Arguments and Illness

Is what made me ill what afflicted you too?
Have you been where I’ve been, do you do what I do?
Is all illness a blight with but one common source
and the consequence meted to all in its course?
Does affliction with symptoms reflecting dis-ease
and the payment of pain and discomfort to tease

come upon us in ways quite the same unto all
with a sense that the sickness is blind in its fall?
Illness doth strike in dis-similar ways
tho the same by its label, it’s impact quite plays
different tunes in each person whose lives aren’t the same,
who’s choices are moves in life’s ongoing game.

Disagreement is sickness that’s blind in its prime
like disease, lack of harmony lives for a time
between souls in dispute who do struggle to win
what’s perceived as a victory though small as a pin.
We will learn by our feelings when we disagree
and find understanding to greater degree

in knowing our opposites, how we compare
when agreement is wanting or even quite rare.
If I know where you stand and the place is amiss
in my own set of values, your thoughts are not bliss.
They’re in contrast and emphasize clearly a split
in our thinking, reflecting that all does not fit

in a tidy container where values are set
in a limit of rightness or wrongness, but let
Mother Wisdom come forth in her powerful gown
of perception that differences don’t mean we drown
in a sea of our discord where winning is king
but where learning brings harmony, living and being.

© 2000 Arthur Ruger

New Version of the Serenity Prayer.

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Photo Credit: Roman Kosolapov / Shutterstock

“Grant me the patience to engage with the receptive, the impatience to avoid the absolutely unreceptive and the wisdom to know the difference.The wisdom to know the difference doesn’t come easy. It’s a hard art, and you will guess wrong sometimes, engaging with the unreceptive, and avoiding the receptive.

…”I frame it this way:

I try to be a nice guy
But if you show up done,
ready for a fight you’re
already sure you’ve won
I’m gonna do my best
to have you leave here disappointed
with your scheme to dip in quick,
pre-and post-anointed
as the one who only tutors,
teaching others what to think
cause it’s attitudes like that
that put the whole world on the brink.””

At some point we must grow beyond those who have programmed who we are supposed to be

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In the shallow end of the pool we get used to water. When I have grown sufficiently used to it, I no longer need stand in 3 feet of water; no longer need to contemplate wetness and the feeling the cocoon-like sensations of water on my body. I come to youthful maturity – whatever maturity is – among others in the water with me, watching me, some serving as models for me and others modeling after me. We are all learning how to “be” in the water.

Others, mostly older wiser as well as some of those not-so-wise know-it-alls stand at the side of the pool shouting instructions regarding the rules of the pool. There are water wings available in case we feel needy. I don’t feel needy. I know I am safe and that I can comfortably splash around those in the pool with me. We pass time together allowing waters of the safe shallow end move, ebb and flow all around us.

Yet, I look out toward the other end of the pool, beyond the center rope. I see human beings just like me who are moving about in ways other than standing or splashing. They are not wearing water wings. Some are jumping, allowing themselves ti subj deep under and within the water before suddenly leaping upward out of the water – as high as they are able – before falling back into the water … like porpoises … like whales … having fun … enjoying the water, not threatened by it.

I see others climbing out of the water, wiping water from their eyes and faces, only then to lean forward and dive in head first. They then do not try to stand or jump out of the water. They swim, their feet not having touched the ground but used to propel them forward. Like eagles in the sky above, in the water, these human beings in their own way are soaring.

Others walk to the edge of the deepest part of the pool, climb onto boards – some stretching out over the water at unbelievable heights. They use these boards like I use a trampoline, flinging themselves out over the water, as high as they can before descending – some like arrows and others like cannon balls as they enter the water with joy, excitement and pleasure … like otters.

I want to do that.

Back in the shallow end of the pool, I tell the sideline coaches that I don’t think I need water wings today, but if I do I surely know where to get them. Some of the coaches smile and urge me on. Others, fearful that I might not need them anymore, caution me about water wings, deep water, drowning and other objects of fear.

I look once more toward the deep end of the pool and begin walking and splashing toward the far end. The water now laps and my lips, splashes in my ears, moistens my eyes. I am not afraid. At the point where the floor starts to move away and down from my feet, if feel the departure of the artificial grounding that formed the basis of my original ability to stand and splash in shallow water. I let my feet touch the declining floor one more time, feeling deeper water ebbing and flowing in all directions; seemingly offering me a universe of heretofore unknown sensations and knowings.

