Monday, July 21, 2008

The day of the Funeral

I am attending a funeral this afternoon for a friend of mine I haven't seen in a couple of years.  The following text is from the Papyrus of Ani (The Egyptian Book of the Dead) from 240 BC as translated by E.A. Wallis Budge.  This text is generally read after the body is laid to rest.

Homage to thee, O thou who dwellest in the Holy Hill (Set-Tchesert) of Amentet! the Osiris, the royal scribe, Nekhtu-Amen, whose word is true, knoweth thee, he knoweth thy name. Deliver thou him from the worms which are in Ra-stau, which live upon the bodies of men and women, and feed upon their blood, for Osiris, the favoured servant of the god of his city, the royal scribe Nekhtu-Amen, knoweth you, and he knoweth your names. Let the order for his protection be the first command of Osiris, the Lord to the Uttermost Limit, who keepeth his body hidden. May he give him release from the Terrible One who dwelleth at the bend of the River of Amentet, and may he decree the acts that will make him to rise up. Let him pass on to him whose throne is placed within the darkness, who giveth light in Ra-stau. O thou Lord of Light, come thou and swallow up the worms which are in Amentet. Let the Great god who dwelleth in Tetu, and who is himself unseen, hear his prayers, and let those who cause afflictions hold him in fear as he cometh forth with the sentence of their doom to the Divine Block. I the Osiris, the royal scribe, Nekhtu-Amen, come, bearing the decree of Neb-er-tcher, and I am the Horus who taketh possession of his throne for him. His father, the lord of all those who are in the Boat of his Father Horus, hath ascribed praise unto him. He cometh bearing tidings....... let him see the town of Anu. Their chief shall stand on the earth before him, the scribes shall magnify him at the doors of their assemblies, and thy shall swathe im with swathings in Anu. He hath led heaven captive, and he hath seized the earth in his grasp. Neither the heavens nor the earth can be taken away from him, for, behold, he is Ra, the firstborn of the gods. His mother shall nurse him, and shall give him her breast on the horizon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Orphic Hymn to Eros

Today's reflection is the Hymn to Eros by Orpheus.

I Call great Eros, source of sweet delight, holy and pure, and lovely to the sight;
Darting, and wing'd, impetuous fierce desire, with Gods and mortals playing, wand'ring fire:
Cautious, and two-fold, keeper of the keys of heav'n and earth, the air, and spreading seas;
Of all that Ceres' [Deo's] fertile realms contains, by which th' all-parent Goddess life sustains,
Or dismal Tartarus is doom'd to keep, widely extended, or the sounding, deep;
For thee, all Nature's various realms obey, who rul'st alone, with universal sway.
Come, blessed pow'r, regard these mystic fires, and far avert, unlawful mad desires.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Essence of Experience

I've almost completed the first full week of my new job.  It's been an interesting week - my work environment is absolutely fantastic.  Trees everywhere.  The social environment is on a similar par, however there seems to always be a bunch of internal politics in any organisation.  I also had the opportunity, today, to meet my lecturers for the subjects I'm taking this semester.  Both of them are very stereotypical, my Classics lecturer in particular - complete with tweed jacket.

I've found just the full time work to require a large enough portion of my energy and time that I've neglected some of the areas I was hoping to maintain a focus on.  This blog was one of the major things in that list - and while the quantity of posts may be a little lower than I was hoping I'm really happy with the content and direction I seem to have taken the blog in.

I do hope to write another essay/article over the weekend as a mechanism for learning about a subject.  I'm not sure yet what subject I'll write about, but it will be something new to me once again and something that I will research and hopefully present my readers with a varying array of opinions or commentaries and let them draw their own conclusions.  I am open to suggestions on subjects too.

Every day something around me, whatever I am doing serves to remind me of just how much we are all connected, are all part of the one (and therefore one part of all).  I really enjoy when these things happen.  I smile and think to myself... "You know, Universe... I got it.. but it's great how you keep finding new cute ways to demonstrate it!".  One of these cute little things happened this afternoon. 

I called one of my closest friends to ask a very specific question which I knew that she would know the answer to.  She knew who it was before I rang, but that's not at all uncommon for us.  I proceeded to ask my question, which she told me she would prefer not to convey the answer verbally at which point I instantly knew the answer, thanked her for her help and told her I'd catch up later.

