Tag Archives: philosophy

Reflections

publish beauty

We celebrated this little beauty’s first year recently.  An astonishing fact, considering how quickly this time has lapsed.

It’s been a blurry year.  One of those mind-numbing, day-in and day-out, so many similarities that they all blend together sort of years.  The drudgery, the sameness, mostly blending so completely that before you know, the moments for opportunity are past – passed, slipped on by to become lost time; sometimes regret, sometimes survival.  Mostly, just a blur.

Emergency ailments, celebrations, discord and distress, good health, economic woes, family time, work, great friends – all combined to create another assemblage of time.  Moments and milestones, smiles and scares.

I’ve worked way too much, and the job project has hit the manic phase – a major program changeover that will wrap in ten weeks, with the primary module going live in three.  I’m worn near the frack out.  I was not cut out for 80 hour work weeks.  They’re an attack to the peace of the home front, and emotional health in general.  But the light at the end of the tunnel is now much less dim.

Time to start preparing for the next stage.

Hubby and I are scheduled to host our youngest grandbabe this next spring, spending a full week with her sweetness.  In the interim, we think we need to arrange more visits to get to know her better – so we won’t be such strangers when she makes her special visit to our home.

Shortly after that visit, we hope to attain some serious financial freedom – an opportunity to make remodeling plans for this ol’ home of ours.  Providing that there are no surprises between now and then, the first on my list will be a new main floor bathroom.  Dreams sometimes become reality, right?

Then fall plans include a meet-up with a dear friend, one of my Torah community members, to celebrate a Holy day and travel time visiting places and spaces where I’ve never been.

In the meantime, life is moving along at the full-steam sameness.  Yet, as much as that feels like reality, it’s really not is it?

The world is changing every moment, little bits and pieces bouncing around, pinging off each other, creating actions and reactions that not a single one of us can accurately predict.

We live, we die.

In the in-between, lies reality.

Buckets Are Too Limiting

Dust in the wind, worm food – either way, my personal take on death is that I will know no more.  It will be the end of me, the last breath, the circle of life.  Last call…

It’s a heavy thought – to think that nothing follows, that there is just an end – but it suits me, suits my practical nature.

One of my sons once posted a thought, which I’ll paraphrase:  if a person is only good because they’re focused on divine reward, then that person is a piece of shit.  I don’t know if these were his own words, and I don’t know that he won a lot of praise or ‘likes’ for that.  But if you stop and think about it, it makes sense.

If only rules, or rules hedged about with some eternal reward system are keeping you from bouncing out of control and into a psychotic rage, or killing frenzy, then you’re simply a caged rabid animal.  Where is the realness, the human connection, the compassion?

If those pieces are missing, then you really are a piece of shit.  Like it or not, calloused though it may be, it’s the simple truth.

There are moments when I think people see me in similar light.  Cold.  Unreachable.  Distant.  Tightly strung.

The truth is that I feel so deeply, watch ever so intently and capture essences and nuances of meaning and feeling that often escape others.  It’s painful, it’s draining, and it makes me put on the tough skin of protection to keep it from shredding me into millions of little pieces.  Dust.  Pieces of dust that would so easily blow away, carried off to unknown places and spaces, away from me.

Another son stated when announcing a pregnancy that he and his wife were ‘growing a human’.

How aptly said.

A combination of their parts, their pieces, that attach little parts and pieces of the generations preceding them – a tiny piece of me – grew inside the womb.  Destined to be an infant, this little nugget emerged last November, a wonderful wriggling, wrinkled version of itself, a new growth on the family tree.

There are few people who fit ever so perfectly into my comfort zone.  My introverted self, my regulated and logical nature requires that I have plenty of space to call my own, and plenty of time to fill that space.  My sons and their spouses are included in those few (hubby’s a given, a keeper, the magnet holding me in my space) and it’s always such an easy-going and comfortable time when they come to visit.

But during a recent visit, there was this edge to me, this pressure behind my eyes, this feeling of tears that could burst forth at any given moment – a strange thing when I was so relaxed and so enjoying the company.

