WHAT GAME ARE YOU PLAYING? Are you a “winner” or a “loser?” The answer to that question involves ‘discovering’ who we are and how we navigate the daily mix of our lives. Perhaps our status is best determined by first looking at what
CALL TO WARRIORS
In seeking to avoid a fight, we concede what we’re about. We’re about justice, fairness, equality—that’s our strength. We cannot concede our strength. We must realize, understand and believe that our current conditions do not reflect our ultimate potential. If we limit our choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, we disconnect ourselves from what we truly want. And all that is left is a compromise. In order to move forward, we need both the courage of our convictions and the commitment to do the work.(Gary Delgado, 1951 - )
A Call to Action: Become a Warrior
How do we best respond to the call we hear (or should hear!) to take responsibility for our future in these times? The Founding Fathers of this country had a challenge they faced that could be said to be far more daunting. Yet they took a giant step, effaced personal gain and created a new nation with a road map -- the Constitution of these United States. The first sentence crafted for that document, its Preamble. The word “preamble” comes from the Latin “pre-ambulate” which means to walk before, to lead the way. It starts with “We the People.” So what is the task for “We the People” today?
The Preamble was conceived as a statement of America’s national purpose: by “We the People” to form “a more perfect Union” that would “establish Justice, provide for the common defence, insure domestic Tranquility, promote the general Welfare” and then to “secure the Blessings of Liberty” to “ourselves and our Posterity” as its vision of America’s future as a free country. The national purpose, then, is plainly to keep us free. Nothing more. Nothing less. But what does that mean?
It means that the Preamble is not only the front line that drives the law; it is also a nucleus of ideals that would unify our people and accelerate our mutual security with the nations of the world. This drive, nucleus and acceleration would not only be America’s DNA, but also would be a template for civilization against barbarity—to keep us free from the corruption of power. The European Enlightenment had empowered our founders to replace the divine right of kings with the divine rights of the people. That was what led to America’s Declaration of Independence in 1776. That was what also led to the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” by the United Nations in 1948.
How about taking responsibility for questioning those who be our leaders, getting full and real responses, and then working to make sure that those people and their responses resonate with the values spelled out in that Preamble to lead us to those goals? To do that, we need to become warriors.
The warrior is a timeless, primal archetype at the core of both individuals and groups. Warriors, whatever role they have played and whatever name we have given to them are, in fact, telling us there's something valuable about focus, determination, and courage for the common good. In the developed world, warrior energy is often sublimated into the activities around business and sports. And even here, in considering our opportunity and obligation to take responsibility for ourselves, our families, our friends and neighbors, our communities, our nation and our planet, a clear goal toward a larger good, beyond self, and for purposes greater than prestige and power is usually absent. The current day warrior has largely morphed into the celebrity, which hardly makes it warrior energy any more.
The secret of a good warrior is that one must be in tutelage to a good and wise leader. The warrior without a good leader has no wisdom, no temperance, no balance, no final goals. The warrior archetype is not going away any time soon, nor should it. Our job is to educate and redefine the warrior in the way that the great leaders we acknowledge lived out their passion. Warrior energy is not in its essence wrong. It takes warrior energy to see through and stand against mass illusions of our time, and be willing to pay the price of disobedience. It takes warrior energy to see through the soft rhetoric of "support our troops" which cleverly diverts from the objective evil of war. It takes warrior energy to walk to a different drum, disbelieve the patriotic trivia, and re-believe in the tradition of freedom, and the Nth Commandment [do unto others as you would have them do unto others].
The warrior in all of us is desperately searching for something heroic, transcendent, or self-sacrificing. Defining what our freedom consists of and how we can achieve and support it, for ourselves, our families, our friends, our associates, our country and for all those who inhabit this planet, that is a cause worth fighting for. And our fight must come from a place of learning. To rise above the ignorance that seems to permeate our current processes, our media, the choices must be pointed out and a way found and implemented to foster the education of “We the People” be carried out. Our great teachers who founded the religions we profess to follow proclaimed that was and is the path to follow and the victory to be won would be through the power of love.
What then, is the creative force that the leader who “We the People” are called to follow can unleash? Could this leader unleash the unbelievable force that one of our top immigrants ‘saw’ while sitting at his desk in a patent office in Switzerland? Albert Einstein foresaw that E=mc2. He understood that when all the appropriate elements are brought together and are unleashed, everything is possible. We have and are discovering that is true. What then are the elements the leaders must assemble and articulate to a receptive warrior following?
Warrior energy needs to be wholly dedicated and given somewhere or to something. It must be focused and released for the warrior to know that she or he is alive and has character. Our work is to find worthy causes and goals to receive worthy warrior energy. The opportunity is here, the time is now. It is up to each of us.
THE SPACE BETWEEN THE NOTES
We turn clay to make a vessel; but it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends. - Tao Te Ching
With things, with objects, greater accumulation conveys the greater appearance of worth. But the sheer mass of objects demonstrates that the only purpose of the one object is the obtaining of another. In this way, the filling of space results in emptiness. When the purpose of obtaining the one is only for obtaining the next, then you can never “have” anything.
