Thursday, April 21, 2011

Aiming for Total Human Growth

Human growth entails not only physical maturity, or emotional/mental ripening, but also and more importantly, maturation in consciousness or spirituality or awareness. The last one appears as the hardest to attain and most likely to be overlooked in the development process. When was the last time one was taught to be more conscious/spiritual? This process entails a drastic and even painful break from traditional and learned thinking, which usually tend to be inflexible, too structured and patterned, and most of the time static to a point that it is not open to creativity and tolerance. Putting one’s stakes to tradition means feeling safe, secure, and sure. It usually is the easier path to take rather than the tortuous and oftentimes confusing path of creativity. The former makes it easy on the conscience and mind, and easy to rationalize to an inquiring mind. It also makes it easy to dismiss a petulant mind. Admittedly, one cannot give a workable definition of what this level of spirituality/consciousness is. It does not lend itself easily to words. Or more honestly, because one’s abilities to express are typically not sufficiently honed to enable one to reduce thoughts to words.

It necessarily involves or brings into play one’s spiritual faith. Its seed is initially implanted and nurtured during one’s youth, going through similar but more profound growing phases as one’s physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects. Through our voluntary and conscious efforts, we must probe into, first of all, its existence, and secondly, arrive at a determination that we can rise above that initial level by our own efforts. Of necessity, this requires arduous preparation like serious reading and introspection. Any empowerment attained will be achieved through our deliberate and purposeful efforts and not something taken for granted such as our physical growth.

During childhood, most of what we do and think is purely for selfish motives. We are instructed to do things primarily because of the good that we directly derive from them. In fine, all for our own self-preservation. Very little altruism is involved in our childhood activities. To mature, we should graduate from this pupal stage into a much nobler stage.

It should start with man’s gaining control of himself and his surroundings. His sense appetites which are geared toward whetting his baser nature must be kept in check. Spirituality commences or is enhanced with his ability at self-denial. The initial conquest must be one's own body.

Heightened awareness of surrounding physical and intangible realities can lead to more effective control and/or handling of them, in keeping with their avowed purposes and reasons for being. Maybe this is what is inferred to by the biblical passage about man exercising dominion over all things created.

Some random thoughts about why this spiritual growth is of paramount importance to man’s being true to his noble nature and his destiny.

A. Learning to think beyond one’s self and welfare, taking into account the impact of every act on others; and finally, acting always based on that judgment.
B. Giving a spiritual/metaphysical bent or flavor to most, if not all, of the things that we do and think. To be in the world, but not of this world.
C. Developing a healthy disregard/disdain for earthly life, to a point where one is not saddled by the burden of the prospect of death, nor fearful of death itself, and positively, to a point where one is able to entertain the prospect of surrendering one’s life for a worthy cause if and when the need arises.
D. Nurturing a positive frustration/impatience at the myriad of hedonistic trivialities presently inundating all facts of human living, especially in the more developed societies. A deep longing and aspiration for the more basic and real Christ-like values of daily living.
E. The possible attainment of some form of human perfection in one’s own life. Christ exudes/possesses great powers (as gauged by our present human standards) because he is human perfect, too. He has absolute and complete control of his human self. To illustrate, when he got angry, it was not because he allowed the situation to control his emotional response, although it was definitely beyond the shadow of a doubt warranted. Instead, he willed to exhibit the emotion of just anger. If we can only approximate that level of human perfection, it would be safe to assume that we would then also possess powers beyond our wildest dreams. This would be in consonance with the circumstance of our creation, that we are made to the image and likeness of God. Because we are God’s image, we are endowed with a very complex nature. We must therefore allow the notion that there is still so much to be learned about it while at the same time, it continues to evolve and grow to higher levels. How much then of the inexplicable occurrences around us can be attributed as paranormal rather than as supernatural? The theory of an ever expanding universe hints at how finite boundaries are continually being shattered as our minds probe and explore beyond the known realities. In a true sense, there is no limit to reality in the same way that there is no limit to what we individually and collectively can think of. Creation is a continuous process, and those already created are in constant evolution from day to day. Every human act and thought adds to that pool of creation. God made us such that this creative power comes to us naturally. Philosophers postulate that reality is what we “think” it is. And in the final analysis, all creation owes it continued existence to the Godhead, who must at all times be fully aware of its existence.

The foundation of our faith is anchored on our belief that God revealed Himself to man in the Bible. I submit that man on his own can come to a realization of the existence of God, but being limited and finite he cannot fully comprehend the extent of God. All this is consistent with our understanding that God made man to his image and gave him free will. Nor has many fully grasped the full scope and extent of his own human nature, its capabilities and potentials for growth.

One problem is immediately encountered in accepting THAT basis of our faith. Why did God reveal Himself only to us Christians? What makes us very special? Could he not reveal Himself to all men throughout human history in a special way so that the opportunity to understand and worship Him would be available to everybody in a fair and just way? If we accept this premise, then differences in our perception and understanding of Him would be attributable to the level of awareness/spirituality each one of us will have attained, which as stated previously, is largely voluntary and optional.

WRITTEN THOUGHTS FROM WAY PAST

Rummaging through yellow-eared papers kept in rarely-visited cabinets is much like reliving one’s past. One discovers old stray ideas reduced to writing and slipped through anonymous folders, and invariably forgotten amidst the many cares of youthful life. Here’s a few self-decided to be fit to publish.

Thinking About Man’s Free Will

The “created” or “creature” both singly and collectively can never equal to the “Creator”, although in some respects the former can be likened to the latter. The created exhibits certain characteristics and powers that are reflective of the Creator. One of them is free will. The question then is: Was this free will given to him at the onset of his creation? If not, at what point of his growth/evolution was it installed so that from that point on, he was on his way to almost unlimited growth and development if he chooses to?

