Tagged: spirituality Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mrs Chakotay 3:57 pm on May 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , carbs, , , , , dieting, , heart, insulin, insulin-insensitivity, , , , , , paganism, , , spiritual, spirituality, , veganism, , vegetarianism   

    Choices, Changes 

    Over the last few years, I have moved from a Paleo type of diet to Vegan and back again several times. This blog had ‘From Paleo to Vegan in one easy midlife crisis’ as its subtitle at one stage.

    The truth is, though, that it hasn’t been ‘one easy midlife crisis’ at all of course, it’s been more like a car with a faulty starter motor, so I lurch from one obsession to the next, and never quite seem to get anywhere.

    Every year, it seems, I try to go vegan again.

    Even going back to being properly vegetarian seems to be a challenge this time. But I will keep trying.

    It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t know either. I know.

    I’ve had to block several over-zealous vegans who insist on sending me graphic pictures of animals being brutalised.

    I know.
    I really don’t want to see it.
    I really don’t want to eat it.

    So why do I keep falling off the vegan ‘wagon’? Why is it so difficult to stay vegan?

    I have personally justified it with regard to my own specific health issues, most particularly PCOS which comes along with insulin insensitivity which means that, contrary to the oft-repeated mantra of ill-informed vegans that “carbs are not the problem”, they really can be a serious, even potentially life-threatening problem for people who can’t tolerate them.

    Not all carbs are equal, and not all fats are equal, but that discussion is for another post. Suffice to say, though, that even allowing for the insulin insensitivity issue, it’s no real barrier to veganism. Low, or at least lower carb veganism is possible, it’s just more of a challenge.

    On an unrelated note, I’m finding it a little bit difficult to stay ‘Christian’, or at least keep up the ‘respectable’ middle class mainstream image version of Christianity that is sometimes confused with authentic Christianity.

    I’ve actually been exploring paganism – firstly for general cultural literacy (I had so many misconceptions) and secondly because it is something that has fascinated me for years. I will post again with more details about that exploration and what I’ve found, what I’ve been able to love and embrace, and what I’ve had to reject and draw the line at.

    To me (and what was communicated to me by my Dad – what he saw in the Bible and in Christianity), the core of the faith is clearly love, peace, joy, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and more love.

    Matthew 12v7

    But sadly it doesn’t seem to be what is commonly offered by the church. Certainly individual believers embody those principles and exude a genuine spirituality. But the church as a whole seems characterised by the very opposite: intolerance, unkindness, judgmentalism.

    Why should this be?

    In fact, these things are not unrelated at all.

    Veganism is supposed to be about compassion, kindness, love for all creatures. And most of the vegans I have met in person do indeed embody the compassion they espouse. But veganism as a whole has without doubt been brought into disrepute by some of its most vocal members.

    I completely understand the anger that vegans feel about people blithely and ignorantly allowing animals to be brutalised and killed just so we can have a certain taste and texture on our plate.

    We have no excuse.

    But those tastes and textures continue to persuade us to ignore what we know, to carry on along the path of least resistance.

    But the anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some vegans continues to drive people away.

    The anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some Christians continues to drive people away.

    (Do you see what I did there?)

    I think I know what the essential problem with Christianity is. It is the over-riding emphasis (at least in Western Christianity) on ‘right belief’ over and above ‘right living’ and ‘right feeling’. It is entirely possible to be a Christian in good standing with the church who claims all the ‘right beliefs’ and have absolutely no change of heart, absolutely no true spiritual experience whatsoever. But as long as the beliefs are in line with the doctrines your denomination emphasises, there is no reason to question the heart or the spirit. It is entirely possible to carry hatred in your heart while claiming to follow the God who is Love.

    I think the same thing can be true of veganism.

    As long as you maintain a vegan diet, and you are able to feel self-satisfied in that, there is no reason to question yourself, search inwardly, become more compassionate.

    But I think I’ve said before that there is no ‘upper limit’ for compassion, kindness, love. All of us can always move forward, become kinder, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving.

    In the Bible, a ‘righteous’ man is defined not as the one who never falls, never makes a mistake but rather the man who ‘falls seven times and gets up again’. Proverbs 24:16

    This year is probably the first time in maybe 15 years when I haven’t really managed to celebrate Passover/ Easter, count the Omer/ Eastertide or keep Pentecost/ Shavuot (the fact that they are all out of sync this year hasn’t helped). There’s a little voice in my head that wants to condemn me, make me feel guilty and miserable. But I’m not listening to it.

    I’m not as observant as I’d like to be right now, but it is what it is – this is the season I’m in, and there’s not much I can do about it. The traditional Passover concludes “Next Year in Jerusalem”. This too shall pass, and perhaps next year I will be where I want to be with my religious observance.

