The prodigal Valentine tries again.

September 5, 2009 at 6:36 pm ("Like it says on the tin.", Media Divinia, my funny valentine, Prodigal Valentine) ()

Technological issues notwithstanding (I do not have the proper hardware to adequately run the world-simulator), I have found myself of late, attending the Second Life Meeting for Worship. It is by no means an adequate substitute for a face to face “real live” Quaker Meeting, as even the non-theist Friends agree.

Given the vagaries of geography and politics and religion, combined with how all three of those factors interact, it’s the closest I can come right now. It may provide only a dim light, casting shadows on a richer reality elsewhere, but it has given me at least a sense of what meeting face-to-face, just might be like.

Much harder work, for one thing. Sitting in meditative praxis in front of what is essentially a blank IRC chat window, is worlds and away easier than “sitting” via avatar, in a rich visual setting, with other representations of real people moving around in the environment around you. I never did have any success with the “blank your mind” meditative techniques, but I can see where being in an unfamiliar visual environment, can reinforce and even strengthen that type of praxis.

I am still using the gnostic guided meditation technique, however, although I have hit on the trick of focusing the meditations through the lends of the “centering thought” that is provided at the start of each Meeting. In today’s case, it was hospitality, along the lines of the quote (that I paraphrase badly) “go cheerfully throughout the world, seeing that of go[o]d in everyone you meet”, with several insightful queries appended.

Using the Thomasine meditations, I was struck again by how the allegories themselves, while they never change, consistently provide a shifting lens upon whatever topic I bring them to bear. Including this one. The first meditation, in all of the rosaries (indeed even the standard Roman Catholic, Buddhist and Anglican ones), are set to achieve what the Quakers refer to as “centering down”, and this I have found useful.

The second meditation, the woman with the jar of flour, was very much in line with the quote above, and I ruminated on that for some moments. Especially given that is one of my weak spots, and I more often leak darkness from the broken handle of the jar, than any kind of light. This journey is not about self-recrimination for me, however, it is merely about resolving to be more aware of my faults, before I actually engage in them.

The third meditation, the lost sheep, became more the idea of ‘bull in a china shop’ and how to meet those with whom we may not necessarily agree, or share the worldviews of. There was even some ministry regarding this, which was a pleasant coincidence.

During the fourth meditation, I became more aware of the idea that reality is entirely how I see it, and to change my reality, I need to change my perspective. The initial reaction by some to this might be “Do DRUGS!” but I’m taking a much less invasive (although no less neurochemical) approach to it, personally. I feel attuned to nature, ex., I could (and have done) sit and watch the spiders on my back porch busily spin their individual webs, and live their individual lives. Same with the blue jay that visits every year, or the ants busily making hills in the flower bed, or the moths that flicker around the lights at dusk.

My interactions with other people on the other hand, are not quite so fascinating. This is where I need to pull myself up, and it’s a key that I am only just realizing as I type it, it was not something that came up in MfW. In order for me to more easily interact with others, I have to see others (I may have to will myself to see it, but I certainly want to try) as unique, intricate, individual members of the animal kingdom, that every bug, spider, bird, and plant, that currently catches my attention is as well. Instead of automatically assuming the negative, I need to step back, and observe others as themselves. Good, bad, indifferent, I should find it all fascinating. Gaining insight into others might give me insight into myself.

It’s my crackpot theory, anyway, we’ll see how the testing phase of it goes.

The fifth meditation was very much about how little things often mean more (for good or for ill) to others, than do big, showy productions or trying too hard. I have always made at least a minimal effort to try and do little things for people, sometimes. This was also the point at which the allegory of the multiplied fishes and loaves (shared by both the christological figure and by Horus), kept popping up. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it at all, not even after I read the Johannine verses on it from the RSV.

I think the point was, at the end of the allegory, they sought the christological figure again, to punish him for being generous. In standard Christian fare, this is the source of the typical persecution complex. In allegorical terms, if you read the text from the beginning of the chapter, it indicates that the central character in the story planned the “miracle” all along. So it’s very much a satirical, cautionary tale; that if you go overboard, and do too much, out of a place of working great signs and wonders, you’ll definitely get taken down a peg for it!

Those are my initial thoughts about it. I do need to do some more research, however, and look into the original legend of Horus that the christological allegory was drawn from.

The sixth meditation was very much focused on seeing that of good in others, maybe beginning to see that of good in myself. Finally, the seventh meditation was, as it is in all of them, the concluding, ‘come back to reality’ type of wind-down that is its purpose. Come back to a more grounded, less anxiety-ridden reality, that is.

A lot of rambling thoughts, to try and describe 45min I still haven’t completely sorted through myself. But that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.



  1. Scot said,

    I have benefited from reading your thoughts posted here, Poimandrea. It is fascinating for me to see how you have made connections between your own practice of meditation and our MFW in SL today. I wil look forward to learning more from you.

  2. Gospel of Mikjij said,

    Thanks, Scot! I hope that my praxis and the MfW will intersect more, as time progresses. I hope to attend the Wednesday MfW, but no promises, as my vacation seems to be a bit busier than I had planned. 🙂

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