philosophy

Hope

Today I'm thinking about Hope!

It's something we all need, especially when things aren't going so well for us or when we are lost, or when we are grieving.

As I explained in Sunday's daily blog, this evening in Jersey there will be a service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving to allow us to celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have died. It'll be a moving hour with some reflective and uplifting music, prayers, thoughts, readings and poems.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, many of us may have lost people, loved ones, and we may not have been able to remember them or say 'farewell' in the way we may have wished because of the lockdown restrictions. But this service is also for us to remember anyone who was and is still important to us ...I've been privileged to produce the hour for Funeral Directors Pitcher and Le Quesne, so I've spent many hours looking at different poems and readings to inspire and comfort those who will be with us this evening.

One of the readings to be included in the service at St Thomas' (Roman Catholic) Church in St Helier is this one ... a profound 'thought' from Henri Nouwen, who was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian who has left us a huge legacy of words.

Nouwen was a complex character and this is traced through some of his writings, and much of what he wrote about - faith, loneliness, self-esteem, acceptance and other personal struggles - helps us to identify with his and our humanity. I find his words and writings inspirational!

This is just one of Nouwen's 'thoughts' and if today you're struggling, for whatever reason, I hope this brings you some hope.

If you are sad - I wish you comfort and hope.

If you are grieving - may hope help you to see beyond the pain.

If you feel you are getting nowhere - may hope enable you to see into a future!

And if you're in Jersey and you wish to join us this evening at St Thomas' at 7pm, you'll be very welcome.

 

Hope Henri Nouwen

 

 


Give Thanks

Spiritual thoughts come from many different directions, and I think this year so far I've turned to a few in this daily blog. 

Today I turn to the wisdom of a man called Tecumseh who lived in the late 18th and early 19th century in what is now 'America'.

He was a chief of the Shawnee tribe and a warrior who resisted the expansion of the United States onto Native American lands. He wanted to draw  the different tribes to his cause so he travelled widely trying to encourage different indigenous peoples to support the resistance to the expansion of the 'incomers' who were determined to take over their lands. This resulted in a Native American confederacy and although his efforts to unite Native Americans ended with his death in the War of 1812, his legacy did not die with him. Tecumseh has become an iconic folk hero in American, Indigenous, and Canadian popular history.

Native Americans were and are a very spiritual people, with a culture, philosophy and spirituality close to the land and nature, animals and the universe, and although Tecumseh and his peoples lived so long ago and in very different times, some of the thoughts that have been handed down through the centuries are profound and are really pertinent to our circumstances today. They go to the heart of what it is to be 'human' and that is so thought-provoking.

So, for this Saturday, here's one of those wise Native American thoughts ... attributed to Tecumseh himself.

Once you've asked yourself these challenging questions ... Have a happy day !

Saturday thanks


Wise Words on a Friday

Rather than me rattling on today, here's a profound thought for a Friday from someone much wiser than me.

The current and 14th Dalai Lama - the title is one that is bestowed by the Tibetan people to the leading spiritual leader of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, which I read is the  the newest and most dominant of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. And he's also one of the wisest people around.

Yes I know this is a bit deep for a Friday but we have the weekend to reflect on it and think about what it means for us.

I've read it quite a few times and every time I do I see something new in the wisdom.

Hope you find it helpful. 

Have a good day everyone!


Dalai Lama quote

 


Do Something

At the start of a new week, let's take a moment to think of the days ahead.

We have no idea what will come, or how the days will pan out for us.  

But even if we can't determine what will happen to us, there is one thing we can control ... and that's our own behaviour. 

I love this thought for a Monday ... and I don't know about you, but I think it's a great way to start the week.

Let's not spend our days feeling angry, or bitter, jealous, or sad about things we can't control.  Let's not dwell on the things we don't have or the opportunities that have not come our way.

Instead, let's do things that we're proud of. Let's be kind to each other. Let's reach out a helping hand to another. Let's find the positive in all things, where possible. Let's be grateful for what we have rather than being resentful that we have not been given things that we think are owed us, or that we see others enjoying.

