Category Archives: Spirituality

It’s A Moiety World

Moiety – Word of the Day

Australian First Nations

There are over 500 Australian Indigenous Nations, as you can see from the map, they have particular areas with distinct boundaries. The nations are formed from clan groups which have their own language and kinship system which is either patrilineal (descent is related to and traced through the father/male line) or matrilineal (descent is related to and traced through the mother/female line). Clan groups are formed from family groups.

There are three levels of kinship in indigenous society: moiety, totem, and skin names.

The term moiety comes from the Latin, meaning half. In moiety systems everything in the universe is in two halves, each a mirror of the other, and the universe only makes sense if these two halves come together. Moieties are patrilineal or matrilineal, so determined by either your father or mother, these are the two halves. People of the same moiety are siblings and cannot marry, they must marry people from the other moiety, and thus the two halves are brought together.

Kinship

That, of course, is a simplistic outline of what the word means, but it belies a complexity of culture that is rich in every way in real life. Whereas white culture has negatively impacted indigenous culture, it is not true in reverse. In fact, we have only just begun to learn from our First Nation people’s how we might better treat each other and the land, given that ecological relationships are so fragile here.

In indigenous culture they have retained something very precious, something we have almost completely lost, the ability of moiety systems to be support systems. If you have a row with mum or dad, you can go to another significant relative within the clan group and debrief, chill out, stay awhile till the heat dissipates and the possibility of return arises. My experience of working with young white people in family conflict is they either go it alone, maybe with a few friends, or sadly, on the streets. Indigenous youth generally look for family. What is important in this is that  while we revere the independence of white youth, we miss the wisdom of healing and wholeness as the moiety or halves work together for unity. No system is perfect, but some have stronger, lasting principles that have lasted thousands of years, like our indigenous peoples. It has now become critical in youth work to build resilience for our youth in trouble, but I think the foundation of resilience is clearly the clan, though, for me, that doesn’t equate to family per se, but rather to those relationships important to our vitality and flourishing. We should never be in survival, but two halves always meeting and making the universe right.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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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

 

 

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Play Is Serious Business!

 

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Play, you know, the thing we do when everything else is achieved! This painting (used by Dr. Stuart Brown in his TEDx Talk featured in my post Galahs Partake ) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 1501, is entitled “Children’s Games” but if you look closely, not all of the characters are children, in fact there are many adults also at play. Brown asks what has happened to our society that such scenes are no longer part of our life style.

Brown believes that the root of losing play in our society is guilt. We have been well trained in our society to respect hard work at the cost of all else.

In the early 20th century the sociologist and philosopher Max Weber published his work “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit Of Capitalism.” This work explores the link between work, religious belief and capitalism. Weber’s work was well received, and was commonly called “The Protestant Work Ethic.” Weber lays the responsibility for the drivenness towards capital and work at the door of the Calvinists who held that play was trivial, even ungodly (this from the same funsters who banned musical instruments in churches in the sixteenth century, and influenced the practice of locking up public playgrounds on Sundays). Sadly, this work ethic caught on, and capitalism blossomed in a particular way, a symbiotic relationship, that in my view is destructive on every level.

The result has been an ever demanding economy in which we consume as we are being consumed, body mind and soul, so long as we remain ignorant of the dilemma.

In a more mindful way we need to get in touch with our inner child, to be free to be creative in our own way and not to be drawn into perfectionist behaviours of fun. To be free to leave some things incomplete (which is an acknowlegement that one day we will leave everything complete, and others will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves). In one sense play and letting go has something to give us by way of living as we are aging and preparing for death, the ultimate letting go.

In the short term, play enables us, releases us, heps us reframe and is just plain healthy. We learn more about ourselves and others in play.

That old saying is true: “All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull person.” The painting by Brueghel is a reminder that adults used to have fun in simple ways, and perhaps, life was less dull.

In a confronting way, the Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister once recalled that when she was grumbling about cleaning floors while she could have been studying for her degree, the superior commented “You have all the time there is.” We all have time. Play must be a priority, it must be intentional. Go play 🙂

For an MP3 of Krista Tippett, at On Being,  interviewing Stuart Brown for “Play, Spirit, and Character” (2007) go to Dr. Stuart Brown

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Observe, Notice, Be Mindful

via Daily Prompt: Observe

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A tree growing from the rock at Billycatting nature reserve, perhaps a bird or the wind took the seed there? This was further along a side trail along the rock, and not immediately evident. I only noticed it when I stopped and really looked.

And that’s it really. Observation or noticing is one of the ways we become mindful of our immeditate environment, how we attend to living in the present moment. Observing or noticing is to stop and take note, to absorb our surrounds, to focus on what is immediately around us, to take in  and soak up what is there, in front of us.

