Taking Back My Potential, Part III

This is Part III of what was going to be a 3-part series on Building My Own Religion.  There’s probably going to be a Part IV, and maybe a Part V.  Tune in 2 weeks and find out…

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“Religion, like it or not, has endured since early hunter-gatherer societies, and is an obvious trait of cultural evolution.   For me, the acknowledgment of this, the consideration of, if not the understanding of religion is one of the more important aspects of being human in the modern world.  Living in this era of increasing religious fundamentalism, among multiple faiths, as well as the increasing state of so-called, militant atheism, I feel that it’s more important than ever to explore purpose on a more personal level, and to do so honestly and with an open mind.” Me

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Moral North

For much of my adult I have looked down to see my moral compass spinning beneath me.  Many of my lesser choices, often times, just didn’t seem that bad.  I have reasoned that since my compass spun as such, it was okay to make some iffy choices.  After all, at some point the spinning needle would be pointing in or near the direction I would be exploiting.  More recently though, and from a more mortal vantage point, I have come to realize that the needle was rigid all along – pointing only in one direction.  The illusion masking my moral truth was me, standing over my compass, looking down at the rigid needle and walking in circles around it.

From Little, Can Come Much

Most physicists and mathematicians will tell you that there is an inherent beauty in short equations; that scientific truths, explained in the simplest terms, are elegant and beautiful.  Since I am neither a scientist nor an expert in mathematics, I will simply trust them.  Of long and drawn out equations, as explanations for complex problems, says physicist and mathematician John Polkinghorne, “The answers are almost always flawed – and seldom pretty.”

I often think of religious scripture in this way; that they can be so drawn out, so complicated, and so over-thought that not only can they be ugly, but they’re probably flawed as well.  Of course I know that there is great beauty within much religious scripture, and certainly much wisdom through the ages.  Still, when it comes to religious values, I believe that they can all be reduced to one simple equation; it’s beautiful and it’s undeniably true: 

“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.”

Variations of this are woven into the DNA of most every faith, and every religious scripture.  I believe it’s woven into our personal DNA as well, but that is a source of great debate in science – that there might, or might not be a God gene, if not a good gene.  Most days I think religion should stop right there, with the Golden Rule.  Still, we pile on, add to it, transmogrify it, over think its simple elegance, and then we proselytize with it to fulfill our agenda, justify our ignorance, or both. 

Can I get A Witness…? Simple Tenets For My Internal Tenants

There are about a dozen lesser Roys within me, battling for playing time: 

Obsessive fitness Roy.  Short tempered Roy.  Fall for anything Roy.  Showoff Roy.  Need to be entertained Roy.  Foul mouthed Roy.  Flippant Roy.  Fall in with the crowd Roy.  Tequila Roy.  Win over the eyes, if not the hearts of all women on the planet Roy.  Spend it as soon as you earn it Roy.  And of course we can’t forget, Judgmental Roy, among a few others. 

But there is also the Roy within me who aspires to live above the other Roys – the Roy who realizes that it’s me who’s been spinning, and not the needle.  I need a simple formula, soon, that I reconcile these lesser Roys, or the blender in my head is going to explode.    

The Process Of Elimination

“Do unto others, as I would have them do unto me.”  As scrutinized by a judgment committee, meeting deep inside my head.”

That’s not a joke actually.  Since I was quite young, perhaps the 3rd grade or so, I have felt like there has been a committee, gathered around a table in a meeting room, watching every move I make on closed circuit television.  I refer to them as, My Moral Junta.  In my head, this committee has consisted of rotating participants including god, my parents, various friends, neighbors, employers, and even Mick Jagger on occasion – Jagger there more as a color commentator and opposing theorist, than panelist.  As a committee, I have envisioned that they consult on each move I make, using their consensus to set up the next challenge they will place ahead of me.  Sadly, I actually live this out in my head regularly – and for decades.

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Please check back in two weeks for Part IV of Building My Own Religion; The Check-List…

Oh, and there’s this very engaging cover of Neil Young’s, Powderfinger by the legendary San Diego band, The Beat Farmers.  Enjoy…

Taking Back My Potential, Part II

Here’s part II of my 3-part series on building my own religion.  Please check back in 2 weeks for Part III;   Why We Applaud Self-Taught Guitar Players, But Not Self-Taught Religion

You may read this and think I’m talking out of my ass this week, and for good reason; my ass has always had persuasive oratory skills, and a fair bit of charm.  But today, I write from another place.

