You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Kindness’ category.

Back from an unexpected day without a post.  It was a leisurely drive back from family and friends – a long road in beautiful country and heavenly quiet.

# # #

The version of eros that Jane Austen’s novels study … is hardly animalistic.  It is ethicalthat is, it is concerned with the education of the will to the end of good character, and indeed is precisely about coming to know someone’s character.

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

+ + +

Who among us acts as if love is intended to deliver us to good character

To the best of my knowledge I give you my answer – not very many.  And I add we are a sick culture – more animal than human.  Grunts in heat – far short of character … the kind of people you’d be best to avoid.

McCloskey’s book is excellent and particularly good in discussing love and its relationship with our character.

Only through McCloskey can I see clearly the distinction between my wife who died childless of cancer at 29 (one month short of our 4th anniversary) and a subsequent wife who left a child, a husband and a marriage after 22 years for no particular reason but her desire to do so.

In McCloskey’s work I see so clearly one spouse aligned love and character and one did not.  I add, indeed, that unbeknownst to me in dedicating my life to the care of my seriously ill and dying wife – I had enkindled in me the relationship between love and character.

I add thankfully that by the grace of God I lived and loved in a manner that both life and love was joined to the quest for good character – who I am, who I have been made at birth to be.

Recognizing this allows me to see so clearly the blessings of that first love and the triumph that my life has been – all because of the grace of God.  Likewise, I see the ugly character of so many in our culture who make no such linkage between love and character.

It is hideous how the affluent and so-called “elites” and public figures, celebrities and the self-proclaimed wisdom figures and endless talking heads show absolutely nothing to distinguish them nor merit any of our attention.  Yea, their personal lives often a mess –  a series of failed marriages – seemingly without a touch of honor.

The fault lines are now between the urban and suburban elites and those who are not them.  Oddly, the fault lines might just be between those who show that love is connected with character and those that do not.

Shalom.

 

Advertisements

Follow me and allow the dead to bury their own dead.

Matt 8:22

+ + +

Let the dead bury the dead.  This phrase has followed me for some time.

As you recall these are the words of Jesus to a man who he encouraged to follow him.  The man’s hesitance led him to say he first wanted to go home to his father and Jesus gave him the above rely.

What does this say?  Well it is an emphatic way of saying that those who are spiritually dead are to be left to their own dilemmas and those who are spiritually alive are invited to be with Jesus.

Frankly, this is no less valid today than it was when Jesus spoke these words.

I am sure that you have tried to help people along the way and probably done so often and attended to those in need over a lengthy period of time – only to see that the person in need never made much progress – but rather remained in the same situation in which they sat when you first began to walk with them, help them, encourage them.

Let the dead bury the dead.

Many among us simply refuse to live in the spirit.  They neglect their spiritual development.  Often the are stuck in a dependent state – many times on the public dole.  Indeed, sustaining “hand-outs” very frequently instills dependence that kills the spirit and results in a life being far, far less than it it could be.  This is very much the difference between socialism and the “nanny state” and a free society that offers help but expects those helped to become responsible for their own welfare and well-being.

In a spiritually healthy society – there are NO “handouts” – only “hand-ups.”

Better to give a person a hand-up than a hand out.  The former enlivens the spirit.  The latter kills the spirit.  The former develops adults and the latter sustains the immature.

Let the dead bury the dead.  You cannot push a car up a hill with a rope.

Shalom.

… there’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understoodAnd understanding someone else.

Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle

+ + +

When you hear the word “intimacy” in our present culture you almost always think of it in a physical context – and hardly ever as Brad Meltzer refers to it.

This tells you something significant about our culture.

It tells you that in a material culture we are far more physical than interpersonal, cordial, communal, familial, or spiritual.

Just look at the drivel that emanates from the “entertainment” industry.  One denizen of that environ recently offered naked pictures of herself (ugh!) to “get out the vote” for Democrats.  Go figure?

Yes, we have destroyed, or badly injured, the idea of “intimacy” (and of sexuality) by our ignorance as to what intimacy is and what an absolutely critical, indispensable role it plays in human well-being, friendship, and cordial and communal relationships with others.

Frankly, there is no friendship without the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies it.  The health of a human being is dependent on intimacy.

We are social beings – meant to be known and to know others.  We are recipients of life and hence recipients by nature for life – bound to be received and to receive others.

