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Beyond LGBTI+

I’ve often written about the limitations of our sexuality and gender labelling and encouraged people to examine the the fluidity of it all. Of course, labelling is needed in terms of finding others who understand our particular needs and preferences, but we get stuck there, to our own detriment.

As the various scientific disciplines explore sexuality and gender, it’s becoming clearer that every single person on the planet is actually on a continuum of various sexuality and gender factors. And people are discovering that it’s possible to move along these different continua throughout our lives!

I just read an interesting article how women, in particular, are discovering same sex attraction in their late 30 and 40s, even though they have been happily “straight” up until then!

We are discovering so much about the biology of gender that almost every other day there’s more understanding of the nuances of our genetics and the chemistry that surrounds it. Nothing is as it used to be understood. The idea of “binary” gender is no longer valid.

Being a chronic idealist and dreamer, I long for us to embrace this as a species. I imagine a world where there really are no assumptions, no boundaries or expectations around any aspect of this core part of our being.

The only factor that needs any consideration in how we live this in a practical way is the birth and nurture of children. A womb is the only place a child can gestate, and a stable loving environment is the only place a child can grow.

I feel my goals and activities are shifting to enable this to become real. I need to put my money where my mouth is, as it were.

I’m actively looking at ways to educate/enlighten, and build communities based solely on unconditional love and support. I ache for a world beyond labels, where everyone is simply their unique selves.

I’ve found that most people, especially LGBTI+, long for the same thing, but regard it as nothing more than unachievable dream, and a waste of effort. But if no one even attempts this, how will we ever know?

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My Scooter

(a true story)

I had a scooter when I was a kid. Not one of those little things they have these days. Nope, this was the 60s. I had a blue and white super deluxe scooter with big pump up tyres and white rubber hand grips. It was fast and smooth. It could handle the rough, but best of all was the speed.

We lived near the bottom of a long gentle hill, and as I slowly gained more confidence, I would go further up the hill to get that extra bit of speed. Stopping was a challenge, even though it had good brakes, but you could never be too careful!

Off I’d go down the footpath, oblivious to the thought of people coming out of drives and old ladies or the postman. When it was quiet however, I’d go straight down the middle of the road.

Finally I worked my way to the top of the hill but still I needed more speed. My last techniques involved crouching down to minimise drag and I was always oiling everything to get that last little boost as well.

Of course, it wasn’t without its risks, and there were many grazed arms and knees, but I was never daunted. It was my scooter – it was perfect.

I’d scoff at other scooters and prided myself on how fast I could go. And yet, in the back of my mind I knew bikes were even faster. My older brother had a bike, but I ignored it completely – stupid looking thing with skinny tires and you were right up in the air, not close to the road like my scooter.

I did try the bike once, but it was terrible! All wobbly and just not right at all. No, bike riders were stupid. Scooters ruled!

For some reason I never allowed myself to think that bikes were actually far more useful. So much so that I would rather walk than make the transition. Eventually though, after pushing it too hard for too long with too many accidents, I had to admit defeat and finally realise I had outgrown my precious scooter!

So as soon as I was old enough I got a motor bike and eventually a car, as you do. I mean, scooters are great, don’t get me wrong. When I was little it was my life, my pride and joy, and did everything I needed. But I simply had to admit that there were bigger and better ways of getting around.

My spiritual journey was very similar.I wanted the best! I wanted truth, wisdom and knowledge. So amidst all the options I chose Christianity.

Christianity had everything I needed! It was slick, with all the answers. I could dig deep into mysteries and get more and more revelations. I could stretch my limits with faith and “ministries”. There was so much to do and strive to be better.

Of course, it wasn’t without its risks, and there were many accidents, causing damage to myself and others. I’d trip up when doctrines didn’t work properly and find another one that did, or patch up the old one with a few different scriptures.

I’d not only scoff at other beliefs, but actually declare them evil – even other Christians who didn’t have my particular polished, high speed, oiled and maintained doctrines, weren’t as good as me.

For some reason I never allowed myself to think that other beliefs were actually far more beneficial – both for me or everyone else! Eventually though, after pushing it too hard for too long with too many accidents I had to admit defeat and finally realise I’d outgrown my precious beliefs.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make Christianity work any more. It finally became a matter of either ignoring all the other options and doggedly limping on, or at least giving these other beliefs a serious look.

Don’t get me wrong, Christianity served a purpose, but like my scooter, it had a limited usefulness – it would only take so much before turning into a liability.

All this may sound a little patronising to a lot of Christians. I would have thought that too when I was still oiling the wheels and going further up the hill to get more speed. I would have vilified anyone who thought I would outgrow such an amazing belief system.

But outgrow it I did. I still appreciate much that I’ve learned. But I grew too much for it to contain me. Like my scooter that is way too small for me now, Christianity is too small to be of much value.

