Uncle Thor's Lessons, Anecdotes and Humor

13
Jul

Requiem for an Imp

I won’t even mention her name.

She was a person who seemed to have a love affair with bad luck. It began in her childhood and haunted her, at least as long as I knew her. The last I saw of the woman was around 1990. At that time, we were not on cordial terms.

She went through my life like a tornado back in the late 80s. She did that to several people. To show her kindness was an invitation to disaster. Her path was marked by the wreckage of her betrayals.

I just learned a few disturbing facts. We knew each other when we lived in another city far from here. As things turned out, she somehow ended up in this town toward the end of her life. Our paths never crossed here. I don’t know how long she was here or under what circumstances. I got the impression it was some kind of assisted living for people with certain illnesses. What they were, I have no idea.

The woman was listed under both her married and maiden name, though she had been divorced since the 80s. From the little information on the Internet, she died of a brief illness at the age of 57. There was a short obituary.

The obituary mentioned her siblings and parents by name, but did not name her children.

As mentioned previously, she had a love affair with bad luck. The woman knew how to sabotage a good situation and blame others for the debacle. She never counted the consequences of that kind of living. Such is a lonely existence. Under those circumstances, friendships are temporary alliances that eventually turn to hostilities.

It is hard to develop character in oneself when one’s youthful existence had been one of dysfunction and chaos. It is hard to escape the bad patterns of life when one gravitates to the people and circumstances that perpetuate the misery. Even when befriending better people, she always chose to return to the self-made unfortunates.

Despite it all, I sincerely hope that she was surrounded by people who cared at the end.

There is no moral ot this story, just a remembrance of one left behind a long time ago. She was simply someone who appeared in my life like a passing comet that quickly faded into obscurity. The most memorable thing about her is the damage she did to herself, her family, and any who chose to befriend her.

26
Jun

No Time to Hate

Be Aware

In these times, many people harshly judge others who disagree with them, especially in matters of politics. The vitriolic rhetoric and outright hatred are disheartening. People think that because of a difference in opinion, they are justified in spewing hatred. This comes from all sides.

But not from me.

I do not think less of you for how you voted at any time.

I do not think less of you for where you stand on issues ranging from trade wars to immigration to people’s rights.

I do not think less of you for your personal beliefs.

I do not demand that you explain to me why you voted as you did, why you believe as you do, or why you stand on issues as you do. I expect you to extend me the same courtesy. If you are my friend, I expect you will respect my choices as I have respected yours.

I will think less of you when you treat others unfairly because of their beliefs, choices, political preferences, etc.

By the way, when you express hatred for those who voted for Trump, you express hatred for me. I made a choice of the candidate I thought best and voted accordingly, as I always do. That is the American way. I don’t think ill of those who voted for Hilary because I assume they felt she was their best choice. Unlike most people, I am not bamboozled by politicians. All of them are a mixed bag of good and bad. The best candidate has more that I feel is good than he does the bad.

Having a difference of opinion is NEVER justification for mistreating others. It is NEVER cause for treating others unfairly. Shame on you if your HATRED and hateful actions and words define you. And that goes for all sides.

Things are pretty sick when a member of Congress is exhorting people to mistreat others because of their political preference. We have gone from Freedom of Speech to Freedom to Act Like Jerks.

21
Jun

Fundraiser for American Legion Post 54, Freehold

American Legion Post 54 is celebrating its Centennial next year. (1919 – 2019) We are one of the oldest posts in the country. Several events are being planned. As a fund raiser, we are selling certificates to get a professional car wash at Freehold Raceway Car Wash in Freehold Township. I have several of these tickets. You get exterior wash, wheels & tires cleaned, interior vacuum, dash dusted, windows inside and out, towel dry. If you are in the Freehold area and would like to support us and get a great car wash, contact me. Tickets are $19 each.

Thanks in advance!

American Legion Post 54 Fundraiser - Car Wash!

15
Jun

Celebrity Suicides: A Missed Lesson

The recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade made big headlines. They were followed by a spate of televised memorials. Now the dust is settling and everyone is about to go back to normal. Bourdain and Spade are slipping into memory as people focus on the latest bit of popular news.

