Featured

A psycho-spiritual role for logic


I’m not an overly enthusiastic fan of reason, logic, rationalism, scientism, physicalism, thinking, etc. But I am absolutely an enthusiastic fan. What does “overly” mean to me?

When you put all of your eggs — all of your big questions — in the basket of rationalism, you cheat your humanity. The height of reason is not the height of humanity {see endnote for more}.

Logic — no matter how pure — is simply not a person’s only way of “knowing.” Let’s take up the question of, “Who am I?”

Mire your self in as much logic as you wish about the question, “Who am I?” You stumble quickly into irrational grandiosity which inflates your self-importance, like Mushu presents himself as The Great Stone Dragon to Mulan (voice, Eddie Murphy): https://youtu.be/zn_nM7x7Lcw.

At the opposite end of the Logic Pendulum‘s swing is that you are but a speck on a tiny planet in the universe, bound to be wormbait and dust.

We each sense that we are something special in the universe, but that sense does not, and cannot, come from our faculty of reason isolated from the rest of our life experience.

“Who am I?” leads us to ponder both the universal and the specific. Neither seems to make sense alone. I am part of something big, and I am an individual. Let’s play further with another question logically…

“What is my potential?”

Here, I think logic has a deep and profound psycho-spiritual role to play for a person. You are NOT the ideals and values you espouse. That’s illogical grandiosity. Yet most of us live our lives thinking and acting this way. We wish to be something we can never be. Consider it logically. An ideal is an ideal and cannot be entirely embodied by… well… a body. Neither ANY-body nor EVERY-body.

Objective truths are unreal. They objectify us. And something within us tells us that we are not mere objects, in reality. So poo-poo on your idolization of objectivity. We are each subjects—agents of action.

“Who am I? What is my potential?” Logically, I am Neil. Logically, my potential cannot exceed Neil’s theoretical potential. Logically.

Why do we get so easily tempted by lures of achievement? By promises of becoming something we wish for? Because we live in a materialistic culture with expert marketing! And those forces are not founded on logic! They appeal to “something” in us far beyond our faculty of reason. At their extreme, they are imaginary realms, outside the realm of logic.

Our imagination lures us, logic be damned!

This propensity, proclivity, impulse, and compulsion for imagination is evoked when we hear platitudes like…
Be all/the best you can be.
Be your best/full self.
Self-actualize.
Know thy-self.

So, set aside your imagination as best you can, and apply here some brutal logic. And remember that psychology informs us by unequivocal consensus that Comparison is a lethal practice for The Self.

You cannot be “that” in its imaginary entirety. You cannot be “this” at every moment. You cannot be this or that by choice, by will, voluntarily in every circumstance.

This is the fullness of logical honesty.

In the sense that you deny each of these truisms, you are logically ill. You become *mentally* ill when you rely exclusively on logic. Because “you” are so much more than an engine for reason.

A human being is much more than a thinker.

A human being is also a feeler.

We try to sort out those two, but that is an exercise of logic! Can you peel an orange with an orange peel?

Anytime we consciously exercise logic, we sense that it is incomplete. And so have the greatest minds in philosophy throughout our history.

Today’s brilliant thinkers have an imaginary hope that we haven’t YET figured out how to subsume our faculties of emotion into our faculty of reason, but will in the future—like scientific discoveries remain incomplete and point to paths we should follow for further discovery. Of course we should do that, but if the aim of those pursuits is a fantasy that we will detangle our thinking faculties from our feeling faculties, and reduce the mystery of the human being, well, then, what are we left with?

Anyhow, that may seem to have strayed from my purpose here. I have drifted into talking about universals, and not the specific You, or Me.

Stop being so hard on yourself because you do not perfectly embody ideals, which were never meant to be perfectly embodied. Be content with valuing them. You are unique in the universe, even outside of time: Never has there been, nor will there ever be, another you.

To “do You well,” practice some logic about who you are, and, especially, who you aren’t.

Then practice some more logic: The full You that you just conceived NEVER remains static.

You are this and that… sometimes.

That’s *honest* logic.

