SERENITY CONNECTION: john lennon

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”    John Lennon

John Lennon was not the ideal poster child for the American boy of the 1960s.  The long hair, the music, the rebellion landed him on the watch list of the FBI which considered him a subversive and a threat to the security of the USA.  It was a contentious time in American history with the battle fronts at home entrenched in the Vietnam War protest and the civil rights movement.  Yes, John Lennon, the threat to the stability of a country rife with controversy, was loved by the Woodstock generation and despised by parents, politicians, and established religionists.

The Beatles foray into the discipline of TM sent shock waves across the oceans to shake the traditional values of WASP America.  On the evening news we saw video of the four cavorting with the Maharishi pursuing Transcendental Meditation much to the chagrin of a white Protestant population back home in America.  The social and political mores of a system built upon an inerrant Bible linked to unquestioned patriotism could not adjust to interlopers from a heathen religion in an ungodly region of the earth.

Lennon was murdered in 1980, but his lyrics and music are timeless.  john lennon “imagine”

“When asked about the song’s meaning during a December 1980 interview with David Sheff for Playboy magazine, Lennon told Sheff that Dick Gregory had given Ono and him a Christian prayer book, which inspired him the concept behind “Imagine”.

In that interview Lennon continued with this dream:

“The concept of positive prayer … If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion—not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing—then it can be true … the World Church called me once and asked, “Can we use the lyrics to ‘Imagine’ and just change it to ‘Imagine one religion’?” That showed [me] they didn’t understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea.”

“….not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your God thing-then it can be true……”

We can only imagine.  We can dream.

 

NEWS FROM GABBY GRAYWHISKERS: “fahooey”

Y’all know what “fahooey” is?  Well, in my lil world, fahooey describes the bullshit that wanna-be intellectuals and pseudo-politicos spout to defend their take on world affairs.  So, let’s me and you for sake of clarity just call it plain ole bullshit.  Comes in all different forms, colors, and texture but it all stinks.

On my mind today is the way America’s controlling political powers lead us down the path of hatred for folks who ain’t exactly fitting into the WASP mindset that’s been running our country for the last 241 years.  Aw, c’mon now, you know dang well I’m right.  Proof of the puddin’ is this nincompoop and his cronies running the White House.  Would a country of people  dedicated to freedom , liberty, and justice put this kind of hog slop in control of our welfare?  NosirreeBob.  So, don’t tell me ’bout America, the beautiful and America, home of the free til y’all fess up to what some folks truly believe.

Now, this here thing with Muslims and terrorists is downright fahooey.  I sure as hell don’t condone the violence, but take a look at what America, France, Russia and England did to the area we now call the Middle East after World War 1.  Split up the people living there into countries that didn’t follow ancient tribal territories, set up governments and controls contrary to their traditions, made fun of ’em and their culture, and then exploited the hell out of ’em for the oil lying underground.  Wouldn’t y’all be pissed-off too if that happened to you?

Stay with me here.  It’s too bad that them folks, who’s now fighting back, is Muslim and some of ’em fight in the name of Allah, but the problem ain’t with their religion, it’s the way we’ve treated them.  Sad to say, us WASPs back here in the good ole US of A put a religious twist on everything when it needs a scapegoat.  Hell, look at the good ole boy we elected President.  Had hands laid on him at a gathering of religious folks in the Oval Office.  Sorry, Pres, y’all need a helluva lot more than prayers and hands laid on ya.

But, again I digress.  Ya wanna talk some fahooey, let’s dig up some genuine American fahooey.  Ever hear of the SPLC?  Stands for Southern Poverty Law Center.  Now, them folks got one helluva job to do.  They keep watch on hate groups in our country and monitor reports of hate crime.  Y’all need to go to their website and check it out: SPLC

917 hate groups in our country that somehow got onto the SPLC’s radar screen and it ain’t because they’ve been helping lil ole ladies cross the street or marching for the civil rights of minorities.  NosirreeBob, these folks is downright vicious.  A lot of ’em hating because of race, many because of religion, some of them hate gays, a few probably hate just because it seems to be the American way these days.  Y’all say “Well, not in my neighborhood this ain’t happening.”

