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About Lolly

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  1. Genpo is quite a controversial figure in the world of zen. My own zen teacher sternly advised me to stay away from him, even though another friend who is a student of Genpo was offering to pay my way to do a retreat there. Apparently there is some sort of scandal in his past. Others are more charitable toward him, and I have no direct experience with him myself, or his techniques. The most frequent criticism I hear of him is that he appears to be selling a fast-food version of enlightenment, at pretty dear prices. There is a series of videos on YouTube that talk about his techniques which you might find interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zT9y1YEUjy0
  2. Am I the only one here who has a problem with the idea that one participant is claiming to hold divine authority over the opinions that are expressed on this board?
  3. Welcome back, BroRog. I'm not sure if you would remember me as I've never been a prolific poster here, but I remember you. It's good to read you again. Sorry to hear that you've experienced such upheaval in your life. I can seriously relate to this, as I've been dealing with my own version of much of the same over this past year. It's been good to get some stability and order back into my life recently. I find it helpful to remeber that all will be well, and all manner of things will be well-- as was once wisely said.
  4. I am reading her book "the battle for God, a History of Fundamentalism" (or something like that; it's not in front of me as I type). I appreciate Armstrong's take on many things. Yup, this one's also a tough read and I've been with this book for a while now. Can't plow though it, but it's worth the time.
  5. Same here. Sorry to see it so inactive lately, and sorry to see people leaving still.
  6. As a buddhist, I can't say I'm convinced that buddhism gets it any better. As a Christian, I can't say that Christianity gets all of it right, either. With toes in both pools, what I see is that Christianity gets some of it right and expresses certain things better than Buddhism does, and vice versa. There are many, many unhappily fundamentalist Buddhists out there-- literalism is not something that the Abrahamic religions have cornered the market on. Okay, from this perspective I'd say that: 1) I agree with you about what Progressive Christianity seems to be moving toward... but I'd expect much resistance from just about all sides as it moves forward. Growth is painful and people resist it. 2) As far as the crucifixion goes, my own take is that it serves as a reminder that only in a 100% surrender to our own humanity and all the suffering that it entails-- and a willingness to locate the divine within that humanity-- will the kingdom of heaven be found. I don't think this divinity is unique to one man who lived 2000 years ago. I think his life serves as the example to which all of us can aspire. In buddhism I have been taught that suffering and death are inevitable parts of our human condition. Much buddhist practice centers on accepting and embracing these truths, because (it's believed) we create much suffering for ourselves by a reliance on fantasies of security and immortality. What I haven't been taught much of in buddhism is a kindness-to-self in the midst of our own suffering. Christianity does mercy (and absolution) hand over fist better than Buddhism ever will. Sometimes, in the midst of our pain, we need to remember to treat ourselves with kindness. It goes without saying that we need to remember to treat others this way. Where we often fall short is with a lack of mercy, for ourselves and others. It is the strength of this mercy that keeps me involved in the Christian church.
  7. Hello Hatcher, Your post is very forthright and honest. Of course I doubt any of us could tell you what path would be best for you, but what I might suggest is taking a look at some of the contemplative practices that are available. I've been through a fair bit of stuff myself, and while my story is nothing like yours, I have learned that my life seems to be a journey which continues to open me up to a process of unveiling God's presence. The trick seems to be in figuring out how to be open and discerning of God's will, rather than my own, because I keep getting in my own way. When I pray the Lord's prayer, I place emphasis in areas that are different from what I often hear being prayed around me. I do this to emphasize to myself that is is God's will I seek, and not my own. Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. I am currently reading a book by Karen Armstrong in which she talks about the difference between mythos and logos and stresses that, in recent years, much of the mythos has been removed from many of our religious traditions, leaving a somewhat unbalanced recipe for spiritual growth for those who seek it. In this book, she is putting into words something I have long thought but never articulated adequately. My personal opinion at this point is that when we try to find God wholly through the lens of rational thought and literalism, we further separate ourselves from God, because God cannot be understood in this way. All of the world's great religions at one point have contained contemplative, liturgical and/or ritual practices which are meant to pull us out of an overreliance on the rational mind and open us up to the presence of God. It is when we begin to believe that we can, or do, know God's will with the thinking, judging mind that we fall into the sort of arrogance and pride which you describe above. So, given these beliefs of mine, one thing I would suggest is that you seek out some contemplative practices within Christianity, which you can perhaps then also share with your wife. I don't know what sort of church you attend; I go to an Episcopal church which is heavy on liturgy and I find that helpful. There is also something called "centering prayer", which you can read about here: http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm Wishing all the best for you on your journey, Lolly
  8. Forgive the belatedness of this response; I have only read the first post and looked at the link to be sure this was the same situation I was thinking it was. I saw this rector speak when I visited the National Cathedral in Washington DC last year. The Gospel reading for that day happened to be the verses about "no one comes to the father except through me". Regas deliverd a sermon that brought tears to my eyes about how the love he had come to know through Christ had brought him to a heartfelt understanding that there are many valid paths. He spoke of how he believed that spiritual people of other faiths were finding their own way. He said that , in his heart of hearts, he believes that there must be more that the traditional meaning involved in this text. And then he said that, while Christ may not be the only way, he personally sees him as the only way-- for himself. If I had been allowed to, I would have stood at the end and applauded. On the bus trip back home, it became apparent that some in our congregation felt the message was utterly scandalous and heretical. I don't think George Regas is any stranger to controversy.
