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Friday, June 26, 2009

Notes to plan calendars - personal and social

1a. What is the present situation in your country, city and/or town? For example, in politics, socially, social movements, religions, cultures, social structures, healthcare, education, the social "do's" and "don'ts", social climate.

b. How are you affected? What are the effects on your life - socially and personally? How do you feel? (E.g. do you rebel, retreat, accept, get frustrated or cynical?)

c. What do you think is needed? What would you like to do?

2. What is the Humanist Movement? Why is it needed? What is the proposal? How do we organise? (the structure, weekly meeting, collection etc.)

3a. What is the present situation of the Humanist Movement in your council, country, city and/or town? What are your objectives for the next month, 3 months, 6 months, one year? (structural, social, personal).

b. Why, How, Where, When, with whom? Draw up a personal calendar.

c. What are the joint needs? E.g. leaflets, workshops, registration, joint calendars. Draw up a joint calendar.

d. Is there a joint campaign? For example, Literacy campaign, Humanise Nigeria/Pakistan, education for all, Human Action Centres, multicultural (unity is strength).

4a. What could stop you achieving your objectives - personally and socially?

b. What are your strengths and virtues that can help you achieve you objectives?

c. What socially can help our projects?

5. Guided experience "The Journey".

Guided Experiences:

Guided Experiences are essentially exercises that employ "images" which put our imaginations to work. We consider the work with images to be an interesting resource to help give us new points of view, to give agility to our mental dynamics and ingenuity, to evoke certain emotions, to recall events in our lives, to open the future. These guided experiences help to make our existence more positive, strengthen our contact with ourselves, and aid us in the search for meaning in our lives.
One person reads the Experience, leaving gaps of 15-20 seconds at the asterisk (*), while the other participants follow. The Experience can be followed best if one shuts one's eyes, but if it is more comfortable with the eyes open.


I continue walking up the mountain path. I stop for a moment and look behind me. In the distance I see the thin blue line of a river, and what could be a grove of trees. Further, the reddish desert stretches away, vanishing in the mist of late afternoon.

I walk a few more steps. The path becomes narrower, and then disappears. I know that I still have the last and most difficult stretch to go until I reach the plateau. The snow hardly hampers my movements. I continue the ascent.

I reach a rock wall. I study it carefully, and I discover a crevice that I can climb. I begin to climb, hooking my mountain boots wherever I find a foothold.

I put my back against one side of the crevice while I pull myself up with an elbow and my other arm. I climb up.

Now the crevice has become narrower. I look up, and I look down. I am halfway up. It is impossible for me to move either further up, or back down.

I change the position of my body, and now I am facing flat against the slippery surface. I plant both of my feet firmly, and very slowly stretch one arm above me. I feel my moist breath reflected from the rock in front of my face. I grope with my fingers, not knowing whether I will find some small crack. I gently stretch out my other arm. I feel myself swaying. My head moves slowly away from the rock. Later, my whole body follows, and I'm about to fall backwards... but I find a crack in the stone. I grip it with my fingers as if they were hooks. Now I am firmly in place, and I continue the ascent climbing without difficulty in the final approach.

Finally, I reach the top. I stand upright, and an endless meadow appears before me. I walk forward a few steps. I turn around. Towards the abyss, it is already night. Towards the plain, the last rays of the sun radiate in multi-coloured hues. I am comparing both of these spaces when suddenly I hear a high pitched sound. As I look up, I observe a luminous disk suspended above me. Then, it begins to descend, circling around me.

It lands very close to me. Moved by an internal call, I approach it without any fear. I go inside, with the sensation of passing through a slightly warm curtain of air. Immediately, I feel my body becoming lighter. I am in a transparent bubble that is flat at the base.

Now, as if propelled by a large spring, we shoot straight up. I think we're going in the direction of Beta Hydris, or maybe towards NGC 3621.

I can briefly see the meadow below, bathed by the light of dusk. We are going up faster and faster. The sky becomes darker as the earth gets further and further away.

I can feel the speed increasing. Clear, shining stars become dimmer and dimmer, until they disappear in total darkness.

In front of me I see a single point of golden light, which begins to grow larger. As we go towards it, I see a vast opening that stretches into an extremely long, transparent corridor. Suddenly, we stop. We land on an open area. I cross through the curtain of warm air, and leave the bubble.

I'm standing between transparent walls; as I go through them, they make musical changes of colour.

I continue onward until I arrive at a space, and in the centre I see a vast moving object which is impossible to capture with the eye, because when my gaze follows any direction on its surface, it always loops back into the interior of the object. I feel dizzy, and I look away.

Now I find a figure which appears to be human. I cannot see its face. It extends a hand to me, in which I see a radiant sphere. I begin to approach, and, in an act of complete acceptance, I take the sphere and place it against my forehead. (*)

In total silence, I feel that something new is being born within me. Successive undulations and a growing Force bathe my body, and at the same time, from the deepest part of my being, a great joy wells up. (*)

Somehow I know that this figure is saying to me without words: "Return to the world with your forehead and your hands luminous." (*)

And so I accept my destiny. I return to the bubble, and go back through the opening, past the stars, and the meadow, and the rock wall. (*)

Finally, I am back on the mountain path, a humble pilgrim, returning to my people. (*)

Full of light, I return to the hours, to the daily routine, to the pain of humanity, and to its simple joys.

I, who give from my hands what I can, who receive both insults and fraternal greetings, sing to the heart which, from the darkest abyss, is reborn through the light of the longed for Meaning.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How do you live your life?

Dear Humanist,

Every single one of us lived our lives a different way.
Some of us grew strong, while others grew weaker by each day.

Some of us were healthy, while others were sick.
Some of us flew through the day, while others watched the minutes tick.

Some of us ran to help those in need,
While others took advantage and strengthened their greed.

Some of us were wealthy, while others remained poor.
Some of the diseases destroyed lives, while scientists searched for the

Some of us were fair, while others were not.
Some of us got away while others got caught.

Some of us were athletic while others remained still.
Some of us treasured life, while others searched for a way to kill.

Some of us were not afraid, while others remained meek.
Some of us were popular, while others were named as "the geek".

Some of us believed in God, while others didn't care.
Some of us believed life was cruel, while others believed it was fair.

Some of us lived life to the fullest, while others threw it all away.
Some of us gave up, while others seized the day.

Ask yourself:
what am I going to do with my life, live with purpose and meaning or live
with no purpose and no meaning?

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Dear Humanist,

If You Think You Can, You Can

You can be a total winner
Even if you're a beginner.
If you think you can, you can.
If you think you can, you can.

Raise that C up to an A.
Get in the school play.
If you think you can.

It's not your talent or the gift at birth.
It's not your bankbook that determines worth.
It's not the color or texture of your skin.
It's your attitude that lets you win.

You can ride your own black stallion.
You can wear a gold medallion.
If you think you can, you can.
If you think you can, you can.

You can learn to ride a bike.
Up a mountain, you can hike.
You can wear a diamond crown.
You can get back up, when you've been down.
If you think you can.

It doesn't matter if you've won before.
It makes no difference what the halftime score.
It isn't 'til the final gun if there were one.
So keep on trying and you'll find what you've won.
You grab your dream, and you believe it.
Go out and work, and you'll achieve it.

If you think you can, you can.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Dear Humanist,

If we ask someone to describe their life, sometimes what we hear is that their life is actually their job. They describe their job and their routine to us. Or, if someone has kids, we hear that a big part of their life is their kids, etc. It’s not very often that we perceive our lives as a whole, as a structure in which not just the things that we are doing now count, but also our whole past and our aspirations for the future. Our experiences as a child count as does our experience of the present, and perhaps most important of all is our experience of the future. If we see time as a linear development, like in a calendar, where the past becomes the present and the present turns into the future, then our future has not yet arrived. But, perhaps time is not as linear as we assume. Perhaps if we see our present as a fundamental part of our future, we may realize that it is in what we construct today that we will live in tomorrow...

Reading from Letters to my Friends, Letter 4, six

6. Image, Belief, Look, and Landscape

Let us suppose that one day I go into my room, and I see the window. I recognize it, it is familiar to me. I have not only a fresh perception of it, but also acting in me are my previous perceptions of it which, converted into images, have been retained within me. Suddenly, I notice a crack in one corner of the windowpane. “That wasn’t there,” I say to myself, on comparing the new perception with what I retain from my previous perceptions. And I also feel a sense of surprise.

The window of previous acts of perception has been retained in me, but not passively as in a photograph, rather actively, in the way that images function. What has been retained in me operates in the present with respect to what I perceive, even though the formation of those retentions pertains to the past. In this way the past is always present, always being updated.

Before entering my room I took it for granted, it was a given, that the window would be there in good condition. It was not that I was thinking about it, but simply that I was counting on it. The window itself was not explicitly present in my thoughts at that moment, rather it was co-present. It was within the horizon of objects contained in my room.

It is due to what is co-present, to this retention that is updated and superimposed on the perception, that the consciousness infers more than it perceives. And it is in this phenomenon that it is possible to see the most elemental functioning of belief. In this example I would say to myself: “I believed the window was in good condition.”

If upon entering my room I had seen phenomena proper to a different field of objects, for example a motorboat or a camel, this surrealistic situation would have seemed unbelievable, not because those objects do not exist but simply because their location in my room would be outside the field of my co-presence, outside the landscape I have formed that acts within me, superimposing itself on every single thing that I perceive.

