Sunday, October 30, 2016
I've addressed this a few other times but I never seem to quite nail it down the way I want to.
I was recently asked if Topixqui, those who take the vows to serve the Creator, are like modern day Druids.
This is a fairly common question. The historical and mythical understanding of Druids is very similar to how we describe the role of being a Topixqui or Brother (or Sister) in Indigenous Earth.
I have noted several times that our way is the way of millenia and how the core understanding and relationship with the Creator has been nearly universal since the beginning. Druidism is the reflection of that common understanding from the celtic historical perspective.
In some ways, we are very much like the way we see the druids. Perhaps the biggest difference is that Druids were noted for taking political and religious leadership roles in society. While we do fulfill religious ritual roles, we try our best to stay out of being political and governmental leaders. In fact, the most political thing one could say about people who follow this path is that we tend to hold mostly libertarian philosophical and consequently, political, views because of our awareness of Free Will and the natural rights all people have directly as a result of that Free Will.
Another difference is that Druids were commonly described as being involved in human sacrifice and the sacrifice of living animals. Tat is something we rather strenuously avoid.
There are commonalities though.
We see our role as vow takers to try to be as objective as possible. To see things from as many points of view or perspectives as possible. We place a great value on context and integrity. Because of these strongly held values, we often find ourselves in the role of an arbitrator though not necessarily a "judge" per se.
We see ourselves as representatives of Natural law and God's Will. We work to ensure that unnecessary harm and intrusion into the natural world and natural ways of all living beings are minimal if not eliminated. As that representative, we also see it as our role to guide and assist people to be successful on their paths and in their lives as facilitators, mentors and helpers.
Of course, we encourage everyone to follow this model of behavior and lifestyle. The major difference between Topixqui or the brotherhood is that we take vows, we make a promise to God to do these things to the best of our abilities. We take those vows very seriously and see it not as just an occupation or career but as our life's mission.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
There is more to life and knowledge than just facts. People in modern times, particularly those of an agnostic bent, question what place religion and spirituality have in society.
There are those who, blaming the concept based on the not-so-reliable self proclaimed subscribers, say that there is no value to religion or spirituality in modern society as everything is based on rationalization, reasoning and facts. Science is said to be the thing to place ones faith in.
Truth be told, religion and spirituality are not mutually exclusive with facts or reason. People have this way about us to polarize concepts to make things easier to mentally "digest" and communicate. That's not the way of the world though. The way of the world is much more robust and complex than that. The true view of the world is ore like looking through a compound eye with hundreds of lenses or facets, much like a bees eye.
The role of spirituality or religion in early societies and in modern society is much the same. It provides context. Just about anything can be rationalized or justified. Often, the age old saying of "Just because something can be done doesn't necessarily mean it should be done." This is where religion and spirituality often come in.
They provide us with a directive or a purpose. In the course of achieving that purpose, we find context. Context can be thought of as a lens filter that fit's over our "simplified" eyes to avoid the mind becoming overwhelmed from too much input that the compound world view brings with it.
The more the religion or spiritual view intends to influence the person subscribing to it, the more the filter is "treated". There is a reason we talk about things like people wearing "rose colored glasses". They have a view of the world that is filtered in such a way as to only show them the things they think are good. Quite a treated lens indeed.
Being topixqui we prefer to see the world clearly with few filters and no shading at all. The filters we work to achieve are more like having bifocal or trifocal glasses. They aren't to distort our view but to enhance our perception. To help us see things more clearly at different perspectives.
It is true that some religions will go so far as to not only tint or color their views but to go so far as to put on blinders to some perspectives entirely. This is unfortunate but it happens.
As mentioned earlier, religion and spirituality can not only affect our view of the world, but to provide us with context of it as well. It provides us with "givens" to fill in blanks such as we see in mathematics. Those "givens" provide us with our context for the how's and why's of life that people often struggle to fill in on their own.
That isn't to say that those givens can't be filled in by someone as they go through life. It happens often enough and perhaps to a large degree, this is where people who identify as "Athiests" really are at. they not only have filled in those givens on their own, they prefer to only get those givens and context in that manner. They don't feel comfortable with accepting those givens from sources they don't feel in contact with or that they have doubt in the subscribers of that they have come into context with.
The Creator is fine with that. The point is that people are working to be better people and as long as the context they use is leading them in that direction, all's well.
Which takes us once again to the greatest tool, weapon, strength that we have; Free Will. The Creator gave us Free Will to make the best choices for ourselves. Once we have learned how to make the best choices for ourselves and we have made those choices and decisions using our Free Will, we then fully own the results and consequences of those choices much more than we ever could by merely doing as someone else would force us to comply with.
