Spiritual but not religious — “much ado about nothing?” [Shakespeare]

File:Much Ado Quarto.JPG

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Much_Ado_Quarto.JPG

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Much_Ado_About_Nothing#Analysis

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The de-stabilizing of traditional gender clichés appears to have inflamed anxieties about the erosion of social order.

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It seems that comic drama could be a means of calming such anxieties. Benedick wittily gives voice to male anxieties about women’s “sharp tongues and proneness to sexual lightness.”

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In the patriarchal society of the play, the men’s loyalties were governed by conventional codes of honour and camaraderie and a sense of superiority to women.

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Assumptions that women are by nature prone to inconstancy are shown in the repeated jokes on cuckoldry and partly explain Claudio’s readiness to believe the slur against Hero. This stereotype is turned on its head in Balthasar’s song, which shows men to be the deceitful and inconstant sex that women must suffer.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/great-political-therapist-shakespeare/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/the-paradox-of-solitaire-vis-a-vis-au-paire-and-the-great-therapist-shakespeare/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/rich-vs-poor-health-care-and-the-quality-of-mercy-is-not-strained-per-the-great-therapist-shakespeare/

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-p-murphy/spiritual-but-not-religious-not-so-fast-disney-i-clouds-and-new-religion_b_2503678.html

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Spiritual but Not Religious?

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About a year ago I attended an excellent conference on the great American author, Flannery O’Connor, at Loyola University’s Water Tower Campus. O’Connor is a colossal figure in American letters — not only because of her superior literary craftwork, but because she resides in the Holy of Holies in the hierarchy of writers of Catholic fiction.

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Moreover, O’Connor always inspires deeper thought about what it means to be “religious” and “spiritual” in the late modern age, a dichotomy that piques the interest of reflective people everywhere.

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During one of the breaks at the O’Connor conference, a friend and I took advantage of the fine weather and strolled down Michigan Avenue to take in the sights. News of Steve Jobs’s death had hit the wire and we suddenly found ourselves in front of the Apple Store in the midst of nothing less than a religious event. Scores of people gathered in mournful assembly to bear witness to Jobs’ passing; hundreds of Post-It notes were bannered on the store windows with messages of farewell, gratitude and other forms of spontaneous prayer.

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If this was not the death of a god, at least it was one of a prophet of the age.

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I thought about it again, the insights from the O’Connor scholars effervescing and coalescing with my own ideas about new forms of religion and being religious in an increasingly secular age. Looking at the makeshift shrine on Michigan Avenue, I concluded again: people really are more religious than they give themselves credit for.

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But who are these new gods, what is this new spirituality, and what is the object of our new belief?

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SBNR [spiritual but not religious]

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It’s a commonplace bifurcation and we’ve all heard the line before: “I’m spiritual, not religious.”

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So many contemporary thinkers, in decrying institutional religion as destructive and backward-thinking, have revealed a cultural juggernaut. In one way or another, we all seem exhausted by the erratic behavior and rank fallibility of big religion and prefer, more and more, the perceived credibility and utopian autonomy of our own personal spiritualities.

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There is even a “Spiritual but not Religious” community (SBNR) online —  whether it will reach the status of religion or not is anybody’s guess. We may have encountered the phenomenon more intimately around the table recently as our forks and knives met our Christmas roasts. Maybe this time, given all of the troubles and intrigues that the Catholic “brand” has experienced, it was one of us who joined the movement and said, “I too have had it with religion; I too am spiritual and not religious.”

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I am here to tell you, I think we have it upside down:

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The preponderance of evidence suggests that we are more religious than we are spiritual.

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We are as hungry for worship — to worship — as we ever were [religion] —   but we have substituted the supreme object of worship [spiritual] with other supreme objects of our own making.

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The structures [religion] of ritual adoration and belief remain intact, but the specific liturgies [spiritual], sacraments and devotions have been recast to fix upon other content — newer and shinier objects of belief and ultimate concern.

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Consider the religious character of professional football, of Hollywood culture, of Western consumer culture. Do not all of these contain and operate upon the architectural components of religious belief, with their attendant prayer books and devotions, with their apostles, prophets and commentators?

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It’s been clear for quite some time now that the sage Nietzsche was right on at least two counts: 1) as far as contemporary culture is concerned, God is dead (and be advised — we are the prime suspects in this contract killing); and 2) because we are so naturally and helplessly religious, we have created familiar cartographies of worship [religion] and linked them to new gods of our own making [spiritual].

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We have created new temples of belief and poured new wine into the oldest skins. In short, the religious instinct is stronger than ever.

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There is nothing terribly original in this observation. There are many varieties of golden calves and some even come with re-chargable batteries. I used to work at Disneyland when I was an undergraduate and often passed my time by listing all of the ways that visiting the Happiest Place on Earth resembled the practice of pilgrimage in medieval Europe, the ways that going to Disneyland had become a religious act. The similarities, as one can immediately appreciate, are vast. Hungry travelers journey systematically, making various stops in different lands as they set their communal focus on the bigger picture. Significant challenges ensue as the physical and emotional work of doing Disney is nothing if not a kind of spiritual trial. Thresholds are passed; and we experience — individually and in community — the ecstasies, beatific visions, virtual deaths and rebirths that attend religious experience.

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By the end we realize the desired content of our ersatz faith.

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It’s “happiness,” of course, and it is achieved as far as it can be in this setting, a peculiar blend of psychological consolation mixed with, more often than not, an un-nameable sense of spiritual desolation.

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Sacred trinkets are purchased as sacramental icons and remembrances. Plans are made for another pilgrimage in the next year and protracted Disney experiences will sustain us in the parishes and outposts of Disney culture while we bide our time in the days between. In this version of happiness — like so many others — the longing for communion remains because the pilgrim is left essentially unsated. In the end, Disney cannot provide the kind of happiness we crave.

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As I walked by the Apple Store last week I was reminded again of the passing of Mr. Jobs and the tension between “religious” and “spiritual” in our time. As I paused to watch devotees of Apple products engaging in communion with the items of their religious practice, I was struck once more not only by how religion and spirituality have reached an almost comic level of topsey-turveyness, but also with the stark recognition that Marshall McCluhan’s prophetic insight from 1964 is made manifest every minute of of every day in the digital age: the medium has indeed become the message.

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McCluhan’s observation, moreover (and let us note that it is no longer as shocking or radical as it was 50 years ago), best explains our current state of affairs in regards to the perceived chasm between religion and spirituality.

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In mass media culture, where, if you will, “religion” becomes the formal media and “spirit” becomes the content mediated, it is religion, not spirit, that rules the day.

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iPads illuminate texts quite literally and the texts take the backseat in this negotiation. Apple “Geniuses” offer homilies from priestly pulpits to help us interpret the screens and counsel us — ever so gently — toward a kind of new media orthodoxy. Devotees ambulate through their temples of belief, ear-bud scapulars dangling over their shoulders.

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The tools of digital expression have become both the form and content of a value system and all is awash in a media whose main object is itself.

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Do I strain the soup too thin? Admittedly so, but you get the picture.

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You Keep Using That Word: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think it Means

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The word “religion” finds its root in religio, which means “to bind.” And herein lies the main point: we like being “spiritual” because the concept, as we perceive it, makes no claim upon us.