“‘Neil’ is a name which should never be spoken.” Or only spoken as a whisper. Or whatever. Why? Mystery.

This morning’s Neil is not the same as this evening’s…

Logically…


Related: Beware of therapy goals! (2) Envy and the Pitfalls of Validation

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Neil D. 2021-09-01


{ ENDNOTE

The Enlightenment is a wonderful collective achievement, but it is not the end game. It was just a corrective swing of the pendulum away from the oppression of both the superstitious middle ages and the religiosity of The Renaissance. (https://slate.com/human-interest/2015/01/whats-the-difference-between-the-renaissance-and-the-enlightenment.html)

The Age of Reason and the Industrial Revolution have put us in the age of technology, biotechnology, information, etc. accompanied by political revolutions which have put the freedom of individuals on par with service by the power of the state.

If you are more interested in his characterization of European/western historical ages, I recommend reading about the aforementioned topics as well as “Deism.”

}


Featured

“How do you feel?” “I don’t know…”


“How do you feel?”
“I don’t know…”

I don’t think it’s unusual not know what we’re feeling. Nor even to be unable to feel.
What are you feeling now?
Are you feeling a mixture of feelings?
Are you feeling one shallowly?
Are you feeling one deeply?

If you aren’t sure, there are some almost universal triggers to make or help you feel.

I’m not at all a fan of the musical genres jazz, classical, or country. I can enjoy occasional hits from each, but rarely more than one or two at a time. Upon hearing of my disdain for classical, my sister challenged me.

I believe this 3.5 minute piece is one of the almost universal triggers that cannot be heard without a maelstrom of accompanying feelings (listen with space to move your arms through their full ranges, and fasten your headphones or earbuds securely, for your head will dance upon your neck, and, almost certainly, you’ll need to stand, and quite possibly dance):

If you are a classical music aficionado, don’t try to convert me, but please do share with me pieces like this one, which do not require an appreciation for the art form, and do not for the uninterested include wasteful bridges, interludes, and introductions. I wish to hear more brief pieces like this, in which every note has intrinsic value, even to the infidel.

Neil D. 2020-07-19


Featured

My love letter to me


My love letter to me
…from my mom,
…from my soul,
…from me.

[6 minute read]

My rational mind loves theology, and I can wrap many of my beliefs into tidy packages to delight my reason. But that’s horribly dangerous, just like this theology: “The wages of sin is death, and you need a savior.”

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? Despite the crown of thorns, humiliation, false charges, excruciating death, do I threaten my wrath? ‘Forgive them, Abba…’ He was not begging on your behalf because you are unworthy of Our love. He was vocalizing what flows inseparably FROM Our love. Our sadness that you ‘know not what you do…’ To your Selves.

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? When I, your passionate and personal God, say that I love you unconditionally, that means no necessity of forgiveness. Our acts of love are not to show you how sinful you are. They are deeds to show you the purity of Our love for you. There’s no need at all for forgiveness when all is love….

“Love does not originate FROM or BY forgiveness. Love is no hostage, contingent on redemption by contrition and absolution. There is NO requirement that forgiveness PRECEDE My love. Neither offense nor guilt affect pure love. Nothing binds love. Forgiveness is a coincidence of true love, NOT a prelude…

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid. Look at my Son’s crucified, bloody face. Does He look angry?

“The sadness on his face is for you. His face is My face. I am not angry and demanding justice because you have hurt Me. I am the Lord your God, Who fears nothing. I do not fear being hurt. But I can and do feel hurt. I can and do feel sadness. They are part of love, and I AM love. So I am also Hurt. I am also Sadness. But hurt and sadness out of love, not out of fear. Fear is not part of love. Do not fear that you have hurt me, and need my forgiveness. For I love you already. Fearlessly, and fiercely.

“You only fear Me because you cannot feel and trust the fullness of pure love — yet. My Son’s passion is a show of love’s purity, not a message that you need to fear Us, nor that you needed His sacrifice…

“My Son’s passion is Our love story for you, Neil. Don’t corrupt it into a tragedy about sin and penalty and any sense of justice and consequences and conditions and laws and rules…

“His love is pure. My love is pure. Conditions and rules for gaining it are impurities.

