Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Reflection-Forgetting the they and realizing the Thou

"The life of human beings is not passed in the sphere of transitive verbs alone.It does not exist in virtues of activities alone which have some thing for their object.
      I perceive something.I am sensible of something.I imagine something.I will something.I feel something I think something.The life of human beings does not consist of all this and the like alone.
     This and the like together establish the realm of it.
      But the realm of Thou has a different basis.
 When Thou is spoken,the speaker has no thing for his object.For where there is a thing there is another thing.Every It is bounded by others;It exists only through being bound by others.But when Thou is spoken,the speaker has no thing.Thou has no bounds.
      When Thou is spoken,the speaker has no thing;he has indeed nothing,but he takes his stand in relation."-Martin Buber,I and Thou

There seems to be a great issue within our world today we just seem to get the big picture we all are a part of.It seems like as human beings we seem to be more apt to divide,categorize,generalize and marginalize each other.This is a problem that should be of the utmost concern among us I think.Why does one feel they have to be seen as better than the other?As human beings we do this at just about every level racially,religiously,economically etc.......the list could go on forever.These things seem to matter a lot to us in so many ways.Is life though all about all these things such as our religion,race,economic class?I think not and let me offer up you some good discipline on these things we hold so dear:

This stick figure is you


You are made up of your race,class,sexuality,aspirations,dreams etc...

But you don't exist alone you have a family


This family has it's own goals it might be made of the same races but maybe not different sexuality maybe there too even different species constitute your family.

Your family though does not exist alone it exists in a community


This is the suburb of Chicago I live in that being Evanston Illinois.Within communities like my own there is much diversity of people and species.There are diverse races more than just one that might be represented in your family there are also people in different economic there may be the homeless lady or the rich man but all are a part of the same community.

Now i'm going to take this on a grander scale.We are all apart of a huge world

This world has many races,nationalities,communities,families etc.....

Now even grander than just our world

We are a part of a Universe with many different species and who knows what kind of races exist on other planets and you think it's an issue i'm gay have you even considered how aliens have sex?Oh yes I went there.

If we think on the grandeur of what things we are a part of it makes us everything we have or what makes us up so little compared to all the universe.We do matter though but not for the reasons we might think.Our race does not matter,our sexuality does not matter,our class does not matter and anything else for that does not matter.What matters I think is our relation with the greater whole as Martin Buber referred to such as the Thou.We seem to think so much in the binary it has to be black or white or it makes no sense.But what if it doesn't?What if the fact of the matter is all these materialisms we have made for ourselves are a lie these things that we have defined ourselves by are just an illusion and we are all a part of this greater whole this Thou?It amazes me when looking upon this whole 
Queries to ponder:

How often do you categorize,generalize and marginalize others around you?Do you recognize they might do the same?Do you know you are all a part of the same universe?

Do you notice as you think over all the things that you define yourself by that there are many things that constitute the greater whole we are all a part of and you degrade yourself in such because you are not just a drop but an aspect of this greater whole?

Are you one of them are a part of the thou along with all?

A Prayer:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Reflection-Hello i'm Karl and I am a Socialist


"The present situation of society — this is now pretty generally conceded — is the creation of the ruling class of today, of the bourgeoisie. The mode of production peculiar to the bourgeoisie, known, since Marx, as the capitalist mode of production, was incompatible with the feudal system, with the privileges it conferred upon individuals, entire social ranks and local corporations, as well as with the hereditary ties of subordination which constituted the framework of its social organization. The bourgeoisie broke up the feudal system and built upon its ruins the capitalist order of society, the kingdom of free competition, of personal liberty, of the equality, before the law, of all commodity owners, of all the rest of the capitalist blessings. Thenceforward, the capitalist mode of production could develop in freedom. Since steam, machinery, and the making of machines by machinery transformed the older manufacture into modern industry, the productive forces, evolved under the guidance of the bourgeoisie, developed with a rapidity and in a degree unheard of before. But just as the older manufacture, in its time, and handicraft, becoming more developed under its influence, had come into collision with the feudal trammels of the guilds, so now modern industry, in its complete development, comes into collision with the bounds within which the capitalist mode of production holds it confined. The new productive forces have already outgrown the capitalistic mode of using them. And this conflict between productive forces and modes of production is not a conflict engendered in the mind of man, like that between original sin and divine justice. It exists, in fact, objectively, outside us, independently of the will and actions even of the men that have brought it on. Modern Socialism is nothing but the reflex, in thought, of this conflict in fact; its ideal reflection in the minds, first, of the class directly suffering under it, the working class." - Frederick Engels,Socialism:Utopian and Scientific

