Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Many moons ago, in the early 1970’s, I suppose I could get the exact date if I cared to do the research, I watched the very first Saturday Night Live telecast.  It was a total shock - a howl - we had never seen anything like this on TV before.  Laugh-in paved the way and SNL created the expressway.  There is really no comparison between those early shows and the lame SNL production of today.  Anyway, that is not what I want to talk about.  The one bit I remember the best started out as, what everyone thought was, a regular Gillette commercial for a new razor.   The Gillette Triple Header.  At the time there was no such thing and the commercial was introducing it.  I was a hippie and had a beard so I was only paying moderate attention as the commercial extolled the magic of three separate shaving heads.  Then at the very end, John Belushi, as the announcer, says, “The Gillette Triple Header, because You will believe Anything.”   I fell over I laughed so hard.  Who knew that thirty years later we would have just such a product, which people buy, convincing themselves that it is better.  Schick even has a quad head.  Geeze.  
Myself, I have gotten along with a double edge safety razor since I was 18 and it is fine.  Granted I have a really good German made one but that is only because I could not find an American made safety razor of comparable value, in fact when the Gillette one I had used for the past 20 years wore out, I couldn’t find one at all.  Maybe at a flea market.  I expect the German one I have to be used by my grandson and maybe his grandson, it is that well made.  What do we have of comparable value?
It is the same in spirituality.  We tend to accept what we are told is true, maybe because we really want to.  We want to believe that the people we trust are trust worthy and have our best interests at heart, just like the Gillette company wants you to have the best shave and constantly strives to improve it’s product.  Uh-huh.  What I am coming to believe more and more is that it is individual.  
There is this young woman with whom I speak occasionally who lives in Chicago.  From my point of view she is really young to be delving into spiritual things but that is kind of beside the point.  She is constantly questioning me, demanding that I explain, criticizing my style, asserting other points of view.   It is very refreshing.  I wish more people did that.  What it means is that I cannot simply assert any ole thing and expect her to swoon in delight at my pronouncement.  Nope, I have to have my stuff together and be willing to go deep into a subject.  
I seem to find people like this, the ones who are not going to simply accept.  And that is what I wish for everyone.  We all want an identity, we want something to tell us what we are, baseball fan, mom, steel worker, Christian, Muslim, whatever.  All of these identities give reassurance but they have rules.  Even being a mom has cultural rules, standards that the culture expects a mom to follow.  And most do.  What the true mystic does however is participate in the culture he is in while knowing that it is just cultural and not fixed.  As near as I can tell, God has no partiality for any culture, though those cultures do tend to think, in fact often demand, that God does.  
The key I think is to honor the culture one finds oneself in while also recognizing that it is cultural and not the whole of anything.  God, or the Universe, or whatever you might want to call it is not cultural except in as much as the many cultures are part of the whole.  
Give it some thought and see what comes.
Love and Blessings, Musawwir


Fawna said...

I think it is funny that you think she is too young because it is the youngest children that touch me most deeply with their words and observations.

I am in agreement about your cultural assertions, but I think that some among us feel it is our responsability to go against the flow if we see a cohesive line of change needs to be demonstrated.

Often, it is the demonstration of alternatives which causes the most urgently needed changes to take oplace on a cultural level.

Musawwir said...

Thank you for your comment. As to the young lady, I didn't mean that she is too young and I am sorry if I implied that. I do however find it rare for a teenager to want to delve deep into serious metaphysics. It is not unheard of, just rare, so I am still kind of getting used to the idea.

Sarala said...

* SNL - like most good things that outlive their time, current SNL is sadly lacking. The early days were genius.

* YOU were a HIPPY with a BEARD? I'm shocked :-)

*..."30 yrs later we would have just such a product" Isn't it a bummer that ridiculous fiction becomes reality? George Orwell, John Belushi, etc.

* Your old German razor - is ANYTHING made with the same care and quality as the 'good old days'? I think anyone who makes anything should be made to sign it. Wonder what a difference that might make?

* Wanting to believe that people are trust worthy - maybe it's my many years in marketing and advertising, but I start at the other end of the trust spectrum, usually. Or maybe I'm really from Missouri - "show me"

* ...not going to simply accept... yes, that's me. As far as identity, I'd actually rather not. Have one singular religious allegiance, that is.
As far as culture, I am trying to do as you suggest. My latest 'advancement' is that I suddenly realized that it's not that Philadelphia is in a state of chaos, it's that the 'rules', or 'order'' here are fluid. OK, as long as no-one gets hurt. Last week a woman was nearly killed when a speeder on I95 cut her off and forced her into the wall. And continued on his way. I wonder what was he thinking? Did he MEAN to cause her harm, or was he simply selfish, blind to the effects of his choices? What does that say about human kind?
Within seconds, two other cars stopped and two men, strangers to her and each other, worked to free her from the wreck as the tires exploded and the engine burned. They succeeded just as the cabin burst into flames. I want to see this as unconscious choice on the first part and fully conscious choice on the second and third. If we quantify that, I guess that means "goodness" is ahead of "blindness," two to one.

* many cultures as part of the whole - maybe that's why I seek roommates of other cultures/countries. It certainly keeps me open about the fluidity of what is "right."

Fawna said...

I guess it has to start somewhere…

Musawwir said...

Indeed, what is always exciting to me is realizing that, if I am thinking these things and others are agreeing or saying similar things, then the thoughts are our there, in the Universe, being processed to eventually become reality. My very best friend is convinced that all of these wishes and desires for a saner way of living is in fact coming about. Perhaps she is right. Maybe the imortant thing is to believe that it is possible because you see it as opposed to feeling it will never happen because others do not.

Nurelhuda said...

Hmmm acceptance? I think for me I am more likely to believe in things rather than not.My critical thinking faculties are only just developing.About knowing that culture is only culture and not turning it into dogma, ok I got the message, no really I got the message ..this time I got it ..yes I assure you I got it...

jules said...

Culture can be a wonderful thing, the refinement of the mind, education the customs of a given people. Something to embrace.
Culture is also the production of a bacteria on a medium. Dogma, dictatorship, authoritarianism, The Third Reich.
I believe as Fawna has said that there are those among us who have the roll of the catalyst. Whose responsibility it is to go against the flow to seek out and offer the alternatives which may lead to change.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Rare but real.
So real it hurts very very deeply now.
I'm sorry she's mad and I'm sorry if I caused you any problems in your life. Good Luck


amber said...

my mother always made me go to southern baptist church.i never felt quite right there.i always questioned religion.then one day i finally realized what it all came down to,,comfort.i came to this conclusion from something my dad dad is adopted,there is no way he could know anything about his biological a child he made up a story that his dad was in the war and his mother couldnt afford another baby,.having 4 already.he told me this one day when i was about 11 or 12.i thought,why would he make up such a story.then it came to me.he wanted to know so badly where he came from that he lied to himself and continued that lie until now it has become truth to him.much like religion..we are all just confused orphans wondering where we come from and where we go when we die that we had to create something to comfort me the trick is,,finding the fantasy that soothes your soul the most.