One’s reach should exceed her grasp or what’s a heaven for? (Paraphrasis of Robert Browning)
Still Seeking After All These Years
Through the decade of our conversations, Anna and her Reader have gained twenty years between us, and with the synergies of shared insights from our collective nearly 170 years of life experience, we have emerged with a deeper understanding of humanity and of the evolution of humanity’s responses to its own ignorance of those forces that govern the cosmos that still lay outside the reach of science.
We accept that human kind is a work in progress. We live our lives inside our culture, and inside our moment of history. We are limited and shaped by those elements of culture and history. Naturally through ethnocentrism, we internalize all the prejudices and prejudgements of our cultures and of our time, but humanity is…Still…
Looking for a place to plant hope sustainably…
Looking for an ideal in which to invest our irrepressible idealism…
Looking for a reason to grow morally…
Looking for mentorship beyond humanity which, although giving us models to inspire us, gives us equal measure and more, of models to disappoint, depress and demoralize us...
Looking for alternatives to the ego driven, materialistic pursuit and the acquisition of yet another fabricated object to clutter and degrade our once earthly Eden, before we shuffle off our mortal coils to a heavenly paradise of unknown and unknowable proportions…
Looking for ways to share the finite resources of our small planet home among a growing population base…
Yearning after all these millennia…
Questing after all these centuries…
Seeking after all these years.
Summary of Perceived Benefits From a Decade of Reading and Discussion
- Integrating, the events of our lives, Making a synthesis, looking back over the roads traveled over a lifetime.
- Overcoming fear by confronting fear.
- Cultivating intellectual exploration and linking old information with emerging new learning and finding linkages, finding patterns,
- Stimulating the brain to fend off stagnation, stretching the reach of the brain. (“Use it or lose it”).
- Developing respect for humanity’s drive to celebrate existence.
- Developing empathy and compassion for humanity.
- Being inspired by the creativity of humankind who have fashioned beautiful narratives to explain the wonder and beauty of the earth and of the cosmos, and erected monuments and composed symphonies to express their faith and to honour their deities.
- Understanding, accepting and embracing Uncertainty, trading our ignorance, selling our arrogance, purchasing humility (with a nod to Rumi).
- Understanding the desire for certainty but seeing the many certainties as zero sum concepts, binaries, which are seductive but almost inevitably lead to intolerance and conflict.
- Appreciating the act of seeking as an antidote to stagnation, cynicism, depression and despair.
- Still seeking challenges after all these years, not content with consolations.
- Expanding the field of vision rather than contracting and restricting world view.
- Keeping the brain sharp by exercising the mind.
After a decade rich with the joy of discovery of other modes of spiritual expression, Anna and her Reader have not yet solved the numerous riddles inherent in the many conundrums that dwell in the domain of human spirituality. It would, of course be the height of arrogance to imagine that we would find more than the sages over two millennia, but we now have a general understanding of the many paths that humanity has found and continues to find, to appreciate and explain the origins and beauty of the cosmos and to the destiny of human kind. If we do find the Rosetta Stone to translate once and for all the many ambiguities of the spiritual idioms of humanity; or the Philosopher’s Stone to refine the crude spiritual yearnings of the human heart; or if by miracle some idea of global ecumenism should emerge from our conversations we will probably be confused, since the nature of the enterprise does not lend itself to finding solutions. In the meantime Anna and her Reader roll along with ever diminishing physical capacities, but having the distinct impression of having experienced a decade of psychological and philosophical growth brought on by the many flashes of insight which have shed light, if only briefly, into humanity’s search for transcendence.
* With a nod to Simon and Garfunkel: Still crazy after all these years.
- Anna remains, like Karen Armstrong, “a free lance monotheist” and at ninety two, still retains great motivation for self improvement and the enthusiasm of a child.
- The Reader has found a sense of personal liberation from mental constraints that bind us and lead us into accepting the elements laid down in systems of spirituality developed long ago within simple communities, which in the past were composed of linguistically and ethnically homogeneous populations. We now live cheek by jowl in cosmopolitan communities sharing a neighbourhood with people with different traditions of faith and spirituality, who like us are claiming some moral high ground based on their own inculcation.
- Expressions of spirituality developed over the last 4000 years may not be sufficiently flexible to serve humanity which now may be dealing with issues more important than personal salvation: the issues of survival of our species and the maintenance of a habitable Earth.