Category Archives: Philosophy/Theology

Disrupt Yourself

via Daily Prompt: Disrupt

There’s a whole movement out there that began a few years ago. Some names you may be familiar with are Jay Samit or Whitney Johnson, their TEDx Talks are well known in business circles. These talks on disrupting yourself are mostly applied in the context of marketing, designing, entrepreneurship, or general business leadership. Kate Canales, another TEDx presenter, does give another slant (and with good humour too), that the change we bring to our lives is indicative of potential in all areas of our lives.

Disrupting ourselves is not simple, we are creatures of habit. Who enjoys change? (Well, actually I do, mostly) Most people find they enjoy routines and patterns, I must confess I find many routines deadening. Though it is true to say, no one could sustain unrelenting change, that would equate to chaos, nihilism. Research shows we used to enjoy set television viewing patterns, now we choose online, delay or download. Work used to revolve around set timetables. Study was a regime or intent. Some of these things have been disrupted as technology has changed how we work and study, and whether we watch Netflix or still hire DVDs or watch TV. Over Fifty years there has been a dramatic shift in values and expectations, rights, and social behaviour. Point is, we are often forced to change, we rarely choose to change. The point Canales is making is, we will be presented with opportunities of all sorts for innovation and change, but what will we do?

Canales and others are simply trying to encourage us to look at ourselves and to be prepared to take those chances and risks that are at our core – our passions, driving force, creativity, desire, gift, and go for it. Must we wait for change to be forced?

When we disrupt ourselves, we break patterns and routines, past mind maps and the like, we set ourselves free. A sobering quote I’ve loved for years says it well: “A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.” (attributed to Earl Nightingale) Life is to be embraced, engaged, and lived into in all the mess we are and all the potential we offer. When was the last tine you made a change in your life?

But perhaps disruption and change are not what they seem anyway. Carl Jung said: “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” This was popularised through Chaos Theory, that all disorder has an explanation. And isn’t that why we say, “It was meant to be” when strange or unplanned things happen, recognising that there is indeed something ordered even in disruptions, changes, or chaos? Isn’t that why we say “It’s a crazy world” recognising we don’t have complete power over everything? If there is no default control switch, no default pattern, what are you waiting for?? Disrupt yourself and set a new course.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

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Filed under creativity, life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, quote, self-development

The Four Quartets

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I love music of many kinds, so quartet brings to mind the Norwegian musicians – Vertavo String Quartet, or from a jazz perspective, the John Coltrane Quartet. However, What is forever etched on my mind are four poems,  the ‘Four Quartets’ by T.S. Eliot.

The ‘Four Quartets’ are reflective meditations on humanity’s relationship with time. Eliot engages spiritual themes, and philosophy, and includes such influences as John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich (mystics), presocratic thinkers (Greek philosophy), and the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu).  The poems were written between 1936 and 1945 and originally published separately, until 1948 when Faber published them in one volume. The period in which he wote these poems is perhaps indicative of the content. The threat of war, followed by the long war and the blitz, which he endured, must have impacted his sense of mortality and time.

The Quartets are: ‘Burn Norton’, ‘East Coker’, ‘The Dry Salvages’, and ‘Little Gidding.’

My favourite of the four is Little Gidding, simply because it contains a profound observation of the human condition that is neither perfunctory, nor damning, but rather, somehow, encouraging. That observation of Eliot’s comes in part five of ‘Little Gidding.’

We shall not cease from exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

As I’ve quoted before, Proust puts it well when he says: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Eliot is not at odds with Proust in this. He too is suggesting that we humans are curious, we are seekers of truth, of belief, fact, geography, place and space, and more. But, in spite of great travels and in spite of much learning, eventually we return to our roots, our beginning points, and see them afresh.

