Religiousless confessions

photo-40I was born without a religion, like all people. Religion was something that was introduced in my life slowly, first through the baptism which I was given when I was several months old (I’m a Christian…at least in theory:)), then through the habits with which my grandmother accustomed me (the proverbial Sunday church during the first few years of my life) and the prayers which she taught me. And that’s about as far as religion ever managed to get into my life. Let me highlight again the use of words: religion, not faith. These two are two very different things.

In time religion got out of my life. I slowly became…allergic, let’s say, to church and priests and dogmas and rules to be followed only on paper. I got tired of the saying “do what the priest says, not what the priest does”. It all felt fake, lacking substance, excessively focused on form instead of essence. It was too much about the ritual and too little about faith, too much about objects and too little about people, too much about fear and too little about awareness. And, above all, it was inconstant. The god preached by priests and their religion was one day loving and caring and next day angry and vengeful – which to me seemed more like a bipolar human being behavior, lacked of balance, of poise. The god I had in mind was a being made of a totally different substance, and the patterns provided by religion were somehow too small for it, unable to embrace it.

So my atoms rebelled against the concept of religion as it was and still is, because often religion was and is just a pretext for ignorance and for aspects that have nothing in common with a supposed god. Not just once church felt like a pyramid where the top stone couldn’t care less about the lower stones and just enjoys its high placement, considering it’s only natural for it to be there. (Although, that top stone should be careful, because if the lowest layer of stones, the basis, is broken and unable to hold the entire weight, the rest of the pyramid collapses in a blink.) So, the religion preached by such a church was no religion for me – or for the god I had in mind. Actually, it shouldn’t be a religion for anyone at all. (Yeah, I know, I’m doomed, I’ll burn in hell for the blasphemy I’m writing here :P. BUT, those of you willing to throw the stone, keep in mind that I’m talking about RELIGION, not about GOD :)).

Now, the interesting part in all this is that, while religion followed the exit path, there came in faith. Faith not necessarily in a god above us all, but in a universal connection between all living things, seen or unseen. Faith in the capacity of human kind to learn and grow and understand its role, no matter how limited, in this world of ours. Faith in the beauty of the energy flowing through each and every one of us. Now, maybe this universal, interconnected energy, responds to the name of “god” for some people. Maybe, for others, it’s nothing more than a proof of physics 101, or not even that. But I’ve seen totally unreligious acts of kindness done by people from all corners of the world – and that matters beyond, FAR beyond any religious concept at all.

So, just a rhetoric question to end this small rambling of mine: why can’t humanity be the god of humanity?!

– Liliana Negoi

© 2014, essay, Liliana Negoi, and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All right reserved

IMG_7667LILIANA NEGOI  (Endless Journey and in Romanian curcubee în alb şi negru) ~ is a member of our core team on Into the Bardo. She is the author of three published volumes of poetry in English, which is not her mother tongue but one that she came to love especially because of writing: Sands and Shadows, Footsteps on the San – tanka collection and The Hidden Well.  The last one can also be heard in audio version, read by the author herself on her SoundCloud site HERE.  She is also the author of a novel, Solo-Chess, available for free reading HERE. Many of her creations, both poetry and prose, have been published in various literary magazines.

I Want To Make It Sane Again

file0001824554659what must it be like for you in your part of the world?

there is only silence, I don’t know your name, i know only
that the fire of life makes us one in this, the human journey,
search and return, reaching for the sun, running through mud

walking the gauntlet without a prayer or a blessing

our eyes meet in secret, our hearts open on the fringe,
one breath and the wind blows, one tear and seas rise,
on the street where you live, your friends are all gone

the houses are crushed and the doves have flown

there is only silence, no children playing, no laughter
here and there a light remains to speak to you of loneliness,
my breath caught in my throat, i want to make it sane again

“Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), American poet, writer, and editor

– Jamie Dedes

©2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved, Photo courtesy of morgueFile

photo-on-2012-09-19-at-19-541JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~ I am a mom and a medically retired (disabled) elder. The graces of poetry, art, music, writing and reading continue to evolve as a sources of wonder and solace, as a creative outlet, and as a part of my spiritual practice.

The Year Turns

Written by our own Michael Watson a few days before Christmas, here is the wisdom of the shaman writing in gratitude for the Life we share as we hold our fellow creatures and this earth as intrigral to ourselves and as we recognize the seasons of our souls. He hints at the hope and possibility in our continual rebirthing. Read and ponder. This is worth your time.

