Sunday, December 14, 2014

Waiting for Christmas

I originally thought I would write about something else. Yet there is one thing that I have learned: follow your intuition (or what I call inspiration). I feel like I should share an experience I had not too many days ago.

A dear friend of mine had invited me and my beloved fiance to see an independence day celebration. Going there, I did not expect much. Little did I know that my feelings for the coming birth celebration of our Savior would be so much greater in the end.

In the end of the celebration after many wonderful numbers all who had taken part in the show came out on the stage and the soloist with a choir sang one of my favorite Christmas hymns. When O Holy Night sounded in the hall we were at, lights began to shine one by one. Everywhere in the audience people turned on a light.

I could not hold back the tears.

Travelling back home, my thoughts turned to a place far from here where long, long ago a beautiful baby boy was born. In the most humble of circumstances a Savior was born to us. From whom we have received the greatest gift of all, the gift of complete forgiveness on the conditions of repentance.

That Saturday afternoon set the tone for my Christmas season. I wish that you will find something that will set it for you.


Godspeed and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Political Blasphemy

Today I am going to address a subject that has been bothering me for a good while now. I don't believe that this single post is going to change much but an ocean is a collection of millions of drops, right?

The whole thing really got wind under it's wings on a summer two years back or so. I was a missionary walking the Swedish streets. My colleague told me that he had visited a locale of an other denomination and seen a poster with two men. Under was a text "Adam & Steve".

An other occasion caught my attention. On a Swedish newspaper I read a short article of how social democratic political party had marketed themselves with a slogan: "Jesus var sosse" meaning "Jesus was social democratic" in Swedish slang. According to them his teachings and the way of living corresponded with their ideology.

Enough of Sweden. In Finland where I live, one of the denominations has tried years to attract youth to become interested of faith and practice of religion. This was years ago but they used a campaign named "Jesse diggaa sua" meaning "Jesse (Jesus) thinks you are cool" in Finnish slang from Helsinki. I'm not sure if "Jesse digs you" translates exactly same way in English or American but it should be pretty close.

Not too long ago a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook. The picture is from United States I believe it could be from somewhere else too. It is a picture of a huge board. It would not fit in my room no matter how you would twist or turn it. It has a text that I felt was very offensive and hurtful. First it compares religion to a male sex organ which in itself was the most hurtful of things the board said. Then it continues to say:

"It's okay to have one. It's okay to be proud of it. HOWEVER, do not pull it out in public, do not push it on children, do not write laws with it, do not think with it."
 That was when I decided to write about this. This is what I call political blasphemy.

First, I do not sign under any circumstances that using religion in a political campaign  of any kind is right. Politics is and/or should be based on an individual's or a group's own, founded values and ideology. Religion might have an influence on them BUT never in any situation religion should be used as vote fishing tool.

Twisting religion and it's teachings is a very common practice when something does not seem to fit in the mind of the "masses". This has been happening for quite a long time now. Those who are willing to hearken the Truth and see the Reality will do it. The rest will not agree and it is their loss. It is sad but that is how it is. It is sometimes painful, sometimes frustrating and sometimes it makes me angry to see how denominations and their leaders who profess to be on God's errand in reality turn away from Him because of a public voice.

Using God, Christ and other sacred and revered people in a disrespectful context is not right. If we who claim to be their followers, talk about them in light manner, making fun of them, what does it show to the world? We who know them, we should show respect of highest decree.

Should those who follow a god be silenced from the voice of a nation? Should those that have found joy and happiness be stopped from sharing what took them there? Should those that have a religion stop considering their actions through a lens of faith an conviction? Should a parent be denied the right to teach their children what makes mom and/or dad happy?

In this age of freedom of speech, there has been an increase of voice to silence those who believe or have a faith. We are part of many nations all over the world. We are people with rights. We have values. We have ideologies. We have things to say. We have a right to make our voice heard.

Where would this world be if religion had not ever been?

What was the foundation of nations? What was used as a founding stone of law? What has made the western civilization "civil"?


Godspeed

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It's Not You

A couple of months back I had a short chat with an acquaintance of mine, a very smart and up beat young adult. At one point my acquaintance expressed a worry. She felt that her faith was wavering. She felt that her testimony or the power of her conviction had been going up and down lately. Many of us may have similar experiences or feelings about our own faith and conviction.

First, it is normal to go through such phases or periods. Sometimes we are stronger sometimes we are weaker. That is just the way it is. That is why it is so important to keep nourishing your spiritual batteries through prayer and study and actively attending at a worship service. We are just humans and we need reminders.

In some cases (how often, I cannot say) the feeling of wavering faith is not a result of spiritual malnutrition. During the mundane times when we are out and about our daily tasks the adversary will send his angels of confusion. In the midst of work, school, chores, responsibilities and routines thoughts will come and go. Some are just passing by, some visit us a bit longer but a characteristic they all share is that they rise against what we believe or know to be true.

They come regardless of whether we do what we should do to nourish our spiritual needs or not. They come and there is nothing we can do to stop them from coming. We must be prepared.

Even if we are prepared to take on the enemy, it can be very hard to fight off these thoughts. There is a reason to it. We don't remember who we were and what we did or what potential we showed before we received a body from our mortal parents and were sent here on this globe of trials. We don't remember those things but the adversary does.

He was there with us. He knows who we are. He knows that we are driven by the same basic characteristics and natural attributes here as we were there. We did not change when we were born here. Using his knowledge of us he will fight against us.

When we feel our faith or conviction is wavering let us not worry. Instead, let us focus on the things we know to be true. Let us hold fast to those experiences we have had that testify of God, Christ and their infinite love for us. Because when we are strong the adversary will fight harder and he fights unfair. Be patient. His angels will let you be for a time when they see that you stand firm.

Think about this. It is not always you who is "weak". It can also be the adversary who is just fighting harder.


Be strong! Godspeed my friends.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Surrounded by Role Models

We know that we have a profound influence on other people around us. If not a lasting influence, then at least a momentary one. Even that momentary influence can result a dramatic change when repeated again and again.

Some time ago I wrote about identity and what pieces together make an identity. These various pieces of identity are our roles and purposes in this life. In each of them, we need a role model.

A role model can be an ideal, a logic, a fictional or a real character. A role model is something or someone that inspires you, teaches you, and shows you the moves. A role model gives you bits and pieces of what you want to be and become. Some give more, some give less but all give something.

I dare to say that all people have role models - conscious or subconscious. A human being is like a sponge. Without any effort we register things and save them to our memory to be used or to collect dust. Because of our individual and unique personalities, different bits of information make each of us react differently.

Because of our natural tendency to react to information it is extremely important to surround our lives with good, healthy and sound sources of information (= role models). We need something to lead us to the right way. Following the wrong role models is a waste of time and more importantly wasting great spiritual potential and capacity that could be used to something much better and more beautiful and meaningful.

When it comes to my everyday life, I have role models who guide me as a composer and audio professional. I have people and ideals that guide me in my social and family life. I surround myself with them. Not to be a stalker or this fanatic who is possessed by them but to learn of them, of their work, of how they do things. I hold fast to the good bits and pieces I find.

A week ago I had a marvelous opportunity to listen to some of the greatest spiritual leaders of our time. Their words are inspired by God - of that I am certain - for our spiritual and temporal aid in our time and day. Listen to their words. They will not lead you astray but rather they will lead you to the path of Truth and Reality. In addition to Jesus Christ and His Prophet Joseph Smith, these men and women are my spiritual role models.

Morals, ethics, attitudes and conviction require and deserve only the best of the best. Be careful when choosing them. When your heart burns of joy and your mind is enlightened, you know you have found the best. I have found it. You can find it too.

So my brothers and sisters, surround yourselves with great leaders and amazing examples. You need them. You deserve them.


