Among the whirling dervishes


Dear Artist,

In dark light, a dozen musicians mysteriously appear wearing long black cloaks and tall, earthen-coloured hats. They begin an undulating, repetitious, trance-like melody. After some considerable time, five more similarly-attired characters arrive and slowly circle in formalized steps, bowing to one another. Awhile later, like the blossoming of a flower, they drop their black capes and step forward in full-length white skirts. One by one, at random, they begin to turn. With one arm toward the sky and one to the earth they whirl, skirts flying, their heads bent to one side. The music heightens and the dervishes keep pace with the beat.


Around and around in a trance of abandoned self

After awhile the five slow down, pause, contain themselves and slowly regroup. Bowing once more, in their own time they begin again. Faster and even more frenetic this time, they whirl in dream-like sublimity. Eventually, the whirling and insistent music diminishes. As the characters return to their black cloaks, a lone male voice sadly and lovingly sings in praise of God and gives thanks for life, the seasons, and the eternal turning of the universe.

The Sufis are a mystical brotherhood of Islam. An early founder of the Sufi sect was Rumi, born in present-day Afghanistan in 1207. His religious breakthrough came when he decided he had to be a “lover” to become a chosen one. This, he found, was a way of removing ego and joining with God, to become a living example of limitless being, and not to be contained by this world. Unlike some other religions and contrary to orthodox Islam, Sufism maintains that the universe is under man’s command. At the core of Sufism is the desire for sublimity, morality, knowledge, wisdom, love, intelligence. Some Sufis are helped into those states by whirling.

Naturally, I wondered whether some of these ideas might parallel the making of art. The music is both rhythmic and repetitious, almost like the sort of music that some artists use to provide a trance-like, creative “zone.” The dizzying whirl, actively taught by Sufis, requires concentration and personal containment. Each dervish, while respectful of others, maintains his own inner world. It’s the activity itself, with all its discipline and rigor, that provides the transcendent state. Sufi practice, like making art, brings the practitioner closer to an understanding of who he is and what he’s good for. Control and self-control are at the center of the dervish cult.

Best regards,


PS: “Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about.” (Rumi)

Esoterica: Sufism invites a personal and direct understanding of self and the greater world. It claims to offer solutions to daily living including the control over self and renewed respect for human relationships. “Proper” attitudes and actions have the effect of raising one to an exalted and noble state.

“In your light I learn how to love.

In your beauty, how to make poems.

You dance inside my chest where no one sees you,

But sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” (Rumi)


Exalted States
by Charles Peck, Punta Gorda, Florida, USA


“reflecting on seeing”
pastel on paper
by Charles Peck

Once again an inspiring interlude in my day is your letter and this time it seems you’ve traveled to Turkey and off the beaten path to find those intriguing elements of Turkish culture. For those of us pacing about in our studios these episodes are great … thanks and now let’s see … hmmmm … ya know that surface over there has been waiting on me — I’ll just have a go at this “whirling dervish” as a painting style and see where it ends up — splish, splash, off to take a paint bath…




Dervishes whirl through paintings
by Rose van Staden


“Mystic Love Poems”
original painting
by Rose van Staden

I am so happy and amazed to see the letter about the whirling dervishes! I was there last year and went especially to see the whirling dervishes. It was the year of RUMI last year, (2007) and I had just had an exhibition, the theme of which was, Mystic Love Poems, based on the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz (there are some lovely poems of Hafiz translated by Daniel Ladinski, really worth buying!, The Gift, I heard God Laughing, and The Subject tonight is Love). I had whirling dervishes dancing through my paintings! The museum at Konya where Rumi lived was amazing. Reading your letter brought vivid pictures to mind of that memorable visit!




Whirling into a new life
by Jenifer Crowell, Beaufort, NC, USA


“Dolphin Joy”
acrylic painting, 24 x 48 inches
by Jenifer Crowell

I am very thankful for your twice-weekly letters, and particularly in these challenging times. Of course for the world, and on a personal note, my companion, Steve is home after having broken his lower spine, his wrist, rib and lost teeth, after a 12 foot ladder fall while at work. We have no insurance and our lives have been forced, WHIRLING into a new life that neither one of us expected or desired. Everything has been altered into another realm. I can be Nurse Ratchett, or I can find moments of kindness. Overall, I am looking out for his healing, but also for my own sanity, which seems questionable at times. I’ve produced only one painting since this event, and I still haven’t decided if it’s finished or not. But I do see some WHIRLING of sorts in it. We are in over our heads with a mortgage we can’t afford, we live in a tourist town and my livelihood is dwindling, he can’t work, and I am now a full time nurse. Our love has never been easy. We are both creative souls, yet our ability to show and accept love has not been the brightest of lights. I am not sure where this road is going. I know that somewhere inside I will handle it.

