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Spiritual Universality: Truths Transcendent of All Faiths
by John D. Schoonmaker
Man's need for explanation of that which he cannot explain has spurned the creation of a multitude of religious beliefs and faiths. Cultural diversity, geography, and physical phenomena have all played roles in the development of these beliefs and religions. As varied as these beliefs are (through dogma, practice, and ceremony), it is my contention that a core of universal "truths" transcends all of these religions, regardless of cultural and/or geographical variance.
As stated previously, religion, or the basis of religious faith, stems from mankind's need to explain that which cannot be explained in the material world. Because of a lack of scientific knowledge, Neolithic man would explain physical phenomena, such as lightning, thunder, fire, and the rise and fall of the sun, as the divine work of various deities. Often these early cultures, so to speak, would be resort to polytheistic forms of belief (individual gods had individual tasks to perform i.e., Thor in Norse mythology being responsible for the natural phenomena of thunder and lightning, etc.). Other cultures, such as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans had similar polytheistic beliefs that featured specialized gods and other supernatural beings and forces. This would be similar to individual tasks assigned to individual tribe members of Neolithic society, as this was the only way these phenomena could be understood. Early cultures would assign specific responsibilities, such as hunting, gathering, and tribal defense, to individual tribe members. Because these early tribal cultures needed a way to explain physical phenomena that surrounded them, they specialized their "gods" (in "mankind's image", so to speak) in a like manner, not unlike that of their tribal structure to aid in their grasp for cause and meaning.
As mankind's scientific and technological knowledge advanced, more and more monotheistic bases of faith began to appear. With the advent of these religions, such as Christianity, came a decreased need for specialized gods that each handled individual phenomena or natural acts. Now that the believers, followers, or practitioners of these various monotheistic faiths had more "multi-tasking" responsibilities in their day-to-day lives, so too did God (or the supreme entity, regardless of religion). More and more of the responsibilities attributed to God were directed by the faithful into more of a behavioral control mode. The basic morals and morays of the various societies in which these religious faiths emerged tended to dictate and govern the behaviors of the citizens living in the societies from where these bases of faith developed.
Across the board, so to speak, a common system of life governing "rules" and values appeared, so as to direct the behavior of the citizens of various societies. Regardless of faith system, be it Muslim, Buddhism, Hindu, Shamanism, Vedanta, Judaism, or Christianity (to name but a few of the "biggies", granted, some are polytheistic), a common thread exists to govern how one is expected to live one's life. Concerning these forms of faith, there tended to be a "common sense" approach as to what is considered acceptable and unacceptable in human culture during the formal formation of religious dogma and doctrine the universal truths.
These spiritual ideals are common to the psyche of all us human creatures that were made in God's image. The essence of these "religious rules" remains the same across the board. Essentially, all faiths decree that one should follow one's conscious, and live accordingly. The voice of one's conscious forms the basis of these universal spiritual truths. One realizes through one's conscious that stealing from another, taking the life of another, coveting the spouse or the property of another, sleeping with another's spouse, etc., are all sins which go against the social conventions of nearly every human culture. So religions felt the need to codify rules and guidelines, forming a core of behavioral doctrine transcendent of nearly all religious beliefs throughout history.
If one were to look at the Bhagavad-Gita, for example, one would find that a follower's mission in life, or the goal of attaining Krsna consciousness, would include foregoing the attachment to the material, the denial of lust and earthly pleasure, and the avoidance of criminal behavior. The achievement of these spiritual goals would lead to a living situation where Bhagavan Sri Krsna and the demigods to provide all of mankind's material needs. The basic tenants these beliefs strongly coincide with the ten commandments of Christian dogma and the strict governing principles of the Koran of the Muslim faith, to name but two examples (granted, many cultural differences and varying degrees of strictness in adherence do exist).
Another example of a religion utilizing these common rules of life transcendent of nearly all religious faiths would be Confucianism. According to this Chinese system of religious belief, one should strive to achieve order and balance in one's life. According to Philip Novak (author of The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions), the goal of Confucianism is to "expand the heart and mind in ever wider circles of empathy so that, starting with one's self, those circles embrace one's family, one's community, one's nation, and finally all humanity." Confucianism strives to teach its followers to, essentially, live by way of the universal spiritual truths, even though method
and Asian circular reasoning are different than Western philosophy. Though simplified in description, it is clear that the core of the universal truths remains the same in Confucianism.
Buddhism is another example of a faith system that essentially follows a doctrine based on the universal truths. The core doctrines of Buddhist philosophy are known as The Four Noble Truths. These include suffering, the origin of suffering, cessation of suffering, and the Eight-Fold Path of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. Buddha proclaimed that the eight-fold path was the path that one should follow to avoid greed, hatred, and delusion (the Three Poisons). Granted, this is an oversimplification of the essence of Buddhism, but it clearly demonstrates that in the practice of Buddhism, spiritual bliss is obtained by following a clear-cut set of guidelines, the universal truths. Again, doctrine and method may be different, but the essential message of leading a good life remains the same.
The aforementioned examples of religions and/or philosophies are but a few of the multitudes of belief systems throughout the world. It is my contention that God makes his word known how he sees fit. Who are we to say whose interpretation of his message is right and while those of other's is wrong. Because the essential core message of living a good life, free of sin (following one's conscious) is so universal across nearly all religions, it would appear that nearly all organized belief systems have a certain degree of "rightness."
The beauty of the human species lies in its sweet blessed variety. The fact that the variety of religious faiths that coexist worldwide is so diverse in manor of practice and doctrine simply strengthens the argument that God does, indeed, exist. His message presents itself in many ways in all places. The number and variety of the world's religions exist with said variety due to all of the associated cultural and social differences that accompany them. These differences, coupled with geographic divisions, would necessitate variety in the word of God, such that the faithful could understand the message in terms they could understand. Across the board, however, the basic tenants of faith (these universal truths) remain the same. The dawning of the information age should lead all of mankind to realize this fact. The commonality of the basic message is transcendent across time, culture, geography and religion. The faithful should then embrace the message itself, regardless of the manor in which it is conveyed (unless the manor itself is a violation of these basic truths). This should, indeed, be the essence of interfaith ministry and spirituality.
John Delamar Schoonmaker
June 1, 2003
· Novak, P. The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions. Edison: Castle Books, 1996. pp 65-77, 111-144.
SEEKING THE AUTHENTIC GOD
Or, will the real God please stand up?
Mark David Albertson
In the beginning was God; in the end was God. And with God, Order from the Chaos. Amen.
We Are Products of Conscious Creation
Our universe was the conscious creation of the One we call God. We, as one small part of God's creation, are incapable of truly understanding the One who created our universe. Yet through the handiwork of the One, God has revealed herself to us. God has created our world in her image. As we look upon God's creation, we see God. As we pray, God reveals herself. As we engage in union, we are given visions and sensations of God. Thus, the more we look upon and participate in God's creation, the more we pray, and the more we engage in union, the more we know and understand God.
Who or What is God?
God is a sentient being. Neither possessing physical form nor spirit, neither visible nor invisible, living in a place where there is no separate future, no separate past, no separate present, yet all three in coexistence. Not bound by time, or space. God's mission is to create order from chaos and love from hate. God chooses to allow her creation the opportunity to be in union with her. The more her creation is in union with her, the more love is established, and more order is created. The more her creation is in union with her, the more harmony is created within her creation.