Godspeed!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

You Live Only Once

...And that is exactly why you should work your very tail to the bone and beyond to make the best out of this short journey we have been blessed with.

A life is all too short to waste it in allowing yourself to be miserable or unhappy. A life is all too short to waste it in things that do not have a future. It is all too short to swing from left to right in search for something external that would satisfy your thirst for peace.

The reality is that deep within, you have a force you were endowed with when you were born. This force is a basic guide for you in this life. It will warn you of danger, of things you should or should not do, of places where you should not go to or be in. Most importantly it will strike a spark every time it comes in contact with the Truth.

The Truth "shall be in [you] a well of water springing up into everlasting life*". While everlasting life is a blessing of the eternities, we can enjoy of it here and now. We are alive are we not? We can start feeling and living this everlasting life while we are here in mortality. You don't need to be immortal to live.

Embracing the Truth and the Reality as it is will make a life worth living. It will enrich your life beyond what you could expect. Instead just being from day to day, you feel actually alive.

Now, I must confess that I never had the privilege of living life without the Truth and finding it later in life. Instead I was blessed with a family that taught me and gave me a possibility to choose it for myself. Instead I have had the sad experience of how the guidance and the light of the Heavens withdraw because of my own mistakes and conduct.

I don't know how total of a withdrawal it was, all I know is that I have never felt so alone or afraid. I felt sick, like throwing up.

There was once a longer period when the loss was not sudden but gradual. Now looking back, I was not happy as I am now. I went about my days one by one and time fell through my fingers and I was unable to reach my fullest potential at that given time.

I wasted too much of my precious time.

I doubt that my experience is exactly what you would feel if you have never had the Truth in your life. What I do not doubt one bit is that you are missing something miraculous and amazing if you don't have it.

"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 8:31-32 (King James Version)
I promise to every single one of you. If you do embrace the Truth, it will make you free and allow you to reach your fullest potential. You will be able to live a life worth passing on for others to learn and to study.

Now, go and live.


Godspeed!
________
*John 4:14

Sunday, September 21, 2014

You Don't Need to Know Everything

While I was serving as a missionary for the Church, I encountered a good man who made a statement that joining a religion is a package deal. You must know everything about it before you make a decision.

It is true that for example when I am considering to invest on composition and studio equipment I try to familiarize myself with as much information of the item as possible. This to know if it satisfies my needs and fits for my purposes. Keeping this in mind, consider the following:

Religion is not an item you pick from the shelf, pay, use and throw away.

Taking a religion as an active and significant part of your life is not a small decision to make or a small step to a direction. A religion can do one of two things. One, it makes your life miserable and takes it apart leaving you feeling lost and without answers. Two, it will make your life harder but all of it will be worth the challenges. It will uplift you and take you to a higher plane of vision and understanding. Which way it is depends of how you choose to live your faith.

Knowing how religion can affect your life might make one easily think like this husband and a father of two adorable kids I met on my mission.

Religion is a way of self-cultivation, commitment and above everything else faith.

One important part in christian religion is to learn to recognize the inspiration and revelation God gives us. Those small and sometimes very silent thoughts, feelings and impressions might actually be messages from a loving Father who wants to make your life a bit easier.

Another thought I wish to share on this matter is the fact that Truth is an inexhaustible source of knowledge. In addition to that the bits of it that really matter are directed at You Today. Self-cultivation is a never ending path.

This is enough to make a point that it is simply impossible for a mortal being like me or you to know everything about this "package deal".

It is requisite that you know enough to ask God of what you have learned. You must learn the basics. God will answer sincere prayers uttered with real intent of following the answer. Truth will prove itself and God will warn you of danger if you listen to Him.

Just remember one thing:

Religion is a path it is not an item and taking a step requires faith.


Godspeed, my friends!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

To Be or To Live, To Drift or To Pursue, To Linger or To Journey

How do you feel of where you are? What happens in your daily life? Let me guess...

You wake up in the morning, maybe you take a cup of coffee or tea to wake up. You go to school or to work and go through the necessary motions. You come home and fulfill your responsibilities there. Maybe you have an evening-job. Finally the evening comes and you prepare for the night. You sleep and the round starts again. During weekends you might go out with friends but that is the excitement besides regular annual celebrations and occational vations.

Does this sound familiar?

I am 24 in a week or so. I am not married yet. I am still in the process of getting a profession. I do what I burn for. I have goals and dreams and I actively pursue them. I am very happy with my life now but I am not content. I have much to do, much to build.

Of what I have been able to observe, this fire and attitude of pursuit disappear at some point when an individual settles down. Why is it so? I know I am not there and I cannot speak of experience. It still sounds strange. Since when letting go and becoming content with mediocrity became an acceptable lifestyle?

I see young adults, adults, seniors from different backgrounds with different talents and blessings. Among them I see too many caught in the life where nothing changes. There are no challenges. There is no improvement. There is no growth. They go about their lives "drifting" and repeating same things from year to year. They are content. They don't reach for anything higher than the ceiling of their house.

Satan, Lucifer, - what ever you want to call him - has lost his eternal possibilities to progress. This is because of the decisions he has made. The same way we can lose our possibilities to progress and reach the heights prepared for us because of the decisions we make or do not make.

Saying this I don't say that you will end up in Hell. No. I don't believe you are that bad of a person.

What I do say is that progress - be it temporal or eternal - is a blessing that is available to all of us. All we need to do is to pursue it. We need to make decisions that take us there. The only thing that can stop us from reaching our dreams and goals, those things we burn for, those things that make us feel alive is us ourselves.

Eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts and blessings our Father has in store for us. There is only one kind of eternal life. That is the life He lives. He can keep progressing. Not progressing is not really a life. You just are from day to day and eventually from eternity to eternity when you have reached what you can with the choices you have done.

Father has told us what we need to do to keep progressing. That is make a decision to pursue.

This pursuit makes you reach for things. It makes you search. It makes you stretch. It forces you to make a real effort for your life.

There is a godly way of living and the carnal way of living.

The godly way of living means finding out who You are and what You are programmed to do. Believe or not, doing what your Heavenly Father gave you talents to do will make you really happy. The godly way of living means doing things that give you joy while fulfilling your responsibilities. It is having goals. It is challenging your mind, heart, body and spirit.

Right now, after finding the love of my life, knowing who I am now and excited of who I will be, realizing the career path that makes me feel of worth and alive, right now I feel that I am living. I don't want to lose this feeling. I don't want to just be and drift about my life. I want to live and pursue.

I wish to encourage all of you to do the same. And while doing it... Don't forget to enjoy the ride. A great and extremely significant part of this is to enjoy the ride. Life is a journey. Not a price.

Godspeed my friends!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

From A Stumbling Block to A Stepping Stone

If you have not yet noticed, here is a news flash for you: We all face trials and misfortune. No one escapes it. All of us are also born with strengths and weaknesses, with pros and cons, with perfect imperfections as John Legend sings.

When your Heavenly Parents created you, they made you perfect in every aspect they could. There was one part of you they would not touch. That part was your intelligence. They would do their very best to teach you, give you information, help you gain an eternal perspective and become firm and wise. This they could not force on you. Progress is dependable of one's decision to work.

Because the lessons we are being taught are of eternal value, they are not easily learned. Some lessons must be learned through heart ache and tears, some lessons require the world to crash into a thousand pieces. Of course not all lessons are this hard to learn. Most of them are rather casual and mundane in the end. Regardless of what kind of a lessons we are talking about, they require an active decision to turn into a learned lesson.

The trials and misfortune we face are a collection of results of our weaknesses conflicting with other's weaknesses, our own private struggling or the influence of our environment. Internal trials are the only ones we can directly influence. They may escalate into external trials. External trials are something that we cannot directly influence or control. Especially if we are talking of misfortune caused by nature.