Likewise we are a story people.  We live by narrative, learn by narrative, record narrative, gain wisdom and insight by narrative, worship through narrative.

Telling and receiving another’s story is sacred, and the bedrock of our psychological welfare and the psychological well-being of another.  That is the field of real intimacy.

Yes, we are contented and feel whole when another person hears our story and accepts it, receives it, carries it in their own unfolding life.

Today we are far from the intimacy Brad Meltzer identifies.

Our well-being and survival depends on moving toward the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies.  Short of that objective and disorder and discontent grows and grows, and brings with it homicides, suicides, adulteries, loneliness, corruptions, betrayals, hostilities, divisions, broken families and failed marriages, sexual predators, psychological illnesses, angers, addictions and depressions.

Get “intimacy” right or suffer the grave consequences.  We are made for one another – far more than merely what is material and physical.

Shalom.

It is within your power to withdraw yourself wherever you desire.  Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.  (Emphasis added.)

Marcus Aurelius

+ + +

What gives rise to tranquility?  Your tranquility?

If you pause to think about your health and happiness is this not the fundamental question?  I think it is.

Our eyes are the avenue to the brain.  What do you see each moment, each day?  Do you live in an “ordered” realm?  Are your surroundings in chaos, disarray?  If so, how can your eyes not convey this disorder to your brain?  And what of noise?  What do you hear?  Does not noise itself affect tranquility?

Desire tranquility?  Ask yourself what effect the invasion of unwanted ads on the internet have on you?  When you think about it they are intruders – others pushing themselves into your life – ads: from the eyes to the brain.  Do you wish unwelcome intruders into your home whenever they desire to enter?

We live in a culture where intrusion and invasion are common.  Yes, tranquility is denied routinely.  What is one to do?

Wall off these intrusions.  Control your surroundings – have your place of home ordered.  Each thing has a place.  You need not that much.  The less you have the easier it is to know tranquility.  Give no space to the TV talking heads.  You do not know their life – whether it is utter chaos – which it probably is.  Why listen to sick, confused people?  They bring no tranquility – only chaos.  And celebrities?  Ugh!!!

And, problems.  Do you welcome those who bring problems into your life?  To do so does not bring tranquility.

And what about your interior journey?  Have you quietly and diligently examined your life experience and come to know the pluses and minuses of those so important to your development from birth to adulthood?  And what of the losses, betrayals, great disappointments?  Have you faced them honestly and learned what was intended to be learned?  And how about you?  Do you know what triggers your most salient thoughts, reactions, attitudes, convictions?

Finally, can you be silent and alone?  And most importantly, do you have a home in religious narrative?  Do you keep the company of history’s great contemplatives?

When you think about it – tranquility soothes the Spirit and we are all first and foremost spiritual beings.  Tend to that thought and act on it – and you will come to greater tranquility – no more anxiety, no more naked vulnerability to intrusions and the idiocy of the noise and disorder surrounding you.

Shalom.

Postscript – When we see another, do we see a man or a woman or do we see color, age, ethnicity, status, physical attributes?  Can tranquility come from such seeing?

Humility is the virtue of men, their only defense; to walk humbly with God, never doubting, whatever befall, that His will is good, and His law is right.

Paul Elmer More, in Pages from an Oxford Diary

+ + +

It seems that without God and a consciousness of God in our culture and our life, humility becomes a rarity.  In such circumstances much of what we do, our transactions with others and our interactions become more difficult and less pleasant.

When humility is the common realm things go more smoothly.  In humility we become the friend of one another, even one another’s servant.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge reminds us that there is not much chance of finding the truth if humility is not present at the beginning of the quest.

Yes, humility is at the heart of learning and also its objective.  The more we know, the more we are humbled.  The more we experience life fully – in joy and sadness, in victory and defeat – the greater humility is gained.

Today humility seems less common than it once was.  In such a state, I find solitude is preferable to the crowd.  The quiet humbles with its voice, so divine.

We would be better off if humility were a common presence.  Humility quiets the appetites and desires, and staves off anxiety.  It produces the calm that welcomes others.  Humility brings access to joy and fellowship – even fellowship with utter strangers.

Think about this.  With humility sedatives are not needed.  Ease is restored to life when humility resides within and is shared among us.

Shalom.

Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.

