Thursday, September 07, 2006

Another specimen

Another specimen, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/317 sec @ f3.6, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Look at how beautiful this one is. Another type -- I don't know what kind. Is this yet another for my collection? Do not worry, I'm just talking about photos. This one (and all of them) gently floated away when my camera became just a little too annoying.

But recently I read this quote from Ken Wilber, and though perhaps a little harsh, it does express my sentiments of organized religion versus spirituality:
When I was a youngster, and being the mad scientist type, I used to collect insects. Central to this endeavor was the killing jar. You take an empty mayonnaise jar, put lethal carbon tetrachloride on cotton balls, and place them in the bottom of the jar. You then drop the insect -- moth, butterfly, whatnot -- into the jar, and it quickly dies, but without being outwardly disfigured. You then mount it, study it, display it.

Academic religion is the killing jar of Spirit.

-- Ken Wilber, One Taste: November 24


Pat said...

I remember my own days of collecting insects, hiking with net, killing jar, and folded papers for safely transporting those beautiful but very dead butterflies home. For what? Simply to display them on pins, showing that I had caught them. Yes, I remember the growing horror of becoming aware of the killing jar. Now I won't step on spiders in the house. They all get safe passage from me.

But my real comment…I don't think Wilber's view on academic religion is particularly harsh. Most organized religion has nothing to do with spirituality. In fact, I suggest organized religion is afraid of authentic spirituality.

Lovely photo. I think the butterfly is a black swallowtail.

slskenyon said...

I like the quote, although I understand its disturbing nature. The picture is absolutely amazing, and as I know nothing about butterflies, I can't say what it is, but you caught a great fleeting moment on film.

Steven Crisp said...


Yes, of course you have it -- "organized religion is afraid of authentic spirituality". It is primarily about power and control -- in some cases with the belief that our best interests are at heart, but in other cases, for much more egoic desires.

As for your killing jar story -- I have my own as well. And it has to do with hunting chipmunks during my summers at our cottage. I can barely stand to recall the memories. But I do recall the event that opened my eyes. I hesitate to share the story, but here goes. I saw two red squirrels playing on a fallen tree well back from the road where I was walking (with my small caliber rifle). I was probably 15 or 16 years old. I took aim and shot one of the squirrels dead (and was rather proud of my good aim). I kept on walking. Eventually, I turned around to come home. When I came back to that same spot, I looked into the woods again and saw the second squirrel sniffing around his dead friend (or brother, or mate). At that moment, a wave of shame and guilt washed over me for what I had done (and had been doing for a number of years). Not a guilt like God was going to be mad. Just incredibly sad at the willful deaths I had caused. And for what? To ease my own summer boredom? It was the last time I shot at anything that didn't have a bulls eye printed on it.

And yes, many years later, that memory still lingers, and informs me. It is doubtless one of the life experiences that led me to find Buddhist precepts appealing -- one of which is not to bring harm to any sentient being. And as you, now even flies and mosquitoes get a pass at my house. My family thinks I'm nuts (ha!) And I'm having a small moral dilema over the bees nest in our stone wall that resulted in a workman being stung yesterday -- any advice? ;-)

Steven Crisp said...

slskenyon, I'm glad the quote and the photo touched you. Please keep on visiting.

Anonymous said...

Well I'll cast a slightly dissenting voice on organized religion. While I will agree that there are many negative aspects to so-called "organized religion" there some positive elements. I view it as a "dumbing down" orf spiritual concepts which can offer hope to people who need it badly, yet are in dire conditions unable to grasp concepts which are deeper. In older times it gave people something when they were not eduicated enough to grasp the reality of it themselves. So while Jesus was a beautiful man, he was inacessible to the average layman. Organized religion, for good and bad, brought the word to him.

Nice pictures!

Steven Crisp said...


This is a very important perspective, and I don't disagree with your assertions.

However, it is an interesting crucible. You get some good, and some bad (if you will allow me to label in the traditional sense). Which dominates?

One needs to step back very far to take an objective view at this equation. My current sentiments tilt toard the negative, but I try to keep an open mind.

In the end, a more integral approach that captures the "good" from organized religion and is able to discard the "bad" is probably the right answer. But who decides? Well, each of us individually, if we have not been brainwashed in the process of indoctrination.

Thanks for the balanced perspective.