Thursday, 23 August 2012

Life of Pi.....lau

'When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.'

I recently read that quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti - a philosopher I really adore, and who always seems to speak the truth (in my eyes)

And it keeps swimming back into my sub-conscious over and over again.

Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi' comes to mind. The main character Pi wants to be closer to god but gets himself into a pickle with his elders by being a Hindu, Christian and Muslim simoultaneously. Big no no!  They all want him to choose just one faith and be true and devoted to it, but he rejects this concept because he loves them all.

And I have the same struggle committing myself solely to any particular religion or educational philosophy or absolute stance in so many areas of my life. Nailing my colours to a mast. My colours are all the shades of the rainbow. Does it make me wishy-washy? Half-baked? Dis-loyal? It can feel uncomfortable sometimes standing between worlds.
Like Pi, I see the wisdom and folly of different religions.
I feel the same about parenting and homeschooling nowadays.
Belonging to a sungular parenting camp has also never totally sat right with me. How you feed your baby, what type of nappies you use, whether you send your child to school or not, whether you vaccinate or not are none of my business. It is not for me to judge and yet so many parents do. There is so much judgement out there in the online world and I have done it sometimes myself. (To my shame) I think we all do.

Sometimes I wonder if even just simply being a homeschooler is potentially in itself an act of war or violence, in the way Jiddu suggests? Does it create a barrier between me and my neigbour? Can it create mutual suspision, snobbery, bigotry and division? In the same way that folks divide themselves by branding, by class, by their religious beliefs, does homeschooling separate us from those who go to school? How much do you really let your children mix with others outside your own cosy belief system?

In my younger days I was so passionate about homeschooling that I was more than happy to put down the school system at every opportunity. It's easy to get swept away with John Taylor Gatto and some of the other radical school haters.

And yet 'hate' it is. It is a form of hate and a form of violence to declare war on schooling, to declare war on parents of any camp, by even defining ourselves as a particular type of home educator, or parent, or whatever. Is it necessary for us to have to define ourselves in such exclusive ways?

I feel much more respectful of school these days and of parents who choose school for their children. I do not think them unkind or neglectful as I (to my shame) once did - an idea which is actually quite common amongst home educators. It's all too easy to get puffed up with our own sense of righteousness isn't it?

I know enough people from enough walks of life to see the beauty and multiple truths of beautiful, thoughtful, fantastic folks all walking different paths.

I am really glad that we are all so different.

I see the beauty in the words of  Rumi, Kahlil Gibran, Jesus, Mohammed, the Buddha, Krishnamurti and Einstein.  In the words of Nina Simone and Picasso. Bob Marley and Maya Angelou. So many people are inspiring and wise! Each holding a fragment of the wisdom of the whole - even you, dear reader.
I wrote an article once about people who inspired me - the list is of course longer....

My own ugly prejudices are not unique to me. We all have them. Rather than try to deny them - I am choosing to shine a light on them. Maybe by doing so, you will be inspired to look deeper into your own heart too.

And in an effort to be more peaceful, more equal, to find more common ground with others, I wonder how helpful it really is to define myself only in terms as a homeschooler or a mum or a wife or a doula? Even the fact of being a woman creates a line of separation. Yet I am a woman. I am a human. My beliefs are equal to yours. I am not better than you. You are not better than me. We are the same.

I was looking at different mandalas online in an attempt to define my statement of intent, of purpose, beyond the petty divisive beliefs that I, just like everyone, use to define my otherness from folks.

This is so lovely, so universal, and speaks of what I wish to hold dear in my life and how I want to live. It's based on the seven Hawaaian principles...

The world is what you think it is - Be aware
There are no limits - Be free
Energy flows where attention goes - Be focused
Now is the moment of Power - Be here now
To love is to be happy with - Be happy
All power comes from within - Be confident
Effectiveness is the meausure of truth - Be positive

Isn't that just beautiful?

Maybe it's possible to simoultaneously believe different things?
What do you think, dear reader?
Do you sit in the ivory tower of your own beliefs?
Is there more room for compassion and tolerance?


(Forgive the terrible pun in the title but a lot of friends call me Pilau!)


