Tag Archives: The Itch

Who or what can we believe?

Know yourself.

A Friend on FaceBook has asked this question several times in recent weeks.  I am writing this specifically for that person.  Mainly, I will merely reiterate things I’ve said before on this blog; whereas that person doesn’t normally read this blog.

This could get quite long, and I’ve given myself a deadline, so I’m striving to put the most important information first.

If I try to take seriously all the conflicting claims made by different sides in different debates, I wind up being so confused I question my own sanity.  What to do?

Continue reading Who or what can we believe?

Practical advantages of being a nice guy

(Originally posted 07/28/12 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Reblogged  05/14/14.) 

It’s been a long time since I last considered this; maybe because, for some months, there haven’t been that many jerks among us at the shelter. Whether the “spirit” I breathe out has anything to do with that, I don’t know.[1] But I was in the shower 07/01/12 and overheard that they’d run out of wash cloths, and that brought this to mind.

Just being a nice guy earns me concrete, practical rewards.

A number of mainstream people help me financially who definitely would not help a jerk.

If we’re in the smoke pit and I need to bum one, I’m far more likely to get one than would a jerk.

Last summer, there was a shortage of wash cloths, for reason that people were stealing them. At first, if you weren’t one of the first 40 to shower, you wouldn’t get one. Then it became 30. Then 20. Several guys, it turns out, actually donated wash cloths. I donated 15. They all disappeared.[2]

Some guys come to the clothes window and every day, it’s:
Continue reading Practical advantages of being a nice guy

The Gestapo librarian

(Originally posted 08/04/12 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Reblogged 05/28/14.)

Officer Nasty works security at the library. He doesn’t wait for trouble to happen or for someone to ask him for help. Instead, he constantly patrols the whole place looking for people who may be breaking the rules, so he can put them out. He walks up and down the narrow aisles of the computer center to see what you have on your screen. He comes into the men’s room hoping to catch someone in the act — act of what, I can’t imagine. You get the picture.

Continue reading The Gestapo librarian

Tactics

Take things in stride

From a previous post:

A runner’s “stride” has two factors.  First is the distance between steps — from where the toe of one foot hits the ground on one step, to where the toe of the other foot hits the ground on the next step.  The second factor is the number of steps she or he takes per minute.  Ideally, both factors are constant, so that the runner maintains a steady speed.

Sometimes an obstacle or interruption may come up in the runner’s path, that he or she will step in or on unless some adjustments are made.  Could be a hole in the ground or a pile of doo-doo.  In this case, the runner may shorten or lengthen one step in order to avoid stepping on the thing, and correspondingly lengthen or shorten the next step, so that overall her or his speed doesn’t change.  This is “taking things in stride.”  One can do the same with the obstacles or interruptions of life.

The afternoon of Tuesday, June 12, became a comedy of “What else can possibly go wrong?”

My Medicaid had got cut off because they required proof of income, and the only proofs I thought I had weren’t acceptable.  I dreaded accessing their website because it’s impossible to navigate and never gives me enough information.  I dreaded phoning them, because the person’s voice is always so faint on the other end of the line, I can’t hear the person.  I found out that various centers are available where one can get in-person help.  I found one nearby.  They operate by appointment only.

So, to make that phone call, I went in the big plastic grocery bag where I keep about half my things, to the place where I normally keep my phone (off, to save battery).  It wasn’t there.

I had carelessly left it on top of the table earlier in the day, and a specific passerby took it.

So I had to go replace it, in order to make that phone call.

Online I found a T-Mobile store at Lombard and Light Streets, and in due course I went there.  They had a $75 phone on display, but the clerk told me it wasn’t in stock; that one was for display only.  He said the other store, at Harborplace, had it in stock.

Half a mile distant.  So I went there.  The manager said the $75 phone wasn’t in stock, but she could give me a special deal on a different one for $100.  So I took that.

By the time she finished what she had to do, it had become pretty urgent that I get back to the shelter, if I was to get a bottom bunk (preferred) or any bunk whatsoever — and not get turned away and have to shell out for a hotel room for the night.

Something else suddenly became more urgent, however:  I needed to sit down in the bathroom.

So I finished at the store, asked where was the nearest men’s room, go did the necessary there (very messy), and set my sights on a fast trip to the shelter.

When the strap on my plastic bag broke.

Fortunately, I had an identical bag rolled up in my backpack, and was able to put all my things into that.

And, as it happens, wound up getting a bottom bunk.

Hours later, though physically worn out, I found myself in high spirits — because I had taken things in stride.

Related:  Previous post, same title:  Take things in stride

Keep the thought, change the feeling

One may find one’s mind focused on an idea, person or situation, and one’s feelings toward that focus untoward.  The practical needs of the moment may mean one can’t just “get your mind off it,” but one can possibly choose more desirable feelings.

One possible option sometimes is “flipping.”  If I find I’ve just cursed someone, I can begin thinking and feeling the exact opposite, thinking, “God bless him,” and sending the person love, light and prayers.  Thus usually entails a lot of chagrin for the sin I committed to start with.