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It binds us to nothing — or at least nothing communal, confessional or public. Of course, it is liberating to be masters of our own faith practices. To be both founders and adherents of a “Sheila-ism” or a “Murph-ism” — that is, to participate in the postmodern practice of inventing and practicing one’s own hodge-podge religion — is a uniquely empowering proposition. The problem is that it is also an isolating, atomizing and ultimately inauthentic approach to spirituality.

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When we are in our own iClouds, if you will, we think we are free.

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But to be truly spiritual, ironically, is to be bound to something greater than ourselves. It is to be in relationship.

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It is to be earthy and physical precisely because we are seeking the transcendent; and the transcendent, as St. Thomas Aquinas demonstrated so persuasively, moves through the finite. As Flannery O’Connor wrote in regards to writing her transformative fiction, “I beat on matter until I find the spirit in it.” Spirituality is more physical — more messy — than we often realize.

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And true spirituality does not point to some airy-fairy nowhere of a vapor-land where all is abstracted and/or privatized by our will. Because we are made in the image of God, we are not an either/or species. Shall we be all color and no structure? Shall we be odor and scent without form? Souls without a bodies? A rose made of ice? Spiritual and not religious?

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The spirituality we religiously espouse [freedom from enslavement to an outmoded “divinity” doctrine ergo Catholicism/Calvinism] is really not spirituality at all.

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To be truly spiritual is also to be authentically religious [to be in relationship to something/someone greater than ourselves].

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It is a both/and affair; it is to participate wholly. It is a continual act of will, a choice to participate in a tradition that seeks, however imperfectly, to navigate the mysteries, a tradition that is both always in need of reform and always in need of full participation.

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The Imago Dei: Or, Our Hearts Are Restless…

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The Jewish personalist philosopher, Martin Buber, made popular a grammatical dynamic of true spiritual encounter. He called it the “I-Thou” state, a place where persons encountered one another in loving freedom, the ultimate of these “I-Thou” encounters taking place between the individual person and God, a fertile dialog between religion and spirituality.

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In Apple theology we have a lots of “I’s” but very few “Thous” and this explains much about the contemporary ethos that claims to be more “spiritual” than “religious.”

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The point is not to give Apple a good drubbing (for it can be argued that Apple is the most relational technology going and that Jobs was inspired by Renaissance humanism); but as an icon of the digital age, the Apple phenomenon perfectly represents our misdiagnosed and misconstrued ideas about the relationship between religion and spirituality.

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Flannery O’Connor wrote:

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“Your beliefs will be the light by which you see, but they will not be what you see and they will not be a substitute for seeing.”

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The Incarnation of God in history is the locus where all of these false dichotomies cohere, are redeemed and reconciled. Jesus alone is able to be form and content, singer and song, rose and thorn. Jesus alone negotiates opposites, especially where spirituality and religion are concerned. The religious dimension is essential, but let us not confuse the yearnings of the spirit with the formal expression of these yearnings. Spirituality thrives best in liturgical participation, sacramental practice, and in dialog in and with the church. It is an oft-quoted insight, but St. Augustine put it best: “Lord you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” We are bound to the God who walked among us, bound to the God whose empty tomb founded the church, bound to the God who calls us by name and draws us into relationship. When we find the balance between religion and spirituality, we will enter into this marvelous conversation with both ears. After all, a bird doesn’t fly on one wing!

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But really, isn’t the dichotomy above just semantic gobbledy-gook??

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The choice is not whether to have or not have a worldview in which you place faith. The only choice is whether we are willing to choose with intention, clarity, & commitment.   — sage Steven Kalas

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/the-choice-is-not-whether-to-have-or-not-have-a-worldview-in-which-you-place-faith-the-only-choice-is-whether-we-are-willing-to-choose-with-intention-clarity-commitment-sage-steven-kala/ 

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/faith-is-consequential-but-it-is-not-about-immortality-faith-is-about-finding-peace-within-oneself/

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Faith is consequential, but it is not about immortality  –  faith is about a choice to live with the right attitude — fulfilling/at peace with oneself.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/faith-is-living-as-if-all-the-choices-are-ours-175131501.html

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The choice is not whether to have or not have a worldview in which you place faith. The only choice is whether we are willing to be conscious of that worldview. To choose it with intention, clarity and commitment. When our deepest beliefs about self and life are conscious, then we have choices.

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Faith is “living as if.”   All the choices are ours.

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You can’t not have faith. That is, it’s impossible not to live as if something is true. Every last one of us shapes and chooses a worldview. We decide what’s essentially true about this life, and then we live out that truth.

Joseph Campbell (1904-87) said it this way: “Choose your myth, and live it with passion.”

Faith is “living as if.” As if what? Well, that’s the point. You get to fill in the blank. No one can do it for you.

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Power_of_words_column_lands_on_meaning_of_myth.html

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But there is another use of the word “myth” not often employed by modern people.   A myth is a story, a narrative containing and transmitting a worldview, values and essential meaning.   While myths can contain history and certainly emerge from and in history, historicity is not the fundamental aim.

When I wrote of the “Hebrew creation myth,” I meant the Hebrew story that reveals to the people Hebrew who God is, how God is related to creation, how we, therefore, as creatures, are related to God, the earth and to one another.

For the record, Genesis is my favorite book of the Bible, precisely because I find the myths contained therein to be so powerful, useful, not to mention (in my opinion) a universally accurate depiction of the human condition.

My understanding of the importance and the power of myth is why I offer no shrift to the modern tempest regarding evolution versus creation. I think of that debate as a conversation between two people using two different radio frequencies.

Now, I do confess freely that I am not a biblical literalist. What I take literally is what the Bible means. As Presbyterian author Frederick Buechner says, to take the Bible in every way literally would be like using “Moby Dick” as a whaling manual.

Though raised in the church, Oxford professor C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) was a professed atheist by age 15. In 1926, he met and forged a close friendship with Oxford colleague J.R.R. Tolkien. This relationship became the nexus of Lewis’ conversion to Christianity. After many discussions and spirited arguments, Tolkien is said to have said to Lewis, “Clive, you know what a myth is, yes?”

“Of course I do,” Clive assured him.

To which Tolkien said, “Well … Christianity is a true myth.”

And Lewis was converted and later baptized in the Anglican Church.

It is in exactly this sense that I meant “the Hebrew creation myth.”

A myth is in fact not a “false representation of the truth.”

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A myth is  eternally true.

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A good person lives here on earth for all creatures both small and large together to enjoy.
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A good person must find in oneself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it!!
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We’re here to love and be loved.
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That’s it.
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Every other dimension of life — job, money, golf game, emptying the kitchen trash — is only important as it serves the end of how and why you are related to another soul. 
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I know this because I spent years working for hospice.
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Dying people never revel in how often they vacuumed.
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They revel in who they became in meaningful relationships  [life- & soulmates]!

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/gestalt-therapy-can-open-doors-to-more-authentic-life-118731604.html

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now, with regard to wondrous pilgrim soul Ron Mallett   –

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/what-is-not-in-our-power-to-do/

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To live well in our grief  [Ron wants to go back in time to when Ron was 10 years old in 1955 & save his 33 yr. old father], we have to forgive ourselves for what was not in our power to do.  

