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Archive for March, 2010

ผมสงสารเมื่องไทย ใส่เสื่อเลือกสีก็ลำบาก ผมว่าคนไทยใส่สีอะไรก็เป็นคนไทย เพราะคนไทยเราคุยกันได้ ผมว่ารากของประชาธิปไตรคือความเข้าใจว่าเราไม่ได้รู้ไปหมดทุกอย่าง เราไม่ถูกหมดและเข้าก็ไม่ผิดหมด ถูกบ้างผิดบ้างแต่ก็รักเมืองไทย ความเป็นประชาธิปไตรอยู่ที่เราจะยอมเชื่อใจคนที่ต่างความคิดกับเรามากแค่ไหน ผมคิดว่าการต่อสู้เพื่อประชาธิปไตรโดยไม่ฟังเสียงใครคงเป็นจุดเรื่มที่ไม่ดีนัก ผมว่าการเริ่มไม่ได้อยู่ที่การโจมตีแต่การเจียมตัว การตัดสินใจที่ดีเกิดจากความเคารพที่เรามีให้ซึ้งกันและกัน

การต่อสู้เพื่อประชาธิปไตรเป็นสิ่งที่ดี ถ้าเราเข้าใจว่าประชาธิปไครคืออะไร ผมว่าคนส่วนใหญ่ไม่เข้าใจ ผมเองก็ไม่แน่ใจเ้หมือนกันว่าเข้าใจดีหรือไม่ แต่ที่รู้แน่ๆคือการก่อให้เกิดการแตกแยกไม่ช่วยแก้ปัญหา  พระท่านเคยบอกผมว่าจริงๆแล้วประชาธิปไตรไม่ใช่สิ่งที่สำคัญที่สุด สิ่งที่คนไทยต้องการคือ ธรรมะธิปไตร ผมว่าถัาคนไทยเข้าใจธรรมะ ปัญหาคงแก้ไม่ยาก ผมว่า สัจจธรรมสอนให้เรารู้ว่าสิ่งที่ควรจะสู้และสิ่งที่ควรจะรับคืออะไร สัจจธรรมสอนให้เรารู้ว่าความจริงเกี่ยวกับตัวเรา มันไม่ได้ติดอยู่ที่อะไรทั้งสิั้้้้้ิ้น  เราคืออนาคต อนาคตคือเรา อัตตาคื่อสิ่งที่ทำลายความเคารพที่เรามีต่อตนเอง

ผมอ่าน post ต่างๆแล้วก็กลุ่มใจ ต่างชี้นิ้วว่ากันไปว่ากันมา เหลืองก็ว่าเหลืองถูก แดงก็ว่าแดงถูก คุยกันอย่างนี้ไม่มีวันรู้เรื่องกันแน่ ผมว่าในที่สุดเราก็ถูกบ้าง ผิดบ้าง การมัวแต่แสดงว่าเราถูก เขาผิดไม่ได้ช่วยแก้ปัญหาอะไร มีแต่จะทำให้แย่ลง ผมว่าถูกผิดสำคัญแต่รากของปัญหาในตอนนี้อยู่ที่ความไม่ไว้วางใจซึ้งกันและกัน ถ้าไม่เริ่มที่จะสร้างความไว้วางใจ อาจจะไม่มีเมืองไทยอยู่ ถ้าเราไม่เริ่มมองความดีของคน ถึงแม้มันจะขัด ถ้าไม่เรื่มยื่นมือช่วยคนที่ต่างความคิด วันหนึ่งมันอาจจะเห็นสิ่งที่เราต่อสู้เพื่อให้ได้มามันไม่คุ้มกับที่เสียไป แต่มันอาจจะสายไป หวังว่าธรรมะคงจะให้ความสว่างแก่ใจคนไทย