For me that means seeing the horizons of body, mind and soul with new inner eyes, being able to see with the eyes of wholeness, forgiveness, love, kindness, compassion, and self-giving. Eliot also speaks of how experience is transformative (if we allow it to be so). He also speaks to how we mature in those experiences along life’s journey, and how time affects us, that aging and experience might afford us opportunity to see ourselves afresh. We engage with our youthfulness and “kick the traces” as we used to say, rebelling; we turn to masks, we invent personae for the public I, denial is the trope of our lives. But in the end, at our very core, there is only ever, our true self, if we but look carefully. And if we attend to our true self, accept our self, loev our self, we see ourselves whole as if for the first time.

In a stark reminder, he’s also suggesting that, as with the story of Adam and Eve, so with all of us, we never leave the awkwardness of self-awareness, separation, and a sense even an anxiety, that we could do better we could be someone. All of us strive to overcome those things, but find that we were/are, perhaps, a little too hard on ourselves and that we just need to see ourselves as good. The journey we engage is one to be whole and perfect, but yet, the end of our searching leads us back to where we began, that we were indeed whole in the first place, and that nothing is ever perfect.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under history, life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, poetry, religion, Spirituality

Faceless Fawkes

via Daily Prompt: Faceless

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To wear a mask is to be intentionally faceless, or differently faced. The Guy Fawkes (he of the Fifth of November plot) mask has become popular, especially with the Occupy Movement (which is still active, if you were wondering) and Anonymous. It’s modern usage was inspired by the grahic novel V For Vendetta, which is a dystopian story in which the hero, an anarchist seeks to defeat the fascist government ruling England. Ironically, V desires anarchy – people will be allowed to do as they please, there will be no more control, yet this replaces the total control of fascism. One extreme to the other! I call V’s version ‘no-hopia.’ V’s dream comes to fruition even as he is dying, and in the novel it is the final scene where the lights go out on the freeway that makes the point, V’s mask hides another form of dystopia. England has gone from total repressive control to no control, and nothing in between. V’s goal was no goal.

One of the criticisms of the Occupy Movement is that it has had no real goal or drive other than to protest the evil of capitalism. Perhaps that is the frustrated view of those who expected anarchy, or revolution to ensue in some particular way? Another group, Anonymous have been associated with anarchism, exposure and disruption of governemnt and corporations. For me the Occupy Movement and Anonymous were symbolised by the mask, lacking face and lacking cohesion. In my view they were hiding even from themselves and perhaps, therefore, from purpose. Protest for protests sake goes nowhere, there must be resolve, there must be purpose, and it must be authentic.

We have enjoyed many masked heroes too. Batman stands out, but yet Batman is as dark as his enemies, and his mask belies the hero (which in reality I accept, who is perfect? No one is that good).

But Guy Fawkes never wore a mask. He was caught red-handed ready to light the fuse that would blow up the English pariament house. That’s courage, that’s purpose. Not that I’m encouraging anyone to rush out and follow his example (however …).

As e.e. cummings said: “The greatest battle we face as human beings is the battle to protect our true selves from the self the world wants us to become.”

Psychology teaches us that we all wear masks, to protect, hide, obscure, change who we are in differnt contexts. We seek to avoid being found out (the Imposter Syndrome), sometimes we believe we are unworthy and so we project a personae to cope, to win friends, to make our niche, to avoid being hurt. Sometimes we hide too much and people miss who we really are, or colleagues never really appreciate our potential, there are risks with masks.

There is always the real self, the deeper you, the authentic you inside. I want the real you.

Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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What Does It Mean To Be Foreign?

via Daily Prompt: Foreign

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Graphic comes from livingwaterlutheran.com via Bing

I wonder if the word foreign might eventually be redundant?

Where I grew up in England, my mother from Derbyshire, father from Nottinghamshire, we had dialects, and there were inflections and local flavours within regions and districts, you were foreign if yo came from 10 miles away. I was once asked by an Australian work colleague to translate what a tradie from Yorkshire was saying, he assumed, even though I had migrated as a mere child, I’d know! What astounded me was that it didn’t seem that difficult to understand what said tradie was saying. In Australia, there are subtle accents between east and west, and a variety of indigenous languages. Across this vast land there is also a sense of the local, which has become important across activities such as sport, politics, but especially federal funding.