For some, well... for most of us, some of these trials may be and are overwhelming. Luckily not one, save for our Savior Jesus Christ, has been called to pass through all of them. To educate us of eternity and it's principles our Father has made a personal study plan for every single one of us; all according to our individual needs.

An exceptionally important phase in this plan begins with your birth. Where you are born, wether you receive rich or poor beginning, wether there is a lot for you to go through or not, wether your challenges will be spiritual, mental, social, physical or emotional, it is all included. There are enough lessons to learn and mountains to climb for each of us.

When you face a trial, no matter the form, source, time or place, there are some important decisions we must make.

1. You must choose if you will acknowledge and recognize the situation.
2. You must choose if you will embrace the life we have at that given time and make the best of it.
3. You must choose if you will seek the lesson that will provide progress.

You have been given a divine attribute: agency or moral freedom to act as you please. What you decide at each turn will in the long run determine wether you end the race in victory with wisdom and joy of experience or hating life, the world and yourself.

You have a choise and you'll make it now. The blocks that make you fall and lose balance will be the steps that elevate you to a higher plane if you choose to let them be what they were meant to be, lessons of eternity.


Godspeed!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Identity VS. The World

Identity is probably the major factor in our self-esteem and self-confidence. Those with a sense of identity have the benefit of knowing for themselves who and what they are. They naturally are more confident in their interaction with others and square with the world and it's events around them. If I could have it my way, I would have all know who they are but the only one I can directly influence is myself. So let me share myself with you today.

1st I AM a beloved son of Heavenly Parents

This is where I want to begin. This knowledge, yes, this knowledge is the foundation of everything I am.

The Father of my spirit, of who I am, is God. He is a God who knows all things. He can foresee the ending of each path I consider, of each choice I think of. The best thing of all is that I can ask Him for help. He is there to answer my questions with knowledge that is sufficient for me to make a choice at each given time. He guides me in my daily life. He is NOT a silent God.

The Mother of my spirit, of who I really am, is the Queen of the universe and she reigns with my Father. I wish I knew more of her but for now it is enough for me to know that She exists. She is there. She weeps when I weep. She rejoices when I rejoice and when I fall Her love is there to bear me up.

2nd I AM a man

I have always been, I now am and will always be a man. Who I am physically and spiritually cannot be altered by philosophies and opinions of the world. My gender is eternal. I was a man before I was born and I will be a man after I have moved on from this world.

Gender is not a choice. It is a divine attribute. I can either embrace it or waste it in denial. I have chosen to embrace it and the expectations that God has for me with it.


3rd I AM a bearer of the Holy Priesthood

As a man I have a responsibility to be an extension of my Heavenly Father's arm. Because I accepted the calling and qualified myself for it, I was given the Priesthood (an authority to act in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ). I have a solemn responsibility to keep myself worthy and always be ready to answer a plead of a heart that needs healing or a desire of a mind that needs clearing. If feet don't know where to go, ears which voice to listen to, hands what to do or eyes where to aim, I have a responsibility to be ready to act when they call for help from the Heavens.

4th I AM a son of my mortal parents

I have a mortal mother and a mortal father. They were given a responsibility to create a physical body for me and then raise me to become a righteous man, a loving husband and a good caring father in my own time. They were given a charge to teach me what my Heavenly Parents expect of me and then help me on my way; on my way to be the best I could.

They are who they are and they are not perfect but they are the reason I have come so far. I have a responsibility to honor them and remember what they have taught me. They have been the ones helping me find who I really am.

5th I AM a boyfriend

I am in love with the most beautiful woman in the world. I have responsibilities towards her, towards our future together. I must keep myself worthy of her. I must make and then keep myself ready and able to take care of her.

I have a responsibility to cherish her, be there for her when ever she may need me. Love is a commitment and a responsibility. That is why it is the source of the greatest joys and sorrows.

6th I AM a teacher

I have also been called to teach children of the basic principles of the Gospel. I have a responsibility to be an example in trying my best to live according to what I teach myself. I must learn and study to be able to teach. I have a responsibility be a help to them to learn what the Gospel really is about and help them see it is something they can love and embrace.

7th I AM a composer

Lastly I am a composer. I have a responsibility to develop myself. I have a responsibility to have a focus and prioritize my time so that I will be able to do what I love now and in the future. This is the talent I received from my Father in Heaven and I must take care that I put it to good use.

If you don't have it clear to yourself who you are, write a similar list and make it clear to yourself who you are. Be honest and consider the words you write. Some of these things might change over time, career identities as an example. More might come. In the future I aim to be a husband and a father. They will then be a part of who I am and I must live accordingly.

But there must be something that will NEVER change. You need a core that is harder than steel, more firm than Finnish granite. Make sure that you have such a point on your list.

The world will try to break you. Morals and definitions will change. What is now a no-no will be acceptable. It will try to make you bend with the wind and shift with the waves. What it calls a change of times does not mean that you must give up what you are.

Once the world knew there was a God and now it denies it. You don't have to when you know. Once gender was what you were born with and now it is changed with a thought and a knife. You can still be what you were born to be when you know. Once the world knew what their resposibilities were and now they have only themselves. You still can do the right choices when you know.

Find out who you are and be strong when the world goes it's way.

Godspeed, my Friends!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Live in the Light, Be the Light

Everyone wants to be independent and self-sufficient. I hope so to say the least. Being self-sufficient can be a source of great boost for self-esteem and confidence in facing the rigors of this life.

When I say self-sufficiency you probably think of being able to finance your life or provide food for yourself and those you are responsible of. Maybe you think of being free of debt. You actually own what you have. All this is true and right.

How about mental self-sufficiency? How about social? What does it mean to be mentally and socially self-sufficient? It is obvious that these have a great impact on how self-sufficient you are when it comes to material things.

To begin with, I want to quote a very well known passage from the Bible. Sermon on the Mount is a wonderful section in the New Testament; very rich in wisdom. Christ teaches in the very beginning:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (King James Version)

In essence Christ is telling us to be spiritually, socially and mentally self-sufficient. He tells us to be active, not passive. He tells us to be contributors, not just consumers.

It is easy to live a life in the light of someone else. It is easy to just feed on the light others produce. It is easy to walk forward when you have someone in front of you showing the way.

Then comes a day when the Light you have used to get by dies. All those years your Light has been there for you looking after you. Now it is gone. Instead of just one losing the way, there is now two. One of them is You.

Light will get tired. Light may take a wrong step. Light might become a victim of life. Light is a vulnerable mortal. Light is just a human being.

What do you do then? Are you prepared? You must take the torch and be a Light yourself.

You must be self-sufficient.

Being mentally self-sufficient means that you are able to increase your knowledge and understanding on your own. It means that you are not satisfied with what you know now. You want to learn more and you are ready and willing to make the effort to find out. You want the data become your data. You don't want to borrow someone else's data. Men and women of God are interested of personal knowledge and understanding.

Being socially self-sufficient means that your behavior, opinions and actions are not dependant on your company. It means you know who you are. You also want to be the uplifting influence in your environment. You don't need a certain person to be with you all the time from the moment you open your eyes until you open them again. It also means that you are able to tie new friendships; real friends, not trophies.

This has many things in it and I could keep on writing the list but I trust you get the point. When you are immaterially self-sufficient you become a light for the people around you.

My intention in writing this was to remind you, myself and all of us of one thing. Don't plan to live your life in the light of another vulnerable mortal human being. You MUST work towards being able to stand by yourself on your own two feet. This because the day when your Light becomes too weak to support you both might not be too far away and you must be able to support yourself and lift your Light.


Godspeed, my friends!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ignorant Believers

This particular subject has many reasons, forms and levels of intensity. Among many others, this most likely is not a newly found accusation. I bet there have been similar discussions held on various forums for even more diverse collection of audiences.

Why are religious people considered as dumb, ignorant and/or otherwise less intelligent? During my short life I have encountered a few reasons. Now I would like to share them with you.

Tradition is a common card. A believer is a believer just because of tradition. It is part of the culture. He follows his parents. The core idea is that the believer does not think by himself and just takes what he is born with.

Partial or complete disregard of science causes much contention between the believers and the secular world. A believer refuses to accept proven and tested theories. He promotes ideas and behaviour that contradict research and studies of the better educated. The believer defends himself from something "more convincing" that seems to be not what he has thought to be true. Instead of facing this challenge with study and research he just rejects the whole of it. It is easier.

Insufficient understanding of the scriptures, teachings and doctrines is also a target. A believer might be new or old, a convert or born to the faith. A believer does not know everything. The world wants to know everything before committing to God or Faith. To a believer it often times is enough to receive a comforting feeling that tells it is going to be all good.

I'd say these are most common accusations of a believer's stupidity. At least they are the ones I have encountered the most. In short we are defensive fools who are not able to think by our own. Naturally we cannot allow this to be true.

In some faiths and cultures it is a tabu to question and ask if something does not make sense. It is a sad thing. God gave us an ability to think and reason. We should use it, promote and encourage it. We should never deny an individual's freedom to think and come to conclusions. Some go to the extreme. Sometimes violence and even death is used as a punishment. I don't believe a God who gave intelligence would then suddenly deny using it.

If you find yourself in one of these three categories, I encourage you to think for yourself, for your own sake. Even though we should look after each other and warn those who are in danger, we all work on our own salvation. One simply cannot be saved in ignorance.

If you are part of something because of tradition, stop it. Like sabbath, tradition is for people not the other way around. Find out for yourself if it is true, if it makes sense, if it actually works, if it takes you forward in life. Does it make you feel whole?

Religion and science, both are about truth. They go hand in hand. Do not reject the other because of what the other says. Study it, learn and you will go far.

Science attempts you understand how our universe and everything in it physically works. There is only one way how this clock works and science wants to find out what it is. Our knowledge of it gradually increases. Something that we thought we figured out today might be proven wrong tomorrow because someone figured out something new. Men and women who do this important work do their very best.

Religion is not attempting to explain how this physical world functions. It never was it's purpose. Religion tells us why all this. It reveals our relationship to God. It teaches of the spiritual things. Like in science, there is only one truth. If something exsists, there is only one truth of it. And that truth – the truth of morals, principles and what is spiritual – is what religion is after.

If you don't know your faith, study! God loves you, if there is something fishy, wrong or harmful coming He will warn you IF you want to know. Be sincere in your study. It is the most important factor. If it is true and right, you will know of it. You don't need to know everything. You need to know the basics. You need to have a foundation. Then on that you can build a house of true knowledge.

Now my friends, don't be ignorant but be careful.

Godspeed!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Of Old Cows And Angels

The other Sunday at the worship service a family friend gave a talk. He shared a story – a funny one but it also includes an important lesson. The story was about a now grown up man he knows.

A few decades ago, when this man was but a boy, he got lost with his brother in the forest near their home. They were lost for a good while and sun began to set. It started to get late. Frustrated and anxious, not knowing where to go, the two brothers kneeled in prayer in the middle of the forest that they would find a way home.

The boys got up and decided to walk a distance to one direction. "The forest should end at some point", they thought. When that didn't happen they returned where they started and took the opposite direction. The forest didn't end there either.

Soon they heard a familiar sound, a cow's bell. That meant there was a field near by and that meant they would find their home. The boys followed the sound and it did lead them out. Upon night fall, old cows with their ringing bells wander back home. They know where to go.

So instead of sending an angel, a glowing light or something equally "out of this world" God sent an old cow to the rescue. God could've done anything to get the brothers out. He could've guided someone there. He could've made the trees form a path. The birds would've flown in an arrow formation with exclamation marks by His command. He has all the power to fulfill all His words. Instead He sends an old obedient cow to pass by close enough for them to hear it's bell ring.

What does this tell of how God works?

First this story tells me that God is an economic God. He uses His resources wisely. He does not take the faster-than-sound golden Lamborghini when a well used grand-ma's bicycle with just one gear does the job.

Then this story tells me that God always gives us the privilege of thinking ourselves and then choosing if we want to take a possibility. He rarely if ever gives us the easy way out. He will have us work for our blessings.

The opposing side would give the credit to good luck and call it a fortunate coincidence when these boys heard the cow bell. This is where some instead of doubt, decide to have faith that there is a God who is well aware of our circumstances and where-abouts. If these small miracles are of God or coincidence, it is impossible to prove to an other person. Those who are sincerely willing to seek and receive answers will get them for themselves.

Miracles are for the strengthening of those involved, not to be used a proof for a questioning mind. Like old cows with their bells, they come to the faithful who believe.

Godspeed, my Friends!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Precious Silence

Home in Finland we say silence is more precious than gold. This might have something to do with the culture of not saying too much and when saying something saying only what is necessary. This is just a stereotype but like all stereotypes it does have a grain of truth in it. In addition to this cultural message, this saying has another important lesson for the reader.

Think of the heart ache, quarrel, fights, enmity, bad feelings, conflicts and unnecessary warfare. It is not an all-encompassing reason nor the ultimate over-arching root of all evil but a good part of it is caused by audible spoken words. Some are uttered purposefully and some are voiced by accident or without thinking too much. Most clearly the damage of words is visible in the lives of ordinary people. Broken friendships, shattered families and disappearing self-esteem are the most common products of it.

Words do not only damage their target. They always have an effect on their speaker. I would describe the effects binding and manipulative or persuasive.

Words bind their speaker to what has been said. Naturally words do not have a forcing effect but they do set expectations, make the speaker responsible and/or, pressure him or her to act accordingly. A liar must either reveal the hoax or keep lying. A boaster must live up to his or her claims or cause disappointment. Also when thoughts turn into words, they become sharper and stronger. If an individual repeatedly goes about audibly hating while actually being just irritated, that irritation eventually becomes hatred.

Everyone have surely heard of the path how thoughts lead to words and words lead to actions. I recognize that there are some who would argue this and even reject the idea. I don't claim that mere audible expression of a thought immediately makes one to act. What I do claim and believe and have experienced very personally is that words are an agitator and an ingredient for escalation. Speaking of your thoughts boosts the likelihood of them actually happening.

Christ was confronted by scribes and pharisees from Jerusalem. They came blaming Christ's disciples of not following the traditions established by the jewish elders. "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread." Christ took this as an opportunity to teach the people around the scene.

"Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." This was the simple lesson. 

To defile means to corrupt the purity or perfection of something or somebody. Words we speak mirror and amplify our inner being. They either help us to be uplifted or they drag us down. What we say can cause unnecessary tears. If correction is needed, don't speak everything that comes to your mind.

Watch yourselves, my friends! Don't let your guard down and be active in going about doing and saying much good.

Godspeed!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Humbly Proud

Inner peace is something people through ages have sought after. I might have observed wrong but during recent years it seems like the value given to peace, harmony - what ever you wish to call it - has decreased where there should have been given an increased dose. This is the initial feeling I get.

A general rule for reaching this state is balance — balance in all aspects of life. It is nothing complicated but it is a complex art. Balance in one's life is a result of a combined sum of healthy practices, habits, values, attitudes and moral decisions. In connection with this I disagree with many. There are some among us that would have us believe that a balanced life requires an occational indulgement in a vice in order to create a balance with virtue. Not so. We are to get rid of our vices, overcome our weaknesses and make ourselves clean of all immorality, addictions and spiritually as well as physically harmful practices. This way we become confident and strong. This way we build a firm foundation to stand on.

During this process an individual aquires skills and talents. An individual grows in knowledge and achieves many things. There lingers a danger of pride in all this. Without being careful it is easy to start bragging or look down on those who have not achieved so much. It is easy to become blinded by the knowledge and know-how.

Pride is something to stay away from. It makes progress hard. It becomes a hinder for learning. Scriptures and many spiritual leaders speak against pride. Seeing the damage and trouble it causes they have a good reason to do so.

Here one might then ask: "am I not allowed to be proud of myself and of my achievements?"

My answer is yes, you are allowed to feel that way.

To be able to feel proud of what you have done or even more importantly of what or who you are is crucial to a balanced self-esteem. I consider being proud and being prideful to be two completely different attitudes regardless of them being close. To be proud is to acknowledge and to give appropriate credit. To be prideful is to boast and take credit that does not belong to you.

A happy individual is the one who is proud of what s/he has achieved, done and is. S/he does not boast or look down. S/he is humble and receives all experience with gratitude.

You can be humbly proud.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Insights from the Book of Mormon: Moroni 8:6-7

Regardless of Church being an institution established, upheld and led by a perfect God, it consists of imperfect men, women and children with different capabilities to recognize Truth. Sometimes misunderstandings and false conceptions creep in. Some stick for a longer time. Some are rooted out faster with teaching, explaining and studying the word of God.

Towards the early fifth century somewhere on the eastern side of the North-American continent Mormon, a life time military leader and a prophet, was leading the Nephite nation to a war they wanted and he knew they could not win. Once peaceful, righteous and blooming nation had fallen to most grievous sins and was indulging in war, bloodshed and immorality. All this regardless of what Mormon did to correct them.

He wrote a letter to his son, Moroni, who also was like him. A good, honest and righteous man of God who had served most of his life as a warrior and military leader in a war that he knew would end to the total destruction of this people. An argument had risen concerning infant baptism. People were practicing it against the will and commandments of God.

"I desire that ye should labor diligently, that this gross error should be removed from among you; for, for this intent I have written this epistle. For immediately after I had learned these things of you I inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And the word of the Lord came to me by the power of the Holy Ghost, saying: ..." (Moroni 8:6-7)

When we learn of an error in understanding we should react immediately like Mormon did. He inquired of the Lord immediately. When he asked, he received the answer. This is an example to us of how we should do. Not wait a false conception to cause (more) harm but correct it before it causes (further) damage.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I Can Do Whatever I Want

From time to time I hear someone say that religious people are not free. I hear that we are bound by commandments and rules as if we have no choise or mind of our own. I hear that we are of the same mold suggesting that no difference in opinion or personality is accepted.

Today I wish to make clear that all these conserns or accusations, while to a degree understandable and sometimes "reasonable", when understood in the light of the principle of agency - a moral freedom to act and make decisions - they become empty.

Yes, God has given us many commandments. For many they seem to limit my possibilities to do and be what I want. Let me ask: Does knowledge of laws of nature or cultural norms and rules of societies limit your freedom to act or be according to you conscience? No, they do not. Those who want to defy them do it. Breaking the commandments of God is no different. Those who want to defy the eternal moral laws do it regardless of them being members of a church or not. They also must take the consequences that come included in the deal.

We have a natural ability to think, reason, draw conclusions and make decisions. God has placed us in circumstances where we are forced to use this ability. He has given us knowledge of principles that contribute to the happiest and most balanced way of life. When He did that, He gave us a possibility to choose what to do. He does not force us to do anything. He does encourage, remind, warn and give reasons through feelings, thoughts, other people and our environment.
 
Nothing or nobody has a right or power to deprive us from our agency. No one, besides ourselves. Our decisions take us to two directions. They either allow us room to act as we please or they limit our possibilities to act. You may think of an imprisoned criminal, addict, or a liar as examples.

Parents, teachers and leaders sometimes fail to teach of these principles in a way they should be taught. Instead of teaching what, why and how, they make these principles seem arbitrary and superficial. In some cases obedience is reached with force and fear which is the exact opposite of how God wants it to be. I have met and heard of individuals who have abandoned God or His teachings because someone failed to teach as God, our Father, would have us teach - that is with love, care, encouragement, warning, explaining and with reasons.

When principles - no matter if they are laws, norms or commandments - are learned the arbitrary and superficial way, they make no sense. Blind faith, to do "just because" or mere tradition are not fair nor healthy foundations for discipleship or citizenship of an individual. When a principle is founded on real reasons known by an individual the principle becomes a tool, a power or a gate to growth, rather than a burden and a limitation.

Ultimately the responsibility of understanding the commandments of God is up to each individual themselves. It saddens me when a person does not get the teaching and guidance he or she deserves. If You do not get the answers from who ever your source is, look for it somewhere else by yourself. I am a firm believer that if one sincerely and with intent to act accordingly wants to find truth, one will find it. Therefore I encourage all regardless of faith or creed to study the principles of their lives and learn the why and how in them.

I live according to my conscience. I live how I live because I want to live this way. I am who I am and I don't try to be anyone else. What ever I do and choose has consequences. I cannot choose the consequence but I can choose what I do. I can choose to follow a commandment and enjoy it's blessings or I can choose not to and suffer the lack of those blessings and a consequense of disobedience. 
 
Following the commandments does not strip us of personality. Me, my Love, my parents, rest of my family, my friends and their friends all are different. And let's not even start when we travel to different cultures. The people are very different from States to Finland continuing to India and China and further to South-America. The people are different but the faith and commandments stay forever the same. They direct our actions and morals to a unified direction. But to say that living according to the same principles would create a homogenous collection of personalities is rather far fetched. Up to this day I have not met a person who is exactly same as someone else in their personality and opinions.

As a conclusion I want to turn my attention to You who feels that the commandments that have been taught to you are as I mentioned earlier arbitrary and superficial. You are looking for more because you do not feel satisfied with the reasons you have received. 
 
First Do not feel negative feelings towards whoever has given you weak reasons. Forgive that person. Not everyone knows and sometimes those who know are blinded by pride or fear and because of that they are unable to teach as they should.
 
Second Keep the flame of searching burning. Do not let it die. Christ taught that those who seek will find and to those that knock the door will be opened. Giving up is the last mistake you want to do. Truth is there and it is worth all efforts.

Third Don't be afraid of questions or conserns. Don't be afraid to re-evaluate your values, morals, standards and knowledge. Be critical not sceptical. Be smart and careful. Not every one with answers has good intentions. Christ again has taught us to be aware of false prophets.
 
Fourth Be patient. The answers are not necessarily where you first look for them. Later when you find it, it may not first seem like you found it. Give it time and see the fruits of it.

Fifth In all things turn to God who is the source of all truth. God is our Father. He desires us to have the truth - the knowledge and understanding of things how they really are. He wants to be an active part of our lives and allowing Him to guide us along our journey is of utmost importance.

 
Godspeed.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Do Not Give Up

We do mistakes. All of us do. Some of us do bigger mistakes than others. Some of us have traces behind us that swing from left to right without direction other than where toes point at that moment. Some of us have managed to walk more straight of a path. We have one thing to be glad of. We who are alive right now, there is still distance to cover. We have time to correct our direction.

I know people who have the curvier kind of path behind them. I know you do too.

I write this to all of us who have walked from left to right.

Sin is an action that is in contradiction to the standards God has set. Sin is a violation of eternal moral laws that have been given to us. With sin, there is always a punishment. There is no action without a consequence. Even if it might seem like it. The spiritual punishment or consequence is immediate, without delay. The physical punishment or consequence is often not as immediate. The social - "external" (things that happen around you) - punishment or consequence might never happen.

There are various kinds of sins. Not all sins are as severe as others. All are significant. All are counted and we are responsible of them. There are sins that are above all other sins. These sins are so severe because they involve an other person besides you. I speak of two things: the sin of giving life and the sin of taking a life.

The Sin of Taking A Life is rather easy to understand. Murder and killing are sins where there is no forgiveness by standard. The law of Moses states: "Thou shalt not kill". "It is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness" is how Alma puts it in the Book of Mormon (Alma 39:6).

Our Heavenly Father, the Father of us all - even Christ's - has a plan in mind for each and every one of us. He has appointed us to do certain things and He has given each a time to be born and a time to move on. As the same Alma as above once taught: "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors" (Alma 34:32). This life is the time our Father gave us to do what he sent us here to do. No-one has the right to cut that time short, NO-ONE but God who gave it. Abortion is a sin of taking a life.

As a general exception to this commandment God has said through another prophet: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed (Alma 43:47).

The Sin of Giving Life might cause one to ponder what I exactly mean with it.

In order to bring people to this world God set a way for it to happen. God has given us a part in His plan of creation. This part is providing physical bodies to His children, the pure and sinless spirits that He desires to send here at that time. Yes, human sexuality is an attribute, gift and a power given us by our Heavenly Father. A man and a woman joined together may achieve one the greatest joys available and posses a divine power to create life.

Misusing this power is severe and grievous sin and an insult towards God and His creation. It is mocking the divine gift He has given us to be used wisely and only within a promise and a covenant. Misusing the power and attributes to help God bring children on this Earth distorts and degrades the purposes they were given for.

The standard God has set for using these divine attributes is clear and has not changed even if many men and women who claim to represent God say otherwise. Sexual intimacy outside a lawful marriage relationship between a man and a woman is not allowed nor accepted in the slightest by God. This means that touching the private areas of an other person's body, homosexual relationships, pre-marital sexual intercourse and masturbation and any variation of these is not acceptable in the sight of God.

God's plan is that all of His children that are born to this world are born to a mother and a father who are married and are loyal to each other and love and cherish each other. His plan is that the sexual attributes and powers are used to bring the husband and wife together, to strengthen their unity, love and relationship.

These attributes are not to be used alone or shared with who ever.

-

Like I said. We do mistakes. We do commit sin. We fall and allow the carnal within us to take over. We do sometimes make the mistake of allowing the lusts, senses and instincts to take over.

When sin has been committed it has been committed. We cannot go back in time and change things. Regardless of that, our past does not define our future. We can change. The great thing about the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that when understood correctly and when a certain requirement called repentance has been fulfilled it makes things as if they never happened. They are wiped away. Yes they still happened but God or Christ do not remember them anymore.

Living under the effect of a sin is not a sin. Neither suffering the consequences nor trying to manage life after a mistake are sins. Sin is an action not a state or circumstance.

Our actions have consequences. Pre-marital sexual intimacy causes guilt, degradation of self-esteem, pregnancy and heart ache. It also has spiritual consequences. Those who fail to live the standard of sexuality God has set are not worthy of the blessings He desires to give us either here on Earth or in the life thereafter. Murder and killing, damage our social and family relationships. It causes sorrow for the victim's family and friends. Let's not forget all guilt it will bring in the end. One of our Father's children loses his or her time to do the labor he or she was sent to do. And because of that, we lose our possibility to return to our Heavenly Parents.

Those of us who live under a consequence of a sin, pay attention.

We did a mistake. Let it go. What is done belongs to the past. If the consequence follows us, a burden of taking a life or a child from giving life, embrace life as it is and make the best of it.

If you killed, it does not mean that you are a killer now. Change your life and use the time you have left to do good instead of evil. Good is with them who do good and God loves all of His children no matter what they have done.

If you gave birth to a child as a result of pre-marital intercourse, leave that night, morning, day or evening to the past.You are not what you were. Change your life. You have a child now. Every child is a gift of God. They have a right as children of God to receive a fair chance, the best you can give, to fulfill what they were sent here to do. Child is NOT a mistake. Life is NEVER a mistake.

A good friend of mine sent me a card while I was on my mission. It said something along these lines "The one who dwells in the past is anxious. The one who dwells in the future is restless. The one who dwells in the present has peace."

This Chinese proverb has a profound message. Leave yesterday to yesterday and let the future take care of itself. Live today and do what you can to change tomorrow for the better.

Godspeed.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Distorted Reality

Saying this might make me sound like I am old but... The more years I see behind me, all the less I can fathom the way how the secular world sees and regards truth. Just recently while reading an article for a study we make during a scientific writing and proseminar class I encountered several points that caught my attention. The general message was rather alarming.

The original article by Mike Pohjola may be found here on page 41. It is in Finnish but I will provide a translation of the statements that caught my attention.

The title of the article states Reality Is Our Enemy.

"Reality does not consist of alternatives for there are no alternatives for reality. The more we regard everything around us as unchanging, objective reality, the less we have possibilities to affect the world."

"Reality is a dangerous illusion which is created by the strong coalitions of our society: major companies, governments, religions, parents, schools and especially media."

"One thing remains: a belief that there is one objective reality. Part of this belief is a concept that it (the reality) cannot in any way be affected, a concept of this reality being the same for everyone. Both claims are wrong."

"Between reality and human there exists a perception. Every human being perceives things differently and therefore also experiences the physical reality in a completely different way than the other. This way the experienced reality is completely subjective and not necessarily directly dependent of the physical reality.

The physical reality can be experienced differently while dreaming, drugged, tired, in love or angry. The youth can hear the grasshoppers, the old cannot. The civilized know the history of the town's statues, the uncivilized do not. In different cultures, the colors are seen differently.

There are at least as many realities as there are people. But also the same individual can experience the same thing in many ways.

I see the bus one way if I have waited for it in the cold, the other way if I look for the bus driven by my lover and even more differently if I roleplay a coal mine worker from the 1800's.

There are several different realities for each and that is why there are more subjective realities than there are people. Actually the whole concept of reality loses it's meaning when we understand that there is no one Reality which is shared by all.

There does exist an illusion of a common reality and in most of our realities there are many common things - starting from gravity and ending with candy being good. This illusion allows us to think that our realities are similar. Which is good. All communication is based on that. We can share a language and even if not one word will never mean the exactly same for two different people, they can be close enough so thoughts can be exchanged."

"Because our realities consist of thoughts or concepts or perceptions it is possible to change our realities by changing our perceptions. This happens constantly on some level and that is what advertisers, media corporations and artists do days in and days out. ... For a reason or an other, various authors have addressed the matter quite much. The following quotes shed light on changing the reality.

The first is from an interview with a comic author Alan Moore. Moore has written comics such as From Hell, Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Later he realized that he can research his writing better through magic than writing technique.

'
Our whole world consists of awareness, we never really experience the world directly, only our awareness of the world, our perceptions of it, so our only world is perception. And all our perceptions consist of words. If one changes words, one changes perception and that way one changes the world. - And of course when one starts to observe, it is soon obvious, that the roots of writing must be in magic and who ever knew the secrets of writing, had supernatural powers.'

Another quote is from The Birth of Tragedy a early work by Friedrich Nietzschen.

'When this dream reality rises to its extreme we sense the speciousness shining through it regardless of it. This is my experience at least, and of it being common, normal even, I have received many testimonies and statements from poets. The philosophical man has even a feeling beforehand that behind this reality, in which we live and are, there exists an other completely different reality, which seems as if it were specious; Schopenhauer sometimes claims the appearance of people and all beings to someone as mere ghosts or as dream images to be a talent, a sign of philosophical readiness.'

We can mold our perceptions of reality and that is how we can mold reality. This is what art usually teaches us, but especially true it is with role playing games. In a roleplaying game a player chooses a completely new personality and animates it. Through the game he observes reality (or the reality of the game) through the eyes of the character. In a way he therefore moves into an other reality.

After moving into different realities in roleplaying games, one realizes that even the original reality is rather subjective and a result of various choices. And even that can be changed."

There are entities that do not want people to think this way. They don't want us to realize that a common reality is an illusion. They don't want us to think that God is an illusion or that Coce being better than Pepsi is an illusion or that our opposition against invading Iraq is an illusion or that representative democracy is an illusion.

When ever someone suggests governmental censorship, or paid education or less education, that someone wants to limit our ability to defend our own realities. These entities are the enemy and they have taken on themselves the name of Reality. They are the government, media corporations, organized religions, art establishment and in the end any establishment. They are the enemy and they live in each of us in the way we perceive the world. Our subjective realities already are contaminated by these realities starting from the time we played  with our Hasbro toys that have been made in Chinese sweatshops.

We can still fight. We can accept the fact that there is no common shared reality. We can take back our subjective realities. This happens always when we create art, read articles like this or play roleplaying games. And that our enemies want to end. That is why it is claimed that heavy metal is devil worship or that cannabis leads to heroine or that masturbation makes one blind. That is why roleplaying games are claimed to be dangerous. For they are dangerous to the enemy.

Reality is our enemy. It is time to defend ourselves."

At first all of this might seem good, right, reasonable and logical. That is the danger of it. It seems like it.

While serving in Sweden as a missionary, I encountered many smart, knowledgeable and well informed individuals. Some of them were more aggressive than others. Usually the discussion would start by me and my friend stopping them and asking a few questions just to get an idea what they think and believe in. Before we could mention cat a load of "reasonable" arguments - some more connected to the discussed theme than others - was dropped on us with such a pace that we could not survive through the first before two were flanking us from left.

Soon it was obvious that this person was not willing to listen what we had to say. But from all those encounters I learned the way how they make themselves seem reasonable, logical, authoritative and in the end "win" a debate.

First I will walk you through all these claims and comment on them. Let's see what they really say and have in them.

1)
"Reality does not consist of alternatives for there are no alternatives for reality. The more we regard everything around us as unchanging, objective reality, the less we have possibilities to affect the world."

True, reality - the universe, it's physics, laws of nature and basic principles of behavior - has no alternatives. Reality is what it is and it cannot be changed but it can be exploited for the benefit of those being part of it.

It is also true that when an individual regards something as unchanging or unchangeable the less possibilities that individual has to affect it. It is a basic psychological reaction: "why to try when it doesn't do any good anyway?" This is for example the state of many suffering from severe depression, deep negative anxiousness or excessive stress.

Pojola says, "the MORE we regard...". What does one regard as reality? That is where the greatest difficulties come: the definition of the term reality.

Under ancient and contemporary philosophies the terms 'truth' and 'reality' have suffered much. They have become ambiguous and shattered, torn and empty. I believe in general reality can be translated as things that have been, that are and will be. Saying this I assume that many would agree with this definition.

2)
"Reality is a dangerous illusion which is created by the strong coalitions of our society: major companies, governments, religions, parents, schools and especially media."

To me it seems that men and women in different ages have been and are sometimes afraid of things they cannot change and because of that they fight against them or try to defy them. Calling reality an illusion is a dangerous move.

All these parties do make claims of something being reality and the only truth. Some of these claims are based on experience and valid knowledge. Some of them are not. The fact is that a mere claim does not make something real. Reality is reality even if no one believes in it or - even better - knows about it.

Major companies do base their visions generally on beliefs, values or statistics. They take them to be valid sources that give information of The Reality. None of them neither beliefs, values nor statistics are the reality. They are attempts to understand, reflect and live according to The Reality.

Governments are built also on beliefs and values both being interpretations of The Reality. Religions attempt to be the sources of information about The Reality based on various reasons. Parents and schools teach of The Reality as it has been taught to them or as it has been interpreted by science. The media presents the reality and interpreted realities polarized by their agenda or purposes.

My point is that all these different actors attempt to portray The Reality. The Reality is not dependent of them. It is what it is and most definitely it is not an illusion. Illusion cannot keep anything together. It is not real and shatters immediately when it is revealed. Reality keeps going independent and keeps everything together because it is real.

3)
"One thing remains: a belief that there is one objective reality. Part of this belief is a concept that it (the reality) cannot in any way be affected, a concept of this reality being the same for everyone. Both claims are wrong."

The reality is the same for everyone but it is experienced differently. The laws of nature are not different from person to person. They cannot be changed. They are experienced and can be exploited. All of us live physically in the very same universe which has rules and principles. It works because of it. But this is the material reality.

The immaterial, mental or emotional reality is more complex but all variations of mental experiences do not make them real. Are not some of our fellow men confined to a mental hospital for their own protection when they "live" mentally in a different world or reality? Fire burns no matter what reality one lives in mentally. Human being needs food regardless of mental reality. Falling head first causes severe damage even if one lives in a mental world of clouds.

Human mind has great power in it and human intelligence has made many achievements. The only reason why this success has happened is submission to the independent, unchanging reality that surrounds all of us regardless of subjective mental "realities".

4)
"Between reality and human there exists a perception. Every human being perceives things differently and therefore also experiences the physical reality in a completely different way than the other. This way the experienced reality is completely subjective and not necessarily directly dependent of the physical reality.

Yes, it is true that all of us interpret, perceive and experience the world around us in different ways. And yes, because of that the interpretation, perception and experience are different and completely subjective.

The ending of the paragraph is rather interesting. "...and not necessarily directly dependent of the physical reality." If the experience is not dependent of the agitator, of what is it dependent then? Experience is directly dependent of the agitator. In this case experience is directly dependent of the world and in other words The Reality that surrounds all of us and is unchanging.

I believe based on the next paragraph that the author attempts to say that the experience and actual reality may be rather different.

5)
The physical reality can be experienced differently while dreaming, drugged, tired, in love or angry. The youth can hear the grasshoppers, the old cannot. The civilized know the history of the town's statues, the uncivilized do not. In different cultures, the colors are seen differently.

Yes, it is true that all these different states of mind and being allow one to experience the reality in alternative ways. The alternative experience does not change the reality no matter how real it seems to the individual. 

The following arguments are rather empty for the author's cause. Yes, the youth can hear the grasshoppers because they are actually there. The old cannot hear because of their damaged hearing. It doesn't make the grasshoppers disappear and become unreal. This is an experience of reality. The history has happened and it cannot be changed or rewritten or undone. It makes no difference if one knows of it or not. It still happened. The colors are a result of physics. The same rules apply everywhere. Certain chemical structures that reflect certain color of light have been given names by humanity. These colors have been given different meanings by different cultures.

Again we talk of experience that is subjective. Subjective experience does not make something real. In reality colors have no other purpose than make our life here visually more pleasant and that way easier. They are not unchanging symbols of something.

The Reality is that colors mean different things to different people and sometimes because of damage to the body, genetic attribute or handicap our visual experience of them is subjective. We cannot say that black is a color of mourning in all cultures and all ages. In Finland black clothing was worn in wedding ceremonies long ago. We cannot make a subjective experience a reality. It's existence is true and real but an absolute truth it is not.

6)
There are at least as many realities as there are people. But also the same individual can experience the same thing in many ways.

Not true, there is only one Reality. There are at least as many experiences of reality as there are people. But also the same individual can experience the reality in many ways.

7)
I see the bus one way if I have waited for it in the cold, the other way if I look for the bus driven by my lover and even more differently if I roleplay a coal mine worker from the 1800's.

Again the author speaks of subjective experience of reality and our subjective experience (imagined or not) does not change how the bus in reality is.

8)
There are several different realities for each and that is why there are more subjective realities than there are people. Actually the whole concept of reality loses it's meaning when we understand that there is no one Reality which is shared by all.

When read carefully all Pohjola's arguments and statements speak of subjective experience. It is true that there are several different experiences for an individual. Though there are extremely similar experiences, I would not bet my life on 100% same experience shared by two persons. All of us are unique both in body and in spirit - often called personality.