In this particular instance, the piece of information I was asking about was something that had been known to me previously, which I had forgotten.  An argument could be constructed here to say that I happened to remember and the timing was purely co-incidence.  Unfortunately, addressing that argument in written or spoken words is more difficult than I expected.  I've experienced it - but words don't even begin to explain nor capture the essense of experience.  It's something that I feel is best experienced, not read about.. and to do that accepting that anything is possible is a great way to start making anything posible.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

A little more background about me... I was raised in a strict Roman Catholic family, baptized, first holy communion, confirmation, altar boy.

For confirmation I picked the confirmation name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. I stopped using the name around the same time I left the church, but have recently decided to keep the name for who and what it honors and why.
The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Godspeed, your Holiness

Pope Benedict XVI
Around ninety minutes ago "Shepherd One" left Rome bound for Sydney, Australia with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI aboard. He will be arriving in Sydney in just over 24 hours. May his trip be safe and trouble free and his visit to Australia a pleasant one for all.

I have refrained from commenting on the impact of the World Youth Day celebrations and huge influx of Christian pilgrims into Australia for the Papal visit. I'm no longer living in Sydney - so it's impact has been much less than if I had have been. Locally there are huge swarms of tents in sporting fields and anywhere there is space nearby, and we're a good three hour train ride away from Sydney. Unfortunately for the masses of Pilgrims camping outdoors, the temperature lately has been colder than usual, with some nights recently getting down as low as 4C.

Pax tecum.

God, Divinity and saints of latter day.

In order to give you a better insight into what I believe about Divinity and God, I thought I'd share some of my day today with you.

My housemate and I today had an encounter with two young missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints.  I think they may have been a little daunted by my knowledge of the Bible and The Book of Mormon, but their eyes started glazing a little when I began making references to the Qu'ran, Dead Sea Scrolls, Judaism and the Sumerian and Egyptian origins of many biblical stories.

One of the first questions the pair asked us was "Do you believe in God?".

My usual answer to this question is an automatic "Yes", and sometimes accompanied with an explanation as to what God and Divinity mean to me.  I put the question into the context that I believe the enquirer meant, so it was translated to "Do you believe in my version of God?".  Two very different questions.  I also realized that by doing this I was also making assumptions about the conversation and the intent of the enquirer.  Breaking this question down to it's core I came the conclusion that the best way to answer it was for me to define for them what Divinity and God mean to me and acknowledge my personal convictions in the God of my heart.

I explained what cosmic intelligence meant to me... a force behind all of creation, the fabric which holds everything together on a level that transcends the mere physical and physically observable.  The underlying constantly changing, but always the same vibration of the cosmic.  I continued by stating that my God does not judge; he is merely the Architect, the Supreme designer.  What we do with what this Divine intelligence has designed for us (or with us as a part of it) is up to us - we can make it what we want.  Of course any designer would prefer that what they designed is used for some noble purpose; and I personally believe that aspiring to this noble purpose is the single most effective way of paying my respect, thankfulness and appreciation for all of creation.

To quote His Holiness, the Dalai Lama: "My Religion is kindness".   As far as I am concerned that is also the very same religion that has been preached by Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Krishna and countless prophets throughout history.  It is my personal religion.

Love is the Law.  Love under will.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Reflection: His work

"I don't claim anything of the work. It is his work. I am like a little pencil in his hand.
That is all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it."
Mother Teresa

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Good News and Balance

I said a few days ago that everything would come to a head this week; and it certainly has.

Today I was offered a full time contract position in a job I am very experienced at (and have worked most of my professional life). This job is on campus at the University I have enrolled in (also full time) to study. They will accommodate my study schedule (even if it's full time) and we'll see how it goes for a while and re-analyze the situation in the near future. I start this new job at 10am tomorrow morning.

I also believe I'm much more equipped at this stage in my life to benefit greatly from tertiary education then I was at the age that most young adults spend studying. I certainly have a very different approach to life than I had when I was in my early twenties, and it's pretty safe to assume that this would flow over into my attitude towards study.

It was only in the last few days that a conversation around my lounge room came to the subject of Balance in life; and I was sharing my thoughts on the importance of a striking a good balance between all of the facets of ones life. Of course I was coming at the whole situation very differently when this occurred - I seemed to have "all the time in the world", I wasn't working. I was studying, self-paced and self-directed along with the housework and anything else I could do to help both my full-time working house mates. The concept of Balance from this point onwards seems a little more daunting; but certainly achievable.

