Through the Mysteries of Catholicism I had glimpsed the infinite; My heart became filled with the passion for a God who sacrifices himself for his creatures and transforms himself into bread to nourish them. The gentle image of the immolated lamb brought tears to my eyes, and my heart throbbed at the tender name of Mary.
Maybe I’m a pessimistic Gnostic, but I just don’t see the spiritual value of Western Yoga. I can see how it helps one to be healthy, connects one to the body, etc., but the Westernized version of yoga (drastically different than Vedic practices and hardly grounded in any sort of real tradition) isn’t much more than glorified stretching. It’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but 1. It does not have a system of metaphysics behind it. 2. It connects one to the body. This sounds like a good thing, and I would agree that yoga, if used for increasing mindfulness is a good thing, but if the purpose is only to tie one’s mind together with one’s body, well…this seems like an unhealthy obsession. I am trying to decrease my attachment to the body (while increasing my awareness), not develop some sort of lasting connection between the two. The connection cannot last, of course: our body is destined for the worms of the ground.
There is no Heaven on Earth, and there never will be. Every action we perform hurts someone or something else. Every moment spent alive marks a moment in which an individual harms another being. Even death does not provide a way out of this: your loved ones will be heartbroken; you will have harmed yourself, and the emotional pain caused to others by suicide is incalculable, meaning that it absolutely cannot be measured or quantified. All attempts to minimize the suffering one causes, while “noble” and “well-intentioned,” are never enough.
This world is fundamentally flawed and must have been created by an inferior being. Is this being worthy of worship? Perhaps for utilitarian purposes. However, this being created the cruelty we see in the world. Violent forces propel evolution. Innocent fawns die in forest fires. While there may be a God behind the god who created us (and who we have likewise created in our hearts), this God cannot be known as this God caused what it means “to know” and lies “above” understanding.
This is not a very “Catholic” post. My apologies to orthodox-leaning readers. I still believe in the Church and Jesus, but these are my doubts about life and everything. Perhaps someday we will dream poppy dreams together in unity and glide right between the man and the beast. However, why should this be hoped for? A finite, non-cyclical universe is one of perpetual slavery to time and decay. If the Forms do not appear again and again, there is no immortality, no freedom, no life everlasting because no one or thing will exist to experience knowledge of the forms through observations of the Forms’ particular manifestations. If “I” could find salvation, it would not last. And if it did, it would be even more of a prison than this wretched, awful, shameful life we all share.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. – Philippians 2:12
I’m currently sitting on the train on my way back from New York. Went apartment searching near the University I’ll be teaching at/attending. After my apartment search, my face looked something like this:
Initially, I had two appointments booked and two open houses I planned to attend. S and I drove by the first two apartments I had booked apartments for without stopping. We visited the apartment with an open house (I had called ahead last week to ensure that there were models available to look at). After being directed to guest parking (which did not, in fact, exist, a fact later confirmed by security) and looping around several times to talk to various staff, her and I were pretty fed up with this place by the time we got to the leasing office. The leasing agent, “Alphonso,” sneered at me when he saw I was white and laughed at the fact that I listed my occupation as “Professor.” He declined renting to me because “I am not paid an hourly wage.” Whatever. It was the first time I’ve experienced overt racism (he suggested that I apply for government handouts/loan money because “it’s clear to me that you couldn’t possibly support yourself”), and I politely excused myself from his office. S and I drove around for a few hours and found a number of other apartments, but most of the places did not have hours on Saturday because they were operating on summer hours.
However, we did find a nice place/village apartment type setting near the hospital on several acres with a pool, gym, tennis courts, etc. There’s even a little forest with a brook across from it. It’s a tiny bit out of my price range (while still quite cheap), but this should not be an issue as S is moving in with me after Mission X is completed. In a week, I will go back to check it out. If I can only start the lease on the 1st of September, I will commute from Philly for the first week of classes and live with my brother. This is obviously not ideal, but I can deal with it regardless.
