From the BlogMeet Ron

JULY 21,2017 OUR GROUP 23 OF MORNING HOTSHOTS

JULY 21,2017 OUR GROUP 23 OF MORNING HOTSHOTS

DAILY

Freedom
“Looking back we see that our freedom to choose badly was not, after all, a very real freedom. When we chose because we ‘must,’ this was not a free choice either. But it got us started in the right direction. When we chose because we ‘ought to’ we were really doing better. This time we were earning some freedom, making ourselves ready for more. But when, now and then, we could gladly make right choices without rebellion, holdout, or conflict, then we had our first view of what perfect freedom under God’s will could be like.” 
Bill W., May 1960 1988 AA Grapevine
The Language of the Heart, p. 302 
Thought to Consider . . . 
Within our wonderful new world,
we have found freedom from our fatal obsession. 
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VERNON HOWARD

Do not be impatient with your seemingly slow progress. Do not try to run faster than you presently can. If you are studying, reflecting and trying, you are making progress whether you are aware of it or not. A traveler walking the road in the darkness of night is still going forward. Someday, some way, everything will break open, like the natural unfolding of a rosebud.
Vernon Howard
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DAILY REFLECTIONS JULY 21
A PRICELESS GIFT
By this time in all probability we have gained some measure of release from our more devastating handicaps. We enjoy moments in which there is something like real peace of mind. To those of us who have hitherto known only excitement, depression, or anxiety – in other words, to all of us – this newfound peace is a priceless gift.
— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 74
I am learning to let go and let God, to have a mind that is open and a heart that is willing to receive God’s grace in all my affairs; in this way I can experience the peace and freedom that come as a result of surrender. It has been proven that an act of surrender, originating in desperation and defeat, can grow into an ongoing act of faith, and that faith means freedom and victory.
From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics
Anonymous World Services, Inc.

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We already live in a Perfect Universe,
but It needs to be seen mentally before
It can become a part of our experience.
Ernest Holmes


I stop drinking I get crazy in the head, 
my feelings get Amplified. 
Anonymous 


“Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
 
Remember the plants, trees,
animal life who all have their families, 
their histories too. 
Talk to them, listen to them. 
They are alive poems.
JOY HARJO
 
 
Why do you stay in prison
When the door is so wide open?” 
― Jalaluddin Rumi, The Essential Rumi


A COURSE IN MIRACLES  individual commentary on daily
ACIM Workbook Lesson 204 Insights
Review: “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.”
“The Name of God is my inheritance.”
It is helpful to me to look at the symbolism of the “Name” of God. When a botanist identifies the name of a plant, that name is a reference to all the characteristics of that plant, including its heritage. When that plant reproduces, the reproduction is given the same name. So a botanist, when told the name of a plant, knows the full description of that plant. In the same way, the Name of God encompasses the full description of God, all that God is. It does not matter what word we use as the Name of God. The word is a symbol of all that God is.
 
Since the Name of God is my inheritance, His Name also represents all that I am. This is a very different image than I have held of myself. All God is, I am. To the ego, this statement is arrogant. But the real arrogance is the denial of this statement, because it is saying I know better than God what I am. God gave me His Name and all of His characteristics. It is time to let go of the arrogance of the ego that refuses God’s gifts.
 
Holy Spirit, help me today to see the Name of God in everyone, including myself. Help me see past the false images made to hide the reality in everyone. I am willing to accept the Name of God as my inheritance, for I recognize I am not a body. I am free. I am still as God created me.
 
What stands out to me in this lesson is that I am not slave to time. I am unbound by laws which rule the world of sick illusions. So many times I do think I am slave to time and I do think I am bound by laws of the world. This means I still have a lot of mind healing work to do. This means I still need to continue to deny the denial of the truth. Accepting sick illusions is really not helpful to me nor to anyone else. I do not need to continue doing this. I can step back from these beliefs and that is my practice today.
 
When I have an open mind, the Holy Spirit will help me by bringing in a new, unlimited perception. It is my job to keep my mind open and not repeat the past. The ego groove may be deep through many repetitions, but with the Holy Spirit’s help, I can step out of that ego groove. It takes my willingness to not assume anything. It takes my willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit.
 
