Saturday, March 11, 2017

RELIGION AND PURPOSE

We all seem to need purpose and meaning.  Without them we often flounder discontentedly. Ill at ease in our preoccupations.  Traditionally religions supplied these for us, but purpose and meaning handed to us by any external source discomforts us.  We sense not divine will but human manipulation through both institutions and traditions narrated by others.  Among religions that is easier for Buddhists with no deity to contend with.  We want to trust ourselves, focus on our enlightenment and a good life free from other constraints.
I have avoided the entanglements of lineage.  I am not even a deist.  I am a theologian with no god, if that does not seem contradiction.  Yet I impune.  I look for intention.  I find intention in myself and therefore I seek it in the universe.  Anthropomorphic thinking?   Possibly.  But I wonder why I am so constructed.  Born of an agnostic mother into a family that avoided any mention of what they did not feel equipped to understand – leave that to the professionals who claim knowledge – with a faintly superior cynicism about the self-serving claims of the followers and uncritical believers.

Is it only that I want there to be a purpose – to the creation, to life, to my life?  It feels right that there be and that I should seek it.  And the responses that seem acceptable truly do satisfy some need in me.  What about you?  Does the concept of God resonate with you.  What is your sense of what you maybe here for, or what you ought to be doing with the gifts life has given you?

Monday, February 27, 2017

I KNOW YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
Of course.  Most of humankind suffers all their lives through poverty, hunger, lack of adequate shelter, violence, cruel treatment and oppression.  War continues to be an acceptable mode of resolving the problems of or with governments, and in war atrocities are considered ‘collateral damage’ to be expected.  A very small segment of our societies controls the resources of the Earth to maintain lives of unjustifiable and superfluous wealth without restraint.  In doing so the environment is ravaged and all life, including our own is threatened by growing global warming.  The news of the day intones horrors worldwide and in our own neighborhoods, which increases our anxiety and our suspicions and fears of others.

And yet.  And yet every one of us wants the world to be better.  We do not consider that those who call us their enemies and those we call our enemies all want the same thing.  We only may have different theories about what is causing the problems we face.

Because we do not know each other.  We think we do.  We think the others are much simpler than they are.  But everyone is much more complex than we know or consider.  For us to know them and for the to know us, we would all have to listen to each other.  Really listen long and seek to comprehend and understand each other.

Consider for a moment that almost all the problems of the human race are caused by ourselves.  We have a few problems of disease and natural disasters, but they are practically nothing compared to what we are doing to each other and to the survival of life on this planet.  If we all got together we could solve all theses problems, working with instead of against one another.

The greatest need for our lives, and for the health of all life on Earth, is to connect with others, to come together and listen to each other.  Taking turns so that each is heard and as listeners we are not trying to further or defend our own beliefs, but are open to learn about the other, to understand how the other came to feel and think in the circumstances of his or her history.

We may have different tastes and different styles, but behind them we are very much alike.  We all want to lead our lives in safety, in freedom from oppression and in peace, to have our needs met for food and warmth, for health, for belonging, for acceptance and appreciation, for satisfying curiosity and creativity, for play and fun, for happiness and well-being.  As we examine those it should be apparent that every one of these things we are able to provide for everyone together.

You may find all this an over-simplification of our problems and their solution – yes, I think that to simplify is a good thing sometimes to activate us to make changes.  This is why my life’s work is to make circles to connect people, to listen to them and demonstrate how to listen to each one supportively.  That is the meaning I have discovered in my being here.  Following ancient instructions of our elders we call this The Circle Way, and its tool we call Supportive Listening, to distinguish it from our normal listening modes.


The last chapter of my book is about The Circle Way and I will put it up on what is sent next from this website www.circleway.org.  If you wish to get those mailings click ‘subscribe’ here on this site.  It is, I hope, a fairly clear summary of that process which you might use in teaching others.  Since Ellika and I began to make circles over 30 years ago they have grown in many countries with many people taking leadership and letting me know of their achievements.  I am glad when any of you connect with me and tell me how you are doing with this.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I keep putting forth that I want you all to think of yourselves as leaders and to take heart and courage to volunteer to lead wherever you can.  Not the rump kind of leadership - we have had too much of that in our history, leadership as a grab of power.  We need true leaders, leadership as service to people, which has to include listening to people, being open to new ideas, keeping a dialogue, working together with other people towards common interests.  Now I put out a need - I sent to a number of leaders in Europe my need for them to work together and plan the tour this yer for Ellika and me.  And I got a response I did not expect.  Our assistant for the past several years, Simon, emailed me back he is willing to take on the leadership responsibility of planning the tour.  Since he will again be driving us, he says, it makes sense for him to be the one to coordinate and plan it.  In the years since he volunteered to assist us he has taken on much more than just driving and doing our heavy lifting. He enters in to every circle, leads clans, counsels, plays with the children, and sees that everything goes well.  At the end of the tour he contrives to make circles wherever he is, he reads and translates some of our written material and keeps on learning more about what The Circle Way is and how to make it function best.