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“Everywhere you look, there’s a kind of a religion on the horizon, which is, for many people, ominous and threatening, but not promising.”  Harvey Cox

Inside My Head; Searching For Substance In The Mind Of A Chia Pet

I have said for a long time that I believe the world would be a better place if people spent more time writing bibles than reading them.  That for all the scripture and holy literature which has been cast over the souls and minds of man through the ages, for all of its power, its utility, and all its repetition, how much of it has come from within…?  

I believe that everyone and everything is interconnected – that we are not just the stuff of stars, but that stars are the stuff of us.  I believe that time is both cyclical and eternal.  In an eternal universe, anything that can happen probably will.  A person I may wish to spit upon or give the finger to today, might be a part of me tomorrow and thus, I choose not to spit, and not to flip off.   Of course, like you, I don’t really live this way. I regularly spit upon, curse at, and hurt people, and on some occasions I stretch the truth a bit, while on other occasions I blow the truth to pieces.

The Selfish Genie

The world outside me interests me far less than the world within me.  This is not to say that I’m grossly enamored with the world within me, but what’s bottled up inside me is just foremost in my thoughts.  Richard Dawkins says this is okay.  The world within me has been pretty disappointing when weighed against the potential within me. I am hoping to steer my life in a better direction – to let the good genie out of the bottle to do good things in this world.  In the coming months and years, while there is still time, I hope to adjust my course.

Below is the cornerstone scripture that I hope will (help) guide me toward better thoughts, better choices, and better actions and contributions.  I wrote what follows years ago while sitting on a jetty after an inspired beach run in Oceanside, CA. 

Aiming The Canon At Me

I’m keenly aware that this is derivative of every common religious doctrine, but in this incarnation, it is my personal mission statement:

I accept that this is my place, and this is my time.

I am grateful for life, for each new day, and each new chance to walk on the right path.

I forgive myself for mistakes made and sins committed.  I will seek to learn from those mistakes and from those sins, that they not become repeated.

I am grateful for the blessings and opportunities which surround me.  I will seek to recognize and appreciate those blessings, and to fulfill those opportunities for the betterment of this world, the people in it, and the people in my life.

I will remember that it is not my place to judge; that what somebody looks like, or what they don’t look like, is not a reflection of who they are.  I will remember that behind every pair of eyes is a heart, a soul, and circumstances of which I know nothing about.

I will actively embrace the tasks of the day, demonstrating achievement on behalf of my family, my friends, my associates, and my community.

I will live by example.

I will be relentlessly positive in the face of adversity, seeking a higher meaning from difficult circumstances.

I will maintain the highest level of honesty with myself as well as those about me, recognizing that honest thoughts and honest actions are the foundation on which all other virtues can grow.

Communication Breakdown

I have recited this, from memory, every morning of my life since the day I wrote it in 2003 – and it has not done me a bit of good.  Most days I violate 97% of it by the time I’m done with my morning coffee.  Still, I remain observant to the task if not to the doctrine.  But I want it – this time I really want it. I want to live like this – more within my conscience, and less within the ease of lesser choices and the excuse that, I’m only human

Nearly two years ago I said I would give my car away and become a bicycle commuter.  Through wind, rain, and tonsillitis, I have not been broken, nor have I turned back.  I gave up television, and have never looked back.  I gave up all news and information media; print and electronic – I have not heard, seen, or read the news in months, and have no intention of ever doing so again.  Celebrity death or national debt, my only news source is word of mouth – and I take that with grain.  So when I announce what structure – what changes I might superimpose on way of living, in an attempt to better myself, my history is one of fulfillment, not of talking out of my ass.  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks for Part III of this series;Why We Applaud Self-Taught Guitar Players, But Not Self-Taught Religion. 

Oh, and there’s this from Pops Staples.  Why this has less the 7.8 billion “views” is beyond me.  Enjoy

Taking Back My Potential, Part I

This is Part 1 of my 3-part series on building my own religion.  Please check back in 2 weeks for Part II.  Thank you.

