A Dramatic Realization

I suddenly had the most intriguing revelation this morning upon waking. This is perhaps a bit off-topic, yet this blog is, of course, an online journal of discovery, so perhaps it’s not so much a derailment of thought… ūüôā

Social Networking: Appropriate-Social-Network-Behaviour-300x299

I love Facebook! It has connected me with friends and relatives and fans of my work like I could only have imagined before there was the internet (and, yes, I do remember those days, though I was only a child, haha)!

I always strive to be¬†real;¬†I never want to present myself as something other than myself. And, out of respect for others, I have never ever made it a practice to “unfriend” those in the digital-social arena whose political or religious or cultural values differ from mine. Unfortunately, however, there are a couple people my Unconscious — my Higher Self — brought to my mind very strongly this morning; people ¬†who I know and with whom I have interacted personally in real life — who I did end up de-friending after a long, long time of frustration.

Naturally, the frustration was over political differences, stark differences. The odd thing about my situation was that, with both of these people, I only engaged very rarely with them in heated discussions (online, in the comment sections); I wound up unfriending them only after being constantly reminded of their staunch positions through the memes and comments they shared with me via my feed. I had decided, I don’t need to be reminded of our stark differences by seeing this in my feed every day.

What struck me as interesting and unique this morning, was that there are plenty of other diverse things that are shared with me constantly via that Facebook feed every day. Why should I be so bothered by these few? I think perhaps it is because in real, face-to-face life, I would never have engaged in such heated commentary with them, and indeed I would probably never have even seen this side of their views so vividly, knowing them and their in-person, quiet natures. And, even if I had, knowing myself well enough, I realized I would simply have nodded my head in respect of their opinions and loved them anyway, rather than engaging their ire further with my dissenting viewpoints.

So, my Unconscious asked my Conscious this morning, what would I “share” verbally in face-to-face communication with my friends, if I were to speak with this collection of diverse individuals in person? I know myself well enough to know that I would not be so quick to blurt out to¬†everyone any such heat-worthy news bites or strident memes that catch my fancy at any given point, without instigation. I tend to be the person, in real life, who normally listens more than speaks when it comes to hot-button issues of the day, unless I am asked for my opinion. Thus, when I am invited to share in the discussion, the discussion is instantly understood to be on more friendly terms, and not an opportunity for scathing commentary back and forth.

I realized, too, that on my personal Facebook wall, I only share with “Friends” and not the “Public.” Which begs the question, again, if I were personally, physically, surrounded by these friends today, what would I actually share with them? Would I bare my soul so destructively and without discernment? Or would I more likely nod my head in enthusiastic agreement with those things said with which I concur, and smile with patient understanding and polite silence when faced with opinions I don’t agree with? Yes, having done so confidently in the past, and knowing this is who I am, that is what I would do. Therefore, I have committed to a grand personal experiment on social media: Rather than sharing blatantly anything and everything that strikes my fancy (and, understand, I already tend to be judicious in what I choose to share; I share those things that seem highly important to me — but it’s important only to¬†me,¬†without concern for others at the time; that’s the point), I have decided:¬†I will only “share” that which I would personally say to anyone in my circle face-to-face.¬†

  • I will freely “Like” those things that strike my fancy, however. It’s my enthusiastic “nod of the head” of agreement.
  • I will “Share” those things that I personally would only say in public, in physical actuality, face-to-face.
  • I will not engage in heated back-and-forth commentary in the manner to which I have become accustomed in this faceless internet age. And if I do participate in discussions, I will only do so as I would if I were standing there with this person face-to-face: with love, patience, silence, and understanding.

To the internet’s credit, I have become much bolder in expressing myself, and for that I am grateful. But I have realized that I — and perhaps, we all, dare I say? — have gotten¬†too comfortable in engaging each other’s ire from the comfort of hiding behind our smiling profile photos, from behind the safety of our own monitors in our own homes. I, for one, will aim to be more “realistic” in my engagement with others online. At the very least, I will be truer to myself, and in doing so, there is great Peace.

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

–Jesus, Luke 6:31

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

–Proverbs 15:1

keep-calm-and-be-true-to-yourself-7

Conformity and Renewal

…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…

–Romans 12:2, KJV

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.

–Jesus, Luje 17:33, NLT

What does being “conformed to this world” mean exactly? From what, does Paul suggest, should we be renewing our mind? Many have read the above passage from Romans and interpreted it to mean something along the lines of:¬†“If it isn’t like me or the traditions of my church and family, or follow the precepts as proclaimed by my pastor, then it is of the world and I am to reject it.”