God's Purpose in Creating Us
God chose to create humans for the purpose of union with her. By being in union with her, humans contribute to the process of bringing order to the universes. God has given humans only two laws: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and all of mind, and all of your soul and all of your strength. And the second is to love your fellow humans as God loves you. God is the embodiment of true love. It is out of the loving relationship with God and others that each of us is elevated to a higher level of existence and enlightenment. Each human is free to worship and love God as they choose. Each human is free to envision God as they choose or to turn their back to God. God does not punish; God only loves. Humans do not suffer damnation for turning their backs on God; nor do they secure eternal bliss by accepting God as their God. God is all people's God regardless how they feel about her and regardless whether they acknowledge God. God does not need people. People need God. God rejoices in her creation, and loves her creation as a mother loves her baby. God accepts all people, and understands their imperfection. It is through imperfection that people are able to love God. It is through loving God and one another that people are able to enter God's kingdom.
God is Relationship
God is relationship. God desires relationship. God accomplishes her mission through relationship. God seeks relationship with us, as we do with her. Our prime internal motivation is to seek relationship. God's only command is to seek relationship. God invites and woos us. When we seek relationship, we are doing God's work. Like God, we can only accomplish our mission through relationship.
The Name of God
God does not care what we call her. YHWH, Allah, Lord. God does not care how we see her in our minds. The Lord does not care if we sing hymns, chant mantras, or sing prayers. God only cares, that we, each in our own way, seek relationship with her. Because she knows that if we seek her, we will find her. Once we find her, we can then dwell in her, in union, which provides meaning, spiritual growth, and, ultimately, the enlightenment of our spirits. At that point, we begin to reside within the Kingdom.
Humans Create Their Gods
Unfortunately, humans have a tendency to see things from the other direction. We tend to create God rather than vice-versa. We have a tendency to want to be God ourselves, and as such, we create Gods that allow us that pleasure. We also use God, rather than the reverse. We tend to see God as our servant, who exists for our purposes. This has been true from the start. Amazingly, the Christian church is steeped in this morass. Following the teacher's alleged death by crucifixion, the Romans witnessed a phenomenon that was spreading like a wildfire as people became converted to the radical teachings of Yeshua. When it became evident that they could not extinguish the wildfire of Christianity, they coopted it, and turned it into a method of securing wealth and power, suppressing women, and enslaving people by not allowing free and uninhibited sexuality and worship of the divine feminine. The leaders of the church decided what Christians should believe, and wrote their own history of the teacher. They edited and sanitized four Gospels which emphasized the deity of Yeshua, and ignored over 300 other historical accounts of the teacher which didn't support their contention that Yeshua was God. They made Yeshua' mother a virgin, they made Yeshua a celibate, and they turned Mary Magdalene into a prostitute, all to suit their ends. They murdered millions of wise women as witches because they threatened their plan for the genocide of the divine feminine. They turned sexual intercourse into a regulated, legislated, physical act of procreation, and they codified rules for lawful sex and unlawful sex, and they took away the spiritual act of lovemaking as a divine act of worship and prayer.
This being said, the early church is not alone in its creation of God for its own purposes. We all have a tendency to create our own Gods also on a daily basis. God can become our "Genie" in which we rub the magic lamp of prayer to ask for the satisfaction of our own carnal desires. "Oh Lord, won't you buy me, a Mercedes Benz, my friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends." Or we create God the policeman, who enforces the rules of order of the universe, and punishes those who violate the strict laws. Or we create God the avenger, who will wipe out all of the injustice. Or we create God as the magician, who performs amazing tricks of the supernatural for our entertainment and amusement. This is not a criticism so much as an observation, as few are immune from this habit. Perhaps it is because we cannot "see" God the being with our eyes. This allows us the margin to "fill in the blank" with our own concept of God.
The Irony of Creating One's Own God
The irony of creating one's own God is that this creation cannot be God. And if the seeker/creator is seeking an authentic experience of God, ultimately, the false God will be revealed. One can only hold on to this imperfect creation so long before this God let's the creator down. When that happens, the seeker/creator has limited choices. The seeker can give up this creation and move on to another; or the seeker can choose to stop seeking and participate fully in the conspiracy of imitation. This, in and of itself does not have to be a bad experience for the seeker. We have all heard the mantras of those who have settled into the conspiracy:
"Well, the Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it."
"These are inscrutable things that someone as simple as myself cannot fathom."
"I really admire you people who ask these questions. I guess I'm comfortable believing what I believe."
A great deal of comfort and safety comes from participating in the conspiracy. Many people find that space to be a sanctuary, and if that's where they are satisfied, so be it. Some of us who are seekers find themselves admiring these people from afar, because of the apparent lack of internal conflict which comes from succumbing to the conspiracy of denial. Many of us, however, are not satisfied with this, and when we discover that the God we worship is actually our own creation, we can no longer participate in the conspiracy. This is perhaps why so many people who are genuine seekers are perceived as somewhat flakey. Yesterday I was a Buddhist, today I'm a Catholic, tomorrow
Seeking the Authentic
The apparent comfort that many people find in "settling in" with the God they have created is ultimately an illusion. Granted, many can live with the illusion. What sets the seekers apart from the rest, however, is the fact that they are unwilling to accept an illusion. Whether consciously or unconsciously, seekers are in search of something more: the authentic. The seekers are willing to expose themselves to significant risk in this quest. They encounter Truth, which often is not what one is expecting. They encounter derision from the establishment, and historically, they have risked violent and painful death when branded as heretics. Seeking the authentic, Seekers risk having their notions and paradigms significantly altered along the way, and most of all, Seekers end up in unexpected places. Seekers of the authentic very often learn an important lesson along the way: The journey is as important as the destination. The quest can often be a better teacher than the teacher himself. And always, the Seeker ends up in a place they would not have imagined when they began the quest. To those who choose not to seek, the Seeker is an anomaly; an outcast; a heretic; a whacko, etc. Only other Seekers can understand that the outward journey creates inward change.
Finding the Authentic
Finding the authentic is up to each individual person. By being willing to open one's spirit to the new, or what seems at first blush to be strange, is a start. Learning to recognize when one is trying to create one's own God is essential. Learning to listen to that still quiet voice of God is necessary.
Yeshua suggested that in order to enter the kingdom of God, we must become like children. Children are eager to learn. Children aren't afraid of strange and new ideas. Children see the fun and game in their tasks. And children aren't afraid to express their love and their emotions. Children are unafraid to ask for help, and to change their paradigms once they are disproved. Children haven't learned what society considers "evil" or "nasty" or "naughty". Children are willing to trust teachers until the teacher proves himself otherwise.
There is no formula for finding the authentic. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
Because God is a God of relationships, and because God's means of accomplishing her goals is through love and relationships, it would seem good advice to emulate God, and seek to create relationships, love and allow yourself to be loved. Love people, love knowledge, love new ideas, love the journey. Don't accept the status quo. Don't be afraid to be branded as a heretic, if that is where you find the authentic. Don't be afraid of the conflict. The Chinese character for conflict can mean either danger or opportunity, or both at the same time. It is through conflict that we grow, change and learn. We are at our creative best when we are in conflict.
And finally, gladly accept the quest. A wonderful adventure is good for the soul.
What does the Lord your God require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah, 6:8
Christ or Antichrist
For so called "fundamentalist Christians" the interpretation of canonical scriptures reveals that before the second coming of Jesus Christ, there will arise one called antichrist". This person will reportedly lead a world wide government. Through the study of eschatology or end-time prophecies, fundamentalists interpret and prepare themselves to stand against this antichrist. One of the leading preachers of eschatology teaches that a group of individuals strategically positioned and powerful in world affairs, the Illuminati, will work to bring about the one world government and help antichrist rule the world. This preacher also reports that these individuals believe in the actual bloodline of Jesus Christ, through his spouse Mary Magdalene, and this bloodline is present in the world today. This group works to put this royal blood in a position of world rule. Christians say the one with this royal blood will either be the actual antichrist himself, or will be his right hand man.
