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Mr. Happy Man

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2014 by Standing West


Mr. Happy Man

Reposted from Spiritbath.

Aristotle’s Metaphysics. . .

Posted in Medicine Wheel, Spirituality, Uncategorized on March 26, 2012 by Standing West

 “We must reckon up the results arising from what has been said, and compute the sum of them, and put the finishing touch to our inquiry.”  These words, beginning book VIII of Aristotle’s The Metaphysics, sum up the attitude of the work, and encapsulate the thorough and often laborious pace at which it plods along.  Leaving no stone unturned, Aristotle sets out on a quest to determine”…of what kind are the causes and the principles, the underlying knowledge of which is Wisdom.”  In short, he seeks to define the very essence of that which constitutes Wisdom, under the assumption that “all men suppose what is called Wisdom to deal with the first causes and the principles of things…”

 After laying out this assumption, he undertakes a ponderous inquiry into the very nature of substance, elements, experience, the Universe, the Prime Mover, the necessary conditions under which these things might come about, and the forces causing this to happen in the event said conditions should occur.

 Aristotle’s world is one of cause and effect.  Science is the torch whose light is capable of piercing through any shadow of unknowing, given that one chooses the science applicable to the task at hand.  Man is Master of his domain.  His ability to plumb the depths of creation is unlimited.  The weapons of his faculties, properly honed and expertly wielded, can hew through any uncertainties, and capture Wisdom, the ultimate prize, regardless of the strength of the fortress in which it lies secure.

Wielding empiricism and logic like a sword and shield, one almost imagines him single-handedly taking on the dual enemies of superstition and ignorance in a battle for intellectual superiority, the sole purpose of which is the deliverance of mankind from the jaws of “barbarism” with all its hoary trappings into the civilized safety of Cosmopolitan culture.  His is the language of the conqueror.  There is no room for imperfection here.  Crooked bough and rugged cave  give way to sculpted cornice and chiseled stone.  It seems as if in his desire to pry forth the very secrets of  Nature herself, Aristotle has forgotten that she abhors straight edges. 

In his search for the initial cause of things, Aristotle vehemently rules out random circumstance.  As he states in book VI, “we must say regarding the accidental, that there can be no scientific treatment of it.  This is confirmed by the fact that no science practical, productive or theoretical troubles itself about it.”  One hears the echo of these words centuries later when, faced with the imminent onslaught of randomness and fuzzy logic of quantum physics, Albert Einstein issued forth the steadfast Newtonian war cry, “God doesn’t play dice with the world.”

Yet even as Einstein, near the end of his life began at the very least to look askance at some of the pillars upon which his wisdom was built, Aristotle himself tells us that the precision of mathematics falls short when attempting to define the nature of the cause of all things.  Instead, he tells us, we must turn to the metascience of theology for the answers to this riddle.

It is with this statement, I feel, that Aristotle finds himself inextricably caught within a trap of his own design.  Yet even as its perfectly measured and superbly constructed machinations close ever tighter about him, he apparently fails to recognize his predicament.  He calls forth the spiritual wrapped in the ill-fitting garb of logic, and donning the now slightly crooked mask of science.

What Aristotle fails to grasp, indeed, perhaps even chooses not to, is that there are some things within the realm of man’s experience which are permanently and immeasurably beyond the scope of scientific knowledge.  To admit this would be to admit that man himself is limited.  And if man is limited, so too must be his ability to measure, dissect and understand the universe.  It’s not that the Prime Mover isn’t able to be explained by science, it’s that the science capable of explaining the Prime Mover has yet to be found.

This is the idiom of a culture that has torn itself away from Nature and locked itself securely behind the walls of civility.  As layer upon layer of rhetoric, stone and theory are piled upon one another, not only are the “monsters” outside the walls prohibited from attacking the inhabitants within, but the inhabitants within find themselves capable of only the briefest glimpses of the now all but unascertainable ever deepening mysteries outside.  Where once they knew for certain the habits of the things beyond the walls, now secure within the confines of their own constructions, they must formulate their theories based upon nothing more than an occasional scratching sound on the other side of the fortifications.