This is too easy, however; this is living the Inner Life: the “framework we build and with which we shelter our Egos and Perceptions…It is protective, offers guidance, and seems reliable in an apparently unreliable world. It gives meaning and explanation to the uncertain. And, when it is attacked by other emerging viewpoints, it is defended violently.” Recall, “The Shadow¬†is who/what we believe we are not…For every aspect of behavior and personality the Ego has chosen for itself, all else is thrown off onto the Shadow. The Shadow is everything the Ego denies‚Ķ.”

But, consider: What is “the world” of which the Bible speaks so often and, most often, in a most odious fashion, that we should reject it wholly? Again, too often, pastors and their flocks have taken it to mean “everything in the world that is not like us and what we perceive in the Scriptures — that which is not of our familiar culture or our personal Inner Experience.”

What if we break it down a bit? One might say the World is:world

  • sin
  • destruction
  • loneliness
  • arrogance
  • dog-eat-dog
  • unloving
  • dark
  • hateful
  • proud
  • disobedient
  • ungrateful
  • cruel

The list could easily go on and on, but I think we can all agree that this is the most typical view of The World — it is right and good that we should abstain from such things, to be sure. But, the interpersonal problems may arise when we, again, view the list above¬†purely from our own personal¬†reference¬†points of what these evils are.

What does cruelty look like? What is pride? What is sin, exactly? Does the male in my community who enjoys expressing himself through the use of eyeliner embody sin and lostness? Is the woman next-door who refuses to wear a dress and “dresses like a man” proud and disobedient? Is homosexuality equivalent to destruction?

This is where the purity of Jesus’ words may shine through —¬†Do not cling to your life.

The renewing of our minds ought to be a renewing of our thoughts to the Outer Experience: “…the realm in which Understanding and most perfect, unconditional Love dwell. It is the place from which we can come to understand our Egos and its decisions and perceptions, and the place we can come to embrace our¬†Shadow¬†and realize that we are One‚Ķ”

Perhaps The World is most aptly translated to mean: the thoughts and practices and ways of those who live their life locked in their own personal framework of Ego; going through the motions of life without really seeing.

May we continually renew our Minds, to let go of our lives and our narrow perceptions daily, to see All as it truly is and embrace genuine Love and Harmony, as Jesus did.

In Harmony and Silence

What is love?
Love is the driving force of the universe; God is Love, Love is God.
But what is It, this force that binds the particles into matter around us, making up our very substance?

It is Harmony, and not chaos.
The Universe is in constant flux, moving and changing and adjusting and adapting…
An “additive principle” is what is at work, building abstract block upon abstract block, creating and tearing down to make way for the next evolution.

Therefore, we may say, Love is Harmony.

Love flows, Love bends, Love adapts. Love is Harmony.
To struggle against, or to cling, is not Harmony. It is not Love.

Un-love is a fighting against the very primeval forces of creation, the forces of our own inner being.
And, as boisterous and proud as it is, it is ultimately useless; one cannot struggle against the nature of our own self and accomplish a single thing.

What of willful change? What of inspiration? What of the pursuit of answers to the hurdles that plague our journeys?

The answers are already around us and within us. Love — Harmony — permeates the fabric of our existence.

But through struggle and chaos, we blind ourselves to All that already Is. Through narrowly seeking that which we think we must struggle to have or produce, we close our eyes to all that is presently around us and ignore all possibilities that do not line up with our narrow criteria.

The answer to all, then, is Silence. To sit and silence the mind, and its perpetual whirlwind of thought, to sit in utter stillness and simply take in, without prejudice, All That Is.

In Stillness, in Love, in Harmony, and these within ourselves, we find God, we find Inspiration and Hope. It is not to be sought in some far-off place. It is always within us; we need only look.

How Easy…

How easy it is for us to slip into our emotional skin and become utterly entrenched in the passions of our current opinions and viewpoints, angered with those who disagree with us. A Culture War may be more dangerous than any other in the way it consumes the inside of its very host.

May we call to mind Big Brother Mountain and Father Sky, who simply look on from beyond, observing, unattached, the goings-on below. If we can slip into the mentality of the Observer we can see more clearly the reality of the things around us and will be capable of extending the respect to others that All deserve.

Let us wake from our virtual reality and ceaseless running today.

The Beginning of Love

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them; we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” –Thomas Merton

Emotional Attachment

Why must there be so much hatred? Why do we run so quickly to judgement fueled by emotion, rather than objective understanding, leading to peace and harmony? It makes me very sad when I encounter it and cannot break through….

Memorial "the Holodomor" 1932-1933 (death by hunger) in Kyiv, UkraineAlas, these too, are all Attachment and Aversion… They float in and out like clouds across the Spaciousness Within. We need not claim any as our own… Still, as a regular human being, how I¬†wish I could talk sense into others around me regarding these truths!!