It is the thesis of this writer that in reality, these fundamentalists are in fact wrong and they will actually accomplish the work of antichrist by opposing the rule of the royal Christ (King), the person whose blood in fact comes from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The fundamentalists, along with mainline Christians, are the real heretics of the true church!
Christ or Antichrist
"There is a legend which proposes that Mary Magdalene bore sacred children-who in turn became the royalty of Europe." (Church, 1989, p. iii Foreword) This royalty is reportedly still present behind the lines in the world today, waiting to come back into political power. There is a group of individuals who actively promote, although secretly, this ultimate goal and mainline Christians believe this is the work of antichrist.
What is a Christian? What is antichrist? What and where in scripture is this belief? Where does this belief come from if not in scripture?
From a modest life in Galilee, the man Yeshua (a more accurate spelling than Jesus) would rise to be the single most influential mystic of all time. This man, known as the Messiah or Christ, would forever mark the annals of time with his example and message.
His establishment came to be known as the Christian Church, yet, the church claiming his name scantily resembles that which his early message sought to promulgate. (Ludwig, 2005) The word Christian actually is a term believed coined by the Apostle Paul. It is actually more accurately translated "wanna-be christ", a derogatory term. The first believers just preferred to be called believers. Christ which means Messiah, or Anointed King, could mean either a political or a spiritual king. Why would believers make themselves kings? A more accurate spelling is Kristian, from Greek, meaning specifically male believer. This term is used now for both sexes.
The term antichrist means against or opposing God. So who actually is against or opposes God? Is it a heretic? Is it a sinner? Would it be someone who does not follow God? What about one who follows God but the "Church" says they follow wrongly, not by a specific correct dogma?
From 447 to 458 A.D. there was a king of the Francs, (France) named Merovee. He was the first in a series of kings which came to be known as the Merovingian bloodline. This bloodline arrived in what is now France either before or after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D, when the Romans destroyed the Temple. Mary Magdalene fled Jerusalem with her children of Yeshua and arrived by boat in France. She found refuge in a Jewish community. Her future offspring became royal Frankish kings.
The story of the Knights Templar, the crusaders and protectors of this bloodline via the Priory of Sion, (Baigent, Leigh, & Lincoln, 1983, p. 106 chap. 4) has come to us as the precursor to the organization known as the Illuminati. The most famous account of the Magdalene in France is Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend (1250). In it, de Voragine, the Dominican Archbishop of Genoa, refers to her as both Iluminata and Illuminatrix -the Illuminated and Illuminator. (Picknett & Prince, 1997, p. 67 chap. 3) These names are presented to us in Gnostic texts.
The Crusaders, many of which were French, in 1061 A.D. conquered the city of Jerusalem and established Godfroi de Buoillon, of Merovingian blood, on the throne as King of Jerusalem. Some other writers say Godfroi's brother was the first King. This bloodline has included most of the ruling families of Europe over the course of time. This bloodline also claims to be of the lineage of King David. Therefore through King David, through the Messiah, and ultimately through the call of God, this line has the kingly right to rule over the governments of Earth.
If Yeshua is the King of kings, would not his children also be in line for kingship? Although canonical scriptures recall that Yeshua said his kingdom is not of this world, what actually did that mean? If one believes that evil rules this world, or the world is evil, then would it not make sense that God's Kingdom would be in opposition to this world of evil? Would it not be better said that if the world of evil does not belong to God's Kingdom, God's Kingdom must change the world, remake, or recreate the world? Yeshua did not come to change the Law, but to fulfill the Law. Not one dot or iota of the Law would change He said. It will always exist, therefore, how can his Kingdom not be actual and present, but His Law still be?
Fundamentalists quote canonical scriptures to bolster their interpretation of the antichrist. "This age-old worship of the Magdalene appears to be the result of an esoteric mystery religion, which I believe is described in Revelation 17 as "Mystery, Babylon the Great."(Church, 1989, p. 77 chap. 4) "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward." (Genesis 16-17) "The reference .could be a prediction that the offspring of Dan may one day produce Mr. 666, who will attempt to sit upon the throne of this world."(Church, p. 113 chap. 6)
Even the so called apocryphal or non-canonical books of the bible, from which esoteric schools of thought find much to prove their beliefs, are used by fundamentalists to prove their antichrist theories. II Esdras puts forth in a vision, a lion coming out of the woods and represents the last head of an eagle as the forth dreadful beast of Daniel's vision. The fourth beast has 10 horns, "representing a ten nation European confederation which would attempt to establish the final world government, and whose leader would be the antichrist."(Church, 1989, p. 127 chap. 6) Daniel 11:37 states, "Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers." Does this mean the antichrist will be from a similar background as Christ or of Israelite linage as taught by these fundamentalists? Or does this simply mean that anyone, who does not regard God properly, is opposed to God or is an antichrist?
A heretic is defined as one who holds controversial opinions, especially one who publicly dissents from the officially accepted dogma of the Roman Catholic Church. (2000) However the word heretic is Middle English from the Greek hairetikos, able to choose. So who chooses what is or is not the proper meaning of, or even what is proper scripture? Writer posits that the true heretics are the fundamentalist Christians! It is they who are antichrist. They do not accept all avenues of spiritual truth, or know the real Yeshua. Their blinders have put an idea of what the "church" is inside a very small box. Their church is nothing like the original first church.
In the time of Yeshua, believers thought it was the end of the world, the "end times." This belief of an eminent end to all things has occurred similarly throughout the ages, in each generation. It is no different now. Scriptures are quoted to prove this is the end, the time of Christ's return, the time of the so called antichrist. If in fact this generation is no different than any other and without correct interpretation of antichrist rising in one person who defies the Christ, then who will truly oppose the Messiah? Will it be anyone who opposes the rule of a true king, a true Messiah, a person from the bloodline of Yeshua, with Merovingian blood?
The Nag Hammadi texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal information regarding Jesus and Mary, contradictory to canonical scriptures. Of course many scholars say canonical scriptures are very contradictory in themselves. Mary Magdalene is spoken of as being the one most loved by Jesus and who is kissed on the mouth by Jesus. One of the Catholic Church fathers, Clement of Alexandria, admits an alternative Gospel of Mark is actually authentic.
So, it is apparent that one labeled a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church is in fact either right or wrong in their belief. Logic states if not wrong in truth, then right in truth. There is a true bloodline of Yeshua or there is not. If there is, then one who opposes this bloodline is in fact the antichrist. Quoting scripture to prove antichrist, one world government, or the falsity of a bloodline of Jesus, or trying to scare Christians into what they should believe by using the name of the devil, is the same old error the official church has spread throughout the Christian era.
(2000). The American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.). : Houghton Mifflin Company.
Baigent, M., Leigh, R., & Lincoln, H. (1983). Holy Blood, Holy Grail. New York, NY: Dell Publishing.
Church, J. R. (1989). Guardians of the Grail. Oklahoma City, OK: Prophecy Publications.
Ludwig, M. (2005). The Church Exoteric, The Church Esoteric. Retrieved January 17, 2005, from http://www.northernway.org/early.html
Picknett, L., & Prince, C. (1997). The Templar Revelation, Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ. New York, NY: Touchstone.