Don't ever be afraid or shy about your religious or spiritual beliefs and faith. There is more to any discussion and decision than the facts and details. Those are important but cannot alone answer the "Can be done, should be done" part of any and every honest discussion or decision.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
People, as we all know, are subject to corruption. We are capable of error and known to be fallible in general. What's new there though? It's part of something most people call the "Human Condition" (though I posit that it applies to all living creatures).
However, we do have things we can do about those conditions. We have idealism. We have integrity and self discipline. Those are skills that must be practiced in order for them to help us but we do have them.
One of the bigger problems many people seem concerned about is the "What If" and "Now What?" Basically, they want to do when they realize they are likely to err or have realized that they have erred or to what extent.
What do we have to help us become better people at those times?
We have appreciation and we have forgiveness. Those are both very powerful influences on our constant effort at becoming or maintaining being better people.
Appreciation seems to be the more simple of the two. It really is having the knowledge of the situation and that it has happened to others and that it is not insurmountable. From experience AND appreciation, we gain wisdom.
Forgiveness is something special though. Forgiveness requires appreciation. IT also comes in multiple forms. There is forgiving oneself, an important and necessary thing. There is forgiving others for two things. Something that directly affected you and something that indirectly affects you if it affects you at all.
For example, In forgiving ourselves, we first need to recognize and appreciate that we erred and that we are not alone in our error. Everyone makes errors in various degrees but no one is exempt from them. What are these "errors" I am talking about? Depending on who you talk to they call them different things. Christians and others like them refer to them as "Sins". Personally I find it a bit dramatic but point remains that these are things we as people are susceptible to.
Greed, Envy, Laziness, Undisciplined, Recklessness, miserly-ness, Being "hot-headed", Thievery, those kinds of things. We engage in these things all the time. Many times they are petty infractions and harm no one except perhaps yourself. Sometimes they are much more serious things and harm not only yourself but others around you.
Sometimes the errors we make, the "sins" we commit", are accidental or incidental. Sometimes they are more egregious and intentional. The degree, scope and scale may change from person to person and situation to situation but every person is subject to being errant.
Once we identify that we have erred we need to appreciate the error. I don't mean in a positive "Ooh look what I've done." kind of appreciation but an, "Ah, I see what happened there. Hmm, I see how it got to that point and where missteps were made."
Once we can truly appreciate what our error has been, we can then forgive ourselves in that we acknowledge that A) we regret what we have done, B) we are determined to correct it and C) we make amends for what we have done, if amends can be made.
Keep in mind, acknowledging our "human condition" is not an excuse to err or to shrug our shoulders and make no efforts to improve and learn from errors. It is only part of the acknowledgment and appreciation of what we are and how we find ourselves in these situations.
When we can earnestly forgive ourselves, sometimes it is not enough. Sometimes we seek others forgiveness in order to move forward and make progress. No one is entitled to forgiveness. Often it must be earned by demonstrating regret, intent to improve and making amends to someone who has been harmed, particularly if it the one who has been harmed that we seek forgiveness from.
Sometimes in order to forgive ourselves, we need to know that we can be forgiven by others who can appreciate the human condition. If someone else can find it in themselves to forgive us, we can then see our way to forgiving ourselves and begin the journey of learning from the experience, working to improve and make the necessary amends.
Christians and other religious groups have the same concepts, they just use different words to express them. Where I say "appreciate", they say "attrition", Where I say to identify improvement on that error or fault within us, they say "contrition". Lastly, where I discuss making amends, they say "atonement".
The difference, if any, is that other groups may call not only for doing those things for yourself or other people, they would say those things need to be done because God was affected or offended an needs to be shown the same.
Topixqui as we are, already have the understanding that God has full appreciation of the "human condition" (though we don't limit it to just humans). After all, God made things as they are with full knowledge of what will and does happen. They were made to happen in the way they do so that we can learn to be better people. He requires nor desires any atonement from us because that's not the point of our being here. We are here specifically so that we can err and then learn from it. By learning from these experiences, we can then become more like God in being capable and have a more true understanding of life.
Appreciation and Forgiveness are very important tools for us. They allow us to see the errors of our ways, to understand those errors for what they are are and how to improve and then to carry out that improving of ourselves.
A topixqui like myself is available to listen to other people and help them to appreciate the situation. We might then, if desired and requested, give our own forgiveness and make suggestions as how to improve and make amends.
A topixqui does not ever imply that this process is required or must be complied with in order to receive any other assistance from us. That's not how we work. We are the shelter in the storm. We are the guide on a path and we are a host in times of respite and learning.
Should you ever find yourself "stuck" in a situation where you are in a rut of a bad habit or desire to change the ways you feel have led you down a wrong path, we are here to help.