Maya Angelou

+ + +

Political ideologues are unable to do this.  They never mention love.  They make demands, insist on getting their way.  They go to extremes to divide and make enemies.  They expect all to adjust to them.  They show no evidence of a relationship with God.  On the contrary, you hear in their words only their own confusion and insistence.

It is strange that they can get away with this selfish insistence … but then again maybe that tells us that our culture is more Godless and God-ful.  If so, then we have no more ground to give the ideologue.  No more need to listen to them nor make space for their destructive disposition.  Loving them is expecting more from them, expecting them to change their ways – to be congenial, courteous, thoughtful and adult.

Yes, loving those who are unloving means not validating their nonsense.  Once the foolishness is gone – there is space to love and accept.  But no one who seeks a meal eats what is impure and spoiled.  When the standard is set, the meal can be shared.

Yup, no more ground to give.

“Well, Dear, talk to the tree until the tree listens and changes as you wish – then come back to me and we shall chat anew.”

Shalom.

Surprised.  You might be surprised at how many voice and sources I no longer listen to or pay heed – MSNBC, CNN, PBS, the major news networks, The Washington Post. The New York Times, feminists, Democrats and “social” Democrats, leftists of varied stripes, shapes and sizes to name but a few.  I prefer the clear air of a monastery of one to the open air “nitwitary” of many.

He, the eternal, dwells concealed in the heart of all beings.  Though himself devoid of all senses, he is the illuminator of all the senses, the source of their powers.

The Mahanirvana Tantra, 6th Century B.C.

+ + +

The Tantra records the mystical practices of Hindus and Buddhists.  The above, dating back 600 years before the birth of Christ, records the view that God dwells in each of us.

When you live your daily life do you think of God dwelling within you? 

Do you perceive that others might carry that belief?  Does the demeanor or actions of others so suggest this?

The idea of an indwelling God has been spoken of and written about throughout the Ages.  I give an illustration.  One finds this in the Svetasvatara Upanishad of 400 B.C., in Ovid’s Fasti written in 5 A.D., in Epictetus’s Discourses in 110 A.D., in Plotinus’s Ennead, Ephraim the Syrian’s view, in the works of Meister Eckart in the 13th Century, the words of St. John of the Cross in the 16th Century, in the works of St. Francis de Sales in the 17th Century and Baruch Spinoza in the same Century, in Emerson and Huxley, Buber and Gandhi, etc.

The indwellingness of God has been common wisdom for centuries, but how much evidence of this do you see among men and women today?

The notion of God within humbles the sane person … and we could use a large dose of humility today.  All life is made far more charitable and kind by humility of self as manifest in contact with others.  Humility is the proper disposition for those who realize that God dwells with me and thou.

Abandoning the indwelling God does not erase God’s presence in us.  Rather it just submits God to the indignity of our behavior.  In this, we are like a person with a house guest who speaks not a word to the visitor, nor does he feed him, or offer him a place to sleep or to wash his face.  Such a “host” says neither “Hello,” nor “Goodbye” – and never wishes him “God’s speed.”

Are you such a host of the Divine Creator?

Shalom.

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Lao-tzu

+ + +

The older I get, the more I settle into quiet and keep things as simple as possible.

I have no taste for crowds, fast roadways, complicated gadgets, air travel and such.  My diet is simple and ample.  Time with friends and family matter so very much.

The quiet seems right.  It leads to peace and prayer and conversation with God – a rendering of spontaneous gratitude for all I have been given, for the love I have received and the experiences large and small – the memories of people, places and events.

Now I see how grandchildren carry hope for tomorrow and bring that hope to me.  I see in them hope alive in their days, and their joys and pleasures, and a love so readily shared – so openly proclaimed by these little people.  Wonderful, so wonderful.  For me, they are proof of God’s existence and signposts for who we are meant to be, and how we are meant to live.

In the quiet and the solitude I am acutely aware of the confusion and pain that others create out of pride and their own disordered thinking.  Full of energy and themselves they make matters worse by insisting on changing things “for the better.”  They are not quiet people.  They seem to prefer the crowded clown car of the circus – yet, they always fight one another to be the driver.

In quiet I know both joy and sadness, I hear my breath and feel strongly the experiences that gave me depth and comfort, improved my vision, produced understanding – led me to faith and to God.

Now the voices of those I love are symphonies for me.  The memories of those I loved who have died are my favorite movies.  The memories of yesterdays my treasured photos.

