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.