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Obligation, Responsibility, Purpose, Joy, God, and Finding and Walking One’s Path.

April 27, 2010

What is Wisdom? It could be knowing something very important. Faith? Believing that important thing to be true, and acting on what one knows, on what wisdom one has. These definitions are imperfect, but as words are imperfect, I think the definitions will do.I will be discussing Faith and Wisdom in this blog, as well as what I have written in the title, and some other things besides.

A strange feeling came over me a few minutes ago.

I’ve had it before, in some variation, but not quite like this, and not often in general, I don’t think. The feeling could have been with me a long time though, buried in my unconscious somewhere. It is a sign of health that this feeling has arrived in my conscious mind at all.

The feeling, well it is a mix of things, but has to do with a word I don’t like to use that much because it implies responsibility. Responsibility to myself, and hmm.. who else?

The word is “purpose,” although that word doesn’t quite do the feeling, the meaning, justice.

Usually I’m not nearly healthy enough to pursue or even believe in such a thing as purpose. Mentally… that’s usually the problem, physical symptoms often being caused by mental difficulties.

And also, I tend, mostly because of these difficulties, both mental and physical, but especially mental, to be quite cynical.

“Purpose.” Hmm..

Yes, I had been terribly worried for months about determining a career goal for myself, and doing something useful at the same time.

Perhaps it is arrogance on my part. Do most people have a significant purpose, and if so, are they fulfilling this purpose? I would say that it is likely that everoyone has some sort of significant purpose, but not everyone fulfills it.

Do the jobs most people have fulfill a purpose, something very important, most significant.. ? Dare I hazard a guess? I would say, no, they do not. It can be tough enough to feed the kids, pay the bills, survive. Maybe survival is purpose enough, but I am looking for something deeper than just survival. Those of us who can do more than just survive, should do more. Shouldn’t we? We, in the industrialized West, or industrialized East for example, those of us fortunate enough to make more than what is required for our subsistence, those of us with at least a little money extra, and a little more leisure time. What could our purpose be? It us up to each individual to figure that out. And, I believe, it is more than just watching TV or playing golf.

What of me? I have struggled through many many years to identify my purpose, but have not had this peculiar feeling so clearly, except, as I already stated, on rare occasions.

Is it foolish, presumptuous, silly, even delusional to believe this feeling tells the truth, that I really do have the power, and the obligation, to do something significant? And, even if I do have the inborn talent, do I have the will? The will and the wisdom. The will to train myself to do whatever it is I am supposed to do, and the wisdom to know what that is.

Obligation? To whom do I owe my fealty, my services, my efforts? God?

Which leads me to a hopefully brief discussion of God. I have already gone into great detail on the subject of divinity and deities and other blogs, and won’t wade too deeply into it here.

Suffice to say, that I am mostly a non-Theist, at least in the traditional sense. Meaning, I do not believe in the conventional Yahweh, Jehovah, Trinitarian or Allah sort of God. No man in robes with white flowing beard pointing his finger in condemnation for me. No God to pray to or appease. And yet, would not making good on an obligation, a life debt even, be a form of appeasement? Or else, just paying one’s debt? And, what would one’s debt.. be?

A life debt, I said. I have been given life, therefore I have work to do.

Who has given me life? The obvious answer, of course, is my parents. But life in the broader sense, where has it come from? Shall we really believe that somehow life came from nothing. From out of the darkness of total and complete absence of anything, out sprang life?? Frankly, I feel that this perspective, that it was the big bang, which was caused by nothing and yet happened, and that everything else came from it, is hard to believe.

What then, of a creator? If everything in existence was created, was not the creator created as well? This is the argument of first cause. I do not know if there is a rational answer to this argument, which states that everything has to have had a cause, a first cause, even God. Where did God come from, doesn’t everything have to have a First Cause?

I think it best to leave some things a mystery I suppose, and just accept the word God as being something I can relate to. I have my own somewhat nebulous meaning for the word God, no other words quite work for it, although some use the word “Spirit,” others, such as those in the East, in India, specifically, use the word “Brahma.” That word can be confusing, because it not only means God in a pantheistic sense, but also is the name of one of their 3 chief gods, Shiva and Vishnu being the others.