There is 1 comment for Whirling into a new life by Jenifer Crowell

From: MariePinschmidt — Oct 24, 2008

Jenifer, if I may offer a bit of encouragement. None of us can rely on tea leaves to map out our destiny. I found that caregiving forced me to hang onto my only means of personal survival – my painting. My art gave me moments of restorative respite during difficult times. It saved my sanity and it can work for you. I found I was much stronger than I previously believed – and, best of all, instead of our relationship deteriorating, it blossomed into a blessing. Your art is the one thing you can believe in and on which you can depend.

Hang in and just do the best you can. Remember, everything is temporary – except maybe art!


Serious illness and creativity
by Susan Terracina Adler, Santa Rosa, CA, USA

Recently I had to cancel an exhibit because I had ruptured a disc in my spine. For two months I could not paint, not even sit up for very long at all. Maybe it was the effects of the pain medications I was on, but I thought I had lost my ability to create. For me, painting kept me emotionally strong and excited. I sunk into a depression, and once I could get around without crutches and make my way to my studio, I found I was lacking the spark I had once felt. As I prepared for my next showing, it seemed like a chore to complete each piece.

Can you comment on serious illness and creativity? Especially an illness that hampers a person’s ability to get to the easel, or sit at a desk, or even sit up in bed. I’m sure this has happened to others.

(RG note) Thanks, Susan. It’s difficult for me to comment on something I’ve not personally experienced. Who knows what juices might be sucked out of one when faced with a debilitating condition. I do know, however, of many highly creative and evolved artists who have accomplished much in the face of great adversity and persistent pain.

There are 3 comments for Serious illness and creativity by Susan Terracina Adler

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Oct 24, 2008

Illnesses and broken bones have caused me and friends of mine to cancel shows. They have also been the catalyst for a different direction in my work. Depression is a more difficult illness to deal with and can follow serious illness. It can sap your strength and take away your will to create. Medical treatment is the first thing to do for depression, of course,tell your doctor you are depressed. Then go back to the studio as soon as you are able. No matter how bad the quality of the work, keep working, it will get better. In fact you may do your best work while recovering from your illness because it puts you in touch with those things that are most important to your life.

From: Susan Kellogg — Oct 24, 2008

After a surprise derailment nine years ago in the form of a surprise attack by Wegener’s Granulomatosis and its many complications, I found the only things I had the strength to do were simple, self-soothing things like tissue paper collage and filling in (with watercolors) complex lithographs I had made in the past. I still do those sorts of things when I am stressed. The illness persists and but do I; so do we all, as long as we can.

From: Eva — Oct 25, 2008

Susan, thank you for sharing your experience with a debilitating condition. I had knee replacement surgery this past January and only recently felt up to painting again. My biggest challenge has been the lack of understanding from others about my pain, reduced mobility and depression. Not everyone springs back from surgery as quickly as others do. Age, emotional stress, physical condition and the success of the surgery are factors in the recovery. I will do everything possible to avoid having the recommended surgery on the other knee. The cost of loss time and quality of life must be considered.


Visions of a Mexican painter
by Pepper Hume, Spring, TX, USA


pencil sketch
by Pepper Hume

A friend just sent me this Power Point presentation of Octavio Ocampo paintings. Each started postage stamp size in the center of the screen so you could see the “larger picture” and then zoomed slowly to fill the screen to reveal the smaller detailed images. Of course this harkens back to the Renaissance paintings by ??? who painted faces made up of vegetables and what not. Ocampo’s drawing is, for the most part, quite accurate. He doesn’t cheat and distort the small figures to achieve the larger ones.

Is there a word for this type of work? It is quite different from Escher’s illusions. My favorite Ocampo, which I have seen before, exploits the famous figure/ground illustration — is it a goblet or two faces in profile?

There is 1 comment for Visions of a Mexican painter by Pepper Hume

From: Shawn — Oct 24, 2008

Octavio Ocampo uses negative space brilliantly! Absolutely engaging work! I might call it “Extensive Surrealism.”