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“The luck of the draw.”      — sage Steven Kalas born 1957

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/living-authentically-a-challenge-worth-embracing-89350462.html

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The more practiced you become at living authentically, the more often you’ll have to make friends with Alone.

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If you take seriously a commitment to authentic selfhood, you find that you regularly must sacrifice belonging. Living authentically includes regular renegotiations of how we belong to family. In some extreme cases, whether we will belong to family at all. Likewise, adjustments in friendships, and sometimes distancing and even discarding friendships.

There are journeys of selfhood and wholeness that must be walked alone.

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Individualism as ego overpride is not the solitary reflection of an authentic life   –

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http://www.lvrj.com/view/steven-kalas-we-are-individuals-in-consequential-relationships-162688016.html

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http://www.lvrj.com/view/reader-ready-to-flee-should-columnist-turn-out-to-be-atheist-182934731.html

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OK, I understand that, should you discover I’m an atheist, you will immediately lose interest in my column. Does that mean you have, over your lifetime, consistently found atheists to be uninteresting? Or does it mean that your Christian Bible and your God (just quoting you, good woman) insist that you find atheists uninteresting? Or, if you should find a particular atheist stimulating to read and talk to, despite your every effort to find only theists interesting, does your religion teach you to summarily abandon interaction with the interesting atheist? In principle?

Were I to follow this teaching, I would have never “met” Sigmund Freud or Friedrich Nietzsche, not to mention missing out on the warmth and wonder of atheist friends and colleagues I’ve acquired along the way.

Let’s say that, up until the Nov. 11 column, you have found my column interesting. What will you do if you should find out now, too late, that I’m an atheist? This would mean that, all this time, you thought an atheist was interesting. You are free to stop reading the column, but you will be unable to deny that you once found an atheist interesting. Will this be a dilemma for you?

Or worse, what if you discover I’m a theist! Perhaps even a baptized Christian! How, then, will you make sense of my criticizing the way cynical, civil religion is used to acquire and deploy power? (Read “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,” by Jeff Sharlet.)

And, if it’s true that you are interested only in theistic writers, not to mention that your God will judge anything and anyone who is “in any way against (your) biblical teachings and beliefs,” then why wouldn’t you find out whether I’m an atheist before you even allowed for the possibility of having your interest seduced by a God-denying columnist in a local newspaper? I’m really curious about this. Is it enough for you to give me fair warning? To put me on notice that, should you discover I’m an atheist, then my column will be less one interested reader? Or did it ever cross your mind to ask?

Can I just say that it must be nice to have your very own personal and private God in your pocket, judging anything and anyone who isn’t lock step with your biblical teachings and beliefs? If it isn’t already obvious, I’m uncomfortable with possessive pronouns glibly cast before the name of God – yours, mine, ours, theirs. I think they are absent an essential humility.

God cannot be possessed by the theology of mere mortals. Neither by their politics.

I’m so glad my column could play a role inspiring your granddaughter to vote. But what will you do if you discover that an atheist made this positive contribution?

I don’t think religious people are crazy. I would say that some crazy people are religious. As are some sane people. More to the point of our discussion, however, I observe that some Americans wrap their political views in the wardrobe of exclusivist religious ideas, in some cases whether or not they actually buy those ideas. Or consistently practice them. Is Jesus a registered Republican?

That kind of talk is deeply disturbing to me, J.R.

Do I understand you to say the Constitution guarantees my freedom to go to the church of my choice, or have you included an important caveat? Sounds like I can go to the church of my choice as long as it’s a church on a preapproved list. Specifically, a church “based on (your) (you said “our”) God and His commandments.”

So, tell me what religious freedoms the Constitution grants to, say, Asian Americans who are practicing Buddhists, a nontheistic religion. Or, tell me what religious freedoms the Constitution grants to people who never go to any house of worship. Or people who think your beliefs are crazy.

I think authentic religion can be distinguished from neo-imperialism, xenophobia and the desire for power shrouded in the form, the words and the name of religion. When American politicians pander to the latter, well, I lose interest.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-goldberg/spiritual-but-not-religious-misunderstood-and-here-to-stay_b_2617306.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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Spiritual But Not Religious: Misunderstood and Here to Stay

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A great deal has been written about that ever-expanding group of Americans who check “none” when asked about their religious affiliations. The segment of nones who call themselves “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) now constitute at least 20 percent of the population, and 30 percent of those under 30 years of age. I have interviewed hundreds of this important cohort for my books, and I find that the media commentary about them is riddled by misconceptions.

One problem concerns why people disconnect from the religious tradition of their birth.  The most prevalent explanation is the one favored by scholars Robert Putnam and David Campbell, authors of “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us.” They attribute disaffiliation mainly to the perceived link between religion and conservative politics — a turnoff to liberal-minded youth in particular.

I don’t buy it. There is no doubt that the judgmental moralizing of right-wing preachers has alienated a great many Christians, but that doesn’t explain SBNR.  Believers who disdain fundamentalism have plenty of left-leaning denominations and apolitical congregations to turn to.  I see it as more of a spiritual issue than a political one.  The “S” in SBNR means something. In varying degrees, SBNRs are serious about their spiritual development, and they wish to pursue it wherever it leads them.  The search itself is the chief identifier.  It’s the questing, not the nesting.  If traditional religion gave them the inner experience they yearn for; if it answered the big existential questions in a satisfying way; if it truly nourished their desire for spiritual growth, they’d stay instead of stray. 

Which brings me to another misconception, that SBNRs are dilettantes, like serial daters who can’t commit.  Yes, there are plenty of superficial dabblers among them, but not as many as commentators assume. In fact, I would wager that, on average, they spend far more time in meditation, prayer, study of sacred texts, devotional activities, group discussions and other actual practices than the conventionally religious.  Let’s face it, a large percentage of people who call themselves religious engage their faith for a couple of hours a week at most, and many only on holidays.  As someone once said, sitting in church and thinking you’re spiritual is like sitting in a garage and thinking you’re a car. 

SBNRs who devote time to their spirituality are basically mystics — pragmatic, in-the-world mystics who probe the great mysteries from the inside out and try to live up to their spiritual standards.  A 2009 Pew survey found that spiritual experiences, defined as a “moment of sudden religious insight or awakening,” occur much more frequently now than they did in 1962, 1976 or 1994, when similar studies were done.  That tracks with the rise of the SBNR phenomenon, and indeed the report said that “these kinds of experiences are particularly common among the ‘religious unaffiliated.'”

Which leads to another misconception: that SBNRs are spiritual anarchists who reject all spiritual authority.  Not so.  They recognize the need for guidance, but they get it from multiple sources.  A modern seeker can be, as anthropologist Richard Schweder put it, “the student and beneficiary of all traditions, and the slave to none.” 

Finally, there is the assumption that SBNRs suffer from a lack of community.  There is truth in this: clearly, one price of spiritual independence is the loss of fellowship, which the venerable religions do a good job of providing.  Two things must be said about this.  First, a great many SBNRs acknowledge that missing ingredient and try to fill the gap with informal, often leaderless and heterogeneous groupings.  Interesting new forms of spiritual community will probably develop over time.  Second, many SBNRs are connected to communities, only they revolve around a yoga studio, a Hindu guru or a Buddhist lineage. 