  1. Generally I call myself *ME* but the journey of discovery is still ongoing. I think ME just being ME does separate ME from others and some people dig it some people don't. But, really, what can anyone do but to keep an open mind, follow your heart, be who you are right now so that you might be who you need to be next. In this Universe there are too many variables and possibilities, plenty space and time and much yet to be explained and perhaps we will never have all the right answers; I certainly don't have them! There is much to believe and much to question. Lovely, lovely post as always and now I am off to rest my brain and have a cup of tea and some toast x

  2. Hope it didn't hurt your brains too much Angela - bit philosophical first thing!!! Mmmmm, tea.... I fancy a cuppa :-)

  3. Ah, I love this post! I think the problem with labels is that when you define yourself as "X", then you need a "Y" as Other. Why are we humans always trying to create an Us and Them?! There is no us and them; there is only us. We all want to be safe; we all want to be happy.
    Love the mandalas, btw.

  4. :-) It's pointless bitchin' about how we are so much better than others, isn't it? We're just as flawed.... Makes us feel better but actually it's unhelpful really cos the only people we should be looking at and judging is ourselves Xx

  5. What I mean here is seeing our own flaws rather than looking for them in others....

  6. Great post! It is really hard not to do the judging... I do it too, but keep trying not too (at least not openly). I get better at it. I myself am not a big fan of homeschooling (quite the contrary) yet I love reading your blog. It is because even though we do not share that particular thing, many other things we do have in common. One does not have to share 100% of someone's idea's to see their value.
    That is I suppose my 'problem' with religion, which your quote so beautifully illustrates, when you 'believe' something firmly you leave no room for other thoughts, and therefore not for other people. Religion can be such a terrible separator of people. Everyone should believe and do as they like, but leave others to do the same and respect that

  7. Really interesting post Paula. In some ways anything we choose to do or say can be taken as criticism of others and their choices. So I think it would be hard to know where to draw the line... apart from that a line shouldn't be drawn to divide. There will always be people who find my choices offensive but then I can choose to not be offended by the choices of others and to be true to myself as much as possible.
    This is one of the reasons I don't feel passionately about the Olympics (or any sport) or about my nationality. We are all people. I am no more or less a person than anyone else. I do agree there is too much division in the world.
    Having said that I am on a bit of a spiritual journey myself and find myself almost wanting to be pigeonholed somewhere. Lol. At present I feel drawn to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) who as a group have very diverse beliefs, and I guess that's why I feel I might fit there! I love their core beliefs and the notion of seeing the divine in everyone. :)

  8. Quakers are definitely very grounded, kind people, that's for sure! I totally agree with so much of what they're about.... equality.... peace.... Divinity in all, not just a chosen few.... as religious groups go they don't go round hurting anyone or causing trouble. The Armish are pretty sweet too. And I'd join them in a heartbeat if I didn't also see beauty in bohemian calamity and disorder, in the drunks and the artists and the rock n rollers..... There's so many ways we can get our highs, our kicks, find god. Without dysfunction half the best films in the world would never have been made, the art galleries would all be half empty, there'd be no rock n roll, no punk, no great novels. I see the beauty of rhythm and perfect order and equally the joy of chaos :-) I see the value and richness in both extremes X

  9. Hi MF, flicking through some of your older posts and came to this. Just wondering, do you really have to 'believe' anything at all? What about just dropping the beliefs and going with what is left? In my experience it's beliefs that lead to judgement, without beliefs we're either telling stories (never worth fighting over) or dealing with what is (might be worth fighting over if it's creating pain for yourself or another in this very moment but more usually requires honest dialogue).

    Also, having 'tried out' many faiths over many years (and having led many courses on religious & interfaith tolerance) I don't do 'faith' any more but I do identify as Zen Buddhist - for several reasons, none of which elevates me above others or puts me apart from anyone else... unless, of course, they object to me having my own story to tell :-)

  10. Hmmmm, yes I think you are right, it's perfectly possible not to believe in anything and still be a good human being. I know people of faith who are shitbags and people of no faith who are wonderful. "Whatever gets you through the night, it's all right, it's all right" - love that line by John Lennon! That's where I'm at right now....