Archive for the ‘spiritual’ Category

This is something that I often say to my students (prospective teachers). As a teacher, we never really know our own impact and influence on our students, for good or ill. We just do the best we can, based on the best information and theory of teaching/learning we can muster, and hope for the best. (more…)

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I just finished reading Speaking of Faith, by Krista Tippett, the host of the public radio program of the same title. A really excellent book–I would encourage everyone to get it and read it. I kept running across snippets of wisdom on which I thought I might compose a post for the blog, but was pulled to keep on reading instead.

A few quotes from it to whet your appetite: (more…)

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This post is an effort to move toward a metaphysics that works for me, as I discussed here. I haven’t made a lot of progress, though I have generated a number of questions, and clarified for myself a few more things I don’t believe, that don’t satisfy me. Or maybe that’s progress of a kind. Anyway, here I start with a few things I do believe and take for granted–and end with some questions. (more…)

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I’ve been reading threads lately on whether or not there is or can be an objective basis for morality. [Here and here if you’d like to see them for yourself–they make interesting reading, but the second in particular is quite long (and more academic in flavor)–I had to read it in multiple sittings.] I decided to post my own take on the question here. (more…)

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“You see but your shadow when you turn your back to the sun.”

  1. Kahlil Gibran

The obvious (to me) meaning in this has to do with turning away from the source of life/understanding/love etc. and how that leaves one seeing and feeling only the painful, dark, negative things in oneself and in life. But shadows, at least our own shadows, offer us other very interesting metaphors. (more…)

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Sacred to me, anyway.

The trees around here are not large and magnificent. They’re scrub oak, and I’ve heard people speak about them very disparagingly. But there’s something magical about an oak grove, even scrub oaks. In fact, I have come to love the scrub oaks; all you have to do to appreciate them is scale down your expectations from the larger oaks found elsewhere.

The scrub oak are highly variable. Many of them grow up, and then send their branches sweeping back down to the ground, creating a sheltered space. Others send low branches out almost parallel to the ground. And some reach for the sky–at their own scale. They have their own kind of beauty and magnificence, but you have to be looking for it to notice it. Over years of walking among them, I’ve learned to look. (more…)

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Most religious and spiritual traditions seem to talk in terms of absolutes and of “all or nothing”. Christian and Islamic fundamentalists are particularly inclined to this, but so are mystics of all stripes, and Zen Buddhism is also inclined in that direction when discussing satori, or enlightenment. Me, however–I seek a religion of “something”.

I think all-or-nothing thinking gets a lot of people in a lot of trouble. (more…)

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Some posts on Diane’s blog reminded me of the book Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen. I love her books; this one helped me a lot several years ago when I was feeling a bit beat up by life and somewhat useless. So I thought I’d come back here and share some of it, and encourage people to get it and read it.

This is from the introduction to the book.

All real stories are true. Sometimes when a patient tells me their story, someone in their family will protest. “But it didn’t happen quite that way, it happened more like this.” Over the years I have come to know that the stories both these people tell me are equally true, equally genuine, and that neither of them may be “correct,” an exact description of the event much as a video camera might have recorded it. Stories are someone’s experience of the events of their life, they are not the events themselves. Most of us experience the same event very differently. We have seen it in our own unique way and the story we tell has more than a bit of ourselves in it. Truth is highly subjective.

All stories are full of bias and uniqueness; they mix fact with meaning. This is the root of their power. Stories allow us to see something familiar through new eyes. We become in that moment a guest in someone else’s life, and together with them sit at the feet of their teacher. The meaning we draw from someone’s story may be different from the meaning they themselves have drawn. No matter. Facts bring us knowledge, but stories lead to wisdom.

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A Blessing

A thought and a wish for those who visit today:

My definition of a miracle is ‘just exactly the right thing, in just exactly the right way, at just exactly the right time.’ Neale Donald Walsh

May we all experience–and notice–miracles today.

(BTW–if you do, I’d love for you to come back and tell about it in a comment, in a spirit of “share the good stuff”.)

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This is a follow-up to this previous post.

OK, this is going to be highly spectulative and/or naive, but here goes anyway.

Suppose we accept that inter-subjective exploration of phenomena helps us toward coming closer and closer to truth. It certainly seems to work relative to the physical world, to the extent that we can conceive of objective truth about the physical world, at least. But can it help us with regard to approaching spiritual truth?

I think/suspect/hope that the answer is a qualified “yes”. (more…)

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Compassion and wisdom

How can there be compassion without the wisdom to know wherein compassion lies? And if wisdom does not lead to compassion, wherein lies it’s claim to being wise?

(No time to expand on this, but I invite others to do so. What does it mean to you? What is compassion? What is wisdom? Is wisdom more than knowledge or understanding? If so–what?

And is there a so-what to the above? If wisdom and compassion are inextricably linked–so what? Are there any implications of that?)

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I’m working a long post that is taking awhile to gel. So in the meanwhile, thought I’d post a few quotes that say more poetically and succinctly some of what I was tryig to say here.

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.
Living Philosophies, 1931

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

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Oh, boy, have I ever stepped into deep water with this one. But let me persevere.

I was thinking the concept I want to communicate would be fairly quick and straightforward to capture in writing, but then I made the mistake of deciding I should start with a quick statement of generally accepted meaning of “objective truth”. Ha! I should have known better.

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The known and the unknown are blessings. The unknowable is both a mystery and a blessing, a blessing because it is a mystery.

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God is . . . our name for that which is greater than all and present in each. God is a symbol expressive of ultimate mystery, meaning and power, . . . .

Forrest Church, from a sermon preached at All Souls UU Church 6/5/05

I quote this just to clarify my use of “God” below. I use the term in the fuzziest possible way here–literally, if I knew what I was talking about–if I knew what I mean by “God”–I wouldn’t be writing this. (Interesting that greater clarity, in this case, implies greater fuzziness. Somehow that tickles me.) (more…)

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I love a good sermon, and the following sermon comes closer to the spirit of the religion I was raised in (thanks, Mom and Don Smith) than the variety that seems to have become so popular these days. It gave me a lift–so I offer it here.

by Forrest Church

April 16, 2006

This has turned out to be quite an Easter for us Unitarians. Finally, after two thousand years of desecration, poor Judas has won back his good name. With the leaking of an ancient Christian classified document, at long last the Good Judas can assume his honored place right up there beside the Good Samaritan.

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Running across a variety of blogs and books recently arguing the human race would be better off without religion, or claiming to explain religion (as in “explain it away”), got me musing along the following lines.

What is religion about? That is, what do human beings get out of it? I think all of the following, not in any particular order, and not necessarily all of them for any one person.

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