Monday, February 27, 2006

Rhetoric

The rain is pouring, the frogs are singing their little hearts out and all seems right with the world at this very moment, in this one place. I know there are serious problems in the world and even in our own country, but in this now - my now - all is well. If someone would have told me ten years ago, one year, one month or even a week ago that I would be feeling at peace and harmony with the world right now, listening to the frogs and the rain, I probably would not have believed it. Not that it would be so inconceivable – these things happen far more frequently for me of late – just that in the realm of realistic possibilities for this moment, why this?

And the answer is…? I haven’t a clue. This is what happened. It is as it should be, for if it weren’t, something else would be happening. It may or may not be of the same peaceful nature; it may or may not have been… It doesn’t matter. Whatever is served up is right on time and exactly proper. So, is this moment predestined?

Yes – no - maybe. The answer depends on, to a certain extent, one’s belief system. Are we self determined, masters of our own destiny, limited only by our fortitude, our confidence and our will power? Or is there a spiritual component to life? Is sentience a quality of spiritual beings? Is the road for our lives laid out like rails or can we choose only among a limited number of paths? Is it possibly some kind of combination; a veritable mixing of the oil-and-water nature of self-determination and predestination?

Rhetorical? Perhaps not. Perception is key. The hopelessness I battled with for so long revolved around these questions. I was searching for the answers never really believing they could be answered to my satisfaction. I could not conceive of any “proof” that I could possibly accept. I thought I was an atheist, but that would mean my lot in life was of my choosing. I couldn’t accept the notion of predestination because it left me wondering what the point could possibly be. I needed some sort of proof, yet my view of life was being dictated by beliefs that had no evidence to support them either.

My perception was skewed to say the least. I was trying to force the square peg of my black-and-white beliefs into the round hole that is life. The answer, for me, is not predestination, but it is also not entirely self-determination. I have free will, no doubt about it. I exercised it without limit for a very long time. I know where it got me. I also believe that there are a set of universal principles in the world. A rev limiter on self will, if you will. These guideposts are there to direct; they help to guide one to a peaceful and harmonious destiny – not a pre-destiny.

These principles have been described in many ways at many times and in many languages. They are ideals that exist independently of cultural and geographical separation. They are the likes of: Honesty, integrity, responsibility, acceptance, love, selflessness, and many more. Once realigned with these powers, allowing them to dictate the next direction I took, my life – or rather, my perception of life, changed.

And it is so regardless of the specific circumstances I may be surrounded by. Indeed, life did not change, my role in it did. My appreciation for the ordinary, the mundane, the chores and even the difficulties of everyday life does not reflect any change in those things. It is all about perception. It is the “half-full, half-empty” paradigm. Those questions are therefore not so rhetorical after all. And there is no right or wrong answer. To me, it doesn’t matter how peace comes, what matters is that it does. My words here are an attempt to open the mind to the realm of possibilities that may seam foreign, as they did to me – but have meant so much.

Even those who do not practice “right living” know what it is. We know right from wrong. I believe we are born with it - but I'm willing to concede it is learned. Again, it matters not - these principles have put me on the path to peace and gratitude. I have seen it in countless others. For me, I just had to find a way to do it. For that, I had to have something to believe in .

Peace.

25 comments:

neal said...

It is 3:37 a.m. and I just took my first sip of coffee. My eyes are still blurring in and out of focus and I find it difficult to form coherent thoughts right now. I would like to say more, but alas I am afraid that will have to wait until I get home from work this afternoon. Needless to say, very interesting post.

Mr. Althouse said...

neal ~ 7:oo a.m., no coffee yet... Ya, I know. Pretty profound huh? I honestly don't know where this stuff comes from sometimes. I mean, it's me, but it's not - does that make any sense?

jinsane said...

Very deep post...one that I enjoyed alot.

Actually, I need to think about this one for awhile before I respond. However, I wanted you to know that I read it and am taking it with me to mull over. XO

UltimateWriter said...

Very deep stuff. I had to read it a couple times. But yeah, the basic right and wrong principles can be extrapolated to most all of the situations we face throughout life.

Ellen said...

I wanted to leave some profound words, but found that you pretty much said them all in your post.

