Philosophy


As I walk this path, my path, I learn many things.  There are lessons found in abundance if you walk with open and observant eyes.  Like an elementary school primer life unfolds page by page.  A lesson here, a truth there, a testament forged with each step I take. 

I’ve always loved the river.  I stand on her banks and watch her flow; staring in fascination at her sheer power and force.  From a humble beginning she gathers an army along her journey to the sea.  A tiny source, a spring perhaps, bubbles from the depths of the earth; a trickle down the glistening rock face, pooling in a mountain crevice, waiting and growing.  As her waters gather, cool and clear, she pushes over the edge and begins her forceful ride.  Gravity pulls her down and she seeks her mysterious path.  Gathering forces along the way from creek and tributary she grows in size and depth.  Forging her way she pulls a ribbon of silk behind her.  The curving flow caresses the face of the earth, carving a way of permanence.  Riding the crooked spine of she seeks the path of least resistance.  No obstacle can stand in her way.  Each mountain, each boulder, each cliff is traversed through, over or around.  Her power is unending as she skillfully maneuvers her way.

Standing on the rocky bank I ponder the lessons to be learned by the river’s flow.  How often in life have I run full steam, head-long into the side of a mountain?  How much time have I spent attempting to climb the obstacles height only to be cast down?  How many times have I veered from the natural path in an attempt to “go against the flow?”  There is power in the river.  She is an unstoppable force.  She reaches for her goal, her destination, and her destiny.  Even though she may twist and turn, be diverted and dammed, she makes her way.  She pours into the sea as surely as she began her journey at the top of the mountain.  

I will learn the lesson of the river.  Seek the natural path.  Let the natural path show the way.  Obstacles will stand before me, and I will maneuver and flow over, through and around as my natural force will lead.  Energy is built from the natural path.  Power is gained through a gathering force.  Move with the flow.  Gather resources along the way and build strength.  Be one with all who join the flow.  Never stop.  Never stop.  Never stop.

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Sometimes a gentle breeze is all you need to begin a grand journey. Poised on the edge, ready to fly, the first step is all that is needed. The future cannot be fully known. It can only be experienced. We can only see so far, to the horizon, or the corner, or the edge.
Our fortitude is measured with each step we take. Our courage is forged with every passing moment as we build upon the minutes that have passed. We can never go back. We can stand still, or we can advance.

Here’s to the future. Cheers.

Are you mortal yet?  Have you reached that point in your life where you have come to the realization that this thing will come to an end?  I think I got there recently.  Don’t worry, this is not going to be some morbid post about a fascination with death.  So you’re safe to keep reading.

I grew up a preacher’s kid.  My father has spent the better part of his life marrying and burying.  Even to this day in his late seventies he seems to spend a majority of his ministerial duties at the side of dying people, and helping the grieving after their loved ones have died.  My mother is always telling me who is sick and dying, and who has died.  For most of my life I have just tuned it out, and complained to my wife that all my mother wants to discussed is who is sick, and who has died.  Quite depressing conversations really.

But something changed recently.  Not that the conversations about death increased or got more intense, or anything like that.  But instead, I woke up one morning very aware of my mortality; very aware that this condition that we refer to as life is only temporary.  Of course I have always known that, as I’m sure you have always known it as well.  But on that fateful recent day I became keenly aware that my days, your days, are numbered.  This awareness drove my thoughts inward.  I began to ritualistically take inventory of my life, and what I cherished the most.  I began to ask myself the hard questions about what have I accomplished in the time I have had so far? and what value have I added to the world around me, and to the lives of those that I interact with every day?  Have I done anything that will be remembered in someone else’s brief sojourn?  and have I contributed in any legitimate way to either humanity, or the world that we live in?

Yeah, tough questions.  People seem to take two approaches to this subject.  First, they say “the world needs to get out of my way and stop being so stupid.  Leave me alone, and let me do whatever I want to do in whatever way I want to do it.  Since I’m gonna die anyway I’m gonna get and take all I can regardless of what impact it may have on others.  So get out of my way, or there will be vengeful consequences.”  Or, second, people will say “life is short, and I must take advantage of what time I have to experience all that I can while adding value to the world around me.”

I hope that in whatever time that remains for my life that people who come into contact with me will feel that they have received benefit from being with me.  I hope that whatever I can add, whether it be kindness, humor, joy, laughter, positive energy, wisdom or any score of other positive attributes will leave a positive mark behind me, in everything that I do.

Of course none of us are perfect, and we all have our moments and days of hatefulness and selfishness. But I sincerely hope that I can learn how to hold all of that to a minimum.

Peace.