Theroux on Painters
by Nelles Hamilton, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The other day stumbled upon this unexpected and doubtless disputable reference to painters, in Paul Theroux’s The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain :

“Writers are painful friends, and they are seldom friendly with others. They are insecure in the presence of other writers. Composers of certain kinds of music are the same — tormented and intolerant. Yet some arts not only make the artist social but make him depend upon sociability in order to succeed. Painting is one. Painters strike me as having warm uncomplicated friendships and probably more natural generosity than the practitioners of any other art. Perhaps this is because painting is such a portable, flexible thing. Painters paint outdoors, or in rooms full of people; they paint their lovers, alone, naked; they paint and eat; they paint and listen to the radio. It is a soothing way of doing your job.”

There are 2 comments for Theroux on Painters by Nelles Hamilton

From: Camille Ludlow — Oct 24, 2008

yeah,right. Paul evidently did not paint.

From: Ron — Oct 24, 2008

Camille, is it half empty or half full???


Careful mentoring
by Linda Blondheim, Gainesville, FL, USA


“St. Augustine Beach Dunes”
oil on birch, 12 x 16 inches
by Linda Blondheim

I think much can be said in favor of this idea of mentoring painters. I have mentored my share. It’s good as long as we are not pushing an agenda or using people to sell our knowledge. A good mentor will be careful not to push their ideas on others but to instead make suggestions. A good mentor will be wise enough to know when their help is no longer needed, even if the recipient doesn’t. A good mentor will realize that the recipient may have more potential and needs a more gifted mentor than himself.


Mind of the critic
by Ion Danu, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada


“Lonely poppy”
acrylic painting, by Ion Danu

Bob Cornelis, an interesting and refined Californian artist, recently cited on his art blog Andre Malraux the writer and Culture Minister who said we strive to “conquer” our medium… I would say Malraux knew as much about painting and creating art as his countryman Emile Zola, in his famous novel L’Oeuvre. Zola ended his novel with the suicide of the artist, who hanged himself because he couldn’t paint the ultimate masterpiece he had in mind. That’s a good novel ending, maybe, but man, it’s stupid! No wonder Cezanne ended his friendship with Zola!

If creating art, painting, doesn’t give you joy (or at least a moment of joy), why do it in the first place? There are plenty other methods of getting money and fame!

There is 1 comment for Mind of the critic by Ion Danu

From: vincent — Oct 27, 2008

Well, I came to believe that there is an interesting connection between enjoying to create and making money. There are many examples of people who see art as just another enterprise and a really easy way to make money, usually by copying work of others or producing junk art loved by the masses. There are also many examples of people who live for their art but are unable to make any financial reward out of it. It seems that living from art can be one of the easiest and most lucrative business, but only for those who don’t have their heart and soul in it.


Con artists at shows
by Carla Maskall


“Blackie Spit Field #1”
acrylic painting
by Carla Maskall

Recently, I have noticed the changing face of the art world. As an acrylic painter, I regularly attend local shows, community events and have gotten to know a great group of artists. But a new thing has started to occur when I attend these events. Sales people have also started to show up for these events. They first approach you and flatter your art then state they would really like to “scan” or represent your art (all for a small fee of course). This past weekend show one fellow was even waiting for me in the underground parking lot to once again throw his pitch even though I had already said politely, “No thank you.”

Now, artists as a bunch are not the most business savvy people. And furthermore a great percentage of them where I live are single retired older ladies who have little family to ask for advice on these financial transactions. I just truly believe some are being taken advantage of.


Fear of future embarrassment
by Desiree Bond, Victoria, BC, Canada

I recently received an email from a man who said he purchased a watercolour painting of mine from a Calgary art gallery. He bought the painting unframed for $200 in 1992. The gentleman was going to donate the painting to a charity auction and was asking for an assessment of the value. My response was basically that I was still not famous and my old watercolours were not up to current standards. I would have to say the value was very low, especially because the style that I painted the painting in was quite dated. I offered, no I pleaded to have a chance to trade him for something new. I was very young when I painted that painting and I have improved (I hope) in the last 16 years.

The truth is I knew this day would come. It actually happens every time I go to my mother’s house. I see my old paintings and I want to cringe. I really liked some of them when I did them. I can’t understand how I could be so wrong. I now hate to sell my paintings, I feel very guilty about people spending their money on my future embarrassments. It has been a real struggle for me. I enter my paintings into the odd show and I have a web site but I still feel guilty selling my work. Every time I think wow that’s good, I am then struck buy the fear that time may not agree. Not all of my old paintings are bad but I had no idea then, which ones would stand the test of time.

I am still trying to convince this man to trade me paintings. I actually feel a little desperate, and I keep thinking if I get this old one back, will I be doing this in another 16 years.

