Category Archives: religion

There Were More

Three – RDP Saturday

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Photo: midsouthhiking.com

The Festival of the Three has a long history, but carries many historical discrepancies. There are three gifts given by the Magi to Mary on behalf of Jesus, but the number of gifts doesn’t indicate the actual number of wise people. There is no mention of camels in the story. They weren’t kings either, but Magi or the cream of the wise in any realm –  were astronomers, geographers, metallurgists, healers, etc.

 

There Were More

Wittgenstein, Jung, Curie, and Bohr
walked into Bethlehem,
and kicked some dust around,
eventually getting to some house,
where an unwed mother waxed lyrical about her child,
who smiled beatifically,
at the wise ones,
and asked;
why four?
and why no camels?
Perplexed, Jung replied that
greeting cards created expectations,
a kind of make up your own story,
but there were no camels,
and there were more than three,
though finding wise ones was problematic.

©Paul Vincent Cannon

 

Paul, pvcann.com

 

34 Comments

Filed under Alt-Religion, Free Verse, life, Mythology, poem, religion

There Was No Donkey – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon

Royal – Word of the Day

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Photo: unsplash.com  – a Classic Royal Enfield

There Was No Donkey

They set off from Nazareth
where love always hurts,
and it did because Mary was pregnant
and not yet married,
it was complicated,
as life always is,
but tongues wagged nonetheless.
The overlords were holding a census,
typical bureaucrats,
and so to Bethlehem they were headed
to be registered.
But there was no donkey,
cept on Christmas cards,
as poetic licensing can do.
No, this child to be,
of royal blood,
deserved a true steed,
so Joseph kick-started
an Enfield so Royal,
they made it to the inn by supper,
and all were in awe,
even the angels.

©Paul Vincent Cannon

Paul, pvcann.com

42 Comments

Filed under Free Verse, history, poem, religion

Oracle of Love

Enigmatic – Word of the Day

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John Collier’s ‘The Delphic Oracle’ (1891) The Delphic Oracle were priestesses highly valued, who offered divination at the temples, including that of Apollo in the locale of Phocis at the foot of the south slope of Mt. Parnassos, in Greece. The Oracle would sit on a tripod over a fissure in the floor where vapours arose which induced trance and utterance.

 

Oracle of Love

There you sat,
midst the herbs and vapours,
in the place that caused you to sway and swoon,
to speak in ecstatic utterance,
bending your tongue in language unknown,
contorting, writhing,
while unveiling ancient truths,
as you divined that enigma of Delphi,
the oracle, that spoke of our undying love.
It was there you held me
priestess of love,
and I was overcome.

©Paul Vincent

 

Paul Cannon,

pvcann.com

18 Comments

Filed under art, life, love, Mythology, religion

Into The Mystical

Mystical – Word of the Day

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The Blackwood River, Augusta, looking north east, one of my mystical places.

Mysticism comes from thε Greek root of μυω, which means to conceal. Mysticism crosses every religious boundary and belief system. That which is mystical is hidden. In the great debates about God from a Christian point of view there is the mystic view that God is both knowable and unknowable at the same time, that as such, there are elements of God that are visible, definable, but that mostly, God is concealed and unknowable.

Many have pursued mystical experiences. Aliester Crowley (1875 – 1947) was one of the most famous occultists of the twentieth century, trying to make connection with a world beyond. Carlos Castaneda trained as a shaman and explored mescalin using peyote as a mystical experience, inspired by the Toltec. Timothy Leary went with the synthetic drug LSD. There are trance groups, fasting practices, musical experiences, ritual practices and more. True tantra, like Tibetan Tantra, was only ever a form of meditative practice whereby the delay of orgasm and the control of orgasm is said to increase ecstatic experience, but for the purpose of prayer and meditation (and should not be confused with “Californian tantra” as I call it, or with Hindu left hand practices). Kabbalah originated as a Jewish mysticism, but now has non-Jewish paths as well. A number of celebrities have dabbled in Kabbala from Elizabeth Taylor to Madonna.

In the third and fourth centuries Christian men and women from Israel, Jordan, Asia Minor, Egypt and North Africa went in droves into the deserts to develop a communal and contemplative life. And from John Cassian to Theresa of Avilla, to Thomas Merton, a few Christians became mystics, seeking the unknowable God.