I wrote an article about this:

http://thortrains.net/blog/2018/06/08/anthony-bourdain-and-the-monster-that-causes-suicide/

Celebrity suicide is not the latest news tidbit. It is not a time for morbid memorials or a chance to rerun the victims’ old TV shows. Celebrity suicide is a reminder that this monster can strike anyone, anywhere, any time regardless of fame, popularity, wealth or prestige. In other words, it is a time for us to consider the whole problem and how it affects the people in our own individual worlds. Just as opiate / opioid addiction is a scourge of this time, so suicide is a growing menace. It affects the famous and it affects folks close to home.

For years, suicide was something that was swept under the carpet. People did not discuss it. Suicide was an unforgivable sin. People might pass it off as a “shooting accident” or an accidental overdose. The real issue was “hush-hush”. It was discussed in whispers.

A suicide brings feelings of shame on the survivors.*

“Why did he do this to me? What did I do wrong? How did I fail him? Why couldn’t he talk to me? Why didn’t I recognize the signs? How could I have not seen what was coming?” Thoughts like this haunted survivors then as now.

The truth is that suicide, like addiction and other woes, thrives in silence. By not acknowledging it and discussing it, we allow it to thrive with impunity. Like addiction, alcoholism and many other woes, suicide loses some of its venom when we look at it and acknowledge that it is there.

An old Irish saying comes to the fore: ‘Better a Devil you can see than one that you can’t.”

The general public is dropping the ball on suicide as the memory of the recent celebrity suicides fade. The subject falls away while the public follows the next big thing. What is needed is to make suicide a subject of discussion and put it under the light. We need to acknowledge it, see it, and admit that this is a thriving monster. Only then can we implement solutions that will minimize it and take away some of its power.

A problem can only be solved once it is acknowledged. Ignoring or hush-hushing a problem does not make it go away. To the contrary, it allows the problem to rage without anything to slow or stop it.

22 veterans die of suicide every day, so they say. We need to discuss it and the problems that can lead to it, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). People other than veterans also commit suicide. We need to discuss the other causes, such as Depression, Despair, Mental Illness, Alcoholism and Addiction. The biggest step in defeating suicide is to put the monster out in the open where we can see it, examine it and talk about it.

Denial – the tendency to ignore a fact – feeds human woes, We cannot say “It won’t happen here,” or “He’s just seeking attention,” or some other excuse. Denying there is a problem allows that problem to run rampant without any opposition.

Here is an concrete example to explain denial: In 1941, the Army had an experimental radar station on Hawaii. It shut down at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. One Sunday before shut-down ,the radar detected a large signal. The radar men contacted their commander to report the sighting.

The commander pooh-poohed it. “It’s just a flock or birds, or maybe that formation of Army planes scheduled to land here today,” he said. “Shut it down.”

The sighting was neither birds nor Army Air Corps aircraft. The day was December 7th, 1941, and the object was the fleet of Japanese aircraft coming to attack Pearl Harbor. By not investigating, the officer let the Japanese attack unannounced. His belief that it was birds or Allied planes is like Denial. It did not change the fact that something bad was on the way.

I do not know the nuances of suicide. All I know to do, if confronted by a suicidal individual, is to call for help, and then stay there and try to talk him down until help arrives. What I know is to take it seriously and take action. Consider tackling suicide in the context of a quote from the Havamal: “When one does you wrong. let the wrong be known and fall upon him.”

When suicide or any other monster rears its ugly head, say something and take action. Maybe you don’t have the solution, but you can be sure there is somebody that does. Like a stroke or heart attack, a potential suicide requires quick action. There can be no hesitation.

It is too late for Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Let their example on the international stage prompt action on the local front. Suicide is a real problem and it is not fading away. We can become aware locally and perhaps have the opportunity to prevent suicides close to home. This is a serious menace and any one of us might be on the front line when an acquaintance, friend or relative starts down that road to suicide.

You can save a life. It all starts with awareness.

*******

*Ironically, in Japanese culture, suicide can be an act of honor under certain occasions.

15
Jun

Religious Freedom versus Religious Bigotry

Religion is a personal matter. There is no one religion for everyone. Just look at all the major and minor denominations out there. Even within the major denominations are smaller sects and divisions.