Yeah, that’s what I said too.  Then I checked out the SPLC hate map.  Hell’s bells, there’s 3 of them groups less than 50 miles from my house.  Know what folks?  We all need to get off our fat, lazy, white-boy asses, give up that WASP attitude of privilege and start doing something about homespun terrorism right here in our own backyards.  Not saying them Middle East terrorists ain’t a threat, but we got plenty of hatred going on in these United States of America to keep us occupied for our lifetimes.

Well, that’s enough trashing around fer today.  I need a nap.

 

me, a philosopher? tsk

It is often too easy to get mired in the realms of religious philosophy.  No credible source whom we know or about whom we have read has physically sat down with God and discussed the kingdom, heaven and hell, salvation, etc.  Some claim to have special insight and it is these whom we should distrust the most.  When there appears video and audio of this personal God meeting on YouTube, then maybe, we could agree with the philosophy which a religionist proclaims as truth.  The preceding words are, of course, somewhat facetious and tongue-in-cheek.  But, truly, nobody knows with certainty what awaits in eternity.

Therefore, we must rest on the assumption that maybe your theory on things eternal is valid and maybe another’s theory is valid.  Maybe your interpretation of scriptures is true, maybe another’s interpretation is spot on.  Certainly we can agree that of all the creations attributable to mankind, religion has probably been the most devastating in numbers of human lives murdered and in souls lost.  When any religion or any religionist lays claim to having the inerrant, infallible, indisputable word of God, then that religion’s adherent must surrender his innate God-given ability to figure things out for himself, i.e., THINK.

Recently, a fellow blogger posed the question, “Why are you here?”

In spite of all suppositions set forth by theologians, religionists, your theory, and my theory, it all boils down to this:

what am I willing to contribute in forwarding  the evolution of mankind to the intelligence and compassion which the universe demands as a condition for continuation of the human race?

 

 

 

 

GOD, a verb

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My story is not unique.  Millions have shared it and millions have conquered alcoholism.  A great many of us approached our first AA encounter with extreme trepidation about a spiritual experience.

“What? You going to preach at me some BS about God and religion?”

But, the alternative was a return to the insanity that had consumed our lives and absolutely deprived us of self-respect and intelligent choices.  So, we obligingly sat through the reference to God in the opening ‘Serenity Prayer’ and a few mentions of God by the group and then the closing ‘Lord’s Prayer’.  It wasn’t too bad but, don’t be talking that God stuff laced with theology and thou shalt and thou shalt not.

At my first meeting I learned that the only requirement for membership was a desire to stop drinking.  “I can handle that”.

Subsequently, they talked about a higher power.  They said it could be anything I recognized as a greater power than me.  Well, I already knew alcohol was a greater power than me, so I totally understood that concept.  The older, wiser group members suggested that I use the group as my higher power temporarily until I had some sober time behind me.  That worked just fine.

But, after thousands of meetings and a few years of sobriety, my inner self yearned for a more definitive God picture.  I began the search for deeper meaning and resolution to that initial “God as I understand God”.

My church experience as a young boy indoctrinated me into a theology of an old, bearded, vengeful and wrathful man sitting on his throne somewhere in the heavens just waiting to judge and condemn me for being human.  Indeed, as that God promised, I went to hell.  As I learned from hearing the stories of other recovering alcoholics, that church experience was not unique and equally damning.

During recovery there have been numerous epiphanies but, the most recent and possibly most significant occurred from reading another blogger’s post sharing the concept of God, a verb.  https://cac.org/ .  Amazingly, after several months of studying Fr. Richard’s writings, spirituality for me has returned to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.

What can be more Godly than a group of bickering, diverse, sober drunks coming together in a unified effort to spread the theology of sobriety to a suffering world?  It’s the Gospel in action.  It’s exactly what Jesus proclaimed to the oppressed and downtrodden.  And miraculously for those of us who have rejected the old, judgmental, heavenly seated man of our youth, this God does not demand a list of thou shalt and thou shalt not.

God, a verb, is not a new or faddish concept.  Buddhist monks, Jesus and his followers understood it.  The mystics of ancient times practiced it.  Bill W. and Dr. Bob resurrected it calling it Alcoholics Anonymous.  This God’s only requirement is a desire to live sober, productive lives, and “practice these principles in all our affairs.”

