A voicehearer’s path ~

Archive for April, 2011

Symbols ~

One Saturday morning several years ago, the daughter of my neighbor came to me with the news that the youth director at the church she was attending had told the students that all symbols came from the devil. Now, I must admit to finding this somewhat amusing as the church has used symbols from it’s very inception. The sign to the left was one of the first, and a sign that one believed in the carpenter’s ministry when those who believed were in danger of being killed at any moment. Besides having used the analogy of being “fishers of men”, apparently the letters spelling fish also were the first letters for Jesus Christ, son of God.

Symbols have been used to communicate human to human before there were alphabets. They are as much a part of human history as anything associated with civilization. To be sure, symbols are like any other tool we have ever developed from the hammer to nuclear science, and can be used for light or dark purpose.  The symbols on the right are common to witchcraft, a path with a high, light side, and a deeply dark side. The presumption that the use of symbols immediately implies only darkened use would be crippling to communication, to say the least.

In fact, we use symbols, or icons, on a daily basis when we use computers, or check the weather, or drive down the street. Communication that can be instantaneous with symbols would be slowed painfully without them. So, how do I see symbols? I see them as a wonderful type of shorthand that lets each of us tell others who we are, or where to turn with as little wasted energy as possible.

I am a believer in God, but I am also one who believes that God doesn’t need defending. I have seen many signs and symbols that indicate that compassion is at the root of understanding and interacting in a way that will bring peace all over the globe. I don’t believe in making my path demand that others follow it to reach God. I truly believe God, in the person of the Holy Spirit has reached out to all human kind, and that the principle of compassion that shows up throughout history, in all the major faiths, and many not considered major, is the sign that God is there, amidst all the children of the world, no matter their age.



1: a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs

2: a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people

I am well aware there are many inequalities in our world, some of them political, some of them social, some of them simply by not being born as smart or lucky as the person next to you. Many of those inequalities would be hard, if not impossible to erase. But, as a human being, and as a person that believes the Most High loves us all, and cares for each of us with the same deep loving nature, it seems incumbent upon me to work and live in such a way as to eliminate as far as it is possible in a single life, the inequalities that stem from behavior toward ones fellow man. Sadly, what is quickly forgotten in practice, is that all of the Holy books that I have read speak of treating others in a manner that is compassionate and kind. That is said in many different ways in each book, so it’s really hard to miss, unless you are intent on doing so. But, the key here is practice, living daily in a manner that is gentle and kind, no matter the circumstances. In a world increasingly intent on violence, this is most difficult, and I cannot say that I am any better than my fellow humans in carrying out the instructions to be kind. I try. I listen actively when someone speaks, whether it is about daily issues, or about deeply personal issues that affect a person’s life on the whole. Many times that is all that is needed, just someone to listen. Truly listening to someone speak of their problems is, by default, an equalizer. When you actively listen to another, you are setting aside your own issues for the moment and giving that other person center stage.

But, egalitarianism requires a much broader practice than just “saying” that you believe in equality for all. It requires actually “seeing” all other people, no matter race or creed, as your equal in the eyes of God and man. That’s a tall order, to be sure. One needs to be prepared to go out of one’s way to do for others. If someone needs a ride, find a way for them to get it, if a child needs food, find a way to get them food. If a person needs a coat, find one for them. These are simple things, and can be done with little or no effort, but they do take time. Something no one seems to have extra of these days.

But, there is much more to egalitarianism than simple charitable acts. Egalitarianism requires that, if there are choices to be made, all persons affected by those choices get a voice and a vote. This is not as easy as it sounds. Even in the US, the people’s vote for president is buffered with the Electoral College because the founding fathers of our country did not trust the common man to choose a leader wisely. It is not uncommon for this sort of thing to be built into systems around the globe, so that one’s vote is actually only a voice in the process. Now, truly, if I must have only one or the other, I want a voice, as that can influence the vote, but I would always prefer to have both.