There is an absolute objective reality shared by all but there is no experience shared by all.

9)
There does exist an illusion of a common reality and in most of our realities there are many common things - starting from gravity and ending with candy being good. This illusion allows us to think that our realities are similar. Which is good. All communication is based on that. We can share a language and even if not one word will never mean the exactly same for two different people, they can be close enough so thoughts can be exchanged."

Let's assume for a moment that there is no independent and objective reality. Who can say something is not right? Can a killer start going around claiming that it is okay in his reality? A rapist can claim that taking all women is a common habit in his reality and openly accepted even by women themselves. Therefore it is not really a rape. Can one abuse alcohol and drugs and live in a reality that it doesn't damage his or her body? Yes but in reality it doesn't work.

Pohjola says many things are shared. I believe he doesn't deny laws of physics being real for him too. These must be therefore shared. How about morals then? I touched these in the previous paragraph. There is a moral conduct that leads to success (not necessarily financial success or success as a celebrity) and balance. There is also a moral conduct that leads to hurt, heart ache and chaos. These I believe are not shared according to Pohjola's opinion.

What happens to a community when individuals start claiming a right to immorality and damaging behavior based on a mental alternative reality? It shatters. There cannot be a functioning and prosperous community if these "anti-values" are exercised. Believing them to be good and beneficial does not make them so.

The society works when individuals embrace The Reality that is independent and objective. The Reality that does not change or is not affected nor manipulated by philosophies, opinion polls, crowds, masses, beliefs, politics or any other thing. The society works when individuals embrace this Reality and exploit the rules for their benefit.

10)
"Because our realities consist of thoughts or concepts or perceptions it is possible to change our realities by changing our perceptions. This happens constantly on some level and that is what advertisers, media corporations and artists do days in and days out. ... For a reason or an other, various authors have addressed the matter quite much. The following quotes shed light on changing the reality.

Again our experiences consist of thoughts, concepts and perceptions. The reality cannot be changed by it, our experiences can. Gravity does not affect one less even when any of the above is changed, neither does the moral realities.

The parties Pohjola mentions attempt to change our experience of the reality. They cannot change the reality, only the experience.

11)
The first is from an interview with a comic author Alan Moore. Moore has written comics such as From Hell, Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Later he realized that he can research his writing better through magic than writing technique.

'
Our whole world consists of awareness, we never really experience the world directly, only our awareness of the world, our perceptions of it, so our only world is perception. And all our perceptions consist of words. If one changes words, one changes perception and that way one changes the world. - And of course when one starts to observe, it is soon obvious, that the roots of writing must be in magic and who ever knew the secrets of writing, had supernatural powers.'

One can see Alan Moore is a skillful writer of how he uses words. True we are aware of the world around us. This awareness allows us to experience it. When we experience the world based on our awareness we receive a perception of things. But all our perceptions do not consist of words. We attempt to put our perceptions into words to communicate them to others. Changing these words does change the message that is conveyed. It doesn't change the perception, not the experience and especially not the awareness. And even if it somehow would it cannot change the reality.

The reality is not based on words. The reality is based on eternal laws that are not written down in words as CSS, HTML, C+, Python or any other digital code is.

Stories and worlds are created by authors who write them down in words. It does not make them real or true by definition.

12)
Another quote is from The Birth of Tragedy a early work by Friedrich Nietzschen.

'When this dream reality rises to its extreme we sense the speciousness shining through it regardless of it. This is my experience at least, and of it being common, normal even, I have received many testimonies and statements from poets. The philosophical man has even a feeling beforehand that behind this reality, in which we live and are, there exists an other completely different reality, which seems as if it were specious; Schopenhauer sometimes claims the appearance of people and all beings to someone as mere ghosts or as dream images to be a talent, a sign of philosophical readiness.'

According to this statement, I believe I am not a philosophical man. All I can say to this one that I have never experienced this world to be unreal, specious or artificial. If it was so I guess I could change my perception and change how the world works. Someone could say that you cannot but hey, it is my reality, my rules, my morals. No one can say that my reality is wrong. Maybe then I could see the speciousness of my reality Nietzschen is talking about.

If one lives in reality there is no lie to cover it. If one has a sense of truth, it will shine through the speciousness of a false reality.

13)
We can mold our perceptions of reality and that is how we can mold reality. This is what art usually teaches us, but especially true it is with role playing games. In a roleplaying game a player chooses a completely new personality and animates it. Through the game he observes reality (or the reality of the game) through the eyes of the character. In a way he therefore moves into an other reality.

If one takes an imaginary reality as a true reality, yes one moves from reality to another. Never the less it doesn't change the fact that this individual is still under the influence of the actual reality he or she is in. Neither imagination, roleplaying nor acting will make something real. It gives a completely unique and different experience but it does not make it real.

14)
After moving into different realities in roleplaying games, one realizes that even the original reality is rather subjective and a result of various choices. And even that can be changed."

Again, as we have seen from many previous points, the experience is subjective and it can be changed. The reality cannot be changed.

15)
There are entities that do not want people to think this way. They don't want us to realize that a common reality is an illusion. They don't want us to think that God is an illusion or that Coce being better than Pepsi is an illusion or that our opposition against invading Iraq is an illusion or that representative democracy is an illusion.

There are entities who do their very best to affect our opinions, experiences, attitudes, ideas, thoughts, paradigms, habits and many other things that are part or our individual subjective EXPERIENCE. I am getting a bit tired of being redundant but reality is not changed by belief, thought or ideology.

16)
When ever someone suggests governmental cencorship, or paid education or less education, that someone wants to limit our ability to defend our own realities. These entities are the enemy and they have taken on themselves the name of Reality. They are the government, media corporations, organized religions, art establishment and in the end any establishment. They are the enemy and they live in each of us in the way we perceive the world. Our subjective realities already are contaminated by these realities starting from the time we played  with our Hasbro toys that have been made in chinese sweatshops.

We can still fight. We can accept the fact that there is no common shared reality. We can take back our subjective realities. This happens always when we create art, read articles like this or play roleplaying games. And that our enemies want to end. That is why it is claimed that heavy metal is devil worship or that cannabis leads to heroine or that masturbation makes one blind. That is why roleplaying games are claimed to be dangerous. For they are dangerous to the enemy.

Reality is our enemy. It is time to defend ourselves."

As a conclusion to this commentary section I just want to say it one more time. I hope you all have seen it from Mike Pohjola's text that he is talking of experiencing the reality. That is how people are confused. With subtle play of words a subjective experience becomes reality. EXPERIENCE DOES NOT EQUAL REALITY.


Now I wish to share my thoughts of reality.

As I defied earlier reality is what has been, what is and what will be. With that I do not say that an experience is not real. Yes, an experience is real, it's existence is true. But an experience does not necessarily portray the true reality. It is just an experience of it.

What things are reality then?

Reality is a question of true existence.

Does God exist in Reality? It is either true or it is not.
Can God in Reality affect my life? It is either true or it is not.
Are there in Reality eternal moral laws that all are subject to? It is either true or it is not.
Is there a life after death? It is either true or it is not.
Is it possible to know of these things? It is either true or it is not.

Reality is a question of universal right and wrong.

Is it right to be nice? It is either true or it is not.
Is it right to love? It is either true or it is not.
Is it right to lust after some one? It is either true or it is not.
Is it right to cheat? It is either true or it is not.
Is it right to revenge? It is either true or it is not.

Reality is a question of true consequence.

Does fire burn? It is either true or it is not.
Do words hurt? It is either true or it is not.
I lying beneficial? It is either true or it is not.
Do my decisions affect my life after death? It is either true or it is not.

That is Reality. It does not change. It makes one free, balanced and happy. Men fly because they abide to the Reality. The societies are truly successful when they abide to the Reality.

Reality is my Friend. It makes me free, because it is True.