Archive for category PhilosoFoxx

monotheism and “other gods” references

How can a monotheistic religion’s primary text use terms like “other gods”?
The Torah repeatedly refers to various other gods.

Why does the Torah use the term elohim acherim, other gods, in describing the religious activities of other nations? If the Torah talked about the beliefs of others, saying that they were erroneous, I would have no question here. The use of the word elohim, though, implies that whatever deities or forces were being worshipped by other groups do indeed have some inherent powers. Even though it is done in the context of “putting down” those “other gods,” it still seems to give them a certain amount of credence and presents them as being actual (though less powerful) forces that are in a losing competition with G_d. Lehavdil a thousand times, what comes to mind here is two schoolboys arguing over whether Batman or Superman is stronger. My understanding of monotheism – of the very most essential Jewish theology – is that Hashem is One. There is one G_d, that rules over all things, and that any force within nature as observed by the layman, farmer, astrophysicist or mystic – is a power created by, ruled by and essentially part of Hakadosh Baruch Hu himself. This leaves no room whatsoever for the term elohim acherim in describing other religions. And if you say in response that the term should be understood in context, and means “G_d concept that those people think of as G_d” then why would the other nations be condemned – and the Israelites warned so sternly — about merely falling short on a complete understanding of who G_d is? The use of the term elohim implies something more — that these “other gods” are dangerous. Less powerful than our G_d, but nonetheless separate, heaven forbid, or even in opposition to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. This does not sound like genuine monotheism. What in the world is it doing in the Torah?
One possible understanding of all this is that the Torah acknowledges that the religious practices of the other tribes out there, though incomplete, are at least BASED on something real and powerful. The gods being referred to with the term “elohim acherim” are worshipped within religious systems that are not total nonsense, but rather are rooted in some essential truths about the way the world works – physically and metaphysically. Where they fall short is that the powers are thought of as powers in and of themselves, without recognizing them as being created by, ruled by and essentially part of the Infinite G_d that we worship. This falling short is worthy of the most extreme condemnation because it denies the existence of the Universal G_d. The term elohim acherim can be understood as saying that the various nations worship different gods from each other – nation A worships god A, nation B worships god B, etc. — they each worship another god – another genuine force within the world. Spoken of together, the nations of the world worship elohim acherim – OTHER gods from each other, all of them failing to recognize the unifying, Universal force that connects all of them and so many other unknown forces together in one total, world ruling, unified, non-seperable reality called G_d. They collectively worship all the separate forces, whereas Judaism sets forth the notion that there is only one ultimate G_d – multiple names, multiple manifestations – One G_d.
This interpretation would also explain why Judaism is so worried about other religious understandings. It always seemed to me, growing up in a multicultural, multiethnic world, that we are all big boys and girls, and that Judaism shouldn’t worry so much about what we are exposed to. We all have free will to make choices. Equip us with the real thing and trust G_d that we will be guided to make healthy choices. With the above understanding of how the Torah might view philosophies and theologies that are not consistent with our own, the grave concern seems well warranted. It is not that other beliefs are laughable and should be dismissed. No, they have genuine merit and power and should not be dismissed. Perhaps they may even be learned from in certain limited ways. BUT BE CAREFUL, LEST YOUR HEART BE TURNED ASTRAY AND YOU GO AFTER THEM – they attempt to disconnect powers from the SOURCE POWER that is our G_d. This “separation of powers,” so to speak, is ultimately dangerous in that it flies in the face of everything we Jews stand for – everything we have lived and died for since Avraham Aveinu first asserted the existence of One G_d. there is nothing more false than a partial truth.
© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon


Anything worth doing is worth doing wrong!

Foxx Falcon Fact #462: A sub-par plan prosecuted poorly outperforms the perfect proposal postponed.
© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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It’s not about the memories

Today I was cleaning up a flood in my basement — about the 6th in this recent chain of rainy days. Among the things that had to get thrown out were some old drawings I did for an art class when I was in college. Those drawings, carefully hidden in a dusty portfolio for more than 20 years, hold a critical secret — a lesson about human potential. Thank God for the destructive rain that shook my core enough for me to wake up to a powerful fact I seem to have forgotten to utilize.

What I realized this morning is that I have been missing the point of my own lesson for a very, very long time.

You see, the reason I took that art class in college was that for years I had been deathly afraid of any form of art. I had long accepted “I can’t draw” and “I have no artistic talent” as immutable truths. Having recently gotten into recovery through a 12-step fellowship, I had embarked on a spiritual journey that opened me up to a world of possibility — a new mentality of questioning old assumptions and trying new things.

