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 The Five Second Prayer

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Aaron
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PostSubject: The Five Second Prayer   Thu May 22, 2008 10:26 am

Hi Sam. I hope you don't mind that I quoted your entire blog entry here. I just thought it was worth sharing and discussing.

Quote :
The Five Second Prayer
By Sam

I've been giving a lot of thought to this article, that Ducks pointed me towards earlier (thanks!). The summary:

    An MIT class has estimated the carbon emissions of Americans in a wide variety of lifestyles -- from the homeless to multimillionaires, from Buddhist monks to soccer moms -- and compared them to those of other nations. The somewhat disquieting bottom line is that in the United States, even the people with the lowest usage of energy are still producing, on average, more than double the global per-capita average.


This is because they are assuming that even the homeless are responsible for the CO2 produced by their share of streetlights, police services, transportation infrastructure, and other "public goods." That's not a bad way to calculate things. I do believe if we want to make a serious effort to curb our impact on the environment, then we have to make that decision as a society for it to have any real results. This study just confirms that, in my mind -- our society is wasteful on a truly grand scale.

Now, this begs the question, of course: Sam, aren't you just another damn eco-zombie, so concerned with your stupid worms and recycling and taking the CTA when all those things don't make any difference? Why not just eat, drink and be merry until the government taxes the hell out of gas, hamburgers, and the American way? Or until we destroy our planet (or at least our place in it) because we can't reach a consensus about how to curb ourselves?

But there is something to all this that goes beyond quantitative measures of CO2 (although yes, I care about that too). For me, this is not just about footprints and carbon sinks. When I sort paper or dig through dark, rich compost mulch or try to find ways to use a little less plastic, I feel connected to something larger than myself. Something big and eternal and maybe a little scary. Something one can't truly escape and can't fully confront.

This is prayer.

Prayer, for many, is quiet and powerful. They can sit silently, quietly thinking, communing with higher powers. For them, prayer is done with hands clasped, hands raised, quietly or singing, standing or sitting, alone or in church.

I have occasionally felt something in those contexts, but my daily prayers are very different. Often less than five seconds, these are silent -- not just unvoiced, but unarticulated. Certainly they would go unrecognized for what they are. This is not about words, but about action. Ritual action, perhaps (Victor Turner, anyone?).

I describe myself as a deist (no, I don't agree with everything or everyone associated with that philosophy, but isn't that normal for any religious community?). I believe seriously in the mystery of Creation as something ever-changing, ever evolving. Considering the diversity on this planet -- how many beetles? what is living on the bottom of the ocean? -- let alone other planets in the universe, I cannot believe God is confined by gender, language, culture -- or humanity. Or that It cares more about humans than about mosquitoes, or bacteria, or octopuses. One day Creation will not include me, or you, or humans at all. I don't buy that we are the end-product of Creation, the masterpiece of the universe, God's only children.

I also don't believe that God (or whatever you want to call it) explains Itself primarily in books or words. I don't have a problem with other religions, mind you (not even the one I left). We don't all have the same hobbies, the same passions; I can't see any evidence that God wants us all to join the same religion. But God did create a "text," if you will. It is all around us -- not confined the page -- even if our experience of it is akin to the blind men and the elephant.

If God doesn't speak to us in words alone, then why do we think that our prayers need to be limited to that genre? My prayers are actions. Like turning off the lights. Like turning off my computer power cord. Like composting. Like planting native plants that feed butterflies. Little actions premised on the idea that little things matter, and maybe, eventually, can lead to bigger things.

Flip the switch. Amen.

First of all very good post and I'd like to say Amen! Smile

Secondly I wanted to say that I do my very best to live by the general rule, "think globally and act locally", even if "locally" just means my home or office. For instance, I do my best to make sure that lights and cable boxes are turned off, that cans, bottles, and paper are recycled, that excess food is either saved or thrown in the woods for the animals, microbes and bugs to eat. I spend a lot of time outdoors on the weekend planting things like flowers and shrubs. I do my best to drive in a manner that is fuel efficient (I average about 26 MPG) in my 2006 V6 Passat.

Having said that, I feel that I usually fail miserably to live up to the standards that I have set for myself and feel like a bit of a hypocrite because for all of the recycling that I do, and all of the lights that I turn off, and all of the gardening that I do, I still live in a 3000 square foot house in the suburbs with central air and a 35 mile commute to work every day.

I feel that if I had more conviction I'd sell my house, move to a much smaller home or flat in the city with a well established, efficient, and well maintained public transportation system, I'd buy locally more often and shop at places like Target and Home Depot less often.

But the reality is, number one; my wife would never go for it, and number two; I'm not sure it would really help all that much anyway. After all someone else would just be living in my 3000 square foot house in the suburbs with central air, and they may be much less careful than me in regards to energy consumption.

So I guess I'll just plow ahead and try to make small changes a little bit at a time on my very local level and hopefully if enough other people do the same we can start to see some real changes at the regional, national, or eventually even global levels.

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Schizophretard

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PostSubject: Re: The Five Second Prayer   Thu May 22, 2008 2:02 pm

I don't think you're a hypocrite because you don't just care about the environment. You also care about your wife and your life. You seem to be trying to find a balance between all three. So, if you say you care about the environment, your wife, and your life and your actions show that you care then you're not a hypocrite. You would only be a hypocrite if you only cared about the environment. Why do you care about the environment? I say it is because you know that without an environment you have no where to live. So, your care for the environment includes your care for life. Your actions show that you care about your life and the lives of others including animals. So, you're not a hypocrite, you're a good caring person.

Now, I'm going to stop being nice and complementing you because I feel like we are bonding and it's making me sick! flower
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: The Five Second Prayer   Thu May 22, 2008 2:09 pm

Schizophretard wrote:
Now, I'm going to stop being nice and complementing you because I feel like we are bonding and it's making me sick! flower

Laughing I'll take all the complements I can get. Cheers!

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Sam Borchon



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PostSubject: Re: The Five Second Prayer   Sun May 25, 2008 10:10 pm

Thanks for the kind comments, Aaron!

I agree with Schizo here -- you are not a hypocrite because you don't do everything you possibly can. Heck, I could do more as well, that's for sure (I'm not even a vegetarian!). I was trying to point out that the problems are much bigger than any one individual person, but caring is the first step to doing something.

And I understand about compromising with spouses -- I posted once about the agreements we had before I started vermicomposting (i.e., this is YOUR problem, Sam, and it had better not stink!). It's been over a year and we're still going strong with that. Sometimes the Spouse even tries to take some of the credit... which is fine by me. :-)

P.S.: The original post is http://trapdoorzombie.blogspot.com/2008/05/five-second-prayer.htmlfor anyone interested...
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Lykos Minister



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PostSubject: Re: The Five Second Prayer   Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:06 pm

Greetings:

Practitioners of certain kinds of Yoga do this, too; it's call zazen, or "walking meditation."
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