We are eternal!

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I am a spirit that is eternal! I hear that idea proclaimed by someone at almost every so-called serious meeting. It seems to come from the idea that if you can think a thought it must have some reality behind it. That thought seems dependent on Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430) who wrote,  Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. If you can have faith that your spirit is eternal, even though you can not physically perceive it in the moment to be true, you can see it in your mind in this moment to be true and therefore it is true in this moment to you. Also, as every moment of life is a moment where a person can bring this idea into their mind, that proves it to be true because it is always there.

Ralph Raphael, a decade’s long friend of mine back in Berkeley, California, said many times to me that he was eternal and would never die. Probably from his perspective that was true and is still true. For me, however, he did die. It is sad for me to think of it and I still remember him almost daily because people will often say as a courtesy, “How are you?” and I answer with enthusiasm, “Fantastic!” I say this because Ralph would always answer with that word and with much greater enthusiasm than I can muster. But the processes of life caught up with him and his consciousness vanished years ago, but I doubt that he is aware of its not being here anymore. Thus, the last time he thought he would live forever he was still right.

It is similar with the people whom I encounter who claim they will live forever; they usually amend that claim with “it is their spirit that is the eternal part of them.” I don’t bother to argue the nuance with them because like with Ralph it will always be true for them. To be conscious of an error that you have made you must be conscious of it, and a physically dead person isn’t conscious. Why bother to discuss something with someone who refuses to view facts from your point of view when from their point of view they are right.

They are eternal if they choose to believe they are and will never be proven to be wrong by discussion or by a fact only available to my consciousness after their death.

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Time is long, life is short – so what to do?

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My conversation with the labyrinth stones yesterday ended with my realization of not only how very tiny I am compared to the Universe but once again how very tiny my time as a conscious being is also. That insignificance was soon coupled with my fellow humans being very temporary also and even life itself here on our planet an itty bitty thing compared to it all. So what? So what to do? What am I and we to do with our insignificant time, space, matter, energy, and consciousness?

It has been asserted by people who research old human beings nearing their death and asking them what brought them happiness that the key factors were having a larger purpose for their lives and chief among these was helping other people. That’s just fine, and it can leave them feeling they have done something more permanent than passing time exclusively in their own personal pleasures. That life energy passed on to those other people who live beyond them, and to their children who live beyond them with their heritage will soon be gone too, swallowed up into the vastness of the universe. That problem must be obvious to them, but they can easily say to themselves that they are part of a process that continues forward in some postulated significance, but that too is swallowed up into the universe.

Some people choose to believe the myths of various forms of an afterlife, such as going to a permanent heaven or being reincarnated in another form. They choose to believe they can guarantee their entrance into these lovely conditions by giving lots of money to those who claim to possess special powers for this miraculous transfer. We must suppose it works for these people because they continue giving their money and at their demise often give everything they had to one of those institutions.

Does the universe care one tiny speck? It’s doubtful because it never seems to have sent us conscious beings an unambiguous message. It would be easy to do. Even a simple radio signal. Even our tiny Voyager satellite a billion miles away is sending us a message. It would be infinitely more difficult to send a total human being, but that’s the only way it has been done. At least that’s what is asserted.

Let all of that pass and come back to what we should do that has some significance to our conscious being and ask – Time is long, life is short, the universe is really big and we are very small – so what should we do? Just being happy in the moment is some people’s answer, and so they just move from one smile to the next smile because smiling makes them feel good. That works because there is a linkage from the controllable facial muscles to the pleasure centers of the brain and if we move our face into a smile we feel happy. We can voluntarily force ourselves to laugh and that too makes us feel happy. But I suspect that doing these things for a few seconds without some legitimate cause will leave anyone who does it feeling empty and if they persist for a long while feeling depressed. Perhaps the best we can do is simply to participate in the opportunities that present themselves to us.

My bath water has stabilized by now so I’m going to bathe for a while.

The new Spiritual Awareness Community is beginning to roll.

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We have rented a new building for all day Sundays for the whole year of 2018, except today which was rented before our contract began. Rather than skip a meeting we rented the upstairs room of Dudley’s bookstore and had twenty-five attendees. I served as the host and did the before and after tasks to get things going and bring them to a conclusion. Our speaker was Ed Windhorse, who has a lifetime of spiritual development practices. After a presentation, he opened the meeting up into a conversation, and as most of the people there had some experience in these practices the conversation became very productive. It went quite well and an indicator of that was that most people stayed and talked for a long time after the official ending.

