Thinking isn’t Always the Answer

The old chap used to be a great reader of the small ads at the back of magazines, until the print got so small he couldn’t read them anymore.

One of them in a farming magazine caused him to whistle and read it out loud. “What a rip-off”, he exclaimed as he read out: “ Someone to look after our small farmlet for six weeks – three children, two dogs, three cats, a pig, five goats, two guinea pigs and eight hens. “ They’ll be lucky” he scoffed.

My response was “ Fancy getting a stranger to look after your children.”

Until that moment, I had thought we thought alike. But this was a eureka moment, when I realised that everyone looks at everything from their own perspective and experience. And we ‘re also influenced by the thoughts of others, and then they get another twist as they go through our lens of perception.

I had a discussion with a fundamental Christian the other day, who felt that only people who had a relationship with Jesus would be ‘saved’. I supposed this meant that they were the only people who were going to escape hell. Everyone else is doomed. I protested that if God was a loving God, why would he want to make most of his creation miserable, but I only got chapter and verse back from the Bible, (and the veracity of the Gospels, the first of which was written ninety years after Jesus’s death, is another story).

Dipak Chopra has discussed people’s perception of God, which goes through different stages as they change and deepen their spiritual life. The most basic beliefs  are those of a punishing judgemental father, he suggests, but as people  move deeper into their spiritual understandings, they do actually reach a point where God is indeed loving and inclusive, rather than excluding.

It’s always amazed me that though people believe in God all over the world, unless they use the same word for God as us, they are not OK. So Christians call the Creator God, Muslims call Him Allah, Jews call Him Jehovah, American Indians call Him Great Spirit. And according to some fundamental religious beliefs, if people don’t speak English, and therefore call God by a different name, they are heathen. Similarly many Muslims who call God Allah believe that people who speak another language and personify Him with the name of God, are infidels – unbelievers.

And then there are the divisions among Christians, Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, while the Muslims are split down the middle between Sunni’s and Shia’s and then sects within those groupings.

The same stuff goes on with politics – sometimes religion and politics are intertwined). One set of people have one set of beliefs and others think differently. That would be okay, but we judge people who think differently from us, and fear  and condemn them.

One of the basic differences between the East and the West according to Erich Fromm, philosopher and psychologist, is that the Christian ethic is based on what we think, while the eastern ethic is based on what we do. (I think he was thinking of Buddhism)

If we didn’t think the right way, in the past, it has meant burning, and torture and outlawry… it was very dangerous to think differently, no matter how virtuous your life. I don’t think there is a similar history in the east of being killed because of how you think. And yet we still have conflict between Muslims and Hindus and other religions.

Queen Elizabeth the First refused to go along with the hostility between Catholics, Protestants, Puritans and others, saying she didn’t want a window into men’s souls. She was right, our souls are our own business. Our actions are what matter, even if they are reduced to the lowest common denominator of the Golden Rule.

‘Do unto others as you would do unto yourself’, is a dictum which sounds a little like self interest. The other injunction,’ love your neighbour as yourself’, has  a deeper resonance… if it means what it says, it means we love ourselves, no ifs or buts, no inner jabs and put-downs: “ you shouldn’t have said that, you should do this, you ought to , you didn’t “…

I love the words from Rose Macaulay’s Towers of Trebizond: ‘One mustn’t lose sight of the hard core, which is do this, do that, love your friends and like your neighbours, be just, be extravagantly generous, be honest, be tolerant, have courage, have compassion, use your wits and your imagination, understand the world you live in and be on terms with it, don’t dramatize and dream and escape…’

Later she writes; ‘Life, for all its agonies of despair and loss and guilt, is exciting and beautiful, amusing and artful and endearing, full of liking and of love, at times a poem and a high adventure, at all times noble and at times very gay; and whatever ( if anything) is to come after it, we shall not have this life again.’

Yes, life is to revel in – no ifs or buts or second thoughts!

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Needing something to cleanse the system after all the rich foods we’ve been eating over the holiday period, I went to this drink at the back of my recipe book. The blueberry has lots going for it, including a function of cleaning up damaged proteins which can reduce the brain’s efficiency by interfering with the sending of nerve signals. This amount is enough for six.

Tip into the blender, 125 gms of fresh blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries with 400ml of cranberry juice. Add two cups of de-seeded and cubed watermelon, blend until smooth, and drink at once. I sometimes use frozen fruit, and also vary the berries, blueberries being the constant.

Food for Thought

I don’t know where I found this, but it always makes me giggle… some twitchers-as birdwatchers are known – travel all over the world to complete the list of birds they want to see, and establish records for having seen the most birds…the most famous is in his nineties, with the longest list completed!

*Epitaph for a hurricane-chasing birder (not original):
Here he lies
A little wet
But he got
His lifelist met.


Filed under cookery/recipes, great days, happiness, history, life and death, life/style, philosophy, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

53 responses to “Thinking isn’t Always the Answer

  1. A wonderful post! I have read Karen Armstrong who has an amazing way of integrating compassion within the language of religion. You probably heard of Charter for Compassion. This is a short clip. She is also on TED.

    • Rebecca,
      Thank you so much for this clip – so beautiful and so moving and so inspirational. It made me cry.
      So glad you liked the post. The post I intended to put up has disappeared!, so I had to write this one quickly, wondering if it was appropriate, or even readable !
      Did you find my heartfelt message, that I can’t get your lovely posts at the moment? Am working on it with a teenager this afternoon…

      • Yes – I am mystified!!! I haven’t had any recent posts although one is percolating in my mind. You can put in the search engine – see how that works. You have a teenager to help so all will be well. They are brilliant creatures. Remember we used to be teens, too and remember how smart we were?!!

