Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Never Ending Journey

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by Matt Visser

Since this is my first post, I thought I would start with a short introduction about me so you can know a little about who is writing this. My name is Matt Visser. I am an economics student at the University of Windsor, a member at Grace CRC church in my hometown Chatham, and I currently live off campus in Windsor.

As I write this blog entry I find myself nervous, considering all the people who may read it, so you could imagine my trepidation whenever I am asked to speak in front of an audience, which is a rare occurrence. Having to put one’s work, or oneself, out in front of people can certainly make just about anyone nervous. Those who are not fortunate enough to be good at dealing with such fears so precociously have one way to abandon their fears: personal growth.  Personal growth is an important part of everyone’s life, and for that matter it is so very important to understand.

Without personal growth the world would be at a standstill: no one would ever learn and everyone would just be making the same mistakes repeatedly. Personal growth is a gift given providentially to us, and it is a truly amazing phenomenon. It is somewhat ironic that one cause of personal growth is the mistakes we make. When we make mistakes, we are able to learn from them so we can keep ourselves from making that same mistake over again. Yet there are other sources of change we should also be aware of.

Outside influences are a large part of personal growth, which can be easily demonstrated through one’s relationship with one’s parents. Until we reach an age where we can do so ourselves, parents are the ones who guide us and help us learn who we are and who we are becoming. There come points, however, when parents’ direct influence lessens as more independence is achieved. Nevertheless, parents leave a mark that will never evaporate completely; it will always remain in us and will continue to be a big part of our lives and thoughts. Once we start to gain more independence we need other sources of help in our personal growth, and this is why we need friends. Friends are there for support in hard times and to help us progress through the good and the bad. Friends are there to call us out when we do something wrong and to help us right those wrongs.

Everyone is growing and it is not something we ever grow out of (yeah, pun intended). No matter how old or wise we may be or get, we will never be done maturing. It is a never ending struggle and yet such a rewarding one. And while there is no end to such growth, that does not make it useless. We do not change ourselves to reach a certain point of perfection; we do so to better ourselves, to overcome problems we have today and prepare for the problems we will face tomorrow.

Asking God for More Time

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by JC Girard

I am notorious for telling people that I “don’t have enough time” or “I’ve been really busy and can’t find the time.” I have the exact same amount of time as everyone else. We are all given twenty-four hours in a day; how we use those twenty-four hours is up to us. Some people choose to sleep for twelve hours at a time – well goodness! That’s half the day! No wonder time seems to be escaping you. Other people use their time and don’t calculate it – kind of the same way we use our Debit Card and don’t pay attention to the amounts we’re spending at each interaction. Before we know it, we’re out of money.

The other day, while praying for the first time in a long time, it occurred to me: What do I mean I don’t have enough time or I need to find time? Where was I looking exactly? Time cannot be found. It is a present given to us directly from God – it’s not hiding, it’s ours to do with it what we choose. I should be watching my words. In reality what I should say is “I haven’t been organizing my time very effectively and that’s why the project is not completed yet.” I need to start taking ownership for my own mistakes.

I tend to over commit myself and make sure every second of every day has something to do. Unfortunately, this gives me the impression that I don’t have enough time. I can get together with my friends, I choose not to. I claim I have to do homework but catch myself taking an unnecessary nap, watching T.V., procrastinating. Had I just gone straight to my homework I would have had time to go out tonight.

All of this may seem like a rant, but I assure you it’s not. You see, all this time I have kept myself busy because I get bored easily. I always had something on the go or things to do. But they were never the right things. Maybe I need better time management; maybe I need to set my priorities straight. One thing I know for sure, twenty-four hours in a day is plenty of time if I use it properly. What would you do differently if each day had thirty hours? Would you do anything differently? I can honestly say, I bet I would just sleep longer.

Think Outside the Gates

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by Alex Petric

Coldplay released their new album this week, and although the quality of it is debatable, it’s undoubtedly renewed interest in the band for many people. While browsing one day, I found the following quote from lead singer Chris Martin regarding their song “42” from their last album:

“Ghosts are supposed to be people who haven’t found their final place, right? And we just thought it would be funny to spend your whole life trying to get to heaven and then you get to the gates and they say, ‘You didn’t quite make it.’”

