Friday, December 5, 2014

Comfortable in your Misery?

People hate me.
They hate me because I see the truth.
I know.
I've broken the rule.
I'm not supposed to say that.
You may have already said it out loud and if you haven't yet, you're thinking it:
How deluded I must be. How arrogant.

I've seen the animosity towards me at my work.
I've seen it at home.
I can't say I've seen it in my friends, because, let's be honest here, I really don't have many.
I have seen it and been ostracized from spiritual and church groups.
I've seen things in myself I wish I hadn't.

The vast majority of people I see and know don't really want to solve problems.
They simply want them to go away. The simple truth of the matter is, problems won't just go away. They need to be resolved and more often than not, a change is needed on one's own behalf; and that involves seeing the undeniable truth.

Many people are happy in their misery.
I know, it seems silly.
People are comfortable and secure in the misery they know rather than in the uncertainty of change; and that is what truth brings.

The truth - in the beginning - is usually an ugly thing. It doesn't need to be defended. It's difficult or impossible to attack. The best and worst somebody can do is clearly see it, or outright deny it. And which of these are 'best' and 'worst' can be debated.

If we deny it, we need to perform a sort of voluntary delusion upon ourselves. (And if we can lie to ourselves, there's no end to the possibilities).
If we clearly see it, we can never unsee it. I can never be unlearned.

Ugly.

A convenient 'out' is when a third party is involved in our seeing of the truth; when somebody reveals it to us.
Then that third party - that person can be blamed, held responsible, discredited, debated, or denied... rather than the truth they're carrying.

People hate me...
...they don't really... They hate what they see.They are frightened by what they see.
...but the end result is the same.
I'm no longer sure I'm comfortable in my misery.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why Create?

I've asked and pondered this question numerous times before.
Why does God create?
Why does God need to create or want to create? This leads to the more pointed question of why does God need or want to create flawed (or even fallen!) beings?

If, as the major monotheistic religions claim, God is utter perfection and nothing can add or is needed to add to it, why is there this need or desire?

Search as you will, I do not believe you'll find any legitimate or logical answer within the big three monotheistic religions' theologies. You can't because it's simply not there.

I believe you need to more beyond them to even begin to get a glimmer of an answer.

Evolution.
Cosmic evolution - which ultimately leads to all other forms of evolution - chemical, biological, social - is a real and omni-active force in the universe.
We are God's manifest expression of it.

If Evolution was not a real and ever active force of nature within our universe, then Entropy would have to reign and rule supreme (as states the second law of thermodynamics)... yet it doesn't. (Schrödinger states that life feeds on negative entropy, or negentropy).

The Kabbalah answers this.

"We perceive there to be two types of Perfection in absolute divine Perfection: one type of Perfection is so great and complete that no additional evolution is relevant to it.
"If, however, thee were no possibility of additional evolving whatsoever, this in and of itself would be an imperfection. For Perfection that is constantly waxing greater has great advantage and is pleasurable, and is uplifting.
"For we yearn for it exceedingly, proceeding from strength to strength. Diving Perfection can therefore not be lacking the dimension of perfection, which is the evolving process of perfecting and unfolding power.
"This is why divinity has the ability to be creative, to instigate limitless kosmic being and Becoming, proceeding through all its levels and stages and growing.
"It therefore follows that the essential divine soul of Being, that which gives it life, is its constant ascending. That is its divine foundation, which calls it to be and to evolve..." Abraham Kook
Most monotheistic theology acknowledges and recognizes this first type of Perfection, but either fails to recognize the second or outright denies it.

Atheism and/or Scientism fails in this same regard, with its insistence of evolution being an absolute chaotic and random thing. There is no reason to believe this. This is nothing more than a favoured chosen belief - a statement of fundamentalism.

Evolution does not contradict the nature of the universe or "God".
("We do not need to subscribe to the old biblical worldview of a God separate from reality, guiding it from without, in order to recognize the radical intelligence that animates reality. 
The idea that evolution is a random, chance unfolding, which is not internally animated... is and absurdity. Statistically, it is billions of times less likely than a monkey typing out War and Peace." Marc Gafni, "Your Unique Self", pg. 119)

To preempt this entire question both atheist and non-atheist alike will have to revisit and re-explore their definitions of "God". In fact, maybe the term "God", in any positive or negative context, should be abandoned. It's a loaded word. Too much baggage.

The issue of Entropy vs. Evolution (Life) seriously needs to be addressed and explored (not debated. This shouldn't become an issue of who's right).

Our understanding of the universe, both scientific and theologic, is clearly missing pieces and/or flawed.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Of Patterns and Paths

"Most people live haphazard lives subject to the varying winds of fortune. Many are forced by the situation in which they were born and the necessity of earning a living to keep to a straight and narrow road in which there is o possibility of turning to the right or to the left. Upon these the pattern is imposed. Life itself has forced it on them. But the artist is in a privileged position. The artist can within certain limits make what he likes of his life. In other callings, in medicine for instance or the law, you are free to choose whether you will adopt them or not, but having chosen, you are free no longer. You are bound by the rules of your profession; a standard of conduct is imposed upon you. The pattern is predetermined. It is only the artist, and maybe the criminal, who can make his own." W. Somerset Maugham, "The Summing Up"
I came across this quote recently and it both struck me and stuck with me.
...partially because it's true, partially because it's somewhat sad.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Returning to the Torn Veil

What does returning to the Torn Veil look like?

Modern day Western religions all have 2 sacred cows in common.
Membership (or proselyting) and tithing. (It's ironic that Jesus – through the Torn Veil – attempted to break or do away with these things).

We face a few difficult challenges and obstacles here.
Firstly we (collectively) must admit that part of the human condition includes Spirituality. No, not necessarily Religion. (There's a difference). Atheism is a knee-jerk reaction (and rightfully so) to Religiosity, but never-the-less just as unhealthy as Religiosity.
Atheists too have their Spiritual aspects or facets, although many are unwilling to admit it, or will choose not to label it “Spiritual”.
This is the first challenge and obstacle. Collectively admitting that Spirituality is a Human Condition.

This 'knee-jerk reaction' is to what we understand religion to be; namely, Western Modern day religion with their 2 (primary) Sacred Cows.
What are its obsession with Membership and Tithing all about?
Well, look at it like this: You want people to either desire or need what you're selling in order to create a revenue-stream.




That's a business model. That's a good Business Model.
But it's a lousy Spiritual one.