กลุ่มใจเมื่อได้ยินคนที่ใช้คำพูดหยาบคาย ไม่ให้ความเคารพ ไใม่ว่าจะสีอะไรก็แล้วแต่ ผมเรียนรู้ว่านักต่อสู้ที่ดีคือคนที่ไม่ดูถูกคู่ต่อสู้ เป็นคนที่รู้จักเคารพแม้คู่ต่อสู้ ถ้าการต่อสู้เพื่อการเปลี่ยนแปลงเกิดขึ้นบนรากฐานของการดูถูกเยียดหยาม ไร้ความเคารพ เราก็กำลังสร้างระบอบการเมื่องบนรากที่เน่า จะโมโหก็ไม่ว่า จะถกเถียงก็ไม่เป็นไร จะปะท้วงก็เป็นสิทธิ แต่ถ้าเราลงตำ่่ จะให้ผลมันขึ้นมาสูงคงเป็นไปไม่ได้  ถ้าเราไม่รู้จักเคารพคน จะปะท้วง จะเปลี่ยนแปลงอะไร ในที่สุดมันก็ไร้ค่า เพราะในที่สุดค่ามันอยู่ที่คน  ถ้าคนไม่มีค่าแล้วเราต่อสู้เพื่ออะไร

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According to the myth of the Fisher King, every male is born with that instinctive heroic drive toward knighthood and the journeys filled with stories of encounters with dragons and the slaying of dragons.  So we search for the dragons to slay as an attempt to evoke our manhood, a call to the initiation of life’s path toward masculinity and simply to personhood. And the quest continues probably until we finally arrive at the castle where the Holy Grail resides.  But what if there really is no dragon to slay?  What if we were not call to slay any dragon?  What if all we find in our little home is a yellow tabby?   The dragons have been transformed into happy cows gracing in our backyard.  What if all we were called to serve is a yellow tabby with an attitude and the Holy Grail is the trail that leads back to our  humble home with a view we’ve not seen before, a trail as a convoluted loop leading back to its very beginning?

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I feel stressed listening to people bashing others who believe differently particularly in the area of politics.  There are forwards coming to my email from people in the far right that have nothing nice to say about our president or his party.  And they keep coming.  And there are those on the left expressing their strong views as well.  Then I go into Thai websites and the conflict between the red shirt and the yellow shirt does not seem to have any conceivable end in sight.  People are just angry.  There are angry people every where it seems and they all just want to be heard. They want their voice to be heard by the public, by the governments.  They all want democracy.  But it is often democracy as they defined it to be.  I some time wonder how many people out there are more interested in hearing others and learning from others instead of wanting to be heard.  It seems ironical to me the things said and done in the name of democracy.  I wonder if perhaps the root of democracy itself is the recognition that we do not have it all figured out.  That we do not know everything.  That we need to learn from one another even if that might sound very different from what we know.  I wonder if what we hold on to as Absolute is what drives us from true democracy to democrazy.  It is the insanity emerging from the need to know that one is right and will always be right.  I wonder if we have the courage to step beyond the boundary of our comfort zone and value listening more than being heard.  Validating more than being validated for what we think is right.  Openness requires the ability to trust.  Perhaps we have lost most capacity to trust others and believe in others.  And when we no longer have the ability to trust others, we are destroying the very foundation of what we have been fighting for.  May God have mercy on us all.

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What we determine as real determines who we.  But who are we really?  Psychology claims to assist us in finding the reality of our internal self.  Psychology helps us cope more efficiently with conflicts in our lives.  “You are being taken advantage of because you are not assertive enough.  Let us help you be more assertive.”  It certainly helps to be one.  But in some ways it introduces another reality.  If you are to be mentally healthy, you must be assertive.  Or we hear psychological theory that believes in good self-esteem.  “You need to feel good about yourself.”  So a person who uses to feel ok for feeling ok now feels bad for feeling ok.  Or a person who uses to function well dependently is now labored co-dependent.  The national bestseller, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, claims cognitive therapy to be substantially superior to the use of antidepressant and traditional psychotherapy.[i]  This is to be applauded.  I love the David Burns’ statement regarding self-esteem. 

