The Hallowed Eve

4

October 31, 2019-

The last day of October has been many things, over the years.  It is the birthday of one of my best friends, in boyhood.  Haven’t seen him for many years, but he’s still alive and well, and almost a month my senior.

It is also the day when people on a fixed income start raiding their investments and usually bring the stock market  down, just a tad.  The holiday spending period thus begins.

For many, though, it’s a day of putting on costumes, of various levels of sophistication, from the white sheet with eye, nose and mouth slots cut out to the ten-foot T-Rex robo-suit.  In recent years, I would sit outside my apartment, at a  card table, with glowing jack o’lantern and bags of candy.  Four or five people would stop and get a handful of treats.  Most candy, though, ended up either being shared or being tossed.

Tonight, I left the place dark and went over to American Legion Post 6, where an organized party was in play, in a warm building with a modest buffet for those helping to give out treats.  About 120 people, of various ages and costumes, showed up and were delighted to have treats in their bags and a cup of hot chocolate, or coffee for the adults.  Two brought their costumed dogs, but alas, biscuits were not among our treats.  About fifteen people who were invited in, declined, saying that they were afraid it was a government trap.  Such are the times in which we live.

Nevertheless, there is much more to be said for helping out at a safe, organized Trick or Treat than sitting alone in the cold, looking as if I was begging for people to come by the table.

The Greatest Gift

4

October 30, 2019-

As I mentioned yesterday, these two days mark the consecutive birth anniversaries of Baha’u’llah and His Forerunner/Herald, al-Bab.  I have recounted the story of Baha’u’llah in previous posts, over the years.

In this post, I wish to note why His life and those of other Divine Messengers, are important to people of all faiths, or of no faith.   Rather than see these Great Beings as merely Founders of competing religions, it is beneficial to view Them as guides to the continuous process of the unfolding of human spirituality-as it pertains to both the life of the individual and the life of society.

We have progressed, in fits and starts, from the relationship of the individual to the Divine (the Revelations of Adam, Abraham and Noah); through the spirituality of the human family and clans (Krishna and Zoroaster); the spiritual focus of tribes (Moses and countless Teachers of Indigenous Peoples, across the world); detachment from fortune and misfortune, alike (Gautama Siddhartha); unconditional love, across boundaries (Jesus the Christ) and spiritual guidance of nations (Muhammad).  The Twin Messengers, al-Bab and Baha’u’llah, have extended the knowledge available to us, that the common people of the Earth may both determine their own spiritual destiny and organize the spiritual unification of the entire planet.

Baha’u’llah’s Revelation, far from being yet another means to sectarian division, is a road map away from  human-caused cataclysm and strife.  This is the underpinning of my belief that all people possess the means to seek and find Truth, both independently and in groups.

The Way of the Network

9

October 30, 2019-

A few days ago, I received a rather terse e-mail from a sometime mentor, to the effect that, if I was not going to support her business activities, then it was “Goodbye”. Throughout my life, I have rarely written anyone off, and even then, not permanently.  I don’t get the sense that this woman is permanently off my radar screen. That is simply not how business works.

Jordan Peterson’s third rule for living is “Surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart.”   In childhood, and to some extent in adolescence, I had little choice but to learn to deal with both those who were well-wishers and those who I viewed as challengers, rather than as ill-wishers.  This stemmed from my conviction, even as a child, that we are all just feeling our way in life.  I observed how kids who came across as mean were treated by their own parents.  That made dealing with bullies a lot easier, and made reconciliation, later in life, a fait accompli.

Those whose view of me, and of themselves, is pointed upward are plentiful in number, at this stage of my life. Of course, we must hold each other accountable, as well as being one another’s advocates and cheering sections.  An enabler is not much more than a sugar-coated toxin.

Those whose view of life is pointed downward are, thankfully, rare in my life and it is indeed my job to keep it that way.  The most potentially  problematic, yet easiest to control, is the friendships on social media.  I am judicious about blocking and deleting anyone, with only those who have been hurtful in a big way, or over time, getting the boot.  Accepting online friendships is more of a judgment call, with any hint that a person is not being transparent about their identity, and/or reasons for being on my network, being a red flag.  Beggars, trolls and boastful people have generally not found welcome on these sites.