Following the Holy Spirit’s lead, I find I am not bound to the laws of the world. I am under no laws but God’s. Why should I delay freedom? Why should I continue repeating sick illusions of separation? The time is now. The Holy Spirit will show me I am not slave to time. The Holy Spirit will make things simple. My job is to step back and listen. This is my practice today, for I am not a body. I am free. I am still as God created me. This is true now and forever.
 
Yes, I am under no laws but God’s and this is why my function is to have the willingness to surrender in each moment to the Voice Within me for everything. My only desire is to hear God’s Voice in every moment, to see with the Vision of Christ.
 
When I hear and see with the body’s ears and eyes, I am identifying with the body and then I do not know what anything is for, nor what anything means. When I rely on the Voice within, the Holy Spirit, for everything, I realize I am not a body, I am free, I am still as God created me. The name of God is my inheritance because God’s Voice lives in me. I know this is true. When I hear His Voice in every moment and see with His eyes, the Vision of Christ is given me. I then realize total oneness with all. God is all and so am I.
© 2003, Pathways of Light. http://pathwaysoflight.org
You may freely share copies of this with your friends,
provided this copyright notice and website address are included.
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God is the Eternal Consciousness,
unchanging and indivisible,
in which the illusions of time (change)
and space (division) present an infinite
variety of forms interacting in a progressive
mode of past, present, and future.
Paramahansa Yogananda

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Philosophy and Buddhism as Ways of Life
Posted on May 29, 2017 by dhivanthomasjones
Socrates
 
One of the best essays, in my view, in Philosophy as a Way of Life is ‘The Figure of Socrates’. Hadot brings alive how Socrates, who wrote nothing and whom we only know through the testimonies of Plato and Xenophon, was a true philosopher in that he knew that he was ignorant. He knew, that is, that he did not possess wisdom, he did not know what the human good consisted in, but he was impassioned in his desire for wisdom and for knowledge of the good. In his commitment to philosophy he engaged anyone willing to talk in searching dialogue. What is virtue? What is knowledge? What is the good life? But it was not as though Socrates even expected to find answers in his discussions. Rather, in a spirit of what appears to have been irony, he allowed his interlocutors to voice their thoughts, before asking questions which quickly showed they were as ignorant and confused as he was. But there was a love and longing, an eros in this constant questioning, which itself was Socrates’ way of life, and which had the effect of setting off the whole subsequent tradition of philosophical enquiry into the human good.
 
Hadot’s re-enlivening of the ancient conception of philosophy has prompted excitement among western Buddhists. Was the teaching of the Buddha, rather than being a set of systematic doctrines, more like the communication of spiritual exercises? Should we think of the Dharma less as doctrine and more as discourses or views that support and explain the essentially practical teaching of the path? Were there exercises and attitudes in common between ancient Greek philosophy and ancient Indian Buddhism? It turns out, however, that, whatever the similarities might be between philosophy and Buddhism, there are many differences. The ancient Indian context in which Buddhism arose starts from very different assumptions. Yet philosophically-minded scholars have begun making the connections more explicit.[ii]
 
Part of the reason, I think, for a kind of lull after the initial excitement, is that Hadot’s book Philosophy as a Way of Life does not do much more than open the door onto an interesting-looking garden. Hadot’s subsequent book, What is Ancient Philosophy?,[iii] goes the next step. It introduces the idea of philosophy as a way of life more systematically. Again, the whole tradition starts with Socrates. But this time we are introduced to the Hellenistic schools of philosophy (Epicureanism, Stoicism, Skepticism) where philosophy was practiced as a way of life. Hadot presents each school as representing an existential choice, and as developing its distinctive methods around the implications of that choice. For instance, Epicureanism represents the experience of the body (the “flesh” as Hadot puts it) as constantly in thrall to pleasure and pain. The fundamental existential choice that the Epicurean makes is to learn to find a constant reliable pleasure, for only pleasure is intrinsically good and only pain is intrinsically bad. This involves a philosophical therapy of our desires, based on a constantly practiced investigation of our pleasures and pains. All this has some close parallels in the teaching of the Buddha, about which I hope to write more elsewhere.
 
