Spiritual Disposition and Practice

Disrupt & Repair

I want to keep talking about my spiritual practice in this post. The last post focused on the practice itself, but now I want to focus on the individual undertaking the practice. From this perspective, the emphasis shifts toward an appreciation of spiritual disposition. The practices described in the previous post really only become fully intelligible when you realize that they are directed at realizing a kernel of possibilities contained within the singular individual, in this case me. These possibilities are specific to me and my life and so the more clearly I identify them, the better I am able to activate them.

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A Mom’s Heart

What a touching scene, I wish to be like her. Someday

newtreemom

In the mornings while I’ve been on hall duty as the kids come in from the buses, the mother of one of my ESL students appeared in the hall. She would ask if my student and her sister had come by yet. I have been busy “directing traffic” and didn’t have a chance to talk to her beyond a quick yes or no, though I was curious about why she was coming every day. This morning was less hectic at the time she arrived, and I got to talk to her for a couple of minutes. Her story touched me deeply. She works a night shift. When she leaves for work, her girls are asleep. By the time she could get home after work, her husband would already have taken the girls to the bus stop, seen them off on their way to school, and headed to work without time…

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Does Society Have Intrinsic Value?

A Bear - Poles Apart

Society is an organism. It consists of parts that are connected together in a more or less well-functioning unity. A society that can contribute to the happiness of its members is a valuable society, but if we disregard this function, does it make sense to speak of society as having an intrinsic value?

A human being is of course also an organism, and it has an intrinsic value. It doesn’t matter whether the person is useful for anything at all, it still has a value. Why?

First we need to be clear about what that word “value” actually means and what we in fact mean when using it. (Like all fashionable words it tends to be overused and easily becomes meaningless.) “Value” indicates that someone wants something. Objects on the money market have a value because some people want to buy them, but what no one wants is valueless. Here…

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Transformed Conservatives

A Bear - Poles Apart

The conservatives change. The most fundamental and eternal conservative values of today are not the same as they used to be.

In the past the demand for democracy was considered an ideology of radicals and revolutionaries, but today the conservative mindset is hardly less democratic than their liberal or socialist counterparts. How is this to be explained?

A prominent feature of conservative ideology is to emphasize the need to adjust to social developments in order to preserve the more basic traditional values. But if that’s the reason for the change of attitude toward democracy, it would mean that democratic values are not values in themselves, but only a means to defend what has a definitive intrinsic value.

The conservative rulers of 19th century Europe undoubtedly made those gradual concessions to democracy in order to prevent what they considered to be worse; a total dissolution of society into revolution and…

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