Other times, the change — sublimation — may take more time and effort.

Keep the feeling, change the thought

Feelings one may find objectionable — may not necessarily have to be so.  It is hard for me to discuss or name some of the feelings involved, since for most of my life I never voluntarily let myself feel them, and I have only lately become willing to manage these limbs of my soul.

Feeling mean, being mean; being or wanting to be “hard;” “getting your game face on;” being aggressive: these are some of the feelings in question.  To me, determination feels a lot like anger.  But these feelings have their God-given uses, when one faces hard physical exertion or has to overcome obstacles.  One like me, who wants to rise out of poverty, faces a ton of hard work and many obstacles to overcome.  So I’m coming to accept, even welcome such feelings — and when they come, set my mind on situations where they may be useful.  One example is to see myself climbing the ladder, up out from the pit of poverty, to the level ground of the social mainstream.  It’s hard, and it’s OK to feel hard.

A very common situation: untoward sexual lusts.  If one is in a presumptively exclusive relationship, lusts directed towards another need not be denied, repressed or sublimated, but instead merely redirected towards one’s partner.  For single women and men, attraction to an inappropriate person can be redirected towards one or more appropriate persons — even if the object of one’s fantasy can only be purely imaginary.

Soul farts

It took me years to accept that these do, in fact, occur, and that they are what they are.

Unpleasant feelings may come out of nowhere, not in response to any event, and hang on for minutes or hours, unable to be sublimated.

Just as the physical body produces various wastes, including gaseous farts; it stands to reason that the soul also produces spiritual (emotional) wastes, including farts of its own.

One handles a soul fart the same as a bodily fart: just let it go, though the “smell” may inescapably abide for a while.

In the midst of a soul fart, it’s essential to know that this has no rational basis and is not in response to any event.  One needs to step back from one’s feelings — put in the clutch, so to speak — and determine not to take anything too seriously, anything anyone says, anything that may happen.  Hold off on any major decisions until after the gas passes, when one will have better judgment.

The Itch

The most troublesome soul fart for me has been what I call “the Itch:” the desire for turmoil, the desire to find (or create) trouble, to be angry, even to possibly hurt others, and so on.  I am coming more and more to accept it as a soul fart, and to stop beating myself up just because it happens.  The chapter “About organized religion” will deal at length with a man who has an especially bad case of it; the possible karmic bases; and what he must do to be free.

 

 

About organized religion

July 1, 2018

The evils of organized religion need no rehearsal here.

People rightly question whether it has any right to exist.

To respond, I can begin with an examination of the life of one single man, John Lee Cowell.

Read this:

BART killing: Divergent paths met tragically on Oakland platform

If that link doesn’t work, click here.

That this was a white-on-black crime led to a spasm of hysteria.(*)

No heaven or hell is of interest to me except the living heaven or living hell folk create in this life, here and now, for themselves and one another.  Clearly, Cowell has spent his life creating just such a living hell.

But before he ever did that, there is the living hell he was born into.(**)

No theodicy can justify this apart from belief in reincarnation.

The question is how one got into that situation, and how one may get out.

Karma as results

It may be easy, too easy, to imagine how this individual got himself into that situation:  it’s “bad karma” rising from the bad things he’s done in the past.  There may be a less judg-mental way to look at it, an alternative to seeing karma as rewards and punishments.  Indeed, the God I worship and believe in doesn’t deal in either one.

I’m not good at video games.

One I played a few times involved fighter spacecraft engaged in battle.  Again and again, this happened (which is why I gave up on the game): I’d launch an on-target weapons blast that destroyed the enemy craft; but, as the pieces of its wreckage continued on through space along their own paths, I’d ineptly steer my craft into the path of one or more of them, and so be destroyed myself.

Similarly, for better or worse, karma is a matter of one’s meeting the results of one’s own actions.  It is composed of spiritual material that is just as — material — in its own world, as any material object is in ours.  Like those pieces of wreckage careening through space, or like billiard balls rolling across a pool table, each one — with its own momentum and inertia — will continue on its path unless something happens to redirect it or dissolve it.

Expiation of karma

I have lived at times in dread of what bad things I have done in previous lives that may come back to create unforseen, inevitable disaster in my future in this life.  There is no need to do so; no need to explore one’s presumed past lives in search of such information.  For from moment to moment, day to day, one meets one’s karma from this life and the past; as little or much as one can deal with, at the moment.

One who lives as Jesus taught is prone to present one’s best self at all times; the best self one can be at the moment, from moment to moment.  In this way, such a person is not only creating the best possible present for oneself and one’s community, but also sending favorable karma into one’s own future.

By the same token, one who lives as Jesus taught is best equipped from moment to moment to deal positively with life’s difficulties as they occur.  Those difficulties inevitably include the negative karma from one’s past.  Dealing positively with such events expiates that karma, sublimating evil into good, changing darkness into light.