Of course, that way of being mindful is applicable on the micro and well as the macro level. It can be externalities or internal to us. To be mindful of our feelings is to notice what is going on inside of us, and to work with those feelings non-judgmentally, but especially to know that feelings are just feelings and are not descriptive of who we actually are, and can be worked through, enough to change the negatives. Working with our feelings is crucuial to our growth and development, especially our mental health. We can get trapped in negative feelings and feel that we will never escape them, but sometimes this is simply a rut we have entered and which needs diverting. Mindmaps can be helpful and unhelpful, but we participate in their design and existence, we are not passive victims who are hostage to our feeelings or our circumstances. In essence, we can rewire the brain, we can train the the brain. It works by experiencing change and not in knowing about change. But it begins with awareness, observing, being mindful. As Einstein once said: “Nothing happens until something moves.”

Below: Dr. Dan Siegel on neuroplasiticity.

One of my ways of observing myself and my environ, my experiences, is through meditation. Meditation is a brain changer anyway. The deeper the engagement of meditation the deeper the latent observation that arises afterwards. But even sitting having coffee somewhere, to intentionally notice what is going on within and without oneself is powerful.

There is a problem at the moment with any discussion about mindfulness, different groups believe they have a truth or a way. Some have gone down a pure clinical mind path, others have developed exclusive spiritualities, others, a science only approach, as if they’re all mutually exclusive. Which is ironic, because binaries are hardly mindful! Mindfulness, true to itself, belongs to no one, and is for everyone, and is a mix of all those things, that’s what makes it so potent.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Bestow Love

via Daily Prompt: Bestow

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Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950) was a Hindu sage, in fact a Jivanmukta, a liberated sage. Maharshi once said: “Unless one is happy, one cannot bestow happiness on others.” 

Maharshi is saying, obviously, that we can only give what we have within us. So if we carry anger, we share anger, if joy then joy, if hate then we share hate, but if love then love, and so on. We can’t give what we don’t have. Love doesn’t come from hate.

To be proactive, Rumi urges us to: “… bestow your love even on your enemies, if you touch their hearts what do you think will happen?” A purpose Jesus taught with his famous instruction to “Love one another”, including our enemies.

Rumi begs the question, what will happen if we do love our enemies? It’s simply rhetorical, the answer is clear, they will, over time, learn to love. I can see that example in so many people I have had the privilege of meeting and befriending, but also in those who have become known for their acts of selfless love – Martin Luther King Jnr., Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, Ghandi, Malala, Maximillian Kolbe, Oscar Schindler, Bernadette Devlin, Mandella, Fred Hollows, or this guy:- Doc Hendley, who by his own description is but a humble bartender who had a vision to do something about water.

Hendley isn’t a sports star, or rock star, or movie star, just an ordinary guy bestowing clean water on those in dire need. While in reality he is also bestowing his love and compassion. He got angry hearing about the water crisis in the world, but he translated that anger into positive action (rather than reaction) and fifteen years on there’s a process for helping to provide clean water in the Sudan.

Doc Hendley is a great example to us, that we too, humble as we are, can bestow our love, our happiness, our joy, compassion … on others in meaningful ways. Where I live a local girl, Bella Burgmeister has become an author, motivational speaker, and project initiator, not bad for someone who is eleven. Bella has written on the impact of global warming in her book “Bella’s challenge” and she has iniated a project in our community by convincing city council to invest in thirty lockers for homeless people, a fantastic project. Bella has bestowed her passion and energy and love on our community for the benefit of all.

We can all do something, we can all bestow our love in some way, great or small.

Heartless is my world
my wallet is cold, empty
warm is my embrace

© Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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3 Day Quote Challenge

Day Three – Wonder

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“The sense of wonder is our sixth sense.”  D.H. Lawrence

I love the work of D.H. Lawrence, and especially when he is speaking to our inner ability to wonder. Wonderment refreshes the senses, but as Lawrence is suggesting, wonderment is innate in us, it is our ability to see the world through different eyes, eyes that revel in nature, in sunsets, in love, in compassion, in poetry, in simplicity, humility, integrity, passions … Imagine a day without wonder! No? I can’t either, I’d dry up and fade, besides I have jawdropping moments of wonderment daily. for me wonderment is a key to my creative flourishing, the juice of passion.

My nominations for today:

Soudip Ghosh

A Canvas To Describe Feelings

Sgeoil

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Glimmer

via Daily Prompt: Glimmer

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(Image: hdwalpapers2013.com)

I love the night sky, the glimmer of light, those stars, planets, refracting the sun’s light for vast distances we call light years. As a child I wanted to go out there and see how it all fitted together, and to see if there was life out there in some form. Space always captivates me, it is, as Captain Kirk said: “Space, the new frontier.” And with an ever expanding universe, there will be an ever growing new frontier, and one we cannot consume.

There is always a divide over space exploration, those who criticize it, for a variety of reasons, and those who support it. Constructive criticism is worth hearing, but that which is borne out of ignorance or fear is not. Fear closes us down, shuts off our creativity, our capacity to dream and think big. It’s easier to be negative than positive, but it is positive energy that will help us, negativity will be our death.

On a tangent here check out, and thanks to Skirmishes With Reality, Jaron Lanier on How We Need To Remake The Internet, where he talks about how negativity is destructive: www.ted.com/talks/jaron_lanier_how_we_need_to_remake_the_internet

Martin Luther king Jnr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” No wonder that the great spiritual guides of the past all made that connection in a variety of ways, because as you say that quote it it seems logical.

