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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bucky Group 12 - Recreation and Activity

This week, we continue to read a page from Charles Handy's book, "Waiting for the Mountain to Move". In it, it speaks about Mr Handy's attending church every Sunday because he wants to, not because he has to, and that church was necessary for him to get to periods of recreation from the activities of daily life. He described his life like a pendulum, oscillating from the extreme hype of activities to the quieter moments of recreation.
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He emphasised on the hyphenation of the word "recreation" into "re-creation", in that we must regularly re-create in our lives.
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I feel that our ability to be inspired and re-create is what essentially sets us apart from animals.
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Discussion:
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Warning: This part contains opinions that may be considered unacceptable by some people. If you are easily offended by unconventional views about religion and spiritualism, then DO NOT READ FURTHER THAN HERE. If you do, then do it at your own risk! If you do not agree with the views expressed below, it does not mean that you have not 'arrived', rather it just mean that you 'do not agree'. Meanwhile, try to be open. There are lots to discover about ourselves when we are open. Do feel free to leave comments. BELIEVING IS NOT NECESSARY!
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Also, while opinions differ, the discussion is carried with mutual respect to everyone and there is definitely no malicious intent among anyone in the group.
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[I have written this as in a dialogue to make it more readable, but it is not necessarily in ad verbatim. Everything here comes from memory, so do point out to me if you (in the discussion) find anything misplaced. Thanks.]
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What's the difference between being religious and being spiritual?
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[Someone else intervened:] Can we hear from those of us here that are religious? I think it would be good to hear from them first.
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Christian 1: I come from a Buddhist family and converted into the Christian faith. I find my peace going to church. There are times when there are conflicts when I meet some narrow minded Christians. For instance, in the recent debate about repealing Act 377A to decriminalise homosexual sex, they were just making fun of gays. I find that disturbing because they are so ignorant.
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But then there are narrow minded people from other religions too. For instance, my mother who is a Buddhist has said that my religion is not thorough enough in that we do not address the process beyond this life. That is, about what happens after you reach heaven and the cycles of samsara that Buddhists believe in.
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One of the significant event I had was when I learned that my son is autistic. I felt guilty in acknowledging the power of being surrounded by dogmatic people, and being repeatedly told a particular interpretation, that I, for a brief period, thought my practicing yoga while pregnant, might have contributed to my beloved son's condition.
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During that time, I felt this warm, loving, nurturing sensation pulsating through my body when I was prayed over. It made me feel that God is not a figment of imagination for the fervent zealots.
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Free thinker 1: Then why do you to continue to go to church, if you have the conflict?
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Christian 1: For my spiritual development.
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Free thinker 1: But you can do that without the church. That is the main reason why we meet here every Saturday morning.
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Christian 1: It is not all 'conflicts' for me. There are very good Christians I have met in the church. Also, there are times when I really felt healed after prayer. It was like a soothing energy coming down to my body and I felt so relieved of whatever problems.
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ME: I do not have a religion and am not saying that your feelings are not true, but this type of healing energy can also be felt in Reiki healing. Basically, it is Love that is doing the healing and it can be found elsewhere outside Christianity.
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Catholic 1: There are Christians who are very open this days. I have been to Buddhist meditation retreats where there were Catholic priests. To them, it doesn't matter what the religion is.
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Free Thinker 1: When it doesn't matter what religion it is and you go to the basics in your spiritual journey, then religion and spirituality are one.
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Free Thinker 2: I know of a guy who has been so traumatised by the church. He has very little formal education and has been converted by some overzealous Christians by fear. And he was also made to donate a significant amount of his salary to the church. Mind you this guy is on minimum wage! How can they do this to him?
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Joo Hwa: I donate all my money to God. I take all my money, throw it to the air... Whatever goes up to heaven, God takes. Whatever comes down, I take! [Amid laughter]
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Catholic 2: I often wish the church can be enlightened. [Laughters]
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Free thinker 1: Then why do you go to church?
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Catholic 2: I continue to go to church because then I am allowed to criticise. [More laughter] If you are not a Catholic, then (in a way) who are you to criticise? You are not inside. What do you know?
