Mature Persons in Love

“A mature person does not fall in love, he rises in love. The word ’fall’ is not right. Only immature people fall; they stumble and fall down in love. Somehow they were managing and standing. They cannot manage and they cannot stand – they find a woman and they are gone, they find a man and they are gone. They were always ready to fall on the ground and to creep. They don’t have the backbone, the spine; they don’t have that integrity to stand alone.

A mature person has the integrity to be alone. And when a mature person gives love, he gives without any strings attached to it: he simply gives. And when a mature person gives love, he feels grateful that you have accepted his love, not vice versa. He does not expect you to be thankful for it – no, not at all, he does not even need your thanks. He thanks you for accepting his love. And when two mature persons are in love, one of the greatest paradoxes of life happens, one of the most beautiful phenomena: they are together and yet tremendously alone; they are together so much so that they are almost one. But their oneness does not destroy their individuality, in fact, it enhances it: they become more individual.

Two mature persons in love help each other to become more free. There is no politics involved, no diplomacy, no effort to dominate. How can you dominate the person you love? Just think over it. Domination is a sort of hatred, anger, enmity. How can you think of dominating a person you love? You would love to see the person totally free, independent; you will give him more individuality. That’s why I call it the greatest paradox: they are together so much so that they are almost one, but still in that oneness they are individuals. Their individualities are not effaced – they have become more enhanced. The other has enriched them as far as their freedom is concerned.

Immature people falling in love destroy each other’s freedom, create a bondage, make a prison. Mature persons in love help each other to be free; they help each other to destroy all sorts of bondages. And when love flows with freedom there is beauty. When love flows with dependence there is ugliness.”  
— Osho
Question: How have you seen the truth of this in your own life?

Anxiety RX

 

prescription pad rx

Image courtesy of vculibraries, licensed under Creative Commons

Below is a typical response I give to religious people who are struggling with anxiety and write asking for guidance. They tend to feel as if taking medication is a cop-out and that prayer should be able to completely alleviate the problem. The thing is, in a person without clinically significant anxiety, prayer and other spiritual exercises will probably go a long way toward resolving the problem. In people who have struggled for years and tried approaches of all kinds, spiritual approaches will probably not do the trick either, and this will often leave the person feeling guilty and as if his/her faith is questionable.

I know this will sound strange to hear from a pastor, but I recommend spiritual approaches in moderation. The reason is because so many of us today have been conditioned to use spiritual approaches as a kind of bludgeon, where we feel unspiritual and out of sorts if we can’t fix the problem through prayer, etc. When spiritual approaches help us find, face, and follow truth, and when they help us love and accept ourselves for who we are (just as God does), they are valuable. When they dictate to us lists of musts and shoulds and lay more burdens on us, they just become one more thing to worry about, and that’s the last thing you need. If the spiritual stuff is oppressing you and making you feel bad right now, drop it for the time being and pursue other approaches. Spirituality is a really powerful tool, but just like any tool, if we don’t know how to use it properly it can be very dangerous. In other words, if you notice that every time you swing a hammer you hit yourself on the head, I’d suggest leaving hammers alone for a while.

As far as how you should be relying on your faith, there are a lot of things you should be doing. You should avoid most red meat, not drink soda, work out 45 minutes a day, take a multivitamin every day, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, never waste time at work, etc. The fact is, almost nobody is capable of doing everything we are told we should be doing. We take that same inability with us into our spiritual lives. You simply cannot, right now, be a person who gives all this over to God. If you could, you’d have already done it. Start there, with the reality of your powerlessness. Having seen that, don’t jump right into “Yes, but by God’s power…” That’s simply not true for you right now. At some point, by the power of God, perhaps you’ll do a lot of things, but we tend to want to acknowledge our powerlessness only long enough to declare God’s power working in us so that we can effectively be powerful again.  

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Christians who hate religion

This video has been extremely popular on the internet over the last several months.

It’s the kind of thing many people would probably expect me to agree with wholeheartedly. But I don’t. It’s simplistic (a pejorative term that means naive, or simple to a ridiculous extent). It makes some good points but throws a precious baby out with the bath water. It also demonstrates some poor thinking skills.

Religion is simply the form we give to our worship of God. There’s nothing wrong with religion itself. In fact, when religion is terrible and abusive, it comes from spirituality that is also horrific and malformed. Bad spirituality leads to bad religion. The best spirituality does not and cannot abandon religion but will instead lead to the best religion. It cannot work any other way.

