Studying Gnosis

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February 8, 2023- This week, my main thrust is aiding three groups of students in their study of the culture and legacy of ancient Greece. Gnosis is a generic Greek word, meaning “knowledge”, though it has come to connote knowledge of a spiritual nature. “Know thyself” is the first of three admonitions, inscribed at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. There is no time in life when self-awareness is more crucial than during the period of life known as early adolescence. So, study of the great figures of historical Greek culture-and reading some of the knowledge they imparted can provide a good measure of assurance to a struggling 11-or 12-year-old.

The teacher whose class I am covering is taking her students through several multimodal activities, in each of the cultures they are studying. Each student had to research a key figure in Classical Greek culture-from Draco to Sappho, and including Archimedes, Solon, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle and Euclid, among others. The material, of course, is age-appropriate, so there is no graphic detail provided about certain elements of that ancient realm.The lessons are of the enduring gifts sent us by the Classicists: Plane geometry, architecture, romantic poetry, the the of law, existential philosophy, dramatic plays, competitive sports, clinical medicine and basic democracy. The students also learned to write the ancient Greek alphabet, itself the precursor of both the Roman and Cyrillic scripts, and to fashion the design of the period.

Most essential, though, is that each person knows that what they carry within is a treasure to be nurtured and shared. He or she also will see that people persevered through some tough times, and that they, too, can devise creative ways to do so-with some of these perhaps becoming part of a future great legacy. If this lesson is enshrined in the child’s psyche, then this teacher, and I, will have performed a service.

Some Gave All

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February 5, 2023- On February 3, 1943, four brave men stood, arm-in-arm, on the deck of an Army Troop Transport vessel, as it was sinking after having been hit by a German torpedo. They were military chaplains, who had given their own life jackets to four scared young men and seen to it that those men went onto a life raft. The four chaplains died, along with over 200 others, for whom there was no room on the rescue rafts. They died praying with those men.

I had the honour, for a second time, of reading the biography of one of the chaplains, as our American Legion Post held its Four Chaplains ceremony, this afternoon. All gave some; some gave all. This ceremony reduces grown, hardened men to tears-proof of what I mentioned in the last post. To respond to one of my critics, the fact that some women engage in dissolute behaviour has nothing to do with the presence of nurturing energy in men, nor is it proof of gender equality. The actions of the four chaplains, and of countless men who have engaged in similar acts of love for their fellows, are the definitive proof.

All gave some; some gave all. I can only hope that, if I am called to such an action, that I will find the strength to carry it forward. Some gave all.

Apollo Slew The Serpent

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February 4, 2023- The legend has it that the Greek god Apollo, following orders from Zeus and his paramour, Leto (who was Apollo’s mother), pursued the serpent, Pytho, from Mount Parnassus to the temple at Delphi, and slew the beast, because of a rivalry. Apollo then built his own temple, over the original oracular sacred spot.

Those who presently honour the oracle as a place of sacred femininity interpret the legend as one powerful entity controlling the flow of information from one source, and replacing it with their own. The serpent, here, as in the Book of Genesis, is a conduit to knowledge, the use of which was to enable humans to solve problems. So it has gone. The problems arising from facing life on Earth, which an innocent person cannot necessarily fathom, require the knowledge that only a mature soul can put to use. Thus, we have the concept of Progressive Revelation of Divine Truth, given mankind as we are able to comprehend it and put it to use.

Those gathered this evening, via Zoom, for a Full Moon ceremony, come from a variety of faith traditions, from Wiccan to Baha’i. The common thread is a recognition of the spiritual forces that exist, and emanate from, the Enuarth itself. The planet is known to many as Gaia, its original Greek name, recognizing pure maternal energy. Such a philosophy is known in indigenous societiesm the world over-for example the Incan PachaMama. It essentially speaks to the nurturing force that is present in all life, and even in the “pre-life” chemicals and basic elements (Fire, Water, Mineral and Air). Nurturance, the feminine force, is present in even the most “macho” of men, even if it is deeply buried in their psyche.

Personally, I find this to be an affirmation of my own tendency to favour nurturance over force and understanding over assumption. Granted, it’s been a long haul, in some ways, but I find life is better when the feminine energy is allowed to be in balance with its masculine counterpart.

Purity

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January 29, 2023- In today’s Sunday morning meeting, the focus was on purity of spirit. It was stated, in the spiritual writings we studied, that purity of motive and of conduct has primacy over material progress. This is sometimes seen as chasing a chimera, but if we look closely at the effect of putting profit over character, it may be seen that problems invariably arise-either immediately or down the road.

Personally, I have found that only by taming my past demons have I been able to enhance both my relationships with others and achievement of material stability. Others in today’s group echoed that sentiment. Basically, learning to handle disagreements and misunderstandings with mild reason, rather than with bombast and recrimination, is what has promoted a much more balanced and productive social regimen.

