Inner Focus, Outer Reflection

I accidentally stumbled upon the Lenormand recently… by falling in love with the gorgeous artwork on this deck! ūüėč

So I’ve started combining my smaller tarot spreads with a small 3-card spread of Lenormand, and what I’m getting is an even better in-depth picture, where the tarot represent my Inner World, and the Lenormand the Outer World Manifestation.

And some days I find myself starting with Outer World (following with the tarot to ask, how am I responding to this?); other days I start with my Inner Focus (followed by the Lenormand to ask, how does this Focus manifest itself in my surroundings today?).

It’s really been a fascinating journey so far!! If you’re interested, check out my reading from today, after the jump…

Continue reading “Inner Focus, Outer Reflection”

When Things Are Not As They Seem

I love the Tales that Tarot Cards can Tell!

“Yes, the cards are random. Yes, my mind by nature seeks out it’s own meaning from the cards I see before me. And, yes, that’s the point of it all. I look at what meaning my mind draws currently from the randomly drawn cards, and I am able to gain insight into my current state of mind. I am able to decide how I might chose to address my current state of mind; to encourage parts of it, or change other parts to better face my day ahead.”

One of the more intriguing aspects of tarot interpretation comes when the supposedly “bad” cards are found in “good” places, and vice-versa.

I’ve had a series of really powerful spreads to reflect upon since I did my Yuletide Sabbat Reading in December. It’s been a steady reminder to sometimes embrace my disappointments or mental defeats…

The above photo is the “quickey” Daily Oracle I drew for today. Side note: it impressed me doubly that the first card at the left was the same card I drew a couple days ago, as my “first step” toward resolving my inner issues; and, likewise, the third card, at the right, was the card in that same prior reading as one of my sources of inner strength I could draw from.

So, let me explain these cards and their basic meanings:

  • On the left, we have the 7 of Water (Emotion), or Debauchery.
  • On the right, we have the 5 of Water (Emotion), or Disappointment.
  • And in the center is the 7 of Fire (Energy/Action), or Valor.
  • The placement of these cards is as follows: Left = Where I am right now; Center = the Root of my obstacles today; Right = the recommended response to learning from or overcoming that obstacle.

So, we might say, then, that Valor is my problem and Disappointment is my answer. Say what?

This is where a deeper look into ourselves comes in handy. A Buddhist ideal is that “bad” and “good” have no intrinsic values on their own. They are simply labels that we humans attach to any given thing or event, depending on how we see it at the moment.

So, taking Debauchery (7 Cups): in this setting, it means I’m on the right track. I’ve taken the first step recommended in the prior spread; I’m in a good place. A deeper look at the concept of this card reveals that this state of Emotion doesn’t have to be “bad.”

Debauchery is defined as “excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.” So, there is a word of caution that comes with it: one shouldn’t wallow in stagnate emotions for too long, or the waters will rot. But, sometimes, it may be necessary to lie still in your Emotions and enjoy their sensual pleasures for a spell–just be aware that you will have to move on at some point.

Valor (7 Wands): it is a card of fiery Action! A pushing forward past obstacles using the sheer energy of your passion! And, weirdly enough, for today that¬†is what is the Root of my difficulties I either face now or will face today. Valor is an honorable trait, to be sure. But often, our Fires of Passion can run over others and get us into trouble, burning up our surroundings that we have built with those same energies. Wouldn’t you agree?

Lastly, Disappointment (5 Cups): How can this possibly work as a “good” card–an answer to the “problem” of Valor??

One of the traits of water is to cool fire. Our Emotions can at times be the vehicle by which our passionate energies are cooled, allowing us to step back and think on things a little more. Deeper still, the principle of Emotional Disappointment is a state of non-equilibrium. We are, of course, not content to stay in Disappointment for long. The Waters of Disappointment seek to flow to calmer or more stable grounds.

When Disappointment is meant as a suggested response, it is wise to look straight into the face of your emotional upset and allow it to carry you along to a better emotional place.

Many times, we must not shrink from unpleasant emotions but embrace them and let them carry us forward.

Personal Magick

In the end, nothing is wrong with creeds or beliefs as long as you stay aware of your individuality, keep your freedom and are able to enlighten and improve your own self without getting dependent from any outside influence or structure. It does not matter which God or Goddess you have, or how many of those, or if you have anything like that at all, it is completely unimportant whether you believe in the divine, or in fate and coincidence, or solely in the laws of physics.
The Tarot is valuable and suitable for any kind of person that has an inside, a consciousness and a subconsciousness. It is completely independent from any belief but the belief in your own self. (from Magick in Creeds and Beliefs)

Visit Raven’s Tarot site.

