We Are at War with Islam

Can anyone doubt it anymore? We (the West) are at War with Islam in the same way that we were at war with Germany, Japan or Russia (war of the cold variety in that case).

I’m getting sick of people saying things like, “Not all Muslims are bad,” or, “The terrorists are a minority.” Both those statements are true, of course, but not every German was bad, nor every Japanese or Russian. War is always waged by the minority, but war is war, and we’re in the middle of one right now that is getting worse, especially because we do not adequately recognize.

ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) controls an area larger than the UK, and is sending adherents or sympathizers to places like . . . Paris. And Islamist terrorists have stuck far and wide, preying on innocent men, women and children, not as collateral damage (such as the US is so often accused of) but as intentional targets. Can you imagine the reaction if the US started targeting civilian targets with an aim to creating maximum terror amid it’s enemies in the Mideast? And yes, I think that makes “us” better than “them”. Why wouldn’t it?

And ISIL is but an extreme instance – think beheadings and burning people alive – of a worldwide phenomenon in Islam, which is an extremely intolerant religion/culture – it’s pretty hard to separate them. Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia (one of the West’s few allies in the Levant) treat women horribly – they aren’t even allowed to drive – not to mention homosexuals. Sharia law – think beheadings, the lash, and amputations – is widespread in Islamic countries. Hatred of Israel is ubiquitous – there is a store named “Hitler 2” in the Palestinian zone of Israel where face masks and knives are sold with terrorist mannequins out from. It’s wildly popular.

What about here in Canada? What about moderate Muslims? “Moderate” Muslims sounds suspiciously like an oxymoron to me. I think of the middle school in Toronto that allows Muslim prayers Friday afternoons in its auditorium. The boys sit up front, the girls behind them, and menstruating girls at the very back. Can you imagine a more disgusting way to treat a girl? A more accurate term would be “shaming a girl”, if you ask me. At that’s mainstream, so-called “moderate” Islam at work.

We in the West believe in the equality of men and women. Why aren’t the feminists screaming about this?

So no, not every Muslim is “bad”, and there is no excuse for so-called “hate crimes” – can’t we just call them crimes? – but but we cannot sweep our differences under the rug and pretend they don’t exist.

To do so is dangerous on so many levels.

Do You Believe?

I just watched “Do You Believe” on Netflix, a movie about life, death and Jesus from the people who made “God is not Dead”, whose theme was similar.

I liked it, a lot.

I’m not a fundamentalist, so I think they would be kind of disappointed in me, but that’s okay. I’m a Christian, but I take some of it metaphorically, which I think they would be doubly disappointed in me. I do not, for instance, believe that a loving God would consign anyone to an eternity of damnation for any reason.

I have a personal relationship with Jesus, but my faith goes beyond that.

How? If they dug up the bones tomorrow and proved that He did not rise from the dead, my faith in the spiritual dimension of life would not be diminished in the slightest. We are eternal spirits. Of that I am certain.

Which brings me to my point . . .

Just as my faith would survive the disproving of the Resurrection so would it survive any disproving of my core beliefs, including the existence of the soul.


Let’s be logical for a minute. When it comes to “the big picture”, there are only two alternatives, really: either we have an immortal soul or we don’t. God either exists or He doesn’t. Things matter or they don’t.

But there is a deep craving in the human psyche for meaning, for belief in something more than our limited earthly existence. Darwin couldn’t kill it, nor could any form of scientific rationalism. Nietzsche signed God’s death certificate, but He crawled out of the grave. People left the Church in droves, but their belief in “something” continued.

There really does seem to be a God-shaped space in the heart of Man.


Again, there are only two choices: that space exists because we know, deep in our hearts, that there is something–indeed, only one thing–that can fill it or there isn’t. But if there isn’t, why should it exist? Delusion? Wish fulfillment? Cowardice?

But it is our deepest conviction. Even atheists have a tendency to transfer it to some other ideal because it just – won’t – go – away.

And so, at our core, we either sense the truth of our spiritual existence or we are one – big – fat – hairy – joke.