  9. Tariki, I see nothing overtly positive about such a claim, and it also goes against my own current beliefs / understanding. However, one thing I have also come to recognize is that the human ego is a wily and cunning master. Perhaps to suggest too soon that "we are all God" would short-circuit the path to awakening for some, many or most. To believe that one has recognized what one has not is one of the gravest of spiritual errors, and one of the hardest to dispell. So, I don't really know. What I suspect is that many forms of faith exist as representations of steps in a progression toward a mature awakening. The key for me seems to be to remain open to the mystery of symbol and myth, rather than getting caught up too much in the literal meaning-- but that is a general statement, not meant only for this specific question.
  10. As a card carrying Episcopalian, I can assure you that we come in many forms. What keeps us together (up until now, anyway) has been a belief that we can share communion despite divergent and varying views. That said, I suspect that the larger part of the Episcopal Church in the USA is fairly liberal. Some of us are extremely so.
  11. Interesting thoughts, indeed! I am quite certain that all that came before influenced (and continues to influence) the choices I have made an continue to make. I guess if I had to describe what you are asking for I would call it something like a honing or fine tuning of awareness. When completely unaware, we tend to act in strict accordance to conditioning. As awareness unfolds, we become increasingly cognizant of our conditioning and this awareness allows us to see choices that we weren't aware of before. With all that said, I don't want to mislead anyone to think that I have the market cornered on any sort of awareness! Indeed, it is probably the lack thereof that becomes most poignanty obvious through contemplation! with blessings, Lolly
  12. I think the key word here is "most". I also think that the author is absolutely right on in most of what is being said here. Most of us do just function in the world under an unquestioned set of beliefs that we've never really examined. Part of the path that I have followed is one of intense examination, and that process (which has involved meditation) has brought me to a slightly better awareness of what is happening during that moment of choice. So now, with God's grace, I have an opportunity to look within my own heart and ask myself a question: "is this a choice I am about to make one which comes from a place of love, or is it a choice that comes from a place of questionable motivation?" Sometimes that's a very hard question to bring oneself to ask. And yes, there are always two possible paths to choose. Not all choices seem all that important in the grand scheme of things. That a baby chooses sweet over salad should come as no real surprise. What might be more pertinent in this situation is whether or not the parent chooses to allow that child to continue to eat sweets instead of what would be healthy. I am sure all parents are conditioned by their own upbringings, just as we all are. I am sure that there are some parents who don't care enough, and some who do, and maybe even some who care so much that they overprotect or don't allow their children to learn how to make loving choices on their own. I suspect that any loving parent who takes the time to ask what is in the best interest of his or her child would make the best choice possible. I don't buy that all is predetermined. I understand that God's ways are mysterious, but I can't fathom the point of a universe where all outcomes are pre-programmed. To take away our responsibility for making choices seems a convenient cop-out, a way to absove ourselves of any responsibility for the current state of the world. JMO.