I think the unknowable attracts, and we pursue it, partly to make it known, to unravel the mystery, to bring the hidden into full view, in the main, to experience what is concealed. Most of the writings of mystics that I have read reaffirm that God, Other, the divine, is unknowable, but that in the journey of mysticism, there is connection, ecstasy, love, wholeness, union and more.

For me any sense of the divine comes more through nature and the contemplative. The photograph shows a familiar walking space I take in, some days it is beautiful, some days it just is, but always it evokes a sense of mystery, of the divine in some way. There is something about certain places that does that for me. Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Elachbutting Rock, Boranup Forest, and more, are places that move me deeply, places where I sense an otherness beyond myself or other people. I have felt ecstasy in these places, I have been overcome with joy, they can be erotic (in the pure, emotive sense) experiences, I have experienced deep inner stillness, and sometimes a confusion of feelings rushing in all at once. Such things tell me I am more open in these spaces, yet I also know that my openness is also because I sense something more. This for me is the mystical.

As Van Morrison wrote in his song “Into the Mystic” – “Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.”

I stand in silence
mystical nature envelops
the heron smiles

©Paul Cannon

Van Morrison “Into The Mystic”

 

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

26 Comments

Filed under Alt-Religion, bush walking, Country, Haiku, life, meditation, mindfulness, music, Philosophy/Theology, quote, religion, Spirituality

One of the Great Negotiators

Negotiate – Word of the Day

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Dag Hammarskjold (1905 – 1961) a Swedish Diplomat, economist and from 1953 – 1961 he was the UN Secretary General. He was also a deeply spiritual person, a contemplative who loved the medieval mystics. His book ‘Markings’ a journal of his spiritual struggles was posthumously published with a foreword by his friend, the poet W.H. Auden. He called his diary – negotiations with himself and with God.

Hammarskjold was propopsed by the British Foreign Secertary Anthony Eden who was impressed with Hammarskjold’s work in diplomacy and economics. The vote was almost unanimous in the Security Council and Hammarskjold was announced as the next Secretary General. The American and Soviet delegates thought Hammarskjold was harmless. He was reelected in 1957.

Hammarskjold was unaware of the nomination, and in fact thought the media report was a joke, and because it was announced on April 1st, he quipped that it was a bad April Fools joke. But it was indeed true.

Hammarskjold believed that relationships were important and that example was one of the best forms of leadership. He tried to meet as many employees at the UN as possible, he ate regularly in the staff cafe, he refused to use his private lift and opened it for general use, he established the meditation room (which he helped to design) which was to be for withdrawal and reflection, a place for silence, and a multi-faith space. He prevented FBI intervention at the UN that his predecessor had allowed at the height of McCarthyism. And he brought order and regulatory process to an organisation in crisis.

He was an able negotiator. He made some impact on relations between Israel and the Arab states. In 1955 he successfully negotiated the release of eleven US airmen who were prisoners from the Korean War. In 1956 he played a major role in ending the Suez Crisis, There are many other negotiations that he was involved in, and which demonstrate his capacity to work hard and achieve a positive outcome. Not everything was plain sailing though, the Congo was unresolved, interrupted by his death, and the Soviet interference and then occupation of Hungary was frustrating for Hammaskjold as there was little he could do to bring a resolution forward.

His role in the Congo Crisis was cut short by his death as the result of a plane crash travelling to Congo. There are those who still believe that Congolese rebels associated with mining interests were responsible for the plane crash, but no substantive proofs have come to light, including a UN 2015 investigation into the matter. Hammarskjold made four visits to the Congo. It was, as history has shown, a tangled web of politics and power plays. The USSR and the Americans had their own people on the ground and were manipulating much of the power play. The Congo had become factionalised on independence, and the popularly elected Prime-minister Patrice Lumumba was murdered. It was utter chaos.

J.F. Kennedy said of Hammarskjold: “I realise now that in comparison to him, I am a small man. He was the greatest statesman of our century.” Kennedy was reflecting on Hammarskjold’s death and on his own resistance to Hammarskjold’s policy in the Congo.

Extreme left and right views are critical of Hammarskjold, and in the main these revolve around the immpossible situation in Hungary, and the seemingly intractable problem in the Congo. But for me they are the proof, by comparison, of the majority of successes he was part of and integral to. His record stands as testimony to his great ability to network, form key relationships, to maintain a consistent approach, and to believe the best in people. His commitment was to keeping peace and finding better ways for nations to negotiate their differences. He formed the UN Emergency Response Group, and initiated the first Peace Keeping force. He was posthumously awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1961.

