Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Was Wrong

In an earlier post I stated that it seemed as if some Big Name Gurus' teachings could only be accessed after paying a fee. I was wrong.

Athough my initial web searches led me only to the "pay me and I'll talk" sites,  further investigation showed that both Eckhardt Tolle and Deepak Chopra have some free programs.

Eckhart Tolle's website offers the "uncourse" - a non-linear collection of videos and other resources. I finished one segment, on grieving, and found it interesting. I can now understand why he is such a popular teacher.

Deepak Chopra's website is offering a 21-day Meditation Challenge. Although it started February 20th you can still sign up, and it looks as if it will be repeated periodically. I am on Day Three and although it is rather light I would consider it a good starting point if you wanted to learn more about meditation.

My favorite "free" resources are still the offerings at Sounds True. I am currently working through their free course on energy healing, and have found it excellent. Unfortunately, they have changed the programs that they give you if you sign up for their newsletters, so I can't speak to the current free programs. They also send out a newsletter with free information.

Namaste, Dudes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

By Any Other Name...

Sunday Flowers
On an "almost-raining" Sunday I was hurrying through a nondescript parking lot when suddenly the sun came out for just a minute. It highlighted the flowers growing next to a wall and I took a quick shot. There is so much beauty around but sometimes we hurry past too fast to see it.

Right now I am stalled in the slow lane and I've suddenly found myself unable to do things I used to take for granted, like climbing a stepladder or going up the back steps. Even things on my "don't want to do" list, like mowing the lawn, now seem appealing.

But I have been defining myself by what I do, and now that I can't do them I feel as if I am losing part of my identity. For years I have been annoyed when people ask me if i am "the Stephanie Meyer" and I have to say "No, I'm afraid not.". I guess part of my annoyance is because after I say "no, I'm afraid not" most people don't ask anything else - as if who "not the famous" Stephanie Meyer was was not important.
I'm Nobody! Who are you?
 by Emily Dickinson

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!
My healthcare provider didn't help. When I went to be fitted for the Herman Munster boot I handed the receptionist my healthcare card, my photo I.D., and my debit card. When it was fifteen minutes past my scheduled appointment time I went up to the desk and was told "Well, you never checked in..." It eventually turned out that they had checked me in as someone else entirely, who wasn't scheduled to be there for another three hours and who had an entirely different kind of problem*.  If I had read all of the paperwork they handed me I would have caught it, but I didn't. I found it particularly ironic because when I had gone to have my foot x-rayed earlier they had put a patient wristband on me while I limped six feet down the corridor for an x-ray, and then put on a second band when I went to get an x-ray at a different location, as if I would forget who I was.

Then today I got a text message "Dad and Cody just left but there going back way with top down just cruising in sun probably 3 hours." Don't know who these people are, but it sounds like they are having fun....

But enough whining. I'm getting used to the Herman Munster boot.  I enjoyed Jellyjumbles post about wearing one. She brings up a good point about "getting the story" right because everyone asks you "how did it happen" and I get tired of saying "falling off a bar stool" (not far from the truth). My comic book dealer pointed out that that answer doesn't get much sympathy because "you were having fun" so maybe the next time I get asked I'll answer "I was saving kittens from a burning building..." Nah.
Prayer to Persephone
 by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be;
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell, -- Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee;
Say to her, "My dear, my dear
It is not so dreadful here."
*The person they signed me as at Orthopedics had a higher co-pay, so I got a rebate.... 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stumbling Towards Enlightenment

Belief systems are like languages. If you grow up learning only one language it is not until you start to learn another language that you realize that your original language is not "the one true way of communicating." If you were raised in some religions you may never see people who practice other religions as anything but "heathens".  Religions which do not accept a variety of beliefs may splinter into sub-groups (for example, the many varieties of Christianity and Buddhism).

My parents did not attend church.  When I was sent to stay with my paternal Grandmother for a few weeks one summer she tried to remedy my lack of religious upbringing by enrolling me in two Vacation Bible Schools - one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I really wanted to participate in one activity, but I was told that I was not qualified because "you haven't been baptized." This was one of the first times I came to realize that, innocent as I was, I could be considered a heathen because I had not participated in a particular religious ceremony.

Since then I have continued to seek a faith I could believe in. I read religious documents, attended a variety of religious services, and even sang in a church choir for a while.  I always got turned off when I heard the inevitable sermon "You who are here will be saved - those others are godless heathens and will go to Hell." I disagreed and continue to disagree. Surely God wouldn't punish someone because they had been raised in a different religion and didn't know any better?

"He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

     by Emily Dickinson

Looking beyond traditional, established religion to see what "New Age" spirituality offered led me to further discoveries. Thence to the discovery of the growing commodification of religion and spirituality. Here, Michael York explains it much better than I can. I was especially struck by his phrase "The New Age is modified upon, and is an outgrowth of, liberal Western capitalism." That is, the fact that Hollywood is marketing New Age spirituality is not an accident.  The New Age movement is "a blend of pagan religions, Eastern philosophies, and occult-psychic phenomena" {York, 1995:34}. The accusation of liberal Western capitalism comes because New Age "borrows" or "steals" ideas and practices from many religions and then capitalizes on this borrowed product. Eckhardt Tolle, for example, mixes taoism with some Buddhist beliefs and practices (see this article in Psychology Today), "New Age Shamans" appropriate Amerindian and other indigenous' practices such as sweat lodges and dream catchers. (Lynn Andrews is a particularly bad example of someone who has stolen Amerindian ideas for her own gain.  I am not linking to her website. I shredded her first book after reading it, it was so dishonest. This fraud offers a four-year course in how to be a shaman for only $4,120 per year.). "New Age" energy healers use the concepts of "chakras" and "meridians" from other cultures.

So are we getting the best of all religions by this cutting and pasting, or will we just end up with a mishmash?

Meanwhile, the search continues. My favorite t-shirt says "Seeking Enlightenment".