I believe in religious freedom to a point. On the point where someone else’s religious freedom infringes on mine, there is a problem. Where a religion is abusive, controlling or otherwise harmful, there is a problem.

I have friends and relatives in a variety of denominations: Heathen, Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, Taoist, Buddhist, Metaphysical, Hermetic and others.

Just as racism is inherently stupid, so is religious bigotry. While I might not agree with sects other than my own insofar as beliefs and practices, I do agree with the innate right of people to believe as they wish. They should be able to worship in comfort, without hassles.

People ought to feel secure in their religious choices and in their houses of worship. To that end, I am opposed to vandalism of religious structures, shrines, statues, etc. Consider this: in the Pagan Mediterranean and Middle East, many religions lived side-by-side. Sects from Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Palestine, Spain, Germany, Britain, Gaul, Greece, Rome and its other provinces had temples in the major cities. You never read of people attacking other houses of worship during the Pagan era. This is how it should be today.

Okay, so we were not very nice during the Middle Ages. Christianity, both Roman and Eastern, attacked non-Christian shrines and temples. And my ancestors (Vikings) had great fun sacking Christian monasteries and other installations. GET OVER IT! Those days are over. Inquisitions, witch burnings and Viking raids ended a long time ago. We got past those centuries of hostility. Your ancestors razed our shrines; my ancestors cracked your monks over the head with axes and robbed their valuables. All that ended a long time ago.

Consider this: when I was in the Army, the enemy were the Vietcong and NVA. That was 45 years ago. Today, on one of my hobby forums, we welcome members from Vietnam. Some of the American members who served when I did are happy to send the Vietnamese fellows odds and ends which hobbyists in that country cannot get.* The war is over a long time. Poles exchange stuff with Russians, Germans trade with the French, and Chinese share with the Japanese, and so on. Here in the United States, Northerners and Southerners buried the hatchet over a hundred years ago. The old wars are over and so is the animosity. World War II ended 73 years ago; Vietnam ended 43 years ago. The Civil War ended 153 years ago. We got over it.

Religious wars ended a long time ago. Aside from a few extremists, Christians, Jews and Muslims learned to live together. Hindus. Shintoists, Confucianists, Buddhists and Taoists learned to live in societies dominated by other religions. Heathens and Pagans have learned to abide in societies that still misunderstand aspect of their beliefs. If we can get over wars, we can get over religious animosity from the past.

Granted, there are fundamentalist bigots in almost every denomination. We know of Christian bigots, the most prominent being a few narrow-hearted televangelists. There are Muslim bigots, from ISIL to a few Middle Eastern Muslim television imams. And there are a few Jewish bigots who dislike non-Jews. We have a few religious bigots in Heathenism and Paganism,and I am sure the other denominations have them, as well. Yet most folks in these religions are good folks who mean well to others. You do not hear much about the kind, generous people because they do not make for news headlines.

Kipling told a tale of sea captains from many countries discussing why they thought their religion was the right one. One fellow, a Chinese captain, had not said anything. The others finally asked him his opinion. He answered with questions:

“Which country owns the Sun?” the sea captain asked his fellow seamen.

The others replied that no country owned the Sun. The Sun was there for everyone.

“Would you agree that God is greater than the Sun?”

They all agreed.

“Then if no country can own the Sun, how can any church own all of God, who is greater than the sun?”

Learn the lesson.

In my years of experiencing different expressions of spirituality (from Alchemy to Zen and back again), I have found that all have something to offer No religion is devoid of truth. Each has truths that it expresses more than others. We can learn something from all of them, and we do not have to back down on our personal beliefs to do so.

Religious freedom is more than the right to believe and worship. Religion freedom is the obligation to extend to believers of other sects that same rights and dignity you want for yourself. Most of us can get along. The enemy is not a religion, creed or sect. The enemy is bigotry.

Live and let live.