So folks - here now is a fine example of what we need from each other.  We all have a goal to make the world better.  But we cannot do very much alone.  We need each other.  We need people who are aware enough to see what is needed, brave enough to step up and volunteer to make it happen and make it work well, and open minds and imaginations that can innovate and encourage and inspire others.  I am grateful to the many of you that are doing just that.  For others who have not found places to volunteer and lead, please ask yourself what is in your way.  Is it a lack of confidence in yourself?  Have a session with a supportive listener and explore this question, sort out your confusion,  give yourself a pep talk and go into action.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

There's a break now and then in this blog, as I am busy with so many projects.  On my main one, the next book, I have completed a prologue and the first chapter, and made an outline of the remaining chapters.  I have also completed the organizing of a new book of my poetry to be called Come Home and it is in the process leading to publication now.  I have re-organized my work day to include some time on other projects - my novel and an autobiography, for the more distant future.  Here is the intro to the poetry book:

                                                INTRODUCTION           

My first book of verse, Grandfather Speaks, gathered poem I had written out of my experience as a Wampanoag relating to my own and other native cultures of North America.  My second, Birch Cottage and 36 Views of Mt Monadnock, issued out of the experience of living many decades in the woods of southern New Hampshire.  Now for this book I have gathered other poem still unpublished and have found they could comfortably fit into eight sections.  Eight departments of my mind.


It seems to me that people write poetry much as birds sing.  They sing to themselves, they sing to the world around them, they sting to stake their territory there, they sing to let others know they are there – and so do I.  It may have no purpose, but it is in our nature so sing we must whether or not anyone hears or cares.  The song may be sweet, gritty or harsh still in their way beautiful.  Whoever you may be I am grateful you are here and listening, and I invite you to delve further in my other writings on my website www.circleway.org.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

HELP ME - I AM NEW AT THIS!
I have posted several blogs now and there have as yet been no comments from anyone - perhaps no one is reading them.  If you are reading this please take a moment to comment and tell me.  The nice thing is that this stays on our site so you can look back and catch up on older blogs.  Now that I know how to do this I hope we can expand the readership and exchange.

I am thinking a virtual community of folks sharing their thoughts and feelings here.  I have a lot to share and I'm working on 3 books at once hoping to get  some of that in print while I am still functioning and at my age (87) I don't know how long that will be.  I have in mind now a wonderful story to tell about the hill I live on in NH, but I will wait until I know there are folks listening to this.....

Friday, January 27, 2017

ALL IS NOT WELL - BUT
The daily news with the activities of the new president of the US discourages the faint hopes that we may conjure.  Whatever he may say, his actions are in support only of the top income people - the owners and managers who are already rich and seek only to get richer.  This began with Reagan and his 'trickle down' theory - only nothing trickled down.  the rising number of the poor do not benefit, nor do the workers or the middle class.  The 'but' is that it will not help for us to become despondent because of this president.  It is only optimism, not pessimism, that can keep us clear thinking and creative, maintain our health and stamina and the persistence and resilience we need.

 NO matter how hopeless it seems we must not get hopeless.  Seek out and hold up the positive.  What is positive about the Trump ascendence?  It has made the differences very clear that were not so before.  He wants to spend a lot of money while his party wants to reduce spending.  His foreign policy seems to be to bully the rest of the world.  He wants to build walls and a police state that will enhance his power.  The women's gatherings last week show that the country and the world have been stirred to oppose him - perhaps the world needed Trump to get clear together.

So work on your optimism, stay positive, get together, listen supportively and think together.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

WE SURVIVED - BUT NOT FOR LONG
I am an optimist, and I cling to the hope that we will get off the deadly course the world is on, that humankind will save itself and the planet with all its life intact from the depredations in has inflicted and continues still to inflict.  And you and I and our families have survived 2016, but the greatest threat to our personal existence hangs still above all our heads.  In 2014 Thom Hartmann, a writer and thinker I heartily endorse in all his observations, published a book called The Crash of 2016 - The Plot to Destroy America - and What We CanDo to Stop It.  Even though the crash to destroy us did not occur in that year, the situation has not changed and it remains immanent.  It can happen at any time.  We want to turn from that idea, cling to our status quo.  Please don't.  It is still true that:

"The United States is more vulnerable today than ever before-including during the Great Depression and the Civil War-because the pillars of democracy that once supported a booming middle class have been corrupted, and without them, America teeters on the verge of the next Great Crash."

It will start small as all great crashes do..  You will be told by your ATM that you are not able to withdraw the money you want.  You go to your bank and it is closed.  Your credit crd is denied when you go to the supermarket for food.  With unbelievable speed the whole economy shuts down.  Unless you live on your own land free and clear and have the capability of growing all the food your family needs you must take down your shotgun and enter a woods filled with hunters desperate to bring down anything that moves.

Those of you who know me realize I am not given to hyperbole or wild exaggerations, that I want to issue hope and a vision of a more beautiful world.  But I am constrained by my caring for you, by what I have read in Hartmann's book and in works from the other side of the political sphere by Bill Bonner of the Agora information service, to be honest with you and urge you to check out  these writers for yourself.  Think about what you learn from them, talk about it with your friends, your circle, and get back to me with what you think.  If you can talk yourself out of the disaster they predict, talk me out of it too.  In any case let us work together to make a more rational, human and hopeful world  and a Beloved Community.