This alludes to an important, but little recognized fact: SBNRs are heavily oriented to Eastern ideas and practices, only they’re more likely to check the None or SBNR box than the Hindu or Buddhist box. There are many reasons for this, among them the fact that the gurus, roshis, swamis and lamas who brought their traditional teachings to the West never asked anyone to convert, or to give up their own religions, or even to view their involvement as a religious rather than a secular pursuit. 

SBNRs are as diverse and complex as any other spiritual cohort. They are here to stay, and their numbers will surely grow as pluralism evolves and access to the world’s wisdom becomes even easier.  It could be the most important religious development of our time, so let’s make sure we understand it.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/to-live-in-hope-we-must-make-peace-with-hope-s-foolishness-160987545.html

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To live in hope, we must make peace with the foolishness of hope.

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We must accept that the format of hope comes with knowing not all our hopes will be realized.

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Disappointment is a regular companion on the journey. To live well, we must negotiate a truce with this companion.

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Yet, the reality of disappointments is no  excuse to give up. We keep extending ourselves in hope to possibilities yet unimagined. We hope that life is meaningful, worthwhile and good, even when it doesn’t feel that way.

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But, from time to time, for all of us, hope just exhausts us!!!!!

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So we craft ideas, stories and conclusions protecting us from the risk of hope. We lean into these ideas. We assert them to ourselves and each other as if we were handed them on golden tablets in God’s handwriting. We talk as if we know that we know the bitter limits of our happiness, our well-being, our contentedness, our forgivability. (I made up that last word. It means “the extent to which I could rightly hope to ever be forgiven or to forgive myself.”)

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But, often – usually – we don’t know anything at all!!!!

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Which brings me to the woman in my office. …

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But here it comes: a conclusion that sounds like truth, disguised as truth, but smells like … well, horse patootie. “I regret the time I wasted,” she says, “and I fear it may be too late for me now.”

“This is dirty pool on my part,” I say, “but …”

I tell her that I’m turning 55 in a few weeks. That, for reasons unknown to myself, I’ve decided this birthday will be iconic for me. On that day, I’ve decided to start my life all over again. I’m going to make changes. Extend new hopes into the world. Change my thinking. Try some new things. I’m really looking forward to it.

I give her two choices. I ask her to take a breath, count to five, and decide between two things to say to me. Either, “It’s too late for you, Steven.” Or, “Steven, it’s not too late for you.”

Her face roils. She shrugs and says, “You know which one I’m going to say.” And I shrug back: “You get to pick.”

She centers herself, meets my gaze and says, “Steven … it’s not too late for you.”

“That’s good to hear,” I answer back.

Her eyes fill with tears: “I’m sad about the way my life has turned out.”

“I’m sad about the way a fair chunk of my life has turned out, too,” I say. “But, just a minute ago, somebody told me it’s not too late.”

She leaves the session looking a bit dazed. She knows she’s just been had. She knows she can’t have it both ways. If it’s not too late for me, then …

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:-)

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-extraordinary-sage-viktor-frankl-only-then-through-the-power-of-using-the-past-for-living-and-making-history-out-of-what-has-happened-does-a-pe/

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl?page=2

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Usually, to be sure, man considers only the stubble field of transitoriness and overlooks the full granaries of the past, wherein he had salvaged once and for all his deeds, his joys and also his sufferings.

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Nothing can be undone, and nothing can be done away with.

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I should say   ”having been”  is the surest kind of being.

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl?page=1

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The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day.

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On the other hand, the [optimist] person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back.

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He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest.

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What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old?

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Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him?

‘No, thank you,’ he will think.

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‘Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.’ “

From “Logotherapy in a Nutshell”, an essay” Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

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incredibly soulful lover Nietzsche   –

http://thoughtjam.wordpress.com/2007/09/12/nietzsche-on-the-use-and-abuse-of-history-for-life/

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Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “that, in the process by which the human being, in thinking, reflecting, comparing, separating, and combining . . . inside that surrounding misty cloud a bright gleaming beam of light arises, only then, through the power of using the past for living and making history out of what has happened, does a person first become a person.”

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http://www.randomhouse.com/features/forgetting/read_first2.html

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In Frankl’s memoir of experiences as a concentration camp inmate. Frankl recalled trying to lift the spirits of his fellow camp inmates on an especially awful day in Dachau: “I did not only talk of the future and the veil which was drawn over it. I also mentioned the past; all its joys, and how its light shone even in the present darkness. [I quoted] a poet . . . who had written, Was Du erlebst, kann keine Macht der Welt Dir rauben. (What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you.) Not only our experiences, but all we have done, whatever great thoughts we may have had and all we have suffered, all this is not lost, though it is past; we have brought it into being. Having been is a kind of being, and perhaps the surest kind.”

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Ralph Waldo Emerson was also fascinated by memory–how it worked, why it failed, the ways it shaped human consciousness. Memory, he offered about a decade or so before his own troubles first appeared, is “the cement, the bitumen, the matrix in which the other faculties are embedded . . . without it all life and thought were an unrelated succession.”

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Irony is that I have no history  –  deleted/erased/purged via rejection/elimination  –  forsaken & forgotten   – 

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But especially Frankl & Nietzsche [along with Emerson] intone that though rejection and a forsaken predicament certainly are not envied, these outcome sufferings constitute the ennobling of character and self-respect.

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To reprise the exceptional Frankl   –

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‘Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.’ “

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Contempo existentialism postulates that one must make his and her own values in an indifferent world. One can live meaningfully [free of despair and anxiety] in an unconditional commitment to something finite, and devotes that meaningful life to the commitment, despite the external vulnerability inherent to doing so. I love history. I love life. My existential definition lies right here, right at this instant.   Where am I?  Here.  What time is it?   Now. 

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not “who am I?” but “Whose Am I?”       Frankl on suicide   –

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdXtGV5misE

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/not-who-am-i-but-whose-am-i-and-this-radicalgestalt-changes-everything-from-sage-steven-kalas-born-1957/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/great-ennoblers-of-wisdom-frankl-kalas-on-the-taboo-topic-of-suicide/

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http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/frankl/frankl.html

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Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”   –

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Dante Alighieri’s inscription on the entrance to Hell.

Entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp The entrance to the feared death camp of Auschwitz, author-psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl’s home as prisoner of conscience of the Third Reich.

from Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

ARE YOU PRONE TO DESPAIR?

I highly recommend this book for anyone who questions life and wonders if it has any meaning or value. Frankl’s reason for writing his life affirming book:“I had wanted simply to convey to the reader by way of concrete example that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones. And I thought that if the point were demonstrated in a situation as extreme as that in a concentration camp, my book might gain a hearing. I therefore felt responsible for writing down what I had gone through, for I thought it might be helpful to people who are prone to despair.”

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http://naturalbias.com/the-meaning-of-life-from-a-holocaust-survivor/

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The Meaning of Life From a Holocaust Survivor (from survivor Viktor Frankl)

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Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor FranklMany of us fail to find meaning in the day to day activities of our lives and are easily frustrated, overwhelmed and even depressed by the slightest misfortune. Some of us are forced to endure much greater misfortunes that make life seem unbearable. Even in the worst circumstances imaginable, recognizing a meaning to your life and value in your suffering will give you the strength to persist and pursue a much more satisfying state of being.