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For instance, they criticised about the Taoist worshipping objects, but isn't it the same as the Church worshipping the bone fragments of some saints?
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My own spiritual journey started like this... One day years ago, I was feeling really down. So, I wrote on a piece of paper, "Dear God, Need Help! Please Help!" Then I put it under my pillow.
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After a few days, a friend called and told me about the "Money and You" (business training) programme. Actually, I was not interested, but this friend kept insisting and told me he has already booked a place for me.
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When the day came, I attended the programme and it absolutely blew my mind away. Incidentally, in the programme, Bucky was mentioned. I was very impressed with Bucky's teachings and even more impressed that this man actually has a spiritual belief in 'a force more powerful than men'. And this despite him being a highly scientific person.
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During the programme, Bucky's "Critical Path" was on sale, but I didn't want to buy it. Then, next thing I know, someone passed me the book and say that I can take my time to read it and then return to him when I am ready. So I did. Once again, it blew my mind away!
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Then they were saying, why don't you speak about Bucky to an audience. And so I did.
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Later, I also discovered Anthony di Mello's book called "Awareness". In it, I realised that he spoke about Buddhism, meditation, Krishmurti,...etc. He was so open and embraced everything. And I thought, that is how the Catholic religion should be. (Anthony di Mello is a Catholic priest.)
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Then someone encouraged me to attend RCIA.
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All of Us: What is RCIA?
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Catholic 2: "Roman Catholics In Agony" [Big Grin]. No just kidding! It is "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults" *phew*
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I agreed to attend RCIA and was waiting for the day to come. I was well armed to shoot whatever criticisms I have about the Roman Catholic Church. All ready to fire!
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Then when the day came, the priest, in his opening sentence said, "We are as sinful as we are holy". That opening disarmed me totally. I was ready to attack, but was touched by the priest truthfulness.
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Free Thinker 1: But looked what happened to those who are truthful? Di Mello got ex-communicated!
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Catholic 1: No he was not ex-communicated, but the church does not encourage the reading of his book.
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Free Thinker 2: Does any one know what "Faith" means?
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Buddhist: Faith is the trust you place in your belief which you do no have evidence of it being true, and which you otherwise would have doubt in the belief.
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I find that the newer churches tend to be more intolerant than the older churches, like the Catholic churches. The newer churches tend to capitalise on the verse that their God is a jealous one and that anything else is bad.
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ME: But the girls are better looking in those new churches. [Laughter]
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Buddhist: Yes, they are great at marketing. It is like a business. These churches own businesses and are very wealthy. Religion is the best business to be in, if you want to make it a business.
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ME: May be my friend who is with us for the first time would like to say something. He has been quiet this whole while.
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Free Thinker 1: But it is ok, if you choose to keep quiet or have nothing to say at this point. Do not feel compelled.
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My Friend: I enjoy the discussion very much and it reminds me of what Mark Twain said about education which I think can be applied here. He said, "I do not allow my schooling to interfere with my education."
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What a powerful thought?!!!
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Applied here, it means "I do not allow my religion to interfere with my spirituality."
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Well said, and with this it more or less wraps up our discussion.
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There was the question of why Adam was created before Eve. Why didn't God thought about her in the first place?
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My take on this is that Adam was created in the image of God. So he (and all humans) is also God. Eve represents the five senses, the Apple represents sex. And once sensual pleasures came to Adam, they realised they are banished from the Garden of Eden.
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Sensual pleasures are bad, but if we do not moderate them and use only our five senses, then we cannot hear God speaking to us. I think the story of Adam and Eve is highly symbolic! Symbols are meant to illustrate deeper meanings for the lay person to understand and not to put forth male chauvinistic views of Creation. Or, at least that is not my intention giving my views above. :)
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Post scriptum
Some other areas which were discussed that might be worthy of inclusion here:-
  • What you clarified about folk religion not being part of Taoism & that I have seen a Christian book comparing the formless Tao with God.
  • Chia Siew/Flip's objection to the church (esp. newer ones) controlling/dictating what/how people should think.
  • Flip's giving up going to church due to the oppression he felt.
  • Maybe a little more about the essay itself, stillness & busyness & busyness even in places of worship.