I must come out of the closet once more in life not regarding my sexual orientation that's been a fact for awhile now but I must come our of how i've felt politically for some time.I'm a Socialist. I recently accepted this part of my person which in some way was a struggle but after I realized I was like hey it's true just as much as my being a gay man.Allow me to engage you in a dialogue of what convinced me of such:

First of all personally I feel i'm a Socialist.I was born of a very poor family in the southern United States.Watching my family struggle was a very hard thing.There was abuse and I can't help but blame some of that abuse on the lack off they experienced.Before going to college I experienced homeless for the first time in having this experience i saw how the upper classes would look upon those like me of the lower classes .In experiencing this homeless it encouraged to rise out of such to help part of what helped was government programs for which I'm thankful.This led me to lobby throughout my college career the Florida Legislature as a citizen lobbyist this was pretty fun speaking not only against poverty for the natural world from which we all are apart.In 2014 in dealing with what most millenials today that being a lack of work despite doing so much I decided to move to Chicago not knowing anyone I entered transitional housing with a goal to join an intentional community within six months I had a job and had joined Reba Place Fellowship the second oldest Christian Community founded off Bruderhof values .I now live in one of Chicago's northshore suburbs and part of my time here has been spent in pride of what I become through the help of those so-called socialist program of our country and well my own poverty too and rising from it and doing some amazing things within it.

Second,Religiously i'm a Socialist not only am I a member of a Christian Intentional community but i'm a Quaker and these words from John Woolman sum up my own Quaker Socialism:

"To labour for an establishment in divine love where the mind is disentangled from the power of darkness is the great business of man’s life. Collecting of riches, covering the body with fine-wrought, costly apparel, and having magnificent furniture operates against universal love and tends to feed self, that to desire these things belongs not to the children of the Light."-"Plea for the poor"

Simply put our human purpose should not be about what we have but the love we establish for each.Woolman even refereed to such as "Our Business'.Not the the want off material needs as most businesses attest"We want more money" the vision of business should change'How does my business spread great love to others.Religiously I feel materialism of all types(spiritual,social,physical etc...)is something that we should resist Mammon to me exists in all these forms and we should resist such striving to be"Children of the light"to our fellow beings.

Lastly,Socially socialism makes sense.Why do we need social classes?what's the point of them.As human being we all face birth this is the cycle of what we are.If these are the two norms why do we need such social structures?I don't see such in my own life I treat both rich and poor equally as human being we all bleed the same blood don't we?I've met people from all walks from the super-rich to the incredibly destitute I see a lot of the problems across the board.Socialism recognizes this oneness and so do I.

So yes i'm a Socialist and Proud this rises out of who I am,what i've experienced,and the very truths I stand on.Nobody has convinced me off such but my own inner guide.It is me and i'm it.I believe Socialism is viable to everyone and I have a program that I think the Socialist Party USA reach out to the so-called "Middle-Class" even more.I'm ready to contribute and I call upon all of my fellow human beings to ARISE ! ,ARISE !,ARISE! NO MORE SHOULD WE DENY THAT WE ARE ONE !!!!

Queries to Ponder:

Do you think your a Socialist too?Why not join?

Do you recognize how materialism destroys lives?

Do you notice how classes really don't exist and the truth being that we all are really on as a human species?

A Prayer:

"With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things. One will live. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."-Oscar Wilde,The Soul of Man under Socialism

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Modern response to Balby- The refuge of community


"2.-That care be taken, that as any are brought into the truth, meetings be in such places amongst them, as may be for the most convenience of all, without respect of persons: and that hands be laid on none suddenly, lest the truth suffer."-Epistle of the Elders of Balby 

When a person decides to become a Buddhist they take a three-fold vow.Within that vow is a part that says"I promise to take refuge in the Sangha".Sangha means community and what this particular advice from the Elders aludes too similar to Buddhists we take community very seriously.To a friend community itself is a very nuanced and the Elders must have known that early because in this I see three forms which I see within Quakerism of community-The Community of shared truths,The community outside our doors,and the community of compassion.

