Final thoughts on soul

September 30, 2010
Finishing up about soul

“In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tarawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn…” Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee

I find myself often looking at Native American thought for insight and ideas. Perhaps it is that indigenous peoples were more oriented around the land and survival then we civilized folks are. Many of my lessons learned revolve around learning from nature and the world around us rather than from someone person’s ideas. The lessons are often handed down in story form from father to son not printed in a holy book or text that so often lends itself to translation and interpretation. Many the night we as children fell asleep to stories of old that my father would tell us and I have told my sons.

“All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly…. We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way; the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two.” Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee

Writer, teacher and Counselor Dr. Michael Garrett discusses a theory of opposites numerous times in his writings within Native American thought. For each entity there is an opposite. As I ponder the concept of soul is there an anti soul or soulless aspect within humanity? Working with adolescents in all honesty I would say I have never met a soulless person, I have come close however. Conduct Disordered children have no concept of right or wrong and essentially focus totally on self. The world revolves around them and anything else is insignificant. A good friend Dr. James Sutton considers CDD children as, “more dangerous, deficient in social understanding, and poorer skills in general.” I recall my first meeting with James and how I was informed as a high teacher there was nothing I could do for these kids. He went on to state most about ninety nine percent would end up dead, in jail, used car salesmen, politicians and or evangelists. If this would hold true could be a reasons we have so much difficulty in Washington, no one really cares.

“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.” Mourning Dove Salish, 1888-1936

There are times I find it difficult to say there is a purpose for some of the people I have met but as I think about this possibility of opposites and all things have purpose if not only to give contrast to the good. I was interviewed by a student earlier in the day and a question was asked have I ever intentionally hurt an animal. All I could think of was feeding mice and rats to snakes it was intentional to provide nourishment to the reptiles. But it would a matter of perception as to whether a squeaking rat being constricted was hurting as it dies being suffocated by the snake. I do feed mostly frozen thawed rats and mice however. But it made me think to other issues and how some people see them. So many are concerned about health care reform and yet even prior to legislation a year ago my premiums went up and all I use it for is medicines since I seldom go to the doctor and my visits are often free. I am sitting here thinking that having a wife in health care does have its advantages at times. So we have differing perceptions and some of the people out there could be without soul so how do we continue as a society?

“Soul, the word rebounded to me, and I wondered, as I often had, what it was exactly. People talked about it all the time, but did anybody actually know? Sometimes I’d pictured it like a pilot light burning inside a person–a drop of fire from the invisible inferno people called God. Or a squashy substance, like a piece of clay or dental mold, which collected the sum of a person’s experiences–a million indentations of happiness, desperation, fear, all the small piercings of beauty we’ve ever known.” Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair

“Men possessing small souls are generally the authors of great evil.” William Scott Downey, Proverbs

“I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.” Carl Jung

Rushing to finish and sort of finalize this three day look at soul and I always sort of end up with it truly is a definitive aspect of who we are and how we see ourselves. Should is not an entity or thing it is far more and less. Soul is a paradox and perhaps like Jung I do see it as not subject to laws of space and time. So with perhaps not a final answer, I should call a friend maybe I will close today and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Can the soul be defined and or codified part 2

September 29, 2010
Can soul be defined and codified part 2

“Soul is different from spirit, the deep soul is the way we live everyday, our longings and our fears.” Thomas Moore

It has been nearly Twenty years since I first read a book written by Thomas Moore. I picked up a copy of The Care of the Soul in about 1993 or so. I was impressed as I read this great thinking had studied under James Hillman and Hillman was a student of Carl Jung. It was in his previous experiences I found some similarities with my own that drew me to his writings. Moore had studied most of his life to be a priest and after graduate school and wanting to do more than simply minister to a church went into secular psychology and therapy leaving the priesthood.

“It’s the aspiring spirit that gives life to the intellect and keeps it from being just a mind and a set of ideas.” Thomas Moore

“Soul is different from spirit—the deep soul is the way we live everyday, our longings and our fears.” Thomas Moore

My own interpretation of what soul is really is not that far from where Thomas Moore identifies what is soul?