Still there is more: Egalitarianism requires that even in the simplest transactions of the day, buying a roll or coffee for breakfast, shopping at the local supermarket, speaking to the mail delivery person, in all activities you are required, if you are an egalitarian, to be civil even when you can’t find it in yourself to be kind. The people that serve your needs are your equals, not your subordinates. They have chosen to serve as a way of life, you are not their superior even if you are among those they serve. Egalitarianism as a way of life requires a commitment to yourself and your fellow humans to be aware at all times that the person with whom you are interacting is your equal.

Karen Armstrong ~

I just watched Charlie Rose, a wonderful interviewer of Statesmen and authors whose shows often bring the “back story” of an event into examination. But this time, his author was a former nun, Karen Armstrong, who has become a historian of religion, and now presents a 12 step program designed for all of us, working toward inner peace, and ultimately global peace. I have ordered a copy for my own reading, so will have more to say when I have read it, but I want to know more of this author, (an impressive interview, BTW), whose general attitude and presentation in the interview were exciting to see. She pulls from the great faiths, and speaks of the compassion that is at the core of them all. I will fill you in on my own enlightenment as she teaches me her path to compassionate living!!!

Doing a bit of research on the web, I have found much of interest about Ms. Armstrong. Wikipedia is a delightful source of information about people in general, and has articles about her and the Charter for Compassion that she and her fellows have formulated! I endorse this Charter. If I were in a position to be where I could sign it, I would go and do just that.

Karen Armstrong

Charter for Compassion

The text of the Charter reads:

Text of the Charter

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.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.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.

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 indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.[4]

A beautifully written call for compassion as a way of living and doing business in our world. It is essential for this to become the standard, rather than the exception, in our daily lives!

There is a place on the web where you can affirm your support for the charter.

Narcissism ~

I am hoping that the “me, me, me” orientation that I and others are seeing in our world today is the beginning of exploration of the soul. When we learn who we are in our sacredness, we learn that all around us are sacred, also, and not to be trampled on by our own foolish desires. If this “medicine” shows up topsy turvy in our lives, it leads to aggression and self-centeredness. If it shows up in balance, it assures that we will treat all in our path with the respect due to equals in a world of equals at the very least, and respect for others that allows them to be fully themselves in all aspects of life.

Truly, as we learn to respect ourselves, and learn our own sacredness, we can begin to respect others in that same way. It was Y’shua who said that we must love one another as we loved ourselves. The “me, me, me” orientation that is evolving in our world, is unsettling because it means the poles are shifting in our world of communication and relationships, but this may be a good thing if it works itself through to the highest and best good of all. I am not saying that we must think of ourselves first, and then others, but that, with a true understanding of who we are internally, we can understand that the people around us also have that internal sacredness whether they know it or not.

We live in a world that injures the soul at every turn of the wheel. It is when those injuries are continuous and unhealed that those who were innocent turn and injure others. As we learn to heal ourselves, we can turn and heal others, but not before we understand that each and all are sacred each in his or her own way. This is a long journey, from injury to healing, and requires much soul searching along the way. The 12 steps of AA are the simplest way to walk that path, learning to go from total self involvement to understanding that we are responsible for how we treat all who cross our paths. Because of it’s simplicity, and emphasis on personal spirituality rather than group religiosity, I find it works for people of all faiths, and endorse it simply because it is the best way to find your personal best without reinventing the wheel.

So, though the narcissistic bent of the current generation may be frightening in it’s implications for all of us, I truly hope that it will lead to a greater understanding of the place each of us has in this world, and the next.