To begin with the Elders start off by saying"That care be taken, that as any are brought into the truth"this passage reminds me of the community of shared truths.If one comes into Quakerism they notice at times a myriad of ideas about the divine as well as even spiritual practices.Some things though are the norm within Quaker circles even though we interpret the divine in many different ways we most of the time refer to it as the"Inner Light" and even though some spiritual practices might differ we unite over certain testimonies are witnesses to who we are called the Testimonies these are how we as individuals as well as a community respond to simplicity,peace, integrity,community,equality,and stewardship within the society.Becoming Friends  we share these things as common values which allow us better share the truths we have with others.

The next ideal the Elders espouse within the advice is that of the community outside the doors of our meeting in saying"that as any are brought into the truth, meetings be in such places amongst them, as may be for the most convenience of all"one could say they were speaking of just making church communities where they were at but I think there is a modern voice within this.We should not hold community my meetinghouse has a great saying on the front of it that says "depart to serve" in doing such we learn the meeting is only a place to fill us to bring the light we experience there into our world.In having so many awesome things in a Quaker meeting such as vocal ministry on equality one notices more how they can serve our world not only making their meeting a place for the Quaker message but the world.

"That hands be laid on none suddenly"with this almost end to the advice the elders point us to the fact that in our diversity we should not argue or debate but seek unity and peace.Community is not just about one person but a whole bunch of people conflict is unavoidable but it does not have to be what defines the community.Within all the communities of life we should seek not to"lay our hands upon another" in doing so we hurt ourselves as well as our message.

The Elders end this advice with"Lest the Truth Suffer"this to me means that we cannot have onne form of the community without the others.Community itself cannot exist without being something without compassion just as much not being a place that goes far beyond it's borders.Community needs it all and we need the refuge of such community.

Queries to ponder:

What does community mean to you?

Is community a refuge for you?

How do you make your community known to others?

A Prayer:

"But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. The type of love that I stress here is not eros, a sort of esthetic or romantic love; not philia, a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends; but it is agape which is understanding goodwill for all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. It is the love of God working in the lives of men. This is the love that may well be the salvation of our civilization."-Martin Luther King,Jr

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reflection-The Freethinker

Image result for child asking why clipart

"You dummy !!!"

"you heretic !!!"

 "You don't know what your saying !!!"

"Why don't you just work with the institution."

"Can't you just go with the majority for once?"

These words are usually heard by an individual within a community or group when that individual has chosen to think outside the regular norms imposed by the said community or group.These individuals sometimes are called heretics,prophets,reformers,and the outspoken.I count myself amongst  these individuals even though my role at times works within the parameters of the so-called names usually contributed to such I prefer the term Freethinker.

A Freethinker is defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as a person who forms his or her own opinions about important subjects such as religion or politics instead of accepting of what other people say.Our society today seems to be missing many freethinkers.I cannot tell you of how many people I have heard say things such as:

"My minister said this so it must be true"

"You know that person they do this so we can trust them"

"I believe this and I stake my life on it because this person endorses this view"

How sad I find it for these kind of people who do not choose to form their own opinions surrendering even their will over to others at times only for some kind of social gain.I do not count myself amongst such because early on in my life I was exposed to these words by Jesus :

“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.'

Ask,Seek,and knock this does not seem like an encouragement to accept things just at their face value.At least in my reading of this it encouraged me to always seek outside of the box and notice myself within the box might itself might be suffocating those within it.Jesus went on further to say:

"Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?"

It amazes he even says that if the box you are offering harms an individual nor sustains you then why offer it?The freethinking individual is childlike why nobody around them chooses to question the bread that ends up being stone that the people receive.The Freethinker chooses to question many stop asking why after their childhood.In my own view those who have stopped asking why should begin again.The Freethinker chooses not to be the flake in the room while everyone around them chooses to be pliable.

The Freethinker does not only choose to question authority of the norm but they also innovate the norm making it something even more timeless.Something those of us who think freely normally get accused of is wanting to reinvent the wheel.I disagree let me illustrate :

Humanity used to have wheels like this :

Image result for wagon wheel drawing     

Now we have wheels like this :
Image result for car wheel

The wheel did not get reinvented over time it was made even better.I'm pretty sure the person who re-designed the wheel did not neglect the wheel of the past. So the freethinker does not reinvent the wheel but sees the wheel or the tradition they are apart of as a guide to what it can become.Freethinkers love their but also realize that the tradition there in is not in a state of eternal complacency but in a place of eternal progression.

