Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Blessing of Anxiety

Anxiety or worry is the uncomfortable yet valuable experience of being seized by a new idea. All anxiety contains the new idea that will change our life.

When we are worrying, the mind is obsessively attaching to some new or foreign idea that is upsetting our current paradigm or belief system. The aim is not to get rid of it, but to discover what it is, reflect on it, then critically examine it and find the ego-shattering element in it. Stick with the most blatant, current, agonizing piece of anxiety in your mind. Jesus said, "So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34 Jesus never said to stop worrying altogether, but rather to just worry about what is on the top of the anxiety heap. Worry consciously. By that I mean that we should identify our most persistent concern, write it down, question it thoroughly and listen to what it says. Worry is not the problem. The problem is too many worries at once, and not knowing how to worry consciously and clearly.

In the Gospel of Thomas we read:

Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed (anxious). When they are disturbed (worried), they will marvel, and will reign over all" Saying 2

This group of ancient Christians realized that the authentic life would begin with a troubled soul.

If God created the human psyche, then we must allow it to function as it was created. Worry moved humans from caves to huts, and from huts to buildings; anxiety harnessed fire and motivated people to every great invention and discovery that we know.

The ego-self is like a seed pod with a hard outer protective layer that keeps the precious contents safe inside. In order for the contents to spill out and put roots down into the soil, the shell must be crushed or disintegrate. That is the beneficial function of anxiety and even depression, and other uncomfortable feelings. That is what Jesus was addressing when he shocked his listeners with sayings like, "Blessed are those who mourn," and "Blessed are the poor in spirit," and "Blessed are those who are persecuted." These are not normally seen as blessed experiences, but experiences we usually ask God to deliver us from. But Jesus saw every event in life as containing value for the making of a soulful human being. That is why he could admonish people to love their enemies and pray for those who do evil to us.

So locate your most persistent and current worry. Find the point of it, learn the lesson, take action if need be and let the new idea inherent in that worry break open the old self. Watch the new self emerge.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Are Muslims the Problem, or Politicians?

I recently received a long list of why Muslims could and should not be in America: CAN MUSLIMS BE GOOD AMERICANS?

I suggest you read it. It has some good and very valid and accurate points that MUST be learned by those who know nothing about Islam. Here is my response to the question: Can Muslims Be Good Americans?:

Similar concerns and problems were true of many American Christians in the beginning of this nation. It took time for Puritan Congregationalists to give up the idea of a "Christian" theocracy -- remember John Calvin's Presbyterian Geneva which inspired the Puritans was similar to Mohammed's Medina. The Anglicans of the 1700s were arresting, beating, jailing and even hanging Baptists in Virginia. Quakers were considered traitors because they often remained neutral or loyal to King George. The Lutherans hated all non-Lutherans and everyone hated and mistrusted the Catholics and the Jews. There was only one Roman Catholic signer of the American Declaration of Independence named Charles Carroll and many didn't want his name on it. Most Americans favored slavery of blacks, the slaughter of Indians and not allowing women to vote. (For more, read the national bestseller, Founding Faith, by Steven Waldman).

Things in this country have radically changed and always change in this great nation. Why?

~ Because the genius of this American nation is in its ability to self reflect, self correct and assimilate differences. Our problem is only secondarily Islam. Our worst problem is a so called enlightened system that wants to accommodate to all cultures rather than educate them in the basics of American freedom and our system of an evolving democratic republic based on Law for all people. The problem is with our government and educational systems that have become so multicultural that we don't make people see what it means to be an American. Multiculturalism is an addenda to ethnic groups in this nation, not a foundational concept. We celebrate our various heritages as Americans, not in place of being Americans. And by American I do not mean some jingoistic stereotype that one lives in conservative Texas or progressive Boston, but the core principles found in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, as well as the brilliant and many debates that went into the forming and framing of each.

So stop blaming the Muslims, as ignorant and religiously bigoted as they are. Human beings are ignorant, selfish and bigoted by nature. One thing the founders all agreed on was that good politics is rooted in an accurate assessment of human nature. They knew that all humans, without divine intervention and the best of our reasoning powers, end up like the Muslims, or Puritans, or any other group that thinks it is perfect and complete.

The problem is that we have lost our vision and our purpose as a nation. The rise of an entitlement mentality, a naive politics of Utopianism, concern with self esteemism rather than personal and social responsibility, a system of relative legalism and loss of a divine connection are many of our problem. Muslims are simply filling the void we have allowed. That is the problem in Europe. European nations have experimented with religious institutionalisms, secular humanisms, social atheisms and liberal neutrality. That has created a 200 year old vacuum which is being filled with traditional Islam. Read the shocking accounts by liberal journalist and gay progressive author Bruce Bawer in his two books, While Europe Slept, and Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom to see what is really going on in Europe.

When the divine disappears, it will be replaced by something, often a tyrannical version of the divine. For this, read Carl Jung's brilliant essay written in 1957, The Undiscovered Self. Blame the politicians and leaders of our institutions. Work your ass off to vote them out, fire them and get the U.S. back on track. Then those Muslims who want to be here will stay, and those who don't will leave. Those who want to participate in a nation that believes in divine connection (not religious necessarily), evolving democratic republicanism and a free market and government that operates under checks and balances will know what they are getting into. As it stands today, we have become so aimless and foundationless in the name of wishy-washy tolerance and air-headed acceptance, that the next strongest ideology will take over. Then, we will be right back under some form of social and/or religious tyranny.