There is 1 comment for Fear of future embarrassment by Desiree Bond

From: Catherine Robertson — Oct 24, 2008

Don’t forget, Desiree, that those early collectors of your work were delighted enough with it at the time of purchase and, I believe, most purchasers of fine art, as well as the artists themselves, expect work to improve over time. Don’t feel guilty at all. It is a natural process, especially for the “growing” artist. Also, sometimes these earlier, first pieces can be considered very important in the artists career. Just enjoy producing the best art you can and remember that we all have similar situations from time to time. No need nor room for guilt at all. You very likely made the purchaser very happy with your picture.


Problematic experiences become necessities
by Lisa Fricker


oil painting
by Lisa Fricker

I’ve been perusing your archives at my own pace and just came upon the old letter about one’s inner Art Director. Something about the combination of your and your readers’ insights has allowed me to make a new connection. It was about making errors… Recently I’ve begun to consider style as a unique set of personal errors, or deviations. One example is El Greco. No need to know exactly why he obviously stretched his saints. Many other examples spring to mind. The way one person sees the world is the thing we most want to experience through his work. This dovetails with your point about process: using errors as stepping stones. It makes these painful and problematic experiences into necessities, so that the mud on our hiking boots is somehow the very thing that allowed us to reach the summit. Now I can look forward to making ever more “erroneous” discoveries and accreting a bit of mistaken mud on my way up!


Why artists make the worst students
by Gerry Conley, Seattle, WA, USA

I discovered this article today and think it would be very good fodder for your grist mill! It is a not-formally educated professor at Harvard discussing the problems of teaching Art at Harvard. My source was Paradigm Shift International “OtherWise” but I found the same article on this site.

There are a number of zingers in the discussion, but the one that really speaks to me is:

“I tell them I am not interested in educating their minds. I’m interested in sophisticating them, which is different. Sophistication is knowledge that’s acquired in the course of having a purpose. You know why you want the information at the moment that you put your hand on it. You are not just storing it up for a rainy day.”

Which brings me back to a comment I wanted to make on your saying you told one student to do 100 paintings and then come back to see you. I was reminded of a story I heard, which given the source, I believe to be true. There was a man who wanted to study with Carl Rungius. He went to Carl and asked to study with him and Carl’s response was “Do 1000 paintings and then come back. Until you have done 1000 paintings we have nothing to talk about.” The story went on to say the fellow did 1000 paintings and did go back and was allowed to study with Carl. I understand that story because when I had done 100 paintings I didn’t have a clue as to my capability but thought I might be ready for a gallery. I arranged introductions to two galleries and took in samples of my work. One was run by a woman who only showed people with MFA’s. I had two master’s degrees but not a MFA. She argued that unless I got one I could not know how to paint and could not be successful. The other gallery, Davidson’s Gallery, run by Sam Davidson had a different view. Sam asked how many paintings I had done and I said 100. He said, “Do 300 and then come back to me.” I have now done 650 and do not believe I am yet ready to go back to him, but I am getting closer. I know the capability I am looking for and what I want to be capable of doing and I can now see where I fall short. And I have specific steps I am taking to close the gap. Which is to say that I am ready to be sophisticated!


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Among the whirling dervishes