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One of my pleasures has been experiencing different kinds of spiritual practice. That is no joke about “Alchemy to Zen.” I’ve practiced “treatment: with the metaphysicians, invoked with the Hermeticists (High Ritual Magick), done Sabbats with the Wiccans, cut Runes with Heathens, read Tarot with psychics, prayed with half a dozen sects, ate “sacred cookies” with Hindus and meditated with the Zen people, and much more. I have attended rites of different kinds from many denominations, from worship to weddings to funerals. These latter include Catholic, Episcopal (Anglican), Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, and Jewish rites. My thoughts on religion are based as much on experience as well as study. Technically, I am an interfaith minister, though my personal beliefs are Heathen. If you wish to experience other religions, here is an article I wrote with good guidelines for a safe and pleasant journey: http://thorsmanstuff.blogspot.com/2018/05/some-guidelines-for-searching-varieties.html

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*Strange but true. A Vietnamese member of one of the toy soldier collector forums asked about how he might get some of the Vietnam-era plastic American infantrymen. American members responded and sent him some. The Vietnamese hobbyist was overjoyed. Reminds me of the time I was selling a few sets of toy Civil War soldiers and cannons. Several went to a hobbyist in the Carolinas. He was amused that he his toy Confederates came from the North.

08
Jun

Anthony Bourdain and The Monster that Causes Suicide

One of the more illumining cable shows was named Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Master chef Anthony Bourdain would travel to exotic places and give a commentary on the food and culture. Along with famed places like Paris and Rome, he also visited obscure locations such as Paraguay and Cambodia. I remember one of the more surprising episodes where he ate in a common streetside restaurant in Hanoi with President Obama. He drank moonshine in Thailand, ate silkworms in Korea and scoffed down sushi in Japan.

Not exactly my idea of gourmet fare, but the man was unafraid when it came to chow. Be it Peru, Morocco, Paraguay or Portugal, Anthony Bourdain seemed to gush with love of life’s pleasures. That is why it was so stunning to hear he committed suicide.

Or was it?

In recent years ,we have heard of several famous and successful individuals who became suicides. Just last week, fashion designer Kate Spade hung herself. Robin Williams was perhaps the most prominent of the suicides. They have been happening as far back as I can remember. Among them was George Reeves, the first Superman of television. And we used to ask ourselves: “Why?”

“Why would people with success, riches and fame want to kill themselves? It does not seem reasonable.”

Reason has nothing to do with it.

The sad fact is that most of these people are powerless over the thing that kills. It is a mental illness that can be so unexpected and so powerful that they apparently have no defense when it strikes. This little monster can lie dormant for decades. You may have noticed that many of these famous suicides had, at one point in their lives, been hopelessly alcoholic or abused drugs. In many cases, the hooch and drugs were ways of self-medicating to mitigate a mental illness. Depressives, schizophrenics, bipolar and many other mentally-ill people may self-medicate, especially if the real illness remains undiagnosed. Booze and drugs silence the voices, soothe the dark feelings and take the edge off the unseen anguish that plagues them.

Bourdain had problems with booze and drugs in his younger years. Williams had dealt with bouts of depression. Reeves had seen his career fizzle, with few prospects for the future. He was also reported to be a heavy drinker. Yet how does one know if alcohol and drugs are symptoms of this mental illness, or just a case of chemical dependency?

We don’t. Even the experts cannot tell for sure.

In the case of Kate Spade, we do not know if she ever had a drinking or drug problem.

The sad fact is that the experts know so little about it. This is an illness that is a master of concealment, hiding for years in the psyche of the afflicted. The bottom line is that suicide is no joke and nothing to be taken casually.

These celebrity suicides remind us that mental illness is no respecter of rank, title, achievement, wealth or acclaim. No amount of money or prestige is a buffer against it. Mental illness attacks regardless of education, economic status, prestige, popularity or any other factor. it hits rich and poor, famous and obscure, good and bad. As much as modern science can do in the way of healing, there are places where it has little power.

This week saw Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade take their own lives. We heard of them because they are famous. Let us not forget the many unknown people who have died the same way. Perhaps a cure might be found. And perhaps one of us may be in the right place and right time to prevent a suicide. This is serious and according to the experts, it is getting worse. No doubt the epidemic of opioid addiction is adding fuel to the fire. Nonetheless, horrors like this thrive in darkness. By speaking of them openly, we open the way to diminish them, even if just a little bit. As the Irish say, “Better a devil you can see than one that you can’t.”