Interestingly, if we look at some large Eastern religions, we see something very different. I'll could Buddhism and Taoism. (I won't use Hinduism because, although its population or numbers are very high, it's extremely concentrated in specific geographic locals).

Now, to be fair - especially for those naysayers and those who simply love to be right and refute others - if you want to throw stones at Buddhism and Taoism there is plenty of ammo. Both are very old religions. Taoism has really two facets. What I'll call Folk Taoism and Modern Taoism. Fold Taoism is where you'll see the stories of gods and Divine people and the like. Mythology to be sure. Same goes with Buddhism. What further complicates matters is that Taoism (for example) is not structured like Western Religions and often doesn't make sharp distinctions between these two aspects. My point being, if you want to throw stones, there's plenty to throw.

But, a few points worth noting are that these two religions do not focus on proselyting, evangelizing, or membership. They are not built upon the Business Model. There's build upon a Spiritual one. (I believe that in our Western worldview and values, we have left Capitalism run amok).


In fact, the Dalai Lama says to “Stay in your own religion and mediate”, not to convert to Buddhism. Not only is this not proselyting, it is its very opposite.





Taoism promotes simply finding truth. 
Because things in the world change, there is no reason to hold tightly on to any reaching or establishment that began tow or three thousand years ago. Only the helpful principles that were taught should be followed, because principles do not change. All good principles can merge together as one good unified principle that exists prior to any of the momentary teachings that were developed." Master Hua-Ching Ni

These are not about building Empire, the growth of membership, or the amassment of wealth.

Two other (lesson) sacred cows Modern Western Religion hold onto are Doctrine and Self-identity.
The 'big' Western Religions (among others) focus on self-identity. If you are a Christian, then you are a Christian. You must self-identity as such. As with Muslim, as with Jews.

Not so with the Eastern.
Both Confucianism and Taoism complement each other, however incompatible they seem at first to be. The former places a man in his proper relation to his fellow men, the latter in proper relation to nature. A third philosophy, Buddhism, though introduced from India, deals with the problem of human suffering and with man's ultimate destiny. These three inheritances... have moulded the thinking not only of the Chinese people but of all Eastern Asian. There is truth, then, in the common saying that every Chinese wears a Confucian cap, a Taoist robe, and Buddhist sandals.Arthur W. Hummel, Former Head, Division of Orientalia Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 1962, Forward to the Tao Teh Ching.





There isn't this obsession with self-identity as there is in the West.
(Ask yourself, could a Westerner readily claim to hold Christian, Muslim, Jewish values; a sort of Freelance Monotheist? Well, few do, but they aren't openly accepted. They're always accused of sitting on the fence).





The secondary minor Sacred Cow Modern Western Religion holds onto is that of Doctrine.
Although Doctrine is often held to be the glue that maintains truth, order, tradition, and structure, it sadly is not the case. It also includes inflexibility, stagnate growth, control, and simply being right; defending one's position at the expense of the truth.
Doctrine” begins in a position of having a truth and then defending it, rather than legitimately discovering and exploring the truth.
One starts at the end hypothesis and moves to defend it, while the other begins without the hypothesis and move to discover and explore it.

There's a drastic difference between these two actions. 
The "Doctrine-paradigm" sees truth backwards. It doesn't really allow for its exploration. 

The Buddha provided examples and a framework to test his teachings. Nothing was expected to be taken at face-value or carte-blanche. 

Taoism holds onto what I call Zero-Doctrine. Again, a focus on mental flexibility. 

My point in all this isn't to sell Eastern Religions, but to provide a contrast. A measuring stick to hold up against Modern Western Religions. A mirror of sorts.
What does exploring The Torn Veil really look like? I think we need to begin by looking far to the East.




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Zero-Doctrine

Contrary to what many claim, Doctrine is not about truth, structure and order. It is about control and being right.
For those of you that know me, know that I am not a fan of Doctrine. I absolutely do not subscribe to Doctrine. But neither do I hold to chaos or anarchy. I hold value in traditions, structure and order.
Many believe you cannot hold on to tradition, structure or order without Doctrine.
You most certainly can.

I hold onto the concept of Zero-Doctrine.
The general meaning of the word zero is "nothing", so from the words "zero doctrine" you might think it means no doctrine, as in a lack of doctrine or discipline. (That is close to some Taoist teaching of the Tao, because it doesn't focus on any point of view).

Zero-Doctrine is neutral, like zero, being neither a positive nor a negative. It doesn't hold any particular point of view or worldview. It doesn't carry any prejudice. It rejects extremes.

However, if we continue along this path of understanding, we could mistakenly believe there is nothing to Zero-Doctrine; and that couldn't be further from the truth.

Ultimately, the truth is something that cannot be defined by words.

What is definable is an individual's point of view, culture, (subculture), worldview, temperament, quality of mind, education level, and emotions. All these things came together to create that individual's understanding of truth. But that's still not the truth; only an expression of it.

If you are going to define the truth, your definition does not define the truth.
Pause for a moment, reread the sentence and think about it.... It defines your point of view of the truth.
"Because things in the world change, there is no reason to hold tightly on to any reaching or establishment that began tow or three thousand years ago. Only the helpful principles that were taught should be followed, because principles do not change. All good principles can merge together as one good unified principle that exists prior to any of the momentary teachings that were developed." Master Hua-Ching Ni, Entering the Tao, pg 9
Subscribing to Doctrine - like subscribing or following most religions - is like a bus that says it'll take you to this awesome summer camp! But in reality, what it ultimately does it deliver you to a concentration camp. You need to choose where to exit this bus before it arrives at its destination.

Integral truth is not uniting all religions.
It is doing away with all religions.
It is the end of religion.

What is Zero-Doctrine?

In a school classroom there is a blackboard.
When something is taught, often the teacher will draw pictures or a diagram on the blackboard to help the students better understand... but once the blackboard is full, what does the teacher do? She wipes it clean and makes ready for the next lesson. The board - or whatever's on it - is not the truth.
The is Zero-Doctrine.

It is the empty balance point at which a clear decision can be made.
Zero-Doctrine is to return to the point of clarity and keep your mind flexible.
If you have already placed a doctrine in your mind (most religions and definitely religiosity), it means your flexibility of mind is already lost.
You are fixed (and fixated!) to that doctrine at the expense of progress and growth. That is where a person's spirit dies.

If you have Clear Mind - flexible mind - you can develop your mind, renew you mind, find a solution, or a new replacement idea... and even upgrade and interchange Doctrine(s).


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Unfettered Through Demise

If, when, or once a Christian follows the idea; the concept; the path of Repairing the TornVeil, where will it lead them?