Why couldn’t I draw? I had met a friend named Dawn who was taking this entry level art class as part of a generral studies requirement. One day over lunch Dawn showed me a few things and I quickly discovered that I wasn’t quite as hopeless as I thought. It was an exciting, freeing, mind opening experience to be able to recreate that cartoon cat — or whatever it was — from a poster on the wall of the cafeteria. The very next semester I signed up for Intro to Drawing, a course that turned out to be a wild emotional ride for me.

The first day brought excruciating frustration and ultimately tears, anger and — finally — surrender. The first assignment was meant to see where each of us was holding in terms of basic skills. We sat with our desks in a big circle around a bunch of still life junk — chairs, flower pots, giant blocks…. As the girl next to me, a skinny, sexy Bohemian blonde who I had seen roaming the halls on the arm of an ape-ish thrash rocker type whose har was died black and nearly as long as her perfect legs. Sorry, I got lost in that digression. Always was a sucker for the skinny, skanky type. Very distracting, even twenty something years later. Anyway, she was drawing away, recreating the scene on the floor in front of us, and all I could do was keep drawing and erasing the same line over and over. Eventually, I just had to leave the room. I went wandering the halls pounding on lockers and wondering if I should have ever even tried this when I felt my eyes starting to fill up. I cried the tears of the three year old who angrily pushed a crown all over his drawing, frustrated that he couldn’t seem to get it just the way he had intended. The memories of that moment were hazy but the emotions were in vivid releaf, guiding so many of my choices at the subconcious level, part of the fabric of incorrect assumptions that we develop through early experience and then abide by faithfully, unalterably, until freedom final crashes its way into our lives.

During the course of the next 16 weeks, with the help of a teacher who was touched by my sincere desire to face my old fears and a willfullness that I have absolutely no explanation for, I slowly but surely developed the skills that enabled me to have a dusty old collection of drawings that led my kids this morning to say “wow, you’re a great artist” as I laid the damp remains to see what could be salvaged and to take one final look at the rest. Those tears, that resolution, and those humble efforts combined to bring out somethign in me that I never knew I had. That ability was carefully protected from actualization because of my self image and inexperience. It took surrender, hope, desire, honesty, willingess and effort on my part. And it also took a supportive, receptive and challenging guide to help me through. With those ingredients, the impossible became possible and then became actual.

It was an amazing act of courage for that young man to drop his guard of fatal coolness long enough to show his weakness and vulnerability. That was the first step in the process. The lesson learned was that nothing is truly impossible.

For taking that class and hanging in there when it got tough, I am a hero. But I do need to own my errors as well. First, I felt crushed when I saw this morning that my precious drawings were basically ruined. I had become so attached to the physical manifestation of my efforts, that I forgot to appreciate what those drawings represent. “I could never do this today,” I heard myself say. Oh boy had I missed the point!!!! Of course I could draw today — better than ever if I wanted to. The secret is tapping into that desire and opening up to that guidance. It’s not about the drawings — they are memories of a divine discovery. The Divinity itself is every bit as much present today as it was back then. Treasuring the pictures is an attachment to the physical world that blinded me from the actual beauty that was manifest in the pictures.

Secondly, to the extent that those pictures should be valued, it should be as an inspiration for continued growth and challenge of perceived limitations. Those pictures prove that what my brain tells me I can and can’t do is not objective truth — and it’s not necessarily true at all. Those pictures belonged on the walls, not in dead storage. And not because they would have made my house prettier, but because they might have served as an occasional reminder to me that what I think of as limits may be nothing but old stories that have become so engrained in my psyche that they stop me from going for my goals — or even from having the audacity to have goals anymore.

It’s time to wake up.

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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Learning to focus the mind — 7 books at a time

What a scatter brain I can be. Yesterday I picked up three books on meditation at the library. One of them, The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the the Focused Mind, by B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D., looks very promising.

All at the same time that I’m reading Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism by David S. Ariel, Jewish Meditation, By Aryeh Kaplan, and two partially finished works of fiction I’ve been on-again/off-again with for months. That’s 7 books!!! And that doesn’t include the countless other partially read works downstairs in my library or the book Hippie, which I also took out of the library yesterday.

I’m so on the fence about all this. Should I be working harder to stay focussed and finish one thing before going on to the next? That’s the constant refrain in my head. “You’re so disorganizized. Can’t you stick with any one thing long enough to finish it?!!!” This kind of self berating is totally unhelpful, of course. Could it be that wandering as the spirit moves me has value too? It certainly seems valid to say that I can suck whatever juice I feel I need or want from one source and then move on to the next.
Just as finishing what you start has merit, so too does allowing intuition to propel the spirit container to the next place.

