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Why the conversation?

This is the post excerpt.

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Today, we often decide to avoid conversations that will lead to the clashing of wills.  This is what we commonly term an “argument”.  Since many of us have decided to avoid conflicts as a way to navigate this diverse world we have also lost a necessary means of discovering common truths.  This has now created a large society of relative truths which results in either “live and let live” attitudes or violence.  Violence happens when the wills of individuals feel squashed because others don’t want to listen and have “the conversation” to expose both sides of an argument.

The key to conversation is to open our vulnerabilities and in today’s climate that is becoming more difficult since we’ve becoming more unwilling to open ourselves to others for fear of being attacked.  Instead we seem to spend more time attempting to conform others to social norms rather than seeking to be a “fellow traveler” in life’s journeys’.

I propose that when we don’t want to have “the conversation” we are in effect not allowing our hearts to be vulnerable.  A vulnerable heart won’t build a wall around it to protect our feelings.  Understanding ones heart requires for it to be exposed and this takes courage.  This isn’t the same as standing up for ones principles but instead standing up for humility.  This is a difficult choice.  However, humility grounds us in our human condition and means we recognize we are only part of the wholeness of life not just individual self-sustaining life forms.  We rely on each other and all creation for our humanity and once we truly realize that fact we then realized we need to open our hearts to hear what the conversations are telling us.

How might we start such a process?  One of the first things we might do is start these conversations and that is the purpose and intent for this blog.  The key to making this sort of conversation meaningful is not to be judgmental.  This is hard for us to do; it’s something I struggle with constantly.  So when we see judgement which many times ends conversations by putting the wall up thus closing the heart telling your inner self I don’t want to listen any longer because I have resolved for my inner self a belief to be either right or wrong, then we need to identify it as such to the individual so that they can see it for what it is.

What I would like to attempt is not to establish what’s right or wrong but discover what’s in our hearts that motivates our wills.  Is it love or is it fear?  Once we determine the motivators of the heart we can drill down to the sub-levels of what is objective truth and what might be relative truths.  I say this because I know we can fool ourselves by seeing love as a cover-up of our inner emotions because all too often those emotions are actually driven by fear.  Let me try to explain this with dependency and interdependency.  Dependency is allowing another person to have more control of your choices than you have yourself.  This leads to one way communication, limits any conversation and can erupt into violence (with many married couples even divorce).  Whereas interdependency helps to point out that we both need to be accountable, reliable and vulnerable to each other’s needs and desires out of a defined sense of belonging through our attachment with them.  Without conversation we never will get there.

Therefore when we can uncover or unpackage our inner feelings of the heart to find the motivation of our wills I believe we come to confront the inner feelings of love or fear.  This binary analysis is not to be resolute but to find contemplation which is where the core of the heart converses with our consciousness and allows our vulnerable heart to grow in knowledge about ourselves and all creation.

This is my intent and why I want to open conversations on this or any topic.  Please feel free to comment and participate in this experiment.  My intent is to facilitate a non-judgmental focus, not to be a talking head.  From time to time I might share my thoughts or prompt discussion with my comments as I too am looking to open my heart by this sharing experience.

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What is happening to human consciousness?

Some would suggest that evil is a result of consciousness that discerns what is G-d’s will and more specifically what’s not.  This is a different level of knowledge.  Knowing was astutely suggested by Socrates…that if you think you assuredly understand something, then you most probably don’t know.  And not knowing seems to manifest as either having an assumption that favor a particular perspective or else leads to more discernment.

Holding tensions are essential to reasoning because there are at least two sides to everything.  Seems that G-d keeps both sides in a balance to see what man will choose…His will or the individual’s will.  If the human is in sync with G-d’s will, we move towards perfection, but if the individual’s will counters G-d’s, then we walk further away from not only achieving ideal but also G-d’s  community.

This tension many times is misunderstood as a majority of people today take conflicting perspectives as out right divisions.  This could be the result of man’s immediate desire to have answers without waiting for our consciousness to catch up.  But, I feel many people today want quick resolutions because discernment would admit to not knowing and the fragile personas of so many can’t handle this perceived inability to be in the know.

This is a good segway into a short discussion on Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Machines in the future will be able to discern so long as they are programmed to do so.  Can they be coded to select more data points than a human can absorb?  Maybe, but the consequences of their choices are void of feelings which come from relationships.  They can have connections in that they can obtain more information if their boundaries are open to it but unless a human interjects their own feelings, the machine cannot correctly choose as a human, therefore, I believe that computers cannot be completely autonomous and a human in the loop will always be necessary as we go forward.