“I am sad, because you hurt your self, child. I, the Lord Almighty, BEG and PLEAD with you, Neil… I do not COMMAND you by any other power or authority except love… Fearsomeness is false power, and I am not false. Love holds no space for fear. And I am love…

“Your very Creator is begging and pleading for you to feel Our love in the story of my Son’s life. We do not wish for you to see some sacrifice to atone for your shame and restore your worthiness. Our love is NOT affected by your sin. It doesn’t stop just because you sin. Don’t be so conceited to think you can diminish Our love! Let this love story fly past your ego and annihilate barriers of shame, to touch your tender soul, sweet boy…

“The story of Yeshua is about Our goodness and YOUR goodness… Our and your OUTRAGEOUS capacity for love. Be outraged about that! Stop – STOP – making it about your badness and failure to love. You are hurting and saddening Us and your eternal Self by your ego-centeredness. Center the story on your WHOLE Self, as I made you. Be Self-centered about THAT story.

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid.

“Let this story through your ego-self to your soul-Self. Begging… Pleading… In love… THAT is who We are.

“Know your shame, son. We do. Let it waft into your ego’s consciousness, and your whole Self can be compassionate with it, as We are. Your repression is keeping Our love from your soul. Even your ego, Neil, can love Us, and can love all of you, if your soul can embrace your whole Self tenderly, as We created it to do. You are made to love. Your soul can do its work, son.

“Imagine my Son’s face at the wedding in Cana, with a joyous smile crinkling his eyes. Imagine the fiery warmth of those eyes locked on the eyes of the woman to be stoned, ‘Nor do I condemn you…’ That is not a warmth that flows FROM forgiving; it is the fire of passionate love, from which forgiveness – like all things truly and purely good – cannot be separated.

“We hurt when those whom We love feel hurt. Just as you do. ‘I have become one of you.’ I have joined humanity because humanity is worthy. You are worthy of Our unconditional love because that love is Ours to give, NOT yours to earn. NO conditions. I am all-powerful. And I am in you. Our power is not rooted in meting out justice. Do not be afraid. Our power is love. I dwell in you: YOUR power is love.

“The moment I and your mother brought you to life, she held you in her arms, and adored you with unconditional love. You had done nothing to earn or deserve it. It was hers to give, not yours to earn. Your soul is no different from your mother’s. Your soul is no different from Me.

“You too have unbounded power to give love without conditions. Please, Neil, pour it out, unshackled by shame, with NO conditions. And, please, begin with pouring it onto my own infinitely lovable son, whom your mother named Neil…

.

.

Neil D. 2020-03-06

Related: My love letter to you, My love letter to you PS

This scene from The Shack is a potent exposition of how the love of the crucifixion is not a payment to a wrathful God who condemns: fuller context https://youtu.be/hUiW7bOqGPA; shorter https://youtu.be/QtVEk0oKtkM

Featured

Advent Prequel to Footprints


YouTube video of the poem’s text with Christmas soundtrack: https://youtu.be/fD1k_hfUDFE


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


Based on Mark 5:25-34:

A woman suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. Immediately she was healed. Jesus, perceiving that power had gone out from him, turned and said, “Who touched my garments?” His disciples said, “You see the crowd pressing around you?” The woman came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace…”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened…” (Mt 11:28)


Adeste fideles. (Come, faithful).


Advent Prequel To Footprints

(Neil Durso)

Energy, misbalanced.
Self-centered lifetime.
Other-centered lifetime.
Tiresome battles lost.

Shameful failure.
Wasted toils?
No. Delivery to the now.

A curled, sobbing heap,
Writhing on sands of self-desertion.
A finger trembling, raised to an eye…
Tap its pool of tears, running them thin,
Glimpse through the blur:

A shadow over tears on dead sand
Shades the relentless brightness of scorching shame,
Revealing a garment’s hem resting on sandaled toes.

Stretch out of despair a hand.
Touch a finger to the coarse fabric.

From that cloak, a hand extends,
Re-flavoring tears that flow still.
From a spring deep within, never fully felt.
Feel it now. Don’t wrestle floodgates inside.