To straighten the crooked you must first do a harder thing — straighten yourself.

The Dhammapada of Guatama.

 

When they kept on questioning him [Jesus], he straightened up and said to them, ‚ÄúLet any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.‚ÄĚ

John 8:7

 

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Jesus, Matthew 7:1-5

 

How easy it is to immediately say: Well! In this particular instance I¬†know¬†what I am talking about; therefore I will close my ears to you and what you have to say and tell you what’s what!

But the wise men of ages past knew and have told us what it is to be wise — to judge not, to embrace The Shadow in all of us, and realize we are all exactly the same; we are connected to each other. We are all of The One. It is not our place to judge the actions of another, especially not solely based on our initial emotional reactions to it! But we must seek to understand, and above all, Love. And Perfect Love is not judgmental or conditional, it simply Is… Mother Earth, indeed the cosmos around us, from which we ultimately came, exhibits a perfect love for us in that the Universe does not judge us for our constant pettiness and smallness and arrogance; the sun still circles around us, the earth still rotates, It does not speak, It does not complain…

Unconditional love feels like nothing… emotions, feelings, judgements — these are all¬†conditions. (Visit this page for more on the Witness State¬†of Unconditional Love.)

Indeed – if we rather turned our attention inward and only sought to straighten ourselves and not others, what a marvelously beautiful world this could become! To attain a state of simply Being, and allowing others that same respect, is a path toward Peace.

Ultimately, however sorrowful I may feel from time to time, it is all up to me and the straightening of myself within, and not the pressure or conditions I feel like placing on others.

May¬†Namaste¬† — I, the Divine in me, bow to the Divine Spark within you — be the sincere word among us all, to tie us together.

namaste

 

The Inner and The Outer

…just as he who wishes to see the intelligible nature will contemplate what is beyond the perceptible if he has no mental image of the perceptible, so he who wishes to contemplate what is beyond the intelligible will contemplate it when he has let all the intelligible go…we in our (aporia) do not know what we ought to say, and are speaking of what cannot be spoken, and give it a name because we want to indicate it to ourselves as best we can…

—from “Apophasis”

Evolution,¬†Goddess Gaia, if you will, has granted us a most astonishing gift… Our brains, our mind, our consciousness, our perceptions — this intricate interweaving of grey matter with electric impulses and tissue and muscle and bone has, over the expansive eons, given us not merely a thinking mind by which to behold and contemplate our surroundings, but almost another,¬†outer¬†mind beyond this natural mind, by which we are able to contemplate our own selves as well! We are able to¬†Observe the Observer.

In this sense, we might say that we are capable of, at its most basic, two focuses, or ways of looking and experiencing. This concept has already been beautifully and plainly described in the study of Open Focus, and I highly recommend you explore Kurt Keefner’s writings on the subject at the aforementioned link! Additionally, the Buddha would call this very concept and practice¬†Mindfulness.¬†But, too, let us consider the pragmatic implications of this kind of understanding in regard to our personal and societal interactions…

In our American society at present, there seems to be a great struggle tearing us violently apart, pitting basic religious and social viewpoints against each other. This debate is very near and dear to my heart at present, as I have experienced both sides of the struggle in the full and complicated extent of my own personal journey, and I feel I’ve at least been able to grasp the basic concepts rooted at the heart of the struggle. “The Devil is in the details,” it is said, but from an eagle’s eye view, I see the broad lack of understanding on the whole as a resistance against accepting Open Focus or allowing oneself to Observe the Observer in a mindful manner.

Consider this:

What is it that drives our current breakthroughs in Science, that which enhances our knowledge of the Universe and our place in it, that which enables us to create technological advances to enable us to understand more? Is it not the scientific process of careful and testable Observation and Experience through experimentation? What is it that enables us to live our daily lives and make basic decisions? Is it not the result of our current and past observations, built upon habit and understanding? How is it that a child learns what is not particularly beneficial to their well-being but by testing and observing and getting hurt and thereby learning in the process? We live our lives, we observe, we learn, we grow… and we develop frames within which our experiences fit — frames that seem to explain our experiences and by which we are able to categorize future experience and observation, frames that will guide our future decisions if we let them. One might call this living life through the Ego Filter

I would also call this the Inner Experience. This is the realm in which most “normal” life is lived, without thought, without mindfulness. This framework we build and with which we shelter our Egos and Perceptions could very well be called rigid¬†religious structure. It is protective, offers guidance, and seems reliable in an apparently unreliable world. It gives meaning and explanation to the uncertain. And, when it is attacked by other emerging viewpoints, it is defended violently.