“…to the soul, the most minute details and the most ordinary activities, carried out with mindfulness and art, have an effect far beyond their apparent insignificance.” Thomas Moore

“A genuine odyssey is not about piling up experiences. It is a deeply felt, risky, unpredictable tour of the soul. “ Thomas Moore

“How many times do we lose an occasion for soul work by leaping ahead to final solutions without pausing to savor the undertones? We are a radically bottom-line society, eager to act and to end tension, and thus we lose opportunities to know ourselves for our motives and our secrets.” Thomas Moore

As I ponder soul issues of politics and societal contradictions come into play. Sadly we have done this to ourselves. Living in a southern state that is either fourth or fifth in numbers of illegal immigrants primarily it seems states with agriculture as a major commodity and having worked with many students who I am sure are questionable I wonder at how we have done things in the US. Growing up in Coatesville Pa., I can recall being asked if I was interested in working at Lukens Steel Mill since while my dad was now in management he had been a steel worker at one time and literally all children were almost sure to get jobs if your father or mother worked at the mill when you graduated. Only a few years ago on my last trip back there was nothing left of Lukens Steel Mill.
Following the news as much as I can one item popped up in the past day or so. In the past few weeks’ legislation to stop tax incentives to companies out sourcing jobs was defeated primarily along party lines although some democrats did help stop it. We have been under the foot or maybe the boot of industry for some time and allowed to live a “happy” life until a more profitable means to do business comes along.
I watched a Johnny Isakson ad last night on TV as he promoted more flexible regulatory legislation and lower taxes and less government. The other side of the coin is he also introduced a bill to not allow unionization of airlines into Congress. Delta airlines is one of his biggest backers and Delta is in a fight currently over unions. Where am I going with unions, the way it was, and illegal immigrants, and outsourcing? We have stood by and allowed wages and perks of union driven groups to go throw the roof at times driving product cost up and often driving the industry such as steel to leave the country.
We have allowed industries for as long as I can remember (not just in this political season) to hire and bring in illegal workers for jobs at low wages. Many of the industries doing this in Georgia also back Johnny Isakson who by chances is Republican. We support outsourcing to a point most customer service is a joke anymore on the phone a recent ad played on this with a fellow in Siberia with fifty phones ringing and he answers hello this is Peggy in customer service hold please and proceeds to make a sandwich. I guess my issue is we have allowed this and the banking and mortgage problems to happen because of our own greed. Sadly it will take more than elections to change the souls of people.

“When we relate to our bodies as having soul, we attend to their beauty, their poetry and their expressiveness. Our very habit of treating the body as a machine, whose muscles are like pulleys and its organs engines, forces its poetry underground, so that we experience the body as an instrument and see its poetics only in illness.” Thomas Moore

I have been working on my dissertation based on the loss of soul in education which is something I firmly do believe is going on. We have taken creativity and imagination away in so many instances and replaced with memorization exercises and drills. Critical thinking has taken a hit in lieu of teach to the test. Coming back to thinking about Thomas Moore and soul only reminds me that so much needs to be considered in our quest for improving education beyond the simple cure of more money.

“There are apartments in the soul which have a glorious outlook; from whose windows you can see across the river of death, and into the shining beyond; but how often are these neglected for the lower ones, which have earthward-looking windows.” Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts

“I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.” Carl Jung

We are so much more than profits or capital as some business minded educators refer to students as. Maybe if we could grasp that piece of us that some call soul and encourage fertilize and replenish it so that imagination and wondering could take precedence over the type of clothes you wear, car you drive or jewelry that is hanging on your arm we might could make some serious changes to our reality.

“Many of the religions I’ve been exposed to preach reaching for an impossible ideal, and my attempts as transcendence have left me inevitably frustrated with myself, others, and my life. That is why I appreciate Thomas Moore’s philosophy. Here is, in a nutshell: don’t try to transcend your humanity, embrace it. Moore’s ideas would resonate with spiritual wanderers and people who view life as an artistic work in progress. When Moore was a therapist, he noticed that many clients would come to him, wanting him to remove a flaw of theirs. They went to him like patients seeking a surgeon to remove a tumor. Our culture celebrates light, and many feel ashamed when we aren’t happy. However, Moore contends that sadness is, in a sense, a gift, for it gives one depth and perspective. Healing can take time. It rarely occurs overnight.” An unknown blogger

