Category Archives: Self

Bridge to understanding

Reaching Our Potential of Compassion

I may be one of those people, when you see one of my posts on serious topics, you quickly ignore, or wish, I should keep my opinions to myself. That’s understandable and perhaps I am cringe worthy at times. I hope this isn’t one of those times.

Recent private conversations with other people, cause me to suggest this is still a topic requiring open discussion or at the very least, thoughtful reflection.

Humans are complicated in many ways, but there are some basic requirements which all need in order to stay healthy. I’m primarily referring to emotional and mental health. I’m not a licensed professional or a person with advanced degrees in human psychology. I’m just someone who cares about other people, even those who live different than myself.

Each of us has a basic need to be cared for and loved. Try as you might, no one stays totally emotionally healthy without social contact and some form of reassuring interaction. Some people substitute animals for this support, but there’s still more to be found with other people. That’s also a challenge, because associations with some people are toxic.

As we go through a process of physical maturity, and our minds and bodies react to hormones as well as our thoughts, some things become automatic. One of these are sexual attractions. Out of this physical attraction, human bonds are formed, but here’s where it’s not necessarily going to be predictable, or set in a pattern which many of us think is the only way it should be.

I’ve learned through observation, not always my own experience, but through the lives of others, an empathy for people who think and act different from myself. In the case of physical attraction, I fall into the socially predominant, opposite sex attraction. It started without me thinking, analyzing, or consciously deciding that I liked the physical appearance and voices of women over men. Without going into detail, those are early awkward years for most of us.

Here’s where it gets difficult to understand for those who only have opposite sexual attraction. It’s challenging to recall or realize our gender attractions were not something we woke up with and deliberately decided on. When you meet someone, or know a family member, who has same sex attractions, think about your own experience, because this isn’t really something we choose. It’s not like going to buy a new vehicle and say, I can only drive a red car.

Here’s where it gets tougher for many of us, because we start down a path which says, you can only think like me, or you’re abnormal, freakish, or defective.

If you’re religious, you may think the person is sinful. This becomes a huge problem for many families that want to impose their life patterns on everyone within their care. Yes, I’ve heard the expression, “you can love the sinner, but not the sin”. When it’s part of our sexuality, that’s when “world’s collide”. If it becomes your mission to change someone who’s homosexual to heterosexual, you’re missing an entire fundamental of human need vs. Human decision.

You or I didn’t flip a switch and say, today I’m going to become heterosexual. Neither does someone with same sex attraction. It’s not something you can change like clothing, houses, or the brain, through prayer, scolding, chastising, shaming, or some other form of guilt burden. We don’t choose who or why or how sexuality works. It’s independent from these kinds of machinations.

What can you do if a family member is gay? Well, for starters you can show you love them, don’t try to manipulate by burdening them with guilt, lecturing, or taking them to counselors until you think you’ve found the right one for the job. Learn to understand your own reasons for doing what you do, but look around and see, your way of thinking isn’t a “one size fits all.”

Let children learn and grow, but don’t find reasons to label them as abnormal. They’re having a tough enough time at school or work. Society is an emotional roller coaster, especially for teenagers. There are enough mine fields in their world to navigate. It’s not useful or helpful to push your own values on anyone, most especially the ones we love. They need our love, not our condemnation.

I know this is a bit long, but I hope it helps someone, somewhere.

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Now what?

Caught Up With Our Self Importance

Everywhere we look, we can see examples of how we are caught up in our own self-importance. It’s difficult for us to see it in ourselves, but we notice it readily with others.

Driving our cars, we can see examples routinely of people cutting in and out of lanes, crossing the road or turning in front of us, even though there are huge gaps, or no one at all behind us. Public conversation can suddenly be interrupted by another person who walks up and wasn’t part of the discussion. We just can’t seem to help ourselves.

There are international demonstrations of this going on right now. The leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong-Un is a prime example of someone who believes his word is supreme. It’s one of many of those who rise to power, who think they’re someone very special.