His strength came from his contemplative stance, especially meditation, and his sheer passion for peace in the world. His personal belief was that selfless service to humanity was crucial. Whatever you may think of him, he was one of the great negotiators of the 20th century.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

14 Comments

Filed under history, life, mindfulness, politics, quote, religion, Spirituality

A Quiet Integrity

Integrity – Word of the Day

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Sir Ronald Darling Wilson (1922 – 2005)

Wilson had a battler’s start. He was born in Geraldton (a then small West Australian coastal country town). Although his father was a lawyer, his mother died when he was four, and his father was incapacitated with a stroke when he was seven, and his older brother (14) cared for him. Wilson left school at fourteen and became a court messenger at the Geraldton Local Court. He signed up for military service in 1941 with the army, transferred to the airforce and sent to England in 1942. After the war he studied law at the University of Western Australia, and then went on to be a Fullbright Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania in 1957 completing an MA. In 1969 he became Solicitor General of Western Australia. In 1979 he was appointed to the High Court of Australia. He was a moderate in politics, he was conservative in law, and yet a passionate champion of human rights, something that was at the core of him.

In the now famous High Court ruling on Mabo. Eddie Mabo, an indigenous man from Queensland had pushed for Native Title rights and presented his case to the High Court. Wilson dissented, but on grounds that the findings were not strongly based in equality. The High Court ruled in favour of Mabo (Mabo 1) on June 3, 1992. In 1993 the High Court inserted the legal doctrine of Native Title into law, thus changing the foundation of Australian law. The new law was The Native Title Act 1993. Wilson agreed on this, and became a vocal advocate for Aboriginal people.

He retired from the High Court in 1989, but in 1990 was appointed by the Hawke Government to the post of President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission until 1997. He served as Deputy Chairperson of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. He was made Chancellor of Murdoch University 1980 – 1995. From 1988 – 1991 he was elected and served as Moderator of the Uniting Church of Australia, which he did consecutively with his other appointments. He brought a stong social justice stance to the Church.

But I think his crowning achievement was conducting, along with Mick Dodson (The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner), the 1995 – 1997 National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. The report was pivotal in approaching the national tragedy of the Stolen Generations – forced removal of indigenous children from their families. The 600 page report was tabled in parliament in 1997. The then Prime minister John Howard refused to issue an apology, but his successor Kevin Rudd did on February 13 2008. State governements also issued apologies, some immediately others later on. It is a significant report in our history and though shameful, it is also a matter of integrity. The subject of the report was not unknow but invariably denied, ignored or resisted through our history. In spite of the community awareness, the report shocked the nation.

Sir Ronald Wilson never promoted himself, never sought public attention, believed he was hard working, but not exceptional. Yet his integrity in working tirelessly, in amongst all his other responsibilities, for the rights of the indigenous people of Australia is outstanding. His commitment to the values of human rights, equality, fairness, playing his part in the Native Title cases, bringing the plight of the Stolen Generation to national attention, and many other commitments is inspiring.

Mick Dodson said of him: “Once you convince Ron Wilson you can have no one more passionate as an advocate … As an advocate he gives it 120 per cent.”

Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court said of him: I think his great contribution is that he showed how a highly orthodox, conservative lawyer can grow up. How he can grow out of the cocoon. Can expand his mind in harmony with his heart and with the sense of spirituality in which he was raised.”

A man of integrity! And one who inspires me.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under community, history, life, Native Title, quote, religion, Stolen Generation

The Thin Place

via Daily Prompt: Thin

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Photo: My thin places are the bush: A walk trail near Bridgetown.

The ancient Celts believed that there were places one could go where people and the spirit world could touch. The Celtic influence on Christianity was such that this belief carried over, that the veil between heaven and earth was thin or transparent. The barrier between human and the divine were almost non-existent. For the ancient Celts these places were mostly forrest groves, but in other cultures they are rivers, billabongs, monoliths, mountain-tops, caves and more.

Not the same, but related in some aspects, the Australian Indigenous peoples created songlines, which trace the creation of the land, the fauna and lore, by ancestral spirits. Indigenous Australians used the songlines as navigation paths, for social connection, cultural knowledge – especially coming to know the flora and fauna, the availability of water, the types of seasons, and how it all came to be. Songlines are places to touch the past and the present.