Viktor Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist, believed that living with meaning is essential to mental and physical well being. As a survivor of the Holocaust and four different Nazi concentration camps, Frankl had a profound opportunity to test his beliefs and was able to persevere through some of the worst circumstances imaginable. Because of his perseverance, we are blessed with the opportunity to learn from his triumph and realize that there’s always meaning and value to life regardless of how bad it may seem.

Life in a Nazi Concentration Camp

According to the statistics, there was about a 3% chance of surviving in a Nazi concentration camp. Those who weren’t killed in the gas chambers often committed suicide or died from starvation and illness. The prisoners were starved, beaten, overworked, exposed to frigid conditions for long periods of time without proper clothing, forced to live in cramped quarters that were polluted with excrement, and were faced with the threat of death each and every day. Despite all of this, the prisoners needed to appear lively and capable of working to avoid being selected for the gas chamber.

Why Your Life Needs Meaning

According to Frankl, only the prisoners who recognized a meaning to their lives and looked forward to fulfilling it were able to sustain the abuse, demoralization and unhealthy conditions of the concentration camps. These people had a reason to live and a reason to overcome the ruthless abuse and horrendous living conditions.

Even in the most unfortunate circumstances, very few of us ever have to face the level of adversity and misfortune that occurred in the Nazi concentration camps. Based on the prisoners who were able to survive such awful conditions by having a purpose to fulfill that kept them mentally strong, any of the problems we commonly encounter today should certainly be possible to overcome.

Frankl refers to life without meaning as an existential vacuum in which life becomes boring and is often dictated by the desires or demands of others. Depression is likely to set in and aggressive or addictive behavior is likely to ensue. People who are stuck in this vaccum tend to fill the void by seeking power, money or pleasure, and will eventually come to the inevitable conclusion that these temporary forms of superficial satisfaction will never provide the deep fulfillment that results from living a meaningful life.

What Exactly is a Meaningful Life?

The process of striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal is what keeps us hungry for life and is what provides us with fulfillment once the goal is accomplished. This fulfillment creates precious memories of the past that can never be revoked or stolen, and in turn, these memories, eliminate regret and foster the courage to not have an excessive and unhealthy fear of death.

Frankl attributes true meaning to three sources.

  • Accomplishments and creative activities such as solving a problem or creating an invention
  • Experiencing something or someone inspiring such as the beauty of nature, the love for a spouse or family member, or the value of a close friend
  • Identifying value in unavoidable suffering

Many of us struggle with the tasks of finding meaning or fulfilling the meaning that we’ve already identified. The gap between who we are and what we want to become and the gap between what we’ve accomplished and what we hope to accomplish create a beneficial form of tension. Although this tension is a form of stress that can be unhealthy when experienced in excess, it’s also what keeps us inspired and is essential to mental well being.

Seeing the Value in Suffering

To experience the happiness that results from fulfillment, suffering must be avoided whenever possible. However, when the suffering is unavoidable, it’s necessary to realize that it’s always possible to find benefit and value in it and to continue living with meaning. Frankl did exactly this by valuing his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps as an opportunity to live by his beliefs about meaning and fulfillment rather than just writing about them.

In agreement with Frankl’s beliefs, a study done by Yale University showed that many prisoners of war from the Vietnam war considered the torturous conditions they endured to be a beneficial experience that inspired personal growth.

If prisoners of war and prisoners of Nazi concentration camps were able to find value in the face of torture, starvation, sickness and death, then you can certainly find it in the unavoidable problems that are dragging you down.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOW4QiOD-oc

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner#Interpretation

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These thematic elements provide an atmosphere of uncertainty for Blade Runner‘s central theme of examining humanity. In order to discover replicants, an empathy test is used, with a number of its questions focused on the treatment of animals—seemingly an essential indicator of someone’s “humanity.”  The replicants appear to show compassion and concern for one another and are juxtaposed against human characters who lack empathy while the mass of humanity on the streets is cold and impersonal. The film goes so far as to put in doubt whether Deckard is human, and forces the audience to re-evaluate what it means to be human.    Yes, the bad guy/unwanted huli’au actually might be the good guy.

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/7128.Jodi_Picoult

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“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”  ―    Jodi Picoult

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“I’m lonely. Why do you think I had to learn to act so independent?”     –   ―    Jodi Picoult

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“Love is not an equation, it is not a contract, and it is not a happy ending. Love is the slate under the chalk, the ground that buildings rise, and the oxygen in the air. It is the place you come back to, no matter where you’re headed.”  ―    Jodi Picoult

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“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”  ―    Jodi Picoult

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“A real friend isn’t capable of feeling sorry for you, [but instead feeling sorry for/loss of you by the other person.]”  ―    Jodi Picoult

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“I didn’t want to see her because it would make me feel better. I came because without her, it’s hard to remember who I am.”  ―    Jodi Picoult

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“People always say that, when you love someone, nothing in the world matters. But that’s not true, is it? You know, and I know, that when you love someone, everything in the world matters a little bit more!”  ―    Jodi Picoult

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Egotistic overpride/vanity are humanity’s most pervasive pernicious sins, and interlaced with these are envy/jealousy [that pride is an entitlement, not a luck of the draw, pleasant or unpleasant] and anger [when I don’t receive/realize such entitlement].    The cures are submission/humbleness [vs. overpride/vanity], acceptance of one’s fate [compassion/empathy vs. envy/jealousy], & obedience [patience vs. anger].   Lust/greed [arrogance] also are interlaced with overpride/vanity.
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Eastern religion is about release from suffering,  Christianity is about release from sin, & Islam is about release from self-centeredness [obedience to Allah].    Eastern thought:  End suffering, find relief or peace.   Christian thought:  End sin,  find salvation.   Islam thought:   End selfish pride, find acceptance of and obedience to Allah.   Eastern process:  Eventual metamorphosis away from earthly misery via reincarnation/cyclical existences.    Western [Christian/Islam] process:    One-time shot at salvation/obedience  — linearity from mortal birth to mortal death.

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Especially those who come from our outer social margins enormously and beautifully exude that there is more than enough love to go around, that empathy/compassion/beneficence/trust/hope/gratitude/humility are God’s felt necessities.   Sharing is as natural as breathing.   Second nature.  
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To the person giving of oneself,  such person has another wondrous opportunity to become even more self-fulfilled,  as the receiver derives benefit/sustenance/love.   I have experienced personally the magnanimity of altruists on the edges of society who give so unconditionally of themselves and of their meager austere possessions.     And the incredulity of abject parsimony on the part of our patricians/pharisees so utterly ”full of themselves”/mammon such as pulpiteer Robert Owen.    Huli’au/upside down [confounds one’s sense of love/compassion]!!    
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Dearest kindred soul Pi’ehu Iaukea 1855-1940 impels upon us all that love/patience/kindness/humbleness/generosity of spirit do not and never should have social boundaries.
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Great religious figures invoke the most important precepts, especially amid our trials & tribulations.   As tremendous observer Steven Kalas born 1957 chastens,  we bear with suffering by finding meaning in it, as we turn suffering into transformative good in the world.   Sublime Grace [for religious folks   —  uplift from God].

