Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fervor, freedom and leisure - from that comes the artist

I hope this is useful encouragement for 'artists' as well as all for whom life is a creative act:

I just read an inspiring story in our local paper: Neighborhood Gems: Joe Reno. This man found his passion, which is indistinguishable from his service / contribution to the world; and has been doing it steadily for most of his life. Here is some of his wisdom:

Upon his return to Seattle shortly thereafter, Reno started painting night and day, delivering art to the community and the nation in vast numbers.

Heger said Reno’s works lean toward the tail end of mystique’s tradition.

Reno’s works show mystical leanings because he believes in supernatural powers emanating from our natural surroundings, which is why he loves the Northwest so much.

“Nature is key,” he said. “Composition and character are the most important things in fine arts but you can not teach them, you have to be born with it. You have to grow up with people that are wholesome and develop character in nature, out in the woods.”

Reno said sprawl, environmental destruction and wars are making fine art disappear.

Fine art is crucial because it’s the breeding ground for creative thinking and science, Reno said, pointing out Leonardo Da Vinci who was both, a great fine artist and scientist.

“Fervor, freedom and leisure - from that comes the artist,” he said. “Computers are a depletion of your contact with your natural ways. Genius comes from beaches, beautiful parks and all sorts of creatures. The Northwest is one of the strongest breeding grounds for genius.”...

Reno never married and sees his art as his offspring and the world as his stage.

“Each human being on this planet is my audience. When I paint, I’m writing a letter to every human being telling them to be happy and not be evil...” he said.

Brown said that while you need a whole community to keep fine art alive, Reno is certainly doing his bit.

“He’s the most industrious artist around. You won’t find anyone like him. For him it’s 24 hours a day,” he said.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

have dominion

My non-Judeo-Christian friend asked:
And God blessed them, and God said unto them,
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:
and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air,
and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis - 1:28
...Can someone who studies the bible give me their take on this??

And I responded:

I love this question of yours, thanks for sharing it!

It is really cool for me when a particular scripture or quote gets stuck in my craw - usually there is a big gift for me in that, but sometimes it takes weeks, months or years until I receive the fullness of that gift. I hope you receive great gifts from this one, in due time.


Here are some of my thoughts about these verses:

From my perspective Jesus spoke directly to these verses in Matthew 18:18 (NAS):
Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

I notice that Jesus was mind-blowing-ly radical about the kind of authority that we humans have. For example, he said in John 20:21-23 (NAS):
So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

In my experience, it is not usual for Christians to see these verses I just quoted as necessarily related to your question, but I do, very much so.

From my perspective, Jesus incessant focus, his main message was The KINGDOM: the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God.
I believe the use of this translation ‘kingdom’ diverts us from the truth with which Jesus was so committed to enlightening us.
I believe Young’s Literal Translation gives a much better picture for us about what he is pointing to. Let me give an example:

For Luke 17:20-21, the King James version, and most other translations, say something like this:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
But look how Young's Literal Translation translates the same verse:
And having been questioned by the Pharisees, when the reign of God doth come, he answered them, and said, 'The reign of God doth not come with observation; nor shall they say, Lo, here; or lo, there; for lo, the reign of God is within you.'
the reign of God – what does this mean?

See addendum for dictionary definitions of reign, sovereign, sovereignty, and dominion.
I posit that these words are all pointing in the same direction: sovereignty: 'what I say, goes'.

The REIGN of God – this is the sovereignty of Spirit.
Again: the reign of God is everywhere, all realities, all the time – God/Spirit is Sovereign.

Meanwhile, this does not seem to be so on a physical level – what is the deal in earth reality? Many lay the horrors of this world at God's 'feet'. This is known by some as the 'problem of evil'. Some ask: 'why do bad things happen to good people?' This is an issue for many of us, a major stumbling-block for some.

Although I spent most of my life blaming God for the pain and the difficulties in my life, and the ways of the world which I judged as ridiculous and wrong;  I no longer hold God responsible for these things anymore.