The Freethinker I believe also might be in a state that other human beings might not be.That state being there best self.While others around may seem to just be following the "party line" the freethinker chooses something wholly different in their own example of this would be martin Luther King,Jr while some within the African-American community  like Malcolm X where calling for violent actions to bring about equality he chose to live a life of non-violence.Another example would be Lucretia Mott the great Quaker Feminist during first wave feminism.When other women wanted to leave men out Mott chose to preach about an egalitarian society where all would have an equal place at the table of humanity.I wonder how many of you who read this are sacrificing your best selves in order to impress?think on these greats and don't follow the "party line".

I understand my own freethinking at times might annoy others.I continue though to do it anyway because authority needs to be questioned,traditions at times need to be innovated and an individual needs to be supported as they are.Most people think Quakers make all their decisions by community but that is not the case we discern together we don't make choices for each other.We help each other strive to make a choice that brings about the most unity and is respective of all views.I'd like to think that all Quakers are freethinkers but that probably is not the case.I know though this one is and I hope my radical thoughts that come from my best self blesses you.Think Freely and without reservation stand for who you are even if you are standing alone.

Queries to Ponder:

What radical ideas do you have?have you spoken about them?or put them into the action if they are within reason?

 Do you think you are being your best self?or do you think you are allowing others to tell you who or what you should be?

Can you stand alone in your own convictions if others cannot stand with you?

A Prayer:

"My Thoughts are as free as wind over an ocean,no one can see their form or motion.No hunter can find them ,no trap ever bind them:my lips may be still,but I think what I will.

A glimmering fire that the darkness will brighten;my soaring desire all troubles can lighten.Though prison enfold me,it's walls cannot hold me:No captive I'll be,for my spirit is free."-Di Gedanken Sind Frei,German folk song sung during WWII by those in Germany who resisted Nazi control.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cycles-A modern response to Balby:The meeting for worship.

Image result for Quaker meeting         Image result for Nature

"1.-That the particular meetings by all the children of light, be duly kept and observed, where they be already settled, every first-day of the week; except they be moved to other places. And that general meetings be kept in order and sweet in the life of God, on some other day of the week than on the First-day, unless there be a moving to the contrary: that so in the light and life, the meetings may be kept, to the praise of God."-From Epistle from the Elders of Balby

We now come to our first numbered advice.This advice is very profound because it talks about the very heart of Quakerism that being the meeting for worship.

Within the Quaker world everything takes place through a meeting for worship.A meeting for worship simply a gathering of a few people(Quakers and non-Quakers) that sit in silence in order to draw close together in seeking the divine.Out of that silence someone may speak and the words they say are supposed to be seen as the divine speaking for the whole group.This collective prophet which is the meeting for worship lies at the heart of the Quaker identity.There are also many other types of meetings for worship such as a meeting for worship with attention to business where quakers discuss the budget as well other things in the meeting and a meeting for worship with attention to suffering where someone's monetary need might be addressed as a concern.

How though can I respond to this advice from the elders in my day?

One thing I feel some within the Quaker community has forgotten in our day that the elders here remind us of is that the meeting does not always need a building to exist but can"be moved to other places". I think a lot of Friends today think of their meetinghouse as the only place where they can engage in Quaker  worship .The early Friends took seriously the words of the bible:"For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’"They needed no building except for that temple they built as their hearts joined in the union of silence.A meeting for worship has some versatility it can be done anywhere a park,a waterfall,a bus,a subway etc...there is no perfect aesthetic for it.Some Friends and I once held a meeting for worship in a park where someone close by was remodeling their home the noise was incredibly loud but God spoke through that noise when Friends went to speak out of the silence amongst us they spoke of the joy of the noise seeing that distraction as a means to the divine.

Another thing I find very powerful is how much within this advice the elders encourage to keep the meeting for worship.It reminds me very much of the commandment" Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy."The meeting for worship is our sabbath like the Jewish people who are reminded of who they are by keeping the sabbath so too are we Quakers reminded of who we are by being in a meeting for worship.It is our lifeblood,our gift,it is sweet.