A thought to contemplate…if machines are programmed to learn more inward focused (selfish), then we have created something akin to the fallen Angels.  Think of the Angels as hard-wired spirits with infused hard drives filled with knowledge for their missions.  They still have a choice, and their power and abilities are far superior to humans.  G-d didn’t create evil, he created the Angels, and about 1/3 of them choose to create evil which we can define as not accepting G-d’s will.

To quote Cynthia Bourgeault, “the heart is first and foremost an organ of spiritual perception.  Its primary function is to look beyond the obvious, the boundary surface of things, and see into a deeper reality.”  Machines cannot have hearts they can only project the human intent which masts the inner soul of the beings who programmed it.  Therefore every time a programmer puts self-organizing functions into play, make sure that the boundaries of the program touch as many consequences as possible before accepting it.  Or else, you might be rudely surprised by the results.

Why have a tabernacle

This past Sunday, someone in our church Bible study questioned why we need a physical presence of G-d as in the tabernacle that was built during Exodus when G-d gave Moses the requirement to build the holy space. Also why today in our church do we need the tabernacle to hold the consecrated hosts for the Eucharist?

His thinking if I captured correctly is if G-d is everywhere and in us as children of the Father, then why is it important to have a physical place as the Jews did in the temple and we Christians who believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist have in our church tabernacles today. I have pondered on this reasonable question but haven’t found yet a specific church position and will keep searching to find out but to me the mention of a tabernacle in the Old Testament and projected in the New was not man’s design on how to worship G-d but instead were requested directly by G-d Himself to Moses and by Jesus to his disciples. These are both covenant relationships with G-d’s people in both the Old and New Testaments. The container is not important but what’s in the container (tabernacle) is very important to how we come to know and love G-d.

Since covenant relationships are sealed by obedience to an oath by both parties this might seem rather an antiquated way to build trust between the two parties. However, let’s take this conversation to the very essence of trust building within a family which is basically what we have here between G-d and His children. The Father promises to love, defend and care for his children and the children promise to obey the father’s wishes. When either one of these two arrangements degrades, the oath of the covenant loses its meaning. Trust is broken and a new covenant either has to materialize or amended else we completely destroy our relationship.

We know that there are six covenants in the Bible, five in the Old and one in the New Testament. In fact, this New Testament covenant is the entire summary of the New Testament …not the specific numbered books themselves within the Bible. Trusting in the words of G-d has always been our lifeblood for eternal joy with the Father. If the Father tells us that He desires a physical presence and wishes to walk with His people we should be so happy and blessed. Without which the covenant relationship or trust in G-d’s own words are meaningless and we are no longer obedient but instead, we believe what truths we wish and pick and choose what words we want from G-d. This is a form of relativism.

This has happened several times in history when covenants were broken or lost by the people of G-d. Even today there are many Christians and even some Catholics that don’t believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This was the only request of Jesus to worship His Father through His Pascal offering of Himself. To be obedient is to trust Him at His word. This is an attempt to answer the question asked but it hasn’t been vetted by the church and if I find another or better answer, I will update this posting.  If anyone else would like to comment, please do.  There are no right answers but just information sharing to find what could be true in a loving relationship.

When does a soul enter into creation

There has been much conversation on when the human body receives a soul.  This discussion has been a very pointed one concerning abortions.  Some scientist studying human embryos suggest that the soul enters the body of the fetus about 8 weeks from conception.  While others who are supposedly religious scientists even claim that the spirits have a choice of bodies to choose from and won’t choose until later in the pregnancy cycle which they have determined to be six months.  However, this is something that appears to lack understanding about truths of the creation of life.

The idea of unrestricted intelligence is what forms human consciences because an all knowing being had to initiate all things created in the physical world or the causality of creation would not be explainable otherwise.  With that, it has to follow in causality that all creation (material and non-material) includes the spirit world as well.  If you accept that an all unrestricted intelligence forms consciences than you would understand that there is no timeline for creation with this Supreme Being and that means past-present-future are in play from the point of creation (both material and non-material) because with unrestricted intelligence means all-knowing.

Therefore all spirits (sapience creatures…such as Homo sapiens; Angels; and for some believe in Jinns) have been already created within the consciousness of the unrestricted intelligence.  Most of us have an understanding that spirits have no shape or physical presence with the exception of humans which many call this spirit the soul.  Many people believe that a guardian angel is an angel spirit that is supporting our being but not our soul’s spirit as this is a pure spirit that was infused at creation with a spirit’s mission hard wired in them as they were not born, as all pure spirits were not born but created (no mommy or daddy spirits making baby spirits).  This is not the same as the human soul’s spirit.