“Everything was possessed of personality, only differing from us in form. Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks, and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of earth. We learned to do what only the student of nature learns, and that was to feel beauty. We never railed at the storms, the furious winds, and the biting frosts and snows. To do so intensified human futility, so whatever came we adjusted ourselves, by more effort and energy if necessary, but without complaint.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

Another day is near completion and perhaps I am still floundering in my meandering about soul. It could be the chill of fall has me enthralled as I get out in the cool air in the mornings. But for today please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Can soul be defined and codified part 1

Bird Droppings September 28, 2010
Can soul be defined and codified Part 1

Over the years I have written about the idea of and or concept of soul many times to the point of using the word in my dissertation title. The word has differing meanings as you discuss with various religious groups and or psychologists. It is quite a big jump from psychology to religion. Carl Jung referenced soul numerous times in his writings as did his students James Hillman and his students Thomas Moore who wrote several books currently on the soul and its impact on us as humans. The Care of the Soul is on of the first of Moore’s books that I read several years back and his view is rather interesting as he separates from religion this idea of soul. Today as I was updating my status using a Carl Jung quote which will appear shortly a news article came up about how atheists and agnostics know more about religion than do believers.

“A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths. Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ. More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.” Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer, Sept. 28, 2010

I recall growing up being told in church that Catholics were cannibals because they ate the body and blood of Christ. Something I heard in school and not at home. Back in the day many Catholics students went to parochial schools in the community and transferred in high school to the public schools. I never did quite understand the cannibal thing till the concept of transubstantiation came up. What a great vocabulary word, transubstantiation, or the changing of the wine and bread to the body and blood of Christ in the service. While studying to be an Anglican priest issues with communion came up and this was one. Later in a seminary class various rules and guidelines for accidental spills of blessed wine were in the lecture. Where am I going I am not one to down play beliefs of others and will not here but in looking at religion as a whole? Far too often followers are just that simply followers of someone who is a good talker and has a good line. Churches split and separate and new churches form as one idea surpasses another. It becomes more of a follow the leader than a staunch believes in a philosophy or creed.

“The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.” Carl Jung, The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man

“For one man the world was full of beauty, for the other it was a place of sin and ugliness to be endured until he went to another world, there to become a creature of wings, half-man and half-bird. Forever one man directed his Mystery to change the world. He had made; forever this man pleaded with Him to chastise his wicked ones; and forever he implored his God to send His light to earth. Small wonder this man could not understand the other.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

Perhaps it was this distinction in life views that separated and continues to separate indigenous thought from the invaders. When your goal is eternal life versus being one with your environment you are really not too concerned about the existing realm. Far too many people do not see the beauty of our world. They never take the time from seeking their profits and gathering to themselves of all they can to see the pieces of life’s puzzle.

“Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’ Say not, ‘I have found the path of the soul.’ Say rather, ‘I have met the soul walking upon my path.’ For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals. “ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

“But the old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. So he kept his children close to nature’s softening influence.” Chief Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux

When we crawl away from life we tend to lose touch with all about us. As Standing Bear states we lose respect for humans as we lose respect for our world. Reading stories of Native Americans it was customary to sit on the ground to be closer to mother earth than to sit in a chair or bench. There was a connectedness in the way of life that was instrumental in their thinking. We have lost that and replaced with greed and self centeredness.
In the early 1900’s Freud and Jung worked together and it was Jung’s desire and understanding of the nature of man that led to their separating and to many new ideas for Jung. Jung saw a man as various shades between black and white and Freud saw only the contrast. Dreams became a focus for Jung and those interconnections that seem to continually pop up.

“You see, when weaving a blanket, an Indian woman leaves a flaw in the weaving of that blanket to let the soul out.” Martha Graham

“Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy, the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.” Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind

“Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul and shows to people these secrets which are common to all.” Leo Tolstoy, Diary

Most cultures have some reference to soul in their teaching and stories. Philosophers use the term loosely as they ply our understanding. Within art it is the soul of the artist that is laid bare but what is this that is defined as soul.

“Loss means losing what was; we want to change but we don’t want to lose. Without time for loss, we don’t have time for soul.” James Hillman

“We’re an air bag society that wants guarantees on everything that we buy. We want to be able to take everything back and get another one. We want a 401-k plan and Social Security.” James Hillman

Strong souls
Live like fire-hearted suns to spend their strength
In farthest striving action; breathe more free
In mighty anguish than in trivial ease.
George Eliot, The Spanish Gypsy

Sitting in my classroom thinking and pondering I might have bitten off more than a days effort in writing and might need to return again tomorrow. So with a heavy heart and incomplete task here in front of me I wish everyone would please keep all in harms way on your minds and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Is wisdom Contagious

Bird Droppings September 27, 2010
Is wisdom contagious?

