" An unexamined life is not worth living." – Plato
I view the human as having four dimensions.
A physical body, an intellect, a relational\social dimension and a spiritual dimension or soul.
I believe every person needs to nurture each of these dimensions for an well balanced, quality life.
If one or more of these dimensions are missing or reduced, a good life is still possible but may be diminished or sub optimal.
The nurturing of the physical body involves good health care, good diet and physical exercise.
There is no doubt that increased educational status improves quality of life however high intelligence is no guarantee of happiness.
Finally there is the soul or spiritual dimension. Some separate the soul and spirit but I think they are pretty similar.
Harder to define and not really visible, I believe that the soul is that part of me that reaches outwards beyond myself and other people.
It is my belief that the soul can be nurtured by experiencing the grandeur of nature, by various religious practices including spiritual readings, prayer and meditation, and by contemplation and self examination.
The soul may be that part of us that continues to exist after our physical bodies die.
Just as our body, mind or relationships can atrophy without work, so our spiritual life will atrophy and eventually die unless it is fed.
It is my view that growth of the soul involves asking meaningful questions such as Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life? How can I make my life count? How should I live? Is there a God?
For me personally the belief that this world was created by a loving God who loves me and has a great plan for my life has helped me towards – what I believe are – answers for some of life’s meaningful questions and has helped define who I am.
Who or what is me?
Early morning, I wander my storm ridden local beach and see the lines of sea wrack strewn with dead and dying bluebottles. Helplessly subject to the whim of the wind and current, these primitive, yet complex colonies of interdependent marine life now find themselves unceremoniously dumped here to end the cycle of their existence. I stoop to look more closely. There is unexpected movement among the barbed-wire like scribbles of blue. Small struggling slug-like creatures with brush-like appendages wriggle among the bluebottle detrius. I have absolutely no idea what they might be. However, I figure that like the helpless blue stingers, they are destined soon to die. I’m helpless also to help them. Instead I’m left to reflect on the passing away nature of all things. I see that I too, am passing away. Dying, as it were in slow motion. I’m sharply aware of my unitive connection with the mystery of creation’s life and death. I share somehow in it all. Being and passing. Temporary me, I am.
My other companion as I wander this wind swept shore is my own shadow. I watch the outline of my long, but ever-so-slowly shrinking shadow and contemplate the incredible nature of the blessedness of my own self reflective consciousness. We are each so attuned to this gift of our own stream of conscious thought. Inversely, however, we are held captive to its ever present, often rambling, ‘stumblingalong’ continuity.
When I ponder the significance of my own tenuous identity as in the question, ‘Who or What is me,’ I’m driven back to this…
Himself being Jewish, Franz Kafka wrote…
“What do I have in common with the Jews? I hardly have anything in common with myself.
…identity is a cage in search of a bird.”
Our wrestle with identity…black/white, male/female, straight/gay, indigenous/immigrant…can at best liberate us; but at worst isolate us and deny a oneness with all things; that in spite of our unique differences we are all pretty much the same. There is no white/black, gay/straight, Muslim/Christian water, earth or air. We share creation’s elements.
Perhaps it fits us best just to fully embrace the gift of consciousness given to our own little insignificant selves…which is really more than enough.
“I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through.” –Hafiz
For all of mankind’s contemplation of this question we still have not fundamentally answered it. The nature of consciousness, how it arises from countless atoms working in harmony, still eludes us. This of course has not stop us ‘explaining’ it in whatever manner best suits us. If people want to accept answers on faith that’s their prerogative, to me it’s just a waste of time. We had a chariot to pull the sun across the sky when other explanations were lacking. Didn’t make it right, but was probably of comfort to some people to be sure the sun was going to come up the next day. Same goes for what makes us ‘me’, we might not understand it yet, but we’ll probably get there eventually.
I think Monty Python have a wonderful approach to answering the ‘what’ of life. For all we know, we’re a tiny planet flagged for demolition on an intergalactic highway. Obviously believing that is no less faith based than any other explanation. But it hits home the vast size of the universe, the incredible potential it has to have developed all kinds of life, and the fundamentally irrelevant nature of humans to the wider universe.
What we are is confined to exactly what we make of ourselves as a species, nothing more. This nihilist perspective is not for everyone, but it requires no inventions or leaps of the imagination to uphold. It acknowledges we know only so much and makes no claim to a higher cause or reason. You’re here, might as well enjoy the ride. Bonus points for contributing to the enjoyment of others.
Who or what am I, what a question…
I’d love to believe that we are 3/4 dimensional and that when our physical bodies fail us our soul moves on, either to a better place or to be reincarnated or some kind of collective consciousness. Any of those options would work for me, but if I were to choose, I like the idea of reincarnation it fits better for me.
Thats my secret hope and I practice my spirituality in the form of meditation and loosely held beliefs in Buddhism.
