Archive for the 'celibacy' Category

Who reaches out

December 17, 2012

I was going to write a post about “Fear, pain, and damage” and what seems to me to be going on when people perceive “evil.” I would have talked about how it’s all perfectly fine energy, it’s just that some of it is difficult to process if a person has not sanded down enough of their “flaws,” enough of their humanness.  I would have tried to show how we can get rid of the dualism of “good” and “evil” by realizing that evil is in the eye of the beholder and by subsuming both under “energy.”  I might have talked about destruction being part of the cycle of creation, and that we are better off seeing destruction as just that, and shy away from distinctions like accident, tort, and crime.  I was going to talk about including everybody in our community, and finding a way to mourn for Nancy Lanza and Adam Lanza, too.  (I think, almost paradoxically, that until we maintain a compassionate connection to everybody, we will not resolve the problem of our safety.)  I was going to talk about attachments getting in the way of our clearer perception, about my reaction to watching President Obama reflect his strong attachment to his children in his remarks in Newtown last night.  I was thinking of making the case for celibacy in leadership positions.

And then, as I was crossing the street, I was reminded (because I suspect I’ve had this understanding before) that we need to reach out to God affirmatively because that is the posture in which we are open to receiving God.  Without our having that posture, nothing terribly helpful will happen even if God reaches out to us.  And I thought, trying to communicate that message is probably a more constructive thing to do, rather than trying to get people to see what I see.

Because part of what I see is that we’re not going to reduce the problem of gun massacres by the “mentally ill” by demonizing them, their caretakers, the people who love them (who are able to love them because they connect with something not diseased within them).  We’re not going to resolve the problem by doubling down on our attachment to our children.  I think we need, rather, to spread out more evenly our love and caring to all.  Gun control is fine with me, but I think if we improve our mental hygiene, people’s desire for guns may decrease, so I would include coaching people in general to improved mental hygiene (through teaching coping skills and how to become more self-aware, for example), so I would include that in a broad effort to reduce the presence of guns in our society.

I think I see myself a little like a bleating sheep, or maybe like that cow in the Richard Shindell song “Stray Cow Blues”  — I keep repeating what I perceive and hope it helps.  If people don’t want to hear, I accept that, even if I’m disappointed or frustrated.  I can see my reaction as a form of impatience, maybe even with a little fear mixed in (fear that not enough people will ever perceive clearly), and those are things I can work on.  I think I’ve developed enough detachment to keep doing what I do regardless of its reception.

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Holding back

December 16, 2011

I started thinking about this issue, and at about the point at which I got to wondering whether love includes the desire to protect the loved one, I decided maybe I should reason this out in less fleeting words.

The “holding back” I was thinking about has to do with celibacy and one of its contrasting states, having a family.  Because my impression is that to perceive the highest forces of the universe through our spiritual apparatus (instead of, say, through measuring them with technology and describing them in equations) without distortions and damage, we have to have a very polished piece of apparatus, one with nothing on which these forces can catch and snag, and part of that has to do with not holding back, with complete willingness and surrender.  To put it another way, holding back is kind of like drag on an aircraft; it’ll bring it down under circumstances in which it would otherwise stay aloft.

I don’t want to say that children and spouses can be a drag (how loaded is that?), but I will say that our love and energy for them is love and energy not being applied to higher spiritual relationships — it’s being addressed to them (the kids and spouse), I don’t want to say “diverted,” but it simply is not going vertically upwards.  Loving children and spouses is a good thing but like the saying “You can’t have your cake and eat it to,” if we love our family members and they absorb our love, we don’t have it for other relationships, including with the divine at the highest levels.  I don’t doubt loving one’s family is compatible with a spiritual life of some sorts, and it may even help people find their capacity for loving and help them keep their hearts open and in these ways help them make progress on their spiritual journey, but at some point, I think we need all hands on deck, all the love we are capable of receiving from God to be gifted back to God if we want to experience God at that level.  I think that’s just the “physics” of the situation, and I could be wrong, but that’s my sense of it.

I think going into an advanced spiritual journey with caveats such as, “as long as it doesn’t harm my children,” is very understandable, even endearing and laudable by some measures, but I also think it is dangerous.  It leads to not looking at God head on, but rather with a glancing, indirect gaze.  If we look at God head on, like looking into mirrors on opposite walls in a room, we are drawn into an infinite regress, and if our egos (monkey minds, desires and fears) are out of the way, this is a very positive experience, perhaps the ultimate positive experience.  But if there’s stuff in the way, like an imperfection in a some kind of glass, I think it/we will shatter from the influx of what is being poured in.

So, I got to thinking about what it is about love for our family members that may be getting in the way.  Because I don’t think love per se is the issue, I don’t think love per se does get in the way.  I suspect we tend to include an element of protectionism in love for our near and dear.  I don’t want to be circular in my thinking, and I do realize I started with, “I want to enter into an advanced spiritual relationship but just don’t let it harm my kids.”  But I know that for me as a parent, there is a strand of my love for my kids that is about protecting them.  It’s most appropriate when they are babies and, at the other extreme, can cross the line into being a helicopter parent or an enabler in a dysfunctional relationship under some circumstances.  But I think it’s difficult to have kids, even grown kids, and not feel some kind of desire to help them be safe and happy.

Now, here’s where I think the crux of the issue is: having the thought without turning it into a desire.  That requires some kind of compassionate detachment (and probably other techniques to rearrange the thoughts and emotions, like bundles on a donkey or items in a suitcase, so that the load is carried differently), and what that looks like probably varies with the age of the child, and will be less or more compatible with having spiritual energy for other relationships.  I suspect it’s why celibacy can be helpful, or even just prescribed, for fostering a spiritual life.  So, I think that the ability to love one’s children may be wonderful, it may lead to an ability to love other people’s children and even all people, but that loving relationship with specific family members itself may be an impediment to being able to have spiritual progress after a certain point.

That’s where I think the way human beings can link to one another comes in handy (this idea is somewhere in Plato’s dialogues).  This way, someone can have that intense and monogamous relationship with the divine and also find a compatible way to relate to the person who is the next link in the chain, and so on down the line until everybody is joined, regardless of how many degrees of separation, or whatever we call distance from the source.  The more people who have that primary, monogamous relationship to the divine, the better, but I think that in theory, all it need take is one.