Addiction Recovery Is A Spiritual Matter
By Stephen Davis
Recovering from addiction is more than just going "clean and sober," because addiction itself is more than just a physical phenomenon. It's a sign that there's a "hole in the soul" that needs to be healed before one can have a chance to stay clean and sober for any length of time.
And you would think that insurance companies, who sink millions of dollars every year into drug and alcohol recovery programs, would be anxious to put their money where it would be most treatment-effective as well as cost-effective. Not so, apparently, since they continue to support expensive 30-day programs that clearly do not get results.
Of course, "results" can be defined in many ways by many people. When I think of "results" in addiction recovery, I think of clients who can and will remain clean and sober for the rest of their lives, not just while they're in a treatment center. One could argue that relapse can be a necessary and vital part of some clients' recovery, and sometimes it does take "going out" before someone can really learn and appreciate what it means to "stay in." Still, as a recovery industry, I believe we have to measure our success statistically by the number of clients who finally, successfully avoid any relapse at all.
From all the studies I have read, the success rate for 30-day treatment centers leaves much to be desired. Less than 1/3rd of all clients remain clean and sober in the first year after "graduation," much less for the rest of their lives. The irony is that addicts who stop on their own without any organized treatment support seem to do better than that. Looks like the insurance industry would actually get slightly more bang for its buck by giving that $30,000 directly to an alcoholic or addict than to the treatment center!
According to their own statistics, Alcoholics Anonymous also has a poor success rate, if you measure it by those who remain clean and sober without relapse.
I had the honor of being President of the Board of a men's "sober living" house in Prescott, Arizona. The theory was simple: provide a safe and supportive family environment that was conducive to a clean and sober lifestyle, make everyone attend at least two 12-Step meetings every day, and hope something worked. Although I have no double-blind studies to prove it, I believe that this approach has some merit and produces some results, compared to people who stay in "normal" life and attend AA meetings on the side. The simple process of living inexpensively with others in recovery (compared to pricey treatment centers), having a safe environment with supportive friends, and benefiting from their experience, strength, and hope on a daily basis has to count for something. But that "something" is still way too small a statistical improvement.
I then had the opportunity to travel to the other end of the spectrum and create a full-blown treatment program; and while it will take a few years to collect enough statistics to be meaningful, the immediate results were unquestionable. The relapse rate inside the program plummeted within a matter of a few months, for example.
Why? What did we do that made a difference? Again, I can't objectively prove that one thing had more of an impact than another, so I will present the whole picture in hopes that this success can be duplicated and substantiated by others in the future .
To begin with, anyone wanting to create an effective treatment program has to answer the question: Alcoholism and Addiction: Disease or Choice?
I came away wondering why it had to be either/or? Isn't that simply the continuation of the black-and-white thinking we so often criticize in our addicts? There's no question in my mind that there are people who have some kind of physical susceptibility to alcoholism and addiction - the "genetic factor." I don't happen to the one of them, even though my father was clearly an undiagnosed alcoholic, and probably my mother as well. But my body does not experience the obsession, the compulsion to drink or use (I'll talk later about why I still say I'm "in recovery") while other people have uncontrollable physical reactions to alcohol and drugs. In this sense, addiction is a disease, in the same way that allergies are a disease, over which many people have no conscious control. Again, similar to an allergy, once triggered, alcoholism and addiction can be self-generating and self-perpetuating.
But if alcoholism were strictly a physical disease, there would be no hope for recovery other than through physical treatment. True, Dr. Joan Mathews Larson has apparently had some real success treating alcoholism as a disease, and I'm sure that her combination of abstinence from physical triggers and vitamin and supplement support can have a profound effect on the alcoholic caught up in their "allergic" or "genetic" reaction.
And I don't doubt Dr. Larson's statistics of some 74% who remain sober a year after leaving her program. The question I would ask Dr. Larson is this: now that you've removed the physical aspect of their addiction - the cravings for alcohol - how many of them switched addictions and are now overeaters, or gamblers, or love and sex addicts instead? Where are the statistics on that?
Because my experience says that addiction to alcohol or any other drug is hardly ever just physical - like a disease - but involves a psychological component as well. Yes, we need to recognize and treat the physical aspect with proper nutrition, abstinence from caffeine and nicotine and sugar, regular exercise, enough sleep, and even Chiropractic and Acupuncture and Yoga. All of those things must be part of any successful treatment program. But if we stop there - if we consider and talk about and label alcoholism and addiction as simply a disease - we will severely limit our chances of getting any meaningful recovery results.
Addiction must be a choice as well. Just as any individual has the choice not to put their hand on a hot stove, we all have the choice not to do those things that we have learned will injure us. Some people are injured by alcohol, many are injured by drugs. Those injuries will not occur on their own, like other diseases such as cancer. We must take some action, like drinking or using, for the injurious physical effects to manifest. It may not be our choice whether the physical "disease" symptoms appear in many people as a result, like an allergic reaction, but it is always - always - our choice whether or not to drink or use to begin with.
Therefore, it is also our choice when to stop. We may need a lot of help and support to abstain, but the choice is there; and because we have the choice to be alcoholics or addicts, unlike having cancer or other true diseases, we also have the very real possibility to change our condition.
Granted, it can take a little time (perhaps 30 days on average) to detox from alcohol and drugs, and calm down the genetic or allergic factors. But after that, no disease ever made anyone pick up that first drink or pop that first pill on a relapse.
Successful addiction recovery, therefore, will have two parts. One is addressing the physical addiction - the "disease" component. The second major part is addressing the individual's psychology - their "choice," their "hole in the soul" - which triggers the disease in their bodies.
And insurance companies expect all this to happen within 30 days? Come on ..let's be reasonable.
We're not going to make much progress in the recovery field until the insurance companies wake up to the fact that it will be more cost-effective for them - not to mention more treatment-effective for the addict - to take their $30,000 and spread it over a six-month treatment program; and they have done the public a great disservice by suggesting that any kind of effective long-term treatment can occur in the first 30 days.
It can't. About the only thing that can be accomplished in the first 30 days of treatment is to let the body go clean and sober and recover from the disease component of addiction. And that's stretching it. Even Dr. Joan Mathews Larson says it takes "Seven Weeks to Sobriety" with her nutritional program. What ends up happening is that insurance companies pay for 30 days, the client and their family assume that's all that's needed for a successful recovery, the client relapses within a matter of a few days or weeks or months, the client is further shamed and the family heart-broken, the insurance company plunks down another $30,000 for another 30 days of treatment, and the dwindling spiral continues.
Fact is that the insurance companies would be better off - would most likely save money in the long run - taking $50,000 and spreading it over a 6-month program, rather than wasting $30,000 at a time, relapse after relapse.
Why six months? I found the time table broke down this way, on average:
The first thirty days were spent physically detoxing. Unfortunately, many addicts, now that they feel better, will think they're done at this point. The truth is that they haven't really started. One of the biggest challenges is to help someone past this 30-day threshold. There's a good reason why the 30-day AA sobriety chip is red - it's a very dangerous point in recovery.
The next thirty days is the roughest. In a well-designed, effective treatment program, this is the time when all the feelings, the thoughts, and the memories come up that led to the addiction in the first place. This is when real treatment starts, and is the single most important idea to understand about recovery.
Apparently all addictions have one common purpose: we use them to medicate our feelings. When someone has a thought or a feeling that make them uncomfortable, they find some way to escape or change that sensation, in the same way that we've been taught to take a pill to get rid of uncomfortable physical sensations. This can take the form of alcohol, drugs, eating, love, sex, gambling, and literally a myriad of other panaceas. Personally, I didn't drink or use to escape my feelings of depression. But I ate for pleasure and relief rather than nourishment; I looked to love and sex to help me banish the blues; and I ran as fast as I could, changing jobs and homes to try to stay one step ahead of the pain.