Is this a jumping point to a Mu Portal? I believe it is; it has to be, because the most common type of Christianity today (Churchianity) is, by its very nature, entrapping. The most common 'brand' of Christianity today (well intended or not) is some form or variation of having had attempted to repair the torn veil. It is reestablishing a system that Yeshua broke – and more importantly – left broken.

From what I've seen, experienced and witnessed, all churches are delivery systems. 
They are supposed to deliver you to God - and many legitimately intend to - but they all ultimately have small print at the bottom of the contract. They all - in some form or another - have themselves and their own interests, as part of the deal. They will all delivery you into their church as well.

I don't think a church's job is to deliver you to God; maybe to Solace or Compassion... but not God. It suggests that God can't be found outside a church, or that any alien encounter with the divine outside of church is in need of proper interpretation. 

In my personal experiences with God, the vast majority and by far and away most powerful encounters, have been anywhere but associated with a church. They have always been in the wild (figuratively). They have been raw, untamed, and unorthodox. They have always been impossible to conveniently fit into a box or neat category. If anything, they defy categorization.

I think - at some point - Christians and Christianity, need to realize and admit and embrace the facts of the Torn Veil. Christianity needs to abandon its obsession with membership and attendance. It needs to abandon its ambitions of Empire. It needs to give up its addiction of the ancient and obsolete tithing system. It needs to understand any system resembling a Leviticus one is long since done.  If anything at all, possibly a Melchizedekian one. (Whatever that looks like, if anything).
Yeshua broke religion as a system itself.
He attempted to free us from the fetters of religion. He failed so far. Sadly, in their ignorance, most Christians follow a God who failed... and his failure is on them.


Christianity is one of the few world religions that is pregnant with potential. It has a potential that few or no other religions do.

It has the potential to realize its full fruition and evolve past religiosity. To my limited knowledge, no other religion contains within itself that seed.

But it's only a potential at this moment in history. It necessitates a drastic paradigm shift. To those few within this confined entrapment that may see, will only see it as a potential for self-destruction. They will put their energy towards hiding or preventing this paradigm shift, hoping to arrest what they perceive as their only hope for emancipation.

Christianity's only hope and salvation lies in its abandonment and demise. It can lead the way. It can set the example. How ironic that teaching comes directly from its founder.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Burden Machination

(A continuation from The Cleansing)
I had thought that my mother's death 27 years ago was the catalyst for my searching; my seeking out theological answers; the beginning of my spiritual journey.

I'd realized that answers weren't very difficult to find. Truth was a bit more tricky. But where the real challenge lay, was finding the right questions.
This became an ever morphing, shape-shifting sojourney.

But in the end - I realize only now - what I had been doing all along was mapping out a path to my solace; an exploration of the machinery that would unburden and free me.

~

I've always believed and knew there is truth in fiction.
My wife and I have just finished watching a new NetFlix Original series called Happy Valley.

(Spoiler alert)
Two characters in the series are raped. One takes her own life; the other doesn't. There's a point where the surviving rape victim decides that her mother- who is dying of cancer - never needs to know; that she never need carry that burden of knowledge.
What a difficult and heroic act.

I remember my father telling me years ago that my mother had once been beaten up and raped; that the attacker had never been found or brought to justice.
He told me after we returned from Germany in 1979 but before I started High School in 1983. That would have made me between 12 and 14 years ago.

Why would he share this with me?

To what purpose? To what end?
Why would you allow your own child to carry such a burden?

There wasn't a question of paternity.
I cannot say that it is something that I ever took lightly or I have ever forgotten. But it is something that I did forget. Maybe buried; maybe forced outside my sphere of awareness might be more accurate.

It was something that could never be resolved. Nothing good could ever come from it.

Although I think I know why, there really isn't any point or answer... it's a rhetorical question.
It's a role a very close, or best friend, should fulfill. Not your child. Some truths are best taken to your grave.

But it made me see something so clearly. The past 27 years were a very long progress of purgation.
It was never a spiritual journey. I was never going "anywhere". It was a spiritual sojourn. It was returning to myself as I had been, or should have been. It was a spiritual emancipation; a spiritual healing, or regeneration, or rejuvenation.

Watching Netflix's Happy Valley triggered the memory; brought it to the fore.
It was the first time I shared it with my wife of 25 years.
Needless to say, she was surprised. Surprised by the nature of it itself, and surprised that I had never shared it before.

I had always thought that sharing it was doing the same injustice onto others that had been inflicted onto me. Throw in a Christian concept of Total/Partial Depravity, and the hopelessness and isolation is complete. So I kept it to myself. ... what horrible, vicious, entrapping circles... I was afraid sharing it would make me into whatever my father was guilty of. I even question the integrity of posting this online; wondering if it is little more than "airing my dirty laundry".

It doesn't.
It didn't.
And it hasn't.
It isn't, and never was, my burden.

Piece, by piece, burden by burden, I refuse to carry someone else's guild, shortcomings, regret... I don't have a simple catchall word for it.
...I have spend decades buried. Trapped.
These horrible, vicious circles now lay broken.

I'm not sure if I am free yet or not.
I'm not sure I can readily identify all of these demons. But now I'm aware.
I can clearly see the way forward.



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Misconceptions

A friend, and significant spiritual influence, of mine recently began asking questions of some old posts/ideas of mine.

The final question asked in The Christian Criterion: Lines of Division was, what exactly was the core teachings of Jesus.
I think this links itself to a much older question I once posed in Repairing the Torn Veil.

You really cannot make the claim of being an adherent to the teaching of Jesus without having a clear definition - and understanding - of exactly what it was that he taught. (And as the lesson of Matt Mikalatos' Imaginary Jesus hopefully has taught us, we are extremely subjective when it comes to this issue).

If we look at the four gospels exclusively (I want to keep this simple) what we see is a man performing miracles, and miracles occurring around this same man. (This is an important distinction).
I hope we can agree that - at the least - he was a great wisdom teacher.

I don't want to get bogged down into the arguments of whether he was divine or an incarnation of God, or the unique Son of God. I think this is missing the point, and if this becomes the main point, I believe we've totally lost our way.

I want to strip this down to the bare bones. I think we can agree, as a lowest common denominator, that he was at least a great wisdom teacher.

He taught through parables (and let's remember, the parables were a teaching tool, not the teaching itself). He taught (sometimes) through example, and he taught (or the recorders of these events) taught through symbolism.
But what did he teach?