In a separate event earlier this morning I walked the UU labyrinth and my question to the stones was “What question should I be asking you?” Early in that 276-step walk and query to about thirty of the approximately 1400 stones, the answer morphed over into the idea that my physical being was so temporary that they thought of me as insignificant. Of course, they don’t have minds or thoughts in the sense that we humans do, but if they could communicate with us in our terms that is what they would probably say. The volcanic rocks are the youngest ones, but even those are hundreds of thousands of years old, and there are many rocks brought in by people from distant places that are certainly of much greater age. Some of the rocks I have been told come from the Himalayas and some from the Andes. Perhaps I could inquire if any have come from Western Australia, where there are rocks that are four billion years old.

In any case, my body didn’t exist in any form other than separate atoms eighty-three years ago. Not until my conception did those atoms start to get organized into the physical thing called Charles LeRoy Scamahorn. But every one of those stones in the labyrinth was probably discernible as that exact individual for vast periods of time before I was assembled. That is sobering, but even more sobering is that they will still exist in their own personal form long after I have returned to unidentifiable dust. That could happen any day and certainly will have happened in twenty years.

So you can see why those stones would be laughing at me and at my concerns about doing something significant, something that is meaningful to these other people. All of those significant other people will soon be just as gone and returned to unidentifiable dust as I. Humans as we know them have been around for only seventy thousand years, and probably the youngest of those stones is older than that. And multicellular life has only been around for half a billion years, and some of the older stones right there are older than that. And some of the small zircon crystals that are part of those stones and visible to the eye are said to be formed very early and preceded any life at all here on Earth. So perhaps you can imagine them saying, “Ha ha!”

Sometimes a short conversation with stones can be humbling.

 

How good is good enough?

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I’ve been working on various things for the Spiritual Awareness Community of the Cascades for a couple of months. I was given the task or rewriting the membership application form, but my attempts at writing one based on the previous one that had been used for a long time were totally unacceptable to me. There were too many demands for unattainable promises to be kept. I did my best to ameliorate those problems, but I couldn’t do it and still remain true to the people whom I am supposed to be representing and the possible new members who would be required to sign the document.

I solved my problem by including a short quote from the legal document required for our group’s non-profit status that satisfied my needs for accuracy. Fortunately, it was sufficiently noncommittal about the demands on our membership to be reasonable. 

I then attached that quote from our legal document to the bottom of the text of our standard folder, which includes a statement about our goals and which is passed out at every meeting, and then added the identification statement at the bottom –

Become a voting member
Name _
Signature _             Date _
email_                    Phone_

I think this will be acceptable to everyone and won’t alienate potential members with impossible demands.

 

SACC – inside cover of the weekly folder.

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The Spiritual Awareness Community of the Cascades
                               SACC

The mission is to provide a time and place for helping
us to fulfill the many purposes we find in our lives.

These include:
– exploring the divine aspects of nature to help us thrive.
– discussing the existential problems of our being.
– helping one another find purposes for our lives.
– exploring those things that will help our purpose.
– focusing our attention on honing our habits.
– creating inspiring views of Our Wonderful World

Check for specific events and times at
http://www.SpiritualAwarenessCommunity.com/

Be a voting member – Name _
Signature _                                  Date _
email_                                         Phone_


Inside of the back cover

A Vision of Our Opportunities
Let us thrive and make our world into a place where all
beings can live a full life. The journey to that goal begins
by cultivating kind relationships with ourselves and with
all living beings. When we choose to create kind actions
for them in our outer world, and love for ourselves in our
inner world, we will all be helped to thrive. Let us also help
the physical world we live within to be healthy.
Spiritual Living in a Material World
When we help others it becomes easier for our spirit, health
and longevity to become fulfilled. We can see that our kind
acts help others to grow in vigor, prosperity, wisdom and
contentment. We can see that helping others helps us
to be kinder to our own self. To reinforce our positive
actions and grow in spirit, we intentionally smile as we
voluntarily perform helpful acts.
The Material World
The foundations of our existence are:
The matter that embodies us,
The space that enfolds us,
The energy that empowers us, and
The time that encourages us to prompt action!
These natural things support our life and spirit.
Our Bylaws Membership Statement
A member of The Spiritual Awareness Community of the
Cascades shall endeavor to live in accord with the universal
principles of love taught by Jesus Christ, Buddha, and other
spiritual masters. The member shall further the work of this
Spiritual Community through active interest, love, support
and involvement.



I was asked to add the bylaws of Membership Statement to the text I had developed over the last month. It has a different feel but it was thought desirable to have a membership application as part of the cover document, which always contains the current hand-out papers, so people can easily become voting members.