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/appropriate-self-respect-can-lift-all-areas-of-life-118320899.html

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My passion also is theological. In my religious heritage, the baptismal vows come to this crescendo: Celebrant: “Will you respect the dignity of every human being?” People: “I will, with God’s help.” It always nails my soul to the floor. Respect, from the Latin respectus, meaning “to see again.” Dignity, from the Latin digne, meaning “the breath of God.” In other words, if you’re breathing, that’s the only credential you need to rightly claim that I treat you respectfully.

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Self-respect fundamentally changes our motives for living our values. Take fidelity in marriage, for example. There are a wide variety of motives we might deploy as we live out the promise of not having sex with folks other than our spouse. We might want to be “good.” We might see fidelity as the necessary sacrifice required to derive the benefits of marriage. Commonly, we understand fidelity as a promise made to our spouse, and therefore a gift to the spouse: “Isn’t this nice of me, honey, not to have sex with other people?”

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But, watch what happens when you take your motives for fidelity and “rewire” them to self-respect. Suddenly, fidelity is not first a promise made to your mate; rather, a promise made to yourself. It’s not first a gift to your mate, but a gift to oneself.

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It makes you into the husband/wife you most respect. Suddenly, living your values becomes strangely mercenary, and, I would argue, eminently more powerful.

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A warning:   there’s a downside, a real tricky balance in the work of self-respect. I have learned to nurture a healthy suspicion when I become too strident, too righteous about that value.

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There’s a line between self-respect and self-important/arrogant pride. It’s a fine line. Easy to cross. Way too easy for me, anyway. And I cross it at my own peril.

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When the human ego conscripts the language, the work and the mantle of self-respect, you start to feel really good and right about discarding people from your life.

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And then you can know that you were right, because you don’t have any friends at all.

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Self-respect and self-importance — not the same at all. But they can feel the same.

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Why can’t I be like you or in sync with you?    Because then there would be no need for a me, just you and you alone.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/lifes-journey-includes-pain-of-suffering-69506497.html

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Authentic introspection doesn’t explain suffering. It courageously acknowledges it. “Life is suffering,” said the Buddha (The Four Noble Truths). “Pick up your cross and follow me,” said Jesus. “If I make my bed in hell, thou art there,” said the Hebrew psalmist. And once acknowledged, introspection encounters  suffering in a way that leads to hope and meaning.

The Romans gave us two words for suffering: patior, which means “to endure, to allow,” and suffero, or “to bear up.” The Greeks gave us pascho, or “to experience.” It intrigues me that none of these three words bespeak of pain, per se. All three words have in common an intention and willingness to be radically open and present to life as life is — joyous or sorrowful, delightful or painful.

The central thing we suffer is not physical or emotional pain, but loss.   In the midst of illness, tragedy, death — in the midst of life! — meaning is threatened, along with our sense of hope, safety and security. Our belief in a well-ordered and benevolent universe is challenged by deadly weather, accidents, evil and DNA molecules run amok. Saints and scoundrels alike experience absurd, chaotic, inexplicable suffering.

We don’t get to choose whether we suffer, or always what we must suffer. But, thankfully, we do have some freedom to choose how we suffer, and to what end.

Ego suffering refers to the pain and problems resulting from the ego’s refusal to acknowledge pain and problems. We cannot encounter suffering creatively, precisely because the ego will not encounter suffering at all. Oh, the ego will bemoan it. Wail and dramatize. But not encounter.

Indeed, most of what we call suffering comes into our lives as a consequence of our refusal to suffer. We suffer estrangement and isolation because we refuse to suffer the joys and the pains of intimacy. We suffer addictions to avoid suffering the pain within our souls. We suffer depression because we cannot suffer our anger or grief. We suffer guilt because we will not suffer the humility of asking for and accepting forgiveness.

We suffer because we refuse to suffer.

Transformative suffering refers to a conscious encounter with pain powered by the hope of emerging meaning and human transformation. It must be emphasized that the difference between ego suffering and transformative suffering is not found in the suffering itself, but in our relationship to the suffering. In how we suffer. In and of itself, pain is neither a moral good nor moral evil. That we are in pain does not necessarily indicate anything about us. At all. What we do with and in our pain: This may point to character.

Do you have some suffering to do? Here are a few things to remember:

Let the mystery of suffering be the mystery.

Our temptation is to reduce the suffering to something less chaotic and more intellectually manageable. “There must be a reason,” we protest. And so we construct reasons. Often the reasons make us even more miserable.

Share the suffering.

The opportunity to tell the story of our suffering to a compassionate and skillful listener is helpful beyond measure. Simply in the telling and retelling, we begin to shift perspective, to put a healing distance between us and the pain.

Turn to the wisdom of symbol and ritual.

Medals of honor, funerals, statues and monuments, ritual mourning, legacy, keepsakes — we are symbolic creatures, and our symbols help us to embrace and transcend our suffering.

Discover redemptive mission.

Many people discover meaning in suffering as they work to redeem their suffering in service to the world. And so the alcoholic becomes an AA sponsor. The mother whose child is killed by a drunken driver becomes an activist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The mercenary becomes a naturalist. The victim of child abuse becomes a marriage and family counselor. And so it goes.

Turn suffering to witness.

Sometimes we suffer as a testimony against injustice. We decide to suffer as a way of absorbing the cost of hatred and bearing witness against the insanity of revenge. Or sometimes we willingly suffer for the sake of endurance alone. That is, as a witness to the goodness of life.

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Redemptive suffering means to grace/forgive a plight/fate/person for your self-sufferance which averts another person from suffering, typified by Scripture’s Hath No Greater Love than to Lay Down One’s Life for Another. John 15:13

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The National Enquirer says, “For inquiring minds.” But they mean prurient minds, and in some cases sadistic curiosity.
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I mean that, once the unlovely story is told, I find that I don’t keep track of the unlovely story. When, by chance, I should cross paths with former acquaintances years later, I’m not focused on the mistakes and failures. I often don’t remember them. What I celebrate is the courageous way patients have embraced those unlovely events and turned them into redemption, humility, creativity, gratitude, and commitments to live with integrity and meaning.
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http://www.lvrj.com/view/hope-can-carry-victims-beyond-pain-to-survival-148633715.html

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I have always said that there is a trajectory of hope from victim to survivor to hero.

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It is all a question of where we finally invest a healthy, thriving identity. The hero has embraced the past, survived it.

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The hero does not deny or discard these memories but integrates them, redeems them in service to benevolence, freedom and living well.

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Which reminds me of our last speaker at Holocaust Studies, a Jewish man in his 80s. He tells the story of watching his parents murdered. Of bombs and gunshots and bodies on the street. Of the miracle of his escape from Germany to the United States.

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On his first day of school, American kids throw rocks at him because he’s Jewish.

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His smile comes from a deep and authentic place in his soul, lighting the room ablaze.

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“So,” he says, “I decided to become an optimist!” That guy is a victim. And he’s a survivor.

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And he’s my hero.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anxiety#Existential_anxiety

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The tone of Man’s Search for Meaning is like this throughout: the reasonable, detached observer describing not only the radical evil around him but radical absurdity, stripped of everything “except, literally, our naked existence.” The effect is to connect life at Auschwitz with life anywhere.

We needed to stop asking ourselves about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life –  daily and hourly. . . . Therefore, it was necessary for us to face up to the full amount of suffering, trying to keep moments of weakness and furtive tears to a minimum. But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage –

THE COURAGE TO SUFFER.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man%27s_Search_for_Meaning#Experiences_in_a_concentration_camp

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Frankl concludes from his experience that a prisoner’s psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life,

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but also from the freedom of choice he always has even in severe suffering.