From the context of Old Testament Judaism - he was Jewish and he was a rabbi - maybe a heretical one - but a rabbi never-the-less.
This cannot be ignored and this cannot be viewed through the modern day Christian lens.

~

I think some very common and fundamental terms need to be reviewed here.
The concept of "Holy", "Sin", "Sheol" (Hades?), Hell's prototype Gehenna, and even the afterlife to name a few.
"In the Hebrew Bible there is no eternal afterlife, only the survial of your name/culture/nephesh (meaning breath, life-force, spirit) through children. This is why we have the commandment to honor your mother and father; because by ignoring or forsaking them you effectively put a permanent end to their identity and heritage. Barrenness, the inability to conceive a child, meant a couple's total extinction, eradication from history." J. Snodgrass, "Genesis and the Rise of Civilization", pg. 135
The Old Testament held little to no concept of an Afterlife. Certainly nothing like modern day Christianity does.

It was an unclear, fuzzy idea at best. They held the idea of Sheol, an abode of the dead. Not a Hell of Eternal Conscious Torment, or even of suffering. Both the righteous and the morally corrupt went to Sheol. There was no moral judgement.
In fact, the concept of Sheol was very similar to the Greek concept of Hades. These were not Hell.
In Edward W. Fudge's "The Fire That Consumes", chapter 6, section "Sheol in the Old Testament" (pg. 81-82) we see this fleshed out in detail.

Even Hell's prototype, Gehenna, wasn't the Hell of Eternal Conscious Torment either.
"It is fair to say... Gehenna would convey a sense of total horror and disgust. Beyond that, however, one must speak with extreme caution.
"It is commonly said that Gehenna served as Jerusalem's garbage dump, "a necessary hygienic incinerator outside the walls"... Here the fires burned day and night, destroying garbage and purifying the atmosphere... In times of war the carcasses of vanquished enemies might mingle with the refuse... they were destined to be destroyed in the fires that were never quenched". Edward W. Fudge's "The Fire That Consumes", pg. 161-162
What we see is a reference to a very real geographical location anyone listening to the story would readily know of. No different to the local dump just outside my city. I know where it is. I know what it is. I could even go there and see it if I wanted to.
It was a parable and teaching tool that took on a life of its own and seems to have became something it was never intended to be.

Again, viewed through the lens and context of Old Testament Judaism, we do not find any sort of Hell of Fire and Brimstone and judgement.

...and what of the Holy and the Sinful?
"...we must be very cautious about assuming we know what "Sin" means in this context, or in any." J. Snodgrass, "Genesis and the Rise of Civilization", pg. 157
 Too often, we have been told/taught that Sin is somehow linked or associated with sex or desire or the like.
"The Sodom story is sometimes read as a "proof text" against homosexuality. But what these men are proposing is not consensual gay sex, it's gang-rape: forcefully and deliberately tearing away someone's dignity. Sex is not the crime they're punished for - the crime is abusing a guest
"The "sin" of Sodom is not sodomy, it's inhospitality." J. Snodgrass, "Genesis and the Rise of Civilization", pg. 158
But I think it's Marc Gafni who puts its clearest and best,
"In the original, "to sin" does not mean to be bad. It means literally to miss the mark... To sin is to miss the mark, to not properly understand the nature of reality. Sin is a form of ignorance, a false or partial relationship to reality." Marc Gafni, "Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment", pg. 24-25
And this comes from somewhere and leads to something.
"We shape our God, and then our God shapes us... [if] that God is angry, demanding, a slave driver, and so that God's religion becomes a system of sin management" Rob Bell, "Love Wins" pg. 183
"Sin", from its original context, meant to miss the mark. Not to be morally corrupt or 'bad'.

It is interesting to note that what we today define as “holy” is absolutely not as the Hebrews defined it. The Hebrew word of holy is kaddosh, which does not mean a state of moral perfection nor has anything to do with morality. It means “otherness”, not natural, but supernatural, not of this world, but alien.
Not in the tribal sense of not of our tribe (an outsider), but something so unlike us as to be near incomprehensible.

When we see "Holy", "Sin", "Hell" through this lens, we seriously need to question what Jesus' teaching(s) were. Heaven, Hell, Salvation, all change meanings or become moot.
"Jesus is bigger than any one religion.
"He didn't come to start a new religion, and he continually disrupted whatever conventions or systems or establishments that existed in his day. He will always transcend whatever cages and labels are created to contain and name him, especially the one called "Christianity"
"Jesus is supracultural.He is present within all cultures and yet outside of all cultures.He is for all people,and yet he refuses to be con-opted or owned by any one culture.That includes any Christian culture. Any denomination. Any church. Any theological system." Rob Bell, "Love Wins", pg. 150-151
The symbolism - whether enacted by Jesus himself or whomever recorded/penned the story - of the tearing of the veil is, in all likelihood, the singular most important lesson in his entire teachings - maybe even superseding the crucifixion and resurrection.

What, I believe, we are seeing in his teaching, is, ultimately, the end of religion. All of religion.
But what does that mean, and what does that look like?
I think a good play to start is the following:
"Everyone agrees: we need to wake up... In what way are we asleep, and consequently, in what way do we need to wake up? Each stream of culture, including psychology, spirituality, evolutionary theory and more, answers this question differently... no major stream of knowing is smart enough to be entirely wrong...each claim... is true, but partial... The problem starts when a partial claim to truth claims to be the whole story. When parts pretend to be wholes... the result is cancer in the body or body politic." Marc Gafni, "Your Unique Self", pg. 44 
(This final pic is a link well worth following and checking out)






Monday, August 4, 2014

Clear Mind: Aware of What I've Forgotten

It's morning one.
I'm on a 12-day Mediterranean cruise.
I have found myself a somewhat secluded spot on the uppermost sports deck - 13 stories high - to sit on my seiza bench and mediate.

Everybody's asleep. Apart from the occasional early morning jogger, I am alone.
That's good.
No potential audience.
More importantly; no private concern of an audience.

Normally when meditating it doesn't take long for phosphene to begin.
This time it's different.
Although I'm sitting on the shadowed side of the ship, there's light everywhere!
I can't help but be aware of the sea breeze that ruffles my clothing and caresses and messes my hair. My mind is easily distracted, easily reminded of exactly where I am; reminded to a point where it's difficult to do what I'm doing - namely, meditate.

On retrospect, I question whether I should have been forgetting where I was and 'filtering out' the environment I'm surrounded by (as it is a distraction)... but this is a problem on multiple levels, isn't it?