Between almost 40 hours of work and 30 hours of University study each week, an hour or so each day for meditation and reflection and some time with my fantastic partner and friends somewhere in there. I also have a personal commitment to myself to continue blogging at an average of about a post a day; including some quotes, personal comments and essays/articles I write on various topics at various times.

In closing, I'm really excited... I'm going to be busy... but it's the first steps in a new direction of this journey! Right now I'm heading to bed to get a good night sleep before my first day at my new job!


Monday, July 7, 2008

The Watchmaker

Reading through the wisdom of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin in his The Red Book and I had a laugh to myself when I came across this one; which I want to share with you all.

"When my watch is broken, 
I have it repaired by the watchmaker who built it."

Peace Profound!

Internal Dialogue and Desires

I first want to take the opportunity to thank Theo Huffman (A Touch of Pansophia) for his comments on my most recent post on this topic.

So this week is shaping up to be a very very interesting week. I have several things happening all of which are coming to a head over the next few days. Some of those work related, some of those study related, and other interested events that I'm sure to cover in the near future!

I feel it's pretty unlikely to get a second round offer for University admission - and I understand completely why (and detailed it in my previous post). Today I applied for a bridging course to do full time over the next six months which upon completion will get me admission into my chosen degree. The admission for this course is basically open so unless classes are full, so it looks like either way I will be studying in the near future. My chosen subjects for the bridging course are Philosophy and Classical Studies (Ancient Greece and Rome) - which work well with the Arts degree I plan to eventually enroll in.

If the particular full time job that the Universe and I have been discussing recently comes together it will actually be on campus as well, which will make studying/working and somehow balancing those two things much easier. If necessary I'll fall back to part-time study - but we'll play this one by ear.

I made the point in my previous post on the evolution of ideas and thoughts into attitudes and ultimately convictions, what I left out of that post is the importance I feel of 'self-checking' these ideas before they become an attitude. In my experience these self-checks take practice - it's not something that you can 'turn on' and just do, it takes training to stop yourself and analyse your own thought patterns.Some of the things that can assist in doing this, I find, are:
  • Attempt to refrain for forming immediate positive or negative opinions on information presented to you.
  • Spend some time each day reflecting on your actions for the day, how you could have improved your handling of specific situations and the successes you have accomplished.
  • In times of emotional turmoil try to take a moment out to relax, analyse and regain composure as to deal with a situation in the most constructive way possible.
  • Use caution with your internal dialogue. This is covered extensively in Nuero Linguistic Programming and a lot of psychology text. The words we use internally when we make a decision or form an opinion. Attempt not to use negatives (i.e. instead of "i'm not good at sports", try "my atheletic ability could do with some improvement").
The last point is one that really warrants an entire post dedicated to it, which I will hopefully write in the coming week.

Pax tecum.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Universe and Our Desires

People desire things.

We all know it.. we all have done it at some point in our lives; perhaps even daily? When was the last time you desired something (even if it was just a cup of tea or a hug from a loved one, both I must say are fantastic things to desire!)

Some of our desires seem at first to be more fulfill-able than others; why is this?

I personally find that this is because of the associations we have with that particular desire; a culmination of previous experiences, thoughts, feelings and emotions that we have for whatever reason associated with a specific event happening.

These associations tend to form very limiting ideas in our heads... Most people at some time have thought something along the lines of:

"I don't deserve this."

"I'm not good enough for this."

"I can't do anything right."

"I don't finish anything I start."

These forms of thought are entirely destructive. Something which started as an association due to something in the past evolves gradually to become a conscious thought associated with a memory, that in turn evolves and becomes an attitude we adopt; this attitude if successfully re-enforced enough becomes a belief and that belief ultimately can become a conviction. A Conviction is something you are entirely convinced of. If you are convinced you are "not good enough for this" then you'll certainly put in a good effort to prove yourself right!

I had some news earlier in the week that was at first glance rather disappointing. I had built a range of plans (read goals) for the next six months based around receiving something that I was so sure would come my way - perhaps a little too sure. I guess the news shattered some ideas that I had built pretty solid visualizations around, but they were suddenly pulled away from under me. I began to question why this didn't manifest itself, I looked at everything I've done so far and was lost for any ideas.