A person can say all he wants, “forget religion, just give me Jesus.” This sounds good, and certainly plays on a sentiment that is becoming increasingly popular in our society. But once a person has Jesus, they must decide how to worship him. That is religion. By the way, because this is true, that is why another phrase Christians like to use is also false. “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.” This is absurd. Of course Christianity is a religion. Certainly Christianity promotes a relationship (with God), but the way a person chooses to act in relationship to a deity is called “religion.” I’m not splitting hairs here. Christians should not attempt to distinguish themselves by making claims that are false. It is unfortunate that I even have to mention this, but the response I frequently get is “well, it may not be true, but it’s not hurting anything.” I say anytime we knowingly say something false, we have hurt ourselves and those around us.

I realize some Christians are desperate to point out the uniqueness of Christianity among the world religions. I get it. There clearly are some ways in which Christianity is unique. But it is definitely not unique because it is not actually a religion at all! If you’ve read more than one or two of my blog posts, you know I’m a pretty fierce critic of the church. We have embraced an anti-intellectualism that is stunning in it’s breadth. We are growing increasingly content with sappy, feel-good-ism in in our faith, and simply do not require our teachers and leaders to be, above all, truthful. Most of us do not question videos like this, but respond emotionally to them and put them up on Facebook without ever really asking if they are truthful, that is, whether or not they correspond to reality. If you claim to follow and worship Jesus, you are religious. If you openly disdain religion while being religious yourself, you are either a hypocrite or you don’t know what religion is. I am convinced that it’s overwhelmingly the latter. Rather than rejecting religion, we should be learning to think carefully so we can spot the kind of shallow stuff we see in this video.

If you claim to follow and worship Jesus, you are religious. Denying that you are religious does not make you less religious, but it does make you a whole lot less credible when you open your mouth about religious matters in the future, and perhaps most other matters as well. After all, if a person cannot see the simple fact that he is religious, what other basic truths about himself or the world might he be unaware of?

Update: Micah Murray linked to his post on this topic in the comments below, and I hope you will zip over and read his as well.

The Role of Anger in the Spiral of Violence

rage

From Rage game, developed by id software.

Right now in politics, as it usually is in relationships (both personal and international), it’s not about seeking truth, and it’s not even so much about being right. It’s about the other guy being wrong. Tempers flare and people go to greater and greater lengths to convince the other guy he’s wrong. It starts with dismissal of the other person, then moves into exaggerating his/her offenses, then moves into lying, shouting and anger, then into pushing and shoving. From there it moves to throwing punches, and eventually to murder. That’s the progression (the spiral of violence) and whether it goes as far as murder or not, its starting point is false. Preoccupation with the wrongdoing of others, instead of honesty with ourselves ourselves about our own role in the word’s badness can never lead to a true place. The root is bad, so you can count on the tree being bad.

The mere presence of strong emotion (intensity, anger, outrage, bitterness, profound frustration, wanting to commit violence) is a sign that a person has “identified” with their emotion. They now see the emotion as part of their identity. (This strong identification with negative emotions and thoughts) is what religion and Carl Jung have called “the false self.”) They have a “right” to it because they have been so wronged. They clinch it tightly to their chest and refuse to let go. They justify it, defend it, nurture it, protect it, excuse it. They spend time feeding it daily. They become angrier and angrier at those who disagree with them because their attachment to their opinion, rightness, worldview, and perceptions is so powerful that it actually owns them. They think they have this anger, but the anger has them. They no longer know who they would be without it, and they deeply fear anyone, anything, and any idea that threatens to remove from them this great love.

From this position, a person is almost incapable of seeing clearly. While it seems obvious that the person who angrily points out someone else’s anger is part of the problem with anger in the world, it feels completely justified to the one who feels it. The hardest thing we ever have to do in this world is realize that those strong emotions and our tendency to embrace them, feed them, make love to them, even to baptize them in religion, is what is most deeply wrong with the world. I have those tendencies. Everyone does. Until I see that fact clearly in myself and learn to identify it and start separating from those strong emotions, so that they no longer control me, I am what is wrong with the world. What’s even worse is that until I learn to identify myself as the source of what is wrong with the world, I will identify you as that source. And you probably won’t appreciate that.

Why I Will Be Posting Less Often

Writer_John

Image courtesy of Onomatomedia, licensed under Creative Commons

It is clutch-time, dear reader. I have completed my book, Living Truthfully. I have spent the last few months building a platform, partly because I need a platform to get the book out, but also because I love the challenge of platform-building and finding “my people,” and the regular writing discipline is good for me. However, I need to devote most of my writing time to editing the book, finishing the proposal, and finding an agent who believes in it as much as I do. Though I have fears about losing my audience, it obviously doesn’t make sense to not follow through on getting this book published.

I will post one to two new posts per week for the next few months, and will re-post some stuff my readers might like that has been written on other blogs by other writers. My Twitter and Facebook posting schedule has also changed. From here on, it will be less frequent, less repetitive, and less annoying, and there will be days of silence.