Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some Thoughts

I had a dream last night that I was talking with my friend Shannon (B, not K) about being a Christian and she said there was no reason to believe that there is anything after this life. Just face it, she said, this is all there is and there is no heaven to go to after you die. And I said, Well there is no reason not to believe in heaven.
That made me think this morning as I was going over the dream in my mind, that that is a kind of faulty reasoning. A kind of reasoning from an absence of fact or information. Now I suppose that is what dogmatists might call faith...Hmmm, what do you think?
One of the reasons that I am talking with Shannon in my dream is that I respect her intelligence. So she would be a logical person for me to discuss faith with and I would be interested in what she thinks! And I guess I have been thinking about what is Christianity.

I have also been thinking about the desire to learn. Why do some of us search out new ideas and try to understand old ideas better? Is there some germ of desire in some people to live the examined life? This is some writing on this issue from a discussion group I read-Joseph Campbell Mythology Group on Yahoo:
The metaphor of participating in learning is as if it were a feast to be enjoyed (rather than a task to be endured)...this applies to school as well as to therapy...or just life in general.

Learning is difficult in any situation unless you are "hungry" for it.

Buddhism and Psychology:
The Necessary First Steps in Therapy

According to a early Buddhist text, the Samyutta Nikaya "the factors needed to attain one's first taste of the goal of the Buddhist path … are four: associating with people of integrity, listening to their teachings, using appropriate attention to inquire into the way those teachings apply to one's life, and practicing in line with the teachings in a way that does them justice."

"The words of a teaching must be spoken by a person of integrity who embodies their message in his/her actions if their savor is to be sweet. The listener must reflect on them appropriately and then put them into practice if they are to have more than a passing, superficial taste. Thus both the speaker and listener must act in line with the words of a teaching if it is to bear fruit."

"Appropriate reflection, the first step a listener should follow in carrying out the well-spoken word, means contemplating one's own life to see the dangers of following the path of foolishness and the need to follow the path of wisdom. The Buddhist tradition recognizes two emotions as playing a role in this reflection. The first is samvega, a strong sense of dismay that comes with realizing the futility and meaningless of life as it is normally lived, together with a feeling of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle. The second emotion is pasada, the clarity and serenity that come when one recognizes a teaching that presents the
truth of the dilemma of existence and at the same time points the way out."

"However, the process does not stop with these preliminary feelings of peace and serenity. The listener must carry through with the path of practice that the verses recommend. Although much of the impetus for doing so comes from the emotions of samvega and pasada sparked by the content of the verses, the heroic and marvelous savor of the verses plays a role as well, by inspiring the listener to rouse within him or herself the energy and strength that the path will require."

Dhammapada 76-77
Regard him as one who
points out
the wise one who
seeing your faults
rebukes you.
Stay with this sort of sage.
For the one who stays
with a sage of this sort,
things get better,
not worse.
Let him admonish, instruct,
deflect you
away from poor manners.
To the good, he's endearing;
to the bad, he's not.

Now my only hope reading this, is that one would find the teacher! or is that Teacher with a capital T?

Well, folks, I hope this isn't too self-indulgent, going on like this. And I hope it is fuel for thought. Tell me what you think-have you found the teacher?
Talk to you later,

Why is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person?
- Francois de La Rochefoucauld


Pam said...

Lots of food for thought here. For now, I'll respond to just one of your ideas...Christianity. I have always seen a big difference between being religious and being spiritual. I guess I was too heavily influenced by Emily Dickinson who kept the Sabbath staying at home "With a bobolink for a chorister--/And an Orchard, for a Dome." I simply cannot believe that one's faith MUST be demonstrated by going to church or that one will be condemned (eternally) for not showing up on Sunday. Don't get me wrong...I like to go because I like to take the time to ruminate on ideas presented, but I don't feel the need to go. I try to be Christian-like in all my doings by being a good person...even though I fail in that endeavor more than I care to admit. I love the text you included here about teaching. I need to think about that some more. For now, I know my two beautiful daughters are teaching me a lot about life and love, but I have lots of other teachers, too. Books, certainly.

Anonymous said...

Shannon B here: whomever I was representing in your dream (thanks for the compliment by the way) I NEVER would have said there is no heaven. I may have said I'm not really interested in the idea of heaven, or that I'm not really buying the idea of heaven, but really--what the heck do I know?! I'm more interested in why people seem to wonder about heaven in the first place.

As for teachers, a good friend of mine said my eldest daughter will be my greatest teacher, and so far she's been absolutely correct. Aoife makes me question all sorts of assumptions and societal bull-poo that even I (the great authority questioner) took for granted. My other children, family, friends are all grea teachers as well, but Aoife fits so poorly into the culture that we've got set up here, that she seems to be a touchstone for me.

I'm thinking somewhat along the lines of the Dhammanpada here. The best teacher is the one who asks continually "Why is that?" and never accepts your lame answer. There are always further masks to strip away to get closer to the transient reality that exists for this moment.

For Buddhists, there is no permanent reality, so that constant questioning "why" is neverending. I love that you're asking it Lynda! What great "whys".

Denise~ said...

Lynda, fantastic post! I'm printing it to ponder and hope you don't mind.

A quick response since I'm pressed for time. I'm not a "believer" of any religion. But I am a spiritual woman with a deep connection to Nature. I'd say Nature and Humanity are my Teachers.

Having said that - there's a heck of a lot to learn!!!

I'd love to learn more about Buddhism and Hinduism. If one must label me - I'm a pagan - who detests labels.

JanuskieZ said...
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