It was further stated, in the passages we studied, that there is a difference between the purity of spirit shown by children and that exhibited by mature adults. The case was made that children’s purity comes from weakness and inexperience, whilst the purity of adults can only derive from the burnishing that results from tests and trials. This is a variation on the verse in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, in which he wrote: “ When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

I understand the reasoning behind these statements. A child can only understand what is experienced. New events in a child’s life will either confirm previously held notions or upend them. An adult who has suffered, and yet still loves with a pure heart, has had the experience of going through tests and trials, and seeing what value can be taken from them.

Purification, moreover, is an ongoing process, in a world where the dross of bad experiences-and of egotism, can stain even the most loving of hearts.

Monstrous

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January 27, 2023- Frankenstein has never been alone- at least in the minds of onlookers.

The characters in a recent historical fiction series about World War I traded the insult “Monster!”, with some regularity, as the decidedly monstrous acts, which some of them indeed committed, came to light. “Women at War” pulls few punches, in delineating both patriotic acts and inglorious schemes-among both French and German adversaries, in the early days of the “Great War”. Few of the principals are spared the consequences of their flaws, sometimes almost immediately following their acts of honour and heroism. Only two-a priest and a brothel owner, consistently behave in a truly wretched manner.

“Monster” is a seldom used word, these days, as we focus on origin stories whenever encountering despicable acts. In my life, I have encountered few hideous souls-and even they were made, not born, into monsters. I learned the details of the last one’s life, even as she was doing her utmost to freeze my soul.

I have only been so characterized once, by someone who had scant room to talk, though his life experience should never have happened, especially to one so young. When children seem monstrous, almost invariably, they have had diabolical role models, whose actions should not be witnessed by anyone. The only question is, “How far back does the monstrous lineage go?” Hitler, after all, was raised by a hideous father, whose own story foreshadows his child’s descent into demonism.

I ponder this tonight, in thinking about the most recent spates of massacre by firearm. I know many people who believe, honestly, that firearms are necessary for self-defense. None of them would think, for a moment, of using a gun on a child, or other innocent person. In each of the recent cases, someone who is either filled with self-loathing, or has been indoctrinated in the ideology of fear, has carried out an assault on innocents. Time, and juries of their peers, may well cast the perpetrators of these crimes as monsters.

For now, each of us has to weigh our own actions, daily, and rise above our own basest instincts. Let us defend innocents from those who would harm them for their own gain, and not harm anyone in our own right.

Speed The Plow

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January 26, 2023- It is amazing, in some ways, how my inner thoughts and feelings have changed thus far in a new calendar year. The cosmic focus is said to be more inner directed this year, than last. There seems to be much truth to that, even in the early weeks of the year. My thoughts, as I drift off to sleep, are less other-directed-a good thing, given that one can’t do much to help as slumber approaches.

Nonetheless, what I want for myself-and by extension, my loved ones, is more focus and keener insight on what can make each of our little worlds a safer, healthier place. As this first of three intense work weeks winds down, I have experienced some progress in that regard-and have continued to stand firm in the face of some opposition to my work, actually turning things around with a couple of naysayers, in a span of three days. I have yet to win a couple of estranged friends back, but everything needs to happen naturally and organically.

A small conflict over the process of a certain medical check-up was resolved, yesterday, and I reached a compromise with the government, so the check-up will take place in a month’s time, which is actually better for me-as March and September will be the check-up points, and I am already committed to Home Base at the beginnings of those months.

The process of what needs to be accomplished this year is starting to accelerate. As the plow forges ahead, I promise to keep it moving straight, and not to upend the soil to an unhealthy depth, but rather to mix the minerals and nutrients in a beneficial way. Let all activities this year help to bring a spiritual bounty to all those I love.

No Retrogrades

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January 25, 2023- When I’ve been asked how my day has gone, over the past week or so, I can honestly say very well. Work has been good and while I have seen only a few friends lately, in person, the vibes I get, even online, are of high positivity. In a “hero to zero, and back again” society, that strikes me very well, as giving the present lack of planetary retrogrades a fair amount of significance. This may be attributed to the air of forward thinking, of not going over old ground, that seems to happen when all planets do not appear in retrograde, with respect to Earth.

I actually am not rehashing old conflicts right now, for what it’s worth. Rather, the energy that is coming from within right now is concerned with helping a small group of students advance and being of more help to those who ask my views or for my help, without second-guessing myself. So, there does seem to be a fair amount of truth to this planetary retrograde phenomenon, recognized by cosmologists and astrologists, but discounted by those whose worldview is more rooted in tangible, earth-bound practicality.

It also helps that there is slightly more daylight now, as is usual for late January. Personal energy, though, begets solutions to long-standing problems, large and small, and generates ready answers to questions from others that appeared intractable in the dead of winter/heart of retrogrades. Plans may now start to be made in earnest, for Spring through Autumn and long-standing issues actually get resolved. This feels, the cold aside, like an early Spring.