The ancient Chinese came up with the concept of Tao. You can read about this in the book Tao Te Ching, written not by a man named Lao Tzu, even though it is his name on the cover, but rather, so historians claim, by any number of philosophers through many centuries to put the Great Mystery in words. The first thing they say is that this Great Mystery, this Tao, whatever it is, cannot be adequately described in words. “The Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao.”

So what is the Tao? I have, at this moment, only words at my disposal. The Tao, as I slightly understand the concept, is a force, perhaps THE force of life, that brings about change, and from what all life springs. It is ever present and has always been. Notice, I wrote “It,” not “He,” and not “She.” You cannot pray to this Tao, but you can move with it if you are wise, so the ancients say. You can notice its changes, and move with them, and in doing so, you will have a better, yea, even an effortless life.

However, moving with the Tao requires much wisdom and discipline and how to acquire that discipline is also somewhat of a mystery. One might guess you can get this wisdom by reading the Tao Te Ching, but good luck to you if you endeavor to decipher it. I have read the tome, but cannot claim to understand much of it. Perhaps a few others can, especially those in the East, who tend to think quite differently than Westerners like myself do.

I have a pantheistic way of thinking about, perceiving, and relating to God. God is all that is, God is in nature. I see God when I look into the eyes of an animal, whether it be domestic or wild, but more easily seen through the eyes of a wild animal. I sometimes work with wildlife, and stared for quite awhile into the eyes of a hawk, and have made visual contact with man other birds and some mammals as well. It is the hawk and some of the owls that I remember most clearly. Looking into the eyes of this particular Red Tail Hawk, one of the biggest that has needed assistance at the small wildlife rehabilitation hospital where I help out, I had the impression that it was God looking in on us humans, and saying a silent hello.

I see God not only in animals, but in plants – trees, shrubs, vines, flowers, crops, even weeds. I feel God in the wind, and weather. God is in the sun, and the clouds that for a little while obscure the clouds. God is in the moon, the stars, and in the black spaces in between.

Does this God have a personality, or for that matter, a personhood? Yes and no. Of course, that is the only rational answer, and it is not rational. I cannot comprehend even how this device works, this brilliant tool I am using to impart my words to you. If I cannot explain how this device works, or the workings of my body, how I can I fully define God? It would be a lousy God that is less complicated than my computer or my body.

Even so, we humans have the need, and believe we have the ability to define “God” in some way, and relate to whatever “God” is.

If I have an obligation to God, does that make God a “Person?” Not necessarily. God could just be God, in the pantheistic sense, and yet, still, be God, and if not the source of all life, then the sum of all life? And, since I am alive and somewhat capable of doing .. something, I therefore have the obligation to this source and/or sum of life.

What happens if I do not fulfill this obligation, whole or in part?

No punishment in the afterlife, no damnation, I believe, perhaps just the knowing that the world is a little poorer without the contribution I am supposed to make. But the world will survive, and the world will eventually pass, as I pass. All things change perhaps, and all things pass. Yet, it would, or should I say, will, be better if I fulfill my obligation, whatever that is, and perhaps I am fulfilling a small part of it now, by writing this blog, which may or may not be read, mayhap I should be more optimistic and believe of course it will be read, this blog you are reading now, at this very moment. It is part of what I need to do, or should I say should do, or am obligated to do.. or..

My feeling is that my life will be harder in some ways, but much better, if I do what it is I am here to do. I will put my hand to the plough, and till the soil, in my case, it might very well be the soil of the fertile imagination, instead of actual ground.

Am I here to write? Am I here to draw and otherwise create art? Am I here, to a lesser extent, to create music? Help out my parents and other relatives, write a few interesting blogs, assist some animals in their return to nature, whether it be through their recovery or through a kind death, if they cannot heal?

I don’t know, and yet, maybe I do.

Because of my disabilities, or should I say, my unique personality, I am limited, greatly limited in some ways. There is not much I can do that I know of, and I am somewhat kept from joining the human race, preferring to spend most of my time alone, and feeling rather uncomfortable at any school or job site. There some things I can do from home.