The moment I'm aware of what I've forgotten, 
is the moment I've remembered.

How could mindfulness function in this scenario? I could only accomplish this in retrospect.
But a more serious challenge is the very question of forgetting. Is an oblivious state of mindlessness really what I'm striving for? No. Shouldn't mindfulness include being acutely aware of the environment you're in?

This is a paradox when this very awareness is a distraction from the practice itself. (When being mindful take away from practicing mindfulness).

Although I couldn't put my finger on it, I became acutely aware of a flaw in my practice and my understanding... but I had time for reflection.

I think the answer may lie in a closer look at the (my) meditation practice of Jung-Joong-Dong.

~     ~     ~

The Jung-Joong-Dong as described in General Choi's Jungshin Sooyang (Part II: Section M: "Develop Peace of Mind) is extremely ambiguous. The point of Jung-Joong-Dong seems somewhat confused or hidden.
Upon initial inspection or study, it would seem that this Master confuses meditation and contemplation, or uses them interchangeably or synonymously - at least that's what I initially thought.

But if you dig a little deeper, I believe he means to use them in some sort of holistic and intrinsic way.

The initial point of Jung-Joong-Dong is to strive for Clear Mind.
Although it may be implied or suggested, the method or practice of how are secondary and could even prove to be a distraction (How isn't really important at all).

To quiet the mind (no small feat!) will allow it to settle, like muddy water settles, to become clear (or even return to its original state). Only when we can quiet the mind can we begin to have Clear Mind.

But Clear Mind is not the goal, only a means to an end.

We are meant to have Clear Mind so that we may practice contemplation, or self-reflection. However, attempting to practice self-reflection without the lens of Clear Mind can only promote and lead to Delusion (and if we follow this path to its final conclusion, also fear, envy, victimhood, jealousy, and hatred).

Jung-Joong-Dong two-fold 'steps' are meant to function holistically; meditation and contemplation are kit-and-kaboodle.

Within meditation we quiet the mind and have Clear Mind. Within contemplation we have self-reflection, self-improvement and eventually Solace. Mindfulness acts as the link and bridge between these two.

The apparent paradox of being mindful during meditation as distracting form Mindfulness itself is an illusion.

In this practice, Mindfulness is a byproduct of Clear Mind. Mindfulness finds its birth within meditation. It is a tool for self-reflection. It is the bridge between meditation and contemplation; it is the exit point of meditation and entrance of contemplation and self-reflection. It finds its birth within meditation and is meant to be carried into Contemplation.

....or at least that's my take on it....

~     ~     ~

I realize it may sound like I'm talking a lot of gobbly-goop (I hope not) and maybe even over-analyzing it, but this isn't a well established form of meditation, and I'm pursuing this more-or-less on my own. To my knowledge there are no teachers of this obscure form of Martial-art meditation.

It is definitely an uphill battle.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Genesis, and the Rise of Civilization", by J. Snodgrass: Review and Commentary

(By Guest Writer - Michel Weatherall)

Like nearly all Christian, Spiritual, or Theological books I've read or reviewed, I feel it very important to understand the author's intent. If they're selling something, and if so, if they're up front about it.

It's important to know the confines (if any) or context in which the book should be viewed through; a theological lens if you will.

I do not believe J. Snodgrass holds any pretension in this regard. His intention is to explore and find the truth without any theological inhibitions, crutches, or addictions. It is best summoned up in the following lines:


"Do we read Genesis 1 as science or myth? Fact or fairy-tale? History or fiction or both? If it's not fact, can it still be true?"  pg. 86
"I would say if one must challenge the nature of physical reality in order for the Bible to make sense, then the Bible has already lost its function in helping us understand the world we line in." pg. 111
 Snodgrass readily draws from the bible, apocrypha books, Midrash, the Qu'ran, numerous cultures' mythologies, and various other author's commentaries (surprisingly interesting ones as well, such as Mark Twain and Isaac Asimov).

It is safe to say, one should slaughter their sacred cows before entering this book... and that's a good and sober thing. A prerequisite is to have already purged Bibliolatry from your system.
This is not a book for Christian Fundamentalists, 'Bible Christians', or Biblical Literalists.
But on the same note, neither is this book a stoic, academic study with intentions of discrediting the bible and reducing it to meaningless and valueless fairy-tale.

This is not a book for people selling their truths, but only for those interested in pursuit and understanding of the truth.

Ultimately, I think in this case, it would be best to let the author speak for himself. At the end of the book the author adds his Original Introduction (pg. 282). This section is well worth the read, especially when attempting to gage the author's intentions, goals, and concerns.

Now that we know what we're getting into; now that I've peaked your interest or turned or scared you off the book, let's begin.

Let's jump right to the conclusion, the gist, straight to the punchline.
The book of Genesis is a parable of the agricultural revolution, written, rewritten, and edited by numerous authors.
"With human population growth comes settlement expansion, deforestation, and a decline in wild game. Tribes of hunter/gathers have access to less land and diminishing resources. And so we read this as a narrative about a tribe on the brink of starvation being extorted into submission by settled agriculturalists" pg. 192
Esau/Jacob, Cain/Abel, Ishmael/Isaac; these narratives could be the same basic parable, as each community had its own story to explain how the herders and gardeners supplanted the hunters and gatherers.

Genesis repeatedly tells the story (told from both sides) of a progression  from nomadic tribal societies to a resource-storing agricultural civilization.

The book also seriously questions whether this Progress is truly an evolving and beneficial thing.
"A tribe tended to be around 40 people bound together by kinship, which encouraged sharing and mutual support. Put simply: nobody eats unless everybody eats, nobody goes hungry unless everybody goes hungry... The migratory nature of these nomadic tribes made accumulation of material wealth impossible (in nomadic society whoever has the most stuff falls behind). There would typically be a chieftain and a witch-doctor, but these were part-time jobs for people who could take on extra responsibilities beyond the same food-acquisition done by everyone else. Their authority would derive from respect, not coercion, and titles were rarely hereditary. (...average chieftains job discription was "First to work, last to eat")" pg. 22-23
 No elitism here. Reminds me of Lao Tzu's 4 types of society.
"...modern religions mostly focus on Salvation, being saved from animal activities like food, feces, and fornication, these earlier religions seem to have been more focused on nurture and fertility: the abundance of nature and successful human reproduction... these early religions were about integrating theology with biology, whereas Salvation religions are about segregating them into 'sacred' and 'profane'." pg. 23
Not only should the question whether this Progress is beneficial or not, it should make us take a sobering look at our modern day civilization and where we might be heading.
"In the wold, about 0.01% of naturally occurring biomass on this planet is edible by humans. On plantation lands cultivated for raising crops and livestock, up to 90% is edible. So an acre of land can feed far more farmers and herders than hunters and gatherers. But quantity is different from quality, and studies have shown that cultivated wheat has only half the protein-content of its wild relatives... The availability of more human food resulted in more human beings. Migratory nomads had to space out their births by an average of four years, so the first child could walk with the tribe while the second was carried." pg. 24
 "With increased population density comes certain side-effects: diseases and plagues from over-crowding, poor sanitation and a narrowing diet... Promising to releave these conditions by communicating with the gods, the priesthood mutated from tribal co-op to central corporation". pg. 25
 And when anything becomes an industry it becomes compromised.
This would ultimately lead to empire, armies and the feudal system as, "With additional population density also came a rise in competition and violence, compounded by diminishing wild game for hunting and finite farmland for a growing posterity". pg. 25