The key to long-term recovery is to become able to feel what we're feeling, when we're feeling it, without having to medicate it, escape it, change it, or disown it. When we can learn to accept who we are, including what's going on inside of us, we no longer need something from the outside to make us feel differently.
It is true that a small percentage of people can stay clean and sober without looking at the feelings that made them an addict in the first place. Apparently they do it through sheer will power, often with the help of a Higher Power and the 12 Steps, and lots and lots of meetings. The statistics prove, however, that the vast majority of us aren't going to succeed that way. I have met far too many "dry drunks" who are clean and sober and yet intolerable to be around because they never faced the feelings that led to their addiction, and they continue to run from those feelings by switching addictions or developing other obnoxious behaviors to continue to cover them up.
A well-designed and effective treatment program is going to encourage and support the client to allow those feelings and thoughts to arise that led to their addiction - and will lead to their relapse again if not identified, differentiated, examined, and dealt with. It requires lots of group therapy - trauma therapy, art therapy, grief therapy, and process groups - as well as good one-on-one with an experienced counselor. This stage will take at least another thirty days.
The last 30 days of a 90-day intensive treatment program allows the client to develop new behaviors and new ways of thinking to deal with the feelings they've uncovered. The fact is that we will encounter many of these feelings and thoughts again in the future as we go through life, and there's no suggestion that we can change what happens outside of us. But what we can change is the way we respond to life, by discovering and implementing different choices to deal with our feelings that are no longer habit-forming or life-threatening.
At this point - 90 days into treatment - the average client can take a big step back toward normal life. This transition out of the cocoon of intense treatment should include a change in living environment, including roommates, and a marked decrease in the organized schedule. The client should begin weaning themselves off the therapy and start looking for a job. Assuming that this process takes about a month, the client then needs 60 more days working in the real world and living in a "sober house" for continued support, where they can practice their new-found ways of dealing with life and their feelings without needing their former addictive behaviors.
It's a six-month program; but by the time these six months are over, anyone should have about an 85% chance of staying clean and sober for the rest of their lives.
Some people will require more than six months. Some people will take longer to allow the feelings to emerge that led them to become an addict in the first place. Some people will have more feelings to deal with than others, requiring more time. Some people will miss this opportunity, or refuse to look at a particularly difficult feeling, and relapse during the last few months of sober living when it comes up to overwhelm them again. They'll need another 30 days of intensive treatment, no doubt.
But thinking about anything less than spending six-months in active recovery is virtually useless. Someday someone will file a lawsuit against the insurance companies for refusing to pay for the proper kind of treatment, or perhaps file a suit because individual premiums are forced higher than necessary as the insurance companies continue financing worthless 30-day programs.
Until that time, it is incumbent on the recovery industry to educate the public about the truth of treatment - what works and what doesn't. I realize that it's tough in a society where we can so easy collect $30-50,000 for one month, and then send the client out to relapse and come back again for another 30 days. But it's time to give up the greed and begin to see addiction recovery as a spiritual matter as well as a physical problem.
Stephen Davis is a grateful member of Al-Anon, a former Arizona State Senator, former President of The Last House on the Block Foundation and Executive Director of A Sober Way Home, Inc. A major portion of this thesis was published in the April issue of Counselor: The Magazine for Addiction Professionals. His website is http://www.center4spiritualrecovery.com/
Goddess Archetypes in the Mundane
By Char L. Smart
Hindu, Greek, and Egyptian Deities
God forms are intelligent patterns of energy elevated into a prolonged and enhanced existence by the continual input of other beings. Not only are the gods and goddesses alive on the astral planes and other dimensions, but they are in our very midst every day of every year. These archetypes are alive in all of us in some shape, for, or mixture, usually the latter. Studying the character traits of these modern day priest and priestesses even in their muted for will give us valuable insight into the myth and legend, and add to our knowledge of the deities. It is also great fun to witness the old ones wondering though our lives in often quite blatant manner, and it can provide us the valuable psycho therapeutic clues as to our nature and needs.
Owing to the relevance the psychological patterns, We will be looking for her approximation of her archetype as alive in Western society today. Also by channeling the deities has never been easier, either deliberately or unconsciously. We will no doubt recognize the types, which once identified, can provide a valuable source of information for positive use in situations demanding analysis and healing.
These are a good guide as to which goddesses aid in which healing or strength you need. You may use your own ritual to invoke them but as always it is in your intent that the good work is done.
Sarasvati- A Hindu Goddess is featured as a river goddess, and consequently has associations with fertility and the purity and life giving properties of water. Her fertility, however, later came to be regarded and cerebral rather than physical: she is a giver of aspiration, imagination, and creativity. She is a Muse and music, poetry and scholarly success are among the gifts of her sphere. This is associated with speech....She is easily accessed with the holy syllable "Om."
Her mundane archetypes:
*she displays dreamy tendencies in youth and her academic achievements, though showing signs of promise, are not outstanding until later in life.
*she displays and early promise for music, dance and poetry....preferring them to dry academe.
*If denied creative expression she becomes sullen or sorrowful.
*Spiritual matters and imagery inspire her.
*numbers mean nothing to her unless she can attach them to some aspect of her emotional life.
* Her emotional life will become intense, inspired and full of dark nights of he soul followed by radiant epiphanies.
*The life of the Sarasvati archetype is usually characterized by harmonious relationships with friends and family.
*She will discover her innate eloquence as her confidence increases... with age.
*She is the type of woman whose life begins at forty.
Durga is a pacifying and beautiful, but a formidable enemy. She was originally created from rays of concentrated thought when the male gods could do nothing to combat a particularly fierce demon. When angry, she is closely associated with Kali and indeed Kali is sometimes produced as an embodiment of Durga's fury, and they have fought side by side.
The most important aspect of Durga in the context of this workshop is her independence. She uses her "male" power to fulfill her own ends, and she is never personally compromised. She is a powerful ally in challenging social stereotypes.
*She is a freedom fighter- a champion of just causes.
*Well respected in her own group.
*She works on unconventional project. Practicing what she preaches to an uncompromising degree.
*The Durga woman is not afraid to fly in the face of the firmly set standards or to act independently, particularly when she gets fired up.
*She can be belligerent, arrogant and venomous and a menace when misguided. As a career woman she will rise quickly and ruthlessly to the top where she will be both admired and despised.
* On the other side of the coin she is rarely happier than in the comfort of her own home, which she would readily share with animals.
*She is unlikely to marry a man but if she does she will not tolerate weakness in him but will be much more likely to tolerate weakness in her own sex.
*The lesbian Durga type admires feminine women and falls for those she feels she can protect.
* No matter what the proclivity of the Durga-Woman she is always the subject and object of strong passions.
Kali is the embodiment of duality: with two hands she gives: with tow she destroys. She is as frightening as she is inevitable...such as death and taxes in Western society. Kali guards against complacency: who would fail to take precautions with a such a fierce demanding goddess breathing down one's neck. Pride and materialism become impossible when Kali is present. Her name is Derived from Kali-ma which literally translated means "Black Mother." She is often depicted as standing over a battlefield full of the dead...while with the other hand blessing the scene. She is often associated with Chaos and fear.
KALI in the Mundane:
*Kali is the terrible, challenging complacency in her own life and that of others, and there fore can be disquieting company.
*She pushes people to the limit for their own good.
* You either Love, Hate, or fear her
*Kali will not accept emotional half-measures or cover ups, she riles until honesty and courage are attained.
