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The largest freely available archive of online books about religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric on the Internet. The site is dedicated to religious tolerance and scholarship, and has the largest readership of any similar site on the web. Sacred Texts Collage

This is a quiet place in cyberspace devoted to religious tolerance and scholarship.

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I’m getting set to do this year’s, (2010), Dewey’s Read-A-Thon. Thanks for the heads-up, Fiona–(see the link for one of Fiona’s Blogs in the ‘Blogroll’ box to the right).

This is not a post on the topic, (“La Trahison des Images”, René Magritte, eg. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”)¹, but rather a notice of the post on this topic about to appear on the “Arts” pages of this ‘communicating device’, (I took an irrational dislike to the term, “blog” when first I heard it and haven’t warmed to it an iota, using it since, under silent protest, as a concession to bone idleness). That page being pages, picks, strings, snaps: critiques.

So, go…move along now, move along…I’m sure we’ll, (I’ll), need the space for something…eventually.

See you on the flip side,

–doc–

¹ clever juxtaposition

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Two Women Wize

by H. Doc Burns, PhD
March 8, 2010

In recognition of International Women’s Day today, (March 8, 2010), I wanted to celebrate someone I have found to represent strength, wisdom and sheer force of will; the qualities which helped women come as far as they have, from chattel–under or unvalued property not considered fair trade for a goat–not that long ago, to heads of state and governments, corporate moguls and academic giants. I also wanted to spotlight the thoughts of women whose actions have spoken for themselves and whose words will give some foundation to those now and to come who will continue to work toward finally balancing the scales all the way to equal though different and have also made a difference in my life. Who showed gender neutral wisdom.

For a large part of the last century, there were two women, living during, perhaps a hundred weight of years in which a couple of hands full of women, for the most part short in stature, but in no other way small, making themselves large so that a greater number of women with things–important things–to say, have spoken out, regularly in the face of serious resistance and retribution of all kinds, and have been heard…have made themselves heard, in the Western and parts of the Eastern World, encouraging and emboldening women still facing seemingly impenetrable barriers–social, emotional and physical.

These two had things to say, and having spoken, went out in the world to back up their words after being strong and supportive for the men in their lives, getting things done by themselves as that was the only way they knew things would be done.

They both had the courage of their convictions and relied on actions along with words to see that their work bore fruit and was harvested.However, amongst their significant deeds, the words they left behind, mostly meant as a preface to their work and a call to all hands, are a precious legacy of often quiet thoughts for serious contemplation.

Eleanor Roosevelt and Mother Teresa left us a sense of the heights of mind and depths of soul their characters shared. Here are a few of those words from these two amazingly different women indicating the similarity of the thoughtful wisdom so often overshadowed by iron wills and sheer force of personality they shared, especially after both emerging from the long shadows thrown by men of longstanding and trusted leadership, men they loved, supported and promoted.

Mrs. Roosevelt had quite a dry wit, by the way, as did Mother Teresa, although somewhat more visible with Mrs. R.. They both knew a sense of humour can give one great strength and disarm their adversaries. Here are some samples of that verbal strength:

Mother Teresa

  • Life is a beauty, admire it.
  • Life is a dream, realize it.
  • Life is a challenge, meet it.
  • Life is a duty, complete it.
  • Life is a game, play it.
  • Life is a promise, fulfil it.
  • Life is sorrow, overcome it.
  • Life is a song, sing it.
  • Life is a struggle, accept it.
  • Life is a tragedy, confront it.
  • Life is an adventure, dare it.
  • Life is luck, make it.
  • Life is life, fight for it.”

— Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

EleanorRoosevelt

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, and equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them so close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
–‘This Is My Story,’ 1937

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

“A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
–“My Day”

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’.””Do one thing every day that scares you.”

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

“Every person that you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.”
–Eleanor Anna Roosevelt, (1884 – 1962)
US Diplomat, Reformer and former First Lady

These barely scratch the surface of Mrs. Roosevelt’s ‘bon mots’ and pearls from her writings demonstrating her quick mind and humour. These are two of her’s that are personal favourites:

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”

These words demonstrate the true power of these minds without any further embellishments from me, so I shall leave you with them to ponder.

As ever,
–doc-

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‘Mad as a Hatter’ – The History of a Simile – NYTimes.com

By PAT RYAN
Published: March 5, 2010

Is the Hatter mad?

Hatter-Sir John Tenniel/Rischgitz-Getty Images,1865

Hatter-Sir John Tenniel/Rischgitz-Getty Images,1865

Since 1865, when “Alice in Wonderland” was published, readers have quoted and parsed his every utterance. He’s called simply the Hatter in “Alice” and Hatta in “Through the Looking-Glass,” but we know he’s mad; the Cheshire-Cat tells us so.