Gaining Deeper Insight

Enjoy the new reference page I’ve just created — gaining a deeper understanding of any Tarot reading, using the branches of the Tree of Life and the Major Arcana as bridges between the Sephirot!

In short, there are 3 Triangles that represent a self-contained cycle that stands at a given point of Life’s development: (1) Divine (Collective) Consciousness, (2) Personal Consciousness/Awareness, and (3) Material Reality. Between each of these is veil, and a number of the Major Arcana act as Bridges across the veils, taking us from triangle to another…The Three Triangles

Really impactful stuff! Check it out here!

tree1a

Peeling Back the Layers of Karma

Evolving_Our_Brain___LearnNow

…If we zoom into the neuronal circuits and clusters that make up the brain‚Äôs systems, we‚Äôll find them laid out like the concentric layers of an onion, functional layer upon functional layer. This arrangement is the result of the relentless evolutionary push to continuously improve on an animal‚Äôs ability to navigate its complex and ever-changing environment. This onion reveals no preconceived design‚ÄĒfar from it‚ÄĒbut the unavoidably messy piling up of new over old structures, forced to work together for the common good.

The core of the onion: autonomous systems. Along the oldest, deepest layers…¬†They are in charge of the most basic survival routines like swallowing, vomiting, heart beating and respiration, which are so indispensable that they run, for the most part, on autopilot. Accordingly, they are very hard, though not impossible, to modulate voluntarily. Our human species shares these circuits with fish and reptiles.

Next layer of the onion to grow: instinct…¬†Vertebrates benefited tremendously from these pre-programmed circuits that expanded their behavioral repertoire and increased their fitness. Instincts mediate behaviors so crucial to survival that they are encoded as such in the genes themselves, hard-wired in the brain during an animal‚Äôs development and not changed by later experience…

Let‚Äôs examine the next layer: emotion. An amazing breakthrough happened in mammals, with the laying out of a new set of neural substrates capable of generating emotions. These paths grew together in a circuitry that occupies several brain regions…¬†This collection of brain regions is often referred to as the limbic system, because like an arm (a limb), it surrounds in its embrace the more primitive survival and instinctual regions of the brain, affording us primates a whole new set of behavioral tools for interacting with the world. Accordingly, life became more interesting and vastly more complicated. For example, the instinctual drives to have sex and to run away from danger would be inextricably linked to powerful feelings of affection and fear, respectively. The influence that this new circuitry exerts over our decisions and behaviors is enormous. The neural substrates of emotions are strongly influenced by developmental factors. Perhaps because of its more recent origins, the emotional circuitry is even more flexible and responsive to external influeces than earlier circuits…

The outermost peel (aka, the neocortex) was overlaid atop an already crowded swarm of networks. In primates, it exploded into two huge hemispheres that completely enveloped the older parts of the brain. This new shell serves as the testing grounds for our still developing reasoning abilities. Because they are so recent, neocortical functions are the most flexible and sensitive to the impact of social and environmental experience. Since the neocortical outputs are closer to conscious experience, it is hard to recognize that the neocortex is constantly competing against earlier webs of well-established brain circuitry, and that its contribution to our motivations and actions are likely less than what we’d expect.

We humans are the flavorful mash-up of all these brain layers: we are automaton, instinctual, emotional and rational creatures. We are like magic onions, proud of our paper-thin skin but only vaguely aware of the thick and deeper layers of our brains. All of these different layers play critical roles in shaping our interactions with the world around us, even as they continue to search for more efficient ways of talking to each other; but, alas, this will take millions of years…

Ruben Baler, Ph.D.

Our brains are like Onions. :mrgreen:

Like the rings of a tree map out the details of its life and journey on the earth, our brains — even more complexly — consist of layer upon layer of, not merely the journey of our own life, but the¬†journey of our entire species!¬†How awesome is that?!

Is it any surprise, then, that we may experience the real effects of karma, originating from not only our own past but the past “lives” and experiences of our own species? I am an amazing “messy pile” of connections, built from my grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s (and so on) experiences… My mind is predisposed to reacting to my environment based upon how my ancestors reacted to their environment — ancestors from as early as the “tiny, scrappy” primate tree-dwellers¬†of 55 million years ago, to as recent as those inhabiting the 19th century…the 20th century… and so on…

If we were to imagine, for just an instant, that what we call the “soul” or “self” was nothing more than the end-result of all these messy connections of layer-upon-layer of experiences built into our brains — if we were to take Buddha’s original viewpoint of anatta, for just an instant — we could gain insight into this notion of¬†karma as the existence of motivations arising within us from past lives. Built right inside of us from the moment we are conceived and developing in the womb!