Epic struggle.
Ordained end.
Rivulets of tears baptize anew.
Every ounce of unrequited effort poured out has prepared the way

Enormous fruitlessness was the way.
En route to the quenching fruit of energy exhausted.

The garment takes you up, in its arms
So gentle, their power feels misplaced.
You tremble at tenderness so unfamiliar.

From this bottom, from this birthplace,
In His wake are one set of footprints.

At cool evening’s arrival,
You’re lowered lovingly
To your own feet.
Refreshed.
At His side.
He at yours.
Two sets of feet imprint the sands.

Onward in silence.
For a time.
Then,
The silence drips into distant song
On fleeting breezes.

Whispering beneath the rising chorus,
“Whither, Yeshua?”
“The City of David.”

A bright star draws your gaze.
And He is gone.

Shepherds appear.
On pilgrimage.
To Light.

Above the sonorous din of lambs’ bleating,
Lyrics grow clearer…

Carried by the parade, your heart then
Your tongue join the hosts’ song.
Reborn of unshackled brokenness,
The beckoned joins the calling:

“O… O… come, all ye faithful…”
(song)


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


-Neil D. 2019-12-16
(revised from 2018-12-24)

Featured

Green Shirt

The gently soft-spoken 20-something didn’t seem to ever stop talking except when he asked of me simple questions and waited for replies with earnestness that made me feel like my answer would be divine and resonate with profoundly undeniable truth and universal wisdom. He sat on a park bench with his beautiful, unthreatening, expectant, wide eyes open naturally enough to look up at me as I stood beside the bench on which he sat lower. His eyes weren’t bloodshot or distant, squinted or spookily wide. His pupils locked on my gaze, without blinking, without discomfort or shame. Without abiding by any conventions of time or rhythm familiar. Just natural, as anyone’s might be awaiting an answer, unconsciously exhaling the puff of smoke from a satisfying drag off the cigarette he just bummed off me…

He did that several times, awaiting several answers to several questions. Of me. Me. Me? Me!

Not hard answers to give. But not easy questions to ask. So, wait–maybe hard questions to answer, but not hard words to summon in answer: “Yeah.” “That’s true.” I know.” “I feel you.” “Right.” “Damn.” “I know.”

Know? Do I really *know* anything?

Now I know I do.

Green Shirt talked and asked about his joy and loss of waking next to her, whose name he didn’t remember. Of being anxious about how he would get eggs and bacon like yesterday. Would the nurses let him have the medicine he needed again?

He’s glad it’s warm today.

Hopes it will be tonight, wherever he winds up.

Wants to work on my car. She knows how to service bearings. He knows he has to clean up dog poop in the park before her company lets him collect cans. She’s not afraid to work hard. Why do they think their reality’s rules make more sense?

Yeah, I suppose Yeshua from Nazareth wore some shade of white fabric in the middle eastern form of that time. But I think, yesterday morning, He wore a green t-shirt.

If you see Green Shirt today, tell her I miss him. Tell him I said hello. Tell her I remember him. Say Hello to her for me. Thank him for talking to me about her own world. Tell her I love hymn… because he trusted me just to affirm her truth. And … loved ME too.

Neil D. 2019-07-25

Vanilla Paige

From the moment I recall noticing her after the 8 of us entered the air-conditioned Moroccan Treats in Busch Gardens, her aged eyes twinkled above a dormant smile. She wrestled the hard ice cream with her wetted scooper, as if she’d rather be doing absolutely nothing else.

Paige was probably Rob’s age (68; https://feelwithneil.com/2022/09/16/uber-hippie-rob/) or older. When my turn came, I greeted her with a goofy face, then it did: That smile finally burst into its fullness. “And you, young darlin’? Plain or fancy waffle cone?”

Plain.

“I’m a plain fella:)”

“Oh, I doubt *that* very much {wink}…”

On my plain cone, I requested a scoop of “plain chocolate” and a scoop of “plain vanilla.”

Paige’s smile got even bigger:

“Vanilla bean, or French vanilla?”