“Then how can I develop a sense of self-esteem?”you may ask.  The answer is—you don’t have to!  You don’t have to do anything especially worthy to create or deserve self-esteem; all you have to do is turn off that critical, haranguing, inner voice.  Why?  Because that critical inner voice is wrong![ii]

While cognitive therapy is a wonderful tool research also indicates that approximately 50 percent of those who recovered experience relapse within the first two years.[iii]  It is also interesting to note that even among those who receive treatment, the functioning level is still at one standard deviation lower than norm.[iv]  While cognitive therapy contributes significantly to the treatment of depression it seems to suggest that when you do not think right you feel wrong.  Feeling bad does not belong to the human experience. In essence cognitive therapy suggests that one feels wrong because one thinks wrong.  There is nothing really wrong except that one feels wrong.  And this feeling wrong is the wrong feeling.  So think right.  While this reframing is enlightening, it also suggests at the very same time that feeling wrong isn’t right.  A potential conflict is introduced at another level. 

Another interesting example of this complexity is introduced by Foucault regarding psychoanalysis.  Freud sees neurosis as a symptom of repressed sexuality.  Foucault takes this a step further and suggests that repression is caused, in the first place, by the construct we create.  It is not so much repression as the construct that results in repression.  So Freud can psychoanalyze and brings everything to consciousness, thereby resolving conflicts.  But other causes remain, a defined sense of self carefully constructed  resulting in other forms of repression.  Reflecting on Foucault’s critique of psychoanalysis Dreyfus writes:

The ultimate form of alienation in our society is not repression and exclusion of the truth but rather the constitution of the individual subject as the locus of pathology.  Given our modern Western understanding of reality in all accounts of ourselves, whether hey be pseudoscientific or existential, “Man has a relation with himself and inaugurates that form of alienation that turns him into Homo psychologicus.”  All forms of psychotherapy can at best provide only isolated and temporary “cures.”  As manifestations of our everyday cultural practices, all psychotherapies solve individual problems without combating our general malaise.[v]   

 Every claim to reality whether, it be theological, philosophical, or psychological, brings with it potential conflicts.  Every reality implies a self one ought to be.  Psychological theories introduce ideas aiming at resolving conflicts.  But one needs to be aware, every idea has an inherent potential for resolving and creating conflicts. 

While we struggle with the ‘this’ and the ‘that’ in mental health, Chuang Tzu introduces us to wu wei, the art of doing nothing. Psychological theories seek inner reconciliation through cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal interventions.  The difference between current psychotherapies and religion

“lies in the present historical context where psychological theories have heightened awareness of the self.  This context forms the new reality through which one assesses oneself and others.  The self that must be reconciled is the self that must come to define itself through this awareness.  In this awareness, the language has changed. Instead of sin, we have the libido.  Instead of mutual dependency, we speak of codependency.  This is the reality that the self must be reconciled to…This is also where wu wei differs from these approaches.  While wu wei may employ, to some extent, cognitive and behavioral interventions, it questions the philosophical and theological basis of this definition of the self.  It questions the interpretation of reality upon which our culture arrives at the meaning of ‘healthy self.'”[vi]

Chuang Tzu invites us to return to the basic, the undifferentiated reality, to the principle of heaven and earth.  It is a return to the self as is.  It is a return to what is before we become dissatisfied with ‘is’ and obsessed with ‘ought.’  It is a return to the state prior to the ‘this’ and the ‘that’ distinction.  In this message, Chuang Tzu invites us to the sacredness of life. 