It took words penned by my dear friend for me to realize that it was pure joy ebbing and bubbling beneath my surface.  I was so powerfully moved by this new event, this new growth that it didn’t have a proper slot to fit into my logic, nothing prior to name this, to capture and label this emotion.

pail and leaves

My bucket flows over.

My list is now such a pittance, such a distraction from the wonder of seeing what comes next, what this fabulous little seed of a human brought with her emergence…

Bucket lists are too limiting.  What I want to see before I die, I cannot even begin to fathom.

But the end has suddenly changed course, because not only will parts of me continue through my son after I die, now there will be parts of me to last another generation.  That, my friends, that’s what’s real.

Different

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Apple Inc

Recompense

What is it that drives religion?  What keeps the gears of the masses oiled, the coffers full, the leaders employed?

Predominantly, it is fear of punishment or desire for reward.

Fear of hell-fire and damnation.  Fear of a god named satan, a devil, an angel gone bad.  Spending eternity in a fire pit ruled by the devil, surrounded by the worst of the worst sort of evil people – rapists, murderers, cannibals, thieves, liars.

clouds 1

Desire to live in a paradise with no pain, no death.  Streets that are lined with silver and gold, and mansions galore.  Rights to rule over and judge other people, to enact punishments upon others.  Ultimate power, to be like a god.  Angels floating nearby, surrounded by all of the note-worthy saints and patriarchs of old.

I took up residence in that camp, or one quite similar, for a long period of time.

I’ll concede that there are many variations to this view, and I’ve taken the most liberal case in point.  The gist is still the same, however.

I’m no longer fearful of hell or a make-believe devilish character.

I no longer strive to spend eternal days in the heavens, ephemeral beings and blissful promises dispelled.

I’ve chosen my truth.  The fact that what I have, what I know, what I live, is what it is.  There’s no better place, there’s no better time.  This is my life and this is what I have to work with.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The punishment, sans an operational Priesthood to govern, is self-imposed.  If I transgress in one of the minor issues, I do the best that I can to make the required restitution.  It’s pretty simple, really.  Thievery – pay it back, and add a fifth.  Liar – okay, there’s no punishment for this unless it’s been as a witness, or to incur punishment on another who is not guilty.  If the lie was to hurt another, then the pain should belong to me.  If my dog gets out and eats a neighbor’s chicken, I need to repay the chicken.

Major punishments – those I intend to never have to deal with.  I don’t want to be expelled from my already virtual camp, nor do I want to die.  I’ll keep myself from that evil by remaining faithful to my husband, by keeping the Sabbath.  I’ll control my anger and not go into a rage and kill another person.

As a result of grave misdeeds and vile doings, the people I would reside with, the community in the Land of Almighty’s choice, have been expelled, punished, judged to live outside of the Land, outside of the covenanted protection.  Therefore, the ultimate reward of Torah, to dwell safely, to have productive lands and productive wombs, is suspended and not available to those who would join the community.

intense blue sky

The ability to continue to enjoy Almighty’s creation, however, is still available.  The joy of Almighty’s created beauty is still reward.  The ability to wake up each day, to know that there is no other; this Creator, this Almighty, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is my God.

What more reward would I desire?

Love Thy Neighbor

An oft bandied phrase, one that has been ping-ponging in and out of my thoughts for weeks, months even:  Love thy neighbor.

How do I treat the woman next door who is sneaking out the back door to go cheat on her husband?  How am I supposed to love the two men at work who just announced their sexual relationship?  I believe those things are against Torah, so how am I supposed to love these people?

The attached condition, “as thyself’ also gives me pause.  How do I apply that if I don’t so much love myself?

I did an online search and looked at the context of the Law:  18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

Ah, some context is now given.  It’s not simply a willy-nilly overview of how humanity should be each others’ doormats; to the contrary, this is a simple provision that it’s not up to me to take the matter of law/justice/judgement into my own hands and apply as I desire, angrily so.

Additionally, the condition defines that I’m not to act by my own determination against the sons of my people – against my tribe, so to speak.  This certainly isn’t an obligatory statement regarding the whole of humanity.  The whole of humanity is not addressed by Torah, just the nation of the Hebrews and those who would take that citizenship.