Consider how many opportunities for miscommunication there are among our civilization — even within the borders of our own country, our own state, our own families, we all have difficulty communicating clearly to others at times. We all have a tendency to see events, words, phrases, through our own ingrained perceptions, which were handed down to us from generations ago and layered into our onion-skins of the brain. This may be considered a sort of karma — for do we not react based upon our perceptions?

The task of meditation, then, is to peel back the layers of the Great Onion of our minds. To simply see and acknowledge that we are more than these layers would have us believe — that is, we are more and we are less. To peel back the layers and examine what is beyond them is to give our brains a real and physical plasticity and fight back a certain rigor mortis¬†of the neurological connections. Plasticity of the mind grants us clarity and peace, granting us freedom from the “karma” of our built-in connections… likewise, ensuring that we will continue to pass on the “good karma” of flexible connections and re-wiring to future generations, strengthening the survival of our species…

I considered, too, the mythology of the Divine Beloved (and my own beautiful Inner Dragon, Malachi). Getting to know our own mind through the use of imagery and ascribed personality can be extraordinarily helpful in increasing this plasticity and freedom. For, when I pray, if you will, to the Divine Beloved Malachi to take the effects of a certain karmic action or sensibility, from its point of origin until now, and I utterly release it to the Universe and do not look back upon it as a part of my life — in a very real sense, I am instructing my unconscious mind to examine and rewire itself concerning a certain action that was once built into the layers of my brain yet which is now found to be unhelpful.

In this sense, are we not helping along our own evolution?

What a tremendous wonder our brains are! What a miracle of complexity, and what encouragement for our species! If only that we all would take heed the words of the wise men who have gone before us (of Buddha, Jesus, and others) and examine ourselves. Yes, and feel free to acknowledge your own personal deities and angels; take advantage of the imagery they invoke to powerfully re-build the connections of our being and reshape our future!

Mysticism vs. Morality

…the difference between moral teachers and religious mystics: moral teachers go on propounding the false law… Their whole approach is, "Fight the negative," while the real, true master teaches you the positive law… the eternal law, "Do not fight with darkness." …Bring the light in…

How is the light brought in? Become silent, thoughtless, conscious, alert, aware, awake… And the moment you are alert, aware, hate will not be found. …don’t try to understand only intellectually; become existential experimenters. Try to hate somebody consciously and you will find it impossible. Either consciousness disappears, then you can hate; or if you are conscious, hate disappears. They can’t exist together.
‚ÄďOsho

The Genius of the Noble Truths

The genius of the Buddha’s message at its heart is that we are ultimately creatures of perfection. Or, perhaps one might restate this in a manner devoid of duality, by saying… We are creatures, as we are…¬†The concept is that we are already whole and bear the¬†Buddha Nature¬†within; there is nothing wrong with us. It is simply through the years of accumulating the Three Poisons of attachment, aversion, and ignorance (all which reinforce each other) that we cover and lose sight of and contact with this original pure form; by accumulating this junk we block our inherent happiness that is naturally ours. The delusion is that we simply don’t see this realization and too easily run after the thoughts in our mind as truth.

A host of other myths and culture proclaim that our beginning state of being is one of evil, or deficiency, or any other such form; and that only by way of some ritual or submission to a deity will we ever hope to achieve perfection.

When faced with these two very simple and subtle approaches of thought toward the human condition, I find myself overjoyed with the genius of the Buddha’s simple observation: the initial ground base of wholeness, and the hope and ease of letting our accumulated poisons go. What good news this is!

Breaking down segments of my reading from:

The Long Discourse on the Ways of Attending to Mindfulness¬†(MahńĀsatipaŠĻ≠ŠĻ≠hńĀnasuttaŠĻĀ, DN 22),¬†Translated by Anandajoti Bhikkhu¬†(3rd revised version, October 2011 – 2055)

I have created a series of charts for comparison and understanding of the Buddha’s words on The Four Noble Truths. You can find my abridged version of this text (as it pertains to my chart) here.

