Philisophical Musings

of an agnostic polyamorous heterosexual artistic soul

Couples in Conflict

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Love without limits by Dr. Deborah Taj Anapol

Written by Philoman

March 9, 2011 at 10:09 am

The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by André Comte-Sponville

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I have started reading this small book, literally ‘little’, about how spiritualism can be found, even in a world where God might not exist. Atheism, even in my short experience, gets a bad rap, not only because we claim there might not be a God. It is often, as an afterthought, assumed that atheists therefore are not even spiritual, or at least, if they claim to be, it is not a ‘legitimate’ spirituality. The French philosopher André Comte-Sponville wants to put forth the idea that Religion and Spirituality need not be so intertwined as they are in our western culture. But more than just stating that one can choose for a spiritual life even in the absence of God, this book carries a powerful message of tolerance.

In the introduction we read:

Is it a struggle against religion? No; rather, it is a struggle in favor of tolerance, in favor of the separation of church and state, in favor of the freedom to believe or not believe. The spirit is no one’s private property, nor is freedom.

And further on, we can begin to get a taste of where this desire for tolerance starts:

Even my way of being an atheist bears the imprint of the faith to which I subscribed throughout my childhood and adolescence. This is nothing to be ashamed of or even surprised at. It is part of my history – or rather, it is part of our history. …Being an atheist in no way entails being amnesiac. Humanity is one; both religion and irreligion are part of it; neither are sufficient unto themselves.

According to the author, the separation of church and state is the tool with which to combat fanaticism on the one side and nihilism on the other. It remains for atheists to invent the spirituality that goes with this. This book sets out to describe how that spirituality could look like by attempting to answer three ‘essential’ questions. Firstly, ‘can we do without religion’? Secondly, ‘does God exist’? And thirdly, ‘can there be an atheist spirituality’?

Atheists have as much spirit as everyone else; why would they be less interested in spiritual life?

Written by Philoman

February 20, 2011 at 10:15 am

Drawing the short straw

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Relationships are not easy. We all know this. Just making things work out with one other significant person in your life can be a challenge enough. Bring another person into the equation and your challenges more than double. And what is the most discussed challenge of relating to multiple partners? That would have to be jealousy.

I can only truly say that I am still in the learning stages of how to relate to more than one person intimately. Even when one is very open to alternative ideas, the challenges remain. I can find it relatively easy to adjust my thinking in a certain direction to accommodate certain realities, but it is sometimes hard to judge how other partners will react. Each decision involves multiple opinions, as many as their are partners.

A common assumption made concerning PolyAmory is this idea that someone in the relationship will be coming up short. Someone will pick the ‘shorter straw’. But is this really true? Is it really always a case of one getting less, while the other gets more? Is it even possible to build a healthy relationship on the idea that there is always someone getting a raw deal? My instinct says ‘no’.

I believe that to really practice PolyAmory, partners must build an understanding amongst themselves that there actually is (or should be) no ‘short straw’. Every person involved in the relationship, unless specifically agreed upon, has a straw of the of the same length. Or, alternatively, you could say that everyone gets the short end of the straw. Let’s just say there are different types of straws: ‘daily’ straws, ‘special’ straws and ‘lifetime’ straws. I know, this may be taking an allegory too far, but bear with me… I think it will make sense.

Let’s start with the ‘lifetime’ straw. If one chooses to be in relationship with another person, let’s say a monogamous relationship, there is a certain amount of risk involved. It might be a perfect match, but more often than not, relationships run into barriers and potholes which make relating difficult. But, let’s say that this monogamous relationship is working. In terms of the possible risks taken, you might say that both partners have ‘drawn the long straw’. They have both chosen for a situation where they can both be happy. They both have a long ‘lifetime straw’.

Now, say partner One begins feeling trapped, or feels a need to make changes to the relationship, but doesn’t know how. This partner starts feeling inadequate, or unhappy. In this sense, you could say that partner One’s straw has gotten shorter. After all, if one person is happy in the relationship while the other is unhappy, there is a sense of imbalance or unfairness. This feeling of unfairness is what I refer to when I describe someone as having ‘drawn the short straw’. Interestingly enough, if one partner starts to feel unhappy in a relationship, it doesn’t take long until the other also is affected and becomes restless…in effect, partner Two’s straw also starts feeling ‘shorter’. It is probably impossible to say, at any given moment, which partner feels that their own straw is the shortest.

Now, we move on to the part of the relationship where partner One meets another (unhappy) person, partner Three, and finds other needs met in that new relationship. Clearly, partner Two is not going to feel that their straw is any longer… if anything, it just got shorter…again. On the other hand, partner Two, in the new relationship, has found more happiness in life. One may assume that partner Three is also happier in the new relationship, so in effect, yet another longer straw. Now we are left with partner Two, wondering how short the straw can still get. Eventually, it is conceivable that, if partner One feels happier and more complete moving between two relationships, partner Two can also regain some of her happiness in the relationship. After all, what point is there to being in relationship unless everyone is happy? As I said, it is conceivable, maybe not probable.

Conventional wisdom tells us that, in order to be happy, someone will have to leave this relational equation (better known as a ‘triad’). But who is to say that conventional wisdom is always right? This same wisdom would potentially mean that one of these three partners will remain unhappy while the remaining two, whichever they be, supposedly become even happier. Granted this is certainly very possible, and maybe the only practical way to solve the dilemma, I believe there is another possibility, which might not always be possible, but definitely is viable: PolyAmory.

to be cont…

Written by Philoman

February 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

Bubbles in the surf

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This morning, koggala beach, 6:30 AM after a half hour run, I made an attempt to meditate. I guess the sand fleas put an end to that. I think they must have been attracted to the sweat still on my body. Concentration with my eyes closed was not to be an option. As I stared out at the surf, I lost myself in thought as the waves crested, broke and rolled, expending their short lived bravado until the next wave came to suck them up.

As I was watching, I saw how the crashing of the wave produced an immense amount of foam. What seemed like a white mass of churning water was actually millions of small bubbles of air, ranging in size from the mostly imperceptible to fist size. Millions of invisible air molecules, struggling to break free from a thin film keeping them prisoner, if only momentarily. From so many levels, it is fascinating to think about what is going on here. Where did those molecules of air come from? Were they plucked from the air as the wave crashed in on itself? Or maybe they were released from the water after passing through any number of sea creatures. And where does the power of the waves come from, why does it never stop? How small can a grain of sand become? Is there a limit, or does it simply continue eroding until it is no longer visible to the naked eye?

As I watched the foam being beat out of the water and making its way towards shore, i noticed that although many millions of bubbles began the journey, only a few managed to reach the shore, and of those, even less managed to last long enough to be carried back towards the next crashing wave. And i thought, what if each of those bubbles represented one of us and the journey from crest to shore stood for our lives.

If we mark the shoreline, the farthest point to which a bubble might reach, as the “ideal life”, we will see that most never even reach that point. Of all the millions of bubbles created when the wave first crashes, only a small select group will make it to the shoreline. A few, very few, will actually last long enough to be pulled back out towards sea, only to be met by the next wave arriving at shore.

How much is this just like our lives? Every person has some sort of “ideal life” they hope to fulfill. This could be long life. Or wealth. A large family, lots of grandchildren. I would say that most people the world over see as part of an “ideal life” the ability to get old while staying healthy, and if wealth goes along with that, all the better. But how many ever achieve such results? Probably about the same minority as bubbles which reach the shoreline. There are still many countries in the world where the average age at death remains around 40-60, not exactly a ripe old age in the modern world. Alternatively, in our country, where many do in fact reach a respectable age before dying, they are often not particularly healthy, and more often not terribly happy. And in this sense, their bubble has also burst before reaching the shoreline.

And who is to say which bubble i am, or you are? Fortunately we have little say in that. It is a combination of awareness, hard work and, in the end, luck, to be able to count yourself among those lucky few.

Written by Philoman

December 3, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Just words

Words to a Woman

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If you never hear it from anyone else, then you heard it from me.

You are a flower, a gift, sweet as the spring breeze. You are as fresh as a summer sun shower. You are beautiful, inside and out. In a world where none is perfect, you come the closest yet.

My pen wants to continue writing, but what is the point? It will all be more of the same. You get the point. I could fill a book with the things that come to mind when I think of you.

Written by Philoman

December 3, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Just words, Love

Security in relationship

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“Security for me comes not from being #1, whatever that means; but rather from trusting that I do care about my partner’s happiness, I am committed to seeing those relationships grow in ways that enrich everyone’s lives, and I am not going to pursue new partnerships that are destructive to my existing partners.” – Franklin Veaux in a dialog which offers insight into both polyamorous and monogamous world views.

Written by Philoman

August 31, 2010 at 9:01 pm

I would describe love as…

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In his book Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, John Welwood defines love with these amazing words:

I would define love very simply: as a potent blend of openness and warmth, which allows us to make real contact, to take delight in and appreciate, and to be at one with – ourselves, others, and life itself. Openness – the heart’s pure, unconditional yes – is love’s essence. And warmth is love’s basic expression, arising as a natural extension of this yes – the desire to reach out and touch, connect with, and nourish what we love. If love’s openness is like the clear cloudless sky, its warmth is like the sunlight streaming through that sky, emitting a rainbow-like spectrum of colors: passion, joy, contact, communion, kindness, caring, understanding, service, dedication, and devotion, to name just a few.

Written by Philoman

July 29, 2010 at 8:13 pm