Reaching out to others, being that 'friend' and going out of our way to make a difference in our world - maybe that's what we need to aspire to this week.

A positive mindset won't just help others, it will have an impact on our own wellbeing and that has to be something to be thankful for! 

Have a great week everyone!

 

Monday Future Self


Always be ...

Just a quick thought for this Tuesday!

Apart from anything else, this picture features Winnie the Pooh ... one of my favourites. .. a poet and a leader and just full of fun. And his friend Tigger, full of energy and optimism ... What a pair!

May we always be like Pooh and Tigger and have good friends around us.

And may we always be all of these things!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

 

Tuesday Acrostic


A Time for Everything

We've had a lovely weekend in Jersey, with lots of sunshine and the temperatures still warm. It's been glorious!

But last night, for the first time, it felt like there was a nip in the air ... and what with the leaves beginning to turn, it really feels like summer is turning to autumn.

I'm reminded at times like this that each season of the year brings with it challenges and joys. Autumn, or Fall, brings harvest and a reminder of what the world has to offer, so long as we take care of it. 

Autumn is also a time of preparation for winter, when we maybe hunker down a bit ... well I do anyway. A time to maybe not rush around quite so much as I have in the summer. A time to appreciate home.

Every season of the year, every time of our lives, brings with it responsibilities,  demands on our time, periods of rest and recuperation, work and life, family and fun. As we grow older, I am finding, life takes on new perspectives. The dreams I had as a young person are now no longer so 'essential'. The sky won't fall in if I don't get all I want! I no longer worry much about what people think of me. I find myself becoming aware of the need to use the time left to me wisely, rather than worrying about things I cannot change. 

Time is a precious thing. Every day I learn a little more about that. And although I still yearn for a bit of 'adventure' in life, these days good health and good friends, love and security are the things I find myself cherishing  ...

Oh ... and a good night's sleep! 

In the Bible, in the Old Testament, in the book of Ecclesiastes, there are some words which talk about there being 'A Time for Everything' ... it pertains not just to people but also to nations and nature. It reminds us to use time wisely. As I said before, to cherish the moments we have been given. 

The words are encouraging, and challenging, and worth reflecting on. And at the beginning of a new week, it's worth thinking about.

I love the poetry of passages like this ... glorious!

Not sure what 'season' this is for you ... but as you read this maybe you'd like to think about your dreams and wishes and wants, priorities and the passage of time.

Be blessed!

There is a seasonA Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes Ch 3: verses 1-8)

 


Be The Change

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”.

It's a famous quote which lots of us have heard ... but do you know who said it?

Well it was a man called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - the man who we know now as 'Mahātmā,' Gandhi... and he was born on this day - October 2nd - in the year 1869 .


Mahatma-gandhi-be the changeGandhi was an Indian lawyer, an anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist and activist who is renowned for using  'nonviolent resistance' to lead the successful campaign which led to India's independence from British rule in 1947.

He was a hugely charismatic and inspiring character who, although he was wanting rid of the British Raj who had ruled over India since 1858, epitomised a 'way of peace'. 

At a time when others advocated militant guerrilla warfare against the British, he proposed an opposite way. He fasted to persuade others not to riot. In response to the British monopoly and taxes on salt - among other things, an essential for cooking and preserving food - Gandhi defied the salt laws not with violence or even by shouting, but by leading a Salt March, which ended with him making salt from seawater by evaporation. He had started his march in early 1930 with just 78 trusted followers but the long walk was 240miles and took 24 days, and along the way he was joined by thousands. It's reckoned by the time of the salt making at a place now called Dandi, more than 50,000 people were gathered to watch the act of defiance.

In fact, it inspired people to act similarly. When Gandhi broke the British Raj salt laws on 6 April 1930,  it started a movement of large scale acts of civil disobedience against the salt laws by millions of Indians. They felt empowered and inspired by their quiet leader's example. They saw 'another way'.