I could still ride my scooter if I wanted too, but why would I? 

Some kids trash their scooters, run over people’s toes, smash into old ladies’ shopping trolleys and wreak havoc! But I still have a soft spot for my scooter, and I don’t mind dusting it off when talking to other scooter experts. Hopefully we’ll all outgrow these things anyway, although I’m not sure what our perfect transport looks like!

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Taboos

Everyone has their favourite “taboo” topic, but religion is one of those universal taboos.

I don’t mean taboo as in “don’t talk about it”. I mean as in “we must respect each others religious beliefs”. To that, I say bullshit! Religious dogma, in all its variants, has caused more “hell on earth” than any other single factor. So that’s a big yeah/nah from me.

Of course, we do well to respect each other’s humanity, exercise compassion and empathy etc, but we have managed, as a species, to be unable to separate religious beliefs from our identity as a human being. We simply aren’t very good at applying rational thought to those beliefs.

That doesn’t mean we should abandon religion. It simply means that religion must be open to the same scrutiny and objective analysis as any other part of our life. This also means that we must recognise our spiritual needs as human beings and the influence of our emotions and “gut feelings” – everything goes into the mix.

We are so incredibly offended when someone challenges our beliefs. However, beliefs must be challenged if we are to grow as a species – grow in unity, love, compassion and ways that build a better society.

I love to challenge ALL belief systems and provoke people to look at why they believe what they believe. Nothing is taboo for me, and nothing should be taboo for anyone.

If you are upset by someone questioning your “god” and your beliefs, then you should be asking yourself why you are offended – why is it your job to defend those beliefs so passionately?

Not one single god or religion is objectively provable. So believe whatever you want, but if someone challenges you, have the maturity to at least recognise that.

What an amazing world it would be if we all stopped protecting our precious taboos!

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The Narcissistic God

I write this as a challenge rather than a statement of my personal beliefs. The link below is to an article by Andrew Jasko, an ex-fundamentalist Christian.

There are endless variants of christian theology and some, such as the “Grace Movement” paint a very different picture of God – one that is unconditionally loving. This, and the more mystic form of christian theology, provided me with some relief from the chronic cognitive dissonance of fundamentalism, but ultimately, I had to admit that even these theologies created their own set of problems with the biblical God.

No matter how I tried, I could not equate the biblical God as an entity who had any concept of genuine love. In fact I found our innate concepts of love to be far more “moral” and genuine than the Abrahamic/christian deity.

So as you read this, make the effort to see past your own dogmas and paradigms. Be willing to be challenged to look outside your confirmation bias.

God Has A Narcissistic Personality Disorder

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Theist, Atheist or Agnostic?

I’m often asked if I’m an atheist, or most Christians assume I’m atheist. After engaging in discussion, some will assume I’m agnostic. Often atheists assume I’m still a theist or haven’t got the guts to ditch the whole god thing.

Whichever way it goes, people want to label me as being in one camp or the other, or simply agnostic.

However, I simply can’t define my beliefs that simply. In fact I think it’s asking the wrong question entirely!

The whole premise is usually based on the assumption that we are talking about some permutation of the Abrahamic God, which is fair enough given it’s roots in our culture. This is true for theists and atheists. Because of this, most struggle to understand someone who has moved beyond those concepts entirely. As a result I get labelled as a “new age” thinker, or some other sort of spiritually nebulous wanker. Some think I’m more Buddhist/Zen these days… you get the idea.

However, I could only define myself as one who sees the “big picture”. Someone who strives to understand the interactions of ideas, philosophy, spirituality, religion, science and the empirical methodology it embraces, and many other factors. I get equally annoyed by Richard Dawkins as I do by Franklin Graham – because they both have such a shallow and ignorant view of religion. I’m frustrated by the politicising of spiritual disciplines such as Buddhism in far eastern countries. I revolted by the cults of christianity in Africa and Latin countries, and the Evangelical religious cult in the USA. I’m sure you get my drift.

My motivation in all this is a desire to understand why we need religion, and is there a better way of “doing it”.

If there was any label that was vaguely appropriate, it might be “seeker”, but even that implies I’m looking for some sort of god. The whole idea of theism or atheism is moot for me, unless you are talking about the theological constructs of traditional religions.

I hope that answers any questions about my beliefs – or not, lol. Just remember that you will often not get the response you are after from me. In that sense, I’m probably rather Zenish, but even that is just a particular viewpoint rather than a “truth”.

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Time for a re-write!

I’ve been chewing over where to go from here for ages. I was planning on writing a separate book from a more philosophical/spiritual angle but just couldn’t get it to coalesce into anything readable.