I feel that whatever it is I should do, and/or am doing at the moment – for example, writing this blog, what I need to do can and should bring in money – a decent living, so that I will not live off the system, be a financial burden to anyone – including myself, so that I may live a happier and healthier life, so that I may help others.

Every dollar I spend helps keep someone employed. That in itself is a good thing, even if the worker is being exploited to some degree, at least that worker is not starving.

That takes the worry away from spending money. I used to feel guilty about spending money – money spent on a good dinner at a nice restaurant, as opposed to giving that money to some charity which feeds starving people. However, if no people go to eat at that restaurant, then the people who own it, and the employees there, do not have a livelihood, and therefore suffer.

The main concern I have regarding spending money is spending it wisely. If I have enough spare cash to eat at a restaurant, and am not avoiding financial responsibilities to do so, then this is fine, but being in debt and going further in debt to buy an expensive meal is generally not wise, although there are some exceptions of course.

Responsibility, personal responsibility, that is part of my purpose. That is part of the proposed obligation, the one I am wondering about.

I need to be healthy and sane enough to be responsible. That is a simple fact.

So, when healthy, be more responsible, that is something I have figured out. And also, doing good things can make me more healthy. But I mustn’t get too uptight about it. Not uptight at all. Not worried or rushed.

Balance, that is important. It is impossible to make up for lost time, and hurrying a task, such as drawing a picture or practicing an instrument will not make that task be accomplished in a more superior manner than if I had not hurried. Quite the contrary. That old paragon of proverbial wisdom, “Haste makes Waste,” is so often true.

There is a good motto for musicians, and others as well, especially if one is approaching a task that is entirely unfamiliar, this motto I have seen in the piano classroom at school – “When I practice fast, I learn slow, when I practice slow, I learn fast.” I have not much been able to put the truth of these words into practice, and so far accept them primarily on faith, and my understand of logic, and how learning a musical instrument or a martial arts move work. One cannot execute a brilliant performance on an instrument, or a complex series of martial movements quickly at first. No, one must go slow, slow, slow, to first ensure accuracy. When doing something that requires skill, speed without accuracy is completely..useless.

So, I have a little bit of wisdom and perhaps the tiniest bit of faith. Faith the size of a mustard seed,  which is all that is required to move mountains? Frankly, I’ve ever quite understood that quote. Does it just mean all it takes to accomplish great things is just a tiny little bit of faith? Or is the meaning more obscure, more esoteric? I think we humans have the bad habit of so often making things more complex than they need to be.

If a little faith is all I require, then I have what I need. And the mountain to move? It is the mountain made of doubts, fears, cynicism, depression, distraction, and obstacles. Can such a small faith move this mountain? Maybe it can. If I really really want it to.

I don’t know. I am different from one day to the next. Most days, almost too incapacitated to do much at all. But, I am thinking, maybe doing much is not required. Doing a little each day and believing in what I do, that what little I do will accomplish great things, is more than sufficient. This is also faith.

Wisdom and faith, good, but also, direction is needed. And I feel that might be less clear, the direction I am supposed to take, but perhaps the fog is quite thin, and even at least somewhat self-generated. I am not allowing things to be clear, because if I can clearly see the road, then I have to walk it.

The road to walk, for me it is definitely one less traveled, it might even seem absurd to walk this road, but what other road can I walk? I have much time on my hands, I have a computer, I have writing and drawing utensils, I have some aptitude, I have books on words, on writing, on art, books and materials for learning foreign languages. I have many instruments. I might even have too many skills to choose from.

It is often easier to not walk at all, regardless of what I have in my possession, be these things innate talents or material things I can utilize. It is often much easier to spend almost my time watching a film, reading a novel, wasting what time I have, because to do otherwise requires courage and clarity. These things can be summoned up, even if they don’t readily appear in my conscious mind, but this takes effort and, as I mentioned, faith.

I suppose the only way to predict the future is to make it happen. One has to choose one’s future and bear down upon it. In truth, there is much we cannot control, but there are some things we can. We can control more than we think, if we are brave enough. And often this bravery is really nothing more or less than experiencing fear and confusion, and yet doing whatever it is we need to do anyway.