If the notes are the events and things of our lifetimes, and if they can be played as the conscious times in our lives, then there is place, a space, that exists between these notes. This space can be envisioned as where our souls reside between lives, and where ideas, inspiration, emotion, creativity, the “why we are here” is received during the “down” time in each lifetime.
Push physics to the extreme and – in the end – it’s all space, nothingness, tickled by energy. Everything that there is – and that there isn’t – is created from what I envision as the “eternal sea of creativity.” Picture a place, a space – an existence – where the totality of being and non-being is congealed. A sea or ocean full of all the droplets of is and isn’t. The world as we know it, and the consciousness and being that we experience, come from this eternal sea of creativity. Out of the sea come individual droplets – droplets that have names, existence, memory, desires. Each droplet has the opportunity – perhaps the mandate – to use its existence to add to this eternal sea. What the addition is or can be is the challenge to each droplet – to each of “us.” One challenge is to live our lives, and each event and challenge it provides, to the optimum – to reach our “peaks.” It is in the quietness, the recesses, the moments where we come from what “is” to the place where we want to be.
LISTEN TO THE SPACE BETWEEN THE NOTES
Listen to the whisper of the Universe;
The eternal vibrations that underlie all that is
Listen to the sensations reflecting each soul’s story
In this time and place we call our life.
Listen to the thundering silence:
The silence that inspires; that supports;
That determines and defines the vessel:
The vessel that contains the bounds and boundaries
Of existence, of possibilities;
Of all that ever was and wasn’t;
Of all that is and isn’t;
Of all that will ever be and won’t be.
The notes we play
Have a deeper melody;
A baseline and rhythm
Underscoring the top notes.
Listen to a melody that knows the sounds;
The sounds of what was before the beginning;
The sounds of what will be after the end.
No crashing symbols,
No Ode to Joy;
No Angel’s Choir;
No thundering God.
A silence that is much more.
Listen to the ebb and flow,
The ebb and flow of the eternal sea of creativity.
It laps upon each shore.
It soothes the weary.
It is from where we came,
And to where we shall return.
Is created from the silence,
From the space between the notes.
Listen to the music of silence!
Listen to the music of love!
The topic is Out of Body experiences and their meanings. Here is a major one I had and how it has related to my life since then.
My Re-Entry to This Life . . . in Jerusalem
It was an early morning in March, 1984, in what we in human form have created as ‘time.’ I went out of body and floated out the window and up into the beams emanating from the dawning sun.
I was practicing an early meditation in my room at the King David hotel where the window in the room overlooked the wall behind which was the Old City of Jerusalem. A shaft of sunlight beamed into the room and “I” floated out on it, soaring above the Old City. The sense was ecstatic. “I” looked back and there was the being named Arthur, sitting cross-legged on a pillow on the rug in the room that I shared with Donnie Volhard, a ginseng farmer from Marathon, Wisconsin.
Donnie was accompanying me on a visit to Israel. I was the President of the Ginseng Research Institute and Donnie was a major ginseng grower in the middle of the burgeoning business that had transformed dairy farmers in that region of Wisconsin into this single crop that most of them had never heard of and would probably never use or even taste.
We had been invited by my friend, Stephen Fulder, to visit with the Israeli government company that was a major manufacturer of extracts. Stephen was an English Ph.D. who had met a “Sabra” – a native Israeli woman at Cambridge in England. They married and returned to Israel to live in a community called “Clil,” where homes are individually owned and where there are extensive common elements including utilities (water, power), education (school), some common gardens, roads, etc. Most of the residents had come from other parts of the world. I had got in touch with Stephen because I found that he had written pretty much the book I was thinking about writing relating to ‘traditional medicine’ and the place of ginseng therein. That book was published in the U.S. in 1982, followed by many more books that Stephen wrote on ginseng, and other ‘harmony’ herbs, primarily from the orient
After reading Stephen’s book, I finally got in touch with him and ended up sending him a plane ticket to come to the U.S. so we could meet and talk and that has lead to a great friendship that has had periodic and long hiatuses. Stephen has been very involved with working on peace-making between Israelis and its neighbors and is a leading person in the Buddhist work and teachings in Israel.
Back to my floating over the walls and streets of Jerusalem. What had gone out on the streak of light from the Sun was now floating above the wall, the Old City, the King David Hotel. In this description, there is a need to communicate who or what this energy – this ‘being’ or ‘non-being’ – someway to refer to ‘it.’ Let’s settle for “I” for now.
In understanding what it is that makes life living - perhaps answering a big part of "Who Are We? and Why Are We Here? the topic of Well-Being comes up.. I helped create and coordinate a Study Group back in 2005 that looked deeply into this definition. Given the continued increase in the amount of Elders ("Sages") in the U.S. and in developed countries around the world, and given my current "Soap Box" priority relating to turning around the way our Sages are viewed and treated from Objects to Untapped Resources, the results of this Task Force seem even more relevant today. Here it is:
A Measure of Well-Being
“When we love a woman we don’t start measuring her limbs.” Pablo Picasso
So, Picasso, what do we measure? What is quality of life, and what is true caring?