Friends with me giggled at the show unfolding.

“Well now, Paige, YOU seem to be the expert in this popsicle stand, so I’ll take your recommendation:)”

She dug into the French without a word. And, my, she *was* the expert artisan, pressing the chocolate ball to a depth just shy of cracking that plain waffle wall. Ok, that’s experienced – but the expertise shone next.

She dipped that scooper into the water an extra long while, looked me in the eye, and winked again – irresistibly, so I peeked over the sneezeguard glass.

Paige withdrew the warmed scooper, flipped it with a stage-master’s flourish, and into the tightly tucked chocolate scoop, Paige seared a dent deeply enough to ensure there was no way that French vanilla ball was gonna roll off its plain chocolate tailored seat.

My personal ballerina has done the next move many times I’m sure – with effortless grace. Some silvery locks escaped from a hairnet, she drops the scooper into the water with a dainty two-finger release, from a height for the perfect, splashless “glubb” – despite the swollen, gnarled knuckles. Paige had to free her scooping hand, because, with my treat in one hand, she needs that second one to grip the top of the seenzeguard while she stands on her tiptoes to hand me my sacrament over the just-too-high glass, assuring me:

“You’re gonna LOVE this, darlin’!”

.

I have zero recollection how it tasted. But zero doubt I loved it. Zero doubt I love Paige, because Paige first loved me. Seems how God tricks us into loving, doesn’t it?

Eating ice cream *is* divine [https://feelwithneil.com/2020/04/29/eating-ice-cream-is-a-divine-experience-soul-and-ego-love-and-like/]…

Like Paige. Like you.

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Neil D. 2022-09-16

Uber Hippie Rob

(not his actual name)

He ignored all the directional cues popping up on his phone screen. He could drive the 45 minute route to the airport, eyes closed. Came here to be back by his mom after his life in California began to crumble. She came here from New Jersey when his dad died, to be near her grandparents. When Rob was about 12, he caught an eel at the mouth of a New Jersey coastal inlet, and cooked it on the fancy new gas grill in the backyard. Pretty unpopular with the family 🙂

Snook season started with September, but he doesn’t have friends with a motorized boat anymore. He just puts his pole in his “pedal boat” and stays around his house on the water to fish. August and September are pretty slow here for Uber service, so he hasn’t made enough money yet to take a day off and fish. “That there Uber app” tells him how much he has made in the month so far. Maybe later this month, he’ll take a day and drive to one of the fisheries he knows will be rich with snook. “They are the prize fish around here.” They used to be called soak fish. They got a layer of bitter oil between their skin and flesh, but somebody figured out that if you fillet them a certain way, they are delicious, though some people find the dense texture objectionable, like snake.

Where am I heading? Back home to Pittsburgh. Rob used to work at a burger joint on the hillside in Coraopolis. It was a clown face and something else he can’t remember, on the sign. Wasn’t even an airport then. Stayed with parents of a friend he met in California. He had another friend whose family lived along the Lake Erie coast in Welch’s orchard/vineyard territory. Rob was a scrawny long-haired hippie, and the old man three times his age was wearing boots that he also wore for his other job on a pig farm. They were cutting open big sacks of frozen cranberry, shoveling them onto a belt, which carried the berries up into a steamy pool that looked like a water treatment plant. The old man without a full set of teeth just busted the bag open and the frozen berries tumbled around his boots… Kind of ruined Thanksgiving for Rob after that. No more cranberry products seemed palatable. He remembers when he over-ate once, made him feel uncomfortable, so he just hasn’t done that since, even minus cranberries.

Rob’s dad was a correctional officer. Those “types” didn’t have a lot of friends, but the ones they had were pretty close. Billy Jackson (not his real name) was the only one who would ever talk to the kids when he visited. Billy helped Rob’s brother sell his dad’s guns for a fair price so his mom could get a little money out of them when dad passed. Parts of the guns were gold. Rob just found that out when his brother visited recently. They talked a lot because his brother didn’t have much to do while his wife was scoping out a job. They can’t move here though; benefits not good enough for some medical needs.