I was reading in a friend’s blog about the Harry Potter series. She was addressing religious beliefs in her blog and how so many adhere verbatim to holy texts. As I read her blog which is rather good the ending was rather interesting.
“That doesn’t mean I’m waiting for my letter from Hogwarts to arrive by owl post any time soon… well, not really… looks out window for owl.” Blue Collar Momma, http://bluecollarmamma.wordpress.com
How we delineate which texts become holy is often a human contrivance. It might be that Harry Potter books in another thousand years will be considered gospel. I added a comment to her note on facebook yesterday something to the effect as I pulled out from my house yesterday morning a red tailed hawk was sitting on the power line beside me watching me leave. As I left it flew away. On my wall to my immediate left is a red tailed hawk feather that I found nearly ten years ago. I often wonder as to how we formulate and postulate our understandings of our surroundings. In Native American thought the great mystery often referred to as Wakan-Taka is that aspect we can not clearly define.
“The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.” Pierre Abelard

“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.” Black Elk – Oglala Sioux
“He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, and will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today.” Tryon Edwards
I think there is a bit of wisdom in all of us yet we often tend to put aside for ease of thinking. We follow others unquestioning and do as they do because it is so easy to not think. I watch the news of another mega church pastor who is being sued in civil court over some possible indiscretions. This is a man who lives in opulence all built on his twenty five thousand member church preaching the word. We fall in line sadly in a world behind politicians who speak the best or offer the biggest possibility of promises that of course will be never kept.
“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things. The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge. To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.” Dietrich Bonheoffer
I wonder if some of these wealthy pastors would continue their preaching in a manner consistent with Bonheoffer, one of the few Christians to die in Germany’s concentration camps. He died doing what he believed preaching against the Nazi regime and protecting Jews as the Nazi came looking for them. He is considered a great theologian and philosopher and he lived as he preached. As I read this passage how easy we get swept up in knowledge and perhaps lose the significance.

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” Plato

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” Samuel Smiles

Far too often we garble the message with too many words. Plato had it right there are many who talk simply to hear themselves talk. I often talk about how questions from four year olds are some of the best because they have not been subjected yet to others opinions and scrutiny. Children are silenced when we tell them they are wrong before they even ask the question. It does take failure to learn and to gain wisdom. Smiles points out what Edison would allude to in his quest for a light bulb in that he found ten thousands bulbs that did not work and one that did. I have not read as much of Gibran as I wish I had and am working on that.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Kahlil Gibran

“A prudent question is one half of wisdom.” Francis Bacon

“Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, and is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you, as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox. Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, and is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form.” Buddha

There is clarity in youth that muddles as we grow older. I see little children as containing wisdom only to lose it through interaction in society and then to slowly regain as they grow older and go through the process of being human. Some may retain pieces of that wisdom and not take as long to return back too that childlikeness. It is a circle much like the circle of life.

“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy…but anywhere is the center of the world.” Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

I have been reading and seeking to understand Black Elk for nearly forty years and each year I am able to know and understand more. Perhaps it is wisdom or errors along the way that led me back to the understanding of his words. Black Elk was a holy man who worked into his eighties in or around the reservation harvesting crops for farmers in the area. He was not gaudy or opulent in his life but humble with the power and understanding that he had. He was respected for his knowledge and wisdom and perhaps is a good point to stop today. I hope one day I will not have to end as I have for so long now. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Far too often it is about understanding

Bird Droppings September 26, 2010
Far too often it is about understanding

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving. “ Dale Carnegie

I wrote on Friday about forgiveness which we tend to forget about far too often but as I finished my day out with students on Friday another issue came to the front. Seldom do we take time to understand. As I talked with my students through each block (period) of the day little things came out that many times we overlook. What if a student’s parents have just divorced, or a sibling is sick, perhaps an eviction from their home and in one situation a death in the family. As a teacher I try and be aware of what is going on in my students lives but many times students and people in general will not post of facebook or some other social network but hold it in? Looking for little clues and taking a student aside to ask a question or two without prying sometimes will give an insight as to perhaps some underlying issue that is impacting that child that day.