Being in a group requires some accommodations.

We kick truth around again.

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We had eleven people at tonight’s Socrates Cafe meeting and the chosen subject was; How do we know what is true? Most of the basic things were covered so I will mention only a few that were not quite so basic.

Truth is a word and like all words, it only means what it means in the context of its usage in the current context. Only physical reality of some sort is amenable to scientific style testing, and those kinds of things are available to our senses, which includes real-world extensions of our senses like telescopes. Those things that are wholly within our minds are not directly accessible to external observation although things going on inside of our brains are the essence of our personal reality. What is going on in other people’s minds can never be known accurately to us outside observers. We can only have a partial understanding of what it is they are trying to communicate to us, and so we will inevitably be partially misunderstanding what they say. Their mental truth is forever internal and directly unknowable by us, and thus the statements we hear from others are potentially nonsense.

Our personal truth is inevitably filtered through our need to support our previous conceptions of reality. Because there isn’t the rigor of the scientific feedback system in place in our minds, it is inevitable that there will be misconceptions and thus inappropriate reactions to our own real-world situations. I proposed to J that if we have another SAC meeting where we play the “Question Game” my question will be; What do I believe that is clearly untrue? Really, false!” The basic rule of that game is that each person writes down a question, and when their turn comes reads it out loud. Then the other participants are limited to asking questions and only the subject gives declarative statements. The people who submitted to this game claimed they got real help from the inquisition.

One idea came up that was simple but intrigued me. Would you rather fly in a Boeing 777 that was built and operated by experts or fly in a homebuilt airplane operated by an amateur pilot? The answer, if you value your life, is to choose the 777. Now, apply that same logic to religion. Would you rather place your faith in the trustworthiness of an old and reality-tested religion operated by people with years of professional training or place your life with a local guy who created his own religion and has only his own personal experience for guiding you?

Our trust must always come back to the filters of our personal experience.

Spiritual Awareness Community of the Cascades update

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On a reading of yesterday’s post, it was recognized by J as being too egocentric. Every bulleted item in the old Covenant began with the word “I,” and that word was generating the feeling of exclusiveness. The stated goal of this spiritual community is to be inclusive, and therefore that self-centering word had to be dropped. Simply replacing “I” with “we” helped some but made the meaning more abstract and difficult to state clearly. This month the entire SACC group identity is in a state of total reanalysis, and a rewrite of its operating strategy and symbolism is in progress. The following statement will be presented as a starting point for our next meeting’s discussion.


The Spiritual Awareness Community of the Cascades welcomes you to join us as a voting member. Our goal is to create a community of love, kindness, and personal growth.
               Our efforts are toward achievable goals.
We seek to change only that which clearly needs improving.
We will give and accept spiritual help with and from our SACC companions.
We will listen attentively to other members’ experiences and wisdom, and speak truthfully of our own.
We will seek the core spirit of our being and help others to find theirs too so we all may all become more humane and bountiful.
We will participate with SACC in ways that will help our greater community to flourish.
We will contribute voluntarily to support all of our necessary services.
We will speak honestly of SACC and its goals of helping people to thrive and resolve all issues to everyone’s benefit.
We will seek to give help to others and to accept help when appropriate.
We will give SACC time and money but we are not bound by signing this document to give any financial or other gifts.
We will obey our own conscience as to what we will reveal about our personal beliefs.
We will share our spiritual discoveries with SACC members when we feel it will help our mutual quests.
We will cooperate with SACC members and the powers beyond our personal existence to help our community thrive.
We will acknowledge that our participation in SACC helps us to honor our higher being, our fellow humans, and all reality.
We will honor the energizing spirit of our Universe.
We invite you to become a voting member of SACC and help us to thrive.
Name __                                      Date __
Address __                                   Signature __
Phone __                                      e-mail updates about SACC __
E-mail __                                      How did you discover SACC? __


The write and rewrite of the Membership Covenant seen above were not satisfactory to me. That is stating it mildly. There is a need for a vastly more positive approach to the opportunities these people presently have offered to them.

People were asked in the Pew Survey Report about their existential views, and about a quarter claimed that they are not religious in outlook but spiritual. But they can’t say much about what that consists of and how to define it. There is presently a need to define real-world attainable goals that will make these nonreligious people’s lives meaningful. That is done by making it obvious to them that their lives are important to the rest of us. That their life and work is a form of kindness and that their kindness is valued and appreciated by all of those people downstream in the events of the world. The Spiritual Awareness Community of the Cascades folder-cover outlines the general strategy for doing this and this group is in a position to make it into reality.