**********

Back in the 80s, my work was with substance abusers. Mental illness was a different field. Everything I learned about mental illness was from listening to people who had those problems. I am reminded of two friends who had committed suicide. Both had suffered from mental illness and had made strides to overcome it. No matter how well they did, they could not win that final battle. Worst of all, nobody saw it coming.

It may seem strange that many times, people commit suicide while they are at the top of their fame and the pinnacle of achievement. Many years ago, a friend who had bipolar disorder explained his illness to me. He had made three suicide attempts before he was diagnosed and his disease was treated.

Bipolar has its high and low cycles. There is the manic / high phase and the depressive / low phase. You might think he did his during the depression part of it. He did all three attempts at the height of the manic phase. In view of Bourdain, Williams and Spade, they were at the heights of their careers and fame. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

In Norse and German Runecraft, Wunjo is the Rune of Joy. it is also said to be a Rune that can cause insanity. The ancients noticed this phenomena long ago.

02
Jun

Trying is not Fitting

When it comes to spirituality, it either fits or it doesn’t. Trying to make a tradition, system, school or whatever fit is like trying to slip into a jacket that is two sizes too small. Even if you get into it, the fit will always be awkward. This is the same as trying to be something that you are not. You will never be comfortable and therefore never be capable of expressing it.

I am reminded of an old cartoon named Tooter Turtle. It was named after the main character, a turtle who always wanted to be someone else. Each episode, he would prevail of Mr. Wizard the Lizard to turn him into someone else form history. And each time it would be a disaster for Tooter. Just in the nick of time, the Wizard would then say, “Drizzle, Drazzle, Drozzle, Drome, time for this one to come home.” Poof! Tooter returned, after which Mr. Wizard gave the same sage advice:

“Be just what you is, not what you is not. Folks what do this has the happiest lot.”

How intriguing that an old children’s cartoon from 1960 would offer such adult counsel!

Nonetheless, the fact is that an ill fit is as bad as no fit at all. It may be any number of things that makes a person incompatible. Perhaps temperament. For example, a highly competitive person might be ill-placed in a pacifist tradition. A very sensual person might be ill-at-ease in a school which extols chastity. And a pacifist would be like a fish out of water in a warrior sect. One who is strongly connected to his Celtic or Teutonic roots might have a hard time fitting into an Afro-Caribbean religion, and vice versa. These are extreme examples but they illustrate the point.

This is not to say that other schools or traditions should bd avoided. They all have something use to share. However, there is a difference between learning and becoming a part of something.

As I have counseled many times: The right tradition for you should fit like the most comfortable garment. It allows freedom of movement while neither restricting nor burdening you.

11
May

Some Guidelines for Searching Varieties of Spirituality and Religion

People have asked how I could examine and experience so many spiritual things “safely”. They are under the impression that it is dangerous or that doing so might invoke the wrath of a jealous deity or malicious devil. No Gods, God, Spirit, Mind or what ever you call it is going to punish you for asking questions. The only ones who rebuke for asking are people who cannot stand the fact that anyone would challenge their beliefs. People and doctrines might not be able to stand up to the truth. That which is truly spiritual will meet the test of truth every time.

One thing you need is the ability to keep a straight face. You have to be able to hear and see things that seem outrageous without appearing outraged, curious, upset, disgusted, etc.

You have to be skeptical. Do not take everything at face value. Weight the validity of what you hear and see. Listen to your doubts. Doubt is a good thing. It keeps your assessment of things honest.

Do not be awed by people or titles. Many who follow a path or school will extol those they consider gifted leaders or teachers. Do not let their awe affect you. Remain cool. More than one magnificent guru has turned out to be just another schlub with a fancy robe and bizarre rhetoric..

The facts are not just in what you hear, but what you do not hear. Likewise, they are what you see and what you do not see. In other words, what aren’t they saying or doing? What is missing here? All too often, the catch is not what they tell you, but that which they do not disclose.

In the participation in religious or mystical activities, never harm another person in any way. Never harm an animal. If you see or hear of people being harmed, LEAVE. You would do well to consider notifying the authorities. (There are religions like Voodoo and Santeria that still practice animal sacrifice. Opinions on it vary. While I disagree with that practice, I would advise that persons involved in those paths have no business harming animals unless they have achieved a high degree of initiation. That takes many years to attain. Again, I disagree with animal sacrifice.)

