Sharing spirituality with others outside the dojo
I wonder sometimes if a lot of people have this problem, so I thought I'd ask©
Let me say right off the bat that this is not an attempt to impress my beliefs on others, and I don't expect anyone to impress theirs on mine© It's an opening up of some things that I have a hard time talking about, and it's very personal to me© If you want to share your own beliefs with me than feel free© I'm keeping my third eye well squeegied ¥thanks Bill Hicks¤ and open for these replies©
Before I started reading a lot about Eastern philosophy and religion, I was a very devout Atheist© The kind of Atheist who believes in NOTHING as a thing to believe in© Not the type of atheist who just doesn't believe in God or gods©
Now, through Shinto, Buddhism and Aikido, I've begun to rethink some of the things I took for granted© There are simply a lot of things that happen in this world that science won't talk about© Ki is very real to me, and even if there are scientific explanations, they don't detract from the fact that Ki and it's uses are pretty amazing© Now I do believe in a psychic power that is innate in all people, and I also believe that this is what we think of as soul© Sort of a cloud of non-material energy that people and things draw upon that exists in everything© Ki is, I think, sort of a part of this, or a by-product of it, or another law of nature© I don't think that reincarnation as typically explained exists, but your Ki or energy goes back to the cloud, even if a conscious mind isn't attached to it© In addition, through my spiritual studies it has occurred to me that all things really are connected on many, many levels© Not to be corny or use cliches, but there is a "oneness" to the Universe and a path or process or series of laws that we must study© The fact that Aikido opens up these windows of psychic or Ki energy raises some serious spiritual questions for me© I think that you're wondering where I'm going with this©©© me too© Bear with me, please©
I don't know who to talk to about all these new questions I have© I have a hard time bringing up something as esoteric as Ki to someone who hasn't felt it working, especially if they still think of me as an Atheist ¥even if I am still a lower case "a" atheist¤© I've been telling people for years that I don't believe in any of "that bull****" but now I'm starting to believe in some of it© I had a hard time realizing before that you don't have to believe in the bible's version of god to be spiritual, and I've always had a thing against hippie-types who seek to disassociate from the world through drugs and anarchy© It's just getting tricky trying to see that I really do believe a lot of the same things as hippies and christians© I'm trying to find ways to help people understand that I'm not being brainwashed, as I'm coming to these realizations on my own, even if I appear to contradict things I have said in the past©
This is a tough problem for me, has anyone else expierienced this? Does Aikido just reinforce what you already believed or did you awaken new pieces of your mind through it? I'm not looking for spiritual guidance, here, more like what you expierienced having your beliefs change and how you explain that to people who know you©
This comes up for me all the time© One example: I've argued with my Dad to no end about the process of religion and ritual and spirituality/superstitions© When watching "Iron Chef" I was explaining that the Japanese chefs thought of the knives and cutting boards as sacred objects that commanded respect, not just tools that they use© This is something that I think is very important about Japanese society, and I am starting to look at things the same way© Well, as I was explaining that he just looked shocked and asked why I was so quick to accept that and not christian traditions that are a part of how I grew up© It's a good question, and I do that a lot© I'm very xenocentric, mostly with Japanese traditions, I just like Japan a hell of a lot and I find myself trying to be Japanese all the time© I get the same thing with bowing and treating my Aikido weapons like sacred objects© There is a lot of respect and allegory involved© Wether or not there really is a sentient, thinking Kami in the dojo, I should act as though there is© It gives you the right frame of mind of respect and readiness for something special to happen© I think every practice is a powerful prayer to yourself and those you train with, and it connects you to everyone else who they've trained with, and so on© You can bow just to bow, you can bow to show respect, you can bow to worship, you can not bow in protest© These things help make Aikido what it is© For me, I bow out of respect and a desire to connect myself to the Kami of the dojo ¥or the idea of it¤©
Sorry this is such a long post, I think I could really type for hours about this, but I want to hear what you all have to say©
I wish we could meet up and converse Tibbetts-san.
Some of my experiences/views in spirituality are written in the following thread:
Jun Akiyama's "Spiritual Understandings"
Bruce Baker's "Application of aiki"
I really do respect your views and I wish I could discuss this further with you, through this forum of course, since I am on the other side of the planet.
During my experience with Ki-no-kenkyukai (Ki Society / Ki Study Group), I've learned that Ki is not something that is supernatural nor it is mystical. On the contrary it is something very natural and we live with them day in day out even when we don't believe in it. The Japanese call this Ki, but there are many other explanations. Ki is the natural law of the universe.
