Tag Archives: tolerance

The View You Choose

Having just seen the new Harry Potter film, I was contemplating the underlying message I find in JK Rowling’s work. No, it’s not some dark Satanic point that seeks to overthrow the basic power structure of the Christo-centric universe. Not exactly, anyway. In my opinion, the most important lesson to be learned from Harry Potter is this: there are people in this world who see magic, and those who don’t. Much like there are people that imagine the world is becoming a hell-hole, and those who imagine it can become a paradise. It doesn’t matter, really, from whence you feel that the magic, or power, emanates. What does matter is your motivation for harnessing it. Next to that, is your interest in how it affects other people. Or something like that.

Among the views with which to judge this life
are found just variations of a pair:
the one, that looks upon the world as filled with strife
and seeks for naught beyond its veiled despair,

with tired and jaded judgments placing blame
on circumstance and temporary might;
for those who look in this way, life’s a game
that designates the one who wins as right.

And sadly, with this vision they proceed
to deem imagination foolishness;
Upon the world they let their bitterness exceed
their hope, and thus, destroy real happiness.

Some unseen, greater prize in vain they seek
to line the coffers of their empty hearts;
and without joy, at length, they deign to speak
of where one’s duty ends, and knowledge starts.

The other view sees the same time and place,
but seeks beyond the surface of the world
and to its mad illusions gives no chase
preferring the whole oyster to the pearl.

Where others see mere folly and lost wealth
attending those who linger on the path,
concerned with more than benefit to self,
they look upon the flower’s bloom, and laugh.

In each small thing, a sense of grand design
and purpose is observed by eyes like these;
and in the commonplace, they seek and find
beneath the surface, subtle energies

that form the substance of all that exists;
yet this discovery breeds no sense of pride,
nor puts their name on some great hidden list;
’tis rarely fame and wisdom coincide.

Of course, within each group, a varied lot
that spans the gamut from glutton to saint,
exists, and each must find their chosen spot.
For some the vision’s strong, for others, faint.

But it is from this pair of points of view
that all the world divides in sects and creeds:
the one, that sees no magic left to do;
the other, knowing better, disagrees.

06 JUN 2004

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Musings on Holy days: common measure

My house is not a Christian home;
I serve much older gods.
So there are times this world and I
would seem to be at odds.
I do not mean the world, per se,
the growing, greening life;
but rather, those who fill it up
and wish to create strife.

I tolerate the point of view
of those who think their path
is the sole method for success;
I shake my head, and laugh.
Their holidays I don’t observe
(which raises a few brows),
and hold my tongue while they defend
and tout their sacred cows.

But they insist that I reform
(while standing at arm’s length)
and tell me that to find true peace
I need their Saviour’s strength.
With quotes from books and lengthy quips
my ears are filled and stuffed
(which makes me wonder now and then
why once is not enough)

Among my friends, I number some
from every path and creed;
and on the average, most of them
I’d help if they had need.
But those who shun my friendship
on the basis of belief
are those who I would rather leave
to their gods for relief.

Some are surprised that I believe
in anything at all;
the basis for my way of life,
they guess is base and small.
Without a weekly term at church
(which they seem to require)
it’s hard for them to understand
how I can stay inspired,

And live in peace and harmony,
extending helping hands
where needed to lift up each other
and meet life’s demands.
I rarely bother to expound
how I engage the world,
but instead prove by actions,
not words, with my fist uncurled.

From most, there is acceptance
(well, at least, an easy truce)
and where not, my philosophy
is conflict has no use;
For we must live together,
and one’s faith is private stuff;
there is no need to make demands –
The world does that enough.

There is a happy medium;
we do share common ground.
At their core, most religious paths
are similar, I’ve found.
All I suggest is sapiens
nihil affirmat quod
non probat
. You do what you like;
I serve much older gods.

11 APR 2004

sapiens nihil affirmat quod non probat: a wise man states as true nothing he does not prove (don’t swear to anything you don’t know firsthand)

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Why Some Sources Are Better Received: an allegory

We stand together on the shore, you and I, watching the night sky.
We both agree we are land-bound and each pines to know the sea.
In our hands we can hold some sand; to me, yours looks the same as mine –
just tiny fragments of the whole, in numbers greater than ourselves.