I do not know what I will do tomorrow, or even later today.  Through most of my life, I have tended to practice the art of intended misdirection, intentionally blurring of the perception of the path, so that I stumble, then just lay down, or wander in the wilderness of my own mind. Thinking, erroneously, that this is easier and better. Easier at first perhaps, but not if one looks at the broader picture.

At times though, many times, I am indeed too ill to pursue much of anything, and need to put on a film or read a story to help myself get through. But, to be honest, part of this is only because I’ve trained myself this way, trained myself to watch a movie instead of write or draw. I believe I can train myself to reap redemptive and restorative rewards from profitable activities, such as art, music, and creating messages and stories for others to read.

I have to accept my obligations when able to do so, and train myself slowly slowly to be patient, have the right mind, the right perspective and attitude with which to work, to do the work I need to do, whatever it be.

And for God, I will have to let that concept, that reality be whatever it is in my mind, what ever it is that I can relate to. God, Nature, etc. is telling me there is no judgment, but instead the fact that if I walk the path, my life will be the better for it. I will have more peace, more joy.

At least, that is what I understand this feeling to mean.

But it also means a burden. Obligations are not light things to bear, even if there is no judgment, there is somehow a responsibility. I cannot articulate this part of the feeling well at all. It is best to pay the debt, and there are consequences, naturally occurring consequences, if I do not.

Considering there is no judgment from whatever the divine is, apart from natural consequences, I can try to think and act in a non-judgmental way, especially toward myself, and I am much much harder on myself than others. If I can take away the harsh burden of self-judgment and self-condemnation, I can bear the burden of duty, of responsibility, far easier.  What is not easy getting rid of the self-judgment and self-condemnation. That also requires faith and wisdom.

I cannot speak for tomorrow, because tomorrow does not truly exist. I can only speak for Now, and Now, at this moment, I believe what I have written to be true. The difficulty I face once I accept this as truth – my having purpose, duty and responsibility, and things being best for me to do – once I accept these things, as I just have, I now need to deal with the business of moving mountains. I need to get past the panic of having to rush, to more than make up for lost time, and also have to get past the fear, indecision, and all these other obstacles.

The business of moving mountains that requires both faith and wisdom.

I have a little wisdom, and I have a little faith, and that is enough for today. The mountain needs only be moved a little at a time. To move mountains, one can use erosion. Erosion takes patience and time, but, as we see in nature, it works!

I was watching a movie when I decided to write this blog. I made the choice to stop watching it and write. I will finish the movie today, but I will also practice guitar, work on some art, and do some important reading. I have already begun to erode the mountain.

A cynical person might say, “There is always another mountain.” To that I would reply, “One mountain at a time, a little bit at a time, and one must just focus on the mountain one is dealing with now.” I am that cynical person, and I need to remember the words I’ve just written.

In summation…

Today, I will work to fulfill my obligation, and today I will sow the seeds that I believe will reap joy. With right mind and heart.. Joy in the tilling of the soil, joy in the planting of the seed, joy in tending the crop, and lastly, joy in the harvest.

And even when there is no joy, there is that little bit of wisdom, that little bit of faith.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 12:34 AM

    I understand that feeling, that hunger to do something of purpose.

    You talk of it being an obligation, something to appease a Creator.I think of it a little differently.

    I believe that each of us has an internal spark; something we’re here to do that may or may not have anything to dowith our job; something we bring to the Party of Life that noone else can bring for us

    I call it your Life Mission. And I’m not the only one who talks about it…

    Not enough space in a comment to gointo it in detail. If you’re interested, I’ve got a number of posts on my blog on what a Life Mission is, how to find yours, and what to do with it

    Hope that’s helpful

    Catherine
    Foresight

    • tomschronicles permalink
      May 3, 2010 1:07 PM

      I went over to your blog, but didn’t see “Life Mission” among the categories. I saw something for “Life Improvement” – is that the same thing?

      I wrote the obligation blog while I was still dealing with some strange feelings that came from a dream I’d had a couple days previous, which I wrote about in a previous entry. The feeling of obligation came mostly from that odd dream.