Thank goodness we have someone of your caliber to keep us enlightened everyday.... you give much hope to those who are still struggling to see the path.

As always.... brilliant post! You always leave us wanting more...

neal said...

I sure wish I could coherently speak the thoughts that run through my head. You do such a better job than I. Needless to say let me say what this post meant to me.


It seems like you and I are like two people on the same racetrack but you are a couple laps ahead of me. So much of what you said in this post I can relate to on a very personal level. –

I seem to still be at the stage you talk about in the fourth paragraph where you say you were still battling hopelessness. I am still seeking answers to many of the same questions you were. I can’t accept that there is no purpose for life. I just haven’t found it yet.-

I would like to think that there is some higher power that rules over this chaos we call life. I do not know if there is a God. I don’t claim to be an atheist, I just don’t know the answer. I find it hard to accept the fact on faith alone. Maybe that is my problem. I have attended many different churches and have found them falling short of satisfying my need for answers. I find them more concerned with ritual than with substance. I don’t blame the institutions themselves, for although our government itself is based on solid principles I find it lacking when run by people. So I blame the people who run these churches for the lack of substance, not the institutions. This may upset many, but that is the way I see them.-

One thing I found particularly profound in your post was the comment, It is as it should be, for if it weren’t , something else would be happening. That is so Zen. Pure acceptance of your circumstances without questioning why things are the way they are. It seems like such a simple statement but I bet many people if they thought about it would find it hard to actually live by that concept moment by moment.-

You also talk about the guideposts to help direct you to a harmonious destiny. I have done some research on Taoism and Buddhism and I have found many of the concepts they teach are very similar to what you find Jesus preaching in the New Testament. These guideposts are what I would call a plain and simple code of ethics to live by. If more people lived by them our world would be such a better place.-

Anyway, someday I hope to be at the place you are in life. I try my best to treat people with respect and courtesy. There are times I find myself unable to accept certain character traits but I am working on that also. It is the main questions of why we are here and what is my role in life that I struggle with. –

I could go on but I am not as eloquent as you with words and I don’t wish to waste your or anybody else’s time.

Jamie Dawn said...

I believe in God, but I do not believe in a plan, and I do not believe that all things happen for a reason. I think that there is good in the world & evil. We all see the results of it daily. I do not think that kids dying from cancer or people dying in car crashes happens as part of some divine plan.
I think we live, make our mark on the world, and we die.

blair said...

I think I am on the same page. I believe that we have some control over our destiny. I think the universe presents us with opportunity when we are ready to receive it. Whether that opportunity is peace, a new job, a new friend, or love. So, you must be ready for peace. Take it in. Enjoy it. Because life is so chaotic that we don't often get time to stop and listen to the rain.

Cheers,
Blair

neal said...

JaimeI think that if there is a God He has a master plan that rules the destiny of every single persons life. I do believe that He would have an overall plan for mankind. There would have to be some reason He put us here other than to live and to die.

It is like some of the Buddhist thought were we are here to improve upon ourselves and if we didn't we are reincarnated and come back to try again. The only difference from my studies of Christian belief is that if you mess this time up you don't get a second chance.

That is one of the reasons my search for answers is so sincere. I would hate to leave this world knowing what the consequences were if I didn't get things right.

Mr. Althouse said...

Thank you all for the thoughtful feedback. Tonight I am studying for a constitutional law midterm. Although still at peace, the harmony will be of a different flavor tonight. Later tonight or tomorrow I will respond to one and all, for there has been some excel comments made. Until then -

~Mike

Bar Bar A said...

Mike,

I think it's wonderful that you have found peace and gratitude. Those two things seem to go hand in hand. You've taken the "long way" to get to where you are today but many will never arrive, I'm glad you did so you can show the way to others.

I believe in God but don't pretend to understand Him and everything about Him. I think He gave us free will so that we could choose our paths, but I also believe He has the power to intervene at any time He chooses and re-direct us, or to answer our prayers. It seems like He usually uses our circumstances and choices to teach us. We are the ones who mess up and have to live with the consequences. Like any partent, He hopes we won't get hurt - but we often do.

OutInLeftField said...