Many people take different paths, and I believe that you, Tibbetts-san, has found your path.
I suggest reading "Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East" By Baird T. Spalding.
It might give you a little more insight of what you're searching for. Ki is a part of life as aforementioned. I believe it to be the very breath of life. As for myself, I'm a devout Christian and aikido does help me with my personal relationship with my God. This subject can go on and on and on....
My compliments and appreciation for your insights and your courage to share them. IMHO, many people find the same insights. It is hard, but not impossible, to find others to share these with. Some inside the Dojo, and some outside. Keep to the journey/quest.
I would add my voice to the ones supporting you on expressing yourself and being open to finding your way, but I thought instead I'd raise some issues that hit me while reading your questions.
The first thing that struck me was that while you were once sure of your Way as an Atheist your are now becoming sure of your Way in AiKi. I wonder whether it would not be wise to see how temporal our beliefs are, and to remain open to the possibility that this, too, is a phase you will pass through. Just as the letting go of your Atheist past is made harder because of the way you clung to it and allowed it to mix up with your sense of self, so here, also, you are in danger (perhaps) of losing your Self in your Beliefs.
I guess that, for myself, I hope that AiKiDo will not be my final opportunity to discover that reality is much larger and more intersting than I had previously thought.
A second issue that came to mind reading your post is that while there is much to admire about Japanese culture, there is also much to abhor. While there have been long arguments back and forth about whether the Germans were 'culturally' suited for fascism or whether it happened there accidentally, fewer such arguments arise regarding Japan. The willingness to revere and to make our own selves small in the faith of Traditions, Customs, and even Objects can have many uncomfortable and even fundamentally evil consequences. I also have a deep respect for the Japanese sensibilities and aesthetics (such as I've experienced them), but I think it is important not to forget the other side.
Anyway, that's enough for now. Good luck on your way.
Opher, you raise a good point about wether or not this is a "phase"© This is something I have considered long and hard, and I've come to the realization that I truly am changing on many levels© There was a day where I would have said that people CAN'T change, but that is past because I expierienced how untrue it is© The thing is, what I was going through before was reactionary© You see I was raised in an agnostic family, but I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 8th grade© This allowed me to look at the catholic faith from some mixture of an insider's and outsider's view© What I saw was shocking© At any rate I decided that I had to learn about religion and try to find the "faith" in myself that they told me I should have© I read the bible several times througout school, on my own, and I also read many other myths and legends© I was mostly concerned with things like Celtic, Norse, Egyptian, Native American and the classical myths© What I found was that the bible was virtually identical to the other myths in both content and execution© At that point I took something of a Marxist view of religion, that it was a tool to control the masses© This led me to think of organised religion as something to be avoided, even something to hate© Of course this led into reverse evangelism, and arguments popped up anytime I was around a strong christian©
Now, having established that, I think that what's happening to me now is that I see how ultimately childish many of my ways were© I think that I was reacting against what I felt was something oppressive and evil© Now, I feel like I am growing into a new level of maturity and self-exploration© I am once again asking myself questions that I may have been too scared to ask before© I still honestly don't believe in an all-knowing and all-powerful god, nor any sentient god thing but what I am coming to understand is that many of these gods that people worship are representative of something else© I do think there are over-riding laws in the universe, and I think that Ki and the spiral and things like the Kotodama are tools to see those laws© I am coming to the point where instead of wondering about all these things I'm making up my mind and acting upon them© This is very different from my exploration and reactivity of before© At least, it feels different to me© There have been things in my life that I always said I would never quit, like smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, and playing wargames© However, I grew out of those things© Aikido is not something that I feel I will grow out of, but I do feel I will grow into© I think that a lot of people I know expect me to quit Aikido, but I just honestly don't see why I would do that© It's the difference between something that's a hobby and something that's altering my life for the better© I can see real positive changes from my practice after only a few months, and in ways I don't think I ever expected© At any rate, I can see why you may have thought that, as I've thought it too and I'm sure that my loved ones all think it about me as well© To me, it feels different, and I don't know how to explain it© I think it's like what you think love is in high school, only to find that true Love is something entirely different© That's the best analogy I can come up with©
Oh, and about Japan© I do recognize that Japan has not had the cleanest moral history in the world, but you know it's very easy to pick apart a country that lost a war, as even they are quick to admit their own fault ¥except the southern U©S©¤© There is much evidence to indicate that war was truly the only option that Japan had under the circumstances, even if the way they waged it was not what we would consider acceptable behavior© I could on for days, but it doesn't matter© I do see that they have flaws, but I don't let that tarnish the good things that they've done and continue to do© On the flipside, I am much harsher on a country like America that refuses to acknowledge any wrong-doing on our part© We have done many horrible things, so have any other given nation or culture, but how a country reacts to questions about their actions is crucial, and it's something I think America fails miserably at© It may be true that the Japanese used Shinto to justify their divinity and make the individual more dedicated to national goals, but that is no different than using intellectual or moral high-ground to validate cruelty to others© All countries have to do things at some point in their development to survive that seem horrible in retrospect, so you can't use that as an argument against them easily© That's another thread entirely, though, so I'll go back to listening :¤
Thanks a lot for the great point, Opher© I can't wait to keep this one going©
I also congratulate you for having the courage to discuss such a sensitive subject in such a 'public' arena.