However, after talking to friends and re-reading the last edition I decided to do a complete re-write. The goal is to go into a lot more depth and detail. I many ways I wasn’t really capable when I first started writing. It was all too fresh, in the sense that I was in the process of “waking up” and only beginning to untangle the emotional and mental baggage.

I’ve slowly had to face the fact that I really have been through a lot of abuse, in many subtle and overt forms, and that they really did affect me more than I thought. Being rather stoic and good at repressing stuff meant that I wasn’t in a place to really face the impact and the ongoing state of my mental health.

I’ve given myself two months for the task, give or take, lol. So stay tuned, and feel free to give me the odd nudge!

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Is altruism truly altruist?

altruism (ălˈtro͞o-ĭzˌəm)

  • n. Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.

One of the traits we most admire in humans is altruism.

We reward and revere the most altruistic in society and recognise our desire to be that way ourselves – but usually as an unattainable goal.

So what makes the most altruistic of us capable of such acts? Well, it’s not selflessness! On the surface it appears to be, but there is a deeper motive in every human – self-worth.

We do good, selfless things because at the foundational level, they make us feel good about ourselves. We make sacrifices, go out of our way, to help others without thought of our own needs. We do have genuine empathy and compassion for others – absolutely! But that’s the emotion triggered by our paradigms and not the core motivation. Ultimately we do good because we feel good.

Sure, we can do it as an act of discipline, actively denying our need to feel good about it – which pretty much amounts to masochism and self flagellation, LOL. Or we can recognise that feeling good about doing good is why we keep doing it. And the more we do it, the better we feel, which inspires us to keep doing it!

So stop pretending that we are being a martyr – to others and, more importantly, to ourselves. Recognise and embrace our need for self-affirmation and self-worth that really drives our altruistic actions anyway. This avoids the false humility and builds integrity and honesty in ourselves and our relationships.

Sadly our conditioning (especially when religion is involved) regards this as unhealthy and even sinful.

We have a lot to unlearn!

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Live Loved!

Live Loved – it’s my favourite tag. But I realise it sounds a bit glib and clichéd. I’m sure that those who are familiar with my work, however, would realise I wouldn’t say something that lame without having a good reason!

On the surface it’s simply saying live as though you are loved. But there’s a lot more to it than that!

It’s not “as though” you are loved – it’s “from a place of” love. Love from God? (some Christians use the expression to mean that God loves us so we should live with that as our foundation), Love from others?

Nope.

It’s love from ourselves – love from the core of our being – self love – self worth. It’s recognising that external love in any form can only ever be an affirmation at best and a crutch at worst. Until we discover our own sense of beauty and wholeness – unconditional acceptance of our entire being as it is – treating ourselves as we would treat someone we love – we will never really understand the power of love.

That’s a pretty radical statement, and I can hear all the objections screaming at me as I type this, lol. We are taught through the media and religion that we are really crap and need something outside of us to make us better. We need “stuff”, we need “romance” (someone who completes us and makes us whole), we need God (because we are born broken and sinful). You get the idea. And yet we say that kids are born so perfect and innocent, full of love and trust.

Everything we experience from birth shapes our entire self image, and that is then passed on to our children and society in a self perpetuating cycle of self denigration.

But what is there in me that really is loveable?

Let’s turn the question around – who told you that you aren’t loveable? We are taught to judge ourselves harshly, and judge each other. Sure we have the obvious judgement around actions that are destructive and affect our personal safety, but I’m talking about our internal judgements. We are presented with some elusive goal of “perfection”. We are lead to believe we are never good enough and the road to this goal is a carrot dangling in front of us that we can never reach. We struggle with guilt, shame and remorse, always comparing ourselves to the perfection that eludes us all.

Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries
Carl Jung

So the question really becomes about simply recognising everything that makes us who we are without judgement and accepting it. From that place – and that place ONLY – will we ever grow past what we perceive as flaws. When we try to wrestle with our “demons” we give them power and they become the centre of our focus. But if we allow the “bad” to simply be a part of who we are and unconditionally accept it to the point where we refuse to judge it any longer, we can love ourselves – right now! The paradox then becomes clear, that change will begin from the inside out. We treat ourselves as someone we love – really love! Someone who we would pamper and express our undying love for, shower with affirmations of their worth and beauty and constantly affirm, completely disregarding (and not even noticing) their faults.

Yep, it’s a paradox, and flies in the face of all we are taught. But it works. In fact it’s the only thing that works. If we give the focus to change and growth over to an external force (God or another person) we are abdicating our central and exclusive role in the process. We must do this for ourselves. In fact some of the doctrines of religious beliefs that say things like “more of Christ and less of me”, “I’m a sinner saved by grace” etc are actually very destructive.

So when I say Live Loved, I’m saying to let go of all self judgement, unconditionally accept yourself right this second, and treat yourself as you would treat a lover, because you are love incarnate.