      Also, I get different spiritual perspectives, ideas, and so forth, on different days.. I’m trying to be more consistent, though.

      Your perspective on purpose is more healthy than the perspective I wrote about, I think. Life mission that each of us has, something that is unique to us, yes, I agree.

      Regarding spirituality, what I have come to understand lately for myself is expressing my spirituality/living it by trying to be a calm, mellow person, and by making sure to appreciate Nature every day, work with animals, try to live in the moment, play a little bit of music most days, draw once in awhile, and try not to worry. That’s pretty darn good, I think.

  2. May 3, 2010 1:47 PM

    Hi Tom

    Glad you stopped by.

    Don’t have a separate category for Life Mission- everytime I start a category, I get overlap from other areas( a lot of what we do works together). My posts on finding your Life Mission all have “Life Mission ” as the first half of the title. They start, I believe in early Feb and end in late March, so using the calendar in the right column and looking for those titles might help.

    It’s worth noting that there’s also additional talk on this in other posts. Also, I may be writing another Life Mission post, based on a recent experience.

    I’m glad you like my take on purpose. As a professional psychic, one of the things I really see is that unique quality in each of us that makes us all special in different ways. It’s sad when I see it crushed, and I like to remind people about what’s special in them that no one else can bring ( not kidding about the Party of Life 🙂 ….)

    Also not trying to shove my spirituality down your throat. As a metaphysical Christian married to a Wiccan,neo-pagan shaman, I see a pretty wide range of what’s functional spiritually and believe that different folks have different spiritual needs and therefore different spiritual paths. Yours seems to meet you where you’re at and thats a good thing. I just wanted to introduce the concept( given your words in the post) that there are more ways to interact with the Divine besides trying to placate a judgemental deity…

    But that’s just me…

    Hope you can find useful info that’ll meet your unique needs in our blog

    Catherine
    Foresight
    http://www.ForesightYourPsychic.com
    http://www.ForesightYourCtPsychic.wordpress.com

    • tomschronicles permalink
      May 3, 2010 2:30 PM

      Oh no, you aren’t shoving your spirituality down my throat at all, don’t worry about that.

      Your blog categories overlap a lot too, hmm? I know how that goes. Sometimes I ended up with one posting being put into 4 categories. Thanks for giving me the calendar info, that’s helpful.

      Professional psychic? Does that mean you get paid? I don’t know what to think about being psychic, but I am not a total skeptic. I’ve even had a few odd bursts of intuition here and there, and so it’s not hard to believe that some people are much more intuitive and tuned in to things than I am.

      How hmm.. how do I ask this question.. how does your psychic ability work and what do you do with it?

      Party of Life – I like that – much better attitude toward life than I tend to have. You might not want to read some of my other blogs, as you will find them rather depressing. I complain way too much in some of the other entries. Party of Life, yes ma’am!

      Metaphysical Christian? The only person I can think of that might have been a metaphysical Christian was the poet William Blake – vague memories from college English classes bring Blake to mind. What do you mean by being a metaphysical Christian?

      Your husband sounds interesting too.. so he blends Wiccan practices (like spell casting perhaps?) with shamanic rituals (totem animals, drumming?)

      Wow! I bet the both of you would be fun to sit down and have a conversation with.

  3. May 3, 2010 4:18 PM

    Professional psychic- yep, that does mean I get paid. I am officially ineligible to astral travel or peer into the future for the Olympics….

    How’s it work? A bit more than I can completely explain in a comment- even epic comments like you and I do. Reader’s digest version- I believe that most people, and possibly all(don’t know-haven’t met everybody yet…), are potentially psychic. For a lot of folks, this surfaces through dreams, hunches, gut instincts, and certain “co-incidences” (ever think about someone you haven’t seen in a long time,just before the phone rings; and it’s them? That’d be an example- things where psychic ability is a more viable explanation than the long string of statistically unlikely “co-incidences” that would be needed to make that thing happen)

    I believe you can build psychic ability by working it, like you can a muscle.

    Unfortunately, mainstream societal beliefs these days discount psychic ability as nonsense, fraud or worse. Because of this, most people deny these abilities because they don’t want to look foolish, and wouldn’t know where to get honest training or support if they wanted to.

