A Higher Power

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Individual                      -                       Collective
Part                                -                       Whole


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Cells work together to form tissues. Tissues work together to form organs. Organs work together to form organ systems. 

Every individual needs to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Every individual needs a higher power that they are in service to.


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 One of the advantages of Buddhism (and similar religions/philosophies) is that Buddhists are able to view themselves as Buddhists, and are therefore able to act accordingly.

e.g. I am a Buddhist, and my outlook is altruistic; therefore, in this situation, as with all other situations, I shall endeavour to act altruistically.

Buddhism provides a reason to act and think in certain ways; a reason that, significantly, comes from outside.

The non-Buddhist who wanted to act altruistically may find their will faltering at a crucial point; and, not having the backing of a wise and formidable institution - not having a good enough reason - may find themselves unable to act as they, in their stronger moments, would have liked to.

Non-Buddhists have to construct their own reasons - their own Buddhism - from shards of philosophy, psychology, etc.


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In order for behavioural patterns to change [...] people need a reason, a stimulus that is so strong and extreme in its impact that it results in a sufficiently powerful enough desire in people to change their behaviour to the required level.

For example, bringing an omnivore to a modern day slaughterhouse or battery hen farm (a.k.a. factory) would have a massive impact on whether that person continues with the consumption habits they took part in before they went there.

[Mark Boyle]

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How did you finally get off drugs?

I went for treatment in Turkey twice. A detox where they put you to sleep through withdrawal. It cost £20,000. My family paid.

But when I got back onto the streets here in London, I kept slipping.

Finally, I fell in love. It's as simple as that. I haven't touched a stone since.

Taken from an interview in Vice magazine, Volume 6 Number 10 ('The (Ex) Biggest Heroin Dealer in the Whole Wide World')
Full interview here.

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The attitude of penance or repentance can be externalized in acts that a believer imposes on himself or herself, acts that are themselves called penances.

'Penance'


In times gone by, people of a certain nature would take a penance.

The penance was a promise made to a higher power - to God. It was the ultimate promise, because God was always there, always watching. As long as you believed, of course.

Many of us still take a penance, although God has, generally speaking, fled the scene. We make New Year's resolutions. We promise not to do this anymore; or to do that more often. We beg forgiveness, insist it is the last time; it won't happen again. We even have apps to help us with our penances.

God may be gone, but we are still human.

Who do we make our penances to these days? Who is our higher power?

For many of us our higher power is our lover, or our family. We strive to become better for them.

If we have no higher power - nothing in our lives bigger than us -  then we only have ourselves to answer to.

The need to make a promise also points toward a need to break it. We are always a battleground of warring forces. With only yourself to answer to, can you trust that the right side will win?

Can the promises we make to our earth-bound higher-powers - lovers, friends - be as powerful as those we make to those that lie beyond the earth?

It needn't be God. The key to a true penance is transcendence; is in making a connection with something universal; unchanging; absolute. A penance is a form of idealism, and in making it we must connect with something truly idealistic.

They understood this in times gone by.


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Traditionally, Jewish men and boys wear the kippah at all times, a symbol of their awareness of, and submission to, a "higher" entity.

'The Kippah (Skullcap)"


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[The] craving for alcohol [is] the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness; expressed in medieval language: the union with God [...]

I am strongly convinced that the evil principle prevailing in this world leads the unrecognized spiritual needs into perdition, if it is not counteracted either by a real religious insight or by the protective wall of human community.

An ordinary man, not protected by an action from above and isolated in society, cannot resist the power of evil, which is called very aptly the Devil [...] 

[C. J. Jung]
Letters, vol. 2 (1951-1961), p. 623-5


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"Long ago, when I had my Merlyn to help, he tried to teach me to think. He knew he would have to leave in the end, so he forced me to think for myself. Don't ever let anybody teach you to think, Lance: it is the curse of the world."

The King sat looking at his fingers, and they waited while the old thoughts ran sideways across his hands like crabs.

"Merlyn," he said, "approved of the Round Table. Evidently it was a good thing at the time. It must have been a step. Now we must think of making the next one."

Guenever said: "I don't see what is wrong with the Round Table, just because the Orkney faction chooses to get murderous."

"I was explaining to Lance. The idea of our Table was that Right was to be the important thing, not Might. Unfortunately we have tried to establish Right by Might, and you can't do that."

"I don't see why you can't do it."

"I tried to dig a channel for Might, so that it would flow usefully. The idea was that all the people who enjoyed fighting should be headed off, so that they fought for justice, and I hoped that this would solve the problem. It has not."

"Why not?"

"Simply because we have got justice. We have achieved what we were fighting for, and now we still have the fighters on our hands. Don't you see what has happened? We have run out of things to fight for, so all the fighters of the Table are going to rot. Look at Gawaine and his brothers. While there were still giants and dragons and wicked knights of the old brigade, we could keep them occupied: we could keep them in order. But now that the ends have been achieved, there is nothing for them to use their might on. So they use it on Pellinore and Lamorak and my sister—God be good to them. The first sign of the fester was when our chivalry turned into Games-Mania—all that nonsense about who had the best tilting average and so forth. This is the second sign, when murder begins again. That is why I say that dear Merlyn would want me to start another thinking, now, if only he were here to help."

"It is something like idleness and luxury unmanning us—the strings have gone slack and out of tune."

"No: it is not that at all. It is simply that I have kept a rod in pickle for my own back. I ought to have rooted Might out altogether, instead of trying to adapt it. Though I don't know how the rooting could have been done. Now the Might is left, with nothing to use it on, so it is working wicked channels for itself."

"You ought to punish it," said Lancelot. "When Sir Bedivere killed his wife you made him carry her head to the Pope. You ought to send Gawaine to the Pope now."

The King opened his hands and looked up for the first time.

"I am going to send you all to the Pope," he said.

"What!"

"Not exactly to the Pope. You see, the trouble is—as I see it—that we have used up the worldly objects for our Might—so there is nothing left but the spiritual ones. I was thinking about this all night. If I can't keep my fighters from wickedness by matching them against the world—because they have used up the world—then I must match them against the spirit."

Lancelot's eye caught fire, and he began to watch the other man attentively. At the same moment Guenever withdrew into herself. She glanced quickly at her lover, a covert glance, then gave a new, reserved attention to her husband.

"If something is not done," went on the King, "the whole Table will go to ruin. It is not only that feud and open manslaughter have started: there is the bold bawdry as well. Look at the Tristram business with King Mark's wife. People seem to be siding with Tristram. Morals are difficult things to talk about, but what has happened is that we have invented a moral sense, which is rotting now that we can't give it employment. And when a moral sense begins to rot it is worse than when you had none. I suppose that all endeavours which are directed to a purely worldly end, as my famous Civilization was, contain within themselves the germs of their own corruption."

"What is this about sending us to the Pope?"

"I was speaking metaphorically. What I mean is, that the ideal of my Round Table was a temporal ideal. If we are to save it, it must be made into a spiritual one. I forgot about God."

[T.H. White]
The Once and Future King, p. 467-9


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1 comment:

  1. In providing a bridge between theory and practice, Buddhism is a very pragmatic philosophy. If refuses to leave its knowledge as just theory, and finds ways to weave it into everyday existence.

    Prescription becomes medecine.

    ReplyDelete