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Suffering and spirituality 2

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by Nielk, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for your interesting input.
    I don't know if God has a "mind". I'm sure not in the sense that we think of. The confusion might be that in the Bible, God is referenced with many different attributes like, anger, fury, compassion, love, forgiving, etc..
    In addition, He controls and acts on his own accord. Some people might think that this represents having your own "mind".

    My question to you Wayne is: who are we? (started with a simple one = right?;))
    By we, I mean if we our mind is not in control, who is? From your post I would think that your answer would be Soul. Are you saying that we should allow Soul to be in charge and not the mind? If yes, how is this done? How do we tap into what Soul wants? It doesn't speak to us through our mind? Is it through a meditative state?

    You say the aim is to not allow the mind to be in charge. It can limit the perception of ourselves. Can't mind and Soul work together? In this physical form that we are now, I think the only way we can achieve things is through the mind. Even trying to tap into Soul, would be through the mind. Am I wrong about this?

    I am very interested to hear your answers.

    Thanks,
    Nielk
  2. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    I never looked at this disease as a divine punishment. I have questioned that in recent years and thought about it, but I still do not think it's a divine punishment. Not even after twenty years of this hell. I think in my case it was definitely meant to happen for a reason.

    Chronic illness does different things to everyone. For me, because I've been forced to be out of society for so long, all veils are lifted and I see people for who and what they are. This disease gives clarity.

    I was always spiritual and sensitive and had compassion, but I think this disease only enhanced that in me.

    I was reading a book on the history of disease recently and one of the chapters talked about The Black Death, The Plague and how it gave the Christian church so much power, whereas, had that not happened, Christianity might not have really taken much hold in the world. In other words, the disease altered the course of history, as did other plagues that altered the course of Roman history. Disease seems to serve a greater purpose. And we don't always know until much later what that purpose was.

    I am still very religious. I have seen God work miracles in my life. It does not matter that God didn't cure me. I've still seen things that have been answers to my prayers over the years. I don't know why we are given certain things in life, all I know is that we have to deal with them.

    I had a very religious friend who was also disabled, but with a different thing than us, and she used to tell me to just pray and let God work miracles in my life. And she was right.
    rosie26 likes this.
  3. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    Singing HU - An Ancient Spiritual Exercise

    Hi Nielk,

    That would be my answer exactly. Soul, living in this physical universe has a body, has emotions, a mind, and a subconscious mind, all of which are tools to use, not an essential part of Soul. So in a real true sense, we dont have a soul. Saying we have a soul strikes me as assigning ownership to our collective consciousness involving our body, emotions and mind. Instead its the other way around; we are Soul, with temporary ownership of body, mind and emotions.

    Yes, its imperative Soul learn to take charge of the mind, which is vulnerable to the influences in these lower worlds of positive and negative. If you look at humanity, and I include myself as well, we often go around reacting to various situations in very predictable ways because of certain ruts that become established within the mind. The mind, as sort of a separate entity, likes to follow established ruts; thats its comfort zone. And it will do so, even though the effects are quite often detrimental. But Soul can learn to take charge, so that in a sense, Soul and the mind can work together. Learning to do certain things in a habitual way has enormous benefits if its done for a constructive purpose.

    As to how to tap into what Soul wants? The way I see it, there are many different ways to do this. I start out with the premise that there are three primary attributes of God; Love, Wisdom and Power. The most important being Love, and from which all life flows. So whatever we can do in to increase our ability to connect with this love will help us become more aware as Soul. This can be through prayer, meditation, being in nature, being creative, being of service to others, etc. I've posted a bit in the past about singing HU, which works very well for me. The following is a brief description of the HU in a booklet entitled "HU - The Most Beautiful Prayer" (68 pages)

    Here's a link to a web page which has more information about the HU. It is located at:

    HU: A Love Song to God

    Some of the youth in Eckankar (mostly teens) made a short video about singing HU and posted it on youtube. It's located at:

    Eckankar Youth: Just Sing HU! - Ancient Spiritual Exercise


    One thing I've experienced from singing HU is a great feeling of love. I believe this has allowed me to begin to loosen some of the "tight bands" that can surround our minds (which I refer to as karmic patterns). Done over a period of time, our mind patterns (ruts), can become much more smoothed, which in turn allows us to run our lives with greater flexibility and creativity.