If a future human soul has no timeline with regard to the unrestricted intelligent Being, then every human that will ever be conceived has already a soul waiting for it.  Think of it this way, since the Supreme Creator is not restricted by time, why would one think that a soul enters the body at a point in time after conception instead of right at creation itself.  Think of a fast forward of a life as a video to an all-knowing Being.  At what point in this fast-forwarded sequence of events in this video is the point of creation for the human form?  Once the seed is in the ground it can grow but not all seeds make it bear fruit.  The same for humans, the seed is planted when the egg and sperm meet, not after and the end result is left to this physical world how we care for this union.

In summary, when one tries to define when a soul enters a life form it has to be at inception because any fetus has the potential for human form at conception even if a person’s intent was not such as in the cases of rape or failed contraceptives.  There have been many cases of Near Death Experiences that people met relatives that were unborn but were conceived.  Some of these conceptions were miscarriages, abortions, mothers dying with children in the womb, etc.  The thought that any conceived human that never was born is waiting on the other side as part of your family is something to ponder as it then gives us a better perspective on the creation of life and our responsibility towards that life.

Road Kill

Reference: Charlie Rose (Public TV Show) dated Jan 27, 2017, with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

I recently watched this dated hour episode of Charlie Rose interviewing Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and had this thought to stimulate a conversation on the issue of the “haves and have nots” of our society.  As Warren Buffett put it, the more we turn away from an agrarian society, to industrial and now highly technical that we will increase the “road kill” of the average American workers.  This was agreed by Bill Gates in the conversation as a fact as we approach a society that will rapidly evolve as technology expands and information of this knowledge and its usefulness is globalized, resulting in an ability to quickly terminate jobs in areas once secured.

This “road kill” of the human workforce will be a serious problem and it will increase even more rapidly as Artificial Intelligence (AI) evolves with technology.  But interesting that with both Gates and Buffett being huge philanthropists, that both suggested to Mr. Rose that it is the responsibility of governments to solve this problem.  Thus the free market creates the problem but presently the free market doesn’t solve it.  This then leads us to consider socialism as an answer to our government.  By the way Mr. Buffett did mention tax credits as a possible solution which could be the best answer for governments limited involvement at this time.  More on that thought later in this conversation. 

Socialism gives more power to governments similar to communism and thus reduces freedoms.  This then is an opposing force of ideologies and pits many followers on both sides (free markets/socialist) to challenge our way of life and will influence how we move forward in our country.  But more importantly for me is the idea of giving the government more authority and responsibility for our livelihoods.  This changes the original agreement of the American government’s purpose to foremost defend the nation and allow freedoms of individuals to prosper.

After working for the Federal Government many years of my life as well as much in the public and private sector, I feel somewhat qualified to give my observations on the effectiveness of the government when profits are not the motivator.  Governments like to build organizations and the larger the better to hide inefficiencies and accountabilities as well as increase individuals pay and status.  I have seen much non-beneficial to small accomplishments of government organizations that could have been better served with a fraction of the people involved.  Without a clear objective like the bottom line used in business, this non-productivity is usually precipitated by a “wait-out” of political climates that changed every time new leadership was elected or appointed and this cycle usually runs every 2 to 4 years.  If we think that government is the answer it would be better to just re-distribute the wealth of the country and leave government organizations out of the equation.  But this doesn’t sit well with many people as they rather see government programs to fix things with our tax dollars than give it back to the needy.  I am here and now telling you it cost the government far more to fix than redistribution.  Plus we lose freedoms with more organizational oversite and governance.

Many years ago in some societies (a good example Judaism), they would establish a Jubilee year where all debts were erased and slaves were freed.  These Jubilee years set the playing field back to equal every 7 or 50 years depending on the customs.  This is much like redistribution of wealth and it worked for them as they prospered as a society.  Thomas Jefferson once said we need a revolution about every 40 years.  The reason was if we didn’t the haves and have nots would continue to grow as the laws supported the governing class.  Therefore tax credits might be the closest thing we can do that would be similar to a Jubilee year but it would be every year in this fast paced economy.  Are there any thoughts to add to this conversation?  Please feel free to comment.

Our True Nature

Everything in life starts and ends with our identities.  There has been much written by scholarly people about the human experiment and based on a study at MIT by Noam Chomsky and Robert Berwick, they have discovered that humans became self-aware about 70,000 years ago when they started to develop universal grammar (some syntactical patterns) to express thoughts and ideas.  Not simply cranial capacity, but the capacity to group syntactical patterns or a hard wiring of the brain.  This fact was also when humans became aware of someone or thing who has unrestricted intelligence.  For many, this was a God or Gods and thus “religion” was born, and laws, mathematics, and economy of societies started forming.  The evolution of humans has and always will be about our identities since the very beginning of this communication explosion.