As with light, so with love, love is a glimmer of hope, and a more down to earth hope. Like light, like the universe, love is a positive and ever expanding energy. When we become love in all its forms for others, we become glimmers of hope. Together we can dispel the darkness that haunts our world, our communities, our homes, and our selves. We can be that energy where we are. Love is a new frontier, lets explore that.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Rush

via Daily Prompt: Rush

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I took this photo when Jon and I went to Bluff Knoll a couple of years ago. It was raining towards the top, and given the the sides of the mount were almost vertical in long sections, the rain rushed, hurtled down in streams. I love the sound of rushing water, it is something I’ve liked since I was a child, and this day was no different, it was a real treat. The other experience, inevitable really, was that we got soaked, and I didn’t mind that either. When I was a kid I’d run around without my raincoat on and rejoice in the rain. To play on the word rush, I got a rush out of the rain, and out of the rushing water.

Over the years I’ve experienced a rush in different ways, the usual suspects, drugs, alcohol, sugars, speed, abseiling, sport, travelling, bush walking, and the list goes on. It took time to learn to simply enjoy the moment, to attend to the experience as it was without seeking after it. It took time too, to emmerse in the experience without just consuming it. Of course it was partly learning and maturing, but it was also learning to let go and to deepen in the experience. There is something about experiencing a rush, a peak moment, to reach the pinnacle, but to do so without rushing it because the quality is richer and lasting. Not everything has to be immediate.

Who could forget the clasic Aesop fable ‘The Tortoise and the Hare” where the hare presumes to beat the slow moving tortiose, and yet through over-confidence and arrogance loses. Aesop simply making an observation about life, it’s how we are when we don’t immerse and attend.

I love this quote from Tolstoy: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” and Rousseau: “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” The reverse is also true.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Explore

via Daily Prompt: Explore

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One of my shots of Jindalee (Giles Breakaway). The Great Central Road and the roads that intersect it, the places along the way, have well and truly been traversed over two hundred years of exploration, mineral exploration, pastoral leases and tourism. But for us (Lyn, Su, Geoff) it was a time of exploration – it was the first time we’d been out there. As I looked out across to the east of the breakaway, I wondered what visual and geographic delights lay beyond. I was happy to camp for a time and explore the breakaway, and even happier to drive on into our unknown and see what was up ahead.

That has been my life up to this moment, that inner exploration. For me there is always that interesting intersection of living in the present moment, savouring the past for the treasure it has yielded, and looking to the next step, yearning to grow, to be more fully present, more in the experience, less attached to the material. Keeping the balance is the key, learning to love the past without clinging to it, rejoicing in the real now, and embodying the tension of possibility in tomorrow without trying to make it happen. I have worked hard at begining to let go the past, and I don’t always plan tomorrow, in fact, it is often said of me that I like to live in chaos – creative chaos I might add! Progress, though I smile, it comes with age and experience. Yet one must attend, be aware.  Even so, it is still a great achievement when I can just be in the present moment, and today, for a time, was just one of those moments. It always takes my breath away, and I am grateful for it.

I am one of life’s explorers, a soul on a journey of self discovery. I hope you are too.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Betrayal Hurts

via Daily Prompt: Betrayed

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Photo: moviedb.org  – Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, the spy who takes on one more mission in East Germany, only to discover layer upon layer of deception, and his own betrayal (‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ by John le Carre), a story often used, and most recently in Atomic Blonde (from the graphic novel ‘The Coldest City’).

We’ve all tasted betrayal.

Betrayal is an auspicious topic for Good Friday. Today recognises the crucifixion of Jesus. One particular detail in the story, is the cold and public betrayal by his disciple Judas. Judas is dazzled by money, he’d been stealing from the communal purse and now he was enamoured with the thirty pieces of silver he was offered to publicly identify Jesus to an arrest party. As the story goes, Judas leads a party of soldiers and police to where Jesus is, and identifies Jesus by greeting and kissing him. Essentially the kiss of death for a man he professed to follow.

There are many classic stories of betrayal. The Song of the Niebulungs which tells of the betrayal of the dragon slayer Siegfried. Odin was considered by the Norse to be the god of frenzy and betrayal. Euripides’ famous story of how Jason abandons his wife Medea for a younger woman is chilling, it ends badly.

Modern stories abound. Anything by Graham Greene, but especially ‘The End of the Affair’, and classic spy stories are essentially betrayal stories especially as written by John le Carre.

The stories of betrayal, whether true or fiction, actually bear out the popular saying: “The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies, it comes from your friends and loved ones.” That’s why it hurts so much. Siegfried’s wife takes revenge, Medea kills the children, Alec Leamas chooses death even when he is able to reach freedom. We’re not told what Jesus thinks about betrayal, but he is consistent with his teaching about forgiveness and love, he refuses to stoop to the level of those who whip and kill him.

But for us mere mortals there is a piece of very sound advice to heed: “If someone betrays you once, it’s their fault; if they betray you twice, it’s your fault.” (Eleanor Roosevelt) Clearly boundaries matter. But even then …

I find myself drawn to what Jesus lived and taught – that forgiveness (properly understood) is life giving.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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