Saturday, March 31, 2007
TOO MUCH PRACTICAL APPLICATION: WE NEED SOME IDEAS
"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." ~George Smith Patton, War as I Knew It, 1947
When I was in college, I took some courses on education. It was all the rage to 'make the teaching practical', to help the students 'apply' the information. Don't tell them to make a boat, show them 'how' to make a boat. Publishing statistics tell us that the quickest way to get a bestseller is to write a 'How To' book. This makes sense, if you want to learn how somebody else did it. And clearly, there is a time for learning how somebody else did it - especially if you are an apprentice.
But there comes a time when we need to leave the 'how to' mentality behind and learn to use our innate creative imagination. No person of noteriety was ever hailed for reading 'how to' books. They invented. I am addressing the realm of psycho-spirituality. America is currently undergoing a renaissance of sorts around spiritual and psychological teachings. From Oprah to Chopra we have information, from Wayne Dyer to Joyce Meyers, practical wisdom is flowing. These are all good and helpful teachers - and I challenge you to go further.
Antoine de Saint Exupery said "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather the wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." It is time to question everything, to turn the spiritual kaleidoscope and see what new possibilities emerge. It is time to stop telling people how to build boats, and give them vast oceanic ideas. The 60s gave us a sort of psycho-spiritual surge as streams of new ideas trickled into America. We borrowed heavily from the East, and learned much. It is time to go beyond the 60s. It is time to go beyond the East, or the West. It is time to recognize that there is a vast Ocean called Imagination or Soul which awaits new boats.
We have a sense organ called the imagination located in the body and brain. Our dreams and fantasies open us into new realms. Question everything, hold fast to that which is of value.
Here are some areas we need to question, to explore some new ideas:
1. The Role of Suffering: Is it possible that a Universe which creates galaxies and solar systems through collisions, eruptions and chaos, operates in the psyche the same way? Some scientists believe that water arrived on this planet via a barrage of icy comets. Perhaps the abuses, fears, anxieties, resentments and dark chaos contain the elements of life. Is it time to jettison our victim mentality, disguised as family therapy with the obsessive need to 'heal' from past abuse, and begin looking for the life giving water in these psychic comet impacts?
2. Imagination as a Sense Organ: What if there are six senses? What if the brain is an organ that detects images from a realm outside our brains? What if the mind is swimming around in a sea of yet unformed images, bizarre dream images of not yet formed possibilities? What if imagination is not what goes on inside my material brain, but what comes into my brain from the outside? Perhaps infinite and fantastic potentials swirl around us like radio signals? What if we love literature, art and theatre because these objects stimulate the brain like scented roses stimulate the nose, or smooth silk cloth pleases the finger tips?
3. Ego as Enemy: What if the ego is not an enemy, but a friend? What if Ego is one archetypal form in a sea of millions of Living Presences? What if we westerners have developed a whole psycho-spiritual system based on one life form called ego in a Sea of countless Living Beings? Walt Whitman wrote, "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I ontradict myself, I contain multitudes."
4. Human Potential: What if realizing human potential is not the aim of life, but rather a tool for a much larger goal? What if individual potential is a vessel of soul, a conduit of character and destiny that extend beyond this lifetime? We so often make realizing our potential the goal - what if it is only a means, one of many?
5. Interfaith Tolerance: I am an advocate for Interfaith dialogue, yet it seems to me that we live in a time of radical reformation. How about Intra-faith dialogue - going outside the different 'faiths' in order to reach out to all of humanity, even those with no faith? How does interfaith dialogue with those having no faith? Is it time to declare the end of sectarian religion, even if it is a liberal and tolerant religion? Besides, why do we want to be tolerated? Imagine getting married and your partner at the altar saying, "I promise to tolerate you til death do us part." How exciting is that? I don't want toleration - I want respect. I prefer opposition to tolerance. At least in opposition you have the possibility of a third way developing through the situation. Neither Jesus nor Buddha championed interfaith - they championed human beings. They were willing to set aside their designer religious clothing, expand their stories and include others as equals because they were human beings.