 If  Nature is not the Enemy, it is, whether by force of arms or the piercing arrows of logic, a thing to be conquered.  Wild stretches of forest, once admired for their tangled and rugged beauty become nothing more than an impediment to commerce and the roads upon which it travels.  The smooth, undulating feminine curve of the land is hammered, gouged and blasted flat beneath the crushing, iron-shod masculinity of metropolitan civilization.

And so, rather than risk even the slightest appearance of accepting this, Aristotle seeks to hammer the round, organic, messy, unfathomable peg of creation into the razor edged, clinical, and pedantic square hole of logic.

One sees this behavior on every continent of the world where indigenous peoples are met, and invariably conquered by, an outside force wielding superior technology, and the might of a Masculine god.  The Earth is a thing to be studied, raped and pillaged for the apparent betterment of mankind.  Fields are torn up, animals and people displaced or slaughtered, and customs, beliefs, and even languages, pounded out of the indigenous peoples in the name of bringing them salvation. One wonders what exactly these peoples, often referring to their creator in terms such as “Great Mystery” required salvation from in the first place.

This is not to say that all science is bad.  Obviously one cannot brush aside the importance of scientific exploration and the myriad advances which have accompanied it.  Still, one must come to terms with the fact that even though science can provide the “how” to a great many things, it can never provide the “why”. To search for the fingerprints of God with a microscope is to engage in a fool’s venture initiated by the same erroneous anthropocentrism which led Aristotle to assume that a plant was deprived because it  had no eyes.

 The Medicine Wheel teaches us, quite rightly, I think, that the whole of creation is a four lobed process, comprised of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual energies.  Though each of these energies touches upon the other, the methods of understanding and experiencing one do not universally apply.  There is no seismograph by which one can measure the impact of a vision, nor scale by which one can determine the weight of anger.  

And so perhaps even though Aristotle may have been correct in his seeking to apply the appropriate scientific tool to the task at hand, I believe he was flawed in reaching only for the  implements of science; for among all the innumerable expressions of Creation, there is but only a select group which fall under the auspices of its empiricism. . .

Conflict Re-solution. . .

Posted in Inspirational, Spirituality, Uncategorized on March 6, 2012 by Standing West

So he’s done it again.  Rush Limbaugh has gotten himself into trouble for hurling defamatory remarks at someone for the simple reason that her beliefs run entirely counter to his.  Sponsors are leaving.  Peter Gabriel is pulling his music from the show.  “THE SKY IS FALLING,” the OP EDS scream.

And we pretend we’re actually surprised by this?

Whether students of Rush Limbaugh’s or Keith Olberman’s dojo of broadcasting, pundits survive on one thing and one thing only: conflict.  For every corporate sponsor that pulls its ads, another two will rear their heads and pony up for the time.   And that’s what this whole thing is really all about.

For all their intelligence and articulation, media personalities such as these are simply mouthpieces for a corporate agenda that dons its colors and trudges off to battle in the war for the almighty dollar.  Red vs. Blue.  Christian vs. Moslem.  Liberal vs. Conservative.   The media draws the teams, appoints the generals and pipes the war directly into our living rooms at the behest of Pepsi, Nike, and McDonalds.

There’s a reason the Buddha sat by the side of the road and laughed his ass off at the moment of his enlightenment.

For the record, “Conservatives” are not all Bible-thumping xenophobes conspiring to wipe out everyone whose wicked ways will corrupt us all and drag the world to hell.  And “Liberals” are not all long-haired New Agers running naked in the streets with needles hanging out of their arms, a joint in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other…but that’s what those who manipulate the media would have us believe.

Of course the stereotypes exist.  You’ll find them hanging out at the fringes.  As you get towards the middle though, you’ll find that most people want to be left alone to worship, live and love as they see fit with no intervention from others.  They want their children to be happy and healthy, and they want a chance to support themselves and their families – regardless of religion, the color of their skin, or the color of the uniforms they wear.