Dreaming the World

Ice-Storm The year has turned. This evening, weather permitting, we will gather with others to celebrate the changing seasons and honor Grandfather Fire without whom we could not live. We will mark the Sun’s return, remembering the change of seasons is also within us. Here in the Northern Hemisphere the days will now lengthen as the sun begins His slow drift northward. That is the future; this morning the dark lingers. Jennie has moved through the house; lit candles mark her passage.

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Expanding Our Circle of Compassion

tamayoCharter for Compassion is signed by people from all over the world and endorsed by organizations representing the diversity of religions and cultures:
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“The charter has been translated into more than 30 languages: The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
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“It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
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“We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.” Charter for Compassion, Karen Armstrong
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From the Charter for Compassion signature page: “We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.”
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THE CHARTER FOR COMPASSION AND COMPASSIONATE CITIES ARE ONGOING PROJECTS:  To date some 99,596 people from around the world have signed the Charter, which was started when Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize and made a wish: for help creating, launching and propagating a Charter for Compassion. On November 12, 2009, the Charter was unveiled.

Among those who have given the charter their backing are Richard Branson, Musician Peter Gabriel, Sir Ken Robinson and the Dalai Lama. As of this month, some 99,500 other people from around the world have affirmed it. On April 26, 2010, Seattle became the first city in the world to affirm the charter.

Dalai-Lama_endorsement
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Photo/illustration credits ~ Robert Thurman, Ph.D. (below) by Tktru via Wikipedia under Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike 3.0 unported license.Illustration ~ Charter for Compassion copyrighted logo and The Dalai Lama on Compassionate Cities meme are used under Creative Commons Attribution non-Commercial license.

Bob Thurman
Bob Thurman

“Tenzin Robert Thurman became a Tibetan monk at age 24. He’s a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University, and co-founder of Tibet House US, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization.

“Thurman’s focus is on the balance between inner insight and cultural harmony. In interpreting the teachings of Buddha, he argues that happiness can be reliable and satisfying in an enduring way without depriving others.

“He has translated many Buddhist Sutras, or teachings, and written many books, recently taking on the topic of Anger for the recent Oxford series on the seven deadly sins. He maintains a podcast on Buddhist topics. And yes, he is Uma’s dad..” TED.com

 
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HONORING THE ULTIMATE MOTHER: Falling back in love with Mother …

THICH NHAT HANH (IN BROWN) AT HUE CITY AIRPORT, VIETNAM (2007)

“The situation the Earth is in today has been created by unmindful production and unmindful consumption. We consme to forget our worries and our anxieties. Tranquilizing ourselves with over-consumption is not the way.”  Thich Nhat Hanh, 2010, Tricycle Magazine

The Guardian UK posted an article in February that was written by Jo Confino and in which the dear Zen teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn, discusses his views on current environmental challenges and the need for a spiritual revolution to address them. I hope you will link through and read the article today or watch the interview video below in honor of our ultimate Mother, Earth. In Metta on Mothers Day, J.D.

“Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has been practising meditation and mindfulness for 70 years and radiates an extraordinary sense of calm and peace. This is a man who on a fundamental level walks his talk, and whom Buddhists revere as a Bodhisattva; seeking the highest level of being in order to help others.

Ever since being caught up in the horrors of the Vietnam war, the 86-year-old monk has committed his life to reconciling conflict and in 1967 Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, saying “his ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.”

So it seems only natural that in recent years he has turned his attention towards not only addressing peoples’ disharmonious relationships with each other, but also with the planet on which all our lives depend.” MORE

And here is the video of the interview:

Photo credit ~ courtesy of Lu’u Ly via Wikipedia and generously released into the public domain.

Video ~ uploaded to YouTube by  .

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS

Zhuangzi Dreaming of a Butterfly by Lu Zhi (1496–1576), Ming dynasty, mid-16th century Ink on silk, 29.4 x 51.4 cm

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS

by

Jamie Dedes

A Man sleeping … yes!

A Butterfly flitting… yes!

Zhuangzi, dreamer of Butterfly,

ponders what joy there might be

in that tiny Butterfly brain, so small

too small to be perceived by I or eye

Is it dreaming me? he asks

Or, am I dreaming it?

Imagine the Universe engaged,

he thinks to himself, inside that flutter

– thunder, a Cosmic Belly Laugh –  Ho! Ho! –

Then Zhuangzi knows: He is silent

flitting from flower to flower in eternal spring

coming and going, going and coming

This is called the Transformation of Things

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© poem, 2012 Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Photograph courtesy of Gemeinfrei, in the U.S. public domain.