I was once appointed to serve three towns. I was based in a main centre and would visit the other two on a rota. Once, while in the smaller of the three towns, on market day, I got chatting to some people who were passing through. One of the locals who knew me joined the conversation. At some point one of the visitors asked if I was a local. The local said I was not, and I said I did. There ensued one of those useless exchanges – no you’re not, yes I am. This went on for a split second or two with much positioning and my answer’s better than yours. The true local pointing out that I lived 45kms away in the big town. At some point the visitor asked what I meant. People really shouldn’t ask me questions, it gets tricky, I love to engage, I’m passionate about what I believe so they should be warned.

Little did the visitor know I had been waiting a lifetime for this question.

My answer: I’m local to Australia. Blank stares all round. Then the penny dropped. Derision followed. I never did convince them. Apparently you have to come from somewhere, belong somewhere, be part of something, or the nation, the world, cannot function.

I belong to a small circle of friends who firmly hold to the notion that we belong to each other, and not to any flag, state, or bounded ideal. We don’t much care for petty idealism, sabre rattling politics, flag waving jingoism, or some hyped pride based on place or space. Besides, those beliefs and behaviours have not got us very far.

As the graphic suggests, I’m more for reaching out and taking the hand of another, irrespective of any standard defining characteristics, be they colour, belief, birth country, sexual orientation, class, income, education, and etc. The word foreign is a divisive word, intentionally so, as it defines if you’re from round here or not. I accept that people take pride in where they’re from, and that they need to have conenction and identity, but I wonder if we can dial that back a bit, and focus on being present to hospitality, need, helping, journeying with the other? As is often said, we need to look for what we have in common rather than what divides us.

One of my main influences in life has been music. I have particularly admired Peter Gabriel, formerly of Genesis, who helped pioneer World Music in the late 70s as a fusion of styles and genres working together. Paul Simon has encouraged working with artists from other cultures, notably his album Graceland was founded on this ideal. Robert Plant has similarly worked with and encouraged artists from all over the world.

I was never a diehard Glen Campbell fan, but this song was influential in my thinking. It makes a great point: if we see our brother/sister standing by the road, carrying a heavy load, then it’s up to us to help share the load, to enable the other to get by, to get along. The refrain, “You’ve got to try a little kindness …” is perfect for our world. If we show a little kindness, then the definition foreign becomes redundant, and all people are from round here.

These days I’m local to the globe …

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under community, life, Philosophy/Theology, politics

Identical Triangles

via Daily Prompt: Identical

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The Gemstone Buildings – Shenzen. A series of identical triangles become both the strength and design of this building. I have a memory from school days, that identical triangles are a strong foundation for building, and are a basis for architecture.

The Jewish wisdom tradition includes the book of Ecclesiastes, which contains this gem: “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” which became a principle of modern rope-making. Roof trusses, honeycomed cardboard packing, bridge frames, bicycle wheel spokes, a fulcrum, all rely on three. In all the faith traditions of the world three is a significant number. A day broken into thirds of work, rest and play is a healthy process. And who remembers the dictum – meat and three veg for dinner? And, just for good measure, 3 is the first odd prime number. Clearly, there is something about three.

I think this speaks to the makeup, or potential awareness of the person: body, mind, and soul, perhaps the most important three of all. If we keep body, mind and soul in balance, I believe we are stonger, like the unbreakable cord. Three seems to keep a balance that one cannot provide, and two complicates, and where four potentially cancels out into two pairs. Whereas three creates a balance of thirds in all we do. Identical triangles can be one or two dimensional technical drawings. But as an object, identical triangles can be a thing of beauty and strength. But even more, the triangular of life, embodied in practice, friendships, groups, lifestyle patterns, and above all, keeping the balance of body, mind and soul is crucial for life to flourish and grow.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, religion, self-development, Spirituality

The Virtue of Blushing

via Daily Prompt: Blush

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I like Diogenes’ quote, though William Congreave would disagree, he said: “I always take blushing either for a sign of guilt or of ill breeding.” Rousseau was of the opinion that blushing was a sign of guilt. Yet shame can bring the same result, even anger, and so too, a compliment. Blushing communicates sensitivity, humility and a connectedness to self and others. And I think Congreave was a cynic.

