Monday, October 7, 2013

The Devil is in the Details

Monday, October 7, 2013

I suppose a good way to transition to the next topic I referenced recently (regarding organized religion and trauma) is to broach an interesting 'anecdote' I learned today.  Just when I believe I cannot be surprised any more by the degree of perverse thinking held by my fellow Americans I am shocked to learn that I indeed can be surprised yet again.

Today I learned that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia apparently actually believes in the existence of the Devil.  You can read about it here.  Pondering this tidbit whilst taking a shower I recalled a strip from one of my favorite comic strips called Calvin and Hobbes.  Calvin asks Hobbes whether he believes in a being dedicated to the corruption of humanity such as the Devil.  Hobbes replies that he doesn't believe people need the help.  And looking around at world events lately I would have to say I agree.  I do not believe human beings really need the assistance of the Devil to perpetrate horrors upon one another.

The partial shutdown of our federal government continues.  I find the Congressional antics at the heart of this situation as appalling as learning that Scalia believes in the Devil.  So much for the separation of Church and State!  I don't mean to imply that I believe Scalia's religious beliefs necessarily inappropriately influence his deliberations within the Supreme Court; I cannot make any claims as such because I have not followed his career that closely.  Yet despite the separation of church and state that represents one supposed hallmark of our nation's foundation there are plenty of citizens out there who would be all too happy to institute a theocracy.  It's bizarre and terrifying.  And it's also quite strange when you consider that one of the foundations for this nation's existence was the desire of many people to find a safe haven from religious persecution in their countries of birth.  The very same thing could happen here!

My title for this posting could be read in another way that offers meaning of a different sort.  I have come to believe that so much of the suffering we create as individuals, communities, nations and even on the planet as a whole is very much bound up in our unfortunate tendency to not be present to what we are feeling and thinking.

Indeed, as I have reflected on the life I have lived thus far I can recall there were several different occasions in which I was given unmistakable input that something quite deep remained unhealed and unacknowledged within me.  And yet I did not take these amazing gifts as the invitations to awareness I could have taken them as because I simply was not being fully present to my life as I was living it.  I think there can be nothing more tragic than living a life that you were never really present to.  If you are not living in the present moment where exactly are you then?  Your body may be in the present moment but your mind is most certainly not.

In this sense the devil really is in the details.  Paying attention and being truly present to each moment as it unfolds in our lives is such an incredibly healthy way to live.  To live preoccupied, absent-minded, distracted, overloaded, harried and saturated with information in the Information Age is to live a life less than what is truly possible.  And I have also come to believe it is true that whatever we resist experiencing ultimately becomes our own little devil.  We can never truly be free of a deep pain, a grief, a sadness, a longing if we do not allow ourselves to really and truly feel it within the fiber of our being.

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