The Truths are:

  • The Truth of Suffering (or a better way to think of this word is¬†unhappiness¬†or inability to¬†achieve¬†and sustain satisfactoriness.)
  • The Truth of Origination of Suffering
  • The Truth of Cessation of Suffering
  • The Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering

Chart of Constituents and the Origination and Cessation of Suffering illustrates:

  1. At the basis of the suffering are the Five Constituents, which are the Fuel for Attachment.
    1. These are: form, feelings, perceptions, mental processes, and consciousness
  2. Based upon these Constituents, we can derive both the Truth of Origination and Cessation.
    1. These are located and found at certain points of contact: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.
    2. For example; from eye comes form, comes eye-consciousness and eye-contact, comes the feeling born of eye-contact, comes the perception of forms, comes the intention in regard to forms, comes the craving for forms, comes the thinking about forms, comes an examination of forms.
    3. Likewise, similar patterns follow at each of the other points of contact.
  3. Origination is the arising of Craving at these centers. Cessation is the complete fading away without reminder of the Craving at these centers.
  4. The beauty of recognizing the step-by-step nature of craving and cessation of craving at any given point at these centers, is to realize that at any given point within the process of grasping can the power of acknowledgment and cessation begin.

The second chart, the Eight Factors of the Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering, illustrates the following:

  1. What is commonly known as the Eightfold Path.
    1. Right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right endeavour, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
  2. Within the topic of Right Concentration falls the Four Absorptions:
    1. First: one is secluded from sense desires and unwholesome things, while having thinking, reflection, and joy
    2. Second: Calmed down thinking/reflection, without thinking, reflection, and joy
    3. Third: The fading away of joy; dwelling as equanimous, mindful, fully aware, and happy.
    4. Fourth: Abandonment of pleasure and pain; the previous passing away of happiness and sorrow; the purity of mindfulness owing to equanimity.

Engage joyfully in your meditation today, study and observe your mind, at all of its various points of grasping — whether for attachment or for aversion — and observe the beauty of the step-by-step unfolding of the Path.

Constituents

Origination and cessation

Eightfold Path

Open Focus, as a Convincing Alternative

There is a wonderful article I’ve stumbled upon: An Essay about Attentional Style and Philosophy – Open Focus, by Kurt Keefner. It is highly enlightening, and clearly presents an overview of the basic styles of attentions, thought and the reinforcing cycle these styles create when it comes to developing belief, philosophy, and personal and world views.

In this article, using the studies of Princeton neuroscientist Les Fehmi as his groundwork, Mr. Keefner discusses the concepts of:

  • Cartesian Dualism
  • Spiritualism
  • Animalism
  • The Big Picture-ists
  • Holism and the Open-Focus Brain

Do read the entire article here!

And in the meantime, enjoy these select quotes below, from Mr. Keefner’s insightful article:

In my view philosophy and psychology exist in a system of reciprocal relations. By way of an analogy: if you get a good education you are more likely to make money and if you (or your parents) have money you are more likely to get a good education. There is a connection here, but it is not one of strict necessity, only an ongoing positive tendency. Just so, certain philosophical positions make certain psychological states more likely and vice versa by a process of predisposition, the same way in which the dry wood does not cause the fire but is a ground for it. I believe that by seeing these connections more clearly, we can gain insight into why we cling to a position, often against reason, and we might be able to feel our way, through reason and introspection, to better beliefs.
….I would place the human organism in a natural context: we are evolved beings living in a material world, but I would not go for a reductionistic account of human faculties: we are not driven by instinct but by reason…a robust reason where one develops one‚Äôs intuitions and where one is part of one‚Äôs environment rather than removed from it.
…one can be objective and immersed at the same time by realizing that reality, including you, has an objective nature, but that you are immersed in it.
….As far as achieving both narrow and diffuse focus goes, what Fehmi proposes sounds like a having a structured field of awareness with a center and a periphery known at the same time. Transcending narrow vs. diffuse and objective vs. immersed would allow one to form a more individuated and autonomous version of the self than spiritualism and animalism, but one that did not cut off either feelings, the body or principles, like dualism and the d√©tente theory. This would allow for the perception of the self as a whole in its entirety and its environment. And this could represent the escape from all the vicious circles of the cardinal attentional styles and theories into a virtuous circle of wholeness.

I think the subtext of the theory of Open Focus is that reality cannot be fully known by any of the cardinal styles of attention alone. They’re all too partial. They fragment reality just as the four cardinal theories of mind fragment the self. But wholeness is possible both in theory and in practice. To achieve it one must be not only philosophically but also psychologically self-conscious.