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 A Douche Bag Looks At 50

I don’t like myself too much these days.  I dislike many of my behaviors, a lot of my choices, a great deal of my history, too many of my thoughts, and most of my probabilities – but I own it.  On reflection it seems I have wasted most of my upside, and my upside was what I always liked best about me.  Aside from being a one-man wrecking crew of female souls, apparently I’m also a wrecking crew of my own potential – I now see that I have not fulfilled it.  I know it’s not too late to fix that, but uhm… I have serious doubts.

I live alone once again, and in a peaceful place.  Away from town and with a view to die for, I’m surrounded by fruit trees, coyotes, possums, raccoons, and even some friendly rats.  I don’t care for the scorpions.  The aesthetic is grounding, if not spiritual.  I’m in a good place to heal from my many external and self-inflicted wounds through this last decade, and to do some growing.  Perhaps I will even begin to fulfill some of that untapped potential – we shall see.  The ideal of personal growth is like witchcraft in the hands of Congress.

The Structure Of Change

If there is to be personal growth in this next phase of my life it will need to be rooted in structure; habit, observance, reflection, scrutiny, and discipline.  Shit, sounds Jewish – but I guess that makes sense for me.  Really it just sounds dogmatic, and I’m good with that.  Whether we like it or not, dogma is the dark matter of culture – it’s what simultaneously binds us, repels us, and keeps social chaos minimal in favor of the much preferred, order.  Dogma is a necessary evil.

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My dictionary offers me 24 definitions for the word sin.  I need only one, mine:

If I believe not doing something is consistent with my own morality, and I choose to do it anyway, it’s a sin. 

If I believe doing something is consistent with my own morality and I choose not to do it, it’s a sin.

“My own morality”, in this instance, is the sum of gut, heart, instinct, and intuition.  Morality, to me, is just that feeling.  That definition of sin is the foundation I intend to use to build my religion of 1.  Yes, I believe building my own private religion might be the only way for me to ever come correct and fulfill my potential.  So let the project begin…

Morality, And The Religions Of Me

From a fairly early age I have felt that life itself was simply a test on adhering to a personal morality.  Like most tests through most of my life, I have been content with just getting a “D” on this one.  Age though, and a trail of broken hearts, broken promises, and potential left unfulfilled has made getting a better grade seem more critical.  Suddenly, I don’t want to fail this test.  Though it’s too late for a perfect score, I still have a chance at an “A” since I know it will be graded on a curve, and when I look around me…

For most of my life my primary religion has really been exercise; the observant practice of movement, related sacrament, and the belief that a fitness lifestyle would pave my way to better things.  I have mastered that religion and it has served me as well as I have served it, though it has not quite made me whole nor holy.

Music has also been a religion.  I have invested a great deal of time in listening to, dissecting, and applying mindful lyrics through the years.  Not all music I have listened to falls into this category, but the land of the singer/songwriter, in the genre of Americana music, is a great place to pitch a tent and hear a sermon.  It has certainly made a difference for me.

Love has also been a religion to me, though I have not served love nearly as well as I have served exercise and music, and that says a lot about me.  I have practiced love, been aided by it, and had belief in it through the years.  Love means never turning your back though, and I have been on both sides of the back-turning thing – it’s a place I never want to be or to put anyone again.

The other religion in my life has been creativity; mostly through writing, but also in my gym.  Creating has a transcendent quality for me – it offers me a state of timelessness.  Whether I’m creating on my own flesh with calf raises and triceps extensions, or from my fingertips with thoughts forged into words, creativity is where time stands still for me, and has offered much healing.

To say that any of the above have truly been religions to me might seem a bit of a stretch – but they have been.  When I lift, when I listen, I love, and when I create I feel closest to God.  I have believed in exercise, music, love and creativity because I have been touched by them first hand.  Faith notwithstanding, I might not require evidence, but an occasional pat on the back from my creator would have been nice.  Be well.  rc

Please check back in two weeks for Part II of my 3-part series on building my own religion.  Oh, and there is this from The Rainmakers, caught during a sound-check in Norway earlier this year.  A great lyric, enjoy…