That said, those who genuinely need, and appreciate, help will always find a place here.  Peterson’s rule does not eschew kindliness and fellowship, nor does my code of living.

Two Centuries Ago

0

October 29, 2019-

Two hundred years ago,

Europe was pulling itself out of the wreckage of  the Napoleonic Wars.

The young United States of America was also healing from the wounds of  its second major war.

Asia was finding that Europeans, and some Americans, were interested in far more than trading goods. British outposts in Australia and India were established, towards the goal of domination of Asia. Spain had done likewise, in the Philippines.  France, Portugal and the Netherlands were not far behind.

Africa was seeing its enslavement declining, but a bigger problem-European ownership of land, would soon become the order of the age.  The Dutch had already established a settlement near the Cape of Good Hope.

In Persia (now Iran), a land that was seeing its own slow decline, two children were born, one in 1817, the other in 1819- with their birthdays coming a day apart. These boys would grow into men who would realize high spiritual stations.   These Messengers would stand out from Their peers, require little or no formal education and stand up, however respectfully, to the increasingly corrupt and wayward clergy and royalty of the Persian Empire.

The first of the two to declare His Mission was Mirza Ali Muhammad, known to posterity as al-Bab (  “Bab” being Arabic for “gate”.  He is commonly called The Bab, in English-speaking countries.) He was born in 1819, thus being honoured in the Bicentenary of His Birth, during this week.

Al-Bab was the Herald, or Forerunner, of Baha’u’llah, and declared His Mission in May, 1844, in the southern Persian city of Shiraz.  He appealed to thousands who were disillusioned by the state of Persian society.  Corruption and decadent behaviour were rife, across the country.  It was to this scene that Al-Bab spread His message that the human race should prepare itself for a Messenger, Who would bring Teachings that would unite humanity-not by force or by deception, but by independent investigation of truth and gradual bringing together of the hearts and minds of men.  This, of course, alarmed the powers that were, who, fearing the loss of their status, imprisoned al-Bab in three separate locations.  None of the three served to squelch His appeal to the masses.  Thus, in July, 1850, al-Bab was executed by firing squad, in the main square of Tabriz, in northwest Persia.  This, likewise, failed to destroy the Faith He had established.

Baha’u’llah, likewise, would endure His own series of persecutions,  to which I will refer tomorrow, on the 202nd anniversary of His birth.

“Like Someone Who Matters”

0

October 29, 2019-

I will be writing two posts today, and tomorrow, as these are the Twin Holy Days, the back-to-back commemorations of the Births of al-Bab (The Gate) and of Baha’u’llah, respectively.  So, my post this afternoon will focus on al-Bab, Who was born 200 years ago, today (reckoned by the Badi (Lunar) Calendar.

First, let’s look at the second rule for living outlined by Jordan Peterson:  “Treat yourself like you are someone who matters.”  Baha’u’llah teaches:  “Be fair to yourself and others.”  Many parents teach their children to put others first.  That’s a good enough way to discourage selfishness, as far as it goes.  One of the wisdoms of having 2-3 children, in a family which can support such numbers, is that it is most likely to train a human being in sharing and altruism.  Those families like that of my birth, who struggled with the stresses inherent in being a family of seven, nonetheless impart a sense of belonging and of being a key part of something far greater than self.  My son, being the only child, was encouraged to make a wide circle of friends, and to regard the closest of them as if they were his siblings.

Thus, a good many of us are taught well, with respect to others.  Where we tend to drop the ball is with how we treat ourselves.  It is therefore best to look at how one wants to be treated by others, and to look at this regularly, with a view towards treating ourselves as we want to be treated by those around us- a corollary, if you will, to the Golden Rule.

In a practical sense, then, partaking of those activities and other things which enhance one’s well-being is essential.  Neither asceticism nor overindulgence result in a healthy self.  Hypercriticism of self is, likewise, as bad as narcissism.  An honest self-accounting, each day, with the follow -up of self-improvement, shows a resolve to regard oneself as “Someone who matters”.