Our politicians labor largely to keep themselves in office.  If letting “gays” into the military garners that corner of the voting market (and, coincidentally, makes it that much easier to find soon to be cold bodies to send somewhere brown people who look at God through different eyes are sitting on a bunch of oil) then that’s what they’ll push through.  If keeping those same “gays” out of the military corners a bigger sector of the market, then THAT’s what they’ll do (at least until the end of the election cycle).

It’s push and pull, brought to you by your good friends at Monsanto, GE and Exxon.   And they don’t care how it’s spun it as long as the coffers are full and the average American falls in line, dollar in hand, for his slice of the GMO pie.

Gandhi said we should be the change we want to see in the world.

Ask yourself what kind of change YOU want to see.

Now ask yourself what kind of change Rush Limbaugh, Exxon and MTV want to see.

Then ask yourself what you can do about it.

The mainstream media has almost completely buried the Occupy movement, while tyrannical politicians like Raum Emanuel slam home legislation ripping what’s left of the Bill of Rights to shreds. (Look it up, if you don’t know, it’s a real eye opener considering how close he once stood to the current President).

“They have the guns”, an old song says, “but we have the numbers.”  So what do we do?  Do we form ranks brandishing signs and clubs?  Do we pummel and shout the world into shape according to our own designs?

I think the solution lies a little closer to home.  We can’t change the views of others, but we can change ourselves.  We can decide to be an example of the peace we want to see in the world.  A very wise man once told me that it’s every adult human being’s right to act like an asshole.  Unfortunately, some people abuse that right.  To hate them for it is a waste of energy.  To argue with them is a waste of time.  But to provide an example for them is to put into action the very ideals by which we live.

It takes guts to live by your word – and that road is often difficult, demanding almost superhuman commitment.  Only we can determine if it’s worth it.

Our time in this place is limited.  What we do with it is entirely up to us…

Mother Earth / Father Sky. . .

Posted in ceremony, Coyote, Inspirational, Medicine Wheel, prayer, Spirituality, sweat lodge, Uncategorized on December 5, 2011 by Standing West

Photograph by Angel Gisondi

“So let’s make our steps clear that the other may see”

“If I should Fall Behind”

-Bruce Springsteen

“Sacred relationships…are a bitch,” he said; the laughing one – a child of Coyote.  This was accompanied by a mischievous grin, a twinkling eye, and an offer of advice if my wife of less than two months and I should ever hit a rough patch.

We’d gathered together in the small but welcoming one-room building for a potluck after a sweat at a lodge appropriately named “Open Heart”. It was a particularly strenuous lodge, and everyone was tired, hungry, and grateful for the brevity of the blessing and the generosity of the menu – there is, after all, no food like sweat lodge food.

As the meal and the afternoon wore on, a cake was brought in celebrating not only one of our group’s being awarded Teacher of the Year, but the joining of Marie and me as well.

The outpouring of affection has really been something to observe.  So many have wished us well, hugged us nearly to the point of breaking, and shown their love with cards, gifts and other gestures.

On one level, the joy expressed is that of a community coming together in love.  But on another, there’s something that just feels right when the Masculine and Feminine impulses come together.

I’m not talking about sexual preferences here.

I’m talking about something much more deeply-rooted than that.

We incorporated the sacred pipe into our ceremony.  We stood together on the Medicine Wheel, she carrying the bowl, and I the stem.  Grandfather Eddie accepted these symbols from us – symbols of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine – and joined them together that the prayers of all might be carried to the Great Spirit on Eagle’s wings, wrapped in sacred smoke.

And so Earth and Sky came together.

At the very center of instances such as these, there’s a balance that resonates almost beyond words – an essence of pure Creativity that neither pulls nor pushes.  It simply exists, and for the good of all that is, that is enough. . .

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