Four things which had the most spiritual influence on my life in aikido are:
(1) Doing the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola (I have done this a number of times, but the full 30-day retreat is something very special);
(2) Majoring in philosophy at university and taking it seriously, seriously enough to teach it here in Japan;
(3) Practising aikido at the hands of Kazuo Chiba Shihan, getting to know him, and discussing with him many of the matters you raise in this thread;
(4) Digging up my roots in the UK and deciding to make Japan my place of permanent residence.
This last was a major wrench in many ways and I would suggest that you test any fascination with Japan and its culture by coming here and seeing for yourself. Actually Chiba Sensei was in two minds about my coming to Japan. On the one hand, Japan was the source of aikido; on the other hand, much of aikido 'mythology' would be seen for what it is: actually you used a cruder term in your first post. In fact, however, he did the same thing in reverse, but for different reasons, of course. Not long after I arrived here, he went to live in San Diego.
Finally, I would ask if you have established a good relationship with a Japanese teacher, with whom you can discuss Japan and Japanese aikido/culture, and/or a teacher who fully understands and appreciates the value (and the depths) of aikido as a spiritual exercise?
Not too long ago, the main Ninjitsu teacher in Israel, who had hundreds of students and is an interesting, kind, and deep man, made the transition from Ninjitsu to Feldenkrais full time and dropped out of the Martial Arts world.
Always be open to your own need to look around and grow to places you would not have thought possible.
At least, that's my take.
I've been close to where you were in my life. I didn't have any religion or feel any connection with the universe. The connections I felt in Aikido brought me to the realization of spiritual connections with other human beings, which lead me to seek a religious path. I spent a long time looking for the common treads between all religions and somewhere along the way I found the faith that I had lost as a child. I wish you luck on your own path to understanding.
spirituallity and neccessity
Within each of us is the neccessity of finding balance so we are able to function in society without being a danger to ourselves or other.
The history of humanity proves that we do some pretty stupid things, and we create some awefully strange conditions that artificially support the human psyche to find this balance.
This is the complexity of finding or denying spirituality. We create a set of standards, practices, logic, and beliefs to balance and soothe this individual psyche.
The bottom line being, so long as you are not a threat to yourself or others, work within the morals of present society without endangering that society, you have a right to believe and live as you choose. Too simple?
You know ... anyone can complicate simplicity but making something complicated simple to understand, now there is a challenge.
With this simple set of guidelines, you can pretty much understand why people of different cultures have a variety of differences in their culture, beliefs, and why the problems of common life overcome our understanding of how to live in world with so many problems. Well ... we can't, not without some kind of firewall, to use a computer term, so that we can insulate ourselves from problems that would overwhelm us, create turmoil ... imbalance.
Sometimes I think we should have someone write reports on some of the threads we have in forums so we can have the readers digest of subjects discussed, and the best quotes from each discussion for future reference. It sure would save on recovering subjects year after year, although referencing previous information would allow us to see the progression of change in the forum posts ...
If you deny religion, then you have it because you are denying something you have knowledge of, so I consider atheists some of the most religious people on earth. They are the first ones to 'Swear to god' when they think they will die, or some unbelievable miracle occurs.
It appears you have done much of the basic legwork in researching religion, you need to add in the psychological factor for humanitys well being, and you will have your answer.
Whether it is blind religious, or scientific religious, or merely socially educated to be polite to other human beings, all the explanations for religions are based upon two factors.
One: we need to balance the human psyche to be in harmony, or have balance.
Two: We learn everything we know from our experience and perception of our world, our universe, our life's experience.
