Saturday, November 04, 2006

finding God again through yoga and ineptitude

I've been very remiss about things lately, a prime example of what Paul said about doing everything but what we think we should. A dreadful example of it. David from Kwakerskripturestudy was wondering about me, not only because I wasn't commenting there but because I hadn't added anything here either.

Frankly, I'd hoped more people would read what I'd already posted here. But that ain't the way of it; we're writing for the birdcages (no matter how good our stuff is) just like when I published/edited Street Light (an interesting time, while it lasted.) Virtual birdcages, and where are the virtual birds to whitewash them?

Certainly part of this is that I really do love games, even Civilization. Which I think must be a bad influence; I wouldn't be surprised if GW plays it. Next time someone tells you about The Clash of Civilizations, nod wisely and remember this game. Where you meet all this great leaders from the past civilizations of the world, and all of them act like Cheney on speed. A loathsome crew, and how can one cope without being just as vile?

Luckily, virtual soldiers don't bleed. They don't come home in baskets or end up pushing shopping carts. You see them die, leaving nothing behind, but there'll be another just like them any time you reload the game.

We're different. We're manifestations of God. Even manifestations of God playing games while our projects languish and our wives complain that we're "playing That Stupid Game again!"

I haven't been altogether happy with myself.

What's wrong? I really do love to play games; get used to it! I don't want to wake up six months from now and realize that all I've done was to conquer the virtual Chinese and Spanish over and over and over, but I want to learn how this game works, even if it (fairly often) gets boring. Where else can I practice being a human being and see how it works, without harming myself or others? That is, after all, how we're designed to learn, by practice. I'm not sure that learning to be Attila the Hun is the best thing; go teaches better lessons (try!) My go teacher once said, "Improve your character and you'll improve your game 100%", and by now I know exactly what he meant. (Alas!)

I've made some progress on my yoga, not enough because the world keeps impinging, and because I've gotten old and stiff between the ears as well as in my back. I'm having to learn to give up progress, and thus I make progress, all the same. Because the point is to use the postures you can't do anymore, that you've done wrong and neglected and half-forgotten, as prayers for guidance, into what you can do that'll be best for body and mind.

Not getting myself sucked into an Officially Christian Quaker mailing list. I'd enjoyed some back-&-forth with a woman on Quaker-L, who suggested I join, but when I did, I found myself confronted by a demand that I not bother their simple minds unless I agreed to their statement about Jesus' place in our lives. I wasn't even sure what they meant by it, let alone what I would mean if I said it. So I thought about removing myself, and didn't, and six months later, when the Amish were being talked about both there and on the La Jolla Meeting list, I got confused and responded to a post from the wrong list. Oh well, here I am in the midst of them! Pretty soon, I'm defending the Hindu, and the moderator isn't objecting. (I may have had a couple posts dumped; they were either posted or rejected when my server was down the other day.) But I am definitely finding myself Anathema!

That's not good. It doesn't leave one eager to write more. One could be attacked!--One must be careful, not to be misunderstood.

What has been good about it... One person engaged another in an unpleasant, proof-text-quoting attack over his idea of "following Jesus" vs the attacker's notion that Jesus' role was to gain us forgiveness of our sins by sacrificing his life, after which we need do nothing so strenuous (and indeed had better not!)

All this traditional--and utterly senseless--Stuff helped put things back in perspective, gave me something to write about. Only Jesus could save me from this nonsense! There's this Sermon on the Mount, early in Matthew, where he talks about God, how he loves us like a (good) Father, doesn't wish us any harm, does good to us whether we've been bad or good. That makes sense.

We need to believe Jesus here--because it's the truth, and if we don't believe it, we won't know it, and we could get in trouble. People do. They get inflated ideas of their own importance, and of all the silly things they've learned, and it's not that God punishes them--but they do really terrible things to self and others, in this game. They'd be endlessly suffering, stuck in it eternally, if they didn't see through it sooner or later.

Once, having neglected my yoga for too long, I determined to make up for it by a strenuous effort. I'd forced myself into that posture where you lie down between your own heels... and I couldn't get out of it. I panicked, and jerked myself upright, and something went "TWANG!!!" in my lower back. I literally dragged myself onto the living room couch, where I spent the night wondering if I would ever walk again. (But I had the most wonderful feeling of energy lighting up everything from my butt to my brain!) The next day I needed crutches to interview someone for the paper.

I needed to trust God. I needed to pay attention to how things were in that particular moment--not how I wanted to be, but how I was--and accept that, let God show me the right way to work with it. I would have missed an interesting night on the couch, of course.


david said...

so the lesson here -- is if you want to raise the Kuṇḍalinī serpent you gotta risk throwing out yer back. That's why I don't do yoga. :)

I used to be heavily into gaming (D&D) way back when. When my friend became Christian he decided Dark Forces were lurking in the dice and walked away. He later returned to it (he had this on-again off-again love affair with both God and Sin and wandered back and forth between his two masters).

When I became Christian I felt no such compunctions. But slowly my priorities shifted and I moved on. I reinvested my energies into Quakerism.

These days I've been looking for what Pascal called diversions. Freecell is getting a bit long in the tooth. Which is why I asked you about Civilization.


forrest said...

Well, thanks for paying some attention; I need that.

But the lesson here is, if you want to have interesting energy running around your bod, be attentive and don't get caught up in "Have I been disciplined enough lately?"

Overdoing is a great way to get a preview of what yoga could do, but you want to do it without paralyzing yourself. Guy I'm reading says to stop thinking of the ideal posture you're supposed to accomplish; make it a continual practice of asking God for direction, and that should benefit body and mind. Trying to do it that way is still a struggle with my inner cerebral couch-potato, but it does feel better.

Having a good mental fidget like freecell can help dissapate the agitation & broodiness. Civilization is unsuitable because it tends to suck one in, and one wakes up hundreds of years later wondering who one is and where has everybody gone?

Go is a long-term game, but you can do it one move at a time, letting go of your game(s) until your opponent signs in again and makes another move. It's only difficult if you want to win. It remains bewildering, but you do learn to cope. And no matter how good you get (or don't) the handicapping system guarantees that you'll win about 1/2 your games. And you can send silly messages with your moves.

Dave Carl said...


Not commenting doesn't mean not reading! Maybe I'll drop a line in the future just to let you "I was here."

Sudoku has got me, lately. I swore I'd never get started -- and then I did. I'm sure it means something, why we're all so fascinated with putting numbers in boxes just now. I'm not sure what, though, or at least I'm too lazy to think about it much.

Take care,

Dave Carl

Larry said...

Forrest, several comments here re your post:

1. I get precious few comments, but 91 hits so far this month (not over 10% of them mine.

People aren't very outgoing, but they're reading.

2. I want to especially affirm what you said about Jesus' statement re the Father. That has been the primary basis of my faith for the past 50 years: He has a personal interest in me; he loves me. Not rational, but it is the basis of my life. (We all have to decide for ourselves what's real.)

You are loved. That's the only thing that really counts for any of us.

2. Re "I'd enjoyed some back-&-forth with a woman": yes, we get these moments when a relationship is clicking; they come and go. That's okay. Don't regret them; don't regret their end, sometimes not an end, but a postponement.

3. "One could be attacked!--One must be careful, not to be misunderstood.": Come on, man. The first 100 attacks are the most painful ones; your skin will get thicker. (I learned that as a Prob. Officer when 180 men hated me cordially and simultaneously. I lost no sleep over that.

Well Forrest, I don't mean to set myself up as a shining example, but only to offer you encouragement and want you to think more highly of yourself. You are of great value.