Nevertheless, despite or perhaps because of the added detail of What is Ancient Philosophy?, the reader is forced back upon the conclusion that all this philosophy as a way of life is now history. The ancient schools which maintained the living practices and communities of thought are long gone. In fact, Hadot traces the eclipse of philosophy in the late Roman Empire and the transformation of philosophy in medieval Christian Europe into something rather different. By contrast, Buddhism is a living spiritual tradition, with continuities of practice and community that remain effective. Nevertheless, it is intriguing to explore ways in which Buddhist philosophy overlap at least in general ways with ancient Greek conceptions. The exploration might continue the cultural dialogue that is bringing into being western forms of Buddhist life.
 
While Pierre Hadot died in 2010, his work has prompted further explorations in uncovering philosophy as a way of life. I have recently read Pursuits of Wisdom by John Cooper,[iv] which takes off where Hadot ends. Cooper is a senior scholar of Greek philosophy at Princeton, hence immersed in the whole subject from an ‘expert’ perspective. He writes that he found the theme for his book after discovering Hadot. Although inspired and stimulated by Hadot’s approach, Cooper found two problems in it: firstly, that Hadot almost completely omits the central role of reason and argument in ancient philosophy, and, secondly, that he treats the very different approaches of the various philosophical schools as too much alike. So, he characterises the different nature of the aims and methods of six approaches to philosophy as a way of life (that of Socrates, Aristotle, Epicureanism, Stoicism, Skepticism, and Neoplatonism). And, most valuably, he discerns for each the central role of reasoning and argument in explaining the basic existential choice of each approach, and in the ongoing communal philosophical life of each. Cooper’s book is not easy, but is designed to be thought over carefully, and is a rewarding read.
 
His chapter on Epicureanism, for instance, draws out exactly how the Epicureans analysed the nature of pleasure, to produce arguments that would help in the therapy of desire. They distinguished between two kinds of pleasure: ‘kinetic’ and ‘katastematic’. Kinetic pleasures are those we experience when actively doing something to avoid pain and gain pleasure, such as eating, drinking, having sex. Katastematic pleasure is that stable, constitutional pleasure or sense of well-being that comes from being free of bodily pain and aware of one’s own existence. Based on the fundamental recognition that pleasure alone is good, Epicureans therefore reasoned that we should train ourselves to identify the katastematic pleasure that is constant and reliable, while practicing the observation of the changing nature of kinetic pleasure, which turns to pain when satiated. The therapy of desire that follows this analysis of pleasure distinguishes between desires which are natural and necessary (like those for food and water), desires which are natural and unnecessary (like those for luxury foods) and desires which are groundless (like those for wealth and fame). To be truly happy, which is our human good, is to learn to rest in the stable katastematic pleasure that becomes possible when one’s desires are limited to those easy to acquire, simple natural pleasures such as nourishing food and good friendship. All this bears some comparison to aspects of the meditative culture of pleasure in Buddhism, which is intriguing.
 
Yet Cooper’s work is essentially that of the reconstruction of ancient thought. How we might practice philosophy as a way life today – that is a different question. How we might commit ourselves to an existential choice that leads to the possibility of an ongoing philosophical quest for the human good – that is an exciting question. It is one that Buddhism is already answering, in its own way (or ways). To bring Buddhism into dialogue with the ongoing research into how philosophy was once a way or ways of life is very exciting indeed.
 
[i] Pierre Hadot, 1995. Philosophy as a Way of Life, ed. Arnold Davidson and trans. Michael Chase. Oxford: Blackwell. The introduction by Arnold Davidson is worth reading for itself.
[ii] A couple of recent contributions are: Matthew Kapstein, 2013. ‘“Spiritual Exercise” and Buddhist Epistemologists in India and Tibet’, in Steven Emmanuel, ed., A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp.270–89; and Douglass Smith and Justin Whitaker, 2016. ‘Reading the Buddha as a Philosopher’, Philosophy East and West 66:2, pp.515–38.
[iii] Pierre Hadot, 2002. What is Ancient Philosophy? trans. Michael Chase. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
[iv] John E. Cooper, 2012. Pursuits of Wisdom. Princeton University Press
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Sincerely,
Ron Richey
545 Queen St.#701
Honolulu, Hi 96813

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