I believe this world is given to US. Our time on this planet sometimes feels like a curse, in which we all strut and fret our time upon the stage; it sometimes feels like a challenge as we all fall down and we all get up - over and over and over again. But ultimately this world is a gift beyond all reckoning. Not only do we get to enjoy 'sex and strawberry pie' as my teacher used to say. But, we are also learning to crawl, and to stand, and then to stumblingly walk, and to eventually run. The more we fall on our asses, all the better, because this is how we learn... just as Jesus learned. Paul said of Jesus in Hebrews 5:8-9 (Darby):
though he were Son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered; and having been perfected, became to all them that obey him, author of eternal salvation;

So...
I believe this world is OUR playing field – all of creation, is the human game. All the parts of creation are our building blocks. This is to what I believe the ultimate meaning of the verses about dominion in Genesis are referring.

Christians call the sovereignty which God gives each of us, free will. In my tradition, we believe this means that the 'world' within me and around my body is mine. In my tradition, we define this as MY SPACE: it is my birthright, given to me by God, and I place for me to practice sovereignty /authority. I like to think of it this way:

We are fortunate to live in a time when we teach our children, and continue to learn ourselves: my body is MY body. My body is mine to do with as I please. I have say about who touches my body: when, where and how. If someone transgresses my physical boundaries, that is not acceptable, and I have the right, power and responsibility to do something about that. I can physically ask for help, and be hopeful to receive it... Of course, things can happen to my body to which I do not consciously consent. This is not optimal, but it does happen. Still, it is very empowering to know what happens to my body is Supposed to be up to me.

In a similar way, what happens within my space: my energy, my thoughts, my feelings, my beliefs, my stuck-ness and my ease, my resisting or my aligning with God, my allowing myself to experience or not experience the presence and communication and blessings of God: This is ALL truly my choice on a spiritual level. No one can take this away from me, although I can give it away... If someone or something transgresses my boundaries in my space, that is not acceptable, and I have the right, power and responsibility to do something about that. I can ask for spiritual help, and be assured of receiving it...

When I allow myself 'what I say, goes' in my own space, my tradition calls this seniority. I have all the say about what happens in my space. This information was a big surprise to me when I first exposed to it, and honestly it has turned my world upside-down. I am still getting my sea-legs around seniority, but I must say, it is very empowering to know what happens in my space is ultimately up to me.

To exercise my free will as a spiritual adult, to allow myself to be senior in my own space, is my greatest challenge and my greatest reward. And when I am senior in my own space, the world inside me becomes a different place, and the world outside me changes as well...

So, in this way, human beings have free will to manifest what we choose. We have been given sovereignty over our inner world, which reaches into our outer world, and effects all of creation.

The question is: what do we do with this authority?

We are made in the image of God, from my perspective we are here on this sandbox-earth to learn and grow and mature in our lives, into spiritual adults. So, we can grow into exercising in our lives, in THIS world / time-space reality, as God is in all the worlds/realities. Today, we can allow ourselves to be monarchs in our own space, as God is Monarch in all space / time-space realities.

AGAIN: what do we do with this authority?

If you look to the right, in the light blue bar: you can see a bunch of scriptures. I believe many of them point in this direction:
We are to be in this world as Jesus was in this world.

Jesus is our role-model for who we can be in this world; Jesus is the first of many.
Paul says in Romans 8:29 (NAS):
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
We ARE the en-flesh-ment, the embodiment, of the Christ. Paul says it like this:
1 Corinthians 12:27 (NAS)
Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
Therefore:
We are to shine God and be God in this world.
That is the game we get to play, that is the game the world needs us to play.
One would not know it by looking at modern Christianity, but Jesus was clear on this, quoting Psalms, in John 10:34 (NAS):
Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS '?
My tradition teaches: when we heal ourselves, we heal the world.
AGAIN, in different language: when we allow a beneficial dance with God, when we allow God to help us heal and shift and grow into who we really are, those around us can do these same things more easily, and all the world (all of creation) changes…

Paul addressed our dance with the world / creation / this time-space reality, in this way in Romans 8:16-22 (NAS) {I chopped out some parts to focus on my point – you can see the whole thing here if you want}:
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ...
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly
for the revealing of the sons of God.
For the creation was subjected to futility,
not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it,
in hope that the creation itself also will be set free
from its slavery to corruption
into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

So to re-cap; so far, I am asserting:
Regarding what is called human being’s dominion over creation:

1) I believe this is pointing to the spiritual authority (my tradition calls this seniority) to which we are called, in each of our own lives and in the world around us.