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The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a hope in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that hope,

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he is doomed!!!

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According to Viktor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning, when a person is faced with extreme mortal dangers, the most basic of all human wishes is to find a meaning of life to combat the    ”trauma of nonbeing“     as death is near.

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Life boils down to attitude     –

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http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2010/aug/26/300-foot-tall-statue-in-san-diegos-future/

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Artist Gary Lee Price works on a prototype of “The Statue of Responsibility.”  - Kenneth Linge

Artist Gary Lee Price works on a 13-foot-tall clay prototype of the Statue of Responsibility, which he designed.

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“I wanted to give credence to Viktor E. Frankl’s idea by creating two human elements coming together,  assisting in the shared responsibility of maintaining freedom,” said sculptor Price.

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“We are accountable, and the bottom line boils down to us.”      — Gary Lee Price

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/culture-s-approach-to-suffering-only-prolongs-pain-129608658.html

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And, for those kinds of sufferings/losses that can never be entirely healed, to bear it. To find meaning in it.  To turn that suffering into some transformative work in the world.

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And the truth is this: The human journey includes suffering. No one comes to ask for help who isn’t suffering.

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But, here’s another truth: In any given time in your life, the number of people who actually, really, honestly want and are willing to grant you an engaged and healing audience for your suffering/loss  is      …       small!!     Or nonexistent!!    

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Even people who sincerely love and adore you might find themselves ambivalent about really engaging and listening to the part of you that suffers. See, the people around us have egos, too. Their egos mobilize to protect them just like your ego does. “Cheer up … get over it … God has a plan … everybody is doing the best he or she can … don’t cry” — the felt motive for these messages is to help you.

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But each of these messages also contains the anxiety of the messenger:  Please stop bothering and disturbing me by suffering.

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And that’s what most modern people do. They try to stop suffering. They “get over it.” They build layer upon layer of pretense and persona over their wounds, because it’s, well, the sociable thing to do. Most of us, then, suffer unconsciously. Because that’s the way we’ve been taught to suffer.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/9146411.html

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Lots of people don’t want to be present to sadness — their own or anyone else’s. Other people would like to be present to their bereaved friends and family, but don’t know how.

We live in a culture where grief is treated as a disease to be “cured,” or a weakness cursed of shame or self-loathing.

Contrarily, grief is the holiest of human journeys.

One of my favorite Friedrich Nietzsche quotes is, “Everything holy requires a veil.” Now, modern Americans might think he means that we should keep things covered up because those things are shameful. Nope. He means that some things are so beautiful, so huge, so powerful, so naked, so intimate, that to gaze casually upon them would be injurious to their meaning and value. Injurious ultimately to us.

Grief is such a thing.

I concur with your observation that people around us are largely inept at befriending us in grief. Yet I also encourage people like you to remember to veil (protect and value) their grief. Keep the circle of confidants small. Pick two and no more than five people who will hear the depths of your pain.

There are two ways to read your question at the end. Literally you ask how you might numb the heartache. But I’m guessing you aren’t being literal. In fact, it’s not a question at all, is it? It reads more like an indignation. Like, how dare anyone ask you to numb the heartache! How dare the medical community suggest drugging your bereavement!

See, J.R., you know how precious your sadness is. A breathless, crushing burden, yes. But precious.

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Word play:   “for the sake of ” is the opposite of “forsaken”   – 

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The Wordbook dictionary states that “forsake” is derived from an Old English word “forsacan.”    “for” means “completely” and “sacan” means “deny.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/alienation-i-dont-belong-and-estrangement-getting-dumped-because-i-dont-belong/

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alienation [I don’t belong] and estrangement [getting dumped because I don’t belong]

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Alienation & estrangement   –  the results of Loss  [e.g. getting dumped]  by your beloved  [lifemate/soulmate]   

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/_Retirement_leaves_time_for_pondering_self_relationships.html

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Question: What do all people seeking release from personal despair have in common?

Answer: They are suffering some combination of alienation and estrangement.

Alienation means a crisis of belonging. We are alien. We don’t belong.

Estrangement means the painful disruption of the bonds of relationship. Interpersonal injuries and injustices. To become estranged is to become a stranger to the one we love and by whom we are loved.

I’m saying your use of the word “misfit” sounds like a crisis of alienation and estrangement.

Actual A&E: Important relationships sometimes unravel (become estranged). Sometimes, the cause is egregious injury done to the other. Other times relationships just unravel. Some people are actually alienated by society.  Old people, gay people, poor people, Fierce Truth-tellers — some people are quite deliberately excluded in whole or in part from belonging.

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Humble honesty is not ego-driven self-pity [self-loathing]

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Surviving_economic_changes_requires_rethinking_happiness.html

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When we’re already feeling scared and depressed, the human ego finds easy purchase in resentment (“This is unfair! I followed the rules!”), or self-loathing  (“I’m unemployed, therefore I must be a real loser!”)
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Mental health means telling the voices of entitlement  [being egotistic/singularly special], resentment [feeling persecuted like Jesus], and self-criticism [ohh woe is me]   to “sit down and shut up.”
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Self-loathing is, ironically, a consequence of narcissism — not humility.   When I was a priest, I used to say it this way to pilgrims making their strident, anguished case for unforgiveability: “OK, ‘For God so loved the world’ (emphasis mine) … except for you? The work of redemption in the life of Jesus set the entire cosmos free from sin and death … except for you? Well. Hmm. Aren’t you … remarkable. The one person in the history of time whose dereliction is more powerful than God.”That little speech invariably changed the tone, direction and energy of pastoral counseling. And for the better.
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My friend, Nate Larkin, would say it even better in his terrific book “Samson and the Pirate Monks: Calling Men to Authentic Brotherhood.” Nate says we combine narcissism and self-loathing so brilliantly that both are invisible to us. In such moments, we become “the piece of (expletive) around which the entire world revolves.”

Yikes!

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It’s a virtual cliche for modern patients in therapy to self-diagnose with “I need to work on my self-esteem.” It rarely turns out to be a correct diagnosis.

I much prefer to focus on self-respect. Self-regard. A conscious and responsible self-acceptance. Because there are times when I have had sufficient self-respect to recognize that I do not hold my behavior, my tone/attitude or my words in high esteem. Enough self-respect to admit when these things do not deserve to be esteemed.

The capacity and willingness to feel an authentic remorse, regret and disappointment in self is, ironically, a key ingredient to an eventual return to the only self-esteem worth having — a true celebration of a whole self discovered through the work of facing ourselves as we are.

Here’s a dirty little secret: If you argue backward from the implications of their behavior and choices, people generally have terrific self-esteem! The default posture of human beings is to think pretty darn highly of themselves.

I can hear it now: “Oh, you’re wrong, Steven! People are crippled with low opinions about themselves! They need affirmation. Validation. They need to hear they are loved and worthy and special!”

No, actually, they don’t. Feel-good speeches self-inflate modern neurotics . In fact, continuing in such speeches tends to become conscripted into the patient’s problem of a false sense of self-importance.

