How to start discussion. Contructive critism? When in spiritual matters do we consider critism constructive. A poison out there in many traditions (new and old) that I see is the idea of 'MINE', i.e my Faith, my religion, my race, my... and deeply concerning to me is the confusion of race and religion in the backdrop of identity - National and personal. As an example of this many people identify my temple as Japanese and Asian just because they assume so, and Asians are often dismissive of the 'White' temple when they find out that there are non-Asians in the temple and the head monk is so too. How do we tackle the temples, churches, etc. which promote this? It seems all too ignored for me, wishing to play happy families while division festers.
I think you've raised a very valid point here. People tend to become very protective of ME and MINE which often closes them off to any form of criticism. Once they are closed there is little point in continuing discussion with them because they are too much on the defensive.
Something I often try is to start small. Look at minor things that may be open to constructive criticism first or even start with some compliments of what is 'theirs'. This seems to work better at opening up a channel of communication and a discussion can continue from there. Of course this doesn't mean the discourse wont break down in the future. Human nature is to go on the defensive when we feel threatened and too many people can't identify the constructive form of criticism as the opportunity for growth that it is.
Most people paint themselves into little boxes, sadly many are then often bound by those stereotypes of what works for them and remain in those boxes. Often the only way to approach these people is from inside their own box, a place where we are less likely to feel all that comfortable. We must each decide on these occasions if we are happy to go there to assist the growth of another person and once we are there, how far we are willing to go.
When we chose to name our group a church, I lost several people to the stereotype they have of what churches are. It is not a word well favoured by those that feel wronged by their previous church or that have some disagreement with Christianity. Much discussion ensued about this with our management committee however we decided that it was the most recognisable word to use in Australia to represent our goals and aspirations.
I think the same applies in your case. Many people see the word temple as relating to Asian beliefs and therefore feel it is a realm 'belonging to' Asia and people of Asian descent. I feel the only thing that can be done for either of us is to discuss what it means to be a church or a temple, and what it specifically means for the groups we are involved in.
I may have a slightly easier time of this than you simply because I am using the word church in a predominantly Christian society - and I have prefixed it with Interfaith.
Hello Mr Williams. I guess division/separation is what exists everywhere, up until the time we make contact with one another. We can't be everywhere at once - only in our own little part of the world. thank-you Peter for inviting me to join you [or was it a general invite to every person on peace-next?] I dont think any traditional religious organisations actually 'promote' division & separation, do they? [Other than cults and sects, & the Amish & closed brethren] Just take no notice if that's how they want to be.
Confusion of race & religion is perfectly natural these days - there are no hard & fast generalisations to rely on, like there were 60 years ago. so how would anyone know? Assumptions are OK - its something to start with. Just dont get offended.
Because of wars and global exchange of immigrants, everyone has a big chaotic mixture of 'races' and religions. I bet when the great powers traded/colonised different countries from 1700's onwards, they couldn't imagine how it would be in the future, when lots of their people would prefer UK or USA or France to their own tropical paradise, come to the 'mother' country and become British citizens.
Anyway - I dont know what you want to talk about exactly, fellas. I havent been on this site for a couple of years - [I couldnt spare the time, answering all the comments.][and I had forgotten my pass-word. But - seeing I've been invited, I'll give it a go - for a bit!
I actually went through the membership map and invited all those that had added their location in Oz. Took quite a while, but I hope it will promote some local discussion amongst people who care and want to be involved.
Thanks for joining the group. I hope it is beneficial to you and to all of us down under.
The only new interfaith groups i'm aware of in Oz are the ones that evolved [or mutated?? - a joke] from Uk & US as a result of Islamist pressure in the 1990's. There were 2 categories [names escape me] one of them was still pretty territorial/I am right type of evangelicalism, and the other was more inclusive like the Manhattan guys with Samir. Frost & Hirsch who wrote about Re-Jesus-ing our institutions are nearer home: Frost is in Sydney, I think.