You use your sand to draw a line between us. As it trickles from
your hand, I wonder why you mark the boundary there and not out
there at the ocean’s edge, where we both see our path’s limitations.
Instead, you tell me that my grains are false and you cannot use them.

I wonder where your few handfuls, that I saw you scoop next to mine
(made of the same small hard stuff, broken from the same giant whole)
became so different from the rest, when you had time to sort these few
in the short time we both had here, how you learned to separate them
from all others on this great span. They are just grains of sand, my friend;
there are millions of them out here, but alone they are not the whole.

Only if placed here together can they make a way for we two
to trail our toes in the vastness that is the sea, from whence we came.
But you reject my small quartz bits, and claim the beach in your sand’s name.

You come at night and wreck castles built of other grains, and on the spot
construct some great monstrosity (that uses some of my sand, too).
By day and night you guard it well, thinking it achieves all that sand
was ever meant to do or be. You cry that your castle weakens,
that when you look, evil sweeps down to brush away your great design.

Sometimes you sound insane, when you insist yours is in fact the only sand
there is, even as the rest of the beach clings to your feet and hands;
Sometimes, when the wind blows strongly, and the air fills with the surf mist,
I see you try to rub the salt from your eyes, cursing the ocean.

Not evil, but the sea itself fights you. For your sand grains are stained
with blood, and the walls of your shrine are tamped with hatred and deceit.
That must be why your sand differs from the rest, and why so many
others, when you offer to share, choose from grains that you have not saved.

26 AUG 2003

An Allegorical Response to Christian Exhortations and Concerns

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Confession of Faith

This is my confession of faith:

That which is real is wholly real
and fills even the gaps between
what I think seems to be real
and what I am incapable of
imagining it might be.

To divide one thing from the next
based on my limited viewpoint
denies that there is something else
capable of containing both.

What I think is the possible
limits what I can understand.

Energy does not fade away;
It changes form, perhaps, and fills
some things now, and others later.
The filling up is called living.
The emptying for another
purpose is called dying.

When I am thirsty for the truth,
a mirage does not satisfy;
but truth’s lake has different sides,
and the water from one shoreline
(though called by a different name)
is the same as from another.
It is one lake, although I can
only see the spot where I now stand.

Awareness of ability
comes with responsibility.

If I can understand this fact
but refuse to heed its lesson
I have no advantage over
those more ignorant and unable.

Without direct experience,
it is not possible to know
whether the things I have been taught
are useful or are even true.
Real meaningful experience
is rare, and always personal.

Hypocrisy means living life
as if what I believe does not
apply to me – by my actions
proving that it is not the truth.

The only sin is thinking that
I see the truth of everything.

My eyes are not that wide.
My mind is not that wise.
My heart is not that big.
I am smaller than I think.

I am less important than I would like to appear to be.
I am not in charge of everything.
I am not placed above anything.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

I am only made of fuel.
Something else will need that fuel when I am finished with it,
and I will give it away gladly,
having no further use for it.

This world is not a proving ground for somewhere else.
This world is not a possession to be dominated or stewarded.
This world is part of the sacred whole.

So am I. So are you.

There is no Other.

25 AUG 2003

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Seed Thought on Different Religions

One should not honour only one’s own religion and condemn the religions of others, but one should honour others’ religions for this or that reason. So doing, one helps one’s own religion to grow and renders service to the religions of others too. In acting otherwise one digs the grave of one’s own religion and also does harm to other religions. Whosoever honours his own religion and condemns other religions, does so indeed through devotion to his own religion, thinking “I will glorify my own religion.” But on the contrary, in so doing he injures his own religion more gravely. So concord is good: Let all listen, and be willing to listen to the doctrines professed by others.
— Emperor Asoka of India, 3rd century B.C., Rock Edict, XII.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet.

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A Thought on Religious Tolerance

If you get drunk on a half bottle of wine, what do you care how many cases of other liquor the tavern holds? — Ramakrishna

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