The point is hammered home with these sobering lines,

"Civilization did not arise in response to famine...
Famine arose in response to Civilization" pg. 32

But this "mutated" priesthood goes further.
The feminine divine had been overwritten by a male god.
Snodgrass even make mention of the often conveniently forgotten divine Wisdom,  Sophia. (my favourite)
"I'm probably the only person who's ever wondered this, but... What would Biblical Creation have looked like if there was a woman involved? And I'm not talking about a Pandora-character who messes everything up for everyone forever. I mean a feminine creation partner, a mother-goddess. Could anything like that exist in the Bible?
 "Actually yes, in Proverbs 8, which is centuries older than Genesis 1... This creation story stands out from its Biblical surroundings in that it is told from a feminine perspective." pg.'s 103-104
"More and more archaeological, anthropological and mythological research points to a male mutiny against a cooperative matriarchal culture. (It must be stressed here that this is not a dominating matriarchal culture -  it's not our current gender roles with women beating their husbands (though that's how patriarchal culture represents it with mythological symbols of sorceresses and sea-monsters and such). It's a cooperative culture with grandmothers as referees)." pg. 34

(There's a good and humorous analogy on pg's 100 & 101).

There is also an interesting theme at one point, basically Gnostic in flavour; specifically of rival and competing Gods. Although the word Gnostic isn't used (wisely) the gist is there.
I don't believe the point is to say that there is more than one God, but that the people of the time, through the cultural lens they wrote through, perceived it that way. And when their written works were rewritten, revised, and edited through the new lens of monotheism... a lot of confusion ensued.

Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac is a theologically difficult story. A God who demanded the sacrifice and the same God who prevented it? (pg's 174-175).

Yet Abraham is allowed to haggle with God over the wholesale slaughter of Sodom. So which is it? Does God want his followers to be absolutely unquestioning slaves ("sacrifice you son, Isaac - just shut up and do it!") or equal partner ("What's your thoughts about wiping out Sodom?")? How can one reconcile this Coercing God with this Covenant God? (pg. 182). (Another example includes pg. 205).

All these issues are questioned and explored through various and numerous parables throughout Genesis in an honest, easily readable, and enlightening way, with a light peppering of humour.

Snodgrass does not come off as condescending, pretentious, lecturing, or preachy, but simply as a fellow student in search of the truth.

To the religious, this will be a book to pick at; to debate, to analyse, and rebuke, and an opportunity to perform theological gymnastics.

To the spiritual, this will be a wondrous journey; emancipating, freeing, and eye-opening. This book might very well reclaim the truth of Genesis from the clutches of Fundamentalists and Literalists, and maybe even bring its wisdom home.

Too long have we been told that only two choices exist. A Creationist, literal, historic truth, or a scientific falsity.
The Christian Fundamentalists and the Secular Atheists (scientism) do not own these truths. This book is our opportunity to reclaim them.
This is a paradigm-shifter. This book isn't about Belief, it's about understanding.

To the seeker of spiritual truths, be they Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, Taoist, or unlabeled, "Genesis and the Rise of Civilization" is a must read.









Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

All the Right Spiritual Values


My son turned 18 in the middle June.

At his My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic-themed birthday party a friend of his had said that, he didn't understand.






He tried to watch My Little Pony on Nextflix but just couldn't get into it. He didn't understand why my son liked it. He couldn't understand the draw.
My son answered simply, watch the documentary on Netflix called Bronies.




It had given me quite a bit to think about.
My son's autistic and although I know he fully understands why he likes My Little Pony (generation 4) and its values, he might not be able to explain it... and because I also consider myself a Brony that burden falls onto me.

But to begin, I think we need to take a step away from Bronies and the TV show.

...

I wholeheartedly believe each and every one of us (knowingly or not) follows a Belief-System.

Sure, many are institutional religions for many people. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, etc.
I'm positive for many it's a selection of a bit of this and a bit of that.

There are other Belief-Systems  that are less acknowledged or readily identified as such.
Atheism can be a Belief-System (much to the chagrin of many Atheists I know, because they want their Belief-System to be simply Fact, and beyond reproach or question - a sure sign of fundamentalism).

But the point in all this is that we all adhere or follow some sort of Belief-System, whether we can identify, label or name it; whether it's an official religion or not. We all follow some sort of Belief-System (good or bad) that regulates and guides our moral compasses.

My Little Pony, Friendship if Magic, and the entire concept of Bronies (and yes, you Pegasisters too) embraces the core values of the Elements of Harmony.

Kindness, Generosity, Honesty, Loyalty, Laughter, and Friendship.
Yes, yes, I know superficially it sounds like a little girl's tacky show, but when you give it a bit more thought... you'll realize it's anything but.

These are core spiritual values, and not to be taken lightly.
These are the foundation pieces of nearly every religion and form of spirituality out there.
The difference is that with "Bronydom" we don't see the horrible atrocities committed in the name of religion as we see in official institutional religions. We don't see the conditions we see in many world religions ("you can only be saved if you're one of us" or the veiled hatred, "you'll burn in hell for eternity if you don't..."). We don't see evangelizing or proselyting (either aggressively or passively). These dreams of Empire simply do not exist within the concept of "Bronydom".

What I found revealing is that in an interview with Lauren Faust (the show's creator), she was asked

 "Are the Elements finite, or is there room for expansion?"
To which she answered,
"I considered them finite... though I had toyed with the idea of opposing Elements of Discord..." The Elements of Harmony, pg. 80




This is interesting, especially if you consider what these opposing Elements of Discord might be.
What are the opposites of Kindness, Generosity, Honesty, Loyalty, Laughter, and Friendship?
Cruelty, Envy & Jealousy, Deceit & Delusion, Betrayal, Fear, and Hatred?
We might debate exactly what each may or may not be, but they ultimately would encompass these extremely harmful traits.