Haven't met any of them - they have their own websites - but I did meet Samir at the WPR [who incidentally wasnt much help to me afterwards -he said he had his own problems in NY]
There was a book on their new theology which I liked [about2yrs ago so cant remember title] the gist of it was based on my own thinking which came out of systems/family therapy theory. I followed up a group in Melbourne [=nearer us] but it had dissolved when the leader moved house to another suburb.
Greetings all . I'm pleased to join you's here .
My thoughts , and my hopes , on " Constructive Criticism " is that folks may feel that our world is not as fulfilling as it
could/may be , and be interested in " Constructive Conversations " about moving forwards , in these modern troubling
Working towards community building , is something that many folks want to be involved in , and nurturing towards a
greater sense of harmony amongst Spiritual folks , enhances the lives and the communities , of the folks involved .
If anyone reading this , feels that our world/lives are as fulfilled as this world can offer , then the conversation may well
seem like Criticism's . To citizen's who feel that our efforts towards community building can continue to reach higher
and higher levels of mutually beneficial sharing and co-operation , I hope that this feels like Conversation .
A challenging part of our 21st century communities , can be the divisions about how that we feel about away back in
history . What really happened , long long ago ?
Conversations , about ancient ancient history , may help Humanity , to resolve the divisions , that our ancestors felt , with
their much more primitive knowledge and understanding , of the physical biological world that we are born onto .
Adapting to change , has been an ongoing challenge , throughout the history of Human civilization . The Spiritual wisdoms ,
passed down through our ancient texts , do they teach , separation and division , or do they try to pass on community
building and harmony ?
Our ancestors , just a few hundred years ago , would think our 21st century technologies , are God like . To fly high
above the Earth like a bird . To travel in submarines , deep in the Ocean , and seen vision on TV , or sounds on radio .
Our species has even walked upon the Moon , and sends explorers past planets that the human eye can't detect .
These modern technologies , are the combined efforts , through the ages , of all nationalities . The whole human race , have
added to the slowly building technological discoveries , that we accept as everyday life , today .
Long ago , someone discovered that melting sand , would make glass . Then someone discovered , that shaping the glass
creates a magnifying " lens ". That thing , described by a four letter word , allows us to see , far into the stars , and the
teeming amount of Life in a drop of Swamp Water . The discoveries that we have built forwards , from probably a
campfire that melted sand , shows what our human race can do , if we co-operate , and work together for mutual benefit .
The ancient wisdoms , are about wisdom and harmony . Inter faith inter culture inter community integration inter national
inter species . . . . woops , we are one species , we are not divided , or separated , other than by our feelings .
Human Nature is a wonderful thing . If we were all the same , how boring Life would be .
I thank you , if you have read all of this . Join the conversation , no doubt there will be criticism's , it's a part of the
Life that we cherish .
Towards community building , sincerely Ron .
Comment by Ian Fraser on 13 May 2012
Yes, MINE, my faith, my etc can be a cause of division. However, without a strong awareness of one's self-identity, which does include race, religion and place in society, it is difficult to fully engage with the 'other'. Interfaith/inter-religious dialogue and living cultural diversity are all about engaging with people who are 'other'. Just as one does not have to leave a religious tradition or faith group just because he/she does not accept all of that group's creed or teaching, in the same way, division between different faiths need not fester. Different faith, different religion, different race, different culture are all opportunities to expand one's own awareness of humanity and the divine - fertile, not festering.
I think personal strength is one thing, and a very important thing, but being strong in yourself and in your own beliefs should not stop us from interacting with others.
Plato's cave is possibly a good analogy here. The stronger person is the one who leaves the cave and has a much better view of truth and the world. Those that remain in the cave are not as strong, and if they are prepared to walk a mile in the others shoes, they may become better educated and hence stronger.
If walking a while in someone elses shoes weakens our faith, then our faith is either not strong, or simply wrong. Fear of change makes us weak. We should all be willing to see the perspective of another, for two simple reasons.
One is that we may be wrong, that our world view may be narrower than we currently think. By seeing things from a different perspective we may in fact become more enlightened to the truth. If this changes us then so be it, for the change will make us stronger.