What people need is to tell the truth and then to live with integrity.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/van-gogh-the-wisdom-and-soul-of-the-ways-of-our-cherished-old-but-do-not-kill-yourself-like-he-did/

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/54285947.html

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Again and again van Gogh descended to his inner self, and returned to share that self nakedly with brushes, oil and canvas. Of course, at the time, nobody knew what they were seeing. In his lifetime, van Gogh sold only one painting for a meager 400 francs, and that just a few months before he died, in his own mind and by any worldly standard, an utter failure at family, romance and vocation.

That would be the same Vincent van Gogh who, in his 37th year, killed himself. He had the courage to make the journey, the generosity to share the journey with an unappreciative world; but, in the end, van Gogh was overwhelmed by what he beheld. For while there is unspeakable beauty and breathless truth contained in uncensored Reality, there also is a crushing emptiness. An aloneness that can make you lose your mind. A sadness that can make your heart question the wisdom and the relevance of continuing to beat.

On some days, to very much wish it would stop beating.

Much has been said about van Gogh’s mental health. Indeed, he paints “Starry Night” while a patient at a mental hospital in 1889. There is evidence that he suffered from bipolar disorder. He was odd and alienating. From an early age, he lived as one bearing a terrible psychic injury.

Or maybe it just appeared that way. Maybe some people are just born without guile. Maybe some people simply come to this lifetime with no choice but to see, hear and feel with shameless clarity. And maybe the rest of us have no choice but to see these people as odd, injured or crazy. A right pain in the ass.

Truly, I don’t know.

I just know there is more than one reason people decide to die. Yes, sometimes because of the delusions wrought by severe mental illness. Other times, suicide is a tragic moment of impulse, a retroflected rage that, even a few moments later, the deceased would have found resources to survive. Still others kill themselves as a narcissistic, twisted martyrdom, sold as a favor to the world, but in actuality intending to deliver a savage punishment to friends and family.

But Don McLean doesn’t think any of these describe Vincent van Gogh. Rather, “when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night, you took your life as lovers often do.” And I don’t mean romantic love for a woman, though certainly van Gogh saw himself as a miserable failure at that, too. No, van Gogh loved truth, beauty and authenticity. And he loved, admired and respected us enough to want to share it with us. To believe we’d want to see it.

Vincent van Gogh died of unrequited love. He didn’t shoot himself in the head; he shot himself in the heart. He saw reality so deeply and clearly, yet could not ultimately disconnect his heart [“be not of this world” — self-respect despite this indifferent and tragic sentient life] from this reality or the other people in it.

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And in this gap were a crushing emptiness and an aloneness that can make you lose your mind and a sadness that can make your heart question the wisdom and the relevance of continuing to beat — a sadness no man can bear alone. He died because, in the end, he could not differentiate himself [self-respect] from the Collective Unconscious [our indifferent & tragic lack of empathy/compassion in our broken/flawed sentient nature] into which he was compelled to wander.     

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It’s a theme that echoes in significant religions. Religious folks, of whatever ilk, admonish us to seek God. To long for God. And yet, some of those same religions also say this endeavor ranges from impossible to dangerous: “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20)

Ironic, yes? Seek him, find him, know him — but there are inherent risks and real dangers in doing so. Count on returning from that journey with a limp. An injury. In some cases with a variable grip on your faculties.

I’m saying I don’t judge van Gogh for committing suicide. Neither am I saying, “Way to go, Vincent.” I’m just saying I get it.

And I don’t know why something so beautiful should have to cost so much.

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[van Gogh’s nature actually is of the idealized wise man — the opposite of the flawed indifferent collective unconscious   —-    

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wise_Old_Man#In_Jungian_psychology   ]

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/43733652.html

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By cultural devolution in the past century, I mean things we’ve radically changed and normalized that have cost us dearly in the equation of what it means to be human.

At the top of my list is the casual subordination or even discarding of the power and importance of grandparent relationships as it regards the rearing of whole, healthy children.

Grandparents are Big Medicine. Huge. In hunter/gatherer societies, or later agricultural societies, the elders did the bulk of child care and child rearing. Younger, more able-bodied parents worked every waking hour just to squeeze out a living. While Mom and Dad worked, Grandma and Grandpa were primarily responsible for passing along the legacy of the family “story,” the traditions, the values, the religion.

Four factors are chiefly responsible for this devolution:

1. Our culture is ageist and deathaphobic. We keep “old” and “dying” as far away from us as possible. We normalize the idea that “it’s a hardship” if an aging parent lives with you, or even very close to you. The elders have bought into the idea, too; most middle class people think in terms of “not being a burden on my children.” Translation: Have enough money when you’re old to be able to afford assisted living.

It’s ridiculous. Lucky children have whole, authentic lives. That means they see people get really old. They see them weaken. They see them die. This is not a bad thing. It’s a venerable thing. Why do I even have to type that?

2. Our culture idolizes The Individual and The Nuclear Family is The Individual’s natural extension. Tons of modern parents have no more precious driving ethos than “butt out … mind your own business,” and this includes you, grandparents!

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s not merely arrogant. It’s insane.

3. Then there’s the idol of “Mobility In Service to Vocation & Money-Making.” We go wherever the primo job beckons, even if it means putting 2,000 miles between ourselves and our kids’ grandparents.

4. Divorce rates have skyrocketed in the past century, and divorce often complicates already geographically challenged relationships. Often the “bad blood” of divorce estranges grandparents from grandkids. In the past 20 years, grandparent visitation rights have made some headway in the courts. But several times each year a weeping grandma or grandpa will be in my office telling their broken-hearted story of how the death or divorce of their son/daughter has left them with no access to their grandchildren.

Faithful parents make a priority out of fostering, promoting and facilitating rich and present relationships between the children and the elders. When we dismiss the elders, and worse, normalize their subordination or absence from our children’s lives, the tribe is made smaller, weaker, and poorer.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_suicide#Liberalism

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Forms of Existentialist thinking essentially begin with the premise that life is objectively meaningless, and proceed to the question of why one should not just kill oneself  –   they then answer this question by suggesting that the individual has the power to give personal meaning to life and to death by taking one’s own life  [killing oneself].

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But my pal Puerto Rican Frankie Boreliz born 1946, without even a formal grade school education, presciently and prophetically says that a suicidal person suffering from immense loss [of a loved one] needs encouragement and comfort and a re-building of self-respect and self-confidence.  

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Frankie wanted to kill himself after his wife continuously committed adultery with other men, but through the help of Frankie’s psychiatrist Dr. Bloomgarden — Frankie was able to restore Frankie’s self-respect.  

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Frankie’s baby brother Roy did not fare fortunately  — Roy OD’d on painkillers after Roy’s wife left Roy  — and Frankie laments till this day that if only Frankie & others could have carried Roy — literally — and held and comforted Roy  — Roy would be alive and joyful today!!    So sad.   Ohhh so sad  …..

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_wmS9DleJ4

[melody from Minuet in G major — J.S. Bach’s Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach]

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2 Responses to Spiritual but not religious — “much ado about nothing?” [Shakespeare]

  1. Pingback: Great therapist Shakespeare’s symbolic sister, indomitable Edith Wharton | Curtis Narimatsu

  2. Pingback: Some might find it strange that Joss Whedon’s first movie since “The Avengers” – his 2012 megahit about a team of Marvel Comics superheroes – is an independent adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” B

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