Witchcraft & Politics

This ran as an article in the Washington Post "On Faith" section in response to their question: Vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin will debate this week. What would you ask them about their religious beliefs and why?

If Joe Biden and Sarah Palin aren’t asked about religion in their upcoming debate, that would be healthy. The fact that the right wing has profited handsomely from the religious issue doesn’t make it fair or even constitutional. Nor does it offset the harm they have done. The Constitution kept God out of politics in order to avoid the inflamed conflict that has mired this country since the Reagan revolution. But as long as religion does play a part, voters will keep casting ballots for their favorite brand of God. Therefore, I’d like to see the moderator for the next debate ask Sarah Palin if she gained the governorship of Alaska by exorcising witches at the behest of an African minister who prayed over her.

The YouTube video that shows that event is embarrassing enough, but my intention wouldn’t be to embarrass Palin further. My intention would be to point out the absurdity and wrongness of turning religion into politics. As a Catholic, Joe Biden is entitled to hold beliefs that would disturb practicing Buddhists, Muslims, and atheists. Whatever position he takes on Jesus as savior of the world should be private. Sarah Palin should also be allowed to throw chicken bones in the privacy of her living room. But Palin, riding the crest of right-wing fundamentalism, insists that religion become a litmus test. Having done that, it’s her own fault if she is exposed for her primitive beliefs. Being as far out of the mainstream as she is, the public should find out the truth.

Getting God out of the voting booth is a process, and hopefully that process took a step forward with the revelations about Palin and her belief that the Almighty awarded her the governorship as a kind of gold star for church attendance. The drawbacks of such a view are enormous, but most people don’t see them.

— If success in this world means that God loves you, then he must be punishing those who aren’t successful. Poverty, for example, means you have offended God. Armed with that logic, there’s no reason to pass social legislation to help the disadvantaged.

— Since many people are unsuccessful or have various troubles, they must need conversion. As a result, enormous pressure gets put on them to believe in God. Using this logic, the Bush administration has tied aid to Africa to an ulterior motive, making the recipients accept Christianity.

— It’s clear that many people do succeed without going to church or holding strong religious beliefs. These people become alien and threatening because they expose a weakness in your belief system. Using this logic, the God-fearing condemn atheists and liberals as Godless. They war against Communism for the same moral failing.

Once intolerance toward unbelievers becomes God’s will, true believers can oppose and harm their opponents as much as they want. A loving God becomes a God of exclusion and social division. It goes without saying that we’ve been seeing a lot of that over the past few decades.

In the end, my innate desire to leave Sarah Palin in peace is something she wouldn’t accord to others — Communists, Muslims, atheists, probably Catholics — if she had her way. Should she land in the White House, she’d have her way as never before. The bottom line is that we have been tolerating her ilk, including George Bush, for a long time, and yet they proudly march under the banner of intolerance. If we can back away from using God as a political propaganda, we will also see a decrease in the number of intolerant religionists who manage to reach the corridors of power.

Release Your Guilt

Guilt is the servant of the past. When we hold onto guilt, our attention, energy and intent, which are present now, are focused on what is no longer there. When we feel guilty and/or engender guilt in others we are blocking our acceptance that the past is over. This process renders our only true moment of creativity and freedom — The Present — utterly useless.

This is not to say that we deny what has occurred or just say it’s okay. What it means is it is essential that we come to the passionate realization that we no longer want to be held prisoner by the past. This commitment to present moment awareness brings with it the ability to release ourselves from the bondage of the past allowing us to utilize the only time we have …NOW… to facilitate our freedom.

Forgiveness and the release of guilt is not a onetime deal but a continual process. Whenever we find ourselves engrossed in the past we have an opportunity to release ourselves and others by enthusiastically shifting our awareness to the present moment.

When we cultivate guilt in our lives by reliving the past we foster an environment where guilt will thrive and our future will unfold accordingly. When we cultivate forgiveness and release of guilt in our lives we nurture and develop an environment where the need to do so abates.

