Taming the Wild Spirit

Following on from the previous post, I’ve become aware of the driving force leading to my experience of lacking many of the good things – a nomadic spirit.  Note that is spirit with a small ‘s’: I’m referring specifically to unconscious drives rather than any notion of spirituality.  From what I’ve recently heard, the nomadic instinct actually derives from our ancient ancestors who were forced to be on the move constantly for survival.  My genetic inheritance most likely includes strong influence towards movement – my parents have moved house 11 times.  Unfortunately, this has not translated into a life well lived.  While most of my peers have married and had children, I have remained a bachelor for most of my life.  I have a very limited social life, spending way too much time in my head, and have spent considerable money and time trying to change my instincts.

Given what I’m learning about evolution, such change efforts are largely futile.  That’s why I like the analogy of taming.  We all know that wild horses are tamed through a behavioural training process.  This process is grounded in strict disciplinary routine, such that over time the wildness is shaped into tameness.  Instinctually, given the right conditions, the wildness could still manifest; but within the bounds of the training and environment, the animal remains tame.

Our brains are plastic which means that they can be tamed.  This is a very hopeful idea, for it suggests that I’m not merely stuck with what I’ve inherited.  I’m not merely a machine with drives I can’t ultimately control.  The real challenge though is maintaining self-discipline.  A wild animal does not tame itself.  An intelligent and conscious human being can do so, yet has the limitations of unconscious instinctual drives that interfere with the process.  That’s where some form of structured discipline is essential, no matter what it might be, within the context of others.  For instance, getting yourself to consistently meditate is akin to hiking Mount Everest; yet within a community of meditators, or with the encouragement of a partner, the process is made approachable.

One of the primary ways I will find structure and discipline in the new year is through some form of charitable service.  In that I hope to find structure, routine, and community, such that I can tame my wild spirit and enter a more joyous life.  Altruism is one of the highest values of humanity, and one I believe can be developed and nurtured even where it is mostly absent.


The Approach of 2011

As the New Year dawns, many of us are resolving to make significant changes.  And these New Year’s Resolutions then become just another to-do list that remain undone.  I suspect that one of the problems with our resolutions are that they involve activities that we must do, and feel guilty if we don’t.  What I propose is that we focus on being rather than doing.  I’ve heard it said that we are human beings, not human doings!  From focusing on the person we can become, we can allow ourselves to make and break resolutions so long as we are moving towards our desired values.  Given this, I will list the person I seek to become in 2011.

  • Courageous.  Living not in fear but in trust and integrity.  Moving towards the things I desire with heart and passion.
  • Gracious.  Considering the needs of those closest to me and serving them in the most suitable ways.
  • Adventurous.  Instead of shrinking from life, move into it with faith and trust.
  • Inspirational.  Look for ways to inspire awe and wonder into others.
  • Lover and Provider.  Grow in my manhood to share and experience deep intimacy with a loving woman.
  • Citizen.  Instead of mindlessly consuming resources, take all of life with such gratitude that can then be expressed in heartfelt action.

These values can then grow into affirmative actions, and can remain beyond the new year into the creation of a worthy life.

Dreaming of an Australian Spirituality

Firstly, just to add to yesterday’s blog post on my epiphany.  The outcome is to judge the behaviour rather than the person, given that to judge the person is to judge both yourself and God/Life.  In this light, all mistakes, all dysfunctional behaviour, can be seen as aberrant aspects of ourselves and life.  In a Beyond Black and White world, good and evil are not dualistic; they are two sides of one coin.  The best of religion points to the idea that good will ultimately overpower evil.   Evolution reveals that gradual development of our nature and understanding leads to higher consciousness, therefore higher moral concern for the greater wellbeing.  What I see happening in the good vs. evil battle is the understanding and appreciation for our lower nature as naturally inherited, and the cultivation of the higher developed nature of compassion, that will create a much more livable world.  And that can only start with me.

Now, on to my topic.  So much of my current spiritual insights are originating within cultural contexts other than my own – primarily that of the U.S.A.  While we share a common Western experience, the way we see and experience the world does necessarily differ.  We take insights and process them through our cultural filters, so that they become both similar and unique.  And this is part of Life’s wonder, celebrating the diversity of an entirely different perspective.  This is truly what makes travel such a marvelous affair, which I experienced while in Papua New Guinea a number of years ago.  That was only two weeks of my life, yet it has made an enduring, indelible impression.  It did this due to the environmental and social context, being so radically different to what I am accustomed to.  Television and Internet can broadcast images of these far-flung places directly to you, but these mediums cannot offer the experience of being placed within the context.  In religious terms, it becomes a spiritual experience.  In scientific terms, the brain undergoes massive rewiring.

When I speak of an Australian spirituality, I am not referring to the creation of another religion or group; rather, this is more the experience that cuts through the heart of who we are and what we do, our deepest values and highest ideals.  Interestingly, these are usually pointed out to us by those from other cultures who are more alert to our uniqueness than we could ever be.  How might we celebrate the richness of our spirituality that affirms the very best that is in us, and also inspires the world?