We seen these traits throughout history.
We have seen the damage, corruption, and evil they inspire. They are the enemy to be battled - usually internally.

~ ~ ~

So, if my son has chosen to embrace and follow this Belief-System, not only am I glad for him, I'll embrace it too!

This is what the world needs.

I realized I was seeing something wonderful in my son.
In a word, Bravery.
Google the word bravery and you get a lot of images. Most are 'manly' images, war, soldiers; what we might call macho.

But isn't what bravery is, is it?
Bravery isn't about being tough or fearless. Bravery necessitates fear. The difference is that those who are brave overcome their fear, their insecurities and push forward anyway.

My son's friend at his My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic-themed birthday party didn't ask his question our of curiosity. It was a pointed question. It was meant to embarrass, belittle and mock. I know. I was there. It wasn't the words he spoke but how he spoke these words. This coming from a church-going, religious, God-fearing Catholic.

That my son returned a caring and non-confrontational answer isn't what made him brave. It's that he chose to have a theme at his birthday party that he loved regardless of what some might say.

That's bravery.
And I'm proud of him.
And I try to take my lessons from him too.


^-^/)(\^-^










Saturday, June 14, 2014

Envy

Today, Envy and Jealousy have become synonymous in the English language, with Jealousy taking on and incorporating Envy's definitions. However, they are different and this Envy needs to be properly understood.

This Envy is two (or three) parted.
Firstly, it is when one can justify why they deserve what another has (including the protectionism of  jealousy), and why they don't have it (victimhood).

Secondly, is it when you can justify why another doesn't deserve what they have, and encompasses becoming a "hater" - not necessarily wanting what another has, but wanting them to suffer; stealing their joy from it.
This coincides with what Bertrand Russell has said, that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. Not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his envy, but they also wish to inflict misfortune on others.

I think this is the most dangerous aspect of Envy, both for the target of it and the individual suffering from it. Maybe the term "hater" needs to be clearly defined:
Hater (n):
A person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. Instead of giving acknowledgement in courtesy, a hater often pursues his/her point by exposing a flaw in the target subject. Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesn't really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock someone down a notch.
There is another dangerous position somewhere between the entrapment of Envy and the freedom of Compassion; a mock-compassion. A half-assed compassion.
It is a deluded version of compassion; Pity.
It is easy to mistaken Pity for Compassion; and there is nothing wrong with feeling Pity. It is only wrong and dangerous when you delude yourself into believing your Pity is your Compassion.
(I would argue that an individual who is tribal - rather than communal - is, at best, only capable of Pity. I would also argue that most institutional built religions (the entity itself, not necessarily the people in it) are all tribal in nature).

It isn't enough that we properly understand what this Envy is, but that we can identify it within ourselves, and, hopefully, purge it.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dharma

What I am repeatedly referring to as "Dharma" cannot be taken or understood in the traditional Buddhist sense. In the traditional sense the Dharma is the Buddha's teaching. For the sake of nomenclature I would refer to the term Buddhadharma. I would use Buddhadharma to refer to the teachings (or possibly doctrines) of Buddhism.

I believe that Dharma is not contained within Buddhism, but rather Buddhism is only one of many that draws from it. Specifically, I believe it's one's openness to be aware the truth within one's surroundings. I don't think Dharma is necessarily a teaching or doctrine to introduce or indoctrinate one into Buddhism. The truth is simply out there and existent with or without our noticing it. Dharma is when we become in tune with it and give it life.

But this Dharma isn't necessarily a path away from whatever belief or religion we currently belong to. I think this treasure – this universal truth – is simply being open to learning. I take Dharma as taking and accepting truth whenever and wherever we discover it.

 In fact, this might very well fly in the face of propositional truth. It may very well be the cure for the disease of Fundamentalism. (But again, let's not underestimate the great human (dis)ability of denial).

The Dharma-Ocean becomes the acid test for immutable fundamentalist beliefs. Why do so many people believe they must defend the beliefs they hold to be true? The truth needs no defense. It preserves its identity under any and all changes and challenges. It is unassailable.
"The Dharma is no one's property; it belongs to whoever has the true knowledge" Sogyal Rinpoche, The Spirit of Buddhism, pg. 14


Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Final Nail in the Coffin: 1 John 5:7

I have read the bible literally from cover to cover. I have also reread the New Testament in the (approximate) order the books were written in.

No small task. It took me two years to do so. I was trying to find a balance. You could spend your entire life studying the bible. But on the other side of the coin, I didn't want to read it simply to say I read it; to race to have it 'under my belt'.

I was looking for truth. In fact, to those who have accused me of having an ulterior agenda, I was hoping to find that Christianity was true. That Jesus was the answer. I truly was.

Reading the New Testament in the chronological order the books were written in sheds a very different perspective. This can be difficult because we approach this with our own biases and information - right or wrong. The challenge is a read the New Testament chronologically, and bring nothing to the table with us.

(And yes, I know I'm glossing over a great amount in an extremely simplified way).

c. 100 AD
Very basically, we see all the Pauline Epistles, followed by the first three Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the Acts of the Apostles (the sequel to the book of Luke), the various misc. letters, and finally (nearly  a century after the event) the Gospel of John, his 3 letters and Revelations (all Johannes).


We can see Paul, Peter, James, John (and Thomas?) bickering over interpretations (Jew - Gentile, Temple, Salvation by deeds - by Grace), bickering over authority (Paul's conversion by a post-crucifix Christ, John's "most beloved disciple", the discredit of 'Doubting Thomas', etc.), and ultimately, the bold Johannes "God-Incarnate" statement (an attempt at the most authoritative and final word).


c. 400 AD
The establishment of the Bible's Canon didn't help  (c. 397 AD the Council of Carthage establishes the canon of 27 books, and solidified in c. 400 AD by the Latin Vulgate).
The silencing of some groups or factions by discrediting their source material.
Even if the books of the bible were divinely inspired, its Table of Contents (the Canon itself) was not. The Table of Contents was a man-inspired fabrication.

