Losing my religion for Equality by Jimmy Carter

I truly respect this humble, compassionate, noble man …. a true leader in our world society, he wrote the below I think in 2009 … speaking about equality not only for all people, but genders as well. Please read this.

 

JImmy Carter (Picture from Getty Images)

Losing My Religion for Equality
written by America’s 39th President Jimmy Carter.

“I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a
deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of
strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of
millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties
with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and
difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the
convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and
claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for
original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their
husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in
the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief.

Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths.
Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church,
mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably
attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for
the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be
subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced
prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a
crime.
But it also costs many millions of girls and women
control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair
access to education, health, employment and influence within their own
communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our
lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before
girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many
face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because
their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements,
punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of
education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a
job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender
gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West.
The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is
felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us.
The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major
benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is
more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she
earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against
half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and
outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women
are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.
I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant
about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are
powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I,
who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about
winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to
challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders,
brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who
offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help
address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests
of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the
responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality
and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares:

The justification of discrimination against
women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were
prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.’

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful
teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify
discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all
religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasize the positive
messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths
share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to
justify the superiority of men, owe more to time and place – and the
determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than
eternal truths.

Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in
which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the
early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops,
apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that
dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy
Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious
hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still
have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or
subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly
chosen the latter.

Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and
founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper
and equitable treatment of all the children of God.

It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Thank you for reading this ….

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Our Relationships with Others

Morality is how we relate to the people we know, our family, our friends, our neighbours … ethics on the other hand is the true foundation of how we create a society … when someone projects their subjective personal beliefs on to a society, it is about their ego, to make themselves feel superior, better than the other, essentially it is about self-aggrandisement … in doing so little by little we destroy society itself .. for the whole act of judgement or blame is about separation … about separating one person from another – for we must remember that condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.

 

True love does not judge, nor does it have any expectations, it does not to say to someone, become this person and I will love you … or the opposite for instance, if you change from this person; I won’t love you – for that sort of “love” is more of a Cathexis, an expression of the surface of life, perhaps even conditional love.

How do we find a conscious love without distortions in it? Through knowledge and acceptance of self, and also with solitude and meditation. Without these, love gets mutated and distorted by the surface of life. If there is knowledge, acceptance and meditation, love evolves into devotion; it remains pure and then evolves into bliss, joy.

Disrespecting someone, judgement and ascribing fault, is used by the ego to separate us, like control, judgement, anger, competing, comparison, conformity are all other non-present emotional projections, they are ‘ego’ driven thoughts – and essentially meaningless, like all fears when faced they show their illusion and in doing so we find ourselves and our strengths.

Everyone has their gifts, everyone, and each one is an equally valid gift from the Universe.

Everything that happens is essentially without expression, it is only in our beliefs where we ascribe a meaning, perhaps even a duality to it, a right or wrong, good or bad etc., hence our minds via our beliefs created duality as we go along. When beliefs become primary, it can manifest through its own brand of particularism such as in a cult – there are cults everywhere from the private to even Public companies say Apple Inc and Tesla … all within are true believers of their ideology, their dogma, their lives are defined through the duality of their beliefs, for instance Capitalism is a quintessential expression of duality (I.e profit / loss is good/bad) – within families, all experiences seems are seen as either good or bad, right or wrong, family or not – under pressure, this evolves into a fear based “them and us mentality” a dismissal and disrespect for all that appears on the surface to be different, it is a given that all ideologies eventually destroy themselves, when the actual survival of the ideology and the outcome envisaged (the prophesy itself) becomes more important than the people it is suppossed to serve.

There are really good and wonderful people in the world, the thing that separates us is awareness that they exist and our beliefs – it is very important to know that no one has the right to define themselves as right and others wrong … as for the majority of humanity, it is much easier to judge than to think – To judge is to label and therefore negate others and so dismiss (often without revisiting that first judgement) – true humanity and strengths is to feel with empathy, compassion, understanding and equanimity.

I cannot ascribe fault anymore for it leads to separation, in the higher self there are no certainties, things can only be viewed through probabilities even possibilities … for instance it is highly probable that the sun will rise tomorrow – the reality is that nothing is certain, change is continuous and everything ends, well not so much ends but changes, for we are again in transition to what comes next?

Happiness comes only in true Freedom, it comes from within, not from people things or circumstances – follow your personal bliss, challenges that will come are how we grow and we use them to break through the shells that encompass our understanding.

We see everything through the present moment, the past, is our personal perspective of our experiences (filtered through our beliefs and values) … The future is our expectations, our wishes … but this present moment is our only personal reality … these are the Buddha’s words, along with many spiritual leaders (including Dalai Lama, Lao Tzu, Bodhidharma, Eckhart Tolle, Marcus Aurelius and others)

Challenges come from circumstances and from others ..