I have come to believe that this struggle with our identities has been magnified by the shrinking of our cultural differences or “globalization” where information flows between cultures that either creates harmony “diversification” or “separateness” (protecting our own cultures or beliefs).  The issue at the heart of our identities is our illusions of ourselves which many call our “false self” or our acceptance of heuristic notions of unity with all mankind as our “True self”.  Unity comes from oneness and oneness comes from our identity as being children of the same Father or our DNA as humans to include all the variants.

A few years ago after listening to a CD about Dante’s “Divine Comedy” on the seven deadly sins taken from his poem by Bishop Barron, I became aware of how these true selves and false selves are manifested (see chart below).  You see sin is what gets in the way of our true selves.  It is what focuses us on ourselves and not communion with others.  This individualist notion over time has become misinterpreted as “freedom” and therefore is perpetuated by our embracing of freedom as a materialistic reality instead of a transcendent reality.  You see it all goes back to our identities.  And the drivers for our identities has been and always will be based either on “fear” or “love”.  Fear drives us inward to protect our identities while love actually frees us to explore outward our quest for finding the unrestricted intelligence which makes up the universe and everything in it.

I have found that a Franciscan Priest named Richard Rohr, to be very astute about discovering our true self.  He said:  “After Adam & Eve took their identity as separate from their source, “the eyes of both of them were opened” to split universe of suspicion, subterfuge, doubt, and alienation (Gen 3:7).  And “they realized that they were naked.”  The subject-object split.  Know things by; affinity, likeness, or natural connection (“Love”) or merely know things as objects out there and apart from us.  We are not a part of the garden or even in it but instead want to possess it.  Without presence and awareness of our true self, we transgress against our own heart, our own truth, often without realizing that this is what we are doing.  Fr. Rohr says: That’s why he often mentions that we are not punished for our sins: we are punished by our sins.

A root of the word sin by Russ Hudson (Transgression and the Enneagram) is a Greek word “Hamartia” which was most often translated as “sin” in the New Testament.  But this word did not imply transgressions in the sense of breaking a rule or defying an authority.  It meant “to miss the mark” as in an arrow that misses its target.  Hamartia is the way we lose balance and “self-forget” – the way we fall away from the direct experience of Divine Grace…our ego then becomes a way of covering up this suffering rather than addressing it.

In Genesis, it states that man was made in the image and likeness of G-d but we seem to misunderstand how this identity unfolds.  The true human identity must build on this foundational goodness, a true identity “hidden in love and mercy of G-d” as Thomas Merton once put it.  “Image” is our objective identity as children of G-d and “Likeness” is our degree of personal appropriation of that very identity.  We need both, although many believers were not told about the first and gave exclusive emphasis to the “likeness”.  Thus largely ineffective moralism has dominated most organized religions – without any grounding or power from the core identity.

To become who we were created to be, we must get our own “who” right!  Who am I?  Where do I objectively abide?  Where do I come from?  Is my DNA divine or not?  True salvation is to accept G-d’s clear job description…to undo separation of our identity of our true selves.  The great illusion we all must overcome is that of separateness.  Religion’s primary task is to communicate “Union”, to connect people to their original identity.

Meister Eckhart once quoted:  “For G-d to be is to give being, and for man to be is to receive being.”  Our true self is a received self.  At each moment, we exist to the extent we receive existence from G-d who is existence.

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Hatred

I feel we are long overdue to have a conversation on “hatred” and how we as a people under one human race can feel this towards others.  Let’s first try and define what the nature of hate is. This is not mild displeasure for something, but a deep passion that we let loose in our souls.  While many may think passion is a good thing to have, however as Dante Alighieri and many Godly people suggest it can be classified a deadly sin if it is miss directed.

The killing displayed in Charlottesville VA this weekend is an example of passions misdirected and because there were no conversations between the two opposing forces of passions we see only a downward spiral for more disasters to happen in our future.  I premised when I began this blog that the human heart is either driven by love or fear, the same can be said of the outcomes of these drivers.

The foundation of all disorder comes from pride.  Pride is when we identify ourselves as being different from the rest and we turn inward to our own individualism or group of exclusive individuals.  Once we do this we start building defenses around us to maintain this supposedly unique quality and we tend to protect it by allowing “fear” to trigger these defenses and some can turn or result into hate.

