Archive for the ‘spirituality’ category

The Engineer and the Mystic

October 11, 2018

finalMy mother was a devout Catholic but she was also a woman with an intense curiosity about the world around her.   As a result, she cast her intellectual net wider than most Catholics.  For example, she became a fan of Jean Dixon, the self-proclaimed psychic and astrologer that many Christians loved to hate.  She passed her open-mindedness on to me, which I believe she came to regret because I eventually gave up Catholicism.   From my Dad, I got my rational side, in part I’m sure from genes but also because he regretted his choice to join the Army instead of going to engineering school.  My rational side won out and I became an electrical engineer.  But from the time I gave up my Mom’s religion, I also became a Searcher.  I often picture myself with my Engineer on one shoulder and my Mystic on the other, both of them whispering in my ear about whatever spiritual concept is intriguing me at the moment.   They rarely agree and for many years, the Engineer called the shots. (more…)

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Questions. Answers?

October 1, 2018

Q and AIn the two men’s meetings I attend, we talk a lot about serious matters, not just practical things like relationships and dealing with stress but more esoteric subjects like what it means to be spiritual and the nature of God.  Like any group of guys, we are sometimes rowdy, sarcastic, vulgar and funny but we still manage to get to the important stuff.   We also work one-on-one, talking about the same sort of issues.  Recently, I was going through a workbook with the over-the-top title, Reaching for Personal Freedom with a friend.  Each chapter includes questions which we answer separately, then we compare notes when we get together.   Last week, I noticed something I found interesting.   My answers, unlike my friends, were filled with questions.   I don’t know why it took me 74 years to notice this but it is the way I live my life … my answers always include questions. (more…)

Knowing

September 27, 2018

Most mornings, I write two pages of stream of consciousness prose in a notebook, a habit I picked up from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.   She recommends three pages because of what she calls third page revelations that often turn up in the third page.  Three pages can be a grind at this point in my life so I start out with two and go on if I feel like it.  Sometimes, revelations show up early, in page one or page two.  Like today, halfway down page two:

Knowing

Think about it.

 

Line Dancing, Chi and Me

July 29, 2018

Clipboard01Many years ago, I took a class in Transcendental Meditation.   I spent several weeks sitting in a room with several eternally smiling teachers who talked to us about the benefits of meditation and the technique, which pretty much came down to mentally repeating a mantra (my very own secret one) and not trying too hard to keep my concentration there.   Not trying.   A foreign concept for me.  For several years I meditated twice a day and since then I have tried to include meditation as part of my daily practice.   Oddly, as I get older, I find it harder to sit down and doline dancing nothing (my Inner Engineer’s description of meditation). Many years ago, too, I was at a country music venue and tried line dancing with my wife, Muri.  Some pseudo-cowgirl was teaching the steps and Muri picked up the half a dozen steps right away.  Me?  When the instructor said, OK, let’s try it all together, I only had two steps down.  I have since avoided line dancing like the plague.    If there is anything harder for me than not trying, it is trying and looking foolish. (more…)

Fidelity and Philosophy

July 2, 2018

This is Part Four (and the conclusion, finally) of a post on the journey of my music listening from high-fidelity to mobile phone earbuds and back again.  You should probably go back and read Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3. Or not.  If you’ve stuck with me through four parts, thank you.  I hope you learned something … I certainly did (which, of course, is one of the reasons I write).

AGPTEKAs of Father’s Day, I was the proud owner of an AGPTEK H3 HIFI High Resolution Lossless Digital Audio Player and a pair of 1MORE Triple Driver In Ear Headphones.   Anxious to try them out, I installed a 128 gB mini-sd card and loaded my music collection, mostly stock MP3 files.  As I mentioned in Part 3, high-resolution  audio should be regarded as a marketing term.  Case in point: my player can’t play in high-resolution unless the music files are … and MP3 files are not.  Still, the difference from my phone and basic earbuds was striking.  Acoustic guitars were crisper and clearer, drum beats were sharper and orchestral passages didn’t sound as muddy.    Since the source was my MP3 files, the improvement in the sound he heard is due to high-quality electronics in the music player and the quality earbuds, not so-called high resolution or even better file formats.  But it does speak to the improvement in fidelity that better equipment can provide. (more…)

What I Believe

April 8, 2018

This is a very personal post, a product of working the first three steps of Al-Anon again with a friend.   I wanted to capture my spiritual beliefs at this moment in time.   Over the years, I have learned that talking about God in public often leads to being evangelized, both by true believers and non-believers.   Hence, I have elected not to allow comments on this post.

park sunriseI believe in God. Since I spent a substantial portion of my adult life as an agnostic, searching for a God I had trouble believing in, that is remarkable. I believe that without God, nothing else exists. One of my favorite spiritual authors, Rabbi David Rubin, says that God is unknowable. Everything we think we know about God is a metaphor.  So, I choose this one: Reality exists in the mind of God. That notion could, I suppose, reduce God to being the clockwork of the universe or even the master clock-smith tending that clockwork. But I also believe man is linked to God because each of us has a soul, a spark of the divine, that places God in us and us, collectively, in God. We are not God, either individually or collectively, but we have a direct connection and divinity within us. That gives us a purpose. I believe that purpose is to continue the act of creation. In the Kabbalah, it says that God has already experienced being perfect but it is through us, imperfect beings with his divine spark, canyon5that God can experience becoming perfect. When we make the world a better place, we are acting in accordance with God’s purpose, but we have free will do do otherwise and, just as importantly, to serve God’s purpose in our own unique way. I believe that our unique creativity as a species is evidence of our role in creation. I believe that God works in the world primarily through our actions, but I don’t discount the possibility of miracles directly from God, though I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen one, unless you want to count the Grand Canyon at dusk or a Maui sunset. (more…)

Metaphorically Speaking

August 6, 2017

park sunrise

In 12-Step programs, we spend a lot of time talking about God because they are spiritual programs based on no particular form of religion.  God first appears in the 2nd step as a power greater than ourselves (who) could return our life to sanity … or, more simply, a Higher Power.   For some reason, in men’s meetings, some guys choose to abbreviate this to HP, as in, I’m better off if I turn my problems over to HP.   Because I’m an engineer, HP has always meant Hewlett Packard and there’s no way I’m turning my problems over to them … or to Dell or Lenovo for that matter.   But then again, turning things over to God under any name has always been a challenge to me.  12-Step people often say that when they turn things over to God, God does for them what they couldn’t do for themselves.   People tell stories of difficulties turned over to God that resolve themselves miraculously  … often sounding as if that’s how the world always works.  With these cynical eyes God gave me, sad or tragic outcomes are as likely as good ones whether I turn my problems over to God or Hewlett Packard or no one at all.  Cliches like, Sometimes things that initially appear bad turn out to be good, and Everything happens for a reason, don’t help much, even though both have been true in my life sometimes.  But for twenty plus years I have been turning someone I love over to God and that someone continues to struggle.  I don’t blame God for his problems but I do wonder why God’s help doesn’t help.  Likely something to do with free will.  There are those who tell me I should banish this person from my life as a way of getting out of God’s way.  That doesn’t feel right but I’m certainly not certain. (more…)