others. so what is one to make of this provable and acknowledged inequality of talent and ability.

Is there some higher source of those personal talents which we are born with, something beyond merely accident of birth, the lottery of genetics, and so on?

More on “Gratitude” in a future post …

Cheers

Joe

So much to be grateful for … why do we throw it all away for a handful of glass beads and promises? Let the scouring begin.

 

Standard
Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Justice … part 2 … do we actually want Justice?

Hamabe No Uta” (Narita), Jean-Pierre Rampal, from the album “Rampal: Japanese Folk Melodies”, (1978)

We sometimes speak of the “old order” in a disparaging way, the old order of “Dead White Males” comes to mind, or “Victorian” is another variation on the same sentiment. What we are really talking about when we refer to the “old order” is the philosophical root and foundation of our Western Christian Civilization from which ALL our notions of right and wrong and morality derive.

Did the abandonment of the old order really set us free to realize the full potential of humanity, the Ubermensch, the Overman, Overhuman, Above-Human, Superman, Super-human, Ultra-human, Higher-Person, Higher-Being. The previous are just a few of the myriad variations of the new Narcissism of the 20th and 21st century. What can sincerity and justice mean in a society where I am all and where all truth is relative to and related to my desires and appetites, my self image, my ego?

The lipstick of “moral relativism” doesn’t turn the pig into a beautiful person … a pig, is a pig, is a pig, no matter how much makeup we slather onto it. Moral relativism is simply “license to behave anyway I want” dressed up in a tux and ready to party. License is related to licentiousness – graphically – hmmmm.

Generally, in our current culture, people end up believing nothing—or holding that nothing is certain, even in matters relating to Natural Law, which all people know through the use of their reason alone. Everything that happens now gets attributed to some sort of “Karma” with no responsibility, express or implied, on any side by any party. No respect, rights, obligations, duty, responsibility means … what exactly?

These days we even have the mythology of the Buddha allegedly saying: “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” This is a very bad translation of the Kalama Sutta — so bad, in fact, that it contradicts the actual message of the Sutta, which says that reason and common sense are not sufficient for ascertaining the truth.

Mohandas Gandhi

Cool quote!  From a cool guy! That’s what I read …  Is it true? Did Gandhi actually say this? How do I know?  Waddya Talkin About?  I saw it on Pinterest!  It MUST be true … Huh?

So this culture, this society of Secular Humanist Progressivism, this new normal of moral relativism, is a direct result and morbid offspring of private interpretation of “Truth”,  just one more of many “I will not serve!” moments in both angelic and human history.  And with totally predictable consequences … for if a person has a right to decide for himself what the Truth is, this says, in effect, that he is his own personal doctor of truth, (“Doctor of the Church”) whatever one’s theological and moral training, and of course we have Pontius Pilot’s question: “What is Truth?”.

We find ourselves replying that “Truth” is whatever we say it is … because we are the sole arbiter of truth, right?

If a person has a right to decide for himself what the Truth is, this says that every person has a personal right to choose whether he will believe or not believe certain teachings. Given this starting point the individual easily slides into the position that he has a right to believe anything, or even nothing at all. This might well have been the start, the wellspring of the slippery slope of “rights” without “responsibilities”.

On the one hand, our modern society MUST concede every person a civil right to reject religious or moral truth, as far as he individually is concerned, only because both religion and society must allow a person to exercise his free will and to choose for himself whether he will accept or reject God’s Revelation and/or Natural Law, and/or criminal law and provincial law and municipal law for that matter, because as we all acknowledge, every human being is endowed with free will from the very moment of conception.

Canadian Figurehead

On the other hand, he, (or “she” or even “it”) – mustn’t get too politically incorrect here lest we offend some entitled rainbow singularity –  the ONE who rejects the truth must unfortunately, unavoidably and  personally bear whatever evil consequences result from his, hers, or it’s own personal choice of the magical fantasy which is their personal reality. Thinking things like “Drinking and driving” won’t have bad outcomes for me ’cause I’m special, “doing drugs” won’t affect my job and my family because I’m special, “building my home on a flood plane” won’t have bad outcomes ’cause I’m special … and so on and so forth.

Worshiping at the pool …

For those accustomed to indulging in “Magical Thinking” it is sometime a shock to discover that actions and beliefs have consequences in the real world. We believe that it can’t possibly be our fault, that the outcome in question can’t be the result of our own bad choices, NO WAY EH! Hence the almost universal predilection for playing the blame game, we blame circumstances, or other people, or the economy or the politics of the day, FOR MAKING US “FEEL” BAD about the inevitable consequences of our own bad, ill-considered choices and actions.  All in order to permit perpetuation of our well loved, familiar, comfortable, personal fantasies which are crippling us and preventing the existence of Justice .