And yet it does seem something is missing when I float aimlessly like I do. And in the times that I’ve toughed it out and taken things the din road — just do it — there also seems to be something missing. There is value in discipline and there is value in letting things flow. My strongest belief is that in the INTEGRATION of polar opposites lies truth and beauty. There must be some unifying element that can help a person like me bring together the structure/discipline side and the intiuitive/creativity side. Finding that link between these two sides of my personality has been a problem for me for years. In some ways, I feel like I’m closer to the answer than ever. At least I’m finally articulating the question. Maybe all this pursuit of meditation is a good next step. I actually sat in meditation this morning for about 15 minutes.

I have a strong suspicion that this link — this magic integrator that allows strict justice and and merciful kindness together — is the key to answering more than just my problems, but the disunity and disjointedness of all of humanity. All of the world.

And so we search for God.

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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A Letter of Encourgement

Dear *****************,
I know you are going through some things right now, and it can be overwhelming. I want you to go into the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face, take a few deep breaths, and look in the mirror at a hero — someone who is breaking out of a deeply ingrained pattern and taking care of herself against a torrent of self-destructive conditioning.

All of recovery comes down to a simple choice — do I want short-term pleasure and the long-term pain that goes with it OR do I want short-term pain with long-term deep satisfaction and true joy. Just for today, your actions are those of a hero, a person who chooses to act with self-integrity in spite of your own imperfections along the way. You are a child of God who chooses to endure the extreme discomfort of a major pattern change in a series of acts of faith and trust that Hashem (God) will bring a new day of peace, light and joy.

Do not give up. Do not give up on the process. Do not give up on yourself. Persistence is a most valuable spiritual principle. The past does not equal the future. You are further along than you know. Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens. I’ll say it better — don’t quit five minutes before you have a profound realization that the miracle is already here — that you yourself ARE the miracle. You are a precious gift that G_d has put in the world to serve a purpose that only you can fulfill. You may not fully understand what exactly that life mission entails just yet, but that is not the issue. What is unfolding inside of you is what is REALLY going on. You are doing so much better than you know. Imagine what it will feel like when this reality becomes as clear to you as it is to me.

But — you say — I don’t know the things you have screwed up along the way. Here is what I do know: we are allowed to falter, to botch a step or two or ten or even a hundred. The part of your brain that tells you that you are a piece of garbage is a liar. My experience is that his voice gets softer over time, then louder, then softer. That inner critic has not been removed from me. Perhaps he’ll always be with you, too. But that is okay. Hashem is always and absolutely with you too, no matter what kind of mess you have made. He has not given up on you, even in the moments when you have given up on yourself.

You are awake, moving forward — albeit tenuously — staying clean today. This is all the proof I need that you are walking through this phase of your life admirably. Remember not to do it alone. Sleep — or at least give your body and racing brain a rest. Breathe, eat as nutriciously as you can. Keep your body moving — gently, not to exhaustion. Use the gift of words to express your feelings, frustration and thought processes to a few trusted confidents. Stay connected to people who love you and have your best interest at heart. Try to choose companions with stabile heads on their shoulders and avoid temptation of surrounding yourself only with people who won’t challenge you.

I know there are moments when this process feels horrible, but stay open to the possibility that you may be DOING way better than you are feeling. Your willingness to move forward in faith — trusting a loving Higher Power that you cannot see, hear or touch — makes you a hero in my eyes. May G-d as you understand Him give you the clarity to know and feel what I’ll bet you already suspect deep down in your heart — that you are a miracle and that miracles are happening through you every moment.

With love and respect,

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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Ironville Frank

Frank’s family and closest friends waited anxiously for the doctor to emerge. Was this finally the end? A thoroughly anonymous and unremarkable man at the time his cancer was first diagnosed, Frank had become something of a local cult hero, thanks to an overzealous reporter for The Ironville Talk and Times. Being diagnosed with stage-three cancer threw time into Frank’s consciousness. Was this all there was? Was his life as a husband, father, sheet metal worker, poker player and bowler going to vanish, like an ant who lost his way on the edge of the toilet bowl? Was there something more? Something he was meant to accomplish in this world before departing?