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help” – Thích Nhất Hanh

When we unite with the light, a spiritual union occurs – then it is the individual’s choice to integrate with the Higher self or not – for me it was easy, a no brainer so to speak, once you decide to integrate, The Grace of “God, the Universe, Brahmin, the Source – the higher self (call her what you will) starts to descend to us (normally over time, but it can I believe be instantaneous) we detach from the physical world, much of what you once valued in duality seems empty and illusory because it is, your love becomes abundant, unconditional and conscious, you can feel life, every form of life within you from the greatest to the least – there is now only one choice, which is to love, to understand, to have compassion for all life, whatever its form.

Here is a book, the Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma that helped me understand my personal journey to the light – perhaps it might help others on their journey!

A difficult revelation of conditional “love” is the judgement, perhaps disrespect , contempt or worse that it brings.

Perhaps no one at your home was able in a simple act of compassion or empathy to think beyond themselves and their attachments and ask how you were … for me, I guess that is the true expression of the experience – their ego driven actions, their true selfishness..

It’s a given, that no one has the right in being purposefully cruel for any reason.

If you have many obstacles in your path … consider, perhaps the Universe is trying to tell you something – perhaps that the path you are on, is not your path … be sure it is … for being on the wrong path and through your actions, you can generate Karma …

“As a man himself sows, so he himself reaps; no man inherits the good or evil act of another man. The fruit is of the same quality as the action” – Mahabharata, xii.291.22

We are all accountable for our choices, as I have learnt personally – do not blame those you who hurt you, for they are only instruments of Karma – Karma holds us all accountable for our behaviour in particular our actions towards others – how Karma will choose to balance the scales for the actions of others towards you and other life forms, is not for myself or others to speculate how. Alternatively, you may have chosen to be an instrument of someone else’s Karma.

I can feel only love and compassion for you all, if any truly wish non-judgmental spiritual help, then come find me … and we will work towards the light together, if you’re not up for that, no problem, find another, for when it is your turn you will journey to the light in this life or another, it is a journey we will all make. By staying attached to the illusions of this world, once can never be truly happy, because in being attached we are never truly free – and true happiness comes in freedom.

After a four-year journey on this experience, I have moved onto other things strengthened and enriched, you are each on your own, except of course for the infinite love and power of the Universe that is within each of you, but I am going to project my beliefs and say – your perception was that I was the problem however I believe I was a solution – fear itself is the problem.

I am thinking of you all as I write these words … face your fears … they are paper tigers … empty illusions. Judgment and blame separates us … the desire to control others comes from ego and fear and not taking your own responsibility for your part in an experience – controlling others controls you – instead stay present, be mindful and accept and flow … there is no way around pain or fear, the only way out is through.

Open your heart to those in need, do not make assumptions. You are not a judge, you are a coach, and in the future you may just be the guide that makes all the difference to someone else’s life.

There are two main motivators in life, love and fear. Choose wisely!

Let yourself be …..

This brought to me a revelation, meaning in a rush!

 

Let yourself be. Let yourself completely, sincerely, peacefully and joyfully be.


Experience the wonder and beauty of your existence in all its richness. 


Celebrate this moment not for what you can get from it but simply because you are here to live it.


Let yourself be, and let your magnificent creativity flow. 


Let yourself be, and embrace the abundance that surrounds you right now.


Let yourself enjoy your life in this beautiful world, just because you can. 


Let yourself express your own goodness in valuable, authentic ways.


Let yourself be, with no conditions or limitations imposed by your own judgment. 


Let yourself laugh, play, love, enjoy and create.

This is your day to bring new and meaningful substance to life.

Let yourself be the best you can imagine.


Ralph Marston

Peace be unto thee ..

 

Peace be unto thee, stranger, enter and be not afraid.
I have left the gate open and thou art welcome to my home.
There is room in my house for all.
I have swept the hearth and lighted the fire.
The room is warm and cheerful and you will find comfort and rest within.
The table is laid and the fruits of Life are spread before thee.
The wine is here also, it sparkles in the light.
I have set a chair for you where the sunbeams dance through the shade.
Sit and rest and refresh your soul.
Eat of the fruit and drink the wine.
All, all is yours, and you are welcome.

From the foreword of

The Science of Mind (1928)
Ernest Holmes

 

A Visit to – Tampa and Clearwater Florida

I arrived in Tampa by train … my first experience of Amtrak, an all together good experience, I just fail to understand why it took 25 minutes to unload a trolley of baggage from the train, which was about 50 meters away from the baggage claim area?