Let us follow this advice from our elders and seek out a meeting for worship in anyplace we can find it and let us keep the meeting for worship because it directs us to who we are.

Queries to Ponder:

How often do experience a meeting for worship?

Do you understand the meeting for worship is a great symbol of quaker tradition?

How of often do you listen to the divine within you?

A Prayer:

Take 10 minutes to listen within yourself to what that Eternal source of all life might be directing you to in your journey-The Malachut

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Reflection-Be yourself


"be yourself not your idea of what somebody else's idea of yourself should be"-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right-for you'll be criticized always"-Eleanor Roosevelt

Are people dictating to you who you are?are you being defined by the past mistakes of others?does it seem as though you have no freedom at this time because every action you do is dictated by others?Well I have some good news for you I would like you to reject all the commentary that is being put in front of you of how you should be and be yourself.

I know I might be advocating something cliche but what do you think is the realistic answer?a lot of self sacrifice might be taking place on your end is the same happening on the other side?probably not.I want to encourage everyone who reads this blog to ask yourself this question-How much are you giving to others without them offering anything in return?you might be amazed at what you realize.This world is very selfish but in your own selflessness you need not forget your own gifts while in your own service.

You might be asking the question in your reading of this:What about ego?well I say ego is not a bad thing.It has become  a swear word in our day I think because of the capitalist system we are under.Capitalism says that we must forget ourselves in order to better workers at our given task.Yes our capitalist has in itself called us to be robots without any real will of our own except that given by  the corporate body.We need not forget who we are in our own individuality within this world.Ego can do much good within society .I think it matters not that we have a lot of ego but what we do with our ego take for example Jesus he once said this:

"Whoever loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;"-Matthew 10:37

It takes a lot of ego for a person to say that if you love your father or mother more than me than your not worthy to devote yourself to me.If he existed during our time people would directly give him the egotistical label.Let's though think of what Jesus did with his ego- he fed five thousand people,healed a bunch of people and in last dying breathe reflected his message of compassion.Jesus showed that it is good to have a lot of ego but use your ego to build society up don't use it to bring society down.

Nobody should make you become something your not.I encourage you today to be yourself .Embrace as Jesus did the good things you accomplish with your ego and live a life that the world can admire.Be the person you were meant to be paint your own self O ! blessed child of the divine.

Queries to ponder:

How much are you giving to others without them offering anything in return?

Do you see how the ego of others strengthened them in reaching their life purpose?

What good do you accomplish through your ego?

A Prayer:

 "You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself,and that person is not be found anywhere.You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection"-The Buddha

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cycles-A Modern response to Balby:"You shall do well"

Image result for glass half full

""The elders and brethren send unto the brethren in the north these necessary things following; to which, if in the light you wait, to be kept in obedience, you shall do well. Fare well"-From Epistle with Advices from the Elders of Balby

"Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed."-From A Course in Miracles 

You shall Do well.

What powerful words these are for our day.Back in 1656 when the Epistle was written the early Quakers had so much less than we do now yet so much more Optimism.what I learn from this first sentence is that we need to have more  optimism within our communities and not fall prey to the cynicism that so poisons life today.

We must admit it in our times people are taught more to rely upon the negative than the positive.I just recently admitted that I was going to go on a person discernment to see whether I wanted to stay on with two organizations.One of these organizations automatically assumed the worst that being that I would leave them.the fact of the matter i'm not even making decision regarding such until September and a lot can happen before that time.I thought in this situation the cynicism was very realistic we live in a time where we don't hear good news that often but mostly the bad news of the world.The elders offer me hope by telling me as well you"You shall do well".

How can we do well?I think we can do well by admitting there is much cynicism and we like the elders need to give hope to those around us even if we do not posses that hope ourselves.My life has been one both of trial as well as terror I myself have found solace during my dark times by just resting on the fact that the darkness no matter how much it overshadows my life at a certain will not last forever  and that hope within which the elders pointed us to will.We must hope,we must be positive ,we must do well our world needs it so that such light may shine that never goes out.Let us do well.

Queries to Ponder:

How is the negativity in the world affecting your outlook on life?

Do you realize that all the bad things in life are temporal?

Do you think you will do well?

A Prayer:

"Hakuna Matata"

"No worries"