Our topic at Minciu Sodas is "caring about thinking". We should feel free to think in every way, so long as we care about it. I hope this means that we can hold together people of a wide variety of views and interests.
We should all feel free here to share our thinking out loud. We should be able to express ourselves with the words that best express our political, religious, social, personal outlooks. When we speak up about what we personally care about, then we add our voice, and help others speak freely, too.
Rasa Ramanauskaite, our member in Lithuania, talked at our meeting there about her wish to look to various faiths for inspiration in her quest for truth. I'm hesitant, as I write below, but so we talked how it might relate to "caring about thinking". A first point is that there might be "dangerous ideas". Not all ideas are equally constructive. Some have us care more, and others have us care less, or not care at all. She agreed we might start by thinking about dangerous thoughts. What are they? How can we identify them? What can we think instead?
This subject came up today elsewhere, so I wrote the letter below, which is how I approach this question. It's an important subject, and I welcome all manner of views here. Peace, Andrius, email@example.com
There do exist "dangerous thoughts" which can cause awful pain and damage. There are ideas so twisted, that taken to heart they might cut a person off from any kind of help, and any kind of life.
Good ideas can be slandered as bad ideas. So how can we figure it out? All of our mistaken ideas can be recognized and undone, so long as we hold our ideas accountable. The only way to damn ourselves is to stop judging the tree by the fruit (what was called the only sin that can not be forgiven).
So I suppose the worst idea is to judge the tree to be good when the fruit is bad.
Some other awful ideas in that direction:
acknowledge that we are free to give up our own needs by taking up those of others.
Such an ugly idea, that it may make us think twice:
Dreadfully stupid ideas, which are hard to let go of, until we have something better:
Ideas to challenge:
Ideas to believe:
Ideas to consider, that can change everything:
Questions that de-brainwash, that allow us to wake-up:
The questions above let us draw the distinction between the spirit and the system. Answers that are from the heart, from inside, idealistic, the spirit rather than from the "conventional wisdom" of the world:
Answers from the world, from society, pragmatic, the system are:
Idea that is sufficient:
Idea that is more than sufficient:
(Where, in particular, God is the one who loves us more than we love ourselves, wants us to be alive, sensitive, responsive, more than we do, wants us to live forever).
Given that all the potions are so dangerous, I would not mess around, I would choose my medicine, and drink it down. I admit I'm afraid to get mislead by the fruit, so I'd rather just choose the tree that I want to stake my fate with.
I think it's fair that we take what we grew up with, and build on whatever faith we have already, to the extent that we can. Read your Scriptures, and wrestle with them.
I believe in Christ, and grew up Roman Catholic. I accept the faith, but I have trouble finding practitioners. Yet I have met a few priests who stand out because they actually believe. I think they are the ones who look at life, and then compare it with the Scriptures, rather than the other way around. They are the ones who are not afraid to disagree with God.
I think it is fair to be skeptical of psychiatry, to the extent that it is a relationship of non-equals (and attracts people who look for such relationships). An alternative is having friends, investing in friendships, people we can both listen to and talk to.
Bible study in small groups is quite remarkable. I think because the Bible is a great equalizer, it dishes out wisdom to everybody, so it forces us to respect it in others. As such, it can also help people open up, become friends, and learn to pray. All of this, even if you are an atheist. Go to a Chinese church, they will treat you well. They are like early Christians.
Prayer is extremely healthy. A great source of peace. Learn to talk to God. Then learn to listen to God. That's a trip! Get to know God, and care about God, to the point where you love God.
Cass McNutt is the one I know who loves God. http://thoughtsonfaith.weblogger.com/ He rejoices in God. Just plain beautiful. Worship make sense. Go to Visalia in the Central Valley of California to worship God in a basketball gym, dancing and waving flags. I do.
If you're looking for a drastic edge to your religious life, buy some peanuts from a street missionary, then go to their church. Especially if it's a church for recovering addicts. Join their services. You will see people for whom religion is a life or death experience. Casting out demons will make a lot of sense - breaking out of the shells that we get lost in, where demons build their nests.
Tapping into a similarly deep current is the Alcoholics Anonymous way of life. Anything that hooks your practical daily life into a "higher power" that you have to deal with to get things done.
If life has not blessed you with such in-your-face challenges, then just ratchet up your life by serving others and sharing the truth until you have lots of enemies. Then you can "love your enemy" and that will make clear, who are you with your enemy, and who is the loving God.
I think there's great stuff to be found in non-Christian material like the Tao, Dhammapada, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhist Zen koans, Plato's "Republic", Kant, Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Successful People", Christopher Alexander's "The Timeless Way of Building", the life and writings of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. A very pretty Scripture is that of the Noble Drew Ali of the Moorish Science Temple of America. I will pick up an evangelical Christian book like vodka, just to keep me open, and build up my tolerance. Watchman Nee is fantastic, Fromke is good. As for the Bible, if you read the "Sermon on the Mount", Matthew 5-7, just those five pages, and it says nothing to you, then I have no clue how the rest could interest you, but the author has a way. Carry the Psalms when you fear.
If you want something completely non-traditional, I would hang out with Flemming Funch, http://ming.tv I like his range of interests and his overall outlook. In other words, I like the fruit on his trees. He knows all kinds of stuff that I think are a mixed bag, like Neurolinguistic Programming and such. I suppose he's good at sorting through the stuff.
Call David Ellison-Bey in Chicago for some thoughts. He's read stuff I would never care to, and survived it all. I love to hear him ramble on and on about life, and how it all revolves around the racial caste system, and yet he covers all the bases, with good spirit.
Sharing freely what is free to share,