Dang, you wrote a great, reflective post and I'm too tired to see, nevermind comment properly! (AHAH, I just read Neal's comment and he said the same thing, it;s an epidemic of tiredness!). Anyways, I am glad you found peace and I think the old adage "Life is a journey not a destination" can hold true to what you were saying. All these things we find shitty are actually part of the ride, and once we realise that we achieve true peace and happiness. (And even if we realise it, it takes a while to accept it).

Have a good one...and I promise, I will be more awake the next time I come and visit! :)

neal said...

Good luck on your mid term.

Sadie Lou said...

I notice you lurk on my blog every now and again but never comment--used to comment but don't anymore. I guess I have to ask, out of curiousity, why?
and I wonder if this post was in response to something that provoked you--perhaps read on MY blog?
I have to know.
:)

Mr. Althouse said...

jinsane ~Thank you. This feeling of harmony strikes me quite frequently these days. Being of an analytical mindset, I try to figure it out - usually with no real explanation. I guess I'm still trying to figure it all out.

ultimate ~ It is indeed curious how similar the peoples of the world are at some levels - even when completely isolated from each other.

ellen ~ Thank you so much. I think you may be my biggest fan! It took a lot of trials and tribulations to get here - my hope is that others don't have to do the same.

neal ~ Although I carefully avoided the word "God" in my post, the inference is definitely there. I don't know either - I am truly agnostic. However, I do believe in something beyond... what that is, I haven't a clue. I don't think it's a race, more of a journey - it doesn't work for me to measure it.

jd ~ As I have mentioned before, I'm not sure what you would call my belief, but I do believe in action and reaction. Consequences, both positive and negative are part of life. Having said that, how the consequences are assessed are a matter of perception.

blair ~ Exactly. There are indicators, both internal and external. Peace is found where we find it, and that could be anywhere.

bar bar a ~ Yup. That's kinda the gist of it. I write this stuff to open the realm of the possible rather than identify the impossible. My beliefs evolve almost daily - for the better.


outin... ~ It is definitely the journey. I am reminded of part of a poem I once read: It will be ok when it's over, if it's not ok, it's not over.

sadie lou ~ I haven't had time recently to leave a lot of comments. I do read your blog and it does, like many, inspire me in thought. I tend to avoid religious topics because i don't really have any formal knowledge of any organized religions. My take is more general and self generated. This post is more introspection than anything else. You are absolutely on my daily read list.

~ to all: Thank you for your thoughts. I STOMPED my con law mid-term! I'm feeling pretty good.

~Mike

Saur♥Kraut said...

I have always had a hard time wrestling with pre-determination and free will. Some Christians believe that both is possible, because ANYthing is possible with God...blah blah blah. To me, it makes no sense and I see direct conflict in the Bible. So, I'm with you: I have free will, but maybe less than I realize.

As for nature, I definately understand. My peace is sometimes found sailing.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

You are so correct.

The way we perceive and the extent to which we accept people, places and things as they are is the key to our own peace of mind.

Glad to hear your grass is watered, and so beautifully green!

Sadie Lou said...

~ to all: Thank you for your thoughts. I STOMPED my con law mid-term! I'm feeling pretty good.

Good job! Thanks for the explaination. I'm glad you are at least a lurker of my blog. Finding time to comment is a challenge--I understand! I was just hoping I didn't offend...

Lee Ann said...

Very good post and it does make complete sense to me!

KT Did said...

Hi, looks like things have been comfortable for you....I remember reading way back when a book entitled, "Be Here Now"...by Ram Dah (sp?). I really needed it back then and when I get out of sorts I remember all what little book had to say and use all the time now. Loved being up North... We will have to plan a ride..
KT

Ellen said...

WooHoo on the stomping of the mid-term! Raising a virtual cup of tea on your success... from Atlanta.

Ellen said...

WooHoo on the stomping of the mid-term! Raising a virtual cup of tea on your success... from Atlanta.

Ellen said...

Oooops.... sorry, I didn't mean to hit the verification twice. Silly me.....

Saur♥Kraut said...

Sadie Lou, you go, girl! ;o)

kate said...

Sadie Lou, I think that makes Mike a Blog stalker... dont you... hehehehhehehhehehheheheh jk

w2g on the exam. Now you can relax and enjoy the weekend!