How we decypher the data, the thoughts of the human we are, well that determines how we view religion, spirituality, and how we determine what that living being wants to be.
Well, I don't have a photographic mind so I can't give you a scientific report that will satisfy everyone who reads this. How you find ways to apply what I think is right, well ... my opinion, my experience, you can use some of it, or find your own balance?
So long as we play nice, we should be able to find answers that work.
If I seem to be wandering, my little eyes are going to sleep. I will get back to you later.
Sorry if I was vague, but in my experience, the words seemed perfectly clear.
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..... quiet .... I'm sleeping.
its great to hear that you thoughts are changing and in my opinion evolving.
the other day on the phone to a very dear friend of mine who lives in japan who i thought would be the last person to have a turn around has come to some similiar points of view as me and as you. it brought me great joy to hear him speak with interest about what is considered spirituality.
i have found that in both his case and my own, the quest into alternate eastern thoughts developed with a great dissatisfaction with the world around me and with the materialistic attitudes of many. for a long time i felt depressed and pointless, now upon reflection and a change in my thinking i find great reassurance and even some meaning for my own life.
i am curious, what brought about this change or development in your thoughts?
if you are finding it hard to discuss with others, dont worry. spirituality is a very personal thing for everyone and it is very hard to share with people and for others to share with you. some people can be quite discomforted by talking about it and reactions can vary.
i have been raised from a buddhist background and i personally find it very hard to discuss with my father particular aspects of spirituality as i get quite annoyed with him.
anyways all the best.
sorry about my long post, i know the longer the post the less likely it is to be read.
Damien, you ask what brought about the change in my thoughts? I think that there may have been some amount of the resentment of materialism in society, although I am more inclined to justify why that is and try to understand it then just resent it, but more than that I think it just happened over a period of time© This is something I'm thinking about tonight, actually©
I just finally brought this up with my wife© She is the one I was really talking about in my first post, no matter what my opinions on spirituality are now, I can't communicate them without being a hypocrite to my own ¥2 years ago¤ self© I just brought it up as I was giving her a back massage, and I phrased it as though spirituality was difficult to discuss with others© Of course I haven't discussed it with anyone but all of you, she didn't know that and so I was able to make it into a situation where she could give me advice on the subject instead of judge me© You see, she's been into Native American culture and spirituality for some time© She's been to a sweat-lodge ¥sort of a misogi ritual in a ritual sauna¤ that caused very powerful group hallucinations© For her this was a powerful spiritual event, and I was still in my Atheist period and I said some rather unsavory things about the theory behind it and drilled her about why she made it into a spiritual thing© Anyway, suffice to say that this has been something of an area of contention and conflict between us, and for me to change my tune must make her feel a little cheated© Like it's good enough for me to have a moving spiritual expierience but when she had one I belittled it©
The point that I came up with when I was talking to her about it was that the way I was before was an especially strong reaction against religion because I percieved it's influence on me to be especially strong© I still maintain that it's hard to be a non-christian in this society where the ten commandments are our laws and there are crucifixes on so many necks and walls© When I was coming out of catholic school, their heavy push caused me to puch back heavily© This is one of those yin/yang things© The yin of religion trying to influence me was balanced by the yang of me resisting© As I grew a little older and did maybe less searching for impossible answers, the influence seemed less and less, and so required less and less of a reaction© Now it's gotten to the point that I can sit closer and closer to the center of the yin/yang and see both extremes getting further out into the distance© So in all, I think that what's changing is that I'm seeing things from a more balanced perspective© For some time I had the idea in my head that "an open mind is like a fortress with it's gates unbarred and unguarded"© Bonus points to anyone who knows where that quote came from© I thought that the armies of the faithful were so strong that I could not afford to have an open mind, lest they invade and take over© I think that while this may have gotten me through some tough times in high-school, it has ceased to be important to me and now I have enough strength of mind that I can invite the army in for dinner and chat, then kindly take what I want from the conversation and invite them to leave© This may not be the best analogy, but in my mind it's crucial©
Of course I'm ramblng© I think most of you expect that out of me by now© I can't ever shut up, there's no-one else to talk to in the non-wired world© Hope some of that made sense©
I ramble a lot of times... I just rambled with an old friend of mine that called me on a whim. We talked about life.
I see the problem you have communicating with your wife about this. It's like it might made her think that, "it's OK for you, but not for me."
I'm not married, but I don't believe I need to be in order to have this experience. I know exactly how you feel. And what I did then was just be honest and be sincere about it. Sit down and talk about it. This is quite an important issue in any relationship, marriage, friends, even associates. It will affect your life one way or another.