My own view is that blushing is an inward feeling made visible, that perhaps we feel naked, transparent, awkward, surprised, and to blush is a response. That warm glow on our face and neck. Maybe if we don’t blush we have become accustomed to these things, and they no longer affect us. But if we don’t feel these things then we die a little. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said: “An individual dies when they cease to be surprised …” And Diogenes is trying to say that blushing is a good thing, it shows that we are still connected to our feelings, our senses, our understanding of the world and that we have a deep understanding of self and others.

But perhaps you’re more with Rousseau, that blushing is merely showing guilt, but I would only agree on the grounds that I am indeed guilty of being surprised, or feel transparent, naked, humbled, angry, but not necessarily because I am hiding something other than my inner self. Blushing is a sign, a sign of many things that might be happening within me. I think blushing is a mindful virtue rather than just a moral virtue, it is a sign that we also feel and if we let it, it can inform us, guide us, and teach us.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Thought Provoking

via Daily Prompt: Provoke

If you haven’t seen the 2001 movie ‘Samsara’ it is a definite must, for me it has been a thought provoking movie. Don’t confuse it with the doco Samsara of 2012 from the makers of Baraka (a feast for the eyes), or a TV series of that name. This is a simple trailer, but you can find the full movie on Youtube (with subtitles).

The movie title ‘Samsara’ has a particular meaning in Buddhism. It refers to the endless cylcle of birth, death and rebirth, or put plainly – the life of suffering and dissatisfaction (dukka). The movie takes up this theme of suffering and dissatisfaction through the eyes and life of a Buddhist monk called Tashi. Tashi is awakened from a three year solitary meditation period in the mountains, he is now considered an enlightened being. When he returns to the monastery he finds his sexual urges awakening too, and he eventually leaves and marries Pema and runs a farm. But following an infidelity, and news of the death of his monastic mentor, Tashi is wracked by guilt, and eventually decides to leave Pema and his son Karma and return to the monastry. The movie is powerfully emotive, and is both a love story and a spiritual story. If you want to you can stay on the surface with Samsara, but you can also go deeper. Samsara delves into some key issues of life, love. sex, relationship, spirituality, fidelity, and integrity. It is in fact both a sad movie, and one that moves you and offers hope. It carries the message of the need to be careful in discerning one’s path in life, and that self is not always the best reference point in discerning our path.

One of the most thought provoking moments (among many) is the ending, where Tashi encounters a quote on a stone: “How can one prevent a drop of water from ever drying up?” to which the answer is given as: “By throwing it into the sea.” This is taken as a sign that he is drying up and needs to be back in the sea of the monastery. The overall theme is that life in the monstery life is not perfect, but there is more suffering in engaging the life beyond the monastery than inside it. It also speaks very clearly to me that one’s vocational path can become weary, but the grass is not always greener in other places or roles. In one sense, if you’re looking for a happy ending the movie doesn’t resolve well, and yet, if you look deeply into it, it does resolve well because everyone returns to what they believe they are called to be doing. However, the movie dies not condemn nor judge Tashi, but simply observes his choices.

For me the movie speaks strongly of choices yet of discerning the right pathway and being authentic to that pathway (dhamma). Other traditions would talk about sowing and reaping, or – what goes around comes around, or further still – be careful what you wish/pray for. It moved me deeply, I found it hard to rejoin the world for a time after the movie had finished, such was its impact on me. For me it invites the question of – what sea should I be thrown into in order that I not dry up?

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under community, environment, history, life, love, meditation, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, Spirituality

Just Typical

via Daily Prompt: Typical

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A typical south coast scene, no whales to see though.