Never agree to sex with anyone you do not want to sleep with. There are leaders and teachers who insist that sex is part of the initiation or rites. Ask yourself this: if magick, faith or spirituality were not involved, would you want to have sex with this person? Had you met this person at a club, dance or barbecue ,would you be willing to sleep with him or her? There are seedy teachers and leaders who use religion to get sex from people who would otherwise never have a thing to do with them.

Never agree to anything criminal.

Never allow yourself to be tattooed, branded or otherwise marked by a teacher, leader or group.

If a school or teacher tells you to shun friends and family, leave immediately. Any valid tradition will abide and may even enhance relationships with loved ones. The only reason a path would shun family is to isolate you and thus make it easier to control and indoctrinate you.

Note what the teaching or path says in writing, such as its scriptures, creed or code of morality. Pay attention to what it actually does. And watch the people who adhere to it. Do their actions and conversation meet up with the teaching? Are they just doing the same old things but explaining them with a new religious lexicon? Would you like any of these people as friends if you met them in an another context?

If you visit a meeting or seminar, do they try to limit questions? If you talk with someone else in the room, do the folks running the event try to get in the way? If so, leave immediately. (One trick they use when people start conversing is to place one of their members between them. Some cults do it. I have also seen it done by scammers.)

Before you begin your search, be firm in your own sense of right and wrong. Like it or not, but morality is essential. I am not talking the straight-laced and narrow minded prudery of conventional religion, but your own individual sense of right and wrong. That includes things like honesty, fairness, commitment, sex, finances, etc.

Ask yourself: what will you do, and what won’t you do. How far will you go?

For example let’s look at sex. With whom will you have it, and with whom will you not? What things will you do and what things will you never do? Would you do some things in a long-term relationship that you will not do in a casual fling or one-night stand? There is no judgement here. The only one who needs to hear your answers is you.

What of alcohol and drugs? How much is too much? In what circumstances will you drink and which will you not? Which drugs, if any, are acceptable to you and which are not?

How much is a fair price for lessons or a seminar? When is the price too high? Guard your finances. That also means guarding your financial situation. Never let on how much you have, financially or otherwise. Never sign away your money, property or rights.

These are just some of the issues on which you must be clear with yourself. Being secure in your own behavior insofar as sex, money and esteem is important. You have to know when to say “NO.” This goes a long way to allowing you to safely and happily pursue esoteric matters.

If someone tells you how they wronged or otherwise wronged another person, pay heed. Do not think they are confiding in you. They are not trusting you with a great secret. They are just talking. Whatever these types say they did to someone else, they will just as easily do to you if the situation arises. Take that as a warning!

Know when it is time to GO. At that time, walk away. Run if necessary.

No knowledge is wasted. I have experienced various forms of conventional and unconventional religion, spirituality and mysticism. Almost without exception, I have taken something useful from each. My experience has been that every religion and spiritual path has something to offer. By the same token, every one also has its shortcomings, some more than others.

In every path, there are good teachers and bad ones and everything in between. I will use an example from a conventional religion:

A Catholic church in a medium-sized city had a large congregation and several priests. One was a younger priest who was something of a character. He was very outspoken. The people liked him and he enjoyed working with them. The pastor was an elderly man with a kind disposition. He was also firm in church matters. Another priest was a very severe man. He was very strict and very impatient with lay people. Most folks shied away from him.

Each week, the church held its rite of Confession. There were three booths called confessionals. People would be lined up at the confessionals of the young priest and the elderly pastor. Very few came to the severe priest.

There it was: One church, one denomination, one congregation. There were a young and rather brash but likeable priest, a wise elderly priest and a middle-aged and impatient grumpy priest.

Another example comes from the time I was studying metaphysics. The organization’s chapter that I attended had several practitioners. A few were ordained minsters, as well. One teacher was a very warm and pragmatic woman. Another was a chubby, good natured fellow. The leader was a man who seemed very aloof. It was hard to warm up to him. I had attended lectures by all three. Same teaching, same chapter, but three very different approaches. One was practical and laced with humorous anecdotes. The other was less practical and more inspirational. The leader’s was packed with information, but lacked feeling.