Since about a couple of years ago, I started having this type of conversations with many people. Some listened and get into a discussion, some ignored me, sometimes, some even despised me. But I needed to say what I needed to say.
In many of my conversations I contradicted myself several times. I might say one thing but then disagree with myself later on and then agree again. It's not that I can't make up my mind, being wishy washy, being a hypocrite, or having a split personality, it's that I see more than one side of the issue.
The reason I communicate different sides, it is because I don't want to be a hypocrite. What I say might be true and helpful in one situation, but it might be destructive in another. Life is dynamic, it is ever-flowing and changing. We might think of one thing, but then we are faced with a situation that demanded change. There are too many sides to see and too many decisions to make.
I have to be responsible for the things that I have done and what I have said.
I'm rambling again, I don't even remember what I was going to say.
People might see me having a holier-than-thou attitude. But it is quite the contrary, it is because I know that I am so imperfect in many ways, I am weaker than most (not talking strength-wise here), that made me have many of these conversations. Hoping that in one of these communications I would have some type of enlightenment.
Don't just talk with your wife about it, Tibbetts-san, communicate with her about it. Share your feelings. You are different then who you were 2 years ago. You might find some resentment, but only for a short while. I believe she might appreciate it more that now you could feel what she is feeling.
One of Aikido's strength comes from being able to empathize with others.
This is getting too long, and I just start rambling and others probably would not know what the heck am I writing about, what is my point. I am now lost for words... Just having indescribable (did I wrote that correctly) feelings. Perhaps due to the conversation I just had with my friend.
Thalib, I think you have a solid handle on what you're trying to say, wether you are too tired to say it or not, I got your message© I agree completely about not just discussing something, but communicating it© Also, in the past and even today I get into heated arguments with people where I can and do discuss both sides of an issue© I think it's important to be able to argue against your own point of view to show that you truly do understand both or all sides of a topic before choosing which one to support© When I grew up, our family wouldn't sit around and watch TV, we'd argue about politics or something© My wife can't figure out why I love seeing my family so much around holidays, all we do is argue© The thing is, I LOVE IT© When it's family, you know that no matter how pissed you are at them, they'll still love you the next day© We don't even get mad at each other really, but you wouldn't know that listening to us© I think it's great to just really get into it with someone so you can test your own thearies against someone elses, and see how you can take apart another argument© It doesn't always work, just last night I was visiting with some friends who are in town for the first time in 6 months, and all we did was argue heatedly over poilitics to no purpose© I felt a little better afterwards, but I know he was really upset about it© I need to try and realise that not every person I argue with is like my family, not so thick-skinned as my brothers and father© My wife is, of course, an entirely different story© I can open up with her in different ways, and I can also not say certain things as easily with her as with the rest of my family© It's not a trust thing, it's a contextual thing© Sometimes I know it's OK to one thing around certain people and not others, it's just kind of crappy when I paint myself into a corner like how I have with this spirituality concept© I got to the point that I may have lost some credibility in that department, and I don't know how to get it back©
Thanks for listening© Sometimes I wonder if I just post this for myself© Does this stuff interest anyone else?
Here's a story that my sensei told me just yesterday. The priest and the sinner:
The story is about sincerity. The priest kept praying and doing all of the biddings, but was never sincere in the prayers nor in the deed, the goal is completely different. Without sincerity, the priest is just another hypocrite, the prayers and the deed became meaningless, even became sinful.
The sinner on the other hand, only with one sincere prayer, has earned the rightful place that at first he might not even had imagined.
I don't know if this has solved any problems, it's just a nice story on people, judegement, and sincerity that I wanted to share.
In reply to your post, Tibbetts-san,
I really do know what you mean about selecting the people you "share your mind with". Some may take it the wrong way and get offended. Here, it is even more extreme, some of my point of views could be perceived as herecy, which makes me a heretic.
Even though I do not want to, I do get selective. Not that I do it on purpose, it's more like instinctual. I need to break that barrier, and able to communicate with anyone.
I can't stand idle chit-chat. Joking around is not a problem. But, conversation for the sake of making conversation, that is not me. When I'm having a conversation, there must be a purpose to this, not just idle chit-chat. That's why I do not make a good host nor a good salesman.
My mother always tells me that I'm anti-social, but that is not the case. If I don't feel like talking, then I won't speak. I'd rather stay silent than saying something that I might regret later on. When there is a purpose to the conversation, when that connection is made, I could go on until the sun rise the next day.