 

 

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Spiritual evolution?

I’ve been trying to write my next book “…But Not as We Know It” for a long time. But I’m forever struggling. Not through lack of inspiration, but because of the immensity of the subject.
 
Spirituality and religion define humanity. It’s arguably the thing that separates us from all other animals. We just can’t help ourselves.
 
We have this innate awe at the splendour and power of the universe. We create religions and philosophies to understand and process it all. Science is a direct result of this deep drive as well. Understanding, meaning, purpose – piecing together this insanely huge puzzle.
 
I’ve read so much philosophy and religious text, and the growth of our understanding through countless millennia is muddied by fear and insecurity. The threat of “existential crisis” is palpable through all disciplines. Religion handles this with magical thinking and dogma. Science handles it by ever pushing forward with knowledge. Philosophy handles it with mental gymnastics.
 
There are so many threads through every discipline, glimmers of hope that get tangled up and strangled in our deeper fears. We keep worshipping the wisdom of ancient peoples instead of acknowledging our own internal evolution and ability to build on that wisdom, or even start from scratch, or a willingness to see that no one methodology is “truth”, or the deep subjectivity of just about everything we believe.
 
There is so much, and yet in all that there is a way that transcends our cyclic futility, despite the most profound ideas constantly ending up as dogma, tradition, ritual – stagnating as their adherents refuse to use beliefs as stepping stones to maturity.
 
Religions are utterly incomplete and incompetent in their attempts to satisfy our spirituality. The moment they are formalised the vast majority see it as their final destination rather than part of our evolution as human beings. We use it as an attempt to calm our fears instead of fuel to grow.
 
Philosophies are embraced and then treated as religious dogma. Gurus, preachers, religious leaders, all dole out their glimpses of wisdom to hungry adherents who refuse to do even the most basic work of finding their own unique place in the universe. They swallow the bite size chunks and call them their own.
 
We are taught to be spiritually lazy. Our favourite teachers perpetuate the hand feeding of their sheep. And yet I believe we are slowly learning. Change is coming. I can see it. Religions are failing. Science is not answering the things that concern us the most. Philosophy runs around in circles. But through it all there is a merging. Each field is starting to embrace each other. We are beginning to see that what we have accepted so far has not worked, or ever will. We are becoming willing to break new ground and drop all dogma and preconceptions.
 
I’m struggling to express the enormity of what I see as the way forward, because it requires more unlearning than learning. It requires so much breaking down of existing paradigms that it’s almost overwhelming! And I’m constantly challenged by my own fears, in fact, even thinking that I have some sort of insight is dangerous ground in itself!
 
So my next book may be a while yet. Perhaps it won’t be me that writes it!!
 
I just ache for humanity to grow up.
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Spirituality vs Religion

I write about this a heck of a lot (in case you hadn’t noticed), and I have tried to explain the differences in the past.
I thought it might be helpful to to define these two terms quite specifically, purely so we are all on the same page. Bear in mind that this is purely my interpretation of the words/concepts and I realise we all see these things differently. At least now you’ll understand what I’m on about when I talk about them!

 

Spirituality:

I use this word to describe the deep, innate sense of awe and wonder we have about the universe. It’s the part of us that wonders why we are here and how we fit in. It’s neutral, in that it’s not about any particular belief system, only the common yearnings that are in all of us that are intangible and mostly inexpressible except through allegory, metaphor and art.
Even atheists have, in this sense, spirituality. It doesn’t imply any sort of god, just the part of us that senses something “bigger” and beyond our senses. For some, this need is fully answered by science and all that entails. For others, it leads to another dimension that can include “gods” or spirits.
I believe it’s possible to explore spirituality without being “religious”, but we all tend to adopt some form of religious process as a way to express and live our own concepts of spirituality.
 

Religion:

Religion is the belief system we use to understand and define spirituality. There are countless forms of beliefs that attempt to satisfy our spirituality. Even the most prominent religious systems have endless variations, and in the end, every individual applies those beliefs in a unique way according to their own world view or paradigm.
Every culture has some form of religious practice that gives a unique sense of unity and common cause, purpose and direction to that culture.
As individuals, especially in more liberal cultures, we tend to mix and match religious ideas into something that works for us. This means that in the west for example, we may be predominantly Christian but how every individual defines “Christian” and applies it to their lives can be anything from living by the “golden rule” to extreme fundamentalism.
By “fundamentalist” religion, I mean a belief system that is based on applying sets of external rules as dogma that govern our morality, ethics, behaviours and even our thought processes. Most fundamentalist religions apply the greatest value on literally applying the contents of their sacred scriptures to every part of their lives.
A more liberal approach looks at applying the principles of the scriptures as a way of life.
The most liberal belief systems only see any scripture’s value in its metaphor and allegory.