Like the Cowardly Lion, the Mad Hatter is such a familiar figure that we’ve felt free to use his name without gleaning what afflicts him. His image has remained vivid, from the first book illustrations by Sir John Tenniel to Johnny Depp’s fleshed-out version in the Tim Burton movie that opened Friday.

But what did Lewis Carroll, a lover of riddles, mean by “mad”? The phrase “he’s mad as a hatter” was colloquial in Britain before “Alice.” Inquiries “respecting this simile” had appeared in the journal Notes & Queries, and in 1863 an answer, of sorts, was published, though its author was “at a loss to understand why a hatter should be made the type of insanity rather than a tailor or a shoemaker.” Readers were referred to the French phrase “Il raisonne comme une huitre” (“He reasons like an oyster”), suggesting that the French word for oyster, when Anglicized, may “have given occasion to the English ‘hatter.’” Hmm.

In the book, Alice herself finds the Hatter “dreadfully” puzzling; his remark “seemed to her to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English.”

Linguists and phraseologists have tried to pinpoint the simile’s origins. Eric Partridge, in his “Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English,” concluded that Carroll “definitely fixed the English sense” of the phrase as “extremely eccentric.” (Mr. Partridge also dismissed “mad” for “angry” as an American notion, though, he said, hatter/attercop, or spider, “has some support in ‘mad as a bed-bug.’”)

Since Carroll was well known as a mathematician, logicians have looked to his writing and discovered a sympathetic mind under the Hatter hat: perhaps a Mad Adder.

Physicists have used Hatterian concepts, often citing this quotation: “‘If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, ‘you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.’” The physicist Robert A. Millikan was quoted in 1932 as saying that the Hatter was not mad “when he gave to Time changeable, undependable, capricious qualities which we assign to personality,” and furthermore, “who is the nearer right — the Mad Hatter or the common-sense citizen?”

The Hatter is focused on time, understandably, since the Queen of Hearts has accused him of being a time-murderer. This has added heft to the theory that a top-hat wearing inventor, Theophilus Carter, was the inspiration. Mr. Carter had displayed his Alarm-Clock-Bed — which was supposed to tip the sleeper out at the correct time — at the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851.

Next we come to the notorious “hatters’ shakes,” a result of poisoning from mercury used in the early days of hat manufacturing. At a recent news conference, Johnny Depp suggested that that was where “mad as a Hatter” came from. The Hatter is “this guy who literally is damaged goods,” he said. In the British Medical Journal in 1983, however, H.A. Waldron concluded that the Hatter did not have mercury poisoning. The principal psychotic features of this type of poisoning are “excessive timidity, diffidence, increasing shyness, loss of self confidence, anxiety and a desire to remain unobserved and unobtrusive.” The Hatter, he states, was “an eccentric extravert.”

All of this fits the spirit of illogicism in “Alice.” In response to one textual query, Carroll answered: “I’m very much afraid I didn’t mean anything but nonsense! Still, you know, words mean more than we mean to express when we use them.”

He would have liked the Unreasoning Oyster.

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“Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing–the rest is mere sheep-herding.”

Ezra Loomis Pound

Ezra Pound (1885-1972) was born in Hailey, Idaho, grew up near Philadelphia, but lived much of his adult life overseas. In his early career he was the influential and a controversial leader of Imagism and Vorticism. He also championed young writers, including H.D., T.S. Eliot, and Robert Frost. Among his best-known works are “In a Station of the Metro,” “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley,” and The Cantos, a ranging, lifelong work that expounded his political and economic theories.

Possibly There Are Things to Come...
A Taste of Pound

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–from: Inner Frontier – Cultivating Spiritual Presence

Tikkun Olam: The Spiritual Purpose of Life

–by: Joseph Naft

[MP3 Audio Podcast]

Isaac Luria, the renowned sixteenth century Kabbalist, used the phrase “tikkun olam,” usually translated as repairing the world, to encapsulate the true role of humanity in the ongoing evolution and spiritualization of the cosmos. Luria taught that God created the world by forming vessels of light to hold the Divine Light. But as God poured the Light into the vessels, they catastrophically shattered, tumbling down toward the realm of matter. Thus, our world consists of countless shards of the original vessels entrapping sparks of the Divine Light. Humanity’s great task involves helping God by freeing and reuniting the scattered Light, raising the sparks back to Divinity and restoring the broken world.

We meet similar concepts in other religions. Christ promised to return with the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven and exhorted people to prepare through love, wakefulness, and charity. In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva vows to forgo final liberation until all beings have been freed from suffering. The Gnostics held that a spark of Divinity resides entrapped within the soul of humans.

Tikkun olam encompasses both the outer and the inner, both service to society by helping those in need and service to the Divine by liberating the spark within. As we are, the Divine spark lies hidden beneath our layers of egoistic self-centeredness. That spark is our conscience, through which the promptings of the Divine Will flow toward us.