I raise my arms, preparing to stroke and paddle, fill my lungs with air, bend knees and anticipate my legs’ imminent departure from my usual anchoring stance. Aware of a new excitement sweeping over me, I leap into the air, rising out of the water, falling forward and command my arms and legs to do what they’ve always known how to do.

A begin what is for me a new dance in the waters of life … what I was meant to do.

aging excitement

Aging excitement

 

 

 

Myth, Herds and Freemasonry

Freemason Civic Duty

Why Can’t We All Just Agree?

Having been accused of being a liberal far more times than a conservative, I’m drawn again to the impacts of what professionals refer to as “socialization” where communities,   cultures – even celebrities without credentials – strongly influence the general attitudes in place.

There are areas of my community, of my county and state that are in many ways strongholds of political or social philosophies with which I am not in total harmony, but none contain individuals whose opinions render them unworthy of my regard or respect.

I was nurtured and grew to adulthood inside a culture – both social and geographic – that has tended in recent years to combine social and political conservatism into one identity. Living outside that culture now for most of 40 years, I’m still drawn emotionally to some of the feelings and values that I carried with me when – unknowingly as a young missionary – I left the area, never to call it home again.

Just as I’ve mentioned to those who have assumed that I am socially and politically “liberal,” I struggle sometimes to relate to friends and family whom I assume to be “conservative” when in fact the label may be totally meaningless.

Whether we admit it or not,  every definition of life we possess is an assumption. Every reasoning behind what we choose to do and how we choose to behave is based on assumption.

Our assumptions are the authors of our own story, that personal mythology from which we navigate our lives.

Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox years ago addressed this subject with excellence and I have paraphrased their writing to discuss what in essence are the different herd mentalities that inform who we are, perhaps who we used to be, and who we might become.

Our assumptions are usually based on that informal and formal set of teachings from which we authorized our answers to the following questions:

Where did I come from?

Why is there evil in the world?

What happens to me when I die?

With whom do I belong?

How close should I be to others?

What are my obligations?

What is taboo and to be avoided?

Whom should I imitate?

Who are the heroes, villains, enemies and allies?

What are the stages along life’s way?

What is disease?

How can I be healed?

What should we do with bounty and surplus?

What is our relationship with nature and the animals?

Why do we do the things we do with the feelings that we feel?

In so doing are we vitalized or bleeding away emotional energy? And does what we do leave us feeling validated or merely accepted?

Our lives are living myths of our own creation. Our companion is our personal story, all the stuff inside we use tell us who we are and tell the world the same.

“Myth” is a word given too much work in how we share knowledge with one another.

Defenders of religious creeds use the word “myth” to characterize religious beliefs that conflict with their own, saying

“Your, assumptions are not as valid as my assumptions. In fact, your assumptions are myth while my assumptions are truth.”

What do we deny if we refuse to recognize our own assumptions?

How much are our individual lives shaped by inner scenarios based on assumptions we have been taught to accept as absolutely true?

Do we live an inner myth that reflects how we’ve been taught that the real  world is defined by our personal societal culture rather than how we’ve discovered the world to actually be?

Our personal mythical scenario is always on and is always running. Sam Keen has described myth as referring to

“an intricate set of interlocking stories, rituals, rites and customs that inform and give the pivotal sense of meaning and direction to a person, family, community or culture.

The myths we carry around inside include unspoken consensus, the habitual way of seeing things, unquestioned assumptions, and our ‘automatic stance’.”

A society lives on its own unconscious conspiracy to consider a myth the truth, the way things really are. Do we belong to the majority who are literal without thinking; men and women who are not critical or reflective about the guiding “truths” – myths – of their own group?

As Keen implies,

” To a tourist in a strange land, an anthropologist studying a tribe, or a psychologist observing a patient, the myth is obvious. But to the person who lives within the mythic horizon, it is nearly invisible.”

I also like this quote from Carl Jung:

“I asked myself, ‘What is the myth you are living?’, and found that I did not know. So … I took it upon myself to get to know ‘my’ myth, and I regarded this as the task of tasks … I simply had to know what unconscious or preconscious myth was forming me.” -C.G. Jung, The Portable Jung

 

In a herd, members usually instinctively choose behavior that corresponds to that of the majority of other members. They do this through imitation, mimicry, citations or quotes as “authority”.

people often do and believe things merely because many other people do and believe the same things. The effect is often called herd instinct. People tend to follow the crowd without examining the merits of a particular thing.