One plausible theory one can postulate given what we now know about how homo sapiens evolved through the ages may be that at the point when man consciously distanced himself from group consciousness and embarked on his own, he became a being singularly responsible for his action. He took a choice and decided not to be an involuntary part of a whole that he had originally been involuntarily assigned to. This probably gave birth to the concepts of law and order, crime and punishment, heaven and hell, ethics and morality, etc. This rending away from group consciousness could be the start of the Genesis accounts. A poor parallel may be how planetary order is maintained, where universal physical laws are in effect. Chaos would ensue when for example certain planets do not follow this order. Unless other laws somehow kick in to attempt to bring back order and harmony.

The integrity of man’s free will is left intact in prayer if we have the proper attitude toward it. One common reason for praying is to ask God for certain things to happen, like work opportunities, job offers, good health, victory in contest, etc. When we pray we access God’s presence but He does not make things happen for us, notwithstanding the worthiness or silliness of our supplications. He simply makes known that various opportunities/options, choices are available. We still have to make free choices; thus, preserving the integrity of our free will. Conversely, we are still fully responsible for our actions, and not Him.

If our plea involves an action on the part of a third party, say, a job offer, He is not in turn infringing on the free will of another. What He does is simply to present/implant/make available certain ideas/options/thoughts to the other person. If it comes out that the reply to your plea for a job offer is favorable, it is because the other party freely chose to make the offer. If the answer is negative, then it is also because he said no and not because God said no.


Role of Self-denial in Man’s Life

The emotions of love/lust/longing are rooted in man’s psyche/mind/soul/inner being, apart of and distinct from his temporal body. However, to express/gratify these, man has to work through his body. He is man because he is body and soul, not a body and a soul. Expression/gratification may be in the form of thoughts about the subject/object, face-to-face vision, interactive communication, touch, intercourse, etc. And if these are not possible/feasible, maybe flights of fantasy are resorted to. These emotions are definite attributes of the nobler nature of man, his soul. Therefore, their expression/gratification do not necessarily signify an inability to control one’s sense appetites, or that man is giving free reins to the needs of his body for truly these are needs of the soul too. Thus, we ought to ask whether we should always deny ourselves these lusty thoughts/longing simply because we grew up feeling guilty about them.

Heaven on Earth?

The Church teaches that being in the state of sanctifying grace is sharing in the life of God and that the ultimate reward is the beatific vision (heaven) which is the face-to-face audience with God. Another tenet states that in the valid reception of Holy Communion, the body and blood of Christ become part and parcel of us, making us God-like, here and now and on earth – a foretaste of heaven.

What exactly does this mean? Is it only symbolic? Or is it attainable in its true sense? How is it manifested in daily life?

To be truly true, there must be a higher level of existence/spirituality attainable here and now, which can be experienced by man under his present state here on earth. The obvious question is how to attain this level and what means to use. Once attained, many should be able to exude powers ordinarily considered supranatural. Some possible examples would be extra-sensory powers, mind-over-matter experiences, etc. – much like what Christ had while on earth. Or on a practicable level, man could become more event- and/or people-sensitive so that he becomes more able to understand and interact in a more effective and enlightened way – be more able to accept human events/realities in a better perspective. Spirituality/wisdom enables us to see through the hedonistic trappings and evaluate realities according to their ultimate purposes and values. These should be attainable by anybody, be he a believer of Catholic dogma or not.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mourning the Passing of Time

Time they say is nothing more than the constant motion of things, whether in deep space, within us in the deep recesses of our body cells, and even in the seeming permanency of things considered durable and steadfast. Everything is in perpetual flux and this we find immutable. We are born, grow up and grow old.

Much as we do not want to at times, things change. Whether in attitudes and beliefs we desire to be steadfast and true. Whether in moods and likes that catch our fancy. We cannot hold on to them and freeze them in time. It is like grasping air. We do at times take pictures hoping to freeze them in time. But we can only recall, not relive.

Many of us stop, though only in a manner of speaking, trying to make sense of it. Others ignore it completely. Still, others do not want to confront it. But it plods along its merry way, unmindful of our acceptance or resistance.

But there is nothing to make sense of. It is simply a matter of living through a fleeting life that knows no better. Like being caught in a swirling whirlpool we typically find ourselves unable to counter the flow.

Thus, we mourn the passing of time, the passing of life. We mourn the regrets we should have entertained, and the happy events we had wanted not to end. Or the good things that could have been.

But is it that simple? That fateful?

Those we try to make sense of it, try to reach for an answer. Those that ignore are not interested. And those that are malleable do not care.

Don’t we at times find ourselves going against the grain? Swimming upstream or going against the tide? Or standing alone? Or wrenching away from the madding crowd?

So maybe there is a way out. A wormhole in time and space that allows us to shake off the fetters of formidable time. A way to freedom.

You tell me. Or go tell yourself, so maybe we can mourn no more.

Maybe it is that simple. Accept its inevitability and prepare for the end.

The end of life and that’s it. Nothing to come after. So we can move along because there is nothing to see here or there. Or expect.

What a useless and wasteful existence, and include there the entire creation. All the intricacies and beauty of nature and man, and all for naught. A creation that continues to this day, in nature and in man. In the vast recesses of his mind and the stupendous resourcefulness and versatility of his hands.

All for naught? In the aught and for all eternity?

There has to be a meaning of life and time. A purposeful meaning that merits all the hassles of its living.

If we can find the answer, then maybe we can mourn no more.

Is it any wonder that mourn rhymes with morn? I for one do not wonder. Mourn brings on morn where things look better exposed to sunlight.