Teachers and leaders vary. All the examples I used were of essentially decent people. Be warned that there are also charlatans, hucksters, manipulators and exploiters out there. Just because things are done within the context of spirituality does not mean they are all benign. I have heard it said, “Church is the final refuge of scoundrels.”

Indeed, more than one policeman has told me stories of low-life criminals and ne’er-do-wells with the humorous punch line, “But they go to church!”

For some folks, religion is just a cover for nefarious deeds.

Never let anyone pressure you into something you do not want to do.

Note if the people following a school or path have unusual personality traits. Are they uncharacteristically giddy, mean or judgmental? I am not talking about one or two individuals, but the following as a whole. Mindsets are contagious. If being in that path makes a lot of quirky folks with dislikeable traits, leave lest you become one of them.

There may be instances where you have followed a tradition, but find that it no longer suits you. When you move on, do so peaceably. Unless the reason for leaving is some offense or affront, do not burn bridges. Leave cordially. The people you met there will still be your friends., It is not their fault that tradition or school no longer suits you. You will always be welcome back to visit.

The right tradition, school or path should fit you like the most comfortable garment. It is not tight, nor too loose. It feels just right. One analogy is a glove that fights comfortably but does not restrict movement. Not too big or too small, too tight or too loose.

You will find that spiritual growth is more a process of losing than gaining. You will lose burdens and tired, outworn concepts that have impeded you. There will be a dropping of that which is wrong and useless. Complexity falls by the wayside. Things will be simplified. You will know a freedom you never knew before.

Many things may change as you continue your pursuit of spirituality. Your outlook, your priorities, even aspects of you morality might experience some change. However, through it all, you are still…YOU! Your core personality, including relationships and morality remain pretty much the same. Aspects may alter, but you never lose yourself.

Map your way. Start with a general idea of where you wish to go. Set limits. As you begin the journey, you will make changes. You may find yourself very far from where you started.

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If you have enjoyed this article, please take time to enjoy some of the other articles on this blog. Thank you!

22
Apr

My Other Blog: Thor’s Man Stuff

I have a new blog covering non-spiritual and non-hobby subjects. There is going to be everything there from Bowie knives to bulldozers. Be warned that it is NOT politically correct. Some of the material is far from genteel. But then, folks who know me know to expect that.

https://thorsmanstuff.blogspot.com/

Enjoy and feel free to share

21
Apr

Knee-Jerking

In the recent spate of cases of sexual harassment, actor Kevin Spacey was named. He was accused of trying to get frisky with young men. This had an immediate backlash. Among the responses, Spacey’s series “House of Cards” was abruptly cancelled. They were going to end it in two or three episodes.

My wife enjoyed that series. Like many who watched it, she hoped the producers would give it a thorough ending. Instead, it was abruptly halted.

Spacey may have been a jerk, but in the rush to appear righteous, a lot of people got short-changed. The people who enjoyed the series deserved better. So did all the other people involved in making “House of Cards”: actors, crew, editors, etc. A lot of people got quick and unexpected unemployment. In effect, they were punished for Spacey’s indiscretions.

Things work best when cooler heads prevail. Had that been the case, the series would have ended with all the loose ends tied up. Viewers would be accommodated, as well as cast and crew. Instead, a knee-jerk reaction to the issue of the day left a lot of people in the lurch.

With many hot-topic issues, people clamor for a quick response. That is not always best. A hasty solution is at best a patch-job that does little to solve the long-term problem. It also tends to leave a lot of loose ends and regrets. The cool, even-tempered response is not quick. It takes the time necessary to resolve the issue thoroughly. That entails thinking before acting.

The producers of “House of Cards” could have reined in Kevin Spacey at least until the series was fully concluded. Hollywood has lots of experience managing quirky actors long enough to complete a project. They dropped the ball on this one.

Going back to the Norse sagas, the ideal individual was an even-tempered, judicious fellow who thought before he acted. That means thinking things through and considering all the ramifications. The problem today is that many of our young people clamor for instant action. The spirit of instant gratification has replaced the virtue of patience. Giving in to the demand for quick action is just as bad as demanding it. Better to stand firm and prepare a wise and effective response. While we cannot change the trend to seek immediate answers, we can stand up to it by applying patience and clear thinking.

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