Now I do not need much and in my days little tasks bring appreciation and satisfaction – sweeping the floor, folding the laundry, keeping the grounds clean … I notice the pleasure of such things – the cool afternoon breeze off the mountains and the changing landscape as the sun moves west and fades slowly into tomorrow.

Proper quiet gives the fullness of being.

Shalom.

… let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.  Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on the minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.  (Emphasis added.)

President George Washington, in His Farewell Speech, September 19, 1796

+ + +

Once upon a time we were wiser and nicer.  Having dispatched wisdom and kindness, we are not consigned in perpetuity to live the ignorance and nastiness that has become us today.

“But how,” you ask, “can things change for the better?”

In answer I tell you that no one may simply present himself to a Court of Law and argue a case.  No, one must be credentialed to the law.  Training is required.  License, in good order and standing, is required.  We can learn from this.

At present we listen to anyone that shouts loud enough of their fanciful “desires and wants.”  Illustratively, no one asks those who propound the oddest of ideas to state their case as to faith, religious narrative, wisdom complied over the Ages, what history has taught, what is known of cause and effect psychologically, emotionally, socially – indeed, least of all judges who have as their credentials but two things: one, that they are but lawyers, and two, they know a politician or political group which will promote their interest in becoming a judge.  Mind you, Courts are occupied with those who have little training but law – and let it be known from me (a lawyer, with advanced degrees in theology and international affairs and foreign policy) that virtually anyone who can read can become a lawyer.

Studying law does not equip one with wisdom – and surely not with the learned ability to discern social policy, advance it, or question those before the Court who seek to advance their views of “man’s perfection” or the “way” society ought to run or be organized as their prejudice so poorly “informs” them.

To make our turn back to wisdom – make the proponents of change lay out very broadly and in detail the defense of a proposed change and explain the ramifications – personal and material costs – in embarking on their (usually poorly examined) proposals.

And remember, the cornerstone of wisdom is neither desire nor “equality.”  It is more complex than such simple thinking – indeed, its acquisition resides amid religious principle.

Shalom.

Postscript – This is the third and final blog post on Tradition.  I suggest reading each one beginning with the first entry two days ago.  Suffice it to say, we display a poverty of intellect that is shocking and explains more than any other factor (save our ignorance of religious narrative and the history of Western civilization) what we see as gross disorder and destabilization of our fundamental institutions today – running from marriage, procreation, gender, family and education to our institutions of governance and our sacred fundamental documents like the Constitution and an appreciation of the Federalist Papers and the design and unique working of a Representative Democracy with power shared by its citizens with both autonomous state government and the federal government.

If you don’t realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow.  When you realize where you come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king.

Lao Tzu

+ + +

Philosopher Lao Tzu existed six centuries before Christ.  It is said he was saddened that people did not seek goodness.  His writing and his concern was as to the individual and mystical existence.

In Taoism, he sought that one might live quietly alone with the spirit and the intellect.

In the above remarks he notes that without knowing the source of all being, one is confused and sorrowful – and with a recognition of the source of all being, one is naturally tolerant, not entwined in all the hubbub surrounding us, at ease, kind and dignified.  In other words: calm, detached, happy, content, relaxed.

Think of this in the context of today.  Imagine being detached from the chaos, conflict and constant noise, hostility, accusation and name-calling.  A level of calm today is quite valuable – especially in a rabid social media environment and a perpetual mass communication culture.

I am tickled by this which is attributed to Lao Tzu: “Why are the people rebellious … because the rulers interfere too much.”  We know this sentiment as: he who governs least governs best. 

People are not meant to be governed but rather to be free and responsible.  Is this not something we now know?  Is it healthy to be a dependent all your life?  Satisfying to be stunted in your growth and maturity – so others might rule you?  Deprive you of your freedom?

Our nation was formed with a sacred commitment to individual freedom and the presence and protection of faith and liberty.  Our Constitution enshrines that.  Not unlike Lao Tzu’s point of view.

Is not a relation with God the fundamental thing that gives us peace, health and contentment?

How do you orient yourself in the culture we have today?  Do you like being diminished and subject to others governing you down to the smallest details of your life?  Would you not rather your full growth and development?

You are a sacred being, capable of full growth and development.  Those who seek power try to convince you that you are not a sacred being who is capable of full growth and development.

Shalom.

 

 

 

Welcome Message

Categories

Log In

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: