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Showing posts with label Buddhism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buddhism. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Saint Katherine of Alexandria - Patron Saint of Philosophers

As a Roman Catholic Theologian, and a student of philosophy, Saint Katherine of Alexandria is my patroness.

 

I have this image of her, painted by the renaissance master Raphael tattooed on my right arm.

 

Her legend tells us that she was born in Alexandria, Egypt around the year 287 CE, and that she died as a martyr during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maxentius c. 305.

 

She was broken on the wheel; she was tied to it, impaled on its spikes, and crushed beneath it as it was rolled through the streets.

 

Katherine was only eighteen years old but gifted with a rare intellect. She was from a wealthy family and used her fortune to hold salons where she invited pagan philosophers to debate with her and other Christian scholars on matters concerning the central tenets of the faith and the doctrines of the Church.

 

Katherine is always depicted in the saffron and ochre robes of the philosopher, which had been the tradition throughout the ancient Near East and Hellenistic Civilization since at least the time of Socrates (mid-fourth century BCE). It is likely that these colors, and their association with philosophy come from the Buddhist missionaries travelling west from as early as the sixth century BCE.

 

Given First 11.25.2020




Friday, June 19, 2020

Saint Romuald of Ravenna


Today we celebrate the life Saint Romuald, I lift up his memory for one reason in particular, and that is this:

The man was a realist and he encouraged a sense of realism among his followers.

He was an outspoken critic of the way the lives of the saints were written about and disseminated, he could not tolerate the popular tradition of the hagiography, replete with their embellishments, miracle stories which he flatly called out for the lies that they were.

His criticism of the tradition merits our respect.

Romuald was a member of an aristocratic family, he lived between the mid tenth and early eleventh century CE. He was the founder of the Camaldolese order, in the Benedictine tradition.

He had a wild youth and was said to have given himself over to the sins of the flesh, but later he became credited for breathing new life into eremitical and aesthetic monasticism.

He became a hermit.

He is said to have founded and or reformed many monastic institutions, though not all of his work was successful.

Through the promulgation of his rule he encouraged monks under his care to lead solitary lives, engaged in mediation and the interior reflection on the self. He was interested in the process of a person’s inner thoughts. He encouraged his followers to watch and be mindful of their thoughts as if they were watching fish in a stream.

In this way he was like a Zen master.

Romuald was heavily influenced by the Orthodox practice of hesychasm, which has also been associated with quietism, both of which highlight the long standing practice of  deep mediation in the Christian tradition, which puts it his teaching on par with the practices of Buddhist monks in the Himalayas and Japan.

Tell no lies about him, he was an ordinary man.



Given First 06.19.2020

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Question that Matters


Q:        What is the most significant dimension of your life?

A:        My Relationships,
                        Shared Experience


We are relational beings.

We are…beings in relationship.

I am not, without you.

Our relationships with all people, whether they are known to us, or unknown, no matter distant from us in space and time, these relationships form the most significant dimension of our lives.

Our relationships are significant because they touch on who we are, not what we are doing, or where we are going, they concern our personhood.

Think of Adam, who was just an object made from clay prior to the coming of Eve. He was merely adamah, the one who comes from soil, a sad and lonely thing.

He awoke one day to find himself face to face with Eve, a woman, at that point Adam becomes man, a being in relationship, his status is exalted, and before her coming he was nothing more than animated soil.

It is relationality that confers dignity on the human person.

Remember the Zulu word Ubuntu, meaning; I am because you are. Without you I am not, not the same person.

Whoever you are, wherever you might be, you have contributed to the fullness of my being, like the pattern that ensues from the beating of a butterfly’s wings, it reaches everything, and we are tied together like an infinitude of strings, connected beyond space and time.

Our relationships are diagrammable, as complex and vast as a Mandelbrot Set.

Between any one point in time and space, and every other point in time and space there is a relationship that can be distinguished, a line of continuity that may be drawn.

Relationality is a dimension of our lives, properly speaking, of our ontological structure; like the dimensions of space and time, and mass.

We must be cognizant of this, our wholeness depends on it.

Bad relationships ulcerate within us, good relationships are like a healing balm.

Good and bad relationships are not a zero-sum game, the good and the bad can exist in the same relationship at the same time. The presence of the good does not eliminate the bad, neither does the bad obviate the good.

We are called to mindfulness when considering our relationships, because relationality is complex, multi-valenced and it is the fundamental ground of our being.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Mirror of Truth


The unexamined life is not worth living.
~Socrates


To the extent that any person has a genuine desire to know themselves and the world they live in, each person has a duty to extrapolate from their own experience the truth concerning the nature of reality, the meaning of life, and the purpose of existence.

There is no other source, it must be experiential, and it cannot be arrived at alone.

The individual must take their own measure and judge for themselves who they are, their nature, and the value of what they do in the world, of how they behave in universe, how they act in relationship to every person living therein. They must measure for themselves who they are in relation to the totality of what is.

That is a lot to consider, do not get vertigo.

Take things as they come.

Take them one step at a time.

Be mindful.

There are limitations as to how much we can discover on our own…by ourselves, isolated and alone.

We face these limitations because we are not solitary creatures, we are relational and our relationships are a vital component of who we are. They are constituent elements of our being.

All of our relationships, whether we characterize them as good or bad, whether we are active participants in them, or are completely oblivious to them, those relationships matter, both the near and far, in both time and space, the relationships that are closest to us, as well as those beyond the possibility of knowing.

Together, in the light of one-another we are able to examine our experience, check it, and discover who we are, and thereby we are able to do more for the betterment of the world, and ourselves.

When we are in dialogue with one-another, listening to each other, the reflections we need to make for the sake of self-awareness, reflection we need to make so that we may understand who are, these reflections become clear.

When we see ourselves reflected in the face of the other, then and only then are we able to know the truth. Then and only then, with the veil of the ego removed, then we are able to see who we truly are.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Progress, Time and Place

Memory, what is it?

We have located the physical structure of memories in the proteins that form the engrams, that make-up the spindle fibers in the brain.

The tiniest sequences of amino acids form the web of neurons that house our consciousness.

But what is memory?

Are our memories only of the past, or are they also of the future…becoming now?

All that we are, everything we will ever be, all of it is right-before us, just beyond the reach of our finger tips, our potential-becoming-actual and concretizing in the past, like the rolling crest of a wave, churning in continuous motion.

Can you see it?

When the end that you have seen, the future you have anticipated, is realized in the present, what has occurred?

What has transpired when that moment slips into the past?

We are, each of us, fragments of a greater whole; we are splinters, specks of dust, we are the tiniest of seeds.

We are the infinite in germ, containing the whole in the part, like the DNA locked in our cells, the whole of who we are tangled in its double helix, awaiting the divine spark for it to unfold.

We are emotional beings, our memories of our experiences include the reality of how we felt, both in the moment of their instantiation, and later in the moments that we reflect on them.

There is the empirical reality of what is, or was, and there is the empirical reality of how we experienced it, felt it, internalized it, a process is always ongoing.

The past gets rewritten through the stories we tell, narration filters and therefore altars reality, not by changing he past, but by changing how the past is carried forward in the present and thereby projected into the future, conditioning us toward the end that we are seeking, the final cause that is the cause of all causes.

We are intellectual beings, thinking and perceiving, our memories of our experiences include the reality of how we narrate them, both in the moment of their instantiation, and later, in how we reflect on them.

The things we say about the events we participate in matter, both what we say aloud, and what we say to ourselves through the silent voice inside our head.

What we think and feel matters, our thoughts and feelings are real events, each and every one them. They happen, not in a private world unique to our individual experience, the occur in our experience, an experiential reality we share with the rest of creation, whether we chose to reveal those private moments or not.