    I hope I'm not coming across as some kind of expert on answering esoteric questions. :angel: I feel all I can do is give the best answers and/or interpretations I can, and why certain perspectives make sense to me. Everybody has to determine what makes sense and resonates for them, hopefully without undue influence from forces in this world which are always attempting to have us (and our minds) think certain ways.

    Best, Wayne

    P.S. A relatively inexpensive booklet, "The Call of Soul", has a HU CD in the back which describes some of the spiritual history of singing HU, and different tips on how a person can use it in their daily lives in some very practical ways.
    madietodd likes this.
  4. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    I can't respond with the understanding of a Buddhist, but I'll respond as a fellow-Canadian instead.

    I am not a morning person. Only once in my life have I been up before 6:00 AM, watching TV. I watched the 9/11 terror unfold up-close and in real time, and I arrived mid-morning at work profoundly shaken. In 2003, I was profoundly shaken again as I watched, on a TV monitor at work, George Bush deliver his final live ultimatum to Saddam Hussein.

    In human terms, the American-led war on terror has resulted in 365,000 people being wounded and 7.8 million displaced in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, according to a study by Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. An estimated 225,000 people have been killedincluding 125,000 civilians in Iraqand many more have died from the loss of access to health care, nutrition and clean drinking water (United Church Observer - 1 Sept 2011).

    Rabbi Blech asks, A decade after 9/11 there are those who raise the question: Should we forgive those who murdered the thousands of innocents? He offers his rationale: We are not the ones who have the right to make that decision.

    The Tibetan-born holy man, who was forced to flee into exile in India in 1959 by Chinese soldiers, also offered many sobering words.

    He stressed that individuals, not governments, have the power to bring more honesty into the world. 'The practice of compassion must start with one individual, then share with your own family members,' said the Dalai Lama, who was granted honorary Canadian citizenship in 2006. 'That one family (can) then share (with) 10 more neighbours, 10 more families, then 100 families thats the way to change' (The Canadian Press - Sept 07 2011).

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI_Fi5PF9gs
  5. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Thank you Wayne for your reply.

    It makes sense to me what you are describing that the mind is vulnerable to "learned" reactions here in this world and can get "stuck" in unhealthy "ruts". It's very hard to "unlearn" established ways of thinking. That's where Soul comes in. We need to tap into it.

    This is a key issue in my opinion. This is what many here on the thread have expressed that these things help them attain a spiritual level which makes them feel good. (or less pain) I think what you stated here above, unites all of us - whatever religion or beliefs we have. Whether it's through prayer, being with nature, doing good in this world, helping people, being creative - these are all elements that ring true as a means of elevating our soul, feeling connected and feeling healthier.

    I listened to the song HU. It sounds esoterical. By the way, the word HU in hebrew means He. In the bible it is used many times in terms of God.

    I really appreciate the time you took for all these explanations.

    Thanks Wayne
  6. jenbooks

    jenbooks Guest

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    I enjoyed listening to Gangaji when she held satsang in Santa Fe many years ago.

    OTOH just so you know Gangaji is very human. She and Eli had a vow of celibacy which he broke with a "mentee" who was twenty years younger, having sex with her, she eventually sued them both (a spiritual teacher using the teachings to convince you to have sex) and Gangaji went and got a facelift.

    So....
  7. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    This is the kind of thing I saw so much of on my odyssey through New Age guru land back in the 80's. Sex and power issues often lurk in the shadows of these kind of groups... just like they do in many traditional religious groups as well. What has a front has a back, and the bigger the front, the bigger the back.