The left two of four lanes on the bridge used to spook Rob when he drove across it. Back when he drove taxi, those two lanes ran in the opposite direction, but they widened the bridge. Before, signs used to say flat tires couldn’t stop on the bridge. You had to drive all the way to the end. Nowadays, Rob drives in those left two lanes because they’re smoother. He doesn’t remember when he heard the explanation, but the story is, trucks used to take the bridge in this direction, but not in the opposite direction, so those left two lanes are smoother.

As we waited to turn onto the bridge, a dog had his head out of the window in front of us. “He’s a beagle…” He was barking at the air. Rob put his window down and hollered “Scream it to the mountains, brother.”

.

The 45 minutes went quickly.

I like Rob a lot.

I doubt I’ll ever try snook – but who knows? I hope he gets to fish this month. He’s 68, and I hope he’s around as long as the 81-year-old woman who shoveled her 80 foot long sidewalk during the winters on that cranberry shore of Lake Erie. Rob makes the world a better place. The world of rushing and stress, illness and benefits, sadness and death, fishing and eel-grilling, In fact, a magnificent place.

.


Vanilla Paige scoops ice cream at Busch Gardens… https://feelwithneil.com/2022/09/16/vanilla-paige/


Neil D. 2022-09-16

My Inner Dancehall


Sometimes I imagine the different “parts” of my self as persons at a high school dance or a wedding reception. My Vulnerability is turned sideways, glancing only briefly toward the dancefloor. My Shame – its back to the room – droops at the wall. My Confidence locks onto my eyes whenever I glance its way, ready to join me on the floor any moment I reach for its hand.

And standing in the dark corner of the gym, with all the other personifications like Regret, which feel unwelcome…
Or…
At a reception table, seated by itself, glancing only periodically at the rest of the hall, regarding the other personifications invited to dance often, so feeling unwelcome…

There sits my Pain.

To a handclapping dance number, I groove gleefully with my personification of Joy, in a circle of other dancers gathered around Freedom personified.

The song fades and lights dim to signal the coming slow dance. I’m left without a partner, beside a nearly empty table. I look back at the floor where Joy has partnered with Freedom to sway and flow effortlessly, and Vulnerability accepts the embrace of Confidence.

My Ego can’t bear to be seen alone, naked, without a partner. To avoid being left out of the slow-dance spectacle, I extend a hand to invite the only personification nearby.

But Pain’s eyes reject me.

My Ego and I are forced to sit to save face, so we make it look as if I chose to sit to rest, spinning an empty chair to put my feet up after pouring a glass of water from the table’s untouched pitcher that’s sweating – rivulets dribbling down its smooth glass sides.

I sat with my Pain.

Still anxious I was being watched, my Ego wouldn’t let me idly watch the dancers, so prompted me to talk at Pain.

But Pain merely sat staring straight ahead at the weeping pitcher.

If I stood and left Pain, watching eyes would witness Ego’s rejection. I was trapped. Mortified. I could only stare ahead at the glass full of cold tears I had poured.

The Ego voice in my head played victim, “This is payback for avoiding Pain.

The first of two slow dances dragged on, excruciating. My Ego’s incessant monkey-mind chatter was finally interrupted as the song was ending, because Pain had pushed back its chair to rise to its feet.

So my eyes too lifted, from the iceless glass of warming tears in front of me. Then, my Ego was mortified…

Pain was extending its hand to me, for the next slow dance.

My Ego felt every other personification watching for my response, so what could I do?

Other personas on the floor made space, we embraced, the music rolled on…

The Ego-chatter in my head faded as Pain led us in a dance I don’t even remember. Just pure expression. My mind stilled, I followed Pain’s lead with no effort.

This dance belonged to both of us.

Into my ear, “Sorry we sat out the first one. I needed you to sit with me…
Now, I need you to carry me; you lead and take me everywhere…

Once in my arms inseparably, Pain seemed less a burden, and my steps lighter, a part of me no longer dragged behind…

My Ego snapped me out of the dance to alert me that we had been yielded the full floor. The music faded to silence breathless. All personifications were riveted, and the seated ones stood…
Confidence nodded.
Joy wept.