    I’m not going to kick myself either about repeatedly failing to be faithful to veganism. Honestly, I may never reach 100% total veganism for ever. But that’s ok. I’m moving towards it, I’ll keep trying.

    And actually, as much as I can understand the wish that the whole world go 100% vegan today, every little helps. Small steps save lives.

    If I fall down again, I’ll just get up again.

    Don’t be discouraged.

    Do whatever you can and know that it’s good, and don’t let anybody condemn you because you’re ‘not good enough’, ‘not vegan enough’, ‘not Christian enough’, or whatever.

    It’s a cliche, but learning to love and accept and forgive yourself is the first and crucial step towards spiritual growth. And it’s probably the hardest.

    But it’s never a wasted effort.

    Don’t give up. 🙂

    From my heart to yours. xx

     

    Advertisements
     
  • Mrs Chakotay 3:13 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , religion, spirituality, ,   

    Emissary part 3 

    opaka

    I wanted to come back to explore Sisko’s meeting with Kai Opaka because Bajoran spirituality is such a significant theme of the whole DS9 series, and likewise figures highly in my life.

    “Have you ever explored your pagh, Commander?” – Kai Opaka

    I was raised with a certain set of beliefs and ways of thinking, so certain and sure that our way of seeing the world was the only true one. Honestly I don’t know what I believe now, not with any absolute certainty anyway – whether any of it is true, or even that objective truth can be known.

    I prefer the term ‘spirituality’ to religion – being on a journey of discovery rather than arriving at the point of full knowledge and certainty. Having moved from a fairly fundamentalist Christian background, into Reform Judaism and back to Anglican Christianity through Messianic Judaism, I now view the whole concept of religion in a love-hate relationship, aware of the problems in organised religion, but also conscious of how good and useful and helpful spirituality can be, especially viewed as metaphor to help us understand and explore real life.

    “A Bajoran draws courage from his spiritual life. Our life-force, our pagh, is replenished by the Prophets.” – Kai Opaka

    Sisko’s relationship to religion is far more simple in a way – he is not and never has been a ‘believer’, and does not feel the need for any kind of ‘spirituality’ to grow as a person or any of that nonsense!

    But somehow, for me, living with an agnostic/ atheist/ sceptic has been my biggest catalyst for change. He has forced me to question my assumptions, modify my speech and behaviour (have I mentioned being a red-headed Celt? A raging ball of untamed fury?), in short, to become a better person. It is as though the Prophets have used him as their tool for shaping me.

    “Ironic. One who does not wish to be among us is to be the Emissary.” – Kai Opaka

    Sisko and Opaka argue back and forth about uniting Bajor, Sisko insisting that Opaka must do her part to unite the people, Sisko only seeing the one dimension, the practical side of avoiding civil war. Opaka on the other hand, sees things differently, looking at the root causes of hostility, and seeing spirituality as the answer.

    “You are correct that Bajor is in grave jeopardy, but it is the threat to our spiritual life that far outweighs any other.” – Kai Opaka

    But then she says something cryptic and insightful:

    “I cannot give you what you deny yourself. Look for solutions from within, Commander.”  – Kai Opaka

    This is repeated during Sisko’s Wormhole experience, by one of the Prophets in the form of Opaka, but it is never explained what is meant by it, unless it is to do with Sisko’s grieving process – he can’t really move onto anything else until he has resolved it.

    “I can’t unite my people till I know the Prophets have been warned.” – Kai Opaka

    This reminds me of the film Avatar, where Jake tries to communicate to Eywa the nature of the threat Pandora is facing and begs her to help them, to take sides against the invaders. Neytiri tells him that she doesn’t take sides, only protects the balance of life. It is the difference between a view of the Prophets being a ‘blind watchmaker’, who merely keeps the cogs in motion, oblivious to the creatures and their joys and pains, and the view of the Prophets as concerned, caring and inherently involved in our affairs.

    And then Opaka makes another cryptic pronouncement that resonates through the whole series.

    “You will find the Temple. Not for Bajor, not for the Federation, but for your own pagh. It is, quite simply, Commander, the journey you have always been destined to take.” – Kai Opaka

    I can’t speak for my Sisko. I would love to be able to share my journey with him. The idea that we are on separate journeys heading in different directions (and don’t get me wrong, I am NOT talking about heaven and hell here! Rather, I am talking about being able to understand each other. A marriage is primarily a meeting of minds and hearts. We can be as different as anything but still be ‘soul-mates’. Is that possible when a couple have a completely different worldview?