By pursuing spiritual inner work to strengthen our soul and purify our heart, we grow more able to bear that spark without shattering, more willing to act on what we know to be right, less willing to act in harmful or grasping ways, and more able to notice the quiet presence of conscience beneath the din of our chattering minds and reactive emotions. The work of transformation, of building a soul creates a proper vessel for the Divine spark, for our unique share of the Divine Will, returning that spark to the service of the One Who made it. By working to perfect ourselves, perfect our soul, and serve society, we each contribute in our own unique way to the perfecting of the world. This is our duty and our calling as human beings.

To contemplate and enter the process of tikkun olam, repairing or perfecting the world, we need to understand the concept of world. All the major religious traditions present a hierarchy of worlds or levels of being, from the one we ordinarily inhabit to the ultimate world of Divinity.

In Kabbalah, for example, the worlds include Asiyah or Action, Yetzirah or Formation, Beriyah or Creation, and Atzilut or Emanation. Beyond and permeating all these is the Ein Sof, the One God, the Boundless and Unconditioned. Each of the worlds corresponds to a progressively higher level of spiritual energy and will, and the related level of soul. The world of Action utilizes the sensitive energy, from which the nefesh soul forms. The world of Formation is built on the conscious energy, the basis of awareness, from which the ruach forms. The world of Creation and Light works with the creative energy, from which the neshama forms. The world of Emanation and Divine Presence brings the high energy of love, from which the chaya forms. And corresponding to the ultimate Ein Sof, touching the yechida soul, we have the transcendent energy.

The basic principle of Kabbalah is that the seeker pursues spiritual practice to transform his or her being and rise through the levels of worlds, to bring his or her own will back to the Divine will, while opening a way for the higher energies to flow down to this world, and thereby advancing the great process of tikkun olam.
For millennia Kabbalists have sought to serve this process, for example by meditating on and opening to the higher energy, the Divine Light, the Light of the Shechina above their head. They allow the Light to spread through them as if sitting in its midst and draw the Light down for the Earth, for life, for their own soul. The possibility of opening to the Divine Light stands within reach of us all, if we are prepared to do the necessary inner work.

For those who can, yet another possibility presents itself, one discussed by Luria’s chief disciple Chaim Vital [1]. With a pure heart and a quiet mind, the person enters contact with the Divine Light and raises the Light up to the Ein Sof, offering the Light to the One God in a sacred act of service wholly hidden in the higher worlds. Only then does the person open the channel for the Light to flow down through his or her soul into our world.

Tikkun olam places our spiritual practice at the heart of the epic, unfolding history of the universe: the evolution and spiritualization of the whole of creation. With each small act of kindness, with each moment of presence and practice, with each effort to see, cleanse, and integrate our inner life, with each heartfelt prayer opening to the higher energies and the higher will, we build the new world and serve the Divine Architect of meaning. Rather than view tikkun olam as a return to the perfection that existed before God created the universe, we consider the spiritualizing action as reaching toward a new and greater perfection than existed before, toward perfecting this flawed world by imbuing the whole of it with the Divine Spirit.

Because of the freedom God necessarily placed into the world, we can infer that the outcome of the whole process truly remains uncertain, that our free choice to serve the Divine and our planet through fulfilling our highest destiny really matters, that despite our insignificant size with respect to the universe our personal inner work makes a difference. If we can raise ourselves to the station where the Divine can see and act through us, then we complete the momentous work of restoring at least one part to the Whole. And so, with the great Kabbalist, we discover a vision of unbounded meaning: perfecting ourselves, perfecting the world, and helping God.

[1] Rabbi Chaim Vital, Gates of Holiness, quoted in Kaplan, Aryeh, Meditation and the Bible (Boston: Weiser Books, 1978), pp. 47-56.

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An eloquent view of the neccesity of observation in understanding…

“An observant person sees things overlooked by others. A scientist sees things going on and then asks how these goings-on array themselves into patterns, patterns that are reliable and predictable. A really good scientist–or a really good artist for that matter, anyone whose mind and soul are capable of some extension–sees what is going on, sees the patterns, and asks, ‘Why?’ What underlying forces are at work? How are those forces exerting themselves? How may we understand? Once pried from the universe by a great mind or a discerning heart, the hard-won understanding may then be conveyed and conferred upon humanity at large. A painting is nothing more than light reflected from the surface of a pigment-covered canvas. But a great painter can make you see the depth, make you feel the underlying emotion, make you sense the larger world. That, too, is the power of science: to sense and convey the depth and dimensionality of nature, to glance at the surface and to divine the shape of the universe around us.”

— Carl Safiña – ‘Song for the Blue Ocean‘ – 2think.org

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