From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Oct 21, 2008

I’m a dancer. People who are not dancers do not understand me. My background? The gay discothèque scene of the 1970’s. At the end of the 70’s- bored with the top 40 (oh my god not this piece of popular trash AGAIN) musical program being presented to drinkers/alcoholics- I became a DJ myself. And I promptly got fired from my first bar gig after only 3 months for being too progressive. I’ve been too progressive ever since. Finally- in the mid 1980’s- after a stint spinning records for men having sex with each other- I walked away from clubland and began programming music for me to dance/meditate to. No Sufis anywhere. Also- no somebody else’s religion- structure- limitation and/or dogma anywhere. And this became a necessity as I watched hundreds of my friends pass away from HIV. I had to KNOW what was going on. I had to evolve or die. I had to grow UP. I had to become the master I’ve always been. And I could do this because there have been and continue to be many enlightened songwriter/performers out there- producing lyrics/music that can be listened to on a superficial level- but that can also be heard at much deeper levels. That of course- requires the continually expanding depth of the listener/dancer. For background- there are multiple kinds of dancing. The most familiar is performance dance- people on a stage dancing for an audience- partnered or not. The second is competition dancing. The third is club dancing- the people themselves dancing for pleasure- mostly in partnership- but usually as a pre-requisite to or a part-time aspect of dating/relationship. The fourth would be group Sufi dancing- a specific way of movement that has spiritual repercussions/ramifications- but that exist within a spiritual system. And then there are people like me. Loners- often hermits. I dance to connect myself up the the god/goddess force of the Universe. And then what- you might ask? And then I send that maximum flow of energy coursing through me back out into the Universe as a healing agent. Now it’s true- I don’t physically spin that much anymore. But my musical programming abilities (mixing music harmonically correct- in key- with linked lyric concepts- creating not only a meditation- but an actually story- using many varied performers- from up-tempo electronica to down-tempo ballads- to wordless space music that speaks directly from the emotional heart center) has become an integrated aspect of my creation experience. And I literally go back and forth- programming/listening to music while working on my fiber art. It is a constant symbiotic interaction between the music and the physical art production process. And it is always a dance. It is also a direct trance-inducer. And it facilitates entering into an open meditative state. But guess what? I can rarely even talk to people I would describe as living in Mundania- in the land of normal. I evolved myself right into a future that doesn’t even exist yet- except in the hearts/minds of those of us who’ve stepped/danced feet first into an expended dimension of awakened consciousness. So- I program music for myself. I share it with a rare few individuals who can hear what I’m doing- on a donation basis- to help me defray my costs- and continue to help support my creation/studio experience. If anyone out there in Genn-land is interested- send me an email- Enlightenment is not only possible- but probable for anyone doing their own work. Don’t waste another second living in Mundania. Dance yourself into god.

From: Jerry — Oct 21, 2008

After visiting Turkey and experiencing the fascinating dervish dance of a Sufi, I have made it the subject of numerous watercolor paintings. These have been appreciated and even one accepted in a juried show. It is a great subject to show graceful motion. I am now preparing a lithographic stone and carving a woodcut to produce prints of this magical movement.

From: Joyce Goden — Oct 22, 2008
From: Nader Khaghani — Oct 22, 2008

It’s good Robert that you wrote about the dervishes; yes there is much in common. Just one point, what is present Afghanistan is previous Iran. Since Rumi wrote his masterpieces in Persian and not Afghani, or Indian, it makes sense to be more complete.

Keep it coming, we appreciate your insights into life and art. For most of us our art is our life.

From: Pixie — Oct 22, 2008

We have so much to learn from spiritual traditions of other cultures. It is arrogant to think that “we” have all the answers. I have traveled the world in search of lost tribes and am always astounded by what I learn and see. Art almost always has a spiritual significance for them. We are all human and in search of the same things.

From: Tiit Raid — Oct 22, 2008

People have asked me how I decide what to do when I paint? Or, how do I know a painting is finished? Using Rumi’s words, it is that artist inside, who you don’t know about, that decides. Or as the author Joseph Conrand said, “Your inward voice decides.” You may not be able to explain how this all works, but the fact is, that if you listen to that voice and trust it, in more cases than not it will give you the proper advice.

This inward voice is intuition. And from what I can tell intuition is based on past experience. And the level and strength of that experience determines the quality of the inward voice. If this is true, which I believe it is, then it is essential that we constantly develop our awareness and understanding. Though we should trust our inward sense, we should also be open to new experiences and awareness.

Basically, we have all sensed in one way or another the changes in our understanding of things. Compare what we believe and are of aware of today verses what we were aware of when we were younger. Or, compare our current work to that which we did when we first started on the path of creating images. Generally, at every stage of our development we listened to that inward voice, and the newer work is stronger and more complete than the earlier.

There is always room for improvement in our work and in our inward voice. It basically comes through constant attention to the appearance of our everyday visual world, and through the continual observation of the work that is considered to be the greatest from the past and today.

From: Chuck Marshall — Oct 22, 2008

I was pleasantly surprised to be reading about Sufism in your newsletter. It hit home with me.
Last year I was confronted by a patron who commissioned me to do religious and spiritual based paintings. He handed me a bunch of photos and topics in which to start. One of the images was a Sufi sitting in a bustling public place singing and telling stories. I was immediately attracted to the image and started doing research. What I found is how much all of it helped me as an artist.

The man in red in the painting is a Sufi mystic. Like any artist, what the Sufi does is for himself as an act to reach a higher goal, but shares his very personal act to enlighten others. I am not saying all artist are mystics, but that there are parallels.