For some, this view may be difficult or offensive because they are unaccustomed to hearing other views which differ from the generally accepted mainstream view. The “I’m OK, Your OK” generation and their children and grand-children are especially sensitive to being reminded of past failures and disasters and having current failings remarked upon. They don’t want to hear anyone commenting on the likely outcomes obvious with even a cursory examination of the reality on the ground.

We have “become as gods” and will brook no objections or interruptions to our worship of the image in the pool. But …

C.S. Lewis Quote

In spite of that, or perhaps because of that, if there is to be any hope of long term survival, it is critically important at this point in history, to reflect on what has gone wrong. Can anyone seriously believe that we live in the best of all worlds, the promised land of the Enlightenment?

American Figurehead

Without Truth and Sincerity how can there be Justice? Who do we believe?  Do we turn to our figureheads for guidance? It always seems that our Great Canadian Societal Figureheads prattling on to the media and all the talking heads doing interviews with our Canadian versions of Rock Stars … always seem to be selling some version of “What is Truth?”

This dystopian emotional wasteland, this distilled “Canadianess”, produced by our daily confrontations with reality in our polite society is the meat of the “Cognitive Dissonance” part of “Cognitive Dissonance in a Progressive Tyranny”.

For want of sincerity and a concomitant want of justice we have adopted “politically correct” niceness as our defining national characteristic.

Canadian Figurehead …

As David Warren writes:Compliant, complaisant, acquiescent. Docile, submissive, ingratiating. Servile, tractable, obsequious. Ever deferential, glad to be of use. This is what my fellow Canadians have become, though we were not in the past, according to my elders (now mostly dead). When unreasonable demands were made upon them, their inclination was to stiffly resist. Ours is to be chumps, patsies, dupes, treacle saps. In our vanity we think that we are “nice” people, and celebrate our own gormlessness.” “What is Truth?”

American Figurehead …

Lest we forget, or maybe we never knew it, but the generation that fought and died at Vimy Ridge was in no way “nice” and “gormless”. The generation that sang: “D-day Dodgers knew everything there was to know about push-back against gormlessness (great series of YouTube videos at this link – none of this shows up in Social Studies, does it?).

Lest we forget, Canadians were not always a mob of gormless poltroons. Where are they now? My elders (now mostly dead). Realization dawned one day in the midst of World War III, that the real enemy was not, most undoubtedly not, the young kid clinging on to the Soviet frigate 100 yards away. He was me.

Canadian Figurehead

The real enemy was back home in the comfortable office towers and media redoubts taking pot shots at the ones doing the bleeding.  The real enemy was back home in the Kremlin, and in Washington, and in Ottawa, and in London. The real enemy was the figureheads and their agenda of “What is Truth?”

Just in case we missed something and mistakenly understand “gormless” as synonymous with “nice” we can look at a definition of sorts: “Gormless began life as the English dialect word “gaumless”, which was altered to the modern spelling when it expanded into wider use in the late 19th century.

The origins of “gaumless” are easy to understand; the word derives from a combination of the dialect noun gaum, meaning “attention” or “understanding,” and the suffix -less. “Gaum” also functions as a verb in some dialects, where it means “to pay attention to” and “to understand.” An unrelated verb gaum means “to behave in a stupid or awkward manner.”

There’s also a noun gaum, meaning “a stupid doltish person.” But none of these are as commonly used nowadays as “gormless”, which itself is most frequently seen in British English.

Canadian Figureheads

True synonyms would be: airheaded, birdbrained, bonehead, boneheaded, brain-dead, brainless, bubbleheaded, chuckleheaded, dense, dim, dim-witted, doltish, dopey (also dopy), dorky [slang], dull, dumb, dunderheaded, empty-headed, fatuous, stupid [chiefly British], half-witted, knuckleheaded, lamebrain (or lamebrained), lunkheaded, mindless, oafish, obtuse, opaque, pinheaded, senseless, simple, slow, slow-witted, soft, softheaded, thick, thickheaded, thick-witted, unintelligent, unsmart, vacuous, weak-minded, witless.

Now don’t I just feel SO much better in my nice Canadian gormlessness … sigh. “What is Truth?”

And what about Gratitude? Is there really anything to be grateful for in a polite society lacking in sincerity and justice?  (more to follow on gratitude – we need more of it)

Cheers

Joe

After Darkness comes the Dawn …

 

and Breakfast …

Standard