I wonder when you last refelcted on what is your typical pattern, your typical day, your typical behaviour (of which you’d best ask others opinion, as we’re a little blind to our quirks sometimes)? When was the last time you reviewed what is typical? The question is not aimed at getting you to change, just simply to become aware. On the other hand, who knows, maybe it’s time to change something(s). Could be anything, from social media habits, to one’s personal morning or evening regime, relationship patterns. It could be addressing blind spots, relationship black spots, or attending to awareness.

For me it has been to slow down my typical social media output and participation time, to set aside the news feeds (and the negativity) over the past two years.

Lyn and I participated in the Gottman Institute’s 30 day marriage challenge, a series of challenges to patterns and thinking and blind spots, a wonderful refreshment and conversation that has been deeply enriching for both of us. One of the outcomes has been to reorder our typical day which was in dire need of change. Not everyone can live in my chaos.

My intentional spiritual path is Christian (within the contemplative path) and for the great fast of Lent I chose to start simplifying my life by stripping out some of the collected detritus of life. I am a typical hoarder. I didn’t want to go hard core like the Minimalist Guys on a set scale, but to meander and ponder my way through it. So far so good, clothes, trinkets, books, have all been culled. Haven’t done that in years and felt great to lose some of that weight.

For me, reflecting on my typical patterns and processes has not only been productive and helpful, it has refreshed and invigorated my life, an, I have a new awareness of myself and those around me.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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We Can All Restart

via Daily Prompt: Restart

 

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I’m always amazed at the resilience of nature. This section of the Bibbulmun Track had suffered an intense bushfire in 2014, but as we walked it, we encountered nature’s restart or recovery. In particular the eucalypts are hardy and you can see the regrowth along the burnt branches, and the regeneration in the grass trees or xanthorroea in the foreground. We were walking in the spring of 2015, so two winters had washed over the section and helped in the regeneration.

The resilience of nature is not indistinct from trees or animals, all living things demonstrate a hardy capacity to survive, adapt and recover from hardship, even regenerate after near annihilation. No less humans. Surviving cancer, divorce, near death, redundancy, the onset of debilatating health problems, disability and more, are all effects that people have demonstrated not just survival, but a capacity to turn their lives around and start again.

I think one of the greatest examples would have to be Nelson Mandela, who determined a change in his political goals and style, and in how he would lead. As he sat in prison on Robben Island (Mandela was incarcerated in a number of prisons, but spent most time at Robben Island) he determined that he could not continue as he had begun, but rather, he needed to let go of bitterness.

Mandela said  “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

And, not unlike the regrowth of the Eucalypts after a bushfire, Mandela experiences a personal regrowth by letting go the past, and letting go the potential attendant bitterness and hatred that, he acknowledges, would cripple him and indeed, imprison him. He lets go. He literally blooms. And the result is recovery, he restarts his life and becomes a gift to his own people, and in the end a gift to all peoples.

We all need to review our lives, we all need to attend and be aware of what we need to let go of lest it cripple us and therefore determine our lives in the negative.

We all have the capacity to restart, and constantly.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Turn To Stone

via Daily Prompt: Encrusted

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The well known Augusta water wheel, originally timber, built in the 1800s to provide water for the town and the lighthouse, now encrusted in calcite. A metaphor. If we cease to engage realtionally with others, with nature, with what matters, we risk becoming encrusted with hardness, weariness, compassion fatigue, creative dryness, and we seize up, ever hardening, never moving or growing. A heart that hardens ceases to love, and becomes encrusted with oughts (commonly referred to as a hardening of the “oughteries”), don’ts, must nots, and the bargaining of a negative mindset. What starts as protection of the self, becomes a coffin of stone that constricts. When I see that wheel, I want to chip away the calcite, to release the wheel and let it turn once again. I want to do that for those whose hearts have calcified too, but most of all I want to ensure I’m freeing my own. Only love chips away the stone of a hard heart.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

 

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