* Because of her excellent ability to assimilate negatives she may be unsympathetic toward those who, on attempting to absorb the dark side of their psyches, suffer emotional indigestion.
*She often tried to shock, to shatter the norm.
* her confidence is considerable, and she finds dullards hilarious.
*She is fascinated with death which to some may seem morose but what she is truly fascinated with is people's reactions to this natural function of life.
*In child form the archetype is dynamic, often too feisty. As a teenager she enjoys fierce music and pours scorn on her peer group's proclivity toward boy bands.
* Her softer side is revealed in maters of love: even her worst rage is bound by this golden cord. She commits strongly and is likely to go to any lengths to preserve a relationships she deems worthwhile.
*It is through her few close friends that she can display remarkable self- control and kindness.
* She has an intense lust for life in its most vivid aspects.
* She wants to experience the whole of the carnival, dead and alive.
Laksmi is depicted as a goddess of status, wealth, sovereignty, and prosperity. Her unchallenging nature and the ease with which her blessing is attained means she is and easy and effective goddess to work with. She is associated with light and its qualities and candles are often lit to engender her favor.
She also represents new beginnings, recuperative properties and protection from evil.
Laksmi as a Mundane Archetype
*unquestioning in her own good fortune, taking wealth and health to be her karmic due. In adversity she often is equally stoic.
*She likes a modern appearance but is highly conventional and suspicious of the extraordinary.
*She can be impatient when others misfortune is self-induced or recurrent.
*She picks her friends by those who are similarly well heeled, pleasant and acceptable presented.
*A strong parental figure will be in her past.
*By nature is monogamous and will think long and hard before entering a relationship. However is not above a fling with one she does not wish to marry as long as her peers approve.
*Laksmi-woman tend to be robust and a comfortable with their bodies.
*He glory comes from family achievement, social status and matronly honor.
*She is not ambitious for herself either spiritually or materially since she already has plenty to fulfill her needs..
*She will often take the abused under her wing and provide them with protection.
*With in her own sphere she is generous, loving and reliable.
*Her faults are over conventionalism and mental laziness.
Rahda is blessed with love whose fulfillment creates cosmic consciousness and god-realization. Yet she is still prone to the human failing of jealousy and depression. Her relationship also has the surprising aspect of being adulterous. She longed for her lover Krishna(or a reasonable example of a God Head) She had unconditional love for Krishna. Yet never felt fulfilled by it.
Rahda in the Mundane:
*Many intelligent, artistic types display Rahda traits in adolescence.
*She can be obsessive and impractical but shows remarkable tenacity in her fixations
*She is deeply religious either literally or ina relationship, she will make a living deity of her spiritual partner, once that person is found.
*Cult interest will characterize her inner life.
*Her moods swing wildly but she will take great pains to hide her unusual nature.
*When she is separated from her dream by anther's realism or by uncontrollable circumstances she will be inconsolable.
*Her capacity for devotional love is exceeded only by her determination to give it.
Isis is one of the oldest god forms in existence, her history spans thousands of years of active worship. Consequently she is bestowed with many aspects, each one a reflection of the needs and attitudes of those supplication her at the time. Isis' functions range from those of a basic goddess of providence, the succoring and fertility bringing Great Mother to those of civilization the people and protection women and children by encouraging monogamous commitments. She also presides over the intellectual complexities of ritual magic. It is unsurprising that modern magical practices Isis often represents all goddesses from all cultures rolled into one. She is a supreme female deity, her functional scope as wide as her sky-embracing, soul protecting wingspan.
Isis in mundane archetype
*As a girl she gives off an air of being aloof: others consider her shy and socially inept.
*Her strong inner world of emotion and spirituality is always of paramount importance to the Isis archetype. She is always looking "into" a person rather than at them.
*Coupled with her quite nature she can be an unnerving companion and the down to earth may consider her pretentious or neurotic.
* Her yearning to return to a pure, disembodied state naturally attracts her to occult studies.
*Sexually she is obsessive and soul searching psychologically prone to deep depression and feeling of grief and sadness that are often inexplicable to the conscious mind. Only self expressive creativity and the support of other women can help assuage her emotional confusion but these friends must be utterly genuine. The loss of a trusted one is one of the worst kicks in the teeth to the Isis.
*She has great psychic potential but can be too solemn in her application.
*Her main relaxation will be in the form of creativity, gardening, and herbalism. Today possibly aromatherapy and metaphysical interests, and the company of trusted friends and animals.
*The Isis type is affectionate and inwardly loyal but can be relentless in pursuit of her spiritual goals. She can sacrifice what is dearest to her for "higher understanding"
*She is interested in the healing arts and is usually flanked by cats. She is the classic Wiccan woman or spiritually inclined wife and mother.
*She is intense, quiet, dark, and fiercely protective of her own.
*Laughter and sunlight are useful aides in normalizing her. Too much moonlight and she turns into Hecate.
Nephthys is Isis sister and Seth's wife. Married to the god of the desert, she is unable to conceive by him, establishing her position as deity of the unmanifest, where as Isis is goddess of fertility and growth. However Nephthys is unhappy with this role and determines to become pregnant by Osiris. She seduces her sister's husband. By this act of deception she conceives Anubis the jackal-headed god of divination. Though married to the god of evil, nephthys bears him no allegiance. Indeed, most of her actions attempt to rectify what the hand of Seth has defiled. Where Isis is the Dawn Nephthys is the dusk.
Nephthys in the Mundane:
*Well meaning but easily led
*Her lack of self confidence can lead to misplaced loyalty, such as a selfish friend.
*She is likely to defy those who have her welfare at heart.
*Her relationships with the female members of her family will be uneasy.
*She is a crowd follower.
*In a partnership she is clingy, she needs someone with the time and energy to devote to her. She doesn't like the idea of a conventional marriage but if she can find belonging she will find contentment with the situation.
*She is secretly lonely and confused always on the lookout for salvation but not obvious about it.
* An ongoing dilemma between the order and disorder. She is creative but undisciplined.
*Continually comparing herself to others.
Hathor is one of the oldest Egyptian deities. Hathor presides over conception and childbirth and is primarily a goddess of women. In accessing the Hathor or Mother of light with in we can tap into the eternally compassionate and unquestioningly loyal sides of our nature. Myth logically speaking Hathor became the "eye of Ra" and watches the transgressions of mortals from a solar vantage point. When roused by their vile behavior she transforms into Sekhmet the blood thirsty lioness whose wrath can only be assuaged by alcohol.
Hathor in the Mundane:
*Todays Hathor is usually of homely physique and tens to mother her friends, especially males. She often resents more glamorous women.
*She sees other women as potential interlopers on her happiness.
*She has an unthreatening aura and nurturing qualities that make her a popular friend to the sort of men she secretly desires-pretty boys with tricky natures and widespread interests.
*Hathor types are supremely capable often exuding a superhuman calm in times of trauma.
*She is a wonderful chef.
*Despite her homely appearance she is sensuous and sexually playful with in a secure relationship.
* She is hospitable, generous, and excellent with children but can be merciless with women of greater mystery.
*She would benefit from meditation and experiencing loss, both of which can lend her greater insight and, thus greater tolerance.
Maat is the goddess of justice, against whose cosmic featherweight all hearts are weighted on death. If one has led a good life, the scales will balance, but if they tip ones heart is eaten by Chimera from the realms of chaos.
Maat in Mundane archetype:
*Balance above all things
*She is the principal of right thinking
*Those who live a spiritual life can be thought of as a Maat personality while the spiritually slothen are her antithesis.