By extension, this relieves me of an obligation to pass judgement, to call to attention a broken Law of Torah unless the violation is made by a fellow Hebrew.  I can point out the matter to the violator, or serve as a witness when it’s my fellow tribesman, but assignment of the duty of repayment and the pronouncement of recompense is not mine to dole.

This also means that I should not take vengeance or bear a grudge against myself, right?

Not as simple.

When my guilt is intertwined with that of the culture in which I’ve been raised, the separation of the threads of real guilt and perceived and societal guilt is an intricate and timely endeavor.

Not truly an easy task, that:  cleanly separating what would be expected of me should I truly live in a Torah community, and take an active part in the scales of justice that would prevail there.  In order for a release from guilt, there is a penalty to be applied.  Justice served, penance done, go on and live your life.  Complete.

In absence of that community – well, what then?

So, I continue to live the Law as best I can, in a society not understanding of that Law, not conducive to the keeping of that Law.  I keep to myself, do my best to get along with others, because I have no need and no right to judge others’ choices or to preach my beliefs.

And wonder:  will there ever be a day that I could wholly practice this simple phrase?

Narrowing It Down: Define The Hebrew

Of all of the religions, all of the religious groups, and all of the belief systems that exist, the Hebrew religion – the Hebrew people – may be defined very simply.

Torah.  Only Torah.

No Talmud.

No Prophets.

No additives, no chemicals, no preservatives.

No heaven to aspire to.

No hell to be damned to.

Seriously, the basis for the Hebrew belief is that following Torah, in its pure form, is the requirement.

This presents a new twist on religion, a new but old thing which typically sends minds reeling from the shock.  Hebrews rely on the priest to deliver the Torah information, as defined in… (wait for it… you might already know this… ) Torah!

Just as Torah describes, the Aaronic priest is born into the duty, born into the hierarchy, to lead the Hebrews in their religious life.  The priest directs the community, according to Torah.  The Levites are directed to serve the priests, and to carry the Tabernacle (yes, tabernacle not temple) and Courtyard and Articles.

I don’t have a need to do Torah readings, Torah studies, although I spent nearly twenty years doing just that.  As my priest told me, “you know Torah, just go live Torah.”

Had I been a true member of a Hebrew community throughout life, or came upon such during travels, I would have been exposed to the Torah by the priests there.

Some of the differences between a Hebrew and nearly every other religion:

  • We work to accept our punishment.  The reality dealt to the Hebrew people and their generations for their refusal to keep Torah Law.
  • We do not ask of Almighty, YHWH.  This means we do not make prayer requests.
  • We, the congregation, do not read the Law.  We rely on the priest for matters that are too difficult.
  • We accept that we do not have the right to live in the Land.  We’re in exile, see the first point.
  • We are not commanded to ‘go forth and gather people’ to believe as we do.  You either believe as we do or you don’t.  Each and every human being has the right, the ability to choose.  If you choose differently, so be it, you are allowed to do so.
  • As exiled people, we recognize that the land we live in is not up to us to rule.  We are subject to the laws of the land we’re in.
  • A Hebrew may or may not be genetically tied to the original people of Torah.  The only difference for the Hebrew who voluntarily joins the community is that they don’t appear to be included in land inheritance.
  • There is no satan, no messiah, no king, no temple.  Our sole worship, our sole belief is in Almighty and the hierarchy set down by Almighty.  The anointed one is the High Priest.
  • The commanded Dwelling is the tabernacle and the enclosure – to keep out any but those who are of the tribe of Levi.  The priests are the only who offer, and the only who enter the tabernacle.  Only the High Priest enters the Holy of Holies.
  • It is up to the community to freely give items for construction of the tabernacle, the enclosure, the cloths and coverings, the Ark, table, lampstand, priestly clothing and articles of the clothing and tabernacle.
  • There are elders chosen who take the message of the priest to the community, should the community be too large for adequate delivery.
  • Only Hebrew Priests are allowed to say the blessing.  As described in Torah.

Those are the primary differences, for any who were wondering.

 

Where Do Kids Get Their Ideas?