Suasion

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January 24, 2023-

The arguments seemed incessant, and there were people talking over each other. I can not follow that path. When a person speaks, about own health, at least the most reasonable of their ideas merit inclusion.

So today, a young man’s insistence on personal space was granted, and he went on to work hard. A gentleman who served his country well, asked for assistance in a health matter, that was less taxing on him, than what had been recommended to me by others. We did things his way, and all is better than it was.

Suasion works better than commanding.

Disgruntled

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January 23, 2023- I awoke this morning, preparing to head for the second of ten consecutive workdays. Opening the shades, after completing my early morning routine, I saw-a light blanket of snow! This led to a check of the website of the school district, where I am assigned this week, and revealed a two-hour delay in the school day, followed 30 minutes later by the school closure announcement. We do not mix icy roads and school buses, whenever it can be avoided.

I thus had ample time to reflect on the events of the weekend-four sets of mass shootings: Two in Louisiana and one each in California and in Arizona, causing a total of 21 innocent deaths and at least 20 more injuries. Today brought 9 more dead- Seven in Half Moon Bay, CA and two in Des Moines, IA. The Half Moon Bay shooter was said to be “disgruntled”.

In all the back and forth between “sides”, as to how to address the mass killings, there are salient points made about the ease with which firearms may be obtained, by someone with a deadly agenda-which is almost always of fairly long standing. There are equally salient points made about mental illness attending these events. No one who is right of mind is going to shoot, stab, poison or run over another human being. There are few points being made about the spiritual aspects of the problem.

Most of us have been disgruntled with others, or with the “system”, at one time or another. Those who have been disgruntled with me, of late, have chosen to either use their words or distance themselves. Ditto for my being upset at other people. Fair enough; who among us can please everyone, all the time. There is a reasonable expectation that being upset at another person does NOT mean that person should forfeit life and limb. Those of us with a spiritual grounding, a belief in the Eternal, tend to pull back from our worst impulses-to the extent we entertain them at all.

Motor vehicles, firearms, ordnance, bladed implements and toxins are all readily available in our society. Regulating them, especially hand-held weaponry, would likely help some, in reducing the death toll-as it has in Australia and some European countries. More fully focusing on the many aspects of the mental health issue will take a plethora of resources-and if done correctly will vindicate those expenditures.

Yet, one thing and one thing only will put our society over the barrier that keeps matters uncivil: There must be encouragement of spiritual education-as parents, children and communities see fit, so that each human life is viewed in the manner with which it is endowed by the Eternal. Emotional release that is achieved by ad hominem or heterogeneous attacks needs to be discouraged. This does not mean a Kumbaya Nation; it means that, despite how some people aggravate one another, it does not end in death or dismemberment.

It means a retreat from fatalism.

Dignity Above All

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January 22, 2023- It was well said, last Monday, “all means all”. Any decision made, with regard to the life of an unborn child, will hopefully place the utmost value on that child’s quality of life-as well as that of the mother. The decision, one of the heaviest that any human being is asked to make, must be made by the mother-not by politicians. I’ve made that point several times, and will let it stand.

I carried a sign around Courthouse Plaza, this afternoon, a tolerated but not entirely welcome act, in the midst of a highly politicized march that was billed as a Women’s March. The message, well-crafted by someone else, stated simply: “We march on, for equality, fairness and justice for all.” All means all-and the implication, that this applies even to those who do not subscribe to a given political stance, is nettlesome to a few. I see that this is greatly evident among those who are of the opinion that an authoritarian regime is the best way to solve all the problems besetting a given nation-all the while ignoring the track record of totalitarians up to now. Invariably, the elite of both Right and Left enrich themselves at the expense of the vast majority of their fellow citizens.

In the end, no one who might have been opposed to the march bothered the participants, and only one or two of those gathered bothered with me-one of them helping to carry the sign for a while, before walking off in a huff, from some unknown slight. The kids, and their mothers, remain more important to me than any political operative-of any stripe. It was gratifying to see a dozen or so young women scattered among the marchers, taking charge of their own dignity, making it clear to the others that this is their struggle now and will be carried out on their terms. Later in the afternoon, I stopped in at a restaurant across from the courthouse and was greeted by a young woman who was grateful for those who spoke up on behalf of her generation’s rights.

The future belongs to those who do not slam the door on people with whom they might not agree or on those whom they regard as “irrelevant” to the process. The future lies beyond emotional fits, self-aggrandizement or making veiled threats against others. I may be of an older generation, but I stand with those who could be my children, or grandchildren. Hopefully, as those discomfited by my presence see that I am not going away, they will also place more value on working with the young, rather than carrying on ideological battles of times past.

Human dignity matters more.