Archive for January, 2009

What is Spirituality?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Columbus came upon the shores of America, “Is this not India?” he declared. And so the dark skinned folks who welcomed the odd ships became Indians. His first voyage was in search of a short route to the spice islands. Those who followed sailed because they knew they would not fall off the edge of the earth and they sought to escape. They sailed to escape poverty, find hope. They sailed to find a new life away from despotic religions. They set up similar gods for themselves in the new colonies. They did not trust their own minds for the changes they could make.

Why do we resist our minds? Our thoughts are who we are. Furthermore, our experiences are our spirituality. Nothing above nature. Our minds are what we were born with. Our lives are what moves us through experiences that settle in our brains to make us the spiritual beings that we are.

And who we are — are humans. We come from nature. We are nature. We wonder how we fit into nature when there should be no doubt. We are nature, part of the animal world — such an integral part that we cannot separate from it. Even though we shrink from the notion.

Within America people give up. Many think they cannot make it through life on their own. So they seek. And childishly accept the embrace of the Christian church in a hundred different names, turned lately into a personal Jesus.

Those of us who think for ourselves are singularly amazed when we think good expectations and somehow they happen. Not satisfied that we moved through our lives in a way that made the expectations become reality. Too often people do not believe in their own power so surely the good results were handed to them by some thing above us, outside of us.

People of other countries in the world have looked at us and our strange determination to make churches, new ones every day, and wonder what we are trying to prove. Why is it so important that we can make a god in our own image? Do we so desperately need someone to love us?

“God bless you” is a euphemism, a sentence that is simply a parting shot. Like saying goodbye. Be happy, know I love you. Like we meet some one with the “How are you?” but we do not want them to fully explain how they really are.

All people everywhere in the world want to dream and hope their dreams will come true. Now they have proof. Barak H. Obama was elected and inaugurated as president of America on January 20, 2009. How did that happen? He is only half white after all. Never mind that he speaks of hopes, of dreams come true, or problems solved when we work together. Never mind that he asks each citizen of our country and of the world to help each other. We can make our own lives better, our own communities better, our own world better, when we think we can. The power of thought moves our spirit.

Because when we think it we can make it happen. That is our spirituality. It is the power within each of us. Too bad some folks want to name it “god.”

Let Us Gather

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

The many hours when folks gather for fun usually involve games of guessing – identify the subject of a drawing or of an intricate design or of some pantomimed action. There are many tried and true games of that sort. One I had not seen before had a stack of cards each with a short irregular line. The first player picks the top card and copies the line on blank paper. All participants must copy that line on their paper and draw an idea of their own in a measured amount of time.

The concept appeared simple enough – make more lines with and around the first one to show a recognizable item or scene. The more complicated the drawings are, the higher the score. I thought of the steps a player’s mind goes through to come up with something acceptable for any score. The brain has a great capacity to handle such a simple task and the results revealed an amazing range of ideas.

And that’s not surprising. The human brain contains about 10 billion nerve cells and each one can interact with other nerve cells through something like ten thousand connectors. What an impressive information processing system! No wonder there must be a special rating system and rigorous rules to narrow the results. Otherwise the time needed for rating would surpass time taken for the game itself.

But back to the point I want to make: that the decisions of what to draw will be determined almost instantaneously because of the speed in which the billion nerve cells can communicate to bring forth the options. Creating situations that require spontaneous decisions is healthy — keeps the synapses bouncing around the brain with a purpose.

Studies by brain scientists indicate that active minds help us stay healthy as we grow older. Causes of Alzheimers and dementia have yet to be determined but with more folks living longer we need to do everything we can to maintain a good quality of life. Playing games and enjoying getting together for any reason will do just that. Bring your friends in and play group games. Use your imaginations to make up new rules, and even new games. And enjoy every gathering.