Frank chose to talk – something he never did much of. With the help of the local press, he became a spokesperson for time – for the value of time. Frank reminded Ironville of something we all know and most of us work rigorously, if unconsciously, to force out of our thoughts – that our days are numbered. Frank had used his uphill battle with cancer as a pulpit from which to deliver his impassioned sermon to seize the day. Simple folk like to heed the wishes of a dying man, which is a bit odd since the hopeless cries of the suffering seem to go unheard, or worse, ignored. Perhaps our compassion is aroused by the dying because acts of kindness dull the inevitable pain that comes when our armor of imagined immortality is pierced. Whatever the reason, Frank had a moment in which to be heard. He used that moment to tell us all that if there is anything we want to accomplish, now is the time. It was a simple message, anyone could have delivered it. But anyone didn’t. This simple, quiet Joe six-pack of fellow, suddenly transformed into a screaming preacher of possibility was simultaneously shrill and irresistible.

When he was asked to give a guest sermon in the church, he wouldn’t give up the microphone until promises were made – big promises. As a result of that first appearance alone, careers were altered, a homeless shelter was built, marriages were re-embarked upon, age old family rifts were confronted, restitution for thefts were made. And it wasn’t about inspiring platitudes. Frank would get right into the face of the person he felt needed to make a change and wag his weather-beaten finger at them, scream at them, beg them to fix what needed to fixed NOW. The confrontations were sometimes unbearable, and yes – he made his share of enemies. But his perceptions were clear and his instructions hard to ignore. Though some scoffed and walked (rather, ran!) away, many more welled up with emotion and tears, grateful that someone had finally cracked the shell of rationalization, justification, and denial that ego had used to prevent them from doing what their conscience and heart so deeply understood needed to be done.

And once the ball got rolling, it seemed to consume the collective ego of all of Ironville – amends, bold initiatives and loving action were sweeping through the town like wildfire. Not just a repentance of mind, but a peaceful state of love and unity that had never existed before, but somehow felt like a returning to a long ignored, always intended state of affairs. Within a year of Frank’s diagnosis he had had presented in every church, spoken in every school, sat with community leaders, and been consulted by the heads of local industry and philanthropy. The young reporter at the Talk and Times reported on his every move, catalyzing a frenzy of local media coverage that brought Frank’s message into any open heart in Ironville. With some reluctance, Frank agreed to taking up a daily presence in the back of Central Pharmacy. For as many hours as his health would allow, Frank sat a little desk in the back of the pharmacy. People would come for one-on-one consultations that somehow integrated the best parts of therapy, confession and friendship. He became a sage advisor. He never predetermined how long his consultations would last, nor did he make appointments. He’d just sit there – sometimes for 18 hours at a time. Some days the lines would extend out the door and down the block. There were weeks when the line could be seen around the clock. Frank never gave advice exactly. Rather, he would help people see from behind their egos what their essence already knew. The answers always came from the questioners, as it should be.

In the months that followed, Ironville could be seen, heard and felt as a new place. The external signs were easy to measure – unemployment was almost eradicated, poverty abolished, pollution reduced, beauty enhanced. But there was something more. A peace was in the air. Godliness, a holiness had been introduced – rather “released” as Frank would more likely describe it.

And now the final paragraph of the final chapter appeared to be upon Frank, as the surgeon’s skillful hands performed his craft on Frank’s body for the fourth time since this all began. When Dr. Nesor finally came out of the operating room, he looked as if he had seen a ghost. Nothing in medical training and years of experience, he managed to ramble, could explain what he had just seen. There was not a sign of cancer inside Frank. Not the slightest remnant of what his body had been through during the past 14 months. Nothing. He was as healthy as he had ever been in his adult life. There was nothing to do, nothing more to say. He needed only a night’s rest to recover from the surgery and anesthesia. Frank’s cancer had vanished.

The next morning was bright. The combination of warm sun and cool breeze made the sweet melody of the chirping birds all the more enjoyable. Word of the miraculous recovery spread overnight, and throngs waited outside the hospital. He emerged from the front door waving and smiling, eyes on the brimming crowd. I don’t think he ever saw that speeding ambulance coming. RIP, Ironville Frank.
© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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Jeff Beck doing a little Beatles

I have to admit it’s getting better
Click here to listen ====>>> 14-a-day-in-the-life

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Great Falls to Harpers Ferry

After two failed attempts, including one bomber jacket and one undeniable message from heaven (lighting bolts and all), I have finally completed the bike ride from Great Falls to Harpers Ferry along the C&O Canal towpath.

Highlights of the trip
rhythms of peddling
the docent, the cyclist, the through hiker, the b&b english teacher
the geese
the water
prayer along the path — last time and this time

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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