However, another part of me thinks that;
Who we are appears to depend on who is asking…
I do know that I have a body and a conscious capacity to be an observer of my thoughts and feelings. That my identity is determined by the way in which I was brought up and the sum total of my experiences therein after. Subsequent experiences may change the sense of self I currently have., I know that my perceived ‘identity’ changes according to who is judging me. That those judgements depend on the sum of their experiences.
My experience also tells me that many people identify with their thoughts and think that is who they are… that their thoughts are a true reflection of reality… that they are right.
To me that is the fundamental thinking error of all man kind… I think therefore it is true. It is what causes all the wars in this world, the horrible judgments and cruelty we inflict on others….
So for me in my world, which could be somewhere on the edge of the universe… it really is understanding that my thoughts and identity are a true reflection of my reality and not necessarily others… so therefore judge not and do no harm.,
Well you did ask lol… I need a beer after all that thinking! X
I am a simple man. I am a complex man. I am a simple man. This back and forth way of thinking is often dependent upon what I am facing, or what I have been asked or invited to do. And visiting this blog and looking to contribute, after a kind invitation from a friend, has me stuck on the “I am a simple man” mantra!! To be perfectly honest, I am incredibly intimidated by the depth of thought and prose that precedes my waffle!
So with that, I shall step back from this platform, have a good think about what I would like to contribute and how I can articulate it as best as possible, and then return. I hope that this finds the reader having a wonderful day.
Who or what IS me, cannot be explained before pondering who or what WAS me… thus outlining the evolving continuum that is I.
Picture if you will, a very large room. It is more then dark, it is pitch black. And, it is silent- there are humans and large items scattered about. There are random shrieking sounds and every so often i feel something passing my face at high speed, a sudden whooshing blast.
The first 28 years of my life was me trying to escape this room. I was limited in my capacity to understand the people and things around me. I was solely invested in my own survival, I trampled over God knows what. I feasted upon people who’d have been better off not in that room.
I had no concept of any power outside of my own. This was an incredibly frightening reality and I felt suitably helpless yet incredibly responsible all at the same time. I had no hope. Just a driving urge that I must survive.
And survive I did – long enough to get to the good parts, the parts where I realised my purpose in life was beyond self.
There’s something about enough darkness for enough time – a person seeks the light. Recently a friend insightfully summarised my evolution – they said “You couldn’t be bad any more so you had to be good” Truthfully that couldn’t be closer to the truth.
There was a day I remember realising that my pain tank was full – it was completely full- not another ounce of pain would fit in (try as it may – and try it did) there was simply no vacancy within me. There was a safety in that place that allowed me to begin seeking what was good and bright fearlessly – I had nothing to lose.
I’m a sucker for the rules. I’d like to pretend I’m creative or on the very odd occasion, clever. But I’m at best like everyone else. I am have fallen into the rules that we have accepted we must play to get by.
We accept we must work – for a living. Money makes the world go round. The house, the car, the clothes show success. The Facebook international holiday pics show success. The absence of them reminds us of the fails.
From the early years we are indoctrinated with the rules that we must play by. And because they are lessons taught before we can reason, there is no need to question them.
We learn there is a god. Depending on what religion your parents are will determine who your God is. It is that simple. If your parents are Christian your one and only God will be the father of Jesus. If your parents are Muslim then your god will be Allah who it turns out is also the God for the Jews.
But I don’t have the courage to step outside of the game. I play it religiously. I work relentlessly to earn just enough to pay for the schooling that my children don’t need. They educational needs would be well met at any of the local schools. Yet I play a competitive game. They must have the best – well from the outside it must be the best.
I force my children to adhere to the rules of the school society when I know it doesn’t work for them. They must conform and yet that is breaking their spirit. But this is how we play the game. We chip away at their unique imperfections until they are smooth and moulded so they don’t disturb the status quo. They can grow up just like me.
At home, stressed from financial pressures I have chosen to adopt, I am short tempered. I find faults with my children. I point them out. But I am playing the game. I have embraced the rules.
We must strive for more. If you’re not growing you’re dying. Unless we’re talking about cancer cells growing, then you are dying. Growth for growth’s sake is not healthy but we chase it. Because it’s expected. You’re not succeeding if you are not growing.
We look down upon those who have the strength to play outside the rules: the ones who have stepped away from the confines of the game. They are homeless, they are in gaol, they are unemployed, they are wanderers, they are sailors on the sea. Oh to be so free.
Much debate, passion, opinion, respectful conversation, nasty argument, intelligence and stupidity has been shared amongst Australians of late, with the postal survey seeking our stance on Same Sex Marriage.
Even though my Facebook feed was littered with opinion, ranging from polite opinion to keyboard shouting, I refrained from sharing my views, until I finally caved and fell to my weak egocentric side, that felt that everyone needed to know my opinion and after reading it, would have no choice but to wave their white flag in surrender, and join me in my march toward wisdom :))
From the outset, let me say that I believe in SSM and will be bitterly disappointed and embarrassed of this nation until we get this sorted and legislated. My reasoning is relatively simple and straightforward.