My thin places are in the bush, these are liminal, threshold places, where the mind transcends the ordinary, where the soul is restored, where the heart is lifted, and the eyes are filled.

Thin places might be Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, Uluru, Chartres Cathedral, the Pyramids, the Himalayas, the stars, meditation, music, art, and more, places or experiences of place that awaken the soul to something more, something outside the self, something veiled but near. Whether or not this is a spiritual experience or a transcendence of some other kind, thin places are restorative, they are places of contemplation, places of beauty, awe, play, rest, and renewal. We all need thin places, we will know them differently, but we will know them. They are treasures to fill the soul.

John O’Donohue wrote: “When you begin to sense that your imagination is the place where you are most divine, you feel called to clean out of your mind all the worn and shabby furniture of thought. You wish to refurbish yourself with living thought so that you can begin to see.”

Paul,

pvcann.com

12 Comments

Filed under bush walking, Country, history, life, mindfulness, nature, religion

Laughter Is The Good Medicine

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean.

In a documentary he did on comedy I remember Atkinson saying that he’d modelled Bean on the great silent comedy actors, Buster Keaton in particular. Atkinson was quite serious about his comedy. Mr. Bean is not everyone’s cup of tea though. Comedy is a matter of taste, some people struggle to laugh at contrived misfortune, others don’t get certain types of jokes. I love all types of humour, and I struggle to be serious for too long. I think life without humour becomes a rut, which “is a grave with both ends kicked out” (attributed to Earl Nightingale). Unfortunately we have entered an age of poltical correctness that won’t allow for certain types of humour –  it would be hard to imagine Benny Hill starting out now.

I thoroughly enjoy the slapstick of Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the satire of Monty Python or Littel Britain, the black humour of Blackadder, the innocent humour of the Vicar of Dibbley or Keeping Up Appearances, and the pointed humour of Yes Minister. The gentle humour in Friends, or the raucous Seinfeld, political humour with John Stewart. Some of you may remember Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, in Australia the Graham Kennedy Show, the Glass house and so on, too many to list here.

Humour is even acknowledged in religion. Osho taught that laughter was releasing, and held sessions in laughter release, he also taught that laughter brought energy to the fore and was for a few moments a meditative state. Both Jesus and St. Paul used sarcasm. The Christian Pentecostal movement encouraged holy laughter as healing. In the Medieval Church a mass was developed in France where the lowest of society were invited to take high position and celebrate their own version of the mass, a social inversion, pure comedy. It was an attempt to offer an opporunity to release social pressure.  Naturally, the Church hierarchy were horrified, but the Feast Of Fools is still celebrated (and still upsets serious minded purists, which in my view is a good thing). In his book, “My Spiritual Journey” the Dalai Lama, reflecting on the many sadnesses of exile and hardship, says: “… I am a professional laugher …”  There is even laugher yoga.

Laughter is also homespun, families have their own treasure chest of humourous moments. Some yo uhave had to have been there to really get the humour. Mine include dad handing mum the steering wheel when it detached from the column (as we entered the school parking lot). Or when our family were at a Chinese restaurant and the vegetable oil for the sizzle dish spilled onto a napkin and my yongest son said: “I’ll help” and tried to blow it out, turning it into a blow torch that set fire to my beard (fortunately quickly doused). We are still laughing.

Laughter is releasing and it is claimed that it brings several health benefits. It destresses, uplifts, it is contagious, breaks down barriers, is enjoyable … Some of you would be familiar with the maxim of the Readers Digest – “laughter is the best medicine.” I certianly feel much better after a good laugh.

I love a good laugh and I don’t mind being laughed about. I like ot think I’m a professional laugher – I hope you are too.

For those who are more serious minded a video about laughter 😊

sitting for dinner
my beard is aflame now
laughter douses it

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

14 Comments

Filed under Haiku, history, life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, psychology, quote, religion, self-development, Uncategorized

Tides

via Daily Prompt: Tide

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The tide coming in at the Wilson Inlet, Denmark, Western Australia.

Rachel Carson, to whom we all owe a debt of thanks for her tireless work in advocating for the protection of nature, once said: “The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities … If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem called “The Tides.” An autobiographical  poem that speaks of despair (the loss of his wife) and the rediscovery of joy (the tide upbore – lifted him up) as the tide lifts him from despair.

