Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life is a struggle

Given our experience of emptiness, self-doubt, feeling trapped, and suffering, we naturally have a desire to "solve" these problems or make them disappear, replacing the painful experiences with more pleasant, self-affirming ones. This whole endeavor could be called struggle. Especially in our culture, competition is common on many levels, in many subtle as well as obvious  forms. Even when all is well, if you look beneath the surface of anyone's daily life, you will likely find a background unease, a muted sense of some inner struggle going on continuously. This inner struggle often manifests as our individual attempts to achieve something in the world, or to become fulfilled in some way. 
Struggling to survive the demands of life is a constant activity. Worrying and trying to avoid the bad things of life are a struggle. Trying to overcome personal defects or resolve unwanted inner feelings always occurs as a struggle. We see obvious and sometimes unacknowledged power struggles emerging in our relationships, both intimate and casual. Trying to learn something new is often felt as a struggle. Struggle can even be found in many innocuous acts such as choosing what to wear to work on trying to sound smart at a party. This constant effort to persist in our culture is most often a struggle for "social survival." If we scrutinize our every thought, feeling, and action in terms of effort, we will find a great deal that we might call struggle.
Some aspects of these five consequences will be apparent to you right away. A deeper and more encompassing recognition will take daily observation and contemplation.
- Peter Ralston, The Book of Not Knowing

When one chooses to embrace authenticity, positive emotions, interconnectedness and dialogue; ideas, perspectives and experiences mix and match, stimulating the creative birth of emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being uncovering an otherwise hidden pathway to an improved quality of life without needless apprehension, anxiety or inner turmoil.
- Jon Dunnemann, Letting Go of Your Angst Leads to Personal Freedom: Flexing your will power

When I was a little boy, my Mother exposed me to the teachings of Christianity undoubtedly with the hope that I would grow up and become good, acceptable, and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.  This vision resonated in me throughout my life and to this day I am grateful for the moral standard and sense of purpose that I gained through belonging to a family of faith consisting of men and women who were striving to demonstrate their “Christian walk” through the wonderful qualities of love, humility, and spiritual practice.  The combination of their example and my involvement in various church related activities, at the First Presbyterian Church of Caldwell, New Jersey, in the USA helped me in learning to appreciate that “to one who is given much, much is expected.”

In line with this understanding, Christianity also teaches us that we have a clear obligation to make ourselves available to God holding nothing back.  For all of these reasons, it has always been my strong desire to one day contribute to making right, restoring, and uniting what in others has become disconnected, shattered and fragmented.

Throughout my youth, I witnessed the sacred rituals and faith traditions of various Protestant denominations along with Jewish, Greek Orthodox, and Roman Catholic belief systems as they were practiced by my classmates, friends, and taught to me by different church leadership.  I am fortunate to have observed first hand that when people live out their faith, in and outside of their homes, they are able to provide a common core of virtues, spiritual principles, examples of hospitality, the gift of making others feel listened to, and equally as significant, their felt sense of duty to encourage children, adolescents, and young adults to dream big dreams.  Having this kind of role modeling demonstrated to me through the strongly integrated lives of close African American, Hispanic, Irish, Italian, Greek, German and Polish families in my neighborhood provided me with a tremendously “rich hope” for the future.  “This particular hope is derived from the willingness of people to take one another seriously, to acknowledge the vitality of the beliefs that separate adherents of different faiths rather than their lethal potential (Niehbuhr, 2007).”

Thank God almighty for lighting their path, shaping their hearts, and endowing so many with the capacity to provide unconditional love to others. Especially, in my case when it was love and concern that represented my greatest need.

The time is now here for me to begin repaying the debt that I owe for all of the love and concern that I have received throughout my life. I am attempting to accomplish this task by offering my best fruits to persons facing life circumstances that I perceive to be similar to what I have also  experienced. Taking into consideration the milieu that we are living in, I have decided to do this by firstly, determining what to possibly teach and how best to teach it, secondly, establishing the discrepancy between youths’ existing knowledge, skills, and attitudes compared to where they could be as more competent and spiritually mature young adults, and then thirdly, by working  directly with what Palmer (2000) identifies as lead-learners as ones who "have penetrated their own inner darkness and arrived at a place where we are at one with one another; people who can lead..to a place of 'hidden wholeness' because they have been there and know the way" (pp. 80-91).
The Integrated Person (TIP) blog space represents a launchpad for nurturing a sense of community around this caring and hope-filled work effort to aid others in achieving excellence in their daily habits for healthy living, and in the sustainability of their freely chosen religious, spiritual, atheist or unique secular goals and virtue practices. .