My parents understand me a little bit more now. The lessons I've learned while practicing Aikido have helped me communicate better. It's not good yet, but it's better. There still so much to learn.
The art of communication, something that I will be learning for the rest of my life. Actually, I'm going to write about the application of Aikido in communication for my shodan test essay. Come to think of it... it's due in less than 2 weeks.
Man... there are things that I'll never learn...
Well, I better start writing...
Thanks for the inspiration...
Opher, yes I do indeed think that an apology is in order, and will be the next topic of discussion between us, but that doesn't make it much easier for other people that I know© Actually, it may smooth some things over but I don't see an apology making that big of a difference anyway© At this point, I think I need to just continue exploring and seeing things and forget what others think about it©
Dear Mr. Tibbetts
Like others who have posted I also appreciate your posting on your "change of heart" (?).
It takes some nerve and courage to do so, especially when others (especially Significant Others) have built up certain expectations about what you say and think, and how you act.
I am a Christian. This is the path I walk. But I have non-christian friends who are also on a path to a greater sense of wholeness. As far as Bible reading goes, over the years I have found a wealth of material in both books. I guess, like others, I would like to share one book that has been an ispiration to me and that is Martin Buber's "I and Thou." If you ever come across this little book I think you will find very many things that are quite frankly very Aiki!
Native American experience
I saw your comment about your wife being into the native american experience, and although I am an outsider at the moment, I do understand some of the stranger things the average person does not.
Some people have a talent to feel energy, or get signals from their body that are about as mystical as birds and animals evacuating and area before and earthquake or a big storm. Hair on the back of your neck kind of thing, wierd but not weird.
Seeing dreams that are not dreams but glimpses of the future, the past, or connections to your subconscious mind trying to communicate wants or needs, these little gifts are considered outside the normal realm of common european industrial society, or considered things only a medicine man/ womam are supposed to know or do. Well, whether it is because of a genetic trait, being hit on the head, an illness that opens another part of the brain that lies dormant in most people, it is no less weird than trying to explain how to use Ki/chi in Aikido.
Atheist? No problem. Witchcraft? Only applys is you are ignorant to miss the scientific application, or are too lazy to find the magicians trick. Second sight? No more complicated than having your teeth act like a radio.
Speaking of radio, why can't there be other signals in the universe besides man-made signals recieved by electronic recievers?
Sensitivity? Some people's bodys acting like antennas? Who knows?
There are many things that exist in our universe, but we don't always know how to use them, describe them, or even understand them ... but there they are. How long did it take humans to use or understand electricity, when lightning has been around forever?
My pet peive is the absolute faith that denys anything is scientific, and it is an act of God. Might be, but then who or what is God?
I am sorry for those who draw a line in their religious beliefs, or have the all powerful faith that denys everything that they don't understand as a reference to the great power of their god ... why the hell is it everything we can't explain is the power of their god?
Oh, Well ... another subject for another day.
The spiritual effort, the understanding of things beyond the physical explanation of ordinary everyday life ... these are many of the questions we think to find the answer to when digging into ancient texts, or even in practicing Aikido, as it it was a means to an end. In some ways it is, and in some ways it is not. We use the crutch to gain the strength, and we need the knowledge to gain the strength.
Like most experiences, you encourage others to try things that you have learned from, but until others experience these things, they can not understand the meaning of your words.
Maps? Guides? Signs pointing the way?
If I have learned anything from being married it is ....
never protract an argument with your wife, you won't win until she comes to the conclusion she was right and you were wrong, even if it means for her to coming around to your way of thinking.
It's those damn rules about women always being right, even if they are wrong, and having the right to change their minds to suit the need to let them be right....You just can't win.
First rule of self is to please yourself with what you think is right, if it is right, everyone else will be pleased too.
If it isn't, just do what women do, change your mind until it is right.
As one gets older & experience more of life many of those black & white views that we hold as youths become grey.
Just have the courage to tell them as it is, listen to what they have to say, use your aikido blending skills to counter any verbal attacks caused by your old opinions. If they disagree don't try to ram your new opinions down their throats, learn from your past experience (Forgive me if I am wrong, but I've assume that you did this in your aethist days!). Respect their views & remain open minded because tomorrow you may find that some of what they are saying is also right.
There are many paths to the top of the mountain but only one summit.
One last thing (Since Bruce mentioned witchcraft) I've always thought that the wicca law of "An it harm none, do what you will" was a suitably apt motto for living.
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