As more people come to believe in something, others also “hop on the bandwagon” regardless of the underlying evidence. The tendency to follow the actions or beliefs of others can occur because individuals directly prefer to conform, or because individuals derive information from others. – Wikipedia

Herd behavior as a social study can describe how individuals in a group can act together without planned direction. There need not be strict control from upper echelon or hierarchy – individual cultural members tend to be the strictest enforcers of cultural norms and group-think. Herd behavior includes spontaneous moments such as riots, demonstrations and protests. However, herd behavior manifests itself consistently at religious gatherings, sporting events and organization meetings.

Where do I as a Mason find place in all this?

Lewis Monical, a Past Grand Master in Arizona, wrote the following (courtesy of Masonic World website):

In the first degree, we are charged to be true to our government and just to our country.  From Morals and Dogma we are told: “This degree teaches us that no free government can long endure, when the people cease to select for their magistrates the best and the wisest of their statesmen; when, passing these by, they permit factions or sordid interests to select for them the small, the low, the ignoble and the obscure, and into such hands commit the country’s destinies. There is, after all, a ‘divine right’ to govern; and it is vested to the ablest, wisest, best, of every nation.

“A democratic government undoubtedly has its defects, because it is made and ad-ministered by men, and not by the Wise Gods.  It cannot be concise and sharp, like the despotic. When its ire is aroused it develops its latent strength, and the sturdiest rebel trembles.  But its habitual domestic role is tolerant, patient, and indecisive. Men are brought together, first to differ, then to agree. Affirmation, negation, discussion, solution; these are the means of attaining truth.”

Our present government is seen by many to be crumbling into ruin, It has lost much of its effectiveness because Americans have lost trust in it. The crisis has been long in the making.  Long before the present flagrant corruption and moral bankruptcy in our government, it was axiomatic with sophisticated citizens that first-rate people seldom make a career of politics.

Because we have entrusted civil government to men of mediocre ability and shabby morality, we now have the reverse of what we want, yet we’re “asking for it” by our cynicism.

This nation has reached a point in distrust of government beyond which it must not let itself drift apathetically any longer. We now have two apparent options: (A) Let “government of the people, by the people and for the people” run right on down the drain; or (B) take a full turn-about and return to the kind of government our forefathers designed for us.

If the choice is Option A, there will be a time of anarchy and chaos. Then the “Savior of the Republic” will ride up to the “rescue. ” Government will be restored with a vengeance, and it will be for the people, but not of and by them. Nations drift into despotism and dictatorship. As Chesterton said: “A despotism is a tired democracy.”

If the choice is Option B, it will be up to Masonry, the church, and other institutions which influence the public mind to re-educate the nation about the worth and dignity of public service in government. It is a truism and a notorious fact that a nation gets the kind of political leaders it deserves; and its deserts are determined by its expectations and demands. If we expect third-rate people and demand nothing better, that’s what we get. If what we get in the end is Option A, it will be because in that fleeting moment, when we were still free to choose, we wrung our hands and said: “Well, that is politics. It’s a dirty game, so we have to put up with the dirty people who play it for the rest of us. Who wants a saint in the White House? ”

Masons today, especially the younger ones, desire to act together as a Fraternity, not as individuals only. We have fostered this idea in DeMolay and continued it in our own Craft.  Historically, Masonry steers a wide path from involvement as a Fraternity, but as individuals, we do the Fraternity a great disservice if we do not involve ourselves in the task of bettering our schools, our community and our government.

We return to the definition of the problem.  How can our beloved Craft find its way out of this predicament without radical change?  Radical change is not desirable, nor is it necessary.

Nothing forbids the members of the Craft from joining others within the Masonic family to act in civic duties. From Morals and Dogma again: “Masonry is action and not inertness. It requires its initiates to work, actively and earnestly, for the benefit of their Brethren, their country, and mankind. It is the patron of the oppressed, as it is the comforter and consoler of the unfortunate and wretched…. It is the advocate of the common people in those things which concern the best interest of mankind…. Its fidelity to its mission will be accurately evidenced by the extent of the efforts it employs, and the means it sets on foot, to improve the people at large and to better their condition. ”

 

A diverse culture will by definition have a diverse set of values, assumption and yes, mythological stories ranging from origin to culmination.

It is only when we assume that we individually or as members of a specific culture have the one true point of view and morality that we in fact weaken the whole of our entire society.