I had two special guests this weekend:  my seven-year old granddaughter and her newly discovered seven-year old cousin, my great-niece.

Preparing for the weekend, I had to stretch my eating habits a bit.  I’ve found that most young girls, typical youth anyway, are not health conscious and are certainly not aware of organic foods and natural products.  They’re typically pretty picky about their food, as am I, but we see things completely different.

Assembling the donuts, the pizza plans, the sports drinks, I was contemplating how those items were going to affect my newly discovered waist line.  Ah, we all have to stretch a bet now and then, right?

So, we’re having a fabulous time, we three gals, cavorting in the backyard pool.  The girls are off to the side, having some girl-talk when I hear, “Aunt Trish – do you go to church?”

“No, but I do get together with other believers.”

“Then you don’t know God, ” she states, very matter-of-fact.

Why would a child think that I couldn’t possibly know about God if I didn’t go to church?

That sent my mind reeling.  How do I explain to a seven-year old that I follow a different God – a God who doesn’t require me to go to church, but who requires that I do get together with other believers?

I simply replied, “Oh, I know all about God.”

“But you can’t know everything,” she retorted.

True that, dear child, true that.

 

Emotional Dictates

We’ve reached a societal point where we look at a situation, wrap a strong emotion around it, and label it “good” or “bad”.

Murder, bad. Right?

What if the person who was killed had committed a crime deemed punishable by death? Would that change the judgement? Is the guilty party still deemed guilty for murdering when the dead was going to receive a death sentence?

That’s the thought that kicked off my recent pondering. I applied this concept more locally and liberally, and realized how easily the public is manipulated by emotion: “If it feels good, do it”.

I focused on the subject of Gardening/Crops.

Almighty created all living things; herbs of the field, trees for food, animals, fish, birds and mankind. Creation was labeled “Good”.

morning light zinnia

 

Rules were established to maintain a system supported by Almighty and optimal for mankind.

Included in those rules were those specific to foods:

  • Certain animals and creatures were not meant for consumption
  • Mixed seeds and mixed breeding are not allowed
  • The soil must be allowed to rest and replenish every seven years

Seems pretty easy to follow, right? The great thing is that when the Rules were followed, Almighty would respond by giving good rains to keep the cycle running smoothly.

Enter the illusion of intelligence called public thinking.

  • If an animal or creature tastes good, then it’s meant to be eaten
  • When plants or animals don’t produce as profitably as hoped for, create a hybrid or GMO product to outdo the original
  • Use up the soil, wear it out, then toss in some chemicals to make it more productive

These emotional based choices don’t look toward the long-term effects; they’re the product of a spoiled child’s litany: “I want more, I want better and I want it now.” Forget about what’s right, what’s good and what’s been proven to endure thousands of generations. We can do it better.

Similarly, emotions are used to ploy people with items they simply “must have” to feel valuable, or to meet societal expectations, or to follow societal “norms”. This tactic has proven quite useful in separating people from their hard-earned wages. Without drawing on those emotions, we’d simply be left to make purchases that were necessary. Oh, the horrors!

Emotions hold so much importance in society, but truly they change more often than the wind direction. How can a firm stand be made on a shifting base?

A favorite quote states that permanent decisions should not be made based on temporary emotions. How appropriate. How many times have a group of pained people pressed for policies to protect others from pain? Isn’t pain a fact of life? You have joy and you have pain.

Often, state and national laws follow similar logic. Look at seat belt laws. Emotions run amok from grieving family members create rules and dictates that penalize a person for not buckling a strap on their body each time they sit in a vehicle.

It’s akin to the declaration my Hubby made when my son could have killed himself during a fall from a very high tree branch he had climbed. Hubby firmly stated “you cannot climb any more trees!” While I was similarly shaken with emotions from the near fatal incident, I was quick to alter the edict (one of very, very few times that we disagreed on issues related to the kids). Kids climb trees, kids get hurt.

top of the tree

We cannot eradicate boo-boos and pain by employing more emotion-based rules, but we can apply common sense to keep ourselves out of the most dangerous situations.

My personal choice is to look at life through the lens of Torah, where sound judgement rules – rather than emotions.