If, however, one could from time to time, emerge from within this rigid framework in order to observe its colors and shapes and structural intricacies from without, then I would call this the Outer Experience. It is this¬†mind-existing-outside-the-mind¬†observational phenomenon that allows Science to double-check itself for validity. It is the realm in which Understanding and most perfect, unconditional Love dwell. It is the place from which we can come to understand our Egos and its decisions and perceptions, and the place we can come to embrace our Shadow¬†and realize that we are One…

One dwelling in the Inner realm is one who holds to their ideology, for there is nothing else beyond it; it is all they are. One dwelling in the Outer realm is one who does not take part emotionally in anything that is seen, but rather only watches and studies and accepts. From this vantage point, there is much to be learned, and much wisdom and peace to be attained.

This Day of Renewal

I had an interesting personal realization yesterday as I roamed the street… One of the many lovely people who stopped and chatted with me was a woman who mentioned her desire to collaborate and learn from me regarding several aspects of my profession‚Äďhow she might incorporate what I’ve achieved in her own aspirations. And part way through our conversation, she looked at me and asked, “Are you a believer?”

I have to confess that I had to pause, and in my own mind time seemed to stop for a very long time. ūüė≥ You see, being raised in a sort of Christian extremist environment (and all the stress, confusion, and mental and emotional baggage that came with that), you might say that the Traditional-God-one-thinks-of and I, while not divorced per se, are in separation right now‚Äď we’re currently seeing other people. ūüôā

However, in taking a moment to reflect upon my answer for this truly lovely and sincere woman, I took note of the “karma alarm” in my gut and pondered these flittering thoughts:
+ As I was in the middle of my peaceful activity, I sincerely opted for choosing a brief Yes or No answer.
+ I knew, without having the time to explain and hash out a complicated answer, basically what I’ve already hashed out at length here in this cyber-space, a Yes or No answer was inherently going to carry with it all sorts of assumptions, one way or the other.
+ So, am I a “believer”? What all can that potentially mean‚Äďboth within and without the assumed Faith?
+ In my gut, I knew I resonated at a certain level with this soul’s sincerity and love, at the most basic root…

…So I said Yes. Because the statement that I’m not a believer would be far more untrue than the fact that I am, even if not everything we proclaim to believe lines up precisely in every detail with each other. And here, I appeal to my love of the Myth and allegory.

After all, is not the heart of the Christian Easter Story a story of renewal after death? Of spring emerging from winter? Of a wise teacher and master dwelling within us in spirit and memory for all time, never to leave us; his or her influence ever present? Of an eternal freedom available for all to embrace?
How is this basic celebration of life and hope and renewal any different at its core from those of other cultures, even the premises of reincarnation and transformation of Buddhism? The gnostic Sethian tradition implies at times that the historical Jesus was only a human vessel for the “spirit of Seth,” the chosen and righteous son of Adam and Eve; therefore one of this tradition could very well ask whether the resurrection was not merely allegorical to begin with… Certainly, to some in that era, and even today, it is.

Symbolically, however, the crucifixion idea itself embodied deep dilemmas and meanings of the human psyche, and so the Crucifixion per se became a far greater reality than the actual physical events that occurred at the time.
Only the deluded are in danger of, or capable of, such self-sacrifice, you see, or would find it necessary. Only those still bound up in ideas of crime and punishment would be attracted to that kind of religious drama and find within it deep echoes of their own subjective feelings. ‚Äď(source)

We all share the same loves and hopes and dreams, and we all tend to embody these and personify them in differing manners according to our traditions; I would not that I harm another fellow being by even merely implying a snide rejection of what they hold dear.

Additionally, I realized, why am I afraid of my past tradition, my heritage? True, it did more harm than good when it was a part of my life; but that is not the case in The Now. (This is Aversion‚Äď it is the same as Attachment, only a pushing away instead of a pulling toward; it’s the same energy, the same poison.) My religious background is surely a part of me just as is any other spiritual heritage that has been passed down to us from our ancient ancestors. All is just a continuously evolving variation on a theme that has been playing since the dawn of existence. Tradition may surely have freedom to point toward god, while not defining god…. Remember, don’t confuse the finger pointing at the moon, as being the moon itself.

By my saying Yes, the woman instantly felt safe with me. It was palpable; she’d found a kindred spirit in me, someone who could understand where she was coming from when she spoke, someone who could culturally relate to her. Near the close of our conversation, she wanted to pray with me. And I asked myself, why should there be any qualms? Do I not speak and wish blessings and goodness upon this fellow being? If I pray to a Heavenly Father (for the woman’s sake) aren’t I also praying to The One Who Is?

The connection I made with this dear woman is more real than any labels we might have instead squabbled over. May we celebrate together in freedom this Day of Renewal, with mutual love and respect in our shared heritage.