I see our original inhabitants, the Australian Aborigines, being uplifted with dignity and respect;
They are our highest ambassadors, and can guide us in new depths of being.
I see our national heroes as those whose selfless and sacrificial acts have saved lives;
And all those whose work is for the good of many.
I see our religious leaders ending centuries of division and strife;
Uplifting the common good rather than their brand of belief.
I see the growing concern for our Mother Earth;
And how our efforts inspire the world.
I see us losing our attachment to material wealth and gain;
Instead finding peace and contentment from within.
I see how our larrikin nature brings joy to the world;
And inspires a new sense of connection and peace.

I could keep going on, but I would be saying much the same thing.  These words are not gospel; they are the incomplete ramblings of one who is speaking from the heart.

The Evolution of Thought

I had an epiphany this afternoon which quite literally blew me away.  I was walking along and noted a young man appearing to look of Indian origin, wearing a beard similar to those of Muslim men.  Immediately thoughts of judgment sprang to mind, cautions of how the man might smell, and concerns about an oppressive and unjust religious worldview.  Then I realized something profound: we are both of the same essence.  Life produced both of us from the same substance.  All division or boundary between us is an illusion created by the mind; our biological disposition is so fundamentally similar.  We both share consciousness, and both share the same basic human needs.  Our origins are the same.

To wrap it in spiritual language, we are both unique expressions of the same God.  Our form and mental patterns may be significantly different, yet these are merely aspects.  The two are one; ultimately, the other is a fabrication of the mind.  I am you, and you are me.  We all share the same universal life, we are God as conscious forms.  Therefore, to judge this person is to judge myself, and even to judge God.

God, as I describe, is a metaphor for the universality and totality of life, of reality.  This is not the theistic god that the atheists rail about; rather, this is a re-vision.  Let the god of old be dead and buried, and may we celebrate in Life, Mystery, and the amazing wonders of Nature!

Evolutionize Your Life

The creator of the previously mentioned Evolutionary Christianity series has a tremendous resource which I would be foolish not to recommend here.  It’s called Evolutionize Your Life, available at The Great Story website.  In it Michael takes us through a presentation on the core of his message – namely the inspiration that can come from a ‘deep time’ view of the universe.  Take it from me, this is one resource believers and unbelievers could find tremendously valuable and encouraging.

I Need You

Yes, you.  I need you.

As I was driving along this afternoon, I noticed a flock of birds resting on a fence, and this drew my attention to a major fact of life which has been a constant source of thought and angst:

We need each other.

In the process of evolution, single entities have merged to form complex wholes.  All life tends to converge into some form of community.

Is it any wonder that loneliness leads to depression and despair?

The more tech we have become, the more we have isolated ourselves.

Not due to Facebook, blogs, or any other Internet media.  This modern occurrence is true for both the technophile and technophobe.   It is rather modern life, in all its conveniences, that has split us into several entities which live in fear of one another.

And this is coming to an end, as we evolve in our need to connect.  The answer is not to drop modern life; the answer is to evolve.  It is my hope that this generation will see an overpowering of the limitations of the powerful ancient conditioning inherited from our ancestors, so that rather than fight or flight we will wholeheartedly embrace.

To do this, I will begin by expressing that I really do need you.  I cherish and value you.  We are of the same essence, and we depend on one another.  Let us embrace our interdependence, drop our fears, and see that there is more in common in us than we realize.

Evolutionary Christianity Begins

What a long time it has been between my last post and now!  So much has changed, so many developments have taken place.  I entered what could be described as a ‘dark night of the soul’, a place where meaning was lost and I was trapped in existential despair.  This came about through chronic illness which led to an intense struggle and a series of life changes.  The process has led to something akin to the shedding of skin which occurs in reptiles, letting go of particular ideals and attachments in favor of greater depth and joy.  So while I have been going through significant pain, I have also woken up to new inspiration.

My first inspiration came about through a series of teleseminars entitled ‘The Great Integral Awakening’: http://www.greatintegralawakening.com/.  The central theme of this series was the evolution of spirituality through the eyes of several renowned figures who each are making significant contributions in the arena of integral thought.  If this doesn’t make much sense to you, check out the websites http://integralenlightenment.com/index.php and http://www.integralspiritualpractice.com/ for more information, and also look up Ken Wilber (who has PLENTY of both positive and negative press!)

The latest avenue of inspiration came when I entered the search term ‘evolutionary christianity’ into Google.  This brought me to http://evolutionarychristianity.com/, the website of author and pastor Michael Dowd, who has release a book entitled ‘Thank God for Evolution’.  He has just begun a teleseminar series which can be accessed through the above link, and which drew my interest due to the fact that a few of the guests are people I have mentioned in this blog as inspirations: Brian Mclaren, John Shelby Spong, and Matthew Fox.  Having heard the first talk, I am excited to say that I now feel tremendous inspiration and hope once again that I can have a living and vibrant faith without the baggage that is predominant in the Christianity that is popularly promoted.

As such, I am now using this space as a means to express my inspiration, whether that come from the Evolutionary Christianity series, other sources, or thoughts about the Christmas season.  I look forward to the ongoing dialog and hope that it can be an inspiration to others.