The world society needs each person because only they can do what they do at the time that they do it.

 

Spiritual Awareness Community of the Cascades

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The Spiritual Awareness Community of the Cascades welcomes you to join us as a voting member. Our goal is to create a community of love, kindness and personal growth.

Here is our covenant of achievable goals.

I will not ask others to do more than I am willing to do.
I will give and accept spiritual help with and from my SACC companions.
I will listen attentively to other members’ experiences and wisdom, and speak truthfully of my own.
I will seek the core spirit of my being and help others to find theirs so we all may all become more bountiful.
I will participate with SACC in ways that will help our community flourish.
I will contribute voluntarily to support our necessary services.
I will speak honestly of SACC and its goals of helping people to thrive and resolve issues to everyone’s benefit.
I will seek help and give help when appropriate.
I will give to SACC of my time and money but I am not bound by signing this document to any financial or other gifts to SACC.
I will obey my own conscience as to what I will reveal about my personal beliefs.
I will share my spiritual discoveries with SACC members when I feel it will help our journey through our lives together.
I will cooperate with SACC members and the powers beyond our personal existence to help our community thrive.
I will acknowledge that my participation in SACC helps me to honor my higher being, my fellow humans, and all reality.
I will honor the energizing spirit of our Universe.

We invite you to become a voting member of SACC and help us to thrive.

Name ____                                Date ____
Address ____                             Signature ____
Phone ____                                e-mail updates about SACC ____
E-mail ____                               How did you discover SACC? ____

I Am That Great and Fiery Force

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My presentation was okay and it did get some feedback on the direction the Spiritual Awareness Community of the Cascades might go, but it was still just a presentation with some discussion. I did preface it with a couple of relevant short stories and I did a heartfelt reading of What a Wonderful World but this kind of event needs some meditation time and a song or two that energizes each individual’s life. Finding an appropriate song for what will create a profound feeling for our wonderful world didn’t turn out to be as easy as I had hoped, but there is this eight hundred-year-old poem that is presently in a song format that at least proclaims a goal.

I Am That Great and Fiery Force by Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179

I am that great and fiery force
sparkling in everything that lives; in
shining of the river’s course, in
greening grass that glory gives.

I shine in glitter on the seas,
in burning sun, in moon and stars. In
unseen wind, in verdant trees I
breathe within, both near and far.

And where I breathe there is no death,
and meadows glow with beauties rife. I
am in all, the spirit’s breath, the
thundered word, for I am Life.

The story makes sense when we get to the final line where the subject becomes obvious. Life itself is the great and fiery force, and that is what I am trying to generate enthusiasm for in this spiritual group. Perhaps the majority of Americans are not firmly associated with any religion, but the survey polls say that most of us claim to feel that we are spiritual. That sounds like a desperate cry or borderline despair. People want their lives to have a deep meaningful purpose and yet the commercialism of our culture only caters to obviously transient things. There is a whole society trying to promote some latest glittering product that can be sold at a great profit but these things soon lose their value because they are displaced by the next heavily promoted glittery thing. The fabulous glitter of today is tomorrow’s rotting junk.

What we need are personal tasks that energize our lives with purpose.

My presentation to the Spiritual Awareness Community

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This evening I presented my view of where our new organization could make some real contributions to our members, to our local community and to the world as a whole. The talk was directed at detailing the reasons for the various aspects of the information folder. Above is both front and back of the cover showing the iconic graphics of the Greek letters Alpha and Omega. On the inside of the cover there is an infinity symbol which is pinched between the points of a symbolic hourglass. This design was intended to focus the viewer’s attention on the fact that time is infinitely long but the moments of our personal action are only in the present moment of now.

I read the entire text from the inside of the cover and it was well received; at least there were only a few suggestions for subtle improvements. I thought there was plenty of feeling for promoting the growth of personality and the inner spirit, but the line “Provide an open non-judgmental platform for unlimited spiritual expansion” was suggested. When we discussed that, we decided the buzz word non-judgmental could be dropped because it was redundant to “open platform”.

Also, on reading it aloud to fifteen people, the new concept line “To reward and reinforce our positive actions we smile to ourselves at the moment of our success” needed restating. At the moment the new wording is “To reward and thus to reinforce the positive actions we have made, we can intentionally smile to ourselves at the moment of our completion of the good deed.” The idea is that we have some voluntary control of our facial expressions and when we intentionally smile our mind is stimulated, and thus our reward centers are rewarded. It is a form of voluntary Pavlovian-like control over our own stimulus-response reward system.

This method combined with the other voluntary facial expressions may bring about a real control for learning new habits.