It’s interesting to note how humans have conceptualized the afterlife. Many religions describe Heaven by comparing it to things we know on Earth. The Qur’an portrays Heaven as having gardens and palaces. Jesus tells numerous parables comparing Heaven to a field, a seed, a net, leaven, and treasure. Some branches of Hinduism see Heaven as a paradise of pleasure with multiple levels, where individuals enjoy eternal youth. Even the ancient Egyptians had a view: they believed Heaven was a dark place, far removed from Earth, beyond outer space.

Growing up, whether in church, in school, or at home, people would tell me what Heaven was like, and their descriptions often included clouds, angels, and trumpets, among other things. I always found it odd how some traditions give in-depth descriptions of angelic hierarchies, or that some insist on the existence of “guardian angels” and seem to know everything about how to relate with them.

I think religions sometimes confuse metaphors and comparisons for rigid facts on which there can be no debate. While this hasn’t exactly been the case with our views on Heaven, I think such poetic language can sometimes limit our own ideas. We keep thinking of Heaven as a far off place, with all these characteristics. Often-times we conceptualize Heaven as having rules for admittance, but to me, it seems a little strange for a person to simply be judged on what they’ve done, rather than their actual character, according to a rigid set of rules. Otherwise, Heaven starts to seem like an amusement part ride that declares “You must be this holy to enter.”

I think, assuming it exists, Heaven wouldn’t be limited by space. It would be more of a state of mind than a place. I often think of it simply as being with God, or in God’s presence. And while there can definitely be the idea of being united with God at the end of one’s life, there’s no reason we can’t dwell in His presence now.

The World of Rage

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by Nabila Sharieff

With time, has the human heart changed? Where have those feelings gone? In today’s world, we are so preoccupied with other matters that we forget the world around us. So, what kind of world are we leaving behind us? Whatever happened to those feelings we had for those
around us? I express my thoughts…

This is one of my oldest poems; one that was a stepping stone and helped me rise as a poet.

 A human heart is so fragile
to heal‑a century, to break‑a while;
It takes two words, to smash it into a thousand,
but to help it heal it needs ten thousand;
A single scene, word or song can make it melt,
but what has happened to it these days?
No one knows, maybe no one will !

 So much suffering, so much pain,
a big bad for little gain,
no conscience in anyone,
they can only hurt and make fun;
From enemy to father,
rival or brother,
everyone causes hurt and breaks hearts
without any feeling, without any care,
a wound on the heart is embodied;

What is poverty with a friend or family,
what is a heart without feelings,
what is a truth with a lie behind,
what is a butterfly without wings;

so many questions without answers,
so much curiosity without understanding,
so much pain without happiness,
so much work without gain;
It is something that will leave you in disparity,
when you are rich without an understanding family;

Those who care are considered mad,
those who say the truth are considered bad,
is this why we have prospered, to come to this stage,
when we leave for our children, a world of rage?

 

God in a Box

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by Aubrey

So, why Buddhism?

Let’s start off with God. I hope no one gets offended by this, but I have found that most people, including me, have spent, and do spend, most of their time thinking about a God that they want God to be. I always used to say to myself, “People just think whatever they want about God;” a Christian God, a Jewish God, a God who makes them score touchdowns and gives them success, or saves them from harm at the right moment. God was always created at the spur of the moment!

I had questions. If God could be seen, why hadn’t I seen him? If God could be heard, why hadn’t I heard him? If God could be felt, more importantly, how come I hadn’t felt him? The truth is, I stopped and just said, “God is whatever God is. God does whatever God does.” Who can say God is this, or God is that? Or, God does this or does that? Or, God chooses them, but not them? Some people will say prophets, and some will say, proudly, “God is Love.” But, I’ve been trying, just like anyone else, all this time, to fit God in a box; specifically, whatever box made me feel the best. So, I stopped. I let go of “God in this box, God in that box,” and started addressing the problem of the box I was trying to fit God into. There was no suitable box to put God in. No hearing, no seeing, no secret spiritual feeling, no knowing, no this or that, no this religion, no that religion- no box. These boxes were just a place in my mind, places in books, a place to please my desire to know, see, touch, hear, of feel God; the way I wanted to feel God. God was this figure, or cloud, or some kind of something I imagined or put somewhere.

So, then, God became define-less, un-thinkable, un-seeable, un-touchable and un-knowable. God couldn’t prefer a particular religion over another because he didn’t speak, because God couldn’t be fully heard. God didn’t manifest, because God fully could not be seen. God wasn’t there, because God fully couldn’t be anywhere that any of my senses could offer as truth. The senses were the enemy (I called it The Ego).