  13. Hello, Cynthia and all! I think the phrase went something like "those who don't remember history are condemned to repeat it." I don't recall who said it, but it seems to be true. We see throughout recorded history a repeated pattern of those in power abusing power and turning a blind eye to human rights and social justice; history is littered with stories of power mad emperors and dictators of every stripe. Two thousand years ago Christ saw it and commented on it, and here we are today with the same problems. And yet, as a society, we seem to find it impossible to fathom that such things might be real, that our own land might be heading down such a corrupt path. It saddens me immensely to see what is happening in my country today, but given what has happened historically, I won't say that I'm surprised by any of it. Exploiting one another seems to be one descriptive of the dark side of human nature. As far as the universe unfolding as it should, I have a bit of a technical quibble on that one. The universe is unfolding on the basis of the input it receives, and has received, from all of us, and from all that has been before us. At any point we have the opportunity to choose ill or to choose well, and the universe will be affected by those choices and will respond to them. I would say that the universe is unfolding exactly as is prescribed by the input it has received to date. The future is wide open and wholly dependent upon what happens next. As a student of Buddhism I have also watched this kind of discussion unfold countless times. I'd suggest that the notion of unobstructed, "perfect" flow as is often presented by students of mystical religions is probably more taoist/fatalist than this and fails to take into account the complexities of cause and effect or the role that choice/volition/action plays in the way things unfold. It's also a misunderstanding of what is meant, in this context, by "perfect". I'd suggest that things are "perfect" only in the sense that things perfectly follow the path prescribed by what has happened up to any given point in time. It might be a bit too simplistic to simply suggest that we create our own reality; it can also a bit narcissistic in that it ultimately brings one to the conclusion that nothing exists outside of the self. I suggest it's probably more accurate to say that we create our own reality to the extent that we are able to influence things within our immediate area, which in turn influences the way the future takes shape, but we do not live in a vaccum. Our existence, and the choices presented to us, are conditioned by all that has come before. Within each moment we are able to choose, but our choices are limited. We cannot simply choose to, say, flap our arms and fly, but we can learn to build machines that do fly. Doing this, however, relies on the work and choices of those who came before. Therefore, I find it much more meaningful to speak about co-creating our reality. Our actions affect the world around us, and the actions of others affect our world. The word that the Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh would use to describe this is "interdependence". It is important to me that I understand this point: choosing to do harm will create harm. Choosing to love one another creates something different. As a Christian, I believe that God gave us the will to choose and wishes for us to choose well for ourselves and one another. A loving God, to my mind, does not manipulate but allows us the freedom to find our own best nature, as a parent would allow a loved child to find his or her own best way of being in the world. I believe that loving others is what Christ taught because that is the path to becoming a fully realized being, and the path to creating the most harmony in our little corners of the universe.
  14. I have a sense that the current crop of Southern Baptists has been coopted by the televangelists. As for Presiding Bishop-Elect Schiori, I say, "right on!" The Episcopal Church is living in interesting times right now. There is an active and painful schism growing in that church between progressive and conservative factions, mostly centering around the fairly recent consecration of an openly gay bishop, and there have been rumors circulating that the election of Schiori was, in part, driven by conservative votes wishing to further enhance the schism. I can't say if or if not that is true, but I do think that the lord works in mysterious ways. In my own church, a mention by our Dean of the first female Presiding Bishop was met with a hearty round of applause. Lots of folks approve of it, but some don't, just as some disapprove of the gay bishop. It all makes for a strained communion, and what happens, ultimately, to the Anglican Communion (of which the Episcopal church is a part) remains to be seen. Fortunately, at least in most churches, the politicking is being left mostly to the church politicians, and Jesus' message of love and redemption can still be heard each Sunday... at least in the church I go to.
  15. I was baptized as an adult, just last year. For me, it was not about "washing away sins" but was a deeply symbolic action which acknowledged, as witnessed by the faith community, my personal committment to do my very best to live as Christ lived. If anything was being "washed away" it was my life outside of this committment to Christ-- in a symbolic, not literal, way, of course. For me it was an intensely meaningful and heartfelt experience, but I also recognize that many would view it in a different light, depending on what they believe baptism is meant to achieve. My advice would be that anyone who does not feel ready to do such a thing should not do it. Do it only with your whole heart.
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