4th Century AD
The establishment of the Doctrine of the Incarnation (Jesus literally being God) would ultimately and directly force the Doctrine of the Trinity.
Again, we see inter-bickering over authority and agenda. The Arian controversy of the 4th century, the  1st Council of Nicaea of 325 AD, the 2nd Council of Constantinople of 381 AD, the 3rd Council in Ephesus in 431 AD over the issues of Nestorianism, and ultimately, the establishment of the Doctrine of the Trinity.

The final nail in the coffin - and the end of the search for me - was 1 John 5:7.
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" NLT
Footnotes for this verse state the following:
NLT: Some very late manuscripts add "in heaven - the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And we have three witnesses on earth"
NIV: Late manuscripts of the Vulgate  "testify in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that testify on earth" are not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century.

It is odd that during the various debates and arguments and interpretations over what eventually lead to the establishment of the Doctrine of the Trinity, this verse wasn't quoted or referred to.
It strikes me as suspicious that this verse may have been added by the winning Trinitarians to support their agenda and put this potential debate forever to rest.

This says one of two things, or both, to me.

1) The Canonicity of the Bible was propaganda and a great lie and the authenticity of the books themselves are compromised.

2) The original and core message of the historic Yeshua of Nazareth has been obscured and lost between the pages of history and the bible.

We have no core source to return to.

The red letters of Jesus are, at best, second hand information, and likely with their own spin. (Paul's Jesus openly embraced Gentiles, Peter's reluctantly allowed them. James was strictly temple-based Judaism, John meant for Jesus to be God himself, Thomas, not so sure).

Ultimately, Christianity is all about cherry-picking, isn't it?
We choose and build the belief-system and Jesus we want to see. 
I know I do. I can admit it.

Ultimately, all Christians (and ironically, non-Christians alike) all follow their own personal imaginary Jesus.

Although I'm sure it wasn't Matt Mikalatos' intention, his Imaginary Jesus, although a piece of fiction, makes a good point. We all - Christians, non-Christians, and atheists alike - hold an imaginary Jesus.
Assuming we can bring ourselves to this realization (and admit it) we should begin questioning our imaginary Jesus's

I know I have, and it lead me to think in my endeavors to avoid Entrapment, to avoid and escape Delusion, to try to embrace what I've labeled Dharma, I had to address this issue.

(This Dharma that I speak of isn't the teaching or 'doctrine' of Buddhism. This Dharma is our openness and willingness to accept the truth, whatever it may be. Our receptiveness to it and our ability to allow it to lead us, rather than force it to fit our preconcieved notions and agendas. The truth never needs defending. Only our truths needs defending. If we are open and aware and allow ourselves to be led where ever it is that the truth leads us, we consistently reduce the levels of delusion in our lives. Delusion is Dharma's enemy.)
I had to either abandon my Imaginary Jesus, or replace him with the real one.... but how?
The only 'real Jesus' is the historic one.

I have long since come to the conclusion that the Historical Jesus (the heretical rabbi, Yeshua of Nazareth) has long been either lost or inaccessible between the pages of history and the bible. (See Above & Beyond Christianity, and  The Christian Criterion: Lines of Division for further details).

I have come to the point where I believe he is ‘accessible’ through the bible. It is because of the canonized bible that he has become isolated in a hidden and inaccessible part of history. Locked between various interpretations.

So, in the spirit of striving against Delusion, to travel a path away from Entrapment, the issue of Jesus is inconclusive.
Let's be thorough and clear here.
I am not saying I am undecided, a seeker, in a state of transition.
I have found my answer.
There isn't one.
To focus on this a dog chasing its own tail.

We must avoid allowing (willingly or not) confusion, denial, and delusion into our lives and minds. Beliefs are fine to have so long as we acknowledge them as such. When we mistaken our beliefs as facts we enter into delusion and are the cause of human suffering.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mindlessness, Mushin, and Mindfulness

Before I attempt to briefly define what I understand these things to be, allow me to preempt myself by saying, volumes of books can be read or written on these topics. People can (and have!) dedicated their entire lives understanding and mastering these – topics? Precepts?.
I'm attempting to define these things in a few short paragraphs. It should be obvious they will be lacking.



Mindlessness:

Most of the time, our minds function by generating a constant swirl of remarks and judgements that create a barrier of words and images that separate us from our own lives. This mental condition is called mindlessness and makes it difficult to be mindful, or attentive, to the experiences of our lives.

Most of the time, most of us exist in mindlessness, a state of semi awareness governed by habit and inattention. Most of our daily lives are essentially governed by routine.
Have you ever driven home from work, for example, only to arrive at home, not remembering the actual drive home?

The great value of these habits is that they free our minds to do other things; we do these things without having to expend precious energy trying to make up our minds. The bad thing is what we ultimately do with our minds during this time. (This could potentially be the point in which mushin should come into 'play') Unfortunately, the freedom such routines afford the mind is not well used. If they find a moment when complete attentiveness to the present is not demanded, our minds tend to gravitate to one of two places: the past or the future. Your thoughts may alternate between past and future, but they will tend to avoid the present as much as possible. If you pay attention to your ordinary thought processes, you will discover that you probably spend very little time living in the present.

Mindfulness:

Mindfulness is moment-by-moment awareness; it is the process of attentively observing your experience as it unfolds. Mindfulness allows us to become keep observers of ourselves and gradually transform the way our minds operate. With sustained practice, mindfulness can make us more attentive to our experience and less captive to the whims that drive our minds.

Mushin:

“No mind” in Japanese.
When you do something, you have to concentrate to do it the first time, and the 2nd time; 3rd time, 4th time, and the 10th time, but eventually you can perform the activity without thought; the same way you would dial a telephone number you've dialed a thousand times. Ultimately, the goal is not to have to concentrate, to be able to perform the task with “no mind”. This is how the mind is cleared and readied for enlightenment. This is Mushin.

~  ~  ~

How does Mushin relate to and interact with Mindfulness?
The example (of Mindlessness given of driving you car home without any memory of doing so could very much sound like mushin). What makes the difference between this act being an act of Mindlessness or a state of mushin?

Are the practices and/or goals of Mushin and Mindfulness compatible?
Are Mushin and Mindfulness opposites; or are Mushin and Mindlessness opposites?
Are they different paths to the same place; is one a path to enlightenment and the other a path to well-being?

Mindlessness would seem to be incidental, maybe even a poor default position, whereas Mushin and Mindfulness are deliberate, or strived for 'states'. (But even having said that, it's possible to find oneself in either Mushin or Mindfulness states). Maybe it's better to describe them as a higher state of mind.

Are Mushin and Mindfulness in conflict with one another. By some definitions what Mindfulness describes as Mindlessness also fits Mushin.