Tampa is a higher energy city, with all the facilities one might wish … a huge number of retails outlets, for consumption, shopping, restauants and clubs to account for almost any taste.

Although it is built around a beautiful bay, as well as the ever present wonder of the Gulf of Mexico, there felt in my view little depth to the city, which seemed more about the surface of life than anything else, about ego and consumption … there were very limited attempts to green the city, which sadly was primarily comprised of millions, not doubt millions of tons of concrete. Although as I was only there for a short time perhaps there may be more to it than this.

One thing I did like was the Green Market Cafe in Clearwater … here in my opinion is a healthy business model, open seven days from 10.30am. The menu included high quality salads, a multitude of choices and mixes including Quinoa and soups, the only negative for me was that there was no hot coffee, but otherwise a great idea. Some great specials, here which might give you some ideas – here .

I will say that I had a beautiful time catching up with old friends and making some new ones.

I came here primarily to talk to Paulo, the husband of an old friend, a man born in Portugal, as I have interest in settling there or in Cyprus. I received a lot of information about how the country is which I truly valued, thank you Paulo!

After only two days, I flew out to Houston by an United flight which was better than my memory of previous United flights would have suggested … I encountered true profiterring after TSA checks, a bannana for USD$1.55 each (when later in Houston there were USD$0.48 per pound) and a litre bottle of water for USD$5.20. – wow!

I flew to Houston, a city that is so much more than one might expect.

A Visit to – Durham, North Carolina

I left for the United States a few days ago. Firstly the flight went from Larnaca in Cyprus to Vienna Austria, then a another flight to Washington DC, then a domestic flight to Raleigh / Durham airport in North Carolina.

I must thank Austrian airlines for their assistance during this trip. I called them more than a week before departure as I had fractured my right leg in Cyprus on the rocks, they allocated a wheel chair and a great seat for the flight to Washington. Thank you. No help was available to me in the United States by way of a wheel chair.

In Washington, there seemed to be an organisational breakdown in the Customs area, initially there was only one customs and immigration officer, who was allocated to United States citizens and none for anyone else. After a while he started seeing to us as well. Then over 30 minutes later another officer arrived and we all started to be processed.

Out of the hall into the baggage claim and trying to find our bags, due to the delayed clearance I found my suitcase in a small collection of those that remained. Then we handed them to I guess the domestic people for inclusion in the local baggage service and off I went to find my gate for the flight to Raleigh / Durham in North Carolina.

Arriving in Durham, there was a very long walk to baggage claim, then I was picked up by my friend Sandy. As it was still light, a tour around Durham followed … the city of Durham, where the movie Bull Durham was shot is the home of Duke University and a population of approxiately 250,000 people. Duke University and North Carolina Central University, are a part of the research triangle – including North Carolina State University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

We later went out to dinner to the Pizzeria Toro in Durham (wood fired Pizza) .. although the smells were enticing and the staff reasonably attentive, the wine enjoyable, however over 30% of the Pizza was badly burnt and inedible … something the staff didn’t get upset about, nor do something about replacing it or at least some of it, strangely.

My initial observation is that Durham is incredibly green, moist and that plant life is fecund, there was a livability to it, a quality of life … I could live there, it had a good Bus service evident and in operation, a day pass is $2 – as well all the buses I went on were equipped with Wi-Fi.

I left Durham yesterday and decided to travel by train to Tampa … I found it to be a civilised way of travelling, though I can understand because of the time it takes why in this society where unreasoning speed is so valued it is not as popular as it once was.

 

Duke University Chappel, Durham, NC
Durham Bull, in NC

Currently I am in Tampa … its nice a warm here in Florida, going to have a look around shortly.

Cyprus – Living with History

Cyprus lives with history – seeing beautiful ancient mosaic floors, Ionic columns, collapsed roofs of ancient buildings is common here …. to the point that it is on display on main street .. below are some examples .. the one is the other side of the road from Saint Solomon’s Catacombs, the other photograph in the main street of Paphos. It is refreshing to see the past valued – indeed there are many archaelogical sites of Paphos which as yet may not be fully excavated and hence understood, this may take many decades.


The earliest attested reference to Cyprus is the 15th century BC Mycenaean Greek, the earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, and Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Middle East, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Classical and Eastern Roman Empire, Arab caliphates for a short period, the French Lusignan dynasty and the Venetians, was followed by over three centuries of Ottoman rule between 1571 and 1878 (de jure until 1914) .. The Republic of Cyprus was formed when Cyprus was granted independence in 1960.

Cyprus is a major tourist destination in the Mediterranean. with an advanced, high-income economy and a very high Human Development Index,

Some recent photos, in an around Paphos and the West of the Island …

Mosaic Flooring … Stunning .. Paphos

 

Saint Solomons Catacombs … Pebble type Floorings