Now then, in any present instant of my consciousness I can observe the inter-crossing of what has been retained and what is being futurized in me as they act co-presently and in structure. In my consciousness, the present instant is constituted as an active temporal field of three different times. Here things take place very differently from the way they occur in calendar time, where today is separate and distinct from yesterday or tomorrow. On the calendar and on the clock, now is different from no longer and from not yet, and events are ordered one after the other in a linear succession that I cannot claim to be a structure, but is rather a subgroup within a complete series that I call a calendar. I will return to these ideas again when we consider the themes of historicity and temporality later on.

For now, let us continue with the previous notion that the consciousness infers more than it perceives, through its use of what comes from the past as retentions, superimposed on present perception. In each look or act of looking that I direct toward an object, what I see is distorted. This is not meant in the same sense that modern physics explains our inability to see the atom or wavelengths that lie above or below our thresholds of perception. What I am referring to is the distortion related to the superposition of the images of retentions and futurizations on perceptions in the present.

Thus, when I contemplate a beautiful sunset in the countryside, the natural landscape that I observe is not determined by and in itself. Rather, I determine it, I constitute it through the aesthetic ideal that I hold. And the special peace that I feel gives me the illusion that I contemplate passively, when in reality I am actively superimposing numerous of my own internal contents on the natural object itself. This phenomenon holds not only for the present example, but for all looks that I direct toward reality.

So we see that in every moment the past and future are influencing my look towards things and other people. The past is not “behind me” and the future is not simply “not here yet” because they both affect me, working through my beliefs, through images in my head, through a direction in my life. They influence my present and how I understand and integrate the things that are happening to me now. If, for example, I believe that everything that happens to me has the ability to teach me something about myself, if I have this direction in my life, then I will deal with difficulties very differently than would someone who had another direction in life.

Very rarely do we perceive our life as a whole structure: past, present and future. The direction of our life is given by the future and not by the past or present and in order to understand this whole structure, it’s useful to work a little on this theme of the future.

Guided Experience -- Repetitions.


It is night time. I am walking along a poorly lit street. It's quite narrow like an alley. I cannot see anyone. Through the haze I can see a distant light. My footsteps resound with an ominous echo. I walk faster because I want to reach the next streetlight quickly.

When I reach that streetlight, I observe a human silhouette. The figure is about ten feet away. It is an old woman whose face is half-covered. Suddenly, in a broken voice, she asks me what time it is. I look at my watch and say, "It is three in the morning."

I walk away quickly, and again enter the haze and the darkness, wishing to arrive at the next streetlight which I can make out in the distance. When I reach it, again I see the same woman. I look at my watch which shows that it is 2:30. I begin to run towards the next streetlight, looking back over my shoulder. I can see that the silhouette just stands there as I get further away. I reach the next streetlight still running. The silhouette is waiting for me. I look at my watch. It is 2:00.

I begin to run faster, completely out of control, passing streetlights and old women until, exhausted, I stop in the middle of the street. I look at my watch, and see the face of the old woman reflected in the glass. I understand that the end has come...

In spite of all this, I try to understand the situation, and I ask myself over and over, "What am I running away from... What am I running away from?" The old woman's voice answers me, "I am behind you and I am in front of you. What has been will be. But you are very fortunate, because you have been able to stop and think for a moment. If you can resolve this, you will be able to get out of your own trap." (*)

I feel confused and tired. Nevertheless, I still feel there must be some way out. Something makes me remember many situations of failure in my life. I begin to remember the first failures of my childhood. (*)
Then, I remember the failures of my youth. (*)
Then, I remember my more recent failures. (*)
I realise that in the future, failure after failure will continue to be repeated. (*)

All of my defeats have had something similar about them, and it is that the things I
wished to do were not orderly. They were confused desires which ended up opposing
each other. (*)

Even now, I discover that many things that I desire to achieve in the future are contradictory. (*)

I don't know what to do with my life, and nevertheless I want many things in a confused way. Yes, I am afraid of the future, and I do not want to repeat my past failures.

My life is paralysed in this narrow, foggy alley, stuck between the pale glow of streetlights.
Suddenly, a light goes on in a window, and someone shouts to me, "Do you need anything?"
"Yes!" I answer. "I need to get out of here!"
"Oh, no... You cannot get out alone."
"Then tell me how to do it!"
"I can't, and if we keep shouting we are going to wake up all the neighbours, and one doesn't play games with the neighbours' sleep! Good night."

The light goes out. Then the strongest desire arises from within me: I must get out of this situation. I realise that my life will change only if I find an exit. The alley, apparently, has a meaning, but in reality it is nothing but a series of repetitions from birth to death. It is a false meaning, running from streetlight to streetlight, until at some moment my strength is finished forever.

Now I notice to my left a signpost with arrows and letters. The arrow for this alley indicates: "Repetitions in Life." Another indicates: "Denial of Life." The third is "Construction of Life." I remain in reflection for a few moments. (*)

I take the direction indicated by the third arrow. As I leave the alley and go out onto a wide and brightly lit avenue, I experience the sensation that I am about to discover something decisive.(*)