The other is that if we are correct, we have the opportunity for the reciprocal to work. Our companion may become more knowledgeable, more enlightened, and our world will benefit from that. This can strengthen our resolve, make us stronger and reinforce our own belief in 'what is'. It also helps us to understand our fellow man, to accept that we are not all equal, but that a different view, while it may not be our own, may be or appear correct for another.
We either become the student, or the teacher with every such interaction. We either grow, or we assist those around us to grow and thereby increase our own pool of friends; colleagues; acquaintances.
They say 'to teach is to learn twice' and we can also benefit from that second or third round of learning to better understand our topic of interest (faith systems in this case).
I am strong in my beliefs, strong in myself. Many of my personal friends refer to me as an 'alpha male' despite my own weaknesses. I'm not into football, hunting, fishing and other 'alpha male' type interests. I don't even eat meat, so I don't see that I fit this 'alpha' stereotype, yet they see this strength in my character which puts me in that category in their minds.
Being 'strong', educated (to a point), capable of research and open minded does not make me an easy target for those that seek to 'convert'. Yet in some ways, I guess I am, because I am always willing to update my views if I am shown a better way, a greater truth or a more effective method.
I was once not so self aware. I had only a poor concept of the divine and of my place in the world. Concepts of race, religion and place in society were lost on me and I saw myself on one of the lower rungs of existence. Only by being open and interacting with the ideas of others have I become the way I am now.
In my weakness I was open to change. My stated religion changed several times, my role in society changed almost predictably every couple of years, and my sense of who I am changed even more quickly. I'm so glad I was there, it is what brought me here, to where I am in life now.
Well, I've strayed from where I began. Still on topic for the conversation though, so I'll leave it there for now.
I will however leave you all with one thought. If we are all educated to a reasonable level, would there be as many problems in the world?
I am interested in the 'one is right, one is wrong' idea [one person - the 'correct' one - is the teacher, one is the student.] Things are not so black & white, are they? I prefer to think that two individuals meet on a horizontal level - there is interaction, [but not up or down-hill!] Both people are 'right'/acceptable in who they are, and on the same level as regards worth.
Would there be as many problems if the general level of education was better? Probably not. But a lot of people do not learn through didactic discussion, plus - a lot of things re behaviour & relationships are generally learned through life experience.
i think it would be very helpful to teach some minimum skills in the last year at school - like basic communication and problem solving. A lot of people do not even know that there is a 'win-win' possibility, they think if someone wins the other onehas to lose.
Usually when I say wrong, I am referring to someone off the rails, possibly self-destructive or a depression sufferer who may be near suicide. I believe it's rare we should judge another as wrong. When I was in my teens, I was this sort of wrong, depressive, off the rails.
What I have meant in my post above is something quite different. It is when we decide we are wrong, it is the self redefining the self. I spent a lot of time redefining myself in my 20's & 30's. When I discovered different paths to travel, I took them because I then perceived my old path as less correct or wrong for me. The self redefining the self is personal growth and usually beneficial, it was not meant to be judgmental or external judgement.
When we meet others and discuss our beliefs, we are likely to come across different ideas, not always better or worse, often just different. If we take some time to contemplate them, we gain understanding, if we consider adopting ideas that may be better and we are open to redefining our beliefs, we are open to growth.
As someone who offers spiritual direction, I also believe there is a meeting on the horizontal. There often is a teacher and student, but this role can swap several times between subjects, in an interaction and across a relationship. It's not a hierarchical thing, it's just that some people have had different experiences across their lives. It doesn't place one person above or beneath another.
I'll leave the education comments and start a new thread
Sorry - I Knew what you meant, i just wanted you to say it! 'different' is the word. We might very well have something that we think is 'better' [for lots of reasons, more beneficial to the subject] but we cant MAKE them have it.
We can only outline WHAT makes it better [the alternate consequences] and encourage the subject to look at it - as another possibility.[a non-religious example - doctors trying to get people to stop smoking]
Incidentally, being depressed may have been the 'right' [natural in the circs] thing for you. That energy [ but in the wrong direction] made you THINK where you wanted to go, and set sail on a different course.
It certainly did Ginny.
It went on a bit long for my liking, but from rock bottom the only way is up.
Good onya! [as they say in Orst-ralia!]