Acedia

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24There are times when I have not wanted to be of this planet. In truth, I have grown weary with the world, the politics, and the unending changelessness of things. A presidential campaign lasting for more than two years. The power and wealth of the few and the continued suppression of the many. The continuing wars in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq still mounting in their toll of innocent lives. World famine and financial greed all increasing at alarming rates even when the tools to bring about change exist but are not implemented. The return of once eradicated diseases like cholera, scarlet fever, yellow fever, and polio now indifferent to the drugs previously used in their demise.

I do not want to be with friends nor do I seek to engage in new friendships. Phone calls and emails go unanswered or unreturned. I get through each day as another day of life doing the things I love, but somehow doing these things brings a different kind of satisfaction. It feels as if a completion of life to this point is being made. I find myself waiting for activities of the day to end so I can enjoy the blissful solitude of my own surroundings and wait for nightfall without interruptions. The darkness somehow feels safer for me now. There is nowhere, except for here, where I have to venture. I fall into the void of sleep with no thoughts of waking until the morning sun forcefully opens my eyes.

I am on a journey. It is not unlike journeys I have taken before except for the absence of a fixed timetable but this journey is internal, not external. Whenever I take journeys out into the world, I always come back with stories and experiences to share with friends. Small tokens commemorating the places to which I traveled. Pictures, postcards, etc.  I always come back a different person than the one who started the adventure initially but this journey is proving to be much different from those  I have taken before.

At first I thought I might be in a state of depression except for the fact that my feelings are not out of hopelessness or inadequacy nor are they out of synchronization with the events taking place in the outside world. It is more of a transition. A transformation of sorts. A transformation which takes me to my depths, rattles my brain, and challenges all my beliefs once again. I could blame these feelings on my aging and the facing of my impending death but I think it is more than a sense of doom. It is in a word, “acedia.” I know acedia is defined as “spiritual or mental sloth; apathy” in today’s English dictionary, but I prefer the medieval Latin and more philosophical spelling and definition to the modern psychological one. In Latin, accidie, as it was spelled, is a state that inhibits pleasure and prompts the rejection of life.* Thomas Aquinas associated it with the turning of one’s back on things, a torpor of spirit. Acedia is often translated as sloth, which is actually quite different.

The conditions of such a journey make it difficult to share with friends. I cannot explain something I am in the middle of experiencing myself. I have no photographs of pristine mountains covered with glistening white snow and no stories to share from fellow travelers met along the way. What I can share is this. The journey of transformation is one to be taken on numerous occasions throughout our lives. As soon as you finish with one, another waits on the sidelines to grab you and wisps you away. This type of journey requires a strength of belief. Not in a religious sense, as in a god, but a belief in oneself. A strength you may not even know was possible until you experience it firsthand and like those journeys taken into the outside world, you will return a much different person than when you entered. You will return with a greater truth and belief in yourself and your place in the world. Your awareness, acceptance, and understanding of life will be enhanced by the discoveries you learn about yourself. There is no preparation you can make ahead of time. There is no gear to pack and no magic wand can assist you along this journey. One does not take such a journey with plans to return to where one started nor do you know where or when it will end.

This life, in the end, is but a preparation for our final journey toward death. I believe the real journey starts when our essence or spirit is free of this body. I have loved and I have been loved. I do not ask for anything more.

I wish you well.

 

*Blackburn, Simon. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Walton Street, Oxford, England OX2 6DP: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Hope — A Parable

vcxa8286The pumpkin vine slowly crept upwards into the papaya tree. It was unsure if the papaya would accept her but she went anyway. Slowly climbing higher and higher above the safety of the familiar earth the vine put out a flower, a bright yellow one as an offering to the papaya. Then as its courage increased, the pumpkin flower gave birth to a small fruit.

At first the papaya laughed at the small pumpkin. She was green just like them but as she grew larger and rounder, they could tell she was different. She grew alone, not like the papaya who always grew together in bunches. They were neighborly to the pumpkin but she knew the papaya talked about her behind her back. She didn’t care. Her hope had been fulfilled. She had borne fruit and was free, hanging like a cloud high above the ground.

Hope is a state of consciousness. I think of hope as the perpetual energy inborn in every life form so that it might achieve its entelechy, its end result. Hope is about fulfillment. This is why hope is always in the future. It is not a present consciousness state.

In ancient Greek mythology, Hope remained at the bottom of Pandora’s box after evils flew out into the world. She was humankind’s final salvation from himself.

289b0-img_2536 Pumpkin In Papaya Tree, Fiji 2013

In most of the world’s religions, hope is an essential concept in the promise of an eternal life or afterlife. The exchange of good karma today for a better future tomorrow, but tomorrow is not a defined time frame. It could be this lifetime or another lifetime. Hope is always about a future desire.

On a purely biological stand our hope is simply the perpetuation of our species. The vine gives way to the flower, the flower grows the pumpkin, and the pumpkin produces the seeds to start the process all over again. Which came first? The pumpkin or the seed is a discussion for another day.

Personally, I don’t spend a lot of time in hope. Hope may enable a person to endure the longings of whatever it is they hope to change but it has no influence on the outcome. That would be faith which is different from hope. Hope details a desired outcome. A wish based upon a desire. It removes our focus from what is in front of us, from the present moment, into what might be a future possible outcome.

Returning to the parable of the pumpkin, our hope is fulfilled once the life cycle is completed. As I age, I have very little use for hope. I have faith and experience. At some point in time I will cease to exist but I have a great deal of hope for life and this planet and a much better 2019 for everyone.

Happy New Year!

Faith And Hope

I believe hope is part of our existence. I personally don’t like to spend a lot of time living in hope because I think to much hope causes one to not take action on his own behalf. My greater self is life. My presence here is a miracle. We can contribute that miracle to a god, to the universe, or to the accidental combination of elements coming together at the same moment. That we believe in something greater than ourselves is necessary for our consciousness to evolve and for us to go on living when confronted with despair. I believe in the miraculous and the impossible. I have experienced both. I believe in the strength of life and accept death as part of its cycle.

Thoughts are energy and what we think and believe is the energy that determines our actions. Our beliefs will always be challenged by life and maybe that is where faith comes into play. The faith one has in his/her beliefs. Joseph Campbell once remarked that he did not need faith because he had experience. Some think experience is stronger than faith. I do not know. It is a question philosophers, scientists, and theologians have examined for centuries, and it is those differences in beliefs which unite and divide us in the same world. A terrorist and a priest both have faith in their beliefs even if they oppose one another. Most all of the conflicts on this planet today are about differences in beliefs. My invisible god vs. your invisible god. The middle east and many of the African nations are the battle grounds. These same conflicts between men and nations with different ideologies have existed from the beginning of time. I do not have an answer as to why.

I do however have faith, not in a god, but in life itself. I believe that no matter what man does to his fellowman, to the species of the earth, or to the planet itself, life will survive. Perhaps only as the single molecule which started the whole process. Life having existed can never be completely destroyed. I believe the sun will rise tomorrow, that a full moon will appear again in 28 days, and that love is the most powerful force in life. Moreover, I have faith in my belief.