    My favorite yoga teacher, Rodney Yee, was also involved in a sex scandal back in 2002. His sexual rendezvouses with two of his students led to a lawsuit against him, and a divorce from his wife. He was practically driven out of Oakland by the anger of many in the yoga community, who had him on a pedestal of purity and perfection. No human can live up to that. Though still, I think it isn't exactly wise to agree to an image that you can't live up.
  8. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Unfortunately, there are corrupt people everywhere. Especially when it comes to people in power. Look at politicians. I think it's very hard to be in a place of power and retain your morality. These two don't combine well. The problem is that people look up to them as role models which is really what they should be yet, many don't live up to that expectation.

    My problem with this is that one should not judge a whole religion based on the mistakes of some individuals. Even if those individuals are in power and betray the faith of their believers. Religions or Spiritual groups or Philosophies should be judged on their content. I know many people become disillusioned when they see false and corrupt behavior by a church or synagogue or other entity. These corrupt people are not the true representatives of their belief. You can't negate a whole religion based on human failure.

    That's just my thought.
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  9. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Hi Nielk--

    I think it depends on how bad one's experiences have been. Unfortunately, every religious and spiritual group I have participated in has demonstrated an abuse of power that has been completely unacceptable to me.

    I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood, and attended parochial school, where I was witness to the abuse of several children, who were repeatedly paddled by the principal, (Mother A.), an angry nun who practiced corporal punishment. She would drag these boys into the bathroom, pull their pants down to their knees and beat their bare asses with a wooden paddle, until they were in tears. Then she would parade them in front of the class, where they would stand red-faced and humiliated, while she proceeded to chastise them for the very minor infractions that she believed gave her the right to abuse them. It was a horrible and frightening thing to watch, and equally disturbing was the fact that paddling children was considered "normal" and "correct" by all the adult Catholics at the school. (The state I grew up in, did not ban corporal punishment in schools until 1994.)

    I was never paddled myself. I was one of the smart kids at school, and was well liked by my teachers, so I flew under the radar most of the time. But I never forgot those kids that were brutalized by that vicious nun. I later felt guilty that I had not done something during my time at that school to protest this abuse and to help stop it. Witnessing that level of cruelty led me to abandon Catholicism completely by the time I was 14. Once I began to get an education on the details of the history of violence perpetrated by the Church against everyone who disagreed with it, (the Inquisition, the witch burnings, the near extermination of the American Indians, etc.), I was really quite appalled by the massive amount of cruelty that was committed in the name of "God." That, along with the Church's stand against abortion and birth control, inspired me to officially excommunicate myself from all association with the Church and everything to do with it.

    When I went off to college I decided to check out the Buddhists at Naropa in Boulder, who were led by Rinpoche Trungpa, whose books I really enjoyed as a teenager, and who was responsible for bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the US. Little did I know that Trungpa was known for being a drunk and womanizer, and that his group of followers was indulging in a lot of sexual acting out, including public orgies, which I once accidentally walked into on my way home from an astrology class in a public apartment building. And then Robert Bly came to town to do a poetry reading, the very first poetry I had ever attended in my life, and lo and behold in the midst of that reading he had a full scale confrontation with the Buddhists in the audience regarding the infamous "Merwin incident." According to what Bly told us all that night, Merwin (another well known poet) and his wife had been attending a retreat with Trungpa's group. When the Buddhists decided to have an orgy, Merwin and his wife left and went to their room, where they were soon accosted by a group of Trungpa's men and told that they had to participate in the orgy. Merwin resisted and a fight broke out between him and Trungpa's men, upon which Merwin threatened them with a broken bottle and got them to back off. When Bly brought this all up into the light of day, the Buddhists in the audience began to jeer at him and yell that he "did not understand CRAZY WISDOM." He yelled back, as people stormed out. Apparently they did not like being confronted with the elephant in the room.