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TREKKING WITH THE MYSTICS

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Peggy Lee, a popular contemporary vocalist of the 1950s and 60s, recorded a song which reached into the top of the charts in 1969.  “IS THAT ALL THERE IS” expresses  disillusionment and disappointment with a life which should be filled with unique experiences.  She suggests that we “break out the booze and have a ball—if that’s all there is”. Peggy Lee died in 2002.

Sometimes our life’s experiences parallel the lyrics of this song of hopelessness and melancholy.  We strive to achieve, to find acceptance within our communities, to perform according to the edicts of our traditional religion.  We fear the god of vengeance and punishment portrayed by exhortations from the pulpits of our churches while we fervently pray to that same god for forgiveness and redemption.  Yet in the secret recesses of our inner selves we intuitively know that the god of our religions and churches somehow misses the mark of truth, compassion, and relevance which we earnestly desire in our lives.  This inner search drives us to search for another day when we can sincerely say “yes, Lord, I will follow”, when we can finally change the word god to a capitalized God.

“9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9 KJV

That day of transformation from god to God reveals to us an inner trek which fills our lives with the beauty, mystery, awe, and inspiration which God intended for us.  It is not a new realization; rather, it has been practiced for thousands of years by Teachers sometimes called “mystics”.  They and their followers shared the wonderment of God residing within and without, present in all beings and all creation, available to any who would seek.  The Kingdom of God is not reserved for the righteous; it is not a distant, heavenly sphere of religious correctness; it is not the eminent domain of any of the world’s religions.

“21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  Luke 17:21` KJV

The writings of the New Testament attribute the above verse to Jesus, one of the Teachers who understood the mysteries of the inner search for truth.  When his sayings, as recorded in the Bible, are processed in the realm of spiritual rather than worldly understanding we become keenly aware of the depth of inner communion with a God who becomes intensely real and personal.

Luke 17:21 is the essence of “TREKKING WITH THE MYSTICS” and the basis for a necessary life-changing redirect.  If our “rock and fortress” dwells within then surely hatred, bigotry, intolerance, government agents, worldly oppression shall be powerless in the presence of the great “I AM”.  We are proclaimed to be instruments of and witnesses to that which is Truth and Light.  We are destined to walk the earth fearlessly pursuing for all people equality, social justice, and personal liberty.  Doing so is our birthright and our Supreme duty.

THE HAPPY MYSTIC

Have you ever momentarily experienced in your meditation a time of absolute serenity and peace?  All trains of thought have stopped.  The world around you is non-existent.  It is tranquil and quiet within.  All is well with your soul.

You try to hang on to it as long as possible but, the phone rings, the kids scream, and the dog barks. Poof! It’s gone.  That brief, unearthly respite was a God moment.  For a mere second you and the God within were in communion.  This mysterious indwelling essence became the Lord of your life on the day you made sobriety the top priority of your life.

We alcoholics are not unique in this discovery.  Many before us, many who are not addicted to any behavior or substance have also known the God within and have fully experienced the pure joy and peace of inner communion.  Buddha and his followers, Jesus and his followers, Muhammad and his followers all exercised the mysticism of an inner experience of meditation and contemplation.  The Kabbalist Jew in his esoteric practice also embraces mysticism.

This has nothing to do with his God, her God, the church’s God.  This is your very own, very personal Higher Power which has no need to be translated by religionists or theologians.  You don’t need dogma or faith creeds or a list of “thou shalt and thou shalt not”  because it is within the deepest recesses of your soul’s being that the God of your understanding can be found.

Faith in this inner God experience of the mystics does not negate or diminish the presence of spirituality that is enjoyed by worshipping with others corporately in the church, the mosque or the synagogue.  This time of singing, prayer, and teaching only enhances that which we know within.  However, we can experience an exhilarating freedom when we understand how and where to find a personal God of our understanding.  Scriptures which we have learned and known for a lifetime come alive with new and deeper meaning.  Our journey is no longer hindered by questions concerning the right pew in the right church with the right congregation worshipping on the right day of the week preaching the right gospel with the right Bible, Torah or Koran in hand.  That spiritual experience which is deep within is always right.