(I have corrected some errors in the original posts, as suggested by the comment left by Clara.)

4 comments:

Clara said...

Mike,
Thanks for blogging the Sat sessions & your promptness in replacing the term "protestant" which I protested against as it's so negative sounding. At least the "Christian" label (a label which unfortunately may still have much negative connotations to many) can be interpreted as simply wanting to be christ-like.

I don't think I said "I find my peace going to church." In fact, as subsequently mentioned, it's sometimes the opposite, though at other times, it's enlightening & inspiring, and truly bring hope to the hopeless/helpless. Anyway, here's what I had said/meant (more or less):

I come from a Buddhist family and converted into the Christian faith. I find Christianity is a much misunderstood belief, even by many Christians themselves. And I'm particularly grateful to 2 Christian friends who kept telling me to read the Bible for myself, and not just take their word for it. I find from studying the bible, esp. using a good study bible (eg. New Oxford Annotated Bible) which gives context & different possible views, many new insights can be found. Most of all, I'm touched & inspired by the message of love, and recently esp. after doing Landmark Education courses, I really see it's not some impossible feat, but that it's possible to not only always express love, but be love.

But in church, there are times I have conflicts when I disagree with the preaching of some narrow minded Christians. For instance, in the recent debate about repealing or keeping Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code to decriminalise homosexual sex, they were sometimes not factual in what they said, but made fun of gays. I find that disturbing as I disagree that morality as viewed by particular religions should be equated with law. [Adultery / lying might as well be included as crimes if law & biblical morality should be fully congruent.]
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But then there are narrow minded people from other religions too. For instance, my mother who is a Buddhist has said that Christianity is not thorough enough in that even the salvation by Christ is not absolute. That is, after you reach heaven and enjoy bliss for a period of time, the cycles of samsara that Buddhists believe in, will continue."
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For this para, "One of the major conflicts I had was when I learned that my son is autistic. It made me feel guilty. Guilty that may be because I have been such a vocal Christian that God has punished me. But I have got pass this.",
though I don't remember exactly what I said, but certainly the part on guilt is misunderstood.

The following would reflect my personal view more:
One of the major challenges I face is receiving the diagnosis that my son is autistic. I yearned so much to have a child and was so happy when I conceived him & I was so deliberate throughout my pregnancy, to ensure I give birth to him naturally.

Then Chia Siew, (a Buddhist, not Freethinker 3) asked me how did having an autistic child make me feel. And I said I thought my life had been pretty smooth-sailing up to that point, and having such a challenge was really to bring about my spiritual growth. That I was in the best position to bring him up, and that I am confident of his developing to be a man who would be responsible & make a difference to others. [I love him dearly and am so filled with joy to see his increased relatedness with RDI. When I look at him, I see the cutest boy on earth, and lots of yet to be developed potential.] - [sorry I think I'm getting carried away. I don't think I said on Sat all these stuff, though that's how I view my son.]

I never thought God was punishing me. By the way, I was still a Buddhist when I gave birth to my son & it's only after he's born, but before there were obvious signs of atypical development (around 2 years old), because of the experience of what's commonly known as the infilling of the holy spirit, where I felt this warm, loving, nurturing sensation pulsating through my body when I was prayed over, that I refuse to just disregard the experience, and explain it away, and continue to insist that God is a figment of the imagination of fervent zealots. That is amidst my difficulty in accepting the exclusive view that every other religion /spiritual practice are false/wrong. Hence the conflict - it's not untrue (due to actual personal experience) yet it cannot be that this is one true view and all the rest got it completely upside down.

By the way, apart from that first experience, I had a more recent one this year where it's really like electric currents going through the body, & the tingling lasted long.

What I did say I felt guilty was in acknowledging the power of being surrounded by dogmatic people, & being repeatedly told a particular interpretation, that I, for a brief period, thought my practicing yoga while pregnant, might have contributed to my beloved son's condition.

Btw, Joo Hwa didn't say he donate all his money to church. He said he gives all to God.

Some other areas which were discussed that might be worthy of inclusion here:
- What you clarified about folk religion not being part of Taoism & that I have seen Christian book comparing the formless Tao with God.
- Chia Siew/Flip's objection to the church (esp. newer ones) controlling/dictating what/how people should think.
- Flip's giving up going to church due to the oppression he felt.
- maybe a little more about the essay itself, stillness & busyness & busyness even in places of worship.

You know as I'm closing, I truly acknowledge you for being the "faithful" (not the same meaning as Chia Siew's definition) scribe that leaves us nuggets to chew on.. for our edification of whatever event/ session you participated in. Thank you!

jupilier said...

Clara

Thanks for leaving comments and pointing out the errors I have made. I need to improve my memory more.

I have made some corrections to the original posts and added the list of topics that we had discussed but was not included.

Personally, I am very proud that we could have that very civil discussion on a topic so sensitive and what more walking away having learned so much from the one+ hour session.

anastacia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jupilier said...

anastacia

Please take away your ad for the drug you mentioned. Otherwise your comment will be deleted.

Thanks.