When fear becomes the driver, we tend to act upon these feelings by allowing ourselves to manifest a defensive wall and in Charlottesville this weekend that wall was “hate” and because we lack understanding of what fear was driving this hate, it has not been addressed.  If we continue to forgo any discussion and keep blotting out any conversation to find where the fear is on both sides of an altercation we simply kick the problem down the road until it becomes an even bigger and more intense issue.

We find the man behind the wheel of this murderous event in VA was diagnosed with Schizophrenia which is a condition of outward manifesting of the inner fears.  This is a mental condition but in reality, we all have some form of mental perceptions to deal with living among others and ourselves but some more dangerous than others depending on if these perceptions stay hidden from others.  The question we should be asking is: why are there white supremacists, or race related pride that allows human passions to be driven by fear?  Recognizing what we are afraid of is the first step to healing and reconciling our humanity.  Is it economic fears that are internalizing inadequate abilities to support your pride?

The initial reason suggested by the media for this rally was to stop or make aware of the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville.  Lee was a historical figure and he could have fought on either side of the Civil War but chose the South.  I live in the South now but grew up in the Midwest and since moving to the South, I have heard the explanation of what here is called the “War of Northern Aggression” as being purely an economic issue between the industrialized North and the agricultural South.  The fact that slave labor was a part of the perceived success of the Southern economy is pushed aside.

Slavery has been in human history since almost the beginning of time.  Some might say that the indentured servants as many immigrants who came to America in the industrial boom could be a milder form of slavery because they were not owned and physically mistreated but still had to work for the owners of companies to pay for the passage here and were kept in small communities because of their language barriers etc.  But their children because of education could get out from this economic cycle and move up the establishment.  With African slaves, this wasn’t even a remote possibility.  What was done in this country as “economics” was deplorable to human beings and were most horrific of actions to another human we can imagine.

In this conversation, we should also express thoughts of other forms of exclusiveness which can generate separateness and hate.  For example, Fundamental Christians, Zionist, and Fundamental Muslims, etc. all are geared to either join us or oppose us…it is your choice as the only way to be accepted in these inclusive groups.  Race, religion, and politics are all part of the human experiment but because of fears, they have been used to pit us against each other instead of bringing us together.  Tolerance is a virtue when you open your heart to the other sides’ views to find where there can be some inclusiveness.  Let’s begin this conversation and see what the hearts of man have become to confuse this virtue and try to eliminate fears that move us towards hate.

Third Party Conversation

In a conversation this morning with a friend we discussed “third party” political posturing. This conversation made me draw on my experiences as a product manager when I developed marketing strategies of commodity products years ago. Being an engineering undergrad, I was very familiar with binary systems which push towards two choices or balance between forces. Having this foundation in especially statistics from my engineering and business education proved very helpful when I was developing market strategies. What I knew was a balanced market was when two large competitors who have essentially equal market shares are best served by maintaining an equilibrium of the markets to this balanced share. That means when one of these two market leaders either raises or lowers prices, the other is best served to follow suit in a commodity product (meaning no distinct feature difference in product offerings than price sensitivity)…keeping the price structure the same for market share balance. If a price war develops both companies lose profits until either; one gets out of the market; or loses market share. Price stability of commodity products keeps other competitors out of the market unless they can benefit some customers in saving transportation costs or cheaper labor costs.

If we have a third competitor enter the market they have to have something different or new and in commodities, we usually talk of derivatives of enhanced downstream benefits of the commodities that improve customers’ experiences. But note this changes the other commodities productions to up their game to differentiate their products as well and eventually will get us back to stability when there are only two major market share owners. Therefore we benefit by moving forward with three majors, not two but realize stability with two.

This could work for politics as well. Today we have entrenched polar positions that are offering basically the same thing but playing to different illusions of conservativism or liberalism. The issue is what is fair for all, not just a few. Fairness of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is our American commodity. The problem is we have a 50/50 split right now on how that fairness should be manifested. That split is keeping everything in a holding pattern where no one is being benefited and either side will bankrupt the country as the other follows suit to maintain votes or they both want a reduced government which is really rhetoric as politicians never desire less power…don’t see many self-sacrificing politicians today do you?

Since winners take all in our elections, it presents a problem with a third party politics today because the choices are only available in a few places.  Therefore unless we have a 3rd party balance in our entire election processes it cannot become beneficial.  And if you feel that if three is a good number of choices then more would be even better…think again.  As we get more than 3 we start building upon chaos.  At a later time, we can discuss this unique nuclear of stable network designs.