A task force was put together in 2015 (with funding help from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) by the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) in Charlottesville, VA, represented by Arthur Rashap and the Eden Alternative (founded and lead by William (Bill) Thomas, M.D. The full roster of the task force is listed at the end of this memo.
Eschewing the declinist’s view of aging, the task force worked from the perspective of ‘old age’ as another stage of human growth and development. The ultimate outcome agreed upon was WELL-BEING. For Elders to fully achieve all aspects of well-being, it is contended that their families, friends, organizations, and ultimately the communities they engage with need also to be experiencing it.
Well-being (n.) a contented state of being
Well-being is the path to a life worth living. It is what we all desire. It is the ultimate outcome of human life. So what are the components of well-being? What do we need to experience contentment? The task force identified seven primary domains of well-being: identity; growth; autonomy; security; connectedness; meaning and joy.
The Domains of Well-Being:
I believe that one of the greatest errors we are making in the U.S. today is the way we hold and treat our older people. They (we) become objects to be cared for, warehoused, and concerned about because of what the price tag of all this carries. How about a 180 degree turnaround and realize that they (we) are perhaps the greatest untapped resource in the U.S. today. How about entering the dialogue about this?
Published by David Goff, ChangingAging Contributor on August 31, 2015
There is something happening, particularly with older people, which I don’t think has been commented upon.
I think that this phenomenon needs to be reported and considered, for the sake of those getting older, and for the sake of everyone who is pursuing genuine happiness. There is an actualization of self that can take place, in the later years, that brings happiness, fulfillment, and most importantly, the kind of unique perspective that can make hope a real thing.
I call this phenomenon “arrival”, and if you keep reading you’ll see why.
THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG: SERMON FOR AUGUST 9, 2015
We are exploring today the 24 hour news cycle as it spins a narrative of what it deems our world is like. We are going to have a lot of questions to consider. Is what is shown about what the world we live in, ‘our world,’ is that what it is really like? Does this “narrative” that the media presents, and repeats, sometimes ab nauseam, obscure other realities? Is there a way to use this news cycle to help us arrive at a way to contribute to creating good news?
SERMON FOR MARCH 29, 2015 AT TJMCUU: AWAKENING FROM THE AMERICAN DREAM
On August 2, 2002 I stood in this pulpit and gave a sermon as a Worship Associate entitled:
“The Happiness Quotient.” The question posed was: “How am I – how are you- to be happy – to be happy no matter what our situation? The search then relates to how we choose to live our lives within the context of the limitations, if there are any, imposed by our circumstances. We want and hope for happiness. We are, in fact, sitting in a Church named after the man who defined the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right. What was written and conceived of was the PURSUIT of happiness. More on that later.
We live in a media world and hear on a daily basis from our leaders and pundits that what they are doing is working to enable each and every one of us to achieve the American Dream – or rather to pursue it. A book” was entitled: “Awakening from the American Dream” was published last year and authored by Master Charles Cannon, who is a spiritual teacher and founder of the Synchronicity Foundation, which is located nearby in Faber, Virginia. The book’s premise gives what I believe are some key things to think about and to perhaps consider to implement in your life.
The American Dream promises happiness if you work hard and follow the rules. The carrot,
always just beyond reach, is the enticement that by working hard and following the rules you will one day finally catch up with happiness and get all that the Dream promises.
Adam has outlined a variety of the ‘stuff’ that the American Dream promises and, for some, has actually provided. He has focused on material betterment and place in life.Yet, The happiness and success of the American Dream has failed to materialize for the vast majority of Americans – and that includes ‘us.’ What happened to the greatest, the wealthiest country on earth, the land of equal opportunity for one and for all? If we look at the current economic statistics, it seems for many that the promise of the Dream is just that – a dream.
Sermon writing is a mix of art, spirit, inspiration, and chutzpah. It is also darn hard. To get a real appreciation of what goes into writing a sermon, try it! You then can get a real appreciation of the wonderful job our minister does each Sunday. I was told that the key to delivering a good sermon is to “identify the good news!”
Now, identifying the good news can be a pretty difficult task, particularly if you are exposed to the media. For some reason, those who decide what “news” is fit to disseminate seem to chose those events that play up natural disasters and human-created evil deeds and suffering. Those stories seem to attract our attention and apparently help sell the things being advertised. Where, then, where can we find the good news? Perhaps, for the time we dwell in this sanctuary, it is fitting and proper that we should search for the news that is good.
So, then, what is the topic for today’s good news? I would propose that around the world, no matter what our situation – rich or poor; educated or not; of one race, religion, gender, or another – we all want to be happy and to avoid suffering. Our every intended action: how we choose to live our lives within the context of the limitations imposed by our circumstances – can be seen as a quest to answer the great question that confronts us all: “How am I to be happy?”
In this life I am named Arthur William Rashap. I have lived 79 years with a myriad of experiences that have enabled me to enjoy many worlds and to have met and worked with some special people. I want to share this and have the opportunity to interact with you.