    One of the reasons Starwolf and I not only do readings but also teach classes. We make some money at it, but more importantly, we do what we can to help put folks more in the driver’s seats of their lives. If you’d like a gander at the kind of things we teach, you can visit our business website at http://www.ForesightYourPsychic.com and see the partial class list linked off of “What We Offer”

    If you want to know more, some more specific questions would help- then I’ll post on my blog, where I’ve got more room.

    Moving on-

    Metaphysical Christian? I’m definitely Christian(I play on Jehovah’s team :-)… ) but I also believe in energywork, spells(ones that do not appeal to other deities), Reiki, angels, alternative healing,guides,animal totems, past lives, etc,etc,etc which puts me in a different neck of the woods than most main-stream Christianity.

    My mind is open, but not so much that my brains will fall out, and I accept or reject various beliefs by how they resonate with and work for me.

    Historical Christian Mystics-C.S.Lewis, Tolkien, Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa, just to start with

    For reading, try C.S.Lewis (Narnia series),Tolkien, aspects of Norman Vincent Peale,Scott Cunningham books that do not appeal to non- Christian deities and some of the angel books to get started

    Starwolf is Wiccan. He is also trained as a BonnPo (sp?) Shaman in Tibetan tradition and in Core Shamanism by Harner(amonst other things). He combines working with deities from various cultures(neo-pagan), working with spirits(shamanism), his spirituality (Wiccan)and some spellcrafting( although I do more spells than he does- go figure…)That’s a pretty simplified format of his practice and he’d probably explain it better himself, but it works very well for him.

    And, yes. I think it’d be fun to talk to you too…

    Catherine
    Foresight
    http://www.ForesightYourPsychic.com
    http://www.ForesightYourCtPsychic.wordpress.com

    • tomschronicles permalink
      May 6, 2010 11:57 PM

      wow! this one I will come back to when I am less sleepy – perhaps you will allow me to post your message as a blog entry, and include my responses and questions to it? It would make for very interesting reading, I think.

  4. May 3, 2010 9:26 PM

    …Oh, Tom, by the way….

    …Just in case yours got lost in the mail….

    ….Consider this YOUR invitation to the Party of Life !…..

    …it won’t be a party unless you come, too…

    Catherine
    Foresight
    http://www.ForesightYourPsychic.com
    http://www.ForesightYourCtPsychic.wordpress.com

  5. May 7, 2010 6:13 AM

    Variously-

    You’re welcome

    Yes, feel free to post my answer if you like- it’s already posted as a comment but if you want to make it a post to make it more visible, good with me. I’d appreciate links to our business website http://www.ForesightYourPsychic.com and our business blog http://www.ForesightYourCtPsychic.wordpress.com as they’ve both got useful information and this can helpus reach and help more people.

    And yes, look this over when you’ve slept more- I hear you ( been short of sleep this week myself…)

    Catherine
    Foresight
    http://www.ForesightYourPsychic.com
    http://www.ForesightYourCtPsychic.wordpress.com

    • tomschronicles permalink
      May 7, 2010 12:06 PM

      If I can figure out how to post links in the blog I’ll be happy to promote your business.

  6. May 7, 2010 7:50 PM

    Thank you- would love to have our business promoted but also like having folks benefit from all of the free info on website and blog ( we’ve worked hard on it The more folks it helps, the better we like it :-)….)

    As to posting links, first you find the web address (the “www……”) you want to link.
    *Type it in your post.
    *Then highlite it (click and hold as you pan across what you want to be a link. It’ll turn colors)
    *Click that button with the picture of a linkof chain on it
    *A box will popup with 4 things to fill in
    *Type the address in the “www….” slot
    *Click whether you want it to change from your present window or whether you want it to open up a new window
    *Type in a title if you want
    *Then click away from your link.
    *Your link will return to normal color but underlined and, once you publish your post, people who click it will go to the site you typed in

    This will work to go to other sites besides mine ( although I’d love folks to visit mine)

    Hope that helps

    Catherine
    Foresight
    http://www.ForesightYourPsychic.com
    http://www.ForesightYourCtPsychic.wordpress.com

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