      • yes, I’ve clicked on that, and only get as far as I always get – to your New year Post…I get your others through the e-mail, and am able to read them, but can’t comment of course, or see what others have said, which is half the fun!!!!,
        nil desperandum, back to my fall- back position – the teenager!!!

  2. Amy

    This is such a provocative topic, but you expressed it graciously. Unfortunately, too many use religion to control other people. But, why people let them into our souls? Thank you for your wisdom, Valerie!

  3. Amy, thank you so much for your appreciative comment…so good to hear from you..

  4. A more sensible discussion of religion I’ve never read!

  5. God is a God of love, irregardless of the name people use . Unfortunately we are fallible creatures and as such don’t always make the right decisions, yet God somehow still loves us. What an example for us to follow.

  6. Amazing post, and amazing clip! I can’t begin to tell you what an inspiration you are to this world, you make it a better place to be in.
    Some people hide themselves ( with their issues ) behind religion ( using it for the wrong purpose ) but you describe it the way it really is, to make this world a fragment of heaven.
    Thanks for sharing this rare gem, your talent…

    • Dear friend – I don’t even know your name – thank you so much for your amazing words of appreciation… You are very generous, but typical of our wonderful loving blogging world. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the post… I felt nervous posting it. One never knows whether one’s thoughts will ring a bell with others, and it feels wonderful when they do. So thank you again for your gift!

  7. enjoyed this very thoughtful post – we have to quit labeling don’t we>?

  8. As you always do, you have approached a difficult subject with grace. Humans all to often fail at empathy and compassion. It is so important we remember it is one and the same.

  9. I love this post and wish that the grace and depth of your heart and sentiment was not uncommon, rather that it be a perspective that was generously shared with love and acceptance that we might find greater unity among ourselves. Beautifully written and inspired, your words are so welcome, surely God Loves All. Linda

    • Thank you Linda, lovely to hear from you…and what generous comments… I think one of the wonderful things about the blogging world is that so many people feel the same, and do care that we make the world a kinder, happier place… So glad you enjoyed the post, love Valerie

  10. Indeed, a very refreshing and honest article. I, too, giggled at the epitaph for a hurricane chasing birder….”Don’t want to die saying I wish I had…”

  11. Well done, Valerie. Rebecca’s clip was sensational and your religious commentary eloquently expressed my sentiments. I am moved to live this day more courageously –by being more mindful than usual of my actions and thoughts -to be a positive example of how to live. Thank you for your inspiration!

  12. I have always been amazed that religion, which should bring people together as all faiths are based on kind principles, is such a divisive issue.

  13. Well don, Valerie. Everyday I try hard to live and let people be as they wish to be. I try to let others have the God they wish to have and know that My God is the same as theirs, only approached differently!

    Well done!


  14. Good, honest article. As a Christian I admit I may not have the answers to some things and I am ok about it because one day the truth will be known to all. I do believe that we are called to love and honor Him, that each of us will be called to answer on what we did or did not do on earth, regardless of our “religion” and that yes, my faith is between me and God. The more I grow in my faith the more I see others as God sees them. In a perfect world we would embrace our differences instead of being pulled apart from them. Thank you for another thoughtful article. It allows me to look deep within me and find the true person God created me to be. Blessings – Patty

  15. I really enjoyed your approach to this topic, Valerie – it was measured, and humble. The quotes are wonderful. I studied a lot of British History at university and I remember that one by Queen Elizabeth.

  16. Hello Gabriela, lovely to hear from you, and thank you for your thoughtful comments, as ever…

  17. Valerie, you always write with such wisdom. The topic of religion is personal. You so graciously presented a topic that so often offends a reader when that is not the intention. Very inspiring post :-)

    • Sharla, thank you. I so appreciate you comments and your understanding.. it’s strange that I didn’t set out to write that post.. it wrote itself, and I was quite nervous about posting it!
      Love to you

  18. Ha! I enjoyed that for so many reasons. There is more we agree on here in the United States than what a few want us to believe, so your message resonated with me. I may try that blueberry thing. . . But then you went and ended it with a birder epitaph! Delightful. :)

  19. Thank you for putting into words what i have always thought and here in the US the divisions caused from politics and religion are life threatening. I hate it. it makes me retreat even further into my life without TV, radio and news. c

  20. Yes, I too live a life without TV radio and news… people always did, before Marconi, Bell and all those other clever people !!!!
    So glad it rang a bell with you too, Celi..

  21. I can relate to what you say about thinking not always being the answer — the most powerful form of meditation for me has involved directing my attention into the sensations I’m feeling in my body, which helps me to let go of compulsive thinking and almost always brings whatever’s going on in my life into perspective.

  22. What i do not realize is if truth be told how you’re not rlaely much more well-appreciated than you might be right now. You’re very intelligent. You know thus considerably relating to this topic, made me personally consider it from numerous various angles. Its like women and men aren’t fascinated except it is something to do with Woman gaga! Your own stuffs outstanding. All the time take care of it up!

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  24. You have a very thoughtful blog!

  25. A life unexamined… We should all try to understand what we believe, to see if it is true for us. This is a very insightful article.

  26. I do remember the quote from Elisabeth I. A ruthless and calculating individual. I read the biography by Lady Antonia Fraser which was long yet hard to put down. She is an excellent writer.

    • Yes, she had to be ruthless to survive. And knowing your mother had had her head chopped off when you were three wouldn’t make you feel very secure either!. It always struck me that she had a difficult life, always doing a balancing act…and never being able to surrender to happiness….

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