“To thine own self be true.”

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JOHN LENNON

“I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind.”

Lennon/McCartney 1968

 

OK, so the Beatles were not the poster boys for sober living.  But, unlike many of their contemporaries, they did survive the drugging and drinking and left us with numerous memorable lyrics.  Lennon, the peacenik, the rebel, the political activist who found himself on the FBI’s “watch list” for subversive activity wrote “IMAGINE”, the lyrics of which could be a blueprint for world peace.

Ironically, Lennon’s  life ended prematurely in 1980 when an assassin gunned him down in front of his apartment building.  A man dedicated to compassion, love, and peace was taken from us by a gun-wielding madman.  Today, 50 years after the Beatles and 37 years after Lennon’s death, the music and the words continue to remind us that there is a better way to live this life which our HP has given us.

“I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind”  resonates with the comfort and good will which has always been intended to be God’s gift to us.  For a man of immense wealth and talent to write those words offering everything he’s got for a little peace of mind should reveal to us that what is important in life is not riches nor fame.

Peace of mind is especially difficult to capture in today’s violent, unstable world.  We will not find it in church, religion, or philosophy.  It will not suddenly appear through the right ritual or prayer.  It is an inside job which only our connection with a higher power can accomplish.  When we realize and accept that nothing of this worldly existence is greater or more important than the God connection, then we will know the beginnings of “peace of mind”.

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HIS GIFT TO US, not in a manger

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Before a committee of well-intentioned religionists come to my front door with blazing torches and wood to stoke the fires around my stake, let me take the above statement to the next  level.

I also love the comfort of scriptures whether they be writings of Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism.  I celebrate the holy days of Christianity because that is my tradition.  I pray earnestly to the God of my understanding for guidance and instruction.  There is no need to incinerate me with your holier-than-thou rhetoric.  I get it.  If you are one of the torch bearers, then you are obviously incensed by a challenge to your belief system.

And that is a good thing.  THINK!  Your God (mine too) gave you at birth an essence which is intended as a spiritual guidance system, logic and reason.  Ok, call it the Holy Spirit if you must.  I’m fine with that.  However, everything we have accumulated in religious baggage since that moment is man-made and fallible.  Again, before you stick that torch to the wood, recognize that I am not calling that accumulation wrong or unreal.

Religion, when it upholds the value of all peoples everywhere in peaceful coexistence, is a wonderful thing.  Theology, when  it guides adherents to tolerance and acceptance of other beliefs, is  a desirable undertaking.  But, mankind somehow takes religion and theology into another universe with ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots’, with dogma, with creeds and opinions.

I know y’all hate it when a person who is heretical and faithless quotes your scriptures, but, I’ll do it anyway:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

 Maybe Jesus was referring to the innocence of babes in their spirituality before religion and theology had an opportunity to corrupt them.  Oh, what do I know?  I’m just an old, uneducated codger who believes the world could be a spectacular place for everyone if religionists would focus on compassion and “peace on earth”.

Merry Christmas…….y’all

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FREE AT LAST

questions

Having based my recovery from alcoholism on the principle of "God as I understand Him", later into my sobriety time I returned to the Evangelical Christian theology of my familial tradition.  It was familiar and it was comforting.

This election campaigning has become much greater than Republican or Democrat.  It has become deeply personal as I learn that friends and family members with whom I have walked for many years through life's journey, who also describe themselves as Evangelical Christian, within the realm of their Christian ethics somehow can justify  supporting a man who displays none of the values I hold dear.

Am I not Christian?  Are they not Christian?  Are we all playing a game here trying to score points with God by talking the Bible, by going to church, by professing Jesus out one side of the mouth and then revealing out the other side what is truly on our hearts in the political arena?

I find myself wanting to retreat to early sobriety philosophy, "God as I understand Him."  This may be the wisest and most God-honoring choice I have made in many years.  And it frees me to embrace and celebrate without retribution from church and family the great diversity of our world's cultures: Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, white, black, gay, straight.

Maybe that's what Martin Luther King was talking about,  "Free at last."