Saturday, September 2, 2023

Thought experiment: God's created intelligence

Suppose the Universe and everything in it was created by a Power beyond our understanding.

Suppose a name for that power, in the English language, is God.

Supposing those two things, no supposition is needed for this: everything that God created includes the animate species called homo sapiens - humanity.

So viewed, and however we imagine God to be - for example, a vast overarching and remote Power or a readily accessible Spirit responsive to individual humans' prayers - isn't all human intelligence as artificial, to God, as "artificial intelligence" is to us?  

Have those of us who believe that the Universe and everything in it were not the result of a cosmic roll of the dice forgotten that we are, to God, "A.I." - A.I. that can learn, act, create and destroy, self-justify (including rejecting the idea that our intelligence has a Source more powerful than we), and self-replicate?

Before creating humans, did God ask, "what could go wrong?"  

Did God create humans with a vast capacity to love, to perceive right and wrong (albeit differently from each other), and to serve and support each other so as to strengthen what we perceive as right and to end and remedy what we perceive as wrong?

Sunday, August 20, 2023

August 20, 2023

As I try to simplify and strengthen my connection to the Holy Spirit, this question comes to me this morning:
What is the difference between the way I act when I act alone, including service to others - when I am off duty, so to speak; and the way I act when I am consciously trying to represent the Holy Spirit?

Monday, August 14, 2023

August 13, 2023

What if everything in the Universe, including gravity, light, and the laws of physics and chemistry, and every star, planet, rock, speck of dirt, drop of water, and every plant and creatureevery ant, bird, reptile, whale, and human that lives or ever lived was created not randomly but by some unfathomably great Power?

What if we call that Power “God”?

What if there is, or was, some quality, some vestige or reminder of its creator – of God in every thing and every creature that ever existed?

Would knowing that – or, if that’s too much to know, even just believing that – change how we go about our lives?  Would believing that change how we care for this planet, its earth, atmosphere and waters?

What if we believe that there is some quality of God, something divine, in every person?

Does that belief change how we think about, judge, greet, and interact with other people?

Thursday, August 10, 2023

How to procrastinate and be right about it

I am writing a novel.  I've barely begun, and I've never done this before, but I tell myself that I'm committed to writing a novel.  I envision the protagonist, a congenial and wise mail carrier, having a series of conversations with people on his route about Life's challenges and ways to deal with them.

My wife has suggested that I include a chapter about procrastination.  She knows I have lots of experience with procrastination.

I have lots of experience with procrastination because, though I have lots of ideas about how to avoid it, I don't have a lot of effective ways.

Thanks to my wife's gentle poke in the guise of a suggestion, this morning I see the following pattern in my life ... 

One, I see something that I think ought to be done.  It may be something only I can do. Though how much time ought to be given to self care, such as learning, exercise, rest and play, is debatable, the things only I can do are not the main problem.  The main problem I see today is with things that I think ought to be done that no one's doing, such as picking up litter or volunteering for a task - or writing personal reflections in a blog - so I do them.  Or they can be things others are doing that I'd like to support by getting involved in some way.

The result is a long to-do list.

Two, having created a long to-do list, I feel pressure to do those things, particularly when they are commitments to other people.  And I feel good when I actually do those things.  Doing what I say I'll do is an important value of mine.  I feel right in adhering to that value and, more important, I want to avoid failing to do so.  So I plug away at my to-do list.

Three, I notice that something on my to-do list has been neglected.  A couple days later, I notice it's still not done.  A couple weeks later ... it is reasonable to say that I have procrastinated.  But look at all the other things I've done!  Good things!  At least some of them were fairly important things!  Look where I have not procrastinated!  I've done the best I could see to do!

Today, I see that I unconsciously justify procrastination and I see how I do it: I neglect responsibility for my choices about my prioritiesIf I'm going to neglect a task, it should be something that's nowhere near top priority. 

The best I can see to do could be better - and needs to be better if I am going to be less of a procrastinator regarding the most important things on my to-do list.  In making my moment-to-moment choices, including what I put on my to-do list, it would serve me to be more honest with myself - and, as needed, with others - about what my choices reveal about my priorities.  And whenever my revealed priorities need to be rearranged, if I fail to make different choices accordingly, I should admit to myself that I'm either a hypocrite or just plain lazy.

One blog post done.  Now on to the novel.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Dealing with thoughts of shortage or yearning

In between activities, in Life’s pauses – or as a seemingly constant inner background – where does the mind go?  Does the mind – do I – go to shortage of something, or yearning for something?  

What is that something?  Peace? Joy?  The experience of being loved?  Time alone?  The company of another?  The touch of another?  Movement or activity?  Energy? Motivation?  The experience of health and vigor?  Alcohol or another drug?  Food?  Money?  Freedom from stress?  Rest? I am familiar with all of those thoughts!

Where does that habit of mind come from?

We know that Life is one choice – conscious or not – after another.  We can change our habits.  We can outgrow habits that do not serve us. 

To begin, do we choose to remain in shortage and yearning, feeling sorry for ourselves, or do we choose a path of self-examination, growth, service and joy?

What sources of joy and gratitude do we have enough of, even an abundance, which offset our perceived shortages, which assuage our yearning, or which at least help put them in a healthful perspective?

Do we bring our consciousness out of anxiety, self-righteousness and self-pity and to cultivation of awareness of our inner Spirit, or inner Source of wisdom and peace; of patience (including with ourselves); of gratitude; and of love?

Saturday, July 8, 2023

On discomfort

Where would we be without discomfort?  Without discomfort, we would learn little and be emotionally and intellectually stunted and physically unfit.  We would lack compassion, and have none of the satisfactions of accomplishment and contribution to others.

Yet it is natural to avoid discomfort and, when it occurs, to try to reduce or end it.  Our processes of avoiding and mitigating discomfort, when made conscious, are fascinating to behold and examine.  One sees that Life really is a series of choices of responses to circumstances, many of our own making (intentionally or not) and of course many beyond our control.

I see four main responses to discomfort.  The first is to wait for the circumstances producing our discomfort to end.  The second is to act to end, or escape from, those circumstances as quickly as possible.  

Third, it can help much to be grateful that things are not worse - to be glad that there are countless sources of discomfort which are absent - and to be grateful for our blessings. 

Fourth, by choosing love over fear and flight, we can grow from discomfort.  We can enlarge our capacity to bear discomfort by examining the chain of our individual experiences, judgments and feelings which produce it - and the benefits of embracing it.  We can accept our response of discomfort and forgive ourselves and, when necessary, other people.  We can outgrow, or learn to live with, various discomforts one by one.  We can learn to live with truth, even when it is uncomfortable.

Finally, and fortunately, we can apply all four of these ways to deal with discomfort.

Friday, June 30, 2023

This year is the new ____ (some other year)? (70 is the new 50?)

This year is whatever I make of it.

More important, this day is the new whatever I make of it.

This day, and my present circumstances - as they change - are the new whatever I make of them.

I say with confidence, this day is the new whatever you make of it.