“Keep constantly in mind in how many things you yourself have witnessed changes already. The universe is change, life is understanding.” Marcus Aurelius, 121 ADE

“The best cure for worry, depression, melancholy, brooding, is to go deliberately forth and try to lift with one’s sympathy the gloom of somebody else.” Arnold Bennett

“Man is always inclined to be intolerant towards the thing, or person, he hasn’t taken the time adequately to understand…” Robert R. Brown

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow-men; and along those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” Herman Melville, 1819

Life is about understanding and interaction. It is the interconnections that make us who we are occasionally I will offer this is where we find the word soul. In my years of writing I have discussed my own symbolic concept of life a jigsaw puzzle many times. I see that we are much like a puzzle with countless pieces falling into place each intricate and each with numerous facets. The pieces interconnect and eventually give us our life’s purpose and provide a more full understanding of all that is. I am starting to get a bit metaphysical but I do have a doctorate in metaphysics at least that is what the paper on my wall states.

“Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief in denying them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803

“Find peace with yourself by accepting not only what you are, but what you are never going to be.” Author Unknown

“Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third.” Marge Piercy

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.” Kahlil Gibran

“The one who understands does not speak; the one who speaks does not understand.” Chinese Proverb

As I gathered quotes for this subject it always seems I can find or fit in a Ralph Waldo Emerson statement. Somewhere along the way I listed him as someone I would like to meet. I see Emerson’s view of soul more in line with Special Agent Gibbs’ gut feeling as he investigates a crime. It is that aspect of us where we know. Many people avoid and or deny that part of who they are.
It is difficult for anyone to admit they will never be something. In America we are raised we can accomplish anything. Teaching special education I do my best to keep high expectations of my students but as days go by, weeks and months even with constant focus and attention there are times when cognition, imagination and life experiences will get the best of a student and they will reach a plateau that may go on forever. Even within that seemingly halt in progression more can be done but each step and each piece of the puzzle gets harder to find and harder yet to fit in. One of the big pieces of their puzzle is the sixteen hours away from school time enough to forget and lose what gains were made in the previous eight hours. Gibran brings my heart and soul back to try again with his philosophical optimism. The last quote could be from Luther Standing Bear or Chief Joseph as they discuss how Native American’s find wisdom in silence.

“And in the midst of sorrow, sickness, death or misfortune of any kind and in the presence of the notable and great, silence was the mark of respect. More powerful than words was silence with the Lakota.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

“It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand, and what those things are. Human understanding has vulgarly occupied itself with nothing but understanding, but if it would only take the trouble to understand itself at the same time it would simply have to posit the paradox. “ Soren Kierkegaard

I find it interesting that often philosophers are victims of their own advice. Much of philosophy is looking for understanding or rationale for our existence and Kierkegaard put a twist on it saying that is all human kind has done is look for understanding and we yet forget to understand ourselves. I was nearly thirty five almost forty till I truly began finding who I was. I had been listening to others opinion of or others interpretation of who I was but never looked into my own heart and soul. It was walks earlier in the morning that helped me settle into a clear view of who I was. I would walk each morning in the wee hours under the stars with a good friend who was at that time in seminary. We would discuss philosophy, theology, education, and life in general as we walked five miles each day.

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.” Kahlil Gibran

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Confucius

“It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.” Harry S. Truman

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” Galileo Galilei

These thoughts are sort of a mix in this effort to figure out understanding. I liked the first quote of Gibran in that it is what we are searching for more than where we have been that is crucial. The prime component of education is Confucius contribution, for it is through doing that we also truly learn. Had to get some John Dewey in except that it was a thousand years before Dewey that man realized what Dewey preached that experience is the greatest teacher. While I have never been a big Truman fan this statement from the former president is a powerful one. The great scientist Galileo offers that it is in discovery that we find truth and understanding. For me that is the one that giving me a more clear view of this idea of understanding. It is not in seeking a clear definitive point but it is that aspect of seeking to know that provides the fuel and tools for understanding.

“This concept of life and its relations with humanizing, and gave to the Lakota an abiding love. It filled his being with joy and mystery of living; it gave him reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

Perhaps in the world view of Native Americans is an answer. Sometimes acceptance was a key and reverence for life, along with knowing the puzzle pieces do fit together rather than are random parts of nothing as some people seem to think in today’s society. As a day is running its course I will end this discourse and again plead that we each search our own souls and keep all in harms way on our minds and in our hearts.
namaste
bird

Finding a way to forgive

Bird Droppings September 24, 2010
Finding a way to forgive

“Many people are afraid to forgive because they feel they must remember the wrong or they will not learn from it. The opposite is true. Through forgiveness, the wrong is released from its emotional stranglehold on us so that we can learn from it. Through the power and intelligence of the heart, the release of forgiveness brings expanded intelligence to work with the situation more effectively.” David McArthur & Bruce McArthur

When I started early this morning I was going in one direction and as events transpire I end up shifting gears heading another direction. Forgiveness is psychologically sound as a remedy for traumas that befall mankind and yet so often we aggravate and sustain the issue through thoughts of or actual revenge. The McArthur’s hit on a key point as they address the emotional stranglehold we so often fall into when an event comes upon us that we deem wrong or evil in some cases.

“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note–torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” Henry Ward Beecher

“Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares forgive an injury.” E. H. Chapin

“We are all on a life long journey and the core of its meaning, the terrible demand of its centrality is forgiving and being forgiven.” Martha Kilpatrick

There are many aspects of forgiveness that have always struck me as being somewhat interesting. Christianity uses forgiveness as a base for its religious activities yet over the years has somewhat confused the issue with such famous theological terms as once saved always saved which eludes to an initial salvation sealing forever you ability to do wrong and get away with it. However a famous line from a stoning outside the city gates of Jerusalem back in the day when the leaders had convicted a woman of adultery and were getting ready to stone the woman and a young man was questioned about the act. He knew it was a political trap and he knew it. He drew a bit in the sand a few words in ancient Aramaic and turned to the group and asked, “Who among you is without sin should cast the first stone. “ Slowly the group dissipated and the woman came to him asking what she should do and his response was “go and sin no more”. Too many people seem to forget that part of the scriptures.

“When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, and we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.” Louis B. Smedes

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” Louis B. Smedes

“Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another’s control… to be locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always. The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else’s nightmare.” Lance Morrow

I have watched all the gangster movies on TV and in every one the evil murderous scandalous leader on his death bed asks for forgiveness from the priest. I have always wanted to see the priest say sorry not good enough or tough beans and who knows what else. Forgiveness is an aspect of living not death. It is who we are and why we are on a daily basis.

“We are all on a life long journey and the core of its meaning, the terrible demand of its centrality is forgiving and being forgiven.” Martha Kilpatrick

“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.” George MacDonald

As I read earlier today forgiveness was discussed as an aspect of love. Forgiveness is the highest form of love both to be forgiven and to forgive. That is a hard idea to understand in the world of greed and corruption. It is hard to understand when everyone seems to be diametrically focused on them.

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Robert Quillen

“Forgiveness is the final form of love.” Reinhold Niebuhr

“One forgives to the degree that one loves.” Francois de La Rochefoucauld

“The most tender part of love, each other to forgive.” John Sheffield

I have always been a fan of Reinhold Niebuhr and his Serenity Prayer. This great theologian of the late 1950’s was on the far edge of theology in his time. He had a firm belief that faith had to visible as well as a matter of inner peace. Your life needed to reflect what you claimed in your heart. This concept has been controversial since the Middle Ages when some would simply do good works occasionally to gain forgiveness. Niebuhr was about setting the example showing that you could live as you said.

“Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again.” Dag Hammarskjold

“Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love.” Mahatma Gandhi

“We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck . . . But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.” Ellen Goodman

So a day of pondering and wondering about various views of forgiveness and one last quote for today.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Louis B. Smedes

A long day and a weekend ahead and to end as always please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Being where you need to be

Bird Droppings September 23, 2010
Being where you need to be

“A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.” Dr. Sam Keenre

Many the day and time I have said I am where I need to be at t his moment as I teach special education in a high school in Georgia. My entire life has been getting to this point and to this degree of understanding of experiences. I was addressing prior experiences with several teachers earlier and how we expect kids to have the same experiences coming into a class as we do or I should say many teachers see students that way. It sort of hit me hard as I am co-teaching in a class with a first year teacher and not having co-taught before I am looking at things somewhat different. I am watching kids who have never read a book other than in school try and get involved in a discussion on Romeo and Juliet or Edgar Allan Poe. I got a bit carried away the other day on some Poe stories and was amazed at how all the kids not only were listening but asking questions. We take far too much for granted in our interactions. Maybe today’s youth know more about electronics and computers but when discussing philosophy or theology most haven’t a clue. Most kids have never taken a moment to ponder outside of school.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” George Bernard Shaw

I taught so many years ago and loved teaching but economic reasons took me into my second love graphic arts. I was paid considerable more to design flyers and transparencies and doing dark room work than teaching would ever have hoped to pay. I often wondered in those twenty three years away from teaching which I believe is my purpose in life why was I not back where I wanted to be.

“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.” Viktor Frankl

“Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of life is to grasp as much as we can out of that infinitude” Alfred North Whitehead

It took a multitude of events to bring me to my senses and to get me back n track. Each one could have been enough but in a series I was often under pressure just to make it through the day. Often I recall how it took a multitude of events to bring me to my senses and to get me back on track. Each one could have been enough but in a series I was often under pressure just to make it through the day. It was through the course of my daily journaling that I found my way indirectly back to education.

“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” James Thurber

My first day back in a school building was destined to be more than a normal day as into the morning September 11, 2001 our school went into lock down. Muslim friends of my sons were picked up by their parents and the grimness of events that transpired eventually sunk in. I actually could not remember the day I started other than it was a Tuesday a week or so after Labor Day. Now nearly ten years later I am sitting in the school after a long meeting with a parent about a child. I am no longer confused as I sit and write searching for answers. My searches now go deeper and longer trying to unravel this purpose and rationale for why we are here and why we do what we do.

“To have passion, to have a dream, to have a purpose in life. And there are three components to that purpose, one is to find out who you really are, the second is to serve other human beings, because we are here to do that and the third is to express your unique talents and when you are expressing your unique talents you lose track of time.” Deepak Chopra

Truly I have lost track of time as each moment seems to flow into the next and each day into the weeks and months. I enjoy what I do and find solace in the sanctuary of my room at school and in the students I work with.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches.” Napoleon Hill

“To actually feel like you’ve done something good with your life and you’re useful to others is what I was always wanting, and was always looking for.” Angelina Jolie

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller

I recall some of my first readings on Carl Jung and synchronicity and how this seemed to be an evident power in my life each step leading to the next. I remember the day a consultant told me to close my business and find another line of work and then proceeded to suggest a book for me to read. A new age book James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. One day by chance I was hit in the head at Borders with a book as it fell off the shelf and by chance it was Redfield’ s book. As I look back in my life to each event leaving my home state of Pennsylvania to come to Georgia and each piece of my life’s puzzle I now know there was more than random chance events. I know there was purpose guiding direction in what I learned and what I understood. I often wonder if my parents drew out a diagram of where they wanted me to be as an adult back when I was a tiny baby and then set about sending me on my way. In 1954 a family counselor wrote a poem and put it out to friends. Soon that poem took on a life of its own and millions were scattered around the globe. In 1972 or so the author saw a copy on a refrigerator of a friend and went about copywriting the poem.

“Perhaps you’ve never heard of Dorothy Law Nolte, but you’ve likely seen her most famous, in fact, her only famous work. It might even be hanging on your fridge as it has for decades in millions of family kitchens around the world. Titled “Children Learn What They Live,” the poem begins: If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.” May 6, 2005, Bettijane Levine, Times Staff Writer

So I have gone through the day and am running a bit behind in my posting but various meetings and such have slowed me down. My music is playing softly and relaxing and I am nearing the end of my discourse.

“All programming for prosperity should be built on spiritual foundations. The first step is to enter the spiritual dimension, the alpha level, and determine what your purpose in life is. Find out what you are here for, what you are supposed to do with your life.” Jose Silva

In my studies of Native American philosophies this idea of inner search is the basis for many of the journeys and sources of self understanding. Perhaps some of my own moments sitting in my quiet place at home sheltered by pecan tress and pines listening to crickets and tree frogs has helped ease me along. I wonder each day as I rise and greet the morning. Reading the news today it seems we are in for a difficult few weeks in politics and as I have for so long now closed each day please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.
namaste
bird