Gandhi's life and way of living and being meant that, even before this time in his life he was revered as a 'wise man'. His first political activism started in South Africa where he lived and worked as a young man and it was there back in 1914 that he was first given the honorary title 'Mahātmā  - which can be translated from the Sanskrit as "great-souled"and "venerable".

Mahatma Gandhi's way of nonviolent resistance has down the years inspired civil rights and freedom movements across the world. The idea of achieving goals like social change not through bombs and killings and violence but through quiet protests, civil disobedience and political and/or economic non-cooperation can be seen as 'weak' by some, but actually it's the opposite. It's the way of strength and resolve. It's the way of courage and understanding. It's the way of compassion and empathy.

I'm sure most of us have things we would like to change ... maybe we would like to change the world ... but often we look for outside factors to change before we look at ourselves. We think if we change the circumstances around us then THAT will result in the transformations we desire. 

But this quote from this wise man reminds us that if we want the world to change, we need to make that change happen first within ourselves. 

If we want a world where love is all around, maybe we need to start by being more loving ourselves. If we don't want a world where argument reigns, then we need to hold our tongues and use our own words wisely.

If we wish to live in a kind world, we may need to ensure WE are kind first.

If we want a society which is more understanding, then we need - I think - to practice being more understanding. If we're not tolerant how can we expect our world to be a tolerant place?

So today, let's think about the change that WE might have to be, if we are to see a changed world. It's profound, and challenging, and it may mean we need to completely turn OUR lives around.

What a challenging philosophy! But imagine what the world could look like if we are that change!

Have a great day everyone!

 

 

 


An Eskimo Proverb

For this Sunday I'm sharing a thought from Eskimo or Inuit spirituality. 

It's not something I know much about except that it appears to be a fairly simple philosophy ...  but I love this thought.

The more I read this to myself, and out loud, the more I realise that although the words seem simplistic, it's meaning is profound and actually gets deeper the more I reflect on it.

If we're honest with ourselves, we don't need much in life, really, to be happy. Just warmth and light ... and peace in our relationships, hearts and minds.

We might think we need to surround ourselves with 'stuff' and to have all the latest gismos and on trend items in our homes, our wardrobes and in our garages or driveways ... but actually that is all materialistic and can be lost at any moment.

So, today, may we learn to be content with the simple things in life, the gifts that we have been given and the people who love us.

Have a great day everyone!

Eskimo Proverb


One Candle

Have you ever read 'War and Peace' ? 

It's a mammoth literary piece so not everyone gets to it ... my research tells me that it's 3,958 pages in four volumes and it took the author 10 years to complete. WOW!

That inspired writer was Leo Tolstoy. born on this day - September 9th - in the year 1828. Although there is a bit of a complication on the date ... go to the end of this blog to read more about that!

Tolstoy was an exceptional Russian writer, known not only for the aforementioned major tome published in 1869, but also Anna Karenina  (1878) and many more exceptional works including novels, short stories and novellas, plays and even philosophical essays. He actually received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906 and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909 but he never won either award!

What many people don't know is that in his forties, during the 1870s, Tolstoy went through a crisis which resulted in a spiritual awakening which led him to explore Christianity and the life of Jesus Christ, which is in turn caused him to become a  fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. In fact, I read that Tolstoy's ideas on nonviolent resistance influenced 20th century figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

But back to 'War and Peace' - I admit I have a copy but haven't managed to get through it. Yet. It's one of those things I plan to do when I have a year or two to spare. 

I should have read it really because part of my university degree was about modern Russian economic and social history and 'War and Peace' is set in the period before the Russian Revolution and the Soviet era. The novel includes the stories of five Russian aristocratic families - the kind of family that Tolstoy himself was born into - and covers their experiences from the French invasion of Russia in 1812, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society. It also includes chapters on philosophy and history, so it's a pretty good narrative on the culture and systems which preceded modern Russia.

As I said before, the book was first published serially and then in its entirety in 1869. It is still regarded as one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements and to this day remains an internationally praised classic of world literature.