Sekhmet was originally cast as upholder of cosmic order, or the will of Ra, in a similar role to that of Durga. However, at some point her fearsome aspect became the pronounced trait in lieu of her divine rectitude, retribution was replaced by gratuitous gore, and she came to symbolize the dark forces of Seth. In her more positive aspect, this lioness headed deity depicts the qualities of protection, healing, grace and a keen intelligence. Her sharp senses are especially honed to detect any threat to her own, she is a particularly patriotic deity.
Sekhmet in the mundane archetype:
*The character is complex, clandestine, and infinitely variable.
*Experiments with personae as others do with clothes and hairstyles. She is likely to have one for every occasion. She can slip into them with ease.
*She is fickle as she is adaptable, and her life with be characterized by experiments in sex, lifestyle, and religion. She is attracted to Tran sexuality, bisexuality and gay men adore her.
*She is quick witted and catty, with excellent poise. Intellectually adept and socially fluent.
*She can be found successful in the artistic and literary arena
*To those outside her favor she seems little more than a sly and sensual social courtesan, absorbed in the world of pride and artifice.
*Prone to overindulgence in the name of art.
*She is attracted to conscious altering drugs that are pleasure producing. She juggles with life and death and emerges laughing.
*She rarely adheres to a religious creed long enough for it to take effect.
*She will be partial to astrologers, particularly tacky horoscopes, Tarot tea leaves and the crystal ball. She will be befriended by Hecate-types.
*In the female she will be very attached to her children willing to kill for them
*She is one of natures starlets, a genuine adherent to "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" Some call her evil: others call her wonderful; but really she is just a law unto herself.
Artemis is the boyish girl of Greek myths. Often she displays more classically masculine traits that her brother Apollo. Indeed, though often regarded as a lunar deity, Artemis is rooted in logic and action. Her militant independence and uncompromising absorption in sporting activities create a female prototype unparalleled in other pantheons, and on with strong solar as well as lunar affiliations.
Artemis is a goddess devoid of introspective capacity, choosing rather to mirror the animal world in which she runs free; a domain in which empathy between hunter and hunted would cause dysfunction. Artemis' selfishness is as essential to her as her bow, arrows and hunting tunic. Artemis defies both gender stereotypes and expectations as a whole.
Artemis in the Mundane World
*She can be found in Girl Scouts and same sex organizations.
*at one time she confined her independent virginal nature to socially useful roles, but nowadays is given the leeway to express her more hedonistic style.
*She abound in gay clubs and bars, is usually shorthaired, fresh faced, and tomboyish and is often attracted to those with identical interests and looks.
*She feels scorn for men and particularly for their sexuality, but in her newly liberated form i s often forthright about her own sexuality with in her own circle.
*She has no time for ultra feminine woman, and would choose effeminate men's company over theirs.
*She is inclined to sporting and computers
*Outside of her circle she is shy and gives every possible appearance of ordinariness.
*The Artemis type is secretly attracted to psychic studies and witch craft.
*Some of her sexual fantasies are orgiastic however she is not likely to try them out with out large amounts of alcohol.
*Although highly independent she depends on her close friends as she feels that society is against her.
*Many artemis' refuse to acknowledge their sexuality and undergo on or two unsuccessful marriages before settling down with a dog or a cat.
*She would be an excellent mother given the chance to act in that role but is not defined by it.
*Career-wise, the Artemis archetype will go far, against the odds. Hard work and acquired skill combined with her iron will make her a work force to be reckoned with.
Persephone's myth is one best known as an allegory of seasonal change. It is also one of the most popular stories bequeathed to us by the ancient Greeks, providing a vivid portrayal of archetypal energy patterns and personalities.
*The mundane archetype of Persephone is almost exclusively as a teenager.
*She is quiet, intelligent, and artistic she enjoys gothic imagery, and surreal and symbolist art. She's always seeking outward expressions of her inner turmoil and her creative work is highly metaphorical.
*She is both vulnerable and suspicious of men.
*Her instinctual urges posing a serious threat to her intellectual decisions. Her faculty for self control is self denial. She is prone to fainting, visionary experiences, and psychism.
*She is likely to reject her mother
* She will feel like the misfit teen
*She will develop into another archetype ideally of the Demeter nature. But she will travel through shades of Hecate, Sekhmet, Isis, and many other en route.
Hecate is variously described as a crone, a three-faced lunar goddess and a seductive priestess of the occult. Her indubitable skills as a sorceress make her capable of being any or all of the above indeed she inhabits the body best suited to the aspect she is currently displaying. To those excited by the power she represents, maybe a little glamoured by it, she will seem mesermerizingly perhaps over sexual.
* She can be found any person and would be easily bored and move on to the next finding her inhabitant unpalatable.
*She can be charming in her eccentricity, which can be light relief in this spiritually heady era.
*She has genuine healing abilities-she may be a nurse, midwife, psychiatrist
*She is a great friend of animals
*She can be deeply unpleasant to her enemies targeting their weaknesses.
*When manifesting in a woman she will be physically strong.
*She may take herself too seriously
*Glamorous personalities is what she is attracted to.
Aphrodite according to myth is created when Uranus' castrated genitals are cast into the sea. Just as Athena's birth from Zeus' head affirms her mental prowess, Aphrodite's creation from sea frothing genitalia reveals her as the embodiment of sexual desire.
*Aphrodite is so omnipresent that she is almost impossible to define. She is wherever there is sexual desire and, more importantly, where there is the will to evoke it.
*She is rampant in teenage girls, prostitutes and transvestites; self parody does not offend her as long as it is sexually effective...However brutish sexual acts do offend her.
*Aphrodite is every woman or feminine person who dresses to kill. She is the power of seduction, of will over flesh.
*She is the experimental part of our psyche
*Because of her strong focus on her individual power, she can merciless toward other attractive women.
*She likes to consider herself dangerous but can put herself in equal danger with her flirtatious nature.
*She is the commercial worlds favorite trick.
This kind of understanding of different Goddesses from different cultures can help us understand ourselves and others in order to be able to understand the aspects of ourselves that are Divine. This is just a sampling of what powers we have and can bring into our life when we truly recognize the Divine in ourselves.
THE BUDDHIST INVASION OF AMERICA
By Ross Kevin Thompson
As I grew up in this country I saw a vast changing of the time-honored accepted religion. Many beliefs I grew up with have changed over the years. There has a serious conflict in our schools over the separation of church and state. The values I was raised under no longer seem to be taught to the younger generations. This left a void in our society and a new religious culture moved in and took root.
Growing up in the sixties, one of the largest things in our life was the nuclear threat. We lived in a state of fear and readiness. Everyone had or wanted a bomb shelter. We were trained in school what to do in case of nuclear attack. My family members were in the local Civil Defense Corp. We regularly watched clips of young men from this country going off to fight in Vietnam. In my small hometown there was always someone you knew returning or leaving.
Our fathers and uncles had either been in the Korean conflict or were then in the Vietnam conflict. They brought back stories of the horrors of war but also a respect for the Asian people and their beliefs. They had fought this country and the European countries to a standstill in the Korean conflict and then were winning the conflict in Vietnam. I believe that the young generation of that time interpreted this as perhaps their God was more powerful than ours. This is one of the psychological aspects of any society that is defeated in war. They begin assimilating the religion of the conquerors. The Indian tribes of this continent went through nearly the same situation. The Christians' god was stronger than their god because they were defeated in battle. Nearly all the Indians converted to Christianity in its form of the time. In fact many of their religious practices and beliefs are lost because so many American Indians converted so quickly to Christianity. They lost touch with some of their original spiritual traditions, especially since virtually none of them were written down, being orally passed down from generation to generation.