1937 - 2008I have always been one to be very selective about the way I choose to occupy my mind.  I like to be challenged.  I enjoy spirited debate.  I love to be faced with conflicting points of view.  In essence, I like to think.  So this has led me to engage my mind in ways that often push me to the edge of what many consider abnormal or radical or (OMG!!) liberal personalities, authors, musicians, artists, politicians and yes comedians.  Although I enjoy comedy just for the sake of comedy (like from these guys), I really enjoy comedy that makes me question my own ethics and values.  George Carlin, who died this weekend, was for me, one such challenger.  Irreverence and relevance all rolled into one.  Obstinately opinionated; courageously outspoken; he feared no subject.  Nothing was taboo and nothing was sacred.  He viewed every human frailty and personal totem to be valuable comedic fodder, ripe for his caustic reaping.  He approached every subject as if he possessed a personal vendetta.  He attacked his subject matter as a philosophical hit man, armed with daggers of comedy.  He at once could rip the rug of philosophical stability from beneath your feet, all the while making you laugh out loud and regret laughing at the same time. 

George Carlin took pleasure in challenging the norm.  Any personal belief held by anyone was explored for the opportunity for dissent.  One of his favorite subjects to demean and lambaste was religion.  Openly atheist, he challenged every form of religion and religious thought.  Although I do not share his position in this regard, his sharp intellectual dissent always forced me to question my long held beliefs.  I fully credit him with many changes in my own spiritual journey.  There were several times where his hilarious approach to the sacred forced me to throw out beliefs that I had held since childhood.  Other times his unending attacks would take my thoughts to the very edge of doubt and leave me with an empty void, a feeling of hopelessness.  His quest for comedic genius at my spirituality’s expense would drive me to deeply examine my stance, and to shore up my own belief system.  He helped me to find firm ground for my own philosophical and spiritual beliefs.

In one of Carlin’s favorite rants he very confidently proclaims the non-existence of God and his position of the outright silliness of any hope or thought of an after life.  Of course the irony of this position is that at this moment only he knows whether or not he was correct.  But, if he is correct, then he actually doesn’t know.  Comedic Irony at it’s finest.

George Carlin: 1937-2008; may you rest in peace.

Today I was inspired by Turnbaby who had previously been inspired by Mimi to be a part of an effort to reawaken humanity across the world to the cry for peace.

There is nothing more basic to human existence than the need for security.  Nothing draws us together as a species any more quickly than when that basic level of primordial security is threatened (read about an example here and here).  But sadly everyday in this world the security of humanity is threatened.  Whether it is from war, poverty, famine, disease, or disaster, our world continues to be in tremendous need of peace.  Daunting problems?  Yes.  Debilitating issues?  Absolutely.  Insurmountable?  I don’t think so.  Please, I promise not to preach.  I just want to share my opinion and perspective.

I believe with all my being that resolution to all of these problems, and particularly the problem of war and national aggression lies within our hands.  Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in free societies with representative democratic governments hold the power to bring an end to aggression.  I must take a stand and make the commitment to stop acts of aggression by my own hands.  I must decide to live at peace at all costs.  I must be willing to allow all of humanity the freedom for diverse life and expression that I desire for myself.  I must bind myself in peace to all of humanity and stand with them to meet the needs for safety, security and sustenance that drives all acts of aggression. 

By standing together and sharing the wealth of the world, combined with the granting of freedom for diversity in life, the only driving factor of aggression that would remain would be greed and the lawlessness that results.  Governments derived from the will of a free, law-abiding, peaceful humanity can then join together to put down lawlessness without the need for war and oppression of the rights of the people.

Idealistic?  Yes.  Other-worldly?  Maybe.  Impossible to attain?  I don’t believe so.  And I believe the peace movement is growing in force across the world as many of the basic issues of life are being resolved through our global community.  Don’t give up on peace.  Don’t give up on hope.  Don’t give up on humanity.  “All I am saying, is give peace a chance.”

Islam: “let there be no injury and no requital”

Judaism: “One should choose to be among the persecuted, rather than the persecutors”

Buddhism: “Victory breeds hatred for the defeated live in pain.  Happily live the peaceful, giving up victory and defeat”

Sikhism: “Those who beat you with fists, do not pay them the same coin.  But go to their house and kiss their feet”

Christianity: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil.  But if any one
strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if
any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

Mahatma Gandhi: “Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love”, “Be the change you want to see in the world”

Martin Luther King Jr. An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” “Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

Benjamin Franklin: “There never was a good war or a bad peace”

H.H. The Dalai Lama: “I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for oneself, one’s own family or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind. Universal responsibility is the key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace. Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free. Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

May a greater peace and a greater good encompass us all as we seek to live our short lives in security and prosperity.  Peace to you all.