Each in their own way has the potential to open our memories to us, our understanding of who we are, of what is, or bar us from the same.

The way is not a straight path, it is a winding road that navigates between the two, between the emotion and the intellect, pulling them together to form our understanding of the now, of what was, of who we are, and what will be.

The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to experience, a wise man said.[1]

We must pass over the threshold of our own experience, move through the transom clear headed and ready to record what we encounter, both within and without, making ourselves into a the blank slate, our spirit into the tabula rasa, a perfect mirror capturing the light of our experience.

The journey we take through our memories, those trips are not a reliving of the past, they are creative moments in the here and now, co-creative events taking place in the present, while re-creating the past.

To speculate about the future is like chasing after ghosts, such visions are as elusive as the memories we have about events that have already transpired.

What is real is what is happening now, but do not fool yourself, because it is almost certain that you do not know exactly what is taking place around you.

Every moment we experience is directed by two things; a set of historical antecedents that push events forward, and a set of motivations concerning the future, which direct them toward a desired end.

Every event we experience has a multiplicity of such things; antecedents and motivations, that are too many to count, encompass, or comprehend.

We never really know anything.

Our potentials are always changing, both our powers and our liabilities shift at any given moment.

Rise with your potential, float on the tide, welcome the weather that follows.

We labor in the now, and every moment is a new referent guiding us toward our dreams.

Nothing is static.

Everything is mutable, in flux, even the past. Such is the nature of time, and our memory of it.

This makes us co-creators in the universe, partners with the divine in the eternal moment.

We are, each of us, the center of the universe, the fulcrum of all progress, in our time and place, on the razor’s edge, spinning with the world, turning on the lathe of heaven.



[1] Frank Herbert, Dune

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Contra Dissonanta

There is one reality, its nature is singular.


We are one creation, the living universe.

The uni-verse is.

It is, we are, one word, one story, one saga, one song, one epic poem; all of time and space is one.

It is a story filled with tragedies, but it has a comic end.


We are a singularity.


The rhythm of the universe encompasses all things, all beings.

Its music fills every space.

There is no place where it cannot be heard, felt, calling us to the event horizon, to awareness and transcendence.


The collected voice of humanity, the choir Earth, our movement, is merely a tiny part in the great work that is the opera of creation.


Planet Earth bright and blue, soaring through the Milky Way, is but a dust-mote in the eye of the infinite.

We are small players in the cosmic symphony, and yet, and yet, it would not be the same without us.
           

If we do not understand who we are, do not understand what role we play, our part in the greater whole, when we raise our voices in song, the music we contribute will be dissonant, arrhythmic, it will be fatal; like a heart attack.

If our perspective is askew, if we cannot hear the true note, if we are self-absorbed and tone deaf, we will not hear the celestial music playing in our heart, we will not raise the harmonious cord.

We will not be able to live in peace, with ourselves or with any other.


Small as we are, our voices have power, we speak with the power of creation. Each and every moment of our lives contributes to the reality of the whole, imbued with the power to re-shape it.


There is no conflict between good and evil, not from the perspective of the good, the infinite and the eternal. There is only movement, from ignorance to understanding, from sorrow to joy, from alienation to acceptance, from fear to faith.


Dissonance, discord and dysrhythmia, these will always be with us. They are in the human heart, written there, in scripts that are both small and large.


How do we stand against it?

How do we resist? The answer is this…we do not.


We do not crush dissonance, we resolve it.

We cannot drown-out a noisome discord by generating a greater noise, like armies clashing on the battlefield.

That is cacophonic.

We must score another movement all around it, incorporating its rhythm into the greater whole.


We are called to forgive and move on.

As the Rabbi said:

Do not resist the evil doer
Pray for those who persecute you
Turn the other cheek
Walk the extra mile

Walk in the way of the wise, beating the drum, and strumming the harp, dancing as you go.


Contra Dissonata.