    The Tears of the Prophet

    Orb_experience_Sisko

    “Nine Orbs, like this one, have appeared in the skies over the past ten thousand years. The Cardassians took the others. You must find the Celestial Temple before they do…Tradition says the orbs were sent by the Prophets to teach us. What we have learned has shaped our theology. The Cardassians will do anything to decipher their powers. If they discover the Celestial Temple, they could destroy it.” – Kai Opaka

    Memory Beta, the non-canon database which includes references from Star Trek novels, lists the orbs:

    Orb of Contemplation
    Orb of Destiny
    Orb of Memory
    Orb of Prophecy and Change
    Orb of Souls
    Orb of Time
    Orb of Truth
    Orb of Unity
    Orb of Wisdom

    And then the tenth orb: Orb of the Emissary

    STO also mentions a new Orb known as the Orb of Possibilities.

    And then there’s another, alternate list:

    Orb of Contemplation
    Orb of the Emissary
    Orb of Peace
    Orb of Prophecy
    Orb of Realms
    Orb of Thought
    Orb of Mystery
    Orb of Time
    Orb of Wisdom

    I love the idea of Orbs from the Celestial Temple, and I love the idea of the Wormhole (or the Ocean in my case) as the Celestial Temple, or for me a spiritual entity. There are few people, atheists included, who could fail to be moved by the awesomeness of the Ocean. It is inherently ‘spiritual’ as something larger and more powerful and outside of ourselves.

    But the idea of something concrete and tactile – not necessarily as evidence of the Prophets but rather as a way of connecting us in some real way to the Prophets – is so appealing. It is why, I suppose, that religions use physical objects, such as crosses, prayer shawls, rosary beads, and historical relics, why Chakotay uses his Medicine Bundle to enter into the zone. We’re not good at faith only as a metaphysical exercise, we need something to touch, feel and see.

    “The Orbs represent a tangible, tactile, physical proof that there is something beyond Bajor with a power greater than ours, a power to shape reality, to destroy, and to create.” – Vedek Solis Tendren, DS9 novel, Cathedral

    I might come back to these at some later point as there’s lots of potential for exploration. And needless to say, spirituality will undoubtedly be a recurring theme for me as this blog evolves.

    LLAP.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 5:23 am on December 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , spirituality,   

    Emissary part 1 

    Background:

    On star-date 05.20.13, Captain Jean-Luc Picard was kidnapped by the Borg and was forced to lead an assault on Starfleet at Wolf 359. In that battle, Lt. Commander Benjamin Sisko lost his wife Jennifer. Now he has been reluctantly posted to DS9 to work alongisde Kira Nerys who will function as liaison between the Bajoran government and Star Fleet.

    In this universe, for the purposes of this blog, Jean-Luc Picard (and sometimes the Borg) is the devil who causes all the yuck in my life.

    Jennifer wasn’t Sisko’s wife, but rather his mother who died in May 2013 (hence the faked star-date above).

    Oh, and Sisko and I are not just feuding colleagues but man and wife. And since the metaphor is not quite ideal to my real-life situation, Jake will often be replaced by four Ferengis, or a variety of other characters and races, depending on what fits. I will introduce them properly in the episode ‘Dramatis Personae’.

    In my original blog on Open Diary, I wrote a series of posts about my life based on the first season of DS9. Some of the themes of the episodes seemed to bear a spooky resemblance to what was going on in my life, or at least my mind. But it may just be that I became so immersed in the story that I began to see my life as Kira’s. When I look back it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was at the time, and I don’t honestly know why I was so hostile to Sisko. Our real-life situation is much worse right now than it ever was then (between 2006 and 2008) but our relationship is actually much better than it was.

    Act One

    So in Star Trek DS9, neither Sisko, Jake or Kira are happy to be posted to the DS9 Space Station – which is after all in Deep Space – but Sisko is trying to make the best of it, and encourages Jake to do the same. Kira isn’t specifically bothered about being on DS9, her objection is to Star Fleet’s involvement, and she makes that very clear, very rudely! In real life, it was Sisko’s idea to bring us all here.

    The Ferengis weren’t happy to begin with, but they have got used to it – they love the Wormhole, and they are now far too settled to move back to Bajor. Family and friends are still there, and even though they are lonely (no kids their own age), they want to stay. I on the other hand objected to the move. I miss my family and friends terribly and although, alright I do actually love the Wormhole now (which, by the way, is the Atlantic Ocean) and I know I would miss it if we were taken away from it, I object strongly to being moved without my consent, and haven’t been able to get used to my new life. I am making him sound like a tyrant, but in fact he took me away from a very unhealthy, emotionally toxic situation. it was for my own good. But it was very painful.