A tentative copy of my syllabus is due on August 5th, so in addition to planning a graduation party on Saturday to
milk money out of my relatives catch up with everyone and celebrate my graduation, my mother’s, and a friend’s graduation, I am finishing that up and have already planned out 12 of the 15 weeks of the fall semester. I have a newfound respect for my professors after nearly completing this Herculean labor as scheduling has never been my strong point. Physically, my chronic digestive issues have gotten a lot worse, so I haven’t been able to eat very much for the past few weeks. I’ve also experienced food poisoning four times this year already (twice from a restaurant, once from improperly thawed salmon, and once from expired lemon juice). The last time I brought up my persistent nausea/other symptoms to my doctor (3 years ago, damn), I was advised that “it’s your fault because you eat like a teenager and need to take antacids every day forever.” Hopefully, I can actually talk to someone besides the NP next week and can move towards figuring out what’s wrong with me.
I’m very excited for the fall semester to start but am also somewhat apprehensive. I worked for most of the last year and into the summer as a mental health counselor and tutored for HEOP/AOE students for the last two weeks, and I have not had a full week off of school or work during the summer since August of 2011. I find it difficult to adequately express my excitement that I am doing jack shit between August 5th and 20th. If anyone wants to find me, I’ll be drinking Budweiser on my front porch and going squirrel-hunting for that period.
You regard addiction as an illness but also a central human fact, a drama?
Both, absolutely. It’s as simple as the way in which anyone happens to become an alcoholic. They start drinking, that’s all. They like it, and they drink, and then they become alcoholic. I was exposed to heroin in New York – that is, I was going around with people who were using it; I took it; the effects were pleasant. I went on using it and became addicted. Remember that if it can be readily obtained, you will have any number of addicts. The idea that addiction is somehow a psychological illness is, I think, totally ridiculous. It’s as psychological as malaria. It’s a matter of exposure. People, generally speaking, will take any intoxicant or any drug that gives them a pleasant effect if it is available to them. In Iran, for instance, opium was sold in shops until quite recently, and they had three million addicts in a population of twenty million. There are also all forms of spiritual addiction. Anything that can be done chemically can be done in other ways, that is, if we have sufficient knowledge of the processes involved. Many policemen and narcotics agents are precisely addicted to power, to exercising a certain nasty kind of power over people who are helpless. The nasty sort of power: white junk, I call it – rightness; they’re right, right right – and if they lost that power, they would suffer excruciating withdrawal symptoms. The picture we get of the whole Russian bureaucracy, people who are exclusively preoccupied with power and advantage, this must be an addiction. Suppose they lose it? Well, it’s been their whole life.
Thoughts on becoming Catholic (about one and a half years later):
- It is really difficult getting to church every Sunday (and especially so during the week), let alone once a month, after I received confirmation. It’s hard to imagine that my family was at church 2-5 days a week, whether volunteering, taking part in social events and activities, etc.
- I feel lazy about my participation in Catholicism and disappointed at my own disappointment concerning the quality of sermons. On the other hand, I rarely leave Mass without feeling unmoved in some way.
- It is rare to encounter Catholics in my state who don’t support gay marriage.
- Not having to deal with Young Earthers is a fantastic benefit to becoming Catholic.
- It’s very cool that my last church worked with Tibetan refugees (the city I was in is one of the largest migration areas for Tibetan refugees in America) and my current one participates with the local synagogue. This sort of reasonable bheavior is alien to past experiences.
- I still don’t buy into the commonly held soteriological perspectives: I can see no lasting salvation, no permanence save through repetition and the display of universal ideas, and everlasting joy, fear, and trembling with the gift of the Beatific Vision given, perhaps, as a blissful glance at the Source—there, in the corner of one’s eye, an object of lust appears, and we fall back down again to greet it.
- Chesterton is right. The Church is bigger on the inside. (Or was it the Doctor who said that)?