    I was very awed by Robert Bly's courage that night. He was so honest and brave. I told him this just a few years ago, after a reading he did here in Santa Cruz. "I was scared to death," he told me. "There were people in that room who wanted to hurt me." He sure had surprised me! I wouldn't have ever thought anyone could feel threatened and scared of a bunch of Buddhists. I was wrong.

    But that's the creepy thing about speaking the truth to those in spiritual groups who haven't yet faced and come to terms with their "shadow side." I have seen this kind of power tripping, sexual impropriety, and dishonesty in many groups that I attended back when I was in my 20's. There are a lot more stories I could tell! I made the rounds through Sufi, Yogic, Native American, and Kabbalah groups, and each one had a leader that was deeply flawed and very immoral and/or abusive in his behavior. (And yes, they were all male leaders, though I have heard horror stories like this about female guru types as well). To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I was often really shocked and just totally disgusted. And the worst part was seeing how people in these groups were totally willing to surrender their power to these alleged savior figures, and excuse all their bad behavior. So crazy and dysfunctional! Ultimately this is why I gave up on spiritual groups completely.

    At this point I would much rather commune with the birds, and meditate on the ocean and the sky. Nature has been my best spiritual teacher so far. It doesn't ever delude itself into pretending that it's something it's not.
  10. Recovery Soon

    Recovery Soon Senior Member

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    Well said Nielk. Bitterness itself can become a religion if one chooses to focus and preach only on the failings.
  11. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Dreambirdie,

    From all the experiences that you describe, I can understand how you feel. It is beyond awful! It seems like you have been burned so many times that it had such a major effect on you. I'm really sorry you had to go through these horrible events.
    I share with you two loves. One is the beauty and awesomeness of nature. I truly feel at peace in nature and am very appreciative of it's beauty. Sometimes so much so that I find myself crying from joy. The second one is the love of art and being creative. When I paint or draw, I find myself so engrossed that there is no concept of time or any surrounding. I find it healing.
    I grew up in an orthodox Jewish home. I went to Yeshivah (Jewish studies combined with secular studies). I had a great role model. My grandmother who lived with us while I was growing up. She was a deeply religious person and so full of love. I learned a lot from her as far as how to conduct myself and how to accept people and look for the good in people. Even though Practicing Judaism is restrictive wit 613 commandments, it is second nature to me. This is what I saw at home and learned in school. I did not encounter the horrific experiences you describe so who am I to judge. Everyone has to find their own way. I'm just sorry that you had so many stumbling blocks. I wish you didn't see or experience those things.
    Sending you love,
    Nielk:hug:
  12. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Hi Nielk--

    Thank you for your very empathetic response. Very kind of you. :hug: Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful lady. I'm glad you had her in your life as a child. Having someone like that, who was religious AND full of love is definitely a blessing.

    I did witness some horrific things in Catholic school, but I also had some good experiences. Fortunately, most of my teachers were lay people, and some of them--the male teachers I had in 5th, 6th and 7th grade were young and lots of fun. I had some good friends in school and a best friend for most of my time there. My parents never laid a religious trip on me, or required me to go to church, so I was very happy with that. My father rarely ever went to church himself. When I asked him why he enrolled me in Catholic school, he told me, "it's closer than public school. You can walk there and we don't have to drive you." He made sure to tell me, when I was seven, "don't let the nuns convince you God has anything to do with religion." And I never did. Catholicism never rang true for me, and early on I concluded that it was somebody else's religion, not mine.

    As a kid (as I've already mentioned in a previous post) I created my own religion around the Beatles, and prayed mostly to them. I loved the energy of their music and the joy it brought into my life. Eventually nature took over the role of being my spiritual teacher and remains so to this day. We have a lot to learn from nature, being the youngest and most immature species on earth. I hope we learn fast, before time (and resources) completely run out on us.
  13. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    I never did put Gangaji on a pedestal, so I thought seeing her last week would be merely nostalgic.

    But what struck me was how differently I heard her in the context of ME. With ME as my enemy (or best teacher) my battles and peace practices are more internal now. Stop is an imperative, not just an advaita vedanta invitation. And perhaps I'm more open than I was before.