A recent brief confrontation between an American reporter and a Russian Minister, makes this point when he asks, who taught you manners? She just couldn’t help herself. She thought her interruption was important.

Andrea Mitchell isn’t unique in shouting questions at someone in public. Watch talk shows when they have a guest they either don’t agree with or want to show their disdain for them in public. They haven’t the courtesy to allow the person to finish their answer before they talk over them with another question. It’s as if they’re pelting them with words, since it’s socially unacceptable to throw rocks at their guest.

All of this brings me around to an immense collective of people caught up with their importance, as this is Easter weekend. To many Christians, this is the premier weekend, because it’s a celebration of a person claiming to be a deity, that through martyrdom and the public acceptance of being brought back to life, is going to resurrect any who believe this story. They will go to heaven and live with this deity, forever.

Wait a minute, I’ve gone too far, I’m way out of line for suggesting this is another in a long history of people thinking they are really special and very important. How does this story tie in with our inflated ego?

First, we believe in our significance among the vast universe of billions of stars, in countless galaxies. Many of us think an eternal being, a deity, constantly watches each of us and sacrifices their number one son just to “redeem” us, if only we will believe this story to be true. Our distorted self-centered nature causes us to think we are so very important, that we must be permitted to carry on — forever.

For many, the thought that we don’t go on forever, united with friends and family, is too unnerving, It places us in a vacuum of, now what must I do? If there isn’t an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, intergalactic wizard that restores us back to life, then we’re time limited, hopelessly lost to our own actions, our foolish blunders, even the planet we live and spin on, is our responsibility.

How do you determine if you are being duped?

The list is endless of those who can improve or advance us. They convince us to believe they can help us find hidden or ultimate truths. Many are message experts who build their case against some personal defect(s), identifiable yet unseen power(s) or negative world condition. They tell you they have the answers to these and other unanswered questions, in which you desire to have greater knowledge, or they have answers to the great problems in our lives.

They follow a pattern like confidence artists. They have a rehearsed formula to gain your trust, your time, and your money.

  1. Associate
  2. Indoctrinate
  3. Obey
  4. Stay
  5. Pay
  6. Pray
  7. Convert
  8. Rinse – lather – repeat

As we continue to look for hope in a grand scheme which ties all of our mysterious origins and destinies together, we hang in, even if we have doubts. If you decide to leave, they have ways to make you feel guilty or declare some method of punishment to haunt your thoughts of having a safe future. The stories found in religious text bring people together, with the overarching thought, we’re here because of a deity. Our lives are controlled by the whim of this deity. We must obey all that this deity demands or we will suffer after we die, forever.

Now that’s the ultimate penal sentence. If you refuse to follow, choose to independently think, act, and realize you’re nothing more than a tiny life form on a very small planet. When you recognize you’re responsible for your own actions, AND there’s no wizard that will save you from ignorance, bad decisions, or even halitosis.  Then we begin to realize what surely will come to us all is death?

No, that’s too much to take in. Give me back my security blanket.

The Christian knows what will happen to you if you don’t believe in these stories. You will suffer in hell, while they sing and dance and look down on you. All because you dared question the idea of an ultimate spiritual dictator.

Suddenly, Kim Jong-Un, almost seems kind. He can only sentence you for 50 to 90 years of hell, or thereabouts.

The more ambitious use a variety of ideas which ultimately prey upon our own narcissism. They teach us to adopt behaviors and vocabulary which separate the insiders from the outsiders, making us feel superior to those who aren’t knowledgeable or part of the same group. Many flaunt this relationship of exclusivity, just as clever advertisers do with selling luxury cars, perfumes, or clothing.

Examples Using Group Exclusivity

Christianity, Islam, Scientism, Atheism, Polymorphs, Religious Science/Mind Science, “Laws of prosperity”, creating one’s own reality, technologists, reincarnation, meditation, faith/ confession, occultism, pantheism, chanting, mantras, universal force, energy/mind power, gangs, etc.

A Force For Good?