The gawking DJ had failed to queue the next song, so now lowered the arm of the record-player’s needle, and the crackling sound from the groove between songs echoed through the hall for long, quiet, still, breathless seconds, until…

All the personifications – from dark corners and limelight alike – rushed the floor with the opening lyric,

Wellllll…”

The Full Neil threw up all his arms in unison…
.
.
.
.

You know you make me wanna SHOUT!

.
.


Leave a Comment below about a song that moves the Full You.

Related:
Stay where the pain is” (Richard Rohr)

Neil D. 2022-08-18


Father’s Day “Ok”


He’s 24 now. Quite a smart ass. Guess we don’t need a DNA test to know who his dad is😜:

“What would you like to do Sunday Father?”

“Hell, I don’t know. Nothing in particular.”

He didn’t respond to my indifference. I think, instead, perhaps, he accepted it as an honest answer from his father.

I don’t often think about what it means to be a father. Don’t know why, but expect there are many reasons. And, I suppose, rather than lame attempts at putting it into words, I simply prefer stories.

The greatest stories of humanity have led some brilliant minds to the notions of psychological “archetypes.” The mother protects and provides by gathering in. The father protects from a distance, in a sort opposite to gathering in – i.e., by pushing away.

Paternity: A parental paradox, participating in partly protecting and providing primarily by pushing.

It’s so cool to be a participant in this paradox.

I remember taking my toddler to a playground. The other kids playing there were strangers. So mine hung close to me, busying himself near my feet.

For a little while.

But curiosity is irresistible at that age, isn’t it?

Seated on a bench, I read my book, and could see him out of the corner of my eye looking at the other kids playing. Then back to his own task. Then back to them. Then up at me:) I didn’t have to take my eyes off the page to see all this happening. Nor did I. I know what he wanted. I am his father. I knew what would happen. Because I am his father.

He stood up, looked their way, then back at me, pretending not to see him. And he didn’t do it; he didn’t ask if he could go join them. Probably not yet certain he could summon the courage himself. I pretended not to notice the whole thing, eyes on my page.

A few wobbly steps toward them, a pause, observing them, a glance back at dad, thinking “Is this OK?”

I could have looked up and encouraged him. As I think back on it, I’m not entirely certain why I didn’t, but I didn’t. Seems to be a father thing. I wanted my child to own his own choice, not to inherit it by my encouragement or permission. Seems to be what a father is.

He did. He joined them. Not intensely at first. Mostly what’s called “parallel play.” Taking turns down the slide. Not talking to each other. For a while.

It might’ve been a full hour later before he came back to my bench. And I don’t remember how long it was before the next time we went to the playground, but it was probably only a day or two.

I seated myself on a bench, opened my book,…

“Dad, I’m going to go play with my new friend Gavin…”

He didn’t see me gulp, because he was gone. He wasn’t asking for permission, not even probing for encouragement. He could own this choice. Dad will be at that bench. Dad will always be at that bench. Dad is always there…

[And, oh my, he can’t fathom that Dad would rather be nowhere else. Nowhere. Nowhere else except “always there.”]

Yes, stories seem to be the only way to express what it means to me to be a father. Here’s another — that makes even a near-drowning all OK: Ok Drowning Eye-To-Eye

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Neil D. 2022-06-17


Soul. Ego. Communal Paradox (Rohr, Chittister, Merton)

I write often that the ego and soul of a human being are sensors, of the full self. In weak terms, they are analogues of our five physical senses that inform us of how we do and can interact with the physical universe. These two transcendent sensors, to me, inform us of how we are and can be interacting with fuller truths that include the physical universe and our minds and hearts. The faculty of ego and the faculty of soul are quite plainly indispensable to being human, and like our mind and senses, can also inform us with their own genre of “knowing.” So I find them to be integral faculties for approaching the big questions of life.

The ego, in and of itself, is neither bad nor good. It is merely a sensor. It has no ability to act, only sense; its senses are merely expressed by the actions of a person. The senses which the ego detects are translated into motivators to be expressed by the human being.