Then, this summer, I found the Buddha. A man; a person, just like you and me, who was in touch with reality. I found out that I wasn’t the only one who thought my senses could not be counted on to tell me the truth; about God, or about anything!–Think about it, every one of our senses are relative; every one of them has a vanishing point. How can we trust them?–It was this amazing letting go, and I didn’t even feel as if I had lost God. God wasn’t anywhere to begin with, he hadn’t gone anywhere or came from anywhere. God was all of a sudden more awesome than I could have ever imagined…literally! I stopped trying to see God, know God, feel God or hear God; I knew I would never get the full thing, I would never fit God into any one of those senses or find God in any religion or set of books unless I just let God be God. It was foolish of me to think God could fit inside such a small space as my sight, or my thinking, words, or anything I could come up with or anyone could come up with! I had not been giving God–God’s due.

The Buddha did not teach anyone to not believe in God. What he taught me was to stop believing in a God I created; a God I wanted to create. He taught me to stop being blinded of God’s true oneness and fullness, our true nature, and start believing in a God who defeated every possible definition. He taught me to let go…

So, what’s your box?

On Equal Access to Truth

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by Adetoyese

The dedication of the new Multi-Faith Space in the basement of the CAW on campus has sparked an old fire in me again. It’s amazing how easy it is to cling to a belief in spite of our inherent conflicts with the veracity of it.  However for matters of the soul, to my mind the most important matters of life, it is not only recommended but required that our entire being resonate with those things we have chosen as our core beliefs. Any conflict on whatever level would undo us. But many times, a lot of us love our doctrines and our systems and our “churches” more than we love the Truth. This is a pity indeed. It is so sad because we are not ever really immersed in what we claim to believe and so cannot really be said to believe it at all in the true sense of the word. So we keep up appearances and starve ourselves of the peace and harmony that comes from the integrity of our whole being.

Sometimes we are afraid to ask questions because we do not want to “annoy” God. This is the result of centuries of religious teachings that have tried to present us the picture of a perfect God with imperfect human tendencies – a clear impossibility. In a nutshell, we have been looking “as through a glass dimly”.

The Realization of Truth is not the privilege of a select few, it is the birthright of every man who has a soul and every religion that has stood the test of time is simply telling this great story of the soul’s journey back to The Source against a backdrop colored by the cultures and practices of the time. It is the essence that we must cling to and no man will be “saved” by merely belonging to a religious sect or group or by memorizing a set of creeds; you can only be saved as a result of the time you give to the awakening of your spirit and the cultivation of your soul through deep and sincere prayer – and this is as simple as merely being still and speaking honestly, humbly and with an open mind to God in your own soul and in your own words.

He has shown you O man what is right. And what does The Lord require of you but to live justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”

Introductions

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by Nabila Sharieff

Well hello there everyone!

I’m Nabila. Born in India and raised in the Middle East, and I’ve now come to Canada- my only 2nd time in the west-to embark on a journey of education and learning, combined with a dash of fun, lots and lots of friends and quite a few memorable experiences, in what I pray and hope to be a perfect recipe for success and an awesome university experience. I’m an undergraduate student doing Mechanical and Environment Engineering, (yes, I know it’s an odd course for a girl, but, I have my mind set on breaking stereotypes and other sexist notions). I love technology, (I’m addicted to the internet) and I love making friends.

In terms of religious orientation, I’m a Muslim. I’m a firm believer in Islam, though I can’t say I’m orthodox. I like to believe that religion is your inner connection with God and you need a few religious guidelines to lead you to that connection and help strengthen it. I am a Muslim woman and I’ve never thought that me being Muslim has hindered me in any way. In fact,I’d like to believe that it is my religion that has brought me to where I currently am in life. I keep my religion simple and clean.

In terms of writing, I’ve been a poet since I was 12. As time passed, I’ve grown as a person, as a student and as a poet. My poetry is my emotion…it’s the way I laugh, I cry, I love and live. I find inspiration in small things and I work towards inspiring others.

The topic of my write-ups varies on which angle I’m viewing life from. I call myself an optimist but a lot of my poems show the darker side of life. It’s a balance between good and evil where some of us are wanting to break the balance and tip the scales; some towards good, others towards evil.

It’s a thought…everyone has a different perspective 🙂

And, I love looking at those perspectives. It’s so amazing how one simple thing can be interpreted in so many ways! Life fascinates me and through Commen-table, I would like to take you all on this journey with me, through life…no matter how short the path. I’ll keep writing Inshallah. Ciao for now!