Leo TolstoyThere are so many quotes attributed to Leo Tolstoy - not least from 'War and Peace'. But it's some of his more philosophical thoughts on love, life and faith as well as 'war and peace' that I am impressed by and which challenge my thinking and behaviour.

As I said, he did become a person of great faith and even though he was a controversial character I love this quote from him which looks at the impact we have on others. It's an insight into how our actions may affect the lives of those around us, and a reflection on how we treat others which may lift their spirts as well as our own.

It's also a reminder that one small act can ultimately impact not just one other person, but hosts of others, if the 'light' of kindness, compassion and love is passed on.

It's such a wise thought and it encourages me, today, to be a light in the world rather than adding to the darkness.

Now back to that 'complication' about the date of Leo Tolstoy's birth which I mentioned at the start.

Leo was actually born on August 28th 1828 ... but THAT was in what is known as the 'Old Style' dating system ... under what is known as the Julian calendar, In various European countries this dating system was replaced by the Gregorian calendar between 1582 and the twentieth century. And those using the Julian system 'lost' around 10 days of the calendar when they switched to the Gregorian way of calculating time.

That switch to what was known in Russia as the "Western European calendar" was implemented in Soviet Russia in February 1918 - which effectively meant that the Julian dates of 1–13 February 1918 were dropped. One day it was the 30th January and then everyone woke up to the 14th of February! That must have been really confusing.

And so, even though the change came almost a century after Tolstoy was born ... August 28th becomes September 9th! 

Happy birthday Leo!

 


In His Hands

Life is a Roller Coaster - there's a pop song which expresses that sentiment isn't there? 

And it's true! 

Ups and down, valleys and mountain tops. And life can change very quickly. One minute things are going along nicely, then something can happen which changes not just the present but the future - illness, bereavement, new opportunities, unexpected meetings. 

I've been thinking a lot about that recently. 

Sometimes the change is of our own making, and we can plan the transition from one phase to another, but at other times life is beyond our control.  

Stuff Happens.

It's Sunday so I'm having a spiritual thought or ten, and I'm encouraged by the fact that whatever life might throw at me I believe I'm not on my own.  My Christian faith reassures me that wherever life might take me, God is there, even if I don't always take notice of him. Even if he allows us to go through challenges, he doesn't desert us. And when we have joys beyond compare, he's also always there!

I'm in His Hands!

There's a great song which I think I have been singing all my life. It's popular in The Salvation Army church and the words are profound and encouraging.

Originally written by an American Salvation Army leader and musician, (Commissioner) Stanley E. Ditmer and the words are so deep and yet the message is also simple...

I'm in His handsI shall not fear though darkened clouds may gather round me;
The God I serve is one who cares and understands;
Although the storms I face would threaten to confound me,
Of this I am assured: I’m in His hands.

I’m in His hands, I’m in His hands;
Whate’er the future holds, I’m in His hands;
The days I cannot see have all been planned for me;
His way is best, you see; I’m in His hands.

What though I cannot know the way that lies before me,
I still can trust and freely follow His commands;
My faith is firm since He it is who watches o’er me;
Of this I’m confident: I’m in His hands.

In days gone by my Lord has always proved sufficient,
When I have yielded to the law of love’s demands;
Why should I doubt that He would evermore be present
To make His will my own? I’m in His hands!

The song is in the Salvation Army Song Book (Hymn Book) and in recent years another brilliant songwriter and musician, Phil Laeger., has  re-imagined 'I'm in His Hands'  to another tune, using just the chorus which repeats that phrase and reassurance over and over. The interesting thing is that although it's a new tune, those who know the original melody to Commissioner Ditmer's classis song  will hear that tune coming through in the third rendition. 

This is a piece of music which I've listened to often in recent years, especially as my life has taken different and unexpected twists and turns. Life hasn't quite worked out as I might have planned but then I've been given opportunities which I might never have had if I had got all my 'dreams' and 'wishes'.

I don't know where in your Life's Journey you are today ... but I share this with you, simply hoping that it will bring you encouragement, comfort, inspiration and peace.

Happy Sunday! And Be Blessed!