The short answer is yes. Clearly there are many who have joined a group of like-minded people who gain trust, hope and a greater belief in their own self-worth. If it enhances your ability to see the value in others, the consequences of your own actions, observe your own deceptions to self and others, and the need to be independently productive and creative, then those are worthwhile attributes.


My Quest 4 Understanding

I’ve explored and tried to understand religious thought of a fairly wide variety of well-known religions. Understandably, I’m most familiar with Christianity, since I grew up in America, however I have read materials, religious texts, and tried to understand Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Scientology, and Mormonism. I grew up as a Lutheran, attended catechism as a teenager, joined the Mormon Church (officially called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) at age 20. I served in various lay capacities of that organization for over 25 years, and after learning more about its inner workings and the beliefs of the LDS religion, I left it behind before the turn of the 21st century. I consider that good, but far too long to learn a basic truth. This is my indictment on the dishonesty of religions.

True believers of any one faith usually believe that their own scripture is the truth, whereas they regard all other holy books with suspicion or accuracy.

christ-headAt first introduction into most of these organizations, and for many people who become committed to their teachings, the religion of choice, looks harmless and to many seems to provide personal benefit. It appeals to people who are seeking answers to complex questions of who we are, how did we get here, finding our way through competing ideas and personal identity, adopting a moral code, and where we end up after death. Over a period of time, while learning more, testing the ideas and logic of said organization through objective examination, you may find that some of your most closely held beliefs and self-identification, are formed by the purveyors of myth and perversions of intellect.

A religion or sect most often will appeal to fear or threats of rejection, requires the individual to become obedient / subservient in acts of self-hatred, isolation from contrary resources or people who may alter your commitment, aggression toward others outside the group, renunciation of family and friends in order to prove commitment to satisfy peers or arrogant, arbitrary and controlling leadership.

Another hallmark of many of these belief  systems are the subtle and not so subtle methods they employ to keep you in the group. These include, but aren’t limited to, repetitious readings, group meetings which encourage people to give talks and presentations about their commitment to the religion and it’s leaders, and only reading or viewing materials which promote the religious group. Many unique phrases or words are used or words redefined to carefully construct and enhance the individual to group identification and involvement. Some organizations have cleverly institutionalized  mind & emotional control by making the patron purchase materials as steps in a never-ending scheme to perfect themselves. Words like training or study guides are euphemisms for indoctrination as an outcome. People may later learn to find themselves so embedded in a religious culture through personal associations, family, and routines, they don’t see how they can ever give it up.

behaviorial-change-intention-chart

Examining beliefs and intentions can help us understand the impact they produce.

Understanding these beliefs and the intentions they produce can provide clues on how to impact behavior change.

“Lip service” of those who profess belief are usually put to the test by the prompting of lay leaders or clerics through several types of heinous acts, such as martyrdom, polygamous marriages, debasement of women, sacrificial denial, and patronage through large donations. Acceptance of bogus and ancient myths over rational and provable thought is the hallmark of those who eschew testable and accumulated scientific knowledge.

Promises of great reward are most often made for those with the deepest commitment to the clever machinations of manipulative, egocentric, charismatic leaders. They most often demand that you give up your hopes, dreams, enjoyment of life, to enhance theirs, under the guise of pleasing some remote entity that neither can be seen, or doesn’t have agreed upon attributes and purposes. bhagvadgita-images

Those with the strongest group identification will have a foundation built upon the writings, teachings, visions and prophecies of people who have a questionable history or nebulous past. A cult will impose their will on your researching other sources for information, sometimes in more subtle ways through ostracism, reprimands, or peer criticism. Close examination of who these leaders are or were, or if they even existed as described, is officially frowned upon, and sometimes grounds for corrective (private judicial group proceedings) action by the group through expulsion, re-education, or in some extremes  death.

After leaving the LDS church, I’ve never been happier. My life’s purpose has been enhanced through continuing my own education. The artificial group think, the control, and redirection of my life through the limited vision of other people has been eliminated. I’m not advocating other people live their life in a way that is acrimonious, or makes them unhappy with their culture and friends. I’m just unwilling to turn my life over to people who think they know what’s best for me, but have a such limited understanding of reality.