At the same time this new belief system was rising in the United States, another movement was also on the rise -- the peace movement. The peace movement was an act of rebellion against the society's leaders who were forcing the young people to travel across the world and fight in a strange war with no rhyme or reason. Young people believed there was no reason to fight, and we were losing on top of it. The Christian conservative organizations in this country seemed to ostracize and condemn the peace movement which had started out as a Christian movement in the first place. What happened was a definite splitting of the two groups, liberal Christians and conservative Christians. With the split came a very large void, which the Hollywood film and TV producers aptly filled. Along came the American/oriental hero with his martial arts to protect and defend the weak and downtrodden. Perhaps the first and least known of these was Kato of the Green Hornet TV series. When the Green Hornet was in trouble Kato (Bruce Lee of later fame) would literally come flying through the air in an aerial acrobatic karate kick to save the caucasian hero. While the Christians of the time were preaching to turn the other cheek, Kato was jumping, kicking and punching to save the underdog.
Then along came Billie Jack, a hero of the peace movement and Vietnam veteran. He practiced meditation and pacifism until the bad guys wouldn't allow him to and then, lookout! With Billie Jack we saw the first on-screen display of Buddhist philosophy in both his beliefs and lifestyle. He was called the new American hero of the time and the youth of this country flocked to see him.
But the strongest and most influential of all came in the early seventies. The series Kung Fu actually introduced a hero that was a melding of the American cowboy and the Oriental Buddhist martial artist. The youth of America became absorbed with this new standard of ethics and beliefs. We watched the hero practicing his religion on the television; an almost unheard of act of the time. Christianity was sacrosanct. No one but Billie Graham and Oral Roberts were allowed to display their religious beliefs on the television. And those were only on the Sabbath, never on a weeknight during primetime. Americas youth were looking for something and now they had found it. Right there in front of us on television was a belief system that actually allowed us to defend ourselves, had heroes that came to the rescue during the fight. The hero wasn't limited to standing on the side, praying over the dead and wounded after the battle. These clergy and practitioners didn't turn the other cheek; they were proactive like the cowboy heroes of the old west.
These new heroes didn't go door to door selling their beliefs, either. They didn't have to; the congregation came to them every week via television. They practiced a new form of religion (new to America anyway) in front of the youth, thus teaching a new way of living and worshipping.
Martial arts academies sprung up all across the country in the seventies. Our soldiers came home trained in these arts and brought back the basic tenets of Buddhism. As the martial arts communities grew, the Buddhist community also grew. They were hand in hand, filling that void in the American lifestyle. This young generation sought out Buddhist beliefs using whatever means available. I remember ordering a book on basic Buddhism when I was fourteen. Amazingly, the only place I could find literature on Buddhism was the martial arts catalogs.
While Christianity forged ahead in the television evangelist realm, the Buddhist faith grew even faster in mainstream TV. As one Buddhist/martial arts series faded away another would take its place. One of the largest and strongest of all time remains an American icon. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Amazingly, Ninjutsu is a religious belief system all on its own and has nothing whatsoever to do with Buddhism. One more time, to make the program more reverent and to fill the faith-void, a Zen master (the rat) was introduced. He taught and practiced the Buddhist beliefs that were the foundation of the show. He introduced the heroes (and fans) to Zen-Buddhism teaching them respect for life and belief in good triumphing over evil. Fighting evil was the show's theme.
Another of the great Buddhism facilitators was the Star Wars trilogy of movies. Once again it was good against evil. Learning the art of techno-magical swordfighting (light sabers) the hero is trained also in Buddhism's basic tenets. This eastern spirituality is called The Force -- comprised of good and bad sides (Yin and Yang) that eventually come together into balance and save the universe. Kids, teens and adults are still following the path to enlightenment the Force introduced us to in the seventies and early eighties.
Christian beliefs have always been very restricting and regimented. In the beginning God gave everything to Adam and Eve. They had every freedom and no sin or guilt. The only exception was they could not eat the forbidden fruit. As soon as they broke that one rule, the whole ballgame changed, they had to learn a new set of rules. The Jewish people had to make animal sacrifices as penance and to achieve necessary forgiveness from God. Then Jesus came to Earth and offered himself as the sacrificial lamb. This began a new age of new rules and regimens for followers and believers to learn. After several centuries Christians being persecuted and ostracized they finally came into their own power when mighty Rome decided this was the faith to go with. Christianity proceeded to rule a major share of the western world, in some cases being adopted voluntarily, in other cases forcibly. Europe especially became spiritually stifling. When the New World came onto the scene, some Europeans heroically and against the odds created a country free to practice the religion each person chooses for themself. It took a couple hundred years to be true in fact, not just on paper, but it actually is happening now. We now have that country with true freedom of religion our European founders dreamed of. TV has helped bring this freedom into tangible reality. Opportunity knocked and there was someone there to answer the door.
Where Christianity is strict and regimented, controlling your family and daily life, your work and education; the Buddhist religion is not. Each person chooses for themselves how deep they want religion to go in their lives. Buddha taught each person is unique and each in his own way and time will find their way to placing their feet on the path to enlightenment. No one can be forced to believe and no one can be forced when to believe. Each must find that time and place in their own existence when it is right for them to step upon the path. The Zen masters knew you could teach children from the time they were born and by the time they were adults they would still not embrace Buddhism. Only when ready can anyone take that step onto the path leading to enlightenment. It is necessary for a person to mature in their own way, be it in one lifetime or one thousand lifetimes. It is like addictions therapy. We can force the addict to stop the addictive action but we cannot stop the addictive behavior. Only the addict can know when the time is right for them to stop. If they have not made the decision to stop the addictive behavior, as soon as they are able it will continue. They will be right back to it. It is this same problem that has been arising in the Christian faith for hundreds of years. You cannot force people to have faith. They have to find it on their own. We can raise our children right and teach them to believe in a religion but until they are ready for it, in their own way, it is for naught. As soon as they turn into adults and are given the freedom of choice they begin making bad choices. Why, because they didn't really have the belief. They were living as was expected of them, not as they would have liked. It is this basic difference that has brought so many Americans over to the Buddhist faith. It expects nothing of them except they make their own decisions. It promises nothing and expects no blind belief and following. In fact one of the teachings of Buddha was that all must experience it on their own and all must question each experience. Do not just believe, test it. Always test it!
Perhaps you aren't ready for the path and perhaps the path is not ready for you. Buddhism may not be your answer. That would say nothing negative about you or about Buddhism, just that you were not ready for it. Perhaps you never will be, only you will know. Buddha asked only that you live the correct way and that you use meditation to enrich and enlighten yourself, that it was the simplest way to find enlightenment and transcend the cycle of life, death and rebirth with its inherent pain and suffering.
This free-flowing, simple philosophy captured the imagination and the heart of America. It offers all the ideals that Americans hold dear. Honesty, honor, loyalty, love, bravery, strength and the freedom to choose when, where and how.
The Ideals of the Buddha have not diminished today. In fact they are still growing; movies and the television reflect that growth. Two of the more recent bombardments of America by the Hollywood Buddhist culture are The Bullet Proof Monk and Batman Returns.
I have not even delved into the literary side of America. That makes the movie realm pale by comparison.
Whatever path you choose and whatever time you choose, just remember there is someone ahead of you willing to smooth it along for you if only you will let them know you are also on the path.
America is embarking on a new era of religious freedoms, embracing new and
long forgotten beliefs. It is an amazing time for those on the path.