Another Cusp, and A Lobster Tale

6

October 28, 2019-

Today begins  yet another cusp, of another revolution around the Sun.  This coming year is significant, in that it is the last year of my seventh decade.  People  warned me that 68 would be the year that health challenges would surface.   They haven’t.  Maybe because of my personal regimen, and open-mindedness to the suggestions of friends and family,  the overall state of my physical frame has actually been better this year, than last.

When a cusp begins, the month before my birthday, I start to think of goals, and changes I might make.  One change is the way I sit, and for how long.  Someone has suggested using 135 degrees as good posture, when having to sit at length.  A thirty minute limit to any one sitting session has also been suggested-which works everywhere except in a theater or on a long road trip, or flight.  In those cases, every 1-2 hours works better.

Another change is to think even more out of the box than I have been.  This, of course, will give my critics fits, as they already roll their eyes at unconventional things I do and say, but no matter.  I will need to be even more flexible, with regard to my schedule and commitments, over the next several months, than has been the case in the past several years.

Now,  let’s get to the lobsters.  In his work on “Twelve Rules for Life”, the psychologist Jordan Peterson begins by describing the behaviour of lobsters.  The crusty crustaceans have a hierarchy.  There are ten levels, with the alpha lobster having a high level of serotonin, which leads the animal to maintain an erect, well-balanced posture and the low creature in the hierarchy having low serotonin, but a high level of octopamine, which leads it to splay its limbs and slump around- in other words, to be a low-achieving lobster slacker.

The implications for us human animals is fairly clear.  Seratonin is huge, for those of us who want to feel strong and be taken seriously.  If it affects posture, then let’s have more of what the singer John Mayer calls “a serotonin overflow”.  See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81yl_76s7jA.

I would prefer not to depend, though, on a romance, or a respite from daily life, to provide me with the juice that affords me with  respect from self and others. Towards that end, as with other health-related matters, let food be my medicine, as has been said by wise men, from Hippocrates (and probably the ancients who preceded him) to ‘Abdu’l-Baha. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/foods-that-could-boost-your-serotonin.  More attention to posture is also in the offing.

I will have more to say about Jordan Peterson’s “Twelve Rules”, over the next several days.

Equity/Equivalence

4

October 27, 2019- 

There is no inherent tie, between being in touch with femininity and emasculation.

On a visit to one of my best friends, here in Home Base, I enjoyed another of her unfailingly fine meals, followed by plenty of food for thought.  The fare, this evening, included a thorough look at the effects of  excessive social policing on the male psyche.

I am a fairly sensitive soul, who notices people’s feelings and reactions to their surroundings.  As such. weighing my words and actions has been a much higher priority, in my life, especially these past ten years.  Yes, I have had relapses, during the low water marks of grieving and recovery, not so many years ago.  Said friend has had much to do with the movement away from that low state, as has my personal faith.

I thoroughly enjoy the company of peaceful people, especially of women who have arrived at a state of personal peace.  The higher goals of one’s existence are far more achievable, when one is not pre-occupied with a set of self-conscious, other-imposed expectations.

All this underscores that emasculation,  depriving boys and men of their pursuit of meaning, in the name of gender equivalence, is the source of  much of the violence and aimless behaviour, which we see increasing in some quarters of the populace.  It cuts across all sectors of society, and its fingers may be found in the areas of drug abuse, domestic violence, unemployability, and general listlessness.

Emasculation does NOT proceed from giving women and girls the wherewithal to process their goals and pursue their dreams.  It does derive, though, from making gender equity a societal seesaw.  When Penny was alive, there was no time when her pursuits meant that mine did not matter, and vice versa.  My son’s dreams and goals matter no less than do those of my daughter-in-law, and vice versa.

Equity of opportunity and encouragement under the law does not mean equivalence of function, any more than any group of men or women must all do the same things.

Jordan Peterson calls for less political correctness, in the overall course of civic life.  To the extent that one group does not actively work to diminish another, I see his point.  I don’t really believe that there are all that many women who wish to emasculate the men and boys in their lives.  There is, though, an urgency that people attend to those who feel cut off from their hopes and dreams- regardless of the social inequality that led society to turn aside from their needs.  Again, gender equity is NOT a social seesaw.

