Mixed Salad of Thoughts

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Communication: rules, laws, and frame

I've been having an interesting discussion with someone in regards to spirituality, religion and religious laws. It got me really thinking about the analogies of other things that are governed by laws and rules and how those rules can be bent, broken, or used, and to what effect. Here is a bit of that conversation...

p-I'm saying that religion is a tool to access spirituality...

v-I have a slightly different view on this, but okay....

p-Really, what's your view? Less utilitarian?"

v-Well, as I believe religion was sent, through Messengers, by God, I don't think it is merely a tool to access spirituality--that is just something it occasionally accomplishes. Although it may act to that effect, just as the Gov't may be "said" to be a tool for social justice--it may or may not work that way, but that is not its OVERALL purpose, it is just one aspect at which it may help achieve. As an individual it is easy to look at the gov't and say that its role in YOUR life is to help ensure some sort of rights and justice FOR you, but the gov't itself is not simply for that purpose. Similarly, religion ultimately has larger goals, much broader than the scope of an individual and their spiritual growth. The individuals, and their spiritual growth ultimately are necessary for a religion to succeed, (much as a gov't needs some sense of justice, or it is likely to be overthrown). And certainly individuals may USE it for that purpose alone and not feel a part of anything greater, but I personally wouldn't define religion by that one aspect alone.

p- "I have this piano teacher who, when I think about her attitudes towards the music, I think I would never want to play like her. So conservative and rigid. She really sticks to the rules, when I'm more interested in how I can break them, usually before I've even learned them. But, somehow she brings out things in me and gets me to think about things in a new way, and I come up with possibilities for interpretation (and misinterpretation) that neither she nor I would have likely come up with on our own."

v- I'm an artist. Trust me, I know how much inspiration comes from having rules and breaking them... and I'm constantly trying to break the law of Gravity. But don't you think you sometimes have to really know the rules in order to know which ones you can bend/break, or how far? Scientists learn the laws of Gravity so they can learn how to escape or exceed its pull. Learning to play music properly makes you capable of learning to break rules with finesse, and without ending up with 5 band members all doing solos at different tempos at the same time. (However, I maintain the rights to cowbell solos whenever so motivated).

In dance there is a frame that allows lead-follow without brute force, it is a medium for communication between the two dancers, but in essence it is a set of rules--don't allow your elbows to break this plane, offer resistance in this direction, continue movement until "told" not to... And certainly rules can be broken, but in breaking frame you are ceasing to communicate and simply talking without listening to your partner. The joy comes when you are so well trained in the rules that you no longer have to think about them, and communication is easy and free between the partners, listening to the music, with no focus on the rules, only on the communication. I'm sure it's the same feeling as REALLY connecting while playing music, or singing, or playing sports...all of which require a set of rules to be followed in order to really enjoy the interaction.

I guess the thing I'm getting at is that there is a certain growth and spirituality that comes from following the rules set out by religion, and perhaps once comfortable with those rules we get to a point where we no longer have to think about them, and perhaps they help us become able to communicate with God better, in the same way that the rules of sports allow us to enjoy the game, and the rules of music or of dance allow us to communicate with other dancers or musicians better. Perhaps in failing to follow those rules we have a harder time hearing or listening to our "lead" ? Does that make any sense?

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