Forgiveness

In recent days, I have been assembling a list of Bible verses to examine in the chapter, “Other Jesus sayings.”  I puzzled over the significance of these:

  • Mark 11:25: “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
  • Matthew 18:35: “So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
  • Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18: “[W]hatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

The last one seems to me to be about forgiveness also:  “loosing” a bond refers to forgiving an offense; “binding” refers to not-forgiving.

The way of the world

is to not-forgive, but rather retaliate.  Much of what we see, in the world, is a matter of negativity between persons going back and forth forever, each one alternating in the roles of victim and victimizer, which is why the human state seems so seldom to improve.

All sentient creatures, all creatures that have free will, have the privilege, power and ability to change light into darkness, or darkness into light.  This is a feature of God’s image in each one.  To forgive is to change darkness into light.

As to the bond that is created when one does not forgive:  this is, in effect, a material thing in the spiritual world, like any of the rest of one’s karma, that will careen on its own through space-time potentially forever.  Something has to happen to loose or dissolve that bond, an act of will by some sentient creature.

Their task

The soul who was Nia Wilson, and the soul who is John Lee Cowell, are destined to meet again; in a future life for her, and the present or a future life for him.  When they do, the person she will be is destined to feel a strong, murderous impulse toward him.  If she fails or has failed to forgive; or fails to sublimate or redirect that impulse; she will act on it — possibly again, as we cannot rule out the possibility that he killed her his time in retaliation for an attack she, in some previous life, made on him before.  Either one could have been of the other sex at that time.

Similar impulses clearly have beset Cowell all his life.  I refer to this phenomenon as “The Itch,” an unsought desire for strife or violence or turmoil.  Its presence in my own experience is very troubling to me, and I am working to purify myself of it.  In other chapters, I set forth “Strategies” and “Tactics”(***) one may use to sublimate or redirect such impulses.

Cowell faces far more work in this regard than you or I.  Much as he may strive in it, he is sure to sometimes fail.

A major aspect is that one must be willing to forgive oneself, which may be what Mark 11:25 and Matthew 18:35 are actually about.

Related: A short route to agony

He will never be free until he discerns the image of God within himself, and loves that, loves himself, enough to forgive himself his life of violence and crime.

Sole source

The evils of organized religion need no rehearsal here.  I obviously have profound disagreements with traditional Christianity in almost any form.  The fact remains that no other institution in the West, even in the world, presumes to seek to understand what Jesus taught.  No other institution in the world even sets forth the proposition of forgiveness.

The church does.

That’s reason enough it should exist.

======================================

(*)Related:
– BART slaying ignites fear among black people — ‘It just feels like they’re coming for us’
– Anne Hathaway calls out white privilege in passionate post about ‘unspeakable’ murder of Nia Wilson
– Critics say the media makes innocent blacks look dangerous. Nia Wilson is their latest example.

(**)One can compare him, in this regard, to Carter Scott, Jamarion Lawhorn or Kendrea Johnson.

(***)These will appear at a later date.

Sales pitch

Friday, November 3, 2017

This message is principally addressed to me, myself. After a couple weeks of doing pretty well at The Way of Peace, I’ve come again to a juncture where I seem to have tired of being happy, and am inclined to let go of this Way and return to, frankly, the way most people live.

Related: Learning curve

I may need to reason with myself, to persuade myself that self-management (1) is really worth the effort and (2) deserves to be a “First Thing” — a concern to be given priority, and to be held more important than other concerns.

Continue reading Sales pitch

Keep the feeling, change the thought

A basic tenet I’ve maintained here, is that one’s feelings are largely independent of one’s circumstances; and that one can typically choose how to feel, no matter what one’s circumstances are.

Well, maybe not always.

But for sure, feelings come on that one will not like, that have no relationship to anything that’s happened in the real world.  How to deal with them?

Continue reading Keep the feeling, change the thought

Appetites for darkness; befriending the shadow self.

Tuesday afternoon at the library, instead of doing anything on [church obligations], I spent time with several articles that could have been predicted to make me angry. I’ve forgotten specifics about them, and Net History from the library terminal isn’t available to me here. The deal is, I recognized an appetite for darkness; “The Itch.” Similarly yesterday, yesterday morning, once I realized I really had nothing to do that day, I became intensely angry and prone to look for ways to act out that anger; e.g. by finding more such articles to fume over. Went through some more of the same last night, albeit presence in the shower saw it all go away.

All this in the face of my goal of being perpetually happy and cheerful and an emanator of light and joy.

Continue reading Appetites for darkness; befriending the shadow self.

* The Gestapo librarian

(Originally posted 08/04/12 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Reblogged 12/27/18.)

Officer Nasty works security at the library. He doesn’t wait for trouble to happen or for someone to ask him for help. Instead, he constantly patrols the whole place looking for people who may be breaking the rules, so he can put them out. He walks up and down the narrow aisles of the computer center to see what you have on your screen. He comes into the men’s room hoping to catch someone in the act — act of what, I can’t imagine. You get the picture.

Continue reading * The Gestapo librarian