"The Tides" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

I saw the long line of the vacant shore,
The sea-weed and the shells upon the sand,
And the brown rocks left bare on every hand,
As if the ebbing tide would flow no more.
Then heard I, more distinctly than before,
The ocean breathe and its great breast expand,
And hurrying came on the defenceless land
The insurgent waters with tumultuous roar.
All thought and feeling and desire, I said,
Love,laughter, and the exultant joy of song
Have ebbed from me forever! Suddenly o'er me
They swept again from their deep ocean bed,
And in a tumult of delight, and strong
As youth, and beautiful as youth, upbore me.

But none ever so bleak as Matthew Arnold’s famous poem “Dover Beach.” A poem that is thought to be four very loosely connected sonnets about change. The third stanza tells how the tide is representative of the institution of the Chrisitan Church, that it is fading lifke the receding tide.

From "Dover Beach" Matthew Arnold, stanza three:

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and rounded earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Arnold would have been a contemporary of Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote “God is dead.” (“The Gay Science” 1882) The way I read Nietzsche, is the way I read Arnold, they are simply pointing out that the institution of religion was dying, and the idea of God (the Medieval, the Christendom, God) was dying. For me that has been a positive, the old had to die for the new to come to life. Just as the tide goes out, it also, with equal regularity comes in again. this is its natural rhythm. Religion as a political power elite has been receding for some time, thankfully, and spirituality and mindfulness have entered that space. The absurd God of tribalism and petty moral values has died, thankfully, and a new sense of the divine has enetered, a more communal and relational divine.

So, in the end, I really resonate with Longfellow’s last line from “The Tides” –  “And in a tumult of delight, and strong as youth, and beautiful as youth, upbore me.”  The tides of Arnold and Nietzche simply wash away the dross of what ails religion, while the tide of Longfellow indicates hope in a season of loss and grief in an uplifting tumult of delight.

Paul,

pvcann.com

9 Comments

Filed under beach, Country, life, mindfulness, nature, Philosophy/Theology, poetry, quote, religion

I Churn For You

via Daily Prompt: Churn

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Image from b-i.forbesimg.com

Lyn’s parents left us a milk separator, and butter paddles, there was even an old milk churn in the shed, but no butter churn. Milk separators do just that, separate the cream/butter fat from the milk. Milk churns are misnamed in my view – they’re just a large metal container for transporting milk. Butter paddles and butter churns do something else, they turn the butter fat from the milk into actual butter, they produce something.

Emotionally we churn. Surely you’ve heard the term butterflies in the stomach, a reference to mild worry. I don’t make a habit of it, my stomach rarely churns, but there are those rare occasions. If I’m going to churn it will be heights. I was fearful of flying, and my first few flights were nerve wracking, but I’m getting better at it. I engaged with abseiling, that was certainly nerve wracking, but I found I could even enjoy it. But with each activity, the night before I would be churning, worrying, mulling it over. By the morning I was no better, often exhausted from all the useless churning because my sleep had been interrupted or prevented by all the worry. Now it’s different, I find a mindful approach is helpful.

All the ancient cultures and religions relate strong emotional fellings to the stomach, hence the term “I have a gut feeling.” A churning stomach is, for many, a far too regular experience. Churning stomach often results from anxiety and stress. While the habit in days gone by (in the West) was to prescribe something, eventually there was a realization that worry was different to stomach ailments or sickness. A churning stomach is simply the body getting our attention that we need to make some adjustments to whatever the body is registering.

The ancient cultures and religions, (and now) modern medicine, suggest more simple, even commensense remedies to help end the churning: Adjusting diet (reducing sugar, caffeine and alcohol, other stimulants, large meals in general), exercising, and ensuring adequate sleep. In addition, and more importantly, a mindful approach is beneficial: adjust your breathing (awareness, calm breathing), relaxation, reduce stress (awareness), meditate, rest, and adjust whatever it is that is the cause of your churning. If we don’t take steps to adjust and change, then why expect anything to be different? For me, rest, creativity (simply writing or painting is a wonderful reframing), exercise, and meditation make all the difference. Stop, breathe, reframe, and arrest the churn.

Paul,

pvcann.com

8 Comments

Filed under Farm, life, meditation, mindfulness, psychology, religion, self-development