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Friday, February 11, 2005

Distillation

Writing "To God ot Not to God" (below) has made me think, which parts of my myriad traditions have stuck with me, and where is the overlap? And so I'm going to write this out a bit, to explore the core beliefs of my ever-shifting spiritual/philosophical views. Here are the first that come to mind.

1. The universe/god/whatever is infinite, therefore there are many paths we can take to it and many ways to see it. (Hinduism; Wicca)
2. Moderation in all things (Aristotle); the Middle Path (Buddhism).
3. Reincarnation (personal "gut" feeling; Hinduism; Buddhism; Taoism; some Wicca; even Christianity read in an unusual way).
4. Practice compassion or love (Buddhism; Christianity). [I prefer the term compassion; I find its detachment important. See Moderation, #2.)
5. The divine/Buddha nature is present in and accessible to all people (Buddhism; Christianity; Hinduism).
6. Interbeing (Buddhism, Taoism).
7. Gratitude (any spiritual tradition worth its salt).
8. Acceptance/forgiveness of imperfection, while striving to better oneself (any spiritual tradition worth its salt).
9. Mindfulness (Buddhism).
10. Community (any spiritual tradition worth its salt).
11. There is a cyclical order to the universe. (observation; many indigenous traditions; Christianity, to an extent; the family of Eastern religions).
12. Spirituality, philosophy, and all such practices are useless without, well, practice. As Plato wrote, "The unexamined life is not worth living." As my tai ch'i teacher says at the end of every class, "Practice!" And as the priest says at the end of most Catholic and Episcopalian services, "Now go forth to do what God has called you to do, to love and to serve each other, in the name of Christ."

It might also be worthwhile for my own self-examination to list some of the texts most influential on my way of thinking at being.

*The Gospels (Can't say to draw upon the whole Bible. Can't stand Paul's writing; haven't read much of the Hebrew Scripture.)
*Plato's Republic, Apology, and Crito
*Aristotle's Nikomachean Ethics (This is a huge one for me.)
*Homer's Iliad (The Odyssey to a lesser extent; I think it's a less philosophical poem.)
*Assorted writings by Herodotus, the Stoics, and the Epicureans
*Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu)
*I Ching
*Living Buddha, Living Christ (Thich Nhat Hanh)
*Saffron Days in L.A. (Bhante Walpola Piyananda)
*100 Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
*House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende)
*Prodigal Summer (Barbara Kingsolver)
*Sun Signs (Linda Goodman)
*the Winnie-the-Pooh stories (A.A. Milne)
*Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O'Dell)
*Where the Red Fern Grows (Wilson Rawls)

(I'm not sure how these last three have informed my psyche, but I know that they have.)
I'm certain I'm forgetting important ones.

2 Comments:

Blogger Emma Goldman said...

I think you would benefit from checking out the Quakers, if you haven't done so already. The core of their belief is that the spirit or deity is within each person, and that the spirit's will can be discerned, individually and communally, through what amounts to meditation. As a result of their beliefs, they were early opponents of slavery and early supporters of the essential equality of men and women. I've never been to a Quaker service, but the descriptions I've read make them sound quite simple and quite deep. I think it would cohere nicely with the Asian philosophies and traditions you're studying.

11:16 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

I think the Quakers would be a good bunch for me to check out sometime. But right now I'm doing my qi thing. I don't usually mix too much at one time.

12:12 PM  

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