A few days later I had the thought that perhaps it was an attitude I developed over ten years ago, an attitude I developed as a way of making myself feel better about a particular course of action that was different to what most people were doing... an attitude I adopted because it "explained" something about me, not that it was ever essentially a truth, but I treated it as such because for so long I had just believed what I'd told myself for over ten years without ever asking myself why I thought that way - and I still can't tell you why, other than as a "social explanation."

Mind you, I did know that it wasn't the end of the world at the time; the particular thing I was hoping to hear is offered again in a few weeks; then again not until next year. The other positive was there are other options that are stepping stones to this desire that I knew from the outset were a possibility of having to take the longer, harder more mundane path.

On a side note here - the same can be said of spirituality; it is better not to rush it - let it develop and guide you.. you don't need to push it! Back to my story.

I guess the story would read much easier if I explained to you what I was talking about. I had applied for entry into a particular course of study, three in particular. My first choice was to complete a Bachelor of Arts, my second choice was a Bachelor in Theology, figuring it's basically a superset of Arts and I could transfer later, and a lot of my "Arts" interests are actually Theology/Philosophy based too. I haven't done any "formal" study in over 13 years, I'm not really surprised I didn't get an offer. My other options include doing a bridging course of some kind over the next 6 months to gain entry into a degree program.

The "social explanation" I was referring to was due to the fact that I left school before completing it and ended up in the full time work force from 16 years old. I knew this limited my chance of higher education later on, but also knew there were paths into it later on too. The thing I would do differently now, I would hope, is to not then tell myself "I don't need a degree." or "There is nothing University can offer me." or "I know everything and don't need to study.". You can imagine how damaging these statements re-enforced over a long period of time can end up popping up.

I guess my thoughts around study began changing when I stumbled upon the Western Mystery Tradition and something for the first time in a very long time something that I didn't already understand popped up that I found fascinating and was driven to study it. This drive to study extended to everything and for the last twelve months or so I have absorbed so much information for such a wide variety of sources and find the inter-relationship between all areas of study and life.

How did it all turn out? Well...

I had some great news by the middle of the week. The Universe has presented me another option, which at this point appears to present the bits of the desire that I was focussed on, perhaps detrimentally to the 'big picture' I had in mind. I don't want to discuss the specifics of this new option, i've discussed it further with the Universe and we'll see how it pans out in the next few days - stay posted.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Reflection: Qi - The Source of Life

The source of life, of birth and change is Qi,
everything under heaven and earth obeys the law.
Qi in the periphery envelops the cosmos;
Qi the interior activates all.

Nei Jing

Hymn to the Sun

Homage to thee, O Ra, at thy tremendous rising!
Thou risest! Thou shinest! the heavens are rolled aside!
Thou art the King of Gods, thou art the All-comprising,
From thee we come, in thee are deified.

Thy priests go forth at dawn; they wash their hearts with laughter;
Divine winds move in music across thy golden strings.
At Sunset they embrace thee, as every cloudy rafter
Flames with reflected color from thy wings.

Thou sailest over the zenith, and thy heart rejoices;
Thy Morning Boat and Evening Boat with fair winds meet together;
Before thy face the goddess Maat exalts her fateful Feather,
And at thy name the halls of Anu ring with voices.

O Thou Perfect! Thou Eternal! Thou Only One!
Great Hawk that fliest with the flying Sun!
Between the Turquoise Sycamores that risest, young for ever,
Thine image flashing on the bright celestial river.

Thy rays are on all faces; Thou art inscrutable.
Age after age thy life renews its eager prime.
Time whirls its dust beneath thee; thou art immutable,
Maker of Time, thyself beyond all Time.

Thou passest through the portals that close behind the night,
Gladdening the souls of them that lay in sorrow.
The True of Word, the Quiet Heart, arise to drink thy light;
Thou art To-day and Yesterday; Thou art To-morrow!

Homage to thee, O Ra, who wakest life from slumber!
Thou risest! Thou shinest! Thou radiant face appears!
Millions of years have passed, --we cannot count their number,--
Millions of years shall come. Thou art above the years!