And that’s the line in the sand for me, the absolute bedrock of my belief. Even if you could somehow prove to me that all of existence is a senseless prank of chaos theory, you cannot prove that about ME. Even if the universe is a joke, I’m NOT. I will not believe that, and no sane person should – “It’s all one meaningless and so am I” is the kind of talk that lands people in mental wards, so I’ll take a pass on that.

I believe in MYSELF, which means that I honour my deepest beliefs, which include my belief in the immortality of the soul and the meaningfulness of life. Why? Literally, because I do.

With apologies to Sartre, I AM therefore IT IS.

So, yes, I believe.

Here I am, back at the shore of Lake Ontario, not at sunrise this time, as I once did, but mid-afternoon, which seems fitting because I am not here to begin a quest for wholeness, as I was then, but to continue that journey, to expand and refine my application of its lessons in my everyday life.

The last time I was here, I was in crisis, desperately wanting to exorcise my demons and enter into a new way of living, one of greater insight and freedom, to get rid of what people euphemistically refer to as their “baggage”, which I called–more accurately, I think–my burden.

It’s been a couple of years since then, and I think that I have made a good start at it–perhaps, it’s a lifetime’s task, I do feel generally calmer and happier, I regain my balance more quickly when my equilibrium is disturbed, and it’s a lot quieter between my ears than it once was. Oh, I still have what the Buddhists call “monkey mind” but with fewer monkeys, calmer ones, too.

As I sit here on the shore, watching the waves come in, something tells me that it’s a metaphor, that I should do the same thing in my life, and that I have already begun to do so, that I should let things come to me instead of chasing after them and holding on to them, even if they are trying to slip away, as most things, eventually, do.

The waves roll in. I can see them coming from a distance, and then they crash on the sand before me–ooooh, that was a loud one! I cannot make them come faster or slower, nor can I prevent them from slipping back down the sand and away–only a lunatic would try.

The waves come and go, but the water is always there . . .

I recognize that, in my life, I have sometimes tried, in vain, to hang on to things that were, irrevocably, slipping away from me, like the receding waves I see now, and I am sure that I am far from the only person to have done so . . . me and my merry band of lunatics, comprising most of humanity.

But no metaphor is perfect.

In my life, I do not sit on the shore watching the waves; I am out there among them–I am a wave myself.

And there are deep forces at work.

There is, I believe, a resonance that brings certain waves to me and me to them, even if it is not apparent, and those waves are not simply lateral but move in all dimensions and direction, interacting, reinforcing or negating each other, weaving experiences and impressions . . . creating the fabric of our lives.

And in that interplay, we attract not what we want (as those who, in programs like The Secret say) but what we are. Opposites may sometimes attract, but like and like resonate.

I choose to trust that resonance, and when I do, a voice deep within me sighs, “Yes.”

I trust that which truly resonates with me. I believe that that which truly serves and nurtures me will appear, and that since it is right for me, I need not try to hold on to it, only to be present and open myself to it, acceptingly . . .

. . . just as I am right now, right here on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Quo Vadis, Ego?

“Quo Vadis?” means, “Where are you going?” And, as the title of this post indicates, I am asking that question of the ego.

Many who pursue a spiritual life seek to release themselves from what they see as the tyranny of the ego. Wayne Dyer, for instance, draws a sharp distinction between the ego and the higher self, leaving no doubt as to which he prefers. Much of the time, it sounds as though he would like to be rid of it altogether. Perhaps now, in death, he has. Who knows?

But we live here, at least partly – and I would say largely – in the physical world.

I may be oversimplifying a bit, and people who know more than I do may wish to correct me, but I see a real difference between Buddhism and Yoga, and it is in how they approach the idea of enlightenment.

The Buddhists see the self (including the ego) as an illusion with no permanence that they wish to dissolve in order to become enlightened. Of course, to me, if the self has no permanence, it is hard to imagine what aspect of ourselves becomes enlightened. Wouldn’t it be a contradiction in terms, as a Buddhist, to even say, “I” seek to become enlightened?

The yogis see things differently. They, along with the Hindus, believe in an unchanging core to our being, a permanent soul, what they call an “atman”. And they seek enlightenment by contacting that deeper self and allowing it shine through the rest of their being, bringing enlightenment to the whole person.