Cynthia Giles on the Tarot

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Cynthia Giles

To understand its nature, one must begin where the Tarot begins – in the realm of imagination. Imagination is the faculty that allows us to experience the immaterial. Ordinary perception operates through the senses, and so is confined entirely to experience of the material world, but imagination is not bound by the rules of space and time which govern materiality. Through the mode of imagination, it is possible to travel instantaneously into the past or future, to other lands, beyond the earth, and even to realms that don’t exist in the material dimension.

When people journey into imagination they commonly keep themselves on a tether held by the conscious mind. For some this tether is so short they never wander far from the world of facts and matter.

Spirituality Past, Present and Future

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Why are my thoughts drawn so much to the past
where pleasure and pain of remembering doth last?
How is it I struggle to ponder the Now
where life is most vivid but wrinkles my brow
 
in confusion and wondering just why there is haste
that moves days so swiftly — and they have no taste?
The future is also approaching with speed,
with oblivion’s grave and the thing I must heed.
 
So into the past I find anchor to slow
the pace of the march played by Now’s singing bow.
The music remembers the living while young
and vibrates the harp from which thinking hath sprung.
 
A time that was strengthened by youth in its age
of vigor and wishing outside of the cage
that aging doth bring with its ups and its downs,
its joys and its pleasures with smilings and frowns.
 
Experience teaches a spiritual tune
that prompts us to seek from the holiest rune
a whisper of God in our mid-life-tuned ear
that something else needed is coming quite near.

© 2000 Arthur Ruger

Tarot, Runes and the I Ching: An Esotericist with the Diviner’s Fire

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The Tarot, I Ching, Runes and me … oh, and my own home-made divinator/muse.

I collect Tarot decks and Rune sets and have three different Books about the I Ching and a 4th on my Kindle Fire. They are an extremely appreciated tool I use mostly for entertainment and self-knowledge.

I don’t read my fortune with any of them and do not believe in such things. If I did I would probably resort to more historical and pagan or prehistoric notions by killing and gutting a chicken and drying out its bones for tossing on a blanket and looking for portents. Course I’d have to let my hair and beard grow to excessive lengths, quit bathing, wear camel hair and eat grasshoppers and dates … but I digress.

For starters though I’d like to address the superstitious ideas of an extremely superstitious segment of our society:

Start a conversation about Ouija boards and you will invariably encounter active Christians who react instinctively with rejecting, considering such things dangerously occult – a tool of Satan.

Mention the Tarot, The I Ching, Runes and other forms of divination including astrology and you’ll encounter the same knee-jerk reaction that these also are tools of the Devil and must be avoided.

Yet many of these same believers will not hesitate to talk about moments when they’ve felt spiritual guidance in their lives through the same divining process; even occasionally coming to tears in relating their own experience of the mysterious from within a literal Christian mindset.

On more than one occasion I have heard practicing Christians tell me that they’ve opened the Bible to a random page, run their finger down to a verse picked randomly and found a specific verse timely to their question and purpose. For them it was God’s spirit moving them to find God’s truth for their issue of the moment. On more than one occasion I have seen quoted the biblical injunctions against divination, wizards and familiar spirits that cannot and should not be trusted.

Yet these same quoting biblicists seem to remain unconscious of the fact of their own conscious acceptance of spiritual divination by trusting written words in a book they have come to accept as containing a spiritual communication of God to each person.

“God doesn’t communicate with people in that manner”

Oh yeah? In the 24th chapter of Genesis Abraham’s servant blatantly requests God’s help in an act of divining – from God – who is to become Isaac’s future wife.

Divination by dreams occurs in a righteous context in Abimelech learning that Sarah was Abraham’s wife in a dream,

… Joseph’s dream interpretation for the well being of Pharaoh’s Egypt and his own Israelite tribe,

… Gideon’s acting upon a dream to defeat the Midianites,

… Daniel’s dream interpretations,

… Joseph’s dream assuring him it would be okay to take Mary to wife, and again later to take the child Jesus to Egypt.

In Numbers, righteousness was the singular purpose and intent of the use by the priests of the Urim and Thummim, the mechanics of which must have had a similarity to those of modern workers with divination.

And yet there remain those strong words against wizards and familiar spirits from which now we live with a contemporary popular interpretation that condemns all divination as occult and a tool of the Devil.

Could it be that there is a genuine tangible and palpable difference between superstitious divination and the real thing as spoken of favorably in the Bible?

Acceptance of superstitious divination reflects people’s willingness to trust the mystic revelations of anyone purporting to foresee specific future events both general and personal. From a negative standpoint, what comes to mind nowadays is the carnival fortune-teller who through use of a crystal ball or cards will declare something significant concerning the querent’s future – selling entertainment for a price.