Artist talk about being in the zone, and how paintings almost create themselves at times. Of course the zone doesn’t happen without a lot of study and understanding beforehand. I have learned I have rituals, (routines), I go through as I travel through the process of creating a finished painting. As I grow as an artist I find my rituals become more and more important to my art. I read, look at other artist work, sketch, whatever it takes to fully understand and get myself in the state of mind I need to do my best work.

God gave me the talents I have. It is up to me to use them to the best of my abilities to honor his gift.

From: Jeanne Long — Oct 22, 2008

Your words bring to mind those of the world teacher J. Krishnamurti, who described and embodied the highest aim, which is to make one’s entire life a work of art.

From: Louise Corke — Oct 22, 2008

For me the making of art is a direct emotional response to my experiences.

The dance I perform is pure gestural expression. I marry my heart to my hand and together they speak visual music. Sometimes the beauty, colours and light play are overwhelming and I am forced to blurt the information onto the surface in quick strokes saying just enough about how I am feeling towards my subject rather than telling what my subject looks like. At other times I linger and drink in all that I am perceiving and gently caress the painting surface with delicate information out of pure respect and amazement. The dance on the surface is always unique, rhythmic yes, but not contrived. It has to be genuine, it has to express my inner most responses, and it has to be mine and mine alone. Though I dance alone I dance for others to enjoy so they to can palpate the emotions of the visual music.

Any background music or external stimuli to set the mood is absolutely second place to my emotional response and should I choose to use music my preference is classical as it allows me to pursue my own thoughts with silk-like ease.

From: Pat Denino — Oct 23, 2008

Dance, art, spirituality; it is all the same thing to me. As I dug deeper to pull out bits of my soul to transform into art, I found that music and dance aided that work. Bruce Wilcox’s (first comment above) programmed music is really that good. It plays across a wide expanse of awareness, which, when listened to as background while creating art, sometimes whispers of boldness, other times of gentleness, for example. I recommend his creations, both fiber and music.

From: Jeannine Perez — Oct 24, 2008

I very much appreciate this discussion, as I “discovered” Rumi 10 years ago, and always search for more about his life. At that time, I bought a coffee table book of his poems that we could not afford, and it is still treasured. His words, and the mystery of his insights still intrigue me. More, please.

From: Nancy Raia — Oct 24, 2008

I have to laugh! I have been told by my interns that I am a whirling dervish, and now finally someone has put it in terms of art and being in the moment of sheer joy. Although I may not exactly spin and swirl literally, my mind and emotions and energy towards my projects feel exactly as I see the dancers ecstatically in their invidual, and group spins. I get caught in the excitement of creativity, one thing leads to another and it is a thrilling ride. I prefer not to think that I am spinning out of control (like some “in the box” thinkers might perceive). It is whirling in the joy of creativity, and following the energy of one’s heart, what is going on around them, and following the unknown path, enjoying every side spin and fellow traveler.

From: Libby Riger — Oct 25, 2008

I am using golden acrylic paint on the side of a metal building. What would be the best preservative to cover it from the elements?

From: Rick Rotante — Oct 27, 2008

We all have religion in one form or another within us no matter the name we call it or the orthodoxy. Humans have an innate religiosity build in. Anyone who has witnessed a dawn or sunset, watched a child being born, a flower opening, the changing seasons, the ocean cannot help but feel what we term a “religious” experience. If you take the “religion” out of religious you get ” a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion”. If you find one doctrine over another speaks to your soul, go with it. Underneath all religion is the same intrinsic message. All religions pursue inner peace and an oneness with the true self or God if you will.

The basic problem with religion, as I see it, is not the message but those who hear, or rather selectively hear what is being said and interpret that message to suit their own needs. When you personalize religion you run the risk that other orthodoxy that doesn’t fit your thinking may cause one to openly reject other orthodoxy. Religion, as such, has caused more wars than any other difference between people. Religion(s) are not the problem, those who ascribe and embrace it dogmatically, chauvinistically without tolerance is the problem.

Humans throughout history have “adapted” religion to suit their needs. They made it easier to live with. In so doing, they have separated themselves into groups that exclude others of different faiths who ultimately want the very same things.

It’s when we think “our” god is better than another God is when we run into a wall.

Modern society has “commercialized” god. Made religion a commodity to be traded. We use God to make a point. Show surprise, in anger. God is no longer the thing we aspire to become, at least in the purest sense. Despots aspire to be God on earth. It’s when we place ourselves in this role that religion becomes something bad.






watercolour painting, 21 x 25 inches
by Sandy Donn, New Smyrna Beach, FL, USA


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