If I understand this correctly, the ego is not annihilated, it is bathed in spiritual energy – and that, to me, feels much better as an idea and as a goal, one that makes it, indeed, possible to say, “I” seek enlightenment.

At that makes a tremendous amount of sense to me because the ego can also be looked at as the will, the part of us that chooses, and even pursuing enlightenment is a choice, presumably from the ego, is it not?

And so, personally, I choose to seek deeper communion with my deepest, most authentic self so that it may illuminate my whole being, including my ego rather than commit what strikes me as a kind of suicide of the ego or perform an egoectomy.

I trust myself. I believe that the universe, somehow, works, even when it sometimes does not seem to. I believe that I am not a flawed being, a mistake, a joke. And I certainly have no intention of choosing (with my will or ego) to destroy that integral part of my being.

I believe that every part of our being is good and important, including that ego. Problems can arise when it is out of balance, when it becomes the master, edging everything else out, but then the answer is to get it back into balance, not destroy it!

One of Wayne Dyer’s more clever teaching analogies – for he is a primarily a teacher, to my mind, in his public persona – was to refer to the EGO as an acronym for Edging God Out, as an out of balance ego sometimes does.

And what’s the answer to that? To edge God back in, to put the psyche back in balance.

One of my personal challenges has been one of balance. While I have had to deal with a number of security issues (which Eastern Philosophy would say come from the lower chakras), I also have a tendency to live in my head. On person I used to know said, it’s a wonder your head doesn’t float off your shoulders. And so my challenge has been to rebalance my psyche, to become more grounded, through things like gardening and therapy (both formal and self-directed), not to cut off my head because it was too predominant (as some people would do with their own egos if they feel that they are too driven by it).

And excising the ego doesn’t even work, if you ask me. The ego is a tricky beast that will do just about anything to survive. I have even seen the marvel of some spiritual seekers who become quite egotistical about it, even to become egotistical (prideful) about their humility! It is, as they say, “a mug’s game” (an activity in which it is foolish to engage because it is likely to be unsuccessful or dangerous).

I admit that I have had to reign in my ego from time to time, even frequently, and I am interested in ways of doing it. I will share a few of them:

  1. In general terms, when I catch myself getting carried away with myself, I remind myself that I am getting out of balance and need to see things in a more balanced way. The best way to do that – and I suppose this could be applied to any method in this list – is through awareness. I ask myself why I am becoming so ego-driven, and the answer is always the same: I feel, in some deeper way, insecure, and am trying to overcompensate with a burst of bravado from the ego. I then ask myself where that comes from, and it’s usually some incident (often from way back) that made me feel bad about myself. I further ask myself if I really should feel bad about it, and the answer is usually no. I try to repair the damage by shining a little awareness on it, and getting a little more realistic about my supposed failing (which is never as bad as it seems), and balance is restored with – and I think this is crucial – no direct combat with the ego – in a very natural subsidence.

This is not narcissism or letting myself off the hook for my responsibilities; this is getting things in balance. It is not a way of dealing with genuine guilt, either; it is a way of dealing with shame.

Brene Brown draws the distinction between guilt and shame more clearly and effectively than anyone else I have heard or read. She says, “Guilt is feeling that I made a mistake; shame is feeling that I am a mistake.” Big difference! So if we have guilt over something, some kind of realization followed by action is necessary, the simplest being an apology and attempt at sincere restitution. But with shame, at least according to the way Brown is defining it, the methodology is quite different. But that’s the subject of a whole other post . . .

  1. Meditation. It stops the chatter, and ego just loves chatter. Enjoying the peace of stilling what Buddhist call “monkey mind”, jumping from one frantic thought to another, is great for giving the ego a much needed rest, a vacation, and things fall into better perspective.
  2. Creativity. This doesn’t have to been writing or music (my own favoured outlets). It can be anything creative: painting, photography, carpentry, cooking, anything that results in something brought into being that wasn’t there before. You get lost in it, and it stills the mind, especially the ego.
  3. Repetitive tasks. Anything repetitive tends to still the mind. Even washing a floor. Works every time for me.
  4. Physical work or exercise. Ever wonder how jocks sometimes get that zoned out look? It’s from the joy of tuning into the body and quieting the mind.
  5. Placing yourself in inspiring circumstances. The sunrise always does it for me. For you it might be some other vista, or going to the symphony . . .