Firstly, let me give you a bit of a background on me and what leads me to this decision as a 46 year old father of four. I went to Catholic school all my life (except Yrs 11 and 12 at a state school). I grew up hating “poofters.” Not the people themselves, just the thought of homosexuality. I would giggle at the thought of poofs being ridiculed. I remember as a teen thinking that it would be good to drop a bomb on the Mardi Gras to wipe out as many poofters as possible at once. How awful to think like that?! I am sure that if that actually happened, I would have been devastated, but it didn’t stop me thinking it. Thankfully, I grew up and out of that awful mindset. My families were close to two families who each had a gay son. Well, they weren’t openly gay as young kids, but we knew what lay in store. Those two are now in their 40’s and both live amazing lives, one an Officer in the Army, the other a publicist and partner of an Australian Diplomat in Europe.
And now to 2017, as an overweight, wiser, hairy 46 year old with a wife of 21 years and four children. And I am very happy to be not only that man, but one who sees marriage equality as nothing more than a question of human rights. I”m by no means a shining spokesperson for homosexuality. I still cringe watching two men kiss (even though I have dear friends who I respect and care for deeply who are gay) and I am still guilty of accidentally referring to one of my sons as gay if they get hurt playing backyard footy. This is the behaviour and words of what many would define as a homophobe, but I know I’m not that. I’m a result of my upbringing, where it was perfectly normal and acceptable to label someone or an action as “gay” if it wasn’t tough or good, and where to this day, I still have not seen two men kiss as lovers. That’s not an excuse, but the way it is. I care for and value no human any less because they are attracted to a person of their own sex. I expect that whatever rights and opportunities that I have in this nation, they have too. Simple really.
My view of SSM is this. Firstly, how dare we put it to a vote, like we are voting for the Logies. How dare we vote for something like this in this manner. How demeaning. It’s bloody simple. Two people are in a relationship where they love one another. And they want to get married. Let them. It does not devalue my marriage one bit. If the church wishes not to marry them, then so be it. Religion does not own marriage. The human race owns marriage. If one or more of my four children ended up in a loving homosexual relationship and wanted to marry the love of their life, then how dare some person in Wodonga, Woy Woy or West Wyalong, who doesn’t know them, be able to vote no to their right as a HUMAN BEING. If anyone wants to vote no, be sure that you are absolutely comfortable with someone you love dearly being denied this right. If you are, that’s your prerogative. If you aren’t comfortable with hurting the ones you love, then you have no choice but to vote yes or be a hypocrite.
As I said in my FB rant, I am no lawyer, no philosopher, no academic, no man of the cloth. But I know right from wrong, and I know common sense. This is common sense. It is as simple as the indigenous being allowed to vote (that was legalised only 50 years ago!) and interracial marriage. Hell, even my grandparents were married behind a church because one was Catholic and the other Church of England. That seems ludicrous today, but back then, perfectly fine with much of the population. This is precisely the same. What are we really arguing about? It’s a foregone conclusion that our children and children’s children will cringe at this when they look at how long we took to get our act together. My kids are already disgusted by the whole thing and see it as a weakness and flaw of the population and our government that we are still doing this whole debate. The argument against is weak and has often clutched at straws, using religion, procreation and the welfare of children as justifications. Some of the yes argument has been aggressive, and this has put people off. But I understand this. Many of those folk have spent their entire lives being harassed, bullied, feeling marginalised, and attacked by some as less than human. Why wouldn’t they be angry about this? And then they see this as a simple human rights issue that people are voting on like it’s a popularity contest. I’d be wild too.
So with all that, I will be voting yes. I will be hoping that all adults in Australia have the right to marry the person they love more than life itself, and I will be doing something that I know my children are proud of and know is right. Sometime when all else fails, it doesn’t hurt to use your children as a moral compass. Thanks for reading.
Temporary me I am, and that feels quite okay.
A fortunate soul I entered ‘this world’ loved and know that quite simply this is how I will depart. The mark of me will largely be left indelibly through the people I have loved. But this indelible mark will only last another generation or so as new lives are created and the memory of me will cease to exist. This feels natural to me, the notion of permanency does not. Life is our greatest gift but it cannot keep giving indefinitely. Gratitude, kindness and generosity of spirit are fundamental traits towards peace and it is these traits that allow us to gracefully move on and create space for those that are next in line.
I believe we are all as humans very alike in our thoughts and feelings regardless of intellect, race, gender, age and so forth. It is our actions that give rise to our own uniqueness.
I believe the soul lives on past the physical self. That it is undeniably felt and palpably so by those who wish to remain connected. Perhaps this and our openness to evolve whilst ‘here’ are the truest magic of all.
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