Egyptian Book of the Dead

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rosh Chodesh (with a Feast)

ראש חודש

Rosh Chodesh literally translates from Hebrew as "Head of the Month" and is the name given to the first day of every month in the Hebrew Calendar. Traditionally Rosh Chodesh was not announced until two independent observers had reported seeing a New Moon to the beit din (rabbinic court in Jerusalem) where the judges would evaluate the witness testimony and if they independently could verify the sighting of the new moon the Temple would declare the arrival of Rosh Chodesh.

Why celebrate Rosh Chodesh? This one seems to be on flimsy evidence to say the least. It is often attributed to Exodus 12:1-2
And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
This verse to me still doesn't offer reasonable enough "command" from God to celebrate the new moon; I have found reference to an event that is said to have happened around two weeks before Exodus while Moses was still in Egypt. God showed Moses the cresent moon and commanded him to "sanctify it". It could also be said that the Israelites adopted the significance of the moon as a direct contradiction to the Sun/Ra worship that was forced on them in Egypt.

In around 360 CE Hillel II introduced the "fixed calendar" to Judaism. This changed the tradition a little with the dates of Rosh Chodesh already known there was no longer a need for it to be "witnessed"; however the festival was still celebrated the day following the New Moon by by offering sacrifices, burning incense, chanting special prayers, blowing the shofar (a ceremonial rams horn) and eating a celebratory feast.

There are several Laws of Rosh Chodesh, two of which I wish to specifically point out here, and then discuss further with some other points from that same article.
  • One should not fast on Rosh Chodesh even if the fast is intended for just a few hours.
  • Although there is no obligation to wash and eat a meal in honor of Rosh Chodesh one should endeavor to increase in one's eating on Rosh Chodesh in honor of this day, and even to include bread during the meal.
Why do I bring these two points up in particular? Good Question. I guess I should admit at this point that I have an ulterior motive for discussing Rosh Chodesh; and that is precisely it's relation to feasting; food and eating; in a celebratory manner in a group of people.

I grew up in a reasonable sized family but my fondest memories as a child are mostly of my grandmother cooking and feeding us. Something she continues to do to this day, however she no longer can maintain the lengthy standing time in the kitchen like she used to. There is something very special that happens when a group of people share a meal together; I feel it's the common denominator - we're all pretty much the same - we all eat.

It doesn't matter at all if you're eating the same food or not; I personally find myself in situations where I'm eating very differently to those around me, and while I eat a strict vegetarian diet, I do prepare and cook meat for others to consume.

I do this for a couple of reasons;
  • I'm a pretty good cook, at least I like to eat the food I cook, and others do to. The satisfaction I personally get from seeing the satisfaction someone else receives from my labor of kitchen love (ask any grandmother who cooks, the secret ingredient is always love!!
  • One of my core beliefs is that of tolerance, acceptance and while making my views and thoughts on a range of topics available to anyone who'll give me an ear; I refuse to enforce them upon anyone else. I'm a good cook, why should they miss out on my Roast Lamb just because I won't eat it?
What I would like to encourage anyone who reads this to do is get a group of friends together, cook up a fantastic feast, sit down and eat with each other, enjoying each other's company and in moderation the food and perhaps a glass of wine or two. You could organize to regularly have feasts with a group of friends and perhaps even do it to celebrate Rosh Chodesh in your own way.

Before partaking in the meal depending upon company I say grace, sometimes to myself, occasionally out loud. Grace doesn't have to be religious, it doesn't even have to mention God.

An example of something to use in mixed company could be as simple as:
May we be thankful for the food we are about to consume;
May we be mindful of those who do not have a meal today;
May the food we consume nourish our mind, body and soul;
and a share of it be shared with all of creation for the benefit of all
If you're fortunate enough to have a group of friends like my regular dinner guests the dinner conversation can be so fantastically rewarding.
Remember what Socrates said... Philosophy is a Team Sport!
Encourage dinner discussion, with love, acceptance and tolerance.
Peace to you all.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Reflection on Light

On Light; Eliphas Levi says:

It is through this Force that all the nervous centres secretly communicate with each other; from it--that sympathy and antipathy are born; from it--we have our dreams; and that the phenomena of second sight and extra-natural visions take place...Astral Light [acting under the impulsion of powerful wills] ... destroys, coagulate, separates, breaks, gathers in all things...God created it on that day when he said: "Fiat Lux!" ... It is directed by the Egregores, i.e., the chiefs of the souls who are the spirits of energy and action.