The ego tells us that we are separate from every other agent and entity and being in creation. It informs us that our being is essential to the fabric of the universe. We are each unique, and we are each indispensable. And we need no more evidence for that than the very fact of our existence. The entire order of the universe, as grandiose as it sounds, is altered if a single one of us were not here. It is only an illusion of our mind that trivializes who we are to the fabric of existence. Our existential fear derives from that enormous truth – that we matter, and we are matter.

The soul is our sensor of connectedness within the fabric of existence. Like the ego, it too has a temporal dimension because it animates the matter of our body and mind, as our ground of being. Yet, its sensory capability extends mysteriously beyond the physical self – to any extent that there is such a thing – enabling the human being in whom the soul dwells mysteriously to transcend that very singular and material dwelling.

The soul of a human being has no will nor ability to extinguish the ego, but instead to animate it, informing the ego that its limitedness is OK, that this soul will always be tenderly conjoined to its ego, and that, therefore, judgmentalism is nothing for this ego to fear from its all-friendly soul. These senses of the soul endow the full human being with a very true freedom from judgment and shouldness.

No egoic mistake or flaw of a human being is beyond the full understanding of the person’s soul, for that soul is always there as witness, in being. It is never anxious to be larger or smaller as the ego is; it knows the nature of the ego and its dynamics of deflation and inflation, knows that is the ego’s nature, so expects nothing more of that ego and its role as sensor serving the full person; and so the very notion of judgment has no use in the soul’s knowledge paradigm. Neither judgment nor comparison are of any interest to the soul whatsoever.

The nature of ego is to sense separateness and motivate response. It is the nature of the soul merely to be and to love being. The soul gives us being, and therefore loves being. It has no use for black-and-white judgment, which seeks to increase or decrease being, which is senseless to the soul. It is the human being, the person, the mysterious mix of ego and soul, which grows or diminishes self awareness, and grows or diminishes in self awareness.

The soul knows its own nature, and knows the nature of the ego within the self. Both its way of knowing and its knowledge are full and complete because, paradoxically, it is boundless.

The soul is not conscience; it is boundlessly larger than conscience (which informs the ego when it oversteps or gets mixed up outside its nature).

The soul has no value for the notion of blame. It sees nature being natural. The human being does not “feel” alive without living dynamics sesnsed and fueled by ego – the transformations of consciousness about chaos and order, joy and suffering, or what it means to be a human being, and to be human. This demands no judgment whatsoever.

The soul is our sensor of connectedness and being and largeness, able to sense timelessness, yet vaguely, within the bounds of time.

These are my own constructs and language for wrestling with the truths inside of me, for glimpsing my full self – not my self in a moment, nor any idea or ideal or idol outside of moments. For seeing beyond my small self or false self. For sensing beyond my moment-self, alleviating the shame of my egoic mind because it is incapable of sensing beyond my moment-self.

These notions are mine, but I of course did not fabricate them out of nothing. I am influenced by many sources, including the notions that are part of this short article, that includes three writers:

https://cac.org/daily-meditations/the-communal-paradox-2022-07-05/

Neil D. 2022-07-05

Teachers prevent war. Their subjects go viral

TEACHERS:
If you’re normal, you are ready for the break you deserve.
But you aren’t normal.
Trained to teach, you have had to learn on the job how to be epidemiologists, nurses, substitute parents, counselors, janitors, lunch servers, and protectors of society’s most precious.
6 hours/day X 180 days X 15 students = >16,000 student hours of WHO you are, modeled to children.
You think your profession is to impart knowledge about subjects, yet you also impart knowledge about being a subject. How to be an agent in creation.
The overachievers have watched you not leave behind those less comfortable in a rigid and monolithic system.
The underachievers have learned from you that they too have dignity.
All this amidst the largest health tragedy in the human world’s history.
Like the wings of a single butterfly can cause a hurricane, these most precious subjects can multiply those 16,000 hours to spread lessons about living life abundantly, lovingly, with dignity, and spreading love and dignity like mysterious viruses.
Teachers…
YOU prevent deaths.
YOU prevent wars.
How *else* can THAT happen?

Thank you, teachers.

Neil D. 2022-06-01