12 Steps for Everyone!

1. We admitted our lives were out of control.

2. Accepted that a Hgher Power could help us

3. Got out of the way to let it happen.

4. Took a hard, honest look at our lives.

5. Told someone the truth.

6. Got ready to change.

7. Humbly asked a Higher Power to help us change.

8. Remembered all the people we hurt.

9. Made it right with them whenever we could.

10. Continued to stay honest.

11. Put our Higher Power in charge every day.

12. Tried to live our values and help others.

Book Burning ~

Gads! The point of book burning, in a day of mass produced books and internet publishing, is completely lost on me. All you are doing is making a statement that you don’t like what is written in the book, and there are more effective ways of doing that. The simplest of all being to start your own blog. (There are so many blogs in existence at the moment that one person’s words get lost in the many that are published, but, hey, my neighbor has a blog, why not me?)

If you will notice, though, most of the books from the first to now that get burned are of a religious nature. (Hitler had a bent that was more wide spread, but we can always hope he was a true anomaly.) When it wasn’t religious writings that were being burned, it was often scientific journals and papers that challenged the seat of power of a religion, so, direct or not, there is a connection.

Recently, a proponent of Christianity, (not a mainline preacher, let me be clear) is said to have burnt 10 copies of the Quran. His message, apparently, that this book did more harm than good. Now, I do not practice the Muslim faith, nor intend to in this lifetime, but, even though there are practices among the Muslims that I don’t care for; the veiling of women being primary; there are many teachings in the Quran that do well to be read by any peace loving servant of the Most High. A direct quote from a translation of the Quran, And what will explain to you what the steep path is? It is the freeing of a (slave) from bondage; or the giving of food in a day of famine to an orphan relative, or to a needy in distress. Then will he be of those who believe, enjoin fortitude and encourage kindness and compassion.” Chapter 90, Verses 12-17 teaches the very thing that is the cornerstone of everything I stand for. How can I revile such a book?

All I would ask of any faith would be that compassion be one of the true cornerstones in the practice of that faith. It would seem that that particular requirement is met in the text of the Quran. So why burn it? What was the point in burning 10 copies of a book that has many thousand copies dispensed throughout the world? It cannot be in the hope that folks will not read it. In fact, the reverse is true of many of my contemporaries, put a book on the banned list, and we will read it just to find what you would burn in it. One must presume, since the man calls himself a Christian, that part of the point was to draw folks away from this particular path. Why? The mainline Islamic teachers do not espouse the flaming rhetoric of the jihadists, and furthermore, the more I explore this faith, the more I see that much of the fiery spewings are in all likelihood, misdirection from the “Great Jihad” an intensely personal battle that has nothing to do with taking up arms against one’s fellow man.

I guess the question is, since the preacher wants a reaction, how do we react? I wasn’t going to spend anything on books this month, but it seems that I will just have to go out and buy a paper copy of the Quran, my computer version won’t make quite the same statement about my thoughts on burning books.

Frog totems ~

Frogs are cleansing, they call the rain with their gutteral croak. They have a marvelous affinity to water, both it’s cleansing aspect, and it’s emotive aspect. The Frog is the Spirit Keeper of the Element water because of this. They are wonderful creatures in scientific terms as well, being so sensitive to the environment that they will show up with deformities and anomalies when anything is wrong with the water supply. They act, in fact, like the canary does for miners, letting us know something is wrong, and that we should be paying attention when they are suffering.

According to Carl Jung, water is symbolic to humans of the subconscious, any time we dream of water, our subconscious is attempting to bring us a message of something we already know, but are ignoring.

Frogs can jump 20 times their body size in one leap. As adults they breathe from their lungs and absorb oxygen through their moist skins. They use their tongues, which are covered in a sticky mucus, to catch prey. If they eat something poisonous they regurgitate their entire stomach. Tadpoles can live out of water as long as they remain moist. They will eat their own tails and it is absorbed as it grows into a frog. Frogs can be hypnotized by shining a light at both of their eyes or being placed on their back and having their stomach gently stroked.

Frog understands how stress can create a whirlwind of negative energies, and reminds us to refresh ourselves so we won’t get burnt out. It brings cleansing power through tears of sorrow or joy. Frog knows the importance of releasing our pains with a shower of cleansing water so we can transform into who we are meant to be.  From animaltotem.com

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