[i] This research studied 44 severely depressed patients.  19 of the patients were given cognitive therapy while the rest received antidepressant only.  Results show that 15 out of the 19 showed a substantive reduction of symptoms after twelve weeks of active cognitive treatment.  Two showed some improvement and one dropped off.  On the contrary, only five of the twenty five fully recovered.  Eight dropped off because of side-effects and the rest only showed partial improvement.  A. J. Rush, A. T. Beck, M. Kovacs, and S. Hollon, “Comparative Efficacy of Cognitive Therapy and Pharmacotherapy in the Treatments of Depressed Outpatients,” Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1, no. 1 (1977): 17-38.[ii] David D. Burns, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (New York: Avon, 1980), 79.[iii] National Institute of Mental Health/National Institute of Health (NIHM/NIH) Consensus Development Conference Statement, “Mood Disorders: Pharmacologic Prevention of Recurrences,” American Journal of Psychiatry 142 (1985):471.[iv] Leslie A. Robinson, Jeffrey S. Berman, and Robert A. Neimeyer, “Psychotherapy for the treatment of Depression: A Comprehensive Review of Controlled Outcome Research,” Psychological Bulletin 108, no. 1 (1990): 40.[v]Dreyfus, Foreword, Michael Foucault: Mental Illness and Psychology, xxxvii. [vi] Sorajjakool, Wu Wei, Negativity, and Depression, 47.

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I personally believe that life is a journey toward God.  Events, images, symbols, feelings and stories that we experience in our lives are signs (and at times archetypal in nature) that guide us toward greater understanding of who God is.  And that our final destiny is to become aware of who we are in God’s presence.  There are numerous religious/spiritual/philosophical literatures reflecting this journey that one has to go through.  We see this reflected in Derrida and Foucault’s deconstruction, Heidegger’s movement toward poetic expression in his later philosophy, Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu’s teaching about the path toward nothingness, and Kierkegaard’s rebel against Hegel’s Absolute Idealism.  Theirs were the necessary journeys toward authenticity.   Further the path also involves a clear distinction between finite and infinite where we come to see God as the Other Person, or in Kierkegaard’s term, the Wholly Other.  In these random encounters with God we have a glimpse of God’s kingdom and it is during these encounters with the Divine that we experience a taste of freedom and joy.  What prevent us from seeing God more clearly are the dark unresolved issues within our psyche.  As we are able to work through these issues, God becomes clearer and clearer to us.   There is a reciprocal process at work here. The clearer we come to see ourselves as we are, the greater clarity we have of God.  I think this is why, in my estimate, theology is biographical.  And to try to understand a theologian without his/her personal text is to miss seeing the whole picture. 

Because the unresolved issues often create hindrance to this development, greater clarity of God is often confessional in nature.  There seem to remain a residue within our psyche of those dark places of perhaps guilt, loneliness, pride, sadness, abandonment and complexes.  These elements are parts of who we are.  And the various plots of our lives are often dictated by the unconscious drive to solve the unresolved. The activities we engage in, the level of psychic energy, the choices we make, the extent of our rumination often speak of these places within.  When they are not attended to, they find ways to channel themselves externally.  And in these preoccupations, we confuse God with our psyche and we write our theology.  But through God’s grace, grace happens in people’s lives.  Grace is that sacred space that grants permission for confession.  Grace makes it possible for us to take a descending journey into the deeper parts of our psyche.  Grace is the pursuit of our bare narrative, a portrait that has not been retouched by us in our attempt to avoid anomaly.  It is within this confessional space that the fragmented self gradually comes to find itself.  And in this rediscovery of the authenticity of the self God stands before us as Wholly Other.  It is at this juncture that divine transference is slowly being absorbed by Divine Transcendence.  No doubt, it is a gradual process but it is a beginning.

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I noticed numerous inquiries through my search engine on the issue of hunger.  As I was browsing through various websites I came across some very helpful information from the UN World Food Program.  Here are some facts that you may find beneficial as you seek to understand the issue of hunger in the world.  

1. Malnutrition prevents children from reaching their full development and cognitive potential.

2. Almost one billion people regularly suffer from hunger; most are women and children.

3. One child dies every six seconds from hunger-related causes.

4. More people die of hunger every year than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. 

I gathered information from this website:  http://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/liaison_offices/wfp185786.jpg

You can find more helpful information from WFP website.

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