You may have some tips for me, things that do not appear on the list above. Please feel free to write them in the comment section.

My humility will thank you.

And to answer the question in the title, Quod vadis, ego? or Where are you going, ego?”


Too many concepts?

Is it a ghost?

Is it a ghost?

Is it a clown??

Is it a clown??

Is it a . . . vampire???

Is it a . . . vampire???

How many concepts can you cram into one product?!

I was shocked to see this advertisement in a local bus shelter:


A little hard to read? I’ll enlarge the relevant section:

bus shelter

The gist of it is that you can receive various city services, including securing licenses and permits, help getting a job, and various recreational services regardless of your immigration status, even if you’re an illegal immigrant! You could be a Jamaican drug dealer sneaking back into the country after being deported for criminal activity or a Muslim terrorist intent on blowing up buildings and cutting off heads, and the city will help you out with my tax dollars – no questions asked.

And they’re advertising it in bus shelters!

“Insanity” doesn’t quite cover it.

This is going to repeat some material from a recent post, but I figure that’s okay because, this time, I have a picture. Here is is:


That’s an x-ray of my right elbow with three metal plates and I’m not sure how many screws. I went to a followup appointment with the surgeon who put them in, and he told me that he was really pleased with my progress and that my range of motion should continue to improve. Since I only have about 10º to go before I achieve the full normal range of motion, I’m going to bet, with some confidence, on a full recovery.


Which brings me back to my theme: don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.

Years ago, I was told that I would not be allowed to take instrumental music in junior high school because I didn’t have the talent. I became a professional musician and ended up teaching the same course that I had not been allowed to take (at a different junior high school in the same school board).

A few years later, I was told that I would never be able to get a driver’s licence because I could not see well enough to pass the eye test. Some years after that, they improved contact lenses, I passed the eye test and got a driver’s licence (though I have declined to own and operate a car out of consideration for generations yet unborn).

When I broke my left elbow for the second time, a physiotherapist told me that I would not recover my full range of motion. I knew better, and I was right.

Again, this time with a much worse injury (as you can see in the x-ray), I was told by a physiotherapist that I would not recover my full range of motion. At that point the extension (straightening out) was 20º and the flexion (bending) was 120º. Now it is 10º and 130º. After seeing the surgeon today and hearing his assurance of further improvement, I feel even more confident about a full recovery.

About a year ago, my blood pressure shot up to 195/105, which is very high – normal is 120/80 – getting uncomfortably close to stroke and heart attack range. The doctor told me that I would be on medication for the rest of my life. Unwilling to accept that, I read a number of books, saw a doctor who practised orthomolecular medicine (which balances naturally occurring substances in the body rather than prescribing drugs), and began a regime of exercise, diet, and supplements. It only took about three months to get my blood pressure down to normal where it has remained ever since.

By the way, I don’t think I managed to do these things because I’m particularly talented or intelligent; I think that the secret to my success is that I don’t like people telling me what I can’t do – in fact, I don’t like being told to do anything, to be honest about it.

Louise Hay, in her book You Heal Your Life, writes that people who get broken bones have a problem with authority. Is that true of me? Let’s just say that I have broken my right forearm, left elbow (twice), right elbow (really badly), and two toes.

And I’m really, really stubborn.

These may be character flaws, but they can have their upsides.

And when I get back the full range of motion in my right elbow back, I’m going to send my most helpful surgeon and most unhelpful physiotherapist a set of three pictures:

The first will be of my right arm fully extended at a normal 0º. The second will be of my right arm fully flexed at a normal 140º. The third . . . ?

Well, the surgeon and the physiotherapist will get two different pictures. The surgeon – God bless him! – will get a picture of my smiling self with my right thumb raised. The physiotherapist will see a different digit raised.

Can you guess which one?

I’ll be posting them here.


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