 

The Missile of Truth

3

October 26, 2019-

I got where I am now,

not through glad-handing

and sweet talk..

There have been

times that I needed

to learn from setbacks,

and course corrections.

The Universe made sure that

those things happened.

The lessons were learned.

There were times when

I could have fudged

the truth, but didn’t,

and took the heat

for it.

There were times

that I left things

unsaid,

and just made

matters worse.

So often,

the road to solace.

is manned by

the vicious.

So often, one

must get past

those of unsound mind,

who see things

that are white

and pronounce them

black.

The surest way past them

is to stay one’s course,

and not bend,

in the face of illogic,

no matter how loudly

or brashly

it is expressed.

The surest weapon

remains the missile of truth.

(These thoughts came to me, upon watching a program about a man who reminds me of myself.)

 

 

I Care Not; I Care

4

October 25, 2019-

The year,  of which I thought as a pinnacle,

when it was approaching,

now seems a plateau of focus,

as it begins to recede,

into the alpine mists of history.

Here and now have become

more urgent.

Past is  a glimmer,

whose lessons impact

the present stage.

Future is “that time”

of promises,

which only I

can bring to fruition.

Twenty-twenty

appears in my

mind’s eye,

like yin and yang.

In the heat of the now,

I care not for the culture

which glorifies drug use.

The mantra,

“This is better than crack!”,

is the cackling of the ignorant.

I care not for the powers

that pretend to be,

sending their tanks,

flame throwers and

armor-piercing bullets,

against unwitting defenders

of freedom.

I care not for the puppet masters,

who order the innocent

to stand down,

to step aside,

that the purveyors

of death,

may present their wares,

to the foolish and

the deluded.

I care not,

for those who

cry foul,

at being told

that an infant

has the right

to life,

the right

to be adopted,

instead of killed.

I care not,

for those who

start wildfires,

in the hopes

of returning later,

and building

cookie-cutter,

gentrified living resorts,

affordable only to

the favoured few.

I care,

for the struggling,

for the lost children,

kept in a prison box,

with no resources,

save the cement floor,

which they share,

with hundreds,

and with their reluctant

guards,

who are themselves

pariahs.

I care for those

who are beaten,

chased down,

hunted like animals

and then,

treated like filth,

by the jurists,

who look first

at the well-being

of those

who beat, menace

and hunt the innocent,

like so much prey.

I care for those

who have given

their all,

and end up

as footnotes,

in the journals

of narcissists.

Give us your tired,

poor, innocent,

that we may find room

in our hearts and

in our diminishing spaces.

 

 

Growing My Vision, Part II

6

October 24, 2019-

I’ve had a fair amount of time to reflect on how life has been, and where it’s going.  An online purveyor of life coaching is claiming I will “stagnate”, if I don’t pay for his coaching method, as opposed to The Law of Attraction and its 11 corollary laws, which he says “fail”.

Well, so far, since I studied and implemented these twelve laws, my life has, for the most part, worked out in a satisfying way.  He sees me as stagnating, because my nest egg is modest, I don’t have one special significant other, and my travel plans don’t involve expensive resorts.  Sound familiar?

I live in a small apartment-true, but it’s comfortable.  I live in a town where I am, for the most part, loved and respected.  I would only move, if it seemed like my family needed me to be closer.  So far, I have seen no indication of that.  I do plan on a more fluid schedule,  even more of being on the move, after next year-but that’s also contingent on whether I am needed by anyone.  Family will always trump journeys of discovery.

There is also the slim possibility of serving at the Baha’i World Centre, in Israel, for 12-18 months, in a couple of years.  It would be strictly dependent on that institution’s needs.

My vision, regardless, will continue to grow.  There are always new things to learn about the nature of the soul, about quantum physics and the vastness of the Universe, both macro and micro.  There are always new friends to make and new things to learn about those in my life at present.

The old dog is up for learning new tricks.  Just don’t ask me to jump out of a plane, unless the thing is going down.