We release guilt through forgiveness and we forgive by releasing guilt. To truly create the future we desire it is necessary to actively understand that the origin of the future is NOW and what we cultivate is what we create.

Eid Mubarak!

I don’t know much bout Islam and sp don’t want to even try tp write about it less I put my foot in my mouth…! But tomorrow is the national holiday in Trinidad and Tobago for Eid-Ul-Fitr that marks the end of the month of fasting for Muslims called Ramadan. The most I know about the celebrations myself from outside of the religion is that sawine (a dish made with vermicelli, ghee and milk) is served and usually muslims do give sawine to other non-muslim neighbours etc. Also many non-muslims take part in the festival in a non-religious way by preparing sawine in their homes themselves.

Based on my lack of knowledge about the religion and that I’ve not been able to contact a guest blogger to talk bout the topic in time…but next year for sure! I have decided to post two videos from Youtube below. One is about the five pillars of Islam which I think is a good general outline of the religion for those who don’t know much about it. (me included but I know as much that the five pillars is a big basic part) The other is a vid about Sufism or Sufi Islam which is as far as I know not practiced much in Trinidad and Tobago but was made famous globally through the poetry of Rumi. And I do know a little bit about Sufism as I had researched it once for some writing I was doing and I was always intrigued by the whirling dances and just pure fun I had heard was practiced in it. So I can’t help but include this quote from the book: Rumi The Persian, The Sufi by A. Reza Arasteh-Dept. of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, George Washington University, Washington D.C. First published in Iran 1965, And in Great Britain in 1974 by Routledge & Keagan Paul Ltd., London.

Here is the quote:- Chpt. II-Rebirth in Love and Creativity:An Analysis of Rumi, Pg.49

‘According to his son, Sultan Walad, Rumi expressed himself in whirling dances for days and nights; he gave away what he possessed, mostly to the musicians, but he still appeared restless. The onlookers were surprised that such a Mufti of Islam should dance like a mad man!(as said by his son Sultan Walad)’

Also what I will say under the banner of UniversalCollectivePrayer which is the title and purpose of this blog is that for sure in Trinidad and Tobago, Muslims and Hindus get along much better than our ancestors would have historically and much better than in some parts of India currently for sure! And perhaps it is the beauty of diaspora, where, away from their homelands, people are forced to adapt and start to learn to be more tolerant of differences and over time this tolerance becomes acceptance… Or as is famously said in Trinidad- ‘The Brotherhood of the Boat-Jahaji Bhai’

Happy Eid Holiday to all and hope you find the vids both entertaining and informative.

Is Meditation Dangerous?

Question to Deepak Chopra:

I have recently begun the practice of Trataka meditation. It seems most powerful. I have read some things warning that the advanced forms are "dangerous" without the guidance of a teacher or guru. In the past couple of years, I have experienced what I can only describe as a rapid vertical growth trajectory. Given my past experience with sudden and extreme Kundalini, I’m wondering what is meant by "dangerous" and if I should be concerned about this. While this whole opening and re-awakening thing is still pretty amazing, I don’t want to trigger another episode of the same confused, uncharacteristic and unexplainable personality behavior. Thanks for your advice.

Answer from Deepak Chopra:

The basic Trataka meditation uses vision as the means for focusing attention, and it involves gazing at such as a flame, a symbol or a geometric pattern as a vehicle for consciousness to refine and expand. The practice you are doing now is safe. If you decide you want to move on to the advanced practices in the future, then you can do so under a teacher’s guidance where your readiness and the suitability of the practice for you can be evaluated. I don’t know what the nature of your previous experiences were, but if you have had lengthy uncomfortable Kundalini experiences that you could not control, then you should proceed cautiously and under good guidance.

As a rule, meditation practices are certainly not dangerous for most people, but this kind of disclaimer or caution covers the rare case that something out of the ordinary happens. It’s similar to the notes at the bottom of an article or a DVD of some new exercise routine that tells you not to begin the exercises without first checking with your doctor. It’s there, not because the exercise is dangerous for most people, but because there will always be some individuals for whom that screening will be important.




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