2) I believe we are called to create and to utilize our spiritual power and authority (seniority) in our inner lives and therefore in our reality/world, as God utilizes God’s own creativity, power and authority in all realities.

3) I believe we are to be in this world, as Jesus was in this world.

4) I believe as each of us exercise our spiritual dominion, all of us change, and the world changes.


AND THEN,
when we exercise our spiritual dominion in alignment with God, delightful and miraculous things happen inside us and outside us. This ripples out in all directions. In this way, we all come more into alignment with God and God's bountiful flow of grace and blessings. We each come more into alignment with and in experience of our own individual and unique Wholeness in God; as well as our Oneness in/with God in All things. God's will is done on earth, through our own free will.

And so, Jesus taught us to pray (and I believe to ask God's assistance in us doing this), in Matthew 6:9:10(YLT):
thus therefore pray ye: 'Our Father who art in the heavens! hallowed be Thy name.
'Thy reign come: Thy will come to pass, as in heaven also on the earth.

When we exercise our spiritual dominion in alignment with God: All creation is blessed. The earth is blessed. Every living thing that moveth upon the earth is blessed.  We are blessed. God is blessed.

amen and hallelujah, Wendy


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here are American Heritage Dictionary definitions for reign, sovereign, sovereignty, and dominion.:

reign
(rān) n.
1. Exercise of sovereign power, as by a monarch.
2. The period during which a monarch rules.
3. Dominance or widespread influence: the reign of reason.


sov•er•eign
(sŏv'ər-ĭn, sŏv'rĭn)
n.
1. One that exercises supreme, permanent authority, especially in a nation or other governmental unit, as:
1. A king, queen, or other noble person who serves as chief of state; a ruler or monarch.
2. A national governing council or committee.
2. A nation that governs territory outside its borders.
3. A gold coin formerly used in Great Britain.
adj.
1. Self-governing; independent: a sovereign state.
2. Having supreme rank or power: a sovereign prince.
3. Paramount; supreme: Her sovereign virtue is compassion.
4.
1. Of superlative strength or efficacy: a sovereign remedy.
2. Unmitigated: sovereign contempt.


sov•er•eign•ty
(sŏv'ər-ĭn-tē, sŏv'rĭn-)
n., pl., -ties.
1. Supremacy of authority or rule as exercised by a sovereign or sovereign state.
2. Royal rank, authority, or power.
3. Complete independence and self-government.
4. A territory existing as an independent state.


do•min•ion
(də-mĭn'yən)
n.
1. Control or the exercise of control; sovereignty: "The devil . . . has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion" (Jonathan Edwards).
2. A territory or sphere of influence or control; a realm.
3. often Dominion (Abbr. Dom.) One of the self-governing nations within the British Commonwealth.
4. dominions Christianity. See domination (sense 2).

✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨.¸¸ . ✶*¨

Lastly, if you want to read more about having dominion, from a more traditionally Christian Point of View, I highly recommend to you Watchman Nee - he was very committed to Christians exercising Dominion in the world.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The only choice we get is what to worship

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This is the quote that led me on this journey:

...in the day-to-day trenches of adult life,
there is actually no such thing as atheism.
There is no such thing as not worshiping.
Everybody worships.
The only choice we get is what to worship.
-David Foster Wallace.

I recommend the entire speech, here:
DAVID FOSTER WALLACE's commencement address, Kenyon College, 2005.

Here are some excerpts:

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way...

and:

As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotised by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about "the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master"...

lastly:

If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving.... The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over...

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.

I wish you way more than luck.

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