    Faults and images aside, I appreciated Gangaji's willingness to explore, in all circumstances, the full adventure of being alive.
  14. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Moving this thread sideways for a minute, here's a video of an NDE survivor, with some simple and marvelous thoughts about love, soul, and the cancer that almost killed her.

    http://anitamoorjani.com/
  15. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Madie,

    Someone else mentioned her at some point in this or the first thread.
    I listened again to her story and it is amazing.
    I am sure that she is describing exactly what she felt.
    The only problem I have with it is that she says that she realized that she got sick because of fear - because of fearful emotions which was causing her disease. Now that she knows that these emotions are wrong and there is nothing to be fearful of. We are all surrounded by love and we are all interconnected and emotions are what's real and matters in this life, therefore she got well and had a spontaneous recovery. I don't doubt her recovery.
    The problem that I have is that she is kind of laying a guilt trip on people who are very ill. I know that she is talking only about her own personal experience but, do our thoughts cause our illness? That's a pretty heavy guilt trip to think of it this way.
    I think that she had a spontaneous recovery because of the shock that her brain went through and had to re-organize itself and by doing that, it was able to recover. He emotional euphoria, I'm sure helped too.
    So, what do we learn from this? Should we try to have NDEs in order to get well? I am reminded of the movie Flatliners (1990) Where 5 medical students want to experience the "other side" so they stop each other's hearts for some seconds and then bring them back. Their feeling is so great. that they keep wanting to go further and further in order to have these images and experiences of euphoria.
  16. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    Thank you for asking this question, Nielk. I agree with you that spiritual growth may or may not have positive effects on our health. But if we pursue spiritual growth in order to fix our bodies, we've put the cart before the horse, and probably we won't achieve either.

    As you say, guilt trips aren't very useful...though I do find it comforting to forgive my body when it lets me down or myself when I feel I've let my body down. (This practice involves a mind/body split, I know. But barring my healing that split at some future date, I do still live on that level.)

    For me, the reminder in the discussion between Gangaji and the Russian woman (posted earlier) is that we can let suffering teach us to drop under it, to surrender or to stop the war, without then expecting that by doing so we're going to end our suffering. In my experience, the spiritual teacher won't be made to serve me.
  17. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    I'm sorry I was so excited about this, then. In the video I watched, she said nothing about before she got sick. Sigh. I'll look through the rest of the stuff on the website and see if I have anything to add later.

    Or maybe I won't watch the other stuff. Stick with her description of what actually happened, and ignore the story she created after about what got her sick.

    Sorry I missed it earlier in the thread, and whatever discussion you had then.
  18. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Don't be sorry Maddie.
    It's an amazing story and I don't want to belittle it. This NDE experiences are an unimaginable peek at the spiritual world and it is more than what our physical bodies can comprehend. I experienced a spark of it when I was in a euphoric stage after taking some medication and it's unworldly. She does say though towards the beginning of the video that she was made to understand that it was her fearful emotions that caused her to be ill. Now that she knows that these fearful thoughts are a sabotage and the reality is emotion of love and connection, there is no need for her to be sick anymore. This might all be true but, it causes me to feel guilty about being sick. Just my personal observation.
    Thanks for your input Maddie.:hug:
  19. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Thank you Ember for your intuitive post.
    Yes, I do believe that spiritual growth might have an outcome of improved health but, not if you force it. It has to come to us by acceptance. We can only do our part to try to open up to possibilities. We need to take care of body and soul. The outcome is not up to us. I personnaly have a problem with surrendering but, I'm working on it.
    Thanks for your insights.
    rosie26 likes this.
  20. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    For me, surrender gets spelled out in the Book of Job...in God's final rant that puts Job in his place. It's about humility and right relationship, things I'm pretty sure I won't learn outside of suffering. Perhaps the acceptance you speak of is another name for the same thing.
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