The idea that God would warn Israel about wizards and familiar spirits as a protection against being deceived into harmful, rash or self-destructive actions based on gullibility makes sense. But the idea that God was saying that divination in its purest sense, something available as a spiritual tool for all human beings, is evil and of the Devil is for me a false notion.

Our contemporary world is full of the results of contemporary Christian divinators: the prime practicioners being Rapture proclaimers like the prophets LaHaye, Jenkins and the vunderbar Hal Lindsey who gave us the late great planet earth. Like the Fat Texan John Hagee, these superstitious seers claim to have “divined” the meanings of the Book of Revelation and other Bible passages to construct a Rapture and End Times scenario that has impacted millions.

Divination itself is a function of communion between God and human beings. It is the essence of promptings by the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, many people keep journals and diaries. Journaling, when it avoids mere recitation of meetings, appointments and events, cannot help but be introspective and divinatory.

The act of writing out one’s thoughts on a daily basis is a powerful means of communion with one’s inner spirit – the mind is the place where the majority of human activity takes place – the mortal home of the soul. Taking journaling one step further by setting aside time to write thoughts as they spontaneously occur without time for editing for propriety’s sake can be very revelatory.

Such writings need not be shared with anyone else, but if kept and pondered with questions such as:

“Why did I write that?”

“How come I wrote it that way?”

“Why am I so angry … so pleased … so offended … so happy?”

The effect is both healthy and instructive … a movement further along one’s own path.

Divination and Me

Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines God-approved divination by lot as occurring in the choice of scapegoat by Aaron in Leviticus, in Numbers 26, in Joshua 7 and Samuel’s selection of Saul as king, in the choice of Mathias as Judas’ replacement in Acts.

Divination by lot seems to be that which most similarly resembles popular contemporary divination methods. It began for me one day years ago when out of boredom in a book store I began reading a book entitled “A Guide to the I Ching,” by Carol Anthony.

My eye was caught by the following under a paragraph entitled “On being led” as “necessary to establish the relationship between the student and the I Ching:

A willing suspension of disbelief

A sincere effort Perseverance”

This was a tiny powerful moment because I found myself reading the definition of how I had earlier in my spiritual life started on a different path wile still retaining my use of scripture – and coming to the spiritual place in which I now live.

I did not buy that book then, but as I continued scanning that “New Age” shelf I came across a marvelous book by Cynthia Giles, “The Tarot: Methods, Mastery and More,” a followup to here introductory The Tarot, History, Mystery and Lore

Expecting at first a Tarot “how to” what I discovered was that Giles, who has a Ph.D. specializing in Jungian Studies, was touting the Tarot as a means of self-exploration rather than a means of telling one’s own and other’s futures.

Among other things, she wrote of divination as a means of expanding ways of knowing one’s self, of wellness and rejoining body and mind, of growth uniting body and soul. I bought that book and read it … and reread it.

For the next 2-3 years in the 1990’s I bought a set of Runes, a Tarot deck, the I Ching book, commenced my exploration … and found myself amazed. In all three contexts, that which I learned as “revealed to me through divination tools” was essentially identical -the same information – in each context.

I realized then that journaling and techniques that task the mind and imagination creatively became a fascinating and enjoyable labor of love.

I found a means of exploring the inner self in a deliberate absence of seeking external mystical sources as portrayed by others who also used these tools.

I was not seeking to know the future, or some sort of channeled wisdom. Carried on independent of the need for outside religious approval based on someone else’s magic or assumptions, I found myself further down my path toward a more direct communion with the reality of God – as I have exprienced God – than I’d ever intended or anticipated.

And then, with a greater understanding of myself, I designed another device for divination more in line with how I seem to be wired.

It’s a book I built in which I’ve collected what I consider the most important grains of wisdom I have found. It is also dominated by but not limited to the words of Jesus which I believe to be authentic or close to it. It’s a living book in that it grows when I encounter something new that merits inclusion in my Muse Book.

Some who read this article are probably not aware that something they’ve written may very well be in my special collection. When I use it, I refer to it slowly and in a patient, almost leisurely manner, exercising faith in spiritual communion with the divine and trusting the process.

In closing, I’ll say this. There are millions who know this stuff – many who are younger than I and yet knew it long before I did. I join with them in a path toward greater understanding of self and mystery.

One more thing, every single poetry item I write is done using that same homemade collection: Arthur’s Muse