    In real life, when we moved here in 2011, I didn’t shout and fight and feud with Sisko (that season of our relationship was for the years previous to our move), but I cried a lot for months, moped around the house, pleaded with him to take us back. But failing that, I learned that pleading didn’t work and our old life was not there for us to go back to (more on that in another episode). I am not happy, but instead of fighting to control a situation that is out of my hands, I am turning to my spiritual life for serenity. Not sure if it’s working really, but I will let you know.

    Act Two

    In DS9, Sisko meets with Jean-Luc Pickard to object to his assignment and request a move anywhere else. It’s a tense meeting because Pickard was responsible for Jennifer’s death. He can’t forgive him, and lets him know it.

    In real life this never happened because in fact Sisko himself is the devil in the sense that he was responsible for moving us here. it was his choice, this was what he wanted. That’s not to say of course that Sisko was in any way responsible for the death of Jennifer his mother, far from it. But he did have the opportunity to go and see her and say goodbye before she died, but he refused – finding the situation emotionally intolerable. I will elaborate on this in another episode, but in another emanation where I see myself as a passionate Klingon, he is the emotionally repressed Vulcan. That has changed somewhat, but it still permeates our relationship.

    Where I am an irrepressible, red-headed Celt, he is a cool Scandinavian. In fact he does have a deep, dark svårmod river of passion, joy and anger running below his icy exterior, but it rarely shows.

    Act Three

    At this point, Bajor’s spiritual leader, Kai Opaka, is introduced along with the Orbs, the ‘tears’ of the Prophets.

    I think that in the original blog, I glossed over this part, but I will mention that my spiritual mentor – the person I most respected and to whom I would always turn to with questions about Life, the Universe and Everything, the person who most understood and shared my tastes (except perhaps in music – see below, he wouldn’t have approved), whose opinion I valued above all others, was my Dad. I have already mentioned him – when I was very young I believed he played Spock in Star Trek’s Original Series. It was he who introduced me not only to Star Trek but to the love of all things science and science fiction. If you know DS9 well you will know that Kai Opaka does not last long as a character and her passing was devastating. My Dad died in early 2011 and the world has never been the same.

    I’m not sure I have a use for the Orbs yet as a metaphor – but if I think of anything, I will let you know and weave them in to the story!

    Act Four and Five

    I will have to leave Acts four and five for another day, as I am very tired now and will give myself a headache if I go on. I hope you have enjoyed reading my ramblings as much as I have done writing them.

    My soundtrack to writing this post was Metallica’s excellent and underrated album ‘And Justice For All’ – if you happen to appreciate that sort of thing, please enjoy. If you can’t stand it, I won’t make you listen. Awesomely, it co-incidentally finished just about the time that I was finishing up the post. 😀

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 9:43 pm on April 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , housework, , , spirituality   

    Serenity 

    I need to get organised somehow. I feel as though I have been constantly battling chaos ever since… When did it begin? I think it began the moment I left home and became responsible for keeping my own house.

    In my defence, since that moment I have always lived with the most exceptionally lazy and untidy people (or so it seems).

    I have moved house in my life around 25 times, and unless there’s some kind of miracle to restore our finances so we can buy our rental house, this place won’t be the last. I wish it were not so, but that’s the way life has unfolded for me. I don’t like the feeling of being a helpless victim of circumstance, but it’s very clear to me that I’m not the one in control.

    I can think of only three places where chaos wasn’t a problem: my student digs, our place in Stockholm, and finally, when we were living at my mother-in-law’s. In the first two places, I just didn’t have that much stuff, and in the third, somebody else was doing the housework! (Well, I helped, but I wasn’t the only one responsible for the whole house.)

    Even when we had additional family members at Grandma’s (ten of us at one stage) it wasn’t hard like this. In fact, having more adults working together made things much more workable. It was a completely different dynamic. That’s one of the attractions of living in community.

    My conclusion: I can’t manage this much stuff without help. And since there’s no help to be had, the stuff must go. Ugh. If only it were that easy. I’m really feeling totally overwhelmed this week, just drowning in stuff.

    I keep thinking as well that this chaos is an obstacle to spirituality. I long for some kind of routine, and just a bit of space and time and solitude. I love my big ‘happy family’ but it is suffocating sometimes.

    I keep planning to walk down to the church ‘tomorrow’, as I discovered a few weeks ago that it’s open during the day, but so far I haven’t managed it. Maybe tomorrow. But I won’t get my hopes up.

    I can understand why the ‘desert fathers’ and mothers withdrew to the desert looking for a deeper and more satisfying spiritual life. Marriage and motherhood is a *much* harder path.

    Is serenity even possible in a big, noisy, active, busy homeschooling nuclear family?

    Next post had better be on joy, for balance, I guess.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: