A book that opened a door and led me to a path for my life

13076_original.jpg

When asked one time what book had the biggest impact on me in terms of offering a path to follow in life I thought briefly and came up with the following. Louisa May Alcott’s, “Little Women”.
One of the main characters if not the main character, Jo March, had much to say to me. When I first read of her in the book I was intrigued and a little infatuated. I was only ten years old. Not your usual fare for a little boy though I was also reading Moby Dick at the same time.
Her boldness, outside the box thinking, and steadfast honest behavior was such a breath of fresh air. Though a female in a world dominated by males she represented freedom and independence from what seemed like a very restrictive society even for males. To me she represented a way out of the cultural box.
All the male hero’s of my early years seemed to be of the same cloth and color, i.e. various shades and textures of emotionally restricted John Wayne’s, Clint Eastwood’s,and James Bond’s. None of them could show a lonely, sensitive, intuitive, inner-directed and compassionate boy how to express his soul in a healthy way.
Then along came Jo who should have been much more restricted and oppressed than this young white male of the suburbs and yet her joi devivre and drive to own her life gave power to this little boy and offered hope that he too could break out of the box that culture and family had put him in.
“You can be lonely in a crowd, if it’s the wrong crowd” Jo said to her sisters and putting into words how I had been feeling for all of my short life.
Though it took me several more years to fight my way out of the box and to find a crowd where I felt accepted and included this one book set me on a path toward my own expression of a self I’ve come to appreciate more and more as I grow older. Also like Jo I’ve found that the union of both my masculine and feminine aspects e.g. the rational, assertive, decisive masculine and the inclusive, compassionate and intuitive feminine has made me stronger and more useful to others. From her I have learned to own my own being and resist what others wanted me to be. Thanks, Jo.
It is often said that we have the power to choose the path we walk but like the book I read at 10 years of age more often than not if we look closely enough we are chosen for the path from a place deep within us and it is from there that experiences come into our life and have the power to transform us.
As a boy I knew I was different and those differences were not accepted by many of those around me. This presented me with my first known crisis, are those differences wrong and thus need to be corrected toward some definition and expectation of ‘normal’ or can I continue being different? Though we all have to make some changes to accommodate the world we find ourselves in the question becomes by how much and of what kind? This has always been a balancing act for me i.e. shall I give in to living a life with little or no mistakes or do I engage it as fully as I can, mistakes and all, and do it without condemning myself for them or alienating others to the point where I get totally ignored and/or rejected?
The decision to be as much of myself as I can has gotten me into trouble sometimes (maybe a lot) but has driven me down a path with very little boredom and where sometimes I’ve been of some value to others. Outside the box living has become my norm over the years and continues to inform many of my actions right or wrong.

Cleaning out our ego’s house

spiritualawaking1.jpg
Spiritual Awakening

Houses in dreams are metaphors for the “us” that lives within our bodies– our inner self. It is our spiritual dwelling where the soul rests and looks out upon the world. The doors to its rooms reflect aspects of ourselves open and closed such as our sexual self, our feeling self, spiritual self, our intellectual self and how we cope with the world self. Furniture in our dream house reflects the habits, beliefs, attitudes and values with which we furnish the mind.

Whether we find our dream self in a flooding basement or locked in an attic the symbols tell us something about ourselves and how we are dealing with the world we live in.

It is in our dreams that we most often brush up against the soul and get a peek at the divine. In our meditations, daydreams and musings the divine can also intrude.

But where is this divine being really, in the sky, in the ocean, in a rock, in a church/tabernacle/temple/mosque/synagogue? Some say it is everywhere and some say it is within the heart of humankind alone.

In the Hindu religion the coconut is cracked open and offered in a ritual signifying that the hard exterior of the ego needs to be cracked open in order to get at the sweetness of the divine within. The sweet innards are also a symbol of transformation because the palm tree sucks up salty water and transforms it into the sweet water of the nut.

The Kingdom of god is within (amongst or in your midst) from luke 17:21 and in the King James version (i.e. it’s a spiritual kingdom) of the bible is also a version of the Spirit within you concept.

A poetic look at the path to God-realization is also found in the lines of the 13th century Persian poet Mahmud Shabistari:

“Go sweep out the chamber of your heart, make it ready to be the dwelling place of the Beloved,
when you depart, He will enter, 
in you, void of yourself, will He display His beauties.”

–Mystic Rose Garden, Mahmud Shabistari, as translated by E.H. Whinfield

 The Sufi musician and teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan says that in The Inner Life, a person needs to be whole to take the journey. His point is that one needs to get their basic self in tune with their higher self.

The basic truth is that before any spiritual light from our inner selves can come into consciousness various distortions of thinking need to be dealt with. This often takes a lot of personal work and that is why there isn’t much of it going on with the “immediate gratification” mentality and rigidly shallow awareness that exists in most places across the world.

 In our spiritual lives these days we spend far too much time battling with others about who has the best truth or which holy book uses the best words to describe what can’t be described with words. I suspect that all of this is a distraction and barrier to true spirituality.

Basically the differences in religions and the differences found within each e.g. protestant/catholic, orthodox or reform, Shia or Sunni, Mahayana or Theravada, Shaivism or Shaktism are only of the human ego and not of God.

The Spirit of life cannot be found in any place or any time but can be glimpsed within the heart of humankind but only if he or she has swept that heart clean of the nonessential ego rubbish thrown there.

We need to start cleaning out our house or be forever swamped by the garbage of the fearful ego. We need to clean out the rooms of our spiritual house so that we can welcome the Spirit in.

Simply put, God is not a Jew, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jain, a Hindu or a Christian– He is ONE and ALL.

“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”

d5xp56c-6d8050ad-dc5a-496b-8d6c-0cf920ec1590.jpg
Its not nice to mess WITH MOTHER NATURE
by FrenzySadist
Watch
Fan Art / Manga & Anime / Traditional / Books & Novels©2013-2019 FrenzySadist

My wife and I were talking about an old television commercial about how a new margarine tasted so much like butter and the main character dressed as Mother Nature herself exclaimed, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”. This got me to thinking about our troubled relationship with nature and that seems to have led me to a dream later that night.

It was a dream full of ruins, tidal waves, death and destruction, oceans turning into deserts, fires raging across the globe– an apocalypse, perhaps, but one of our own making, not God’s.

The planet does not need us in order to survive. We need it, so why are we killing it? Are we that arrogant that we think we can do whatever we want with it and that that won’t negatively affect the ability of the planet to sustain us?

The planet is like a spaceship hurtling through space. Though it isn’t the primary purpose of the ship, it gives us a means to feed and water ourselves, keep us protected from the freezing temperatures of space and provides us with oxygen to breathe. That’s all well and good and it’s all incidental to the journey that spaceship Earth is on i.e. we can use it as long as we behave ourselves, but this ship is self-regulating and when something threatens it will fix the problem so as to continue the journey. And the “fix” could be accomplished by getting rid of the part that is causing the trouble and replace it with something more reliable.

I think we better stop being the problem that needs to be fixed perhaps we too need to be more self-regulating in a more harmonious way with this planetary ship we’re all traveling on?

Certain self-serving elements have turned the plea for a sustainable economy into a political tool. This only distracts those easily distracted in order that they may be manipulated to support an unsustainable agenda, the unfettered domination of the few over the many. They’ve also developed a profound ignorance of what it takes to sustain a livable eco-culture and it is this ignorance that allows them to ignore the evidence that they are gravely affecting the ability of the ecosystem to sustain us, all of us. Their greed and obsession with the need to control is choking the planet. But the planet will retaliate and either reduce or exterminate the threat– the bigger the threat, the bigger the reduction.

Perhaps it’s time the easily distracted woke up from their stupor, their self-created delusions, and say “enough is enough”. The planet doesn’t care about our greed, our politics, our ignorance, our beliefs, our religions, what we want or don’t want, or our self-serving ignorance. If we become too much a problem for it we will go the way of other species who couldn’t adapt to it’s primary goal, sustainability i.e. perpetuation of itself with or without us.

Bottom line, the planet doesn’t need us to survive, but we might be providing it reason to get rid of us in order for it to survive.

So what to do…well, might you want to hold the big picture in mind while you act on local needs and initiatives, as local as what goes into your dinner and into your garbage? Think about it with only minor discomforts, you can actually save the world!

What is a True Human Being?

Screen-Shot-2014-12-16-at-1.42.59-PM.png
“A true human being is high without wine.

A true human being is full without dinner.

A true human being seems lost and befuddled.

A true human being is not ruled by eating and sleeping.

A true human being is the king in disguise.

A true human being is a jewel in the dust.

A true human being is not fashioned of elements.

A true human being is a shoreless wide ocean.

A true human being is a rain without clouds.

A true human being sees truth face to face.

A true human being is wise without reading.

A true human being is without belief or falsehood.

A true human being is not burdened with right or wrongness.

A true human being steps out of emptiness, arrives in a glory.

A true human being is secret and hidden.

Oh my dear and beloved you shine like the sun!

Oh my heart, go and find a true human being.”

 

–Rumi

What I hear in this poem is that our true nature is not of the material Earth, the body and what feeds it. We’re much, much bigger than that. Who we are is not of the dust that returns to dust but lies quietly surrounding us within and without.

 

“

There is another world inside this one–no words can describe it.There is living, but no fear of death;There is Spring, but never a turn to Autumn.There are legends and storiescoming from the walls and ceilings. Even the rocks and trees recite poetry. 

Here an owl becomes a peacock,A wolf becomes a beautiful shepherd.To change the scenery, change your mood;To move around, just will it. 

Stand for a momentAnd look at a desert of thorns–it becomes a flowery garden.”
–Rumi

 

The world to each of us is the product of what we project, what we see, what we hear and what we feel. It is determined by our own minds and our own prejudices.

To Rumi, those who see their true nature fall in love and it is through that reality that they can live in the “Heaven on Earth” that so many religions speak of.

 

“Without love,all worship is a burden,all dancing is a chore,all music is mere noise. 

All the rain of heaven may fall into the sea– Without love,not one drop would become a pearl.For those in love,Moslem, Christian, and Jew do not exist.For those in love,faith and infidelity do not exist.For those in love,body, mind, heart, and soul do not exist. 

Why listen to those who see it another way?–if they’re not in lovetheir eyes do not exist. 

If you hurt others, don’t expect kindness in return.One who sows rotten seeds will get rotten fruit.God is great and compassionatebut if you plant barley,don’t expect a harvest of wheat.”
-Rumi

 

Basically we live, see and become what we project. Another way of saying that is, “we reap what we sew”. We can only feed ourselves, our inner selves, by the projections that we have put out there. If we see only fear, or anger, or hatred, then it’s only their council we can hear. In short, we are only listening to our own egos.

 

“We can’t be what we can’t see”
-Marian Wright Edelman

 

Another way of saying this is that peace in the world does not exist outside ourselves. It is only when we find it in ourselves that we can make a difference in the peace of the world. Angry, hateful and dismissive people cannot find peace or comfort because they are not being that which they seek.

We need nothing to tell us how we should feel, what we should believe and how we should act. At our core all of this is known. At our core is the “true human being”. It is only at the surface where our egos lie that we are forced to listen to that which is outside of us, because the ego-self does not know what’s inside and because it so desperately wants to remain in control, it depends on extensions of itself to provide the guidance and wisdoms it lacks. But being only extensions of itself it can only project the ignorance it lives within.

Once one finds their core being, their true human self, there is no need for the others outside us.

Poetry and the loss of soul

12006963_f520.jpgAs I sat working on a workshop on poetry I’m developing I began to list answers to the question, “What is poetry?”

When I came to the end of my list I wrote down, “Everything, and every event in life is poetry. The soul of our being is a poet!”

Poetry speaks of and from the imaginal. When it “speaks of” it’s the soul trying to understand itself and in the “speaking from” it is talking about a nonlinear, non-rational, imaginal, and animating force behind the human quest and thirst for meaning.

Poetry for me is an imaginative activity that encompasses everything in life. Imagination is at the root of all poetry and may very well be the essence of our souls as well. It seems that when my soul desires to break free of my egoistic rational and literal interpretation of reality it speaks to me through poetry and metaphor in my dreams and the events and people in the world around me.

Poetry is about images not literalisms or naturalisms. It is about alternative ways of seeing the world and ourselves. Poetry helps us reconnect with our soul.I say “reconnect” because our society seems to be suffering a loss of soul where it has lost its connections with others and with self. This affects those within the society by robbing them of their sense of belonging and communion.

Our personal myth has also gotten lost, as has that of the larger myth of the greater society. Meaning has become blurred, as has our reason for living.

The current social situation infecting the country and the world is a symptom of our loss of soul. Radical and violent approaches to regaining what is lost reflect the unrecognized panic people are feeling associated with this loss. But this panic is also a symptom of the loss of soul and trying to treat symptoms is futile; It may temporarily relieve the pain but doesn’t cure the cause. Addressing the loss behind the symptoms is critical.

It’s the imaginal needs of the soul that are missing and this has separated us from that which gives life meaning. We see some attempts to address these imaginal needs of the soul in the growth of interest in astrology, divination, magic and fantasy. Even poetry is experiencing a revival. But the society in general is trying to deal with the loss through literal thinking e.g. more jobs, better wages, better medical care, and walls and laws. These may have their merits but are not what the soul is crying out for. Achievement of these goals might temporarily satisfy the ego, a voracious consumer of temporary satisfactions, but will do little or nothing for the soul.

We seem to have lost our excited and loving connection to life. We are in survival mode and this abuse of our souls that we have tolerated for so long has led to the symptoms of disconnection that we see in our communities and greater society. This disconnect is the herald of our greater loss of soul.

Humans are being treated as commodities, objects to be manipulated, and subservient to the power and greed of others. People have become just a means to and end for producing ever-increasing capital. To that end they (we) only have one purpose until they are no longer needed. There is no soul in this and that has stripped people of their own soul expression, their raison d’etre. Modern society implies that a human’s meaning is in what they can produce outside itself. It ignores the inside meaning and demeans the experience of spirit, humanness, individuality, essence, purpose, emotion, mercy, morality, wisdom, and God. Our soul has become secondary to our utility and with this shift in our meaning is the loss of meaning in life.

Are we just cogs in the machine or plug-ins to the corporation god or do we have greater meaning than that? I know that you know the answer. So what are you going to do about it? Hint: the answer is already in the text of this post.

 

th.jpg

And what do you think of that?

IMG_3348

 

While cleaning up my desk from all the notes and paper, books, and articles I collect over time I ran across the following missive written on a napkin from some long forgotten coffee shop experience.

 

“Everywhere I look light is playing with me. Rays, rainbow streaks, dancing shadows and flying things winking in and out of existence as the sun plays off their wings before they dive into the shadows of the no-see-ums.

The tall tree sways in the breeze like the soft fur of a Persian cat being gently petted– the light playing off its many strands turning green into a palette of golds, rusts, and orange.

Suddenly a ball of light catches my eye. It radiates into a moving mandala with a center of pure light– delightful! Like a beam from another universe inviting me in.

“What am I?” It says.

“I don’t know.” I say.

“That’s right!” It says. “And what do you think of that?”

Don’t believe in the Cosmic Mind, or God, or goddess? It’s okay, they don’t believe in you either.

dghshadsgf.jpg

Belief: Wikipedia defines it as “… a mental representation of an attitude positively oriented towards the likelihood of something being true”. It doesn’t require empirical evidence that something is true. In general they are just personal attitudes and not necessarily reality. Each of us create our own reality i.e. our own attitudes and judgments about what we see or experience. These may or may not correspond to what is actually true. Mostly we don’t bother to look too closely at whether there’s any real truth, in other words, when it comes to belief most humans aren’t very introspective. Most of us walk around thinking that we know what the world is about.

But don’t believe everything you think.

And that should be the default mantra of every thinking being, “Don’t believe everything you think”. Mostly what we think we believe is delusional or better yet illusional i.e. our beliefs are deceptive and misleading. What we see depends on our motivation and that usually involves dealing with fear– fear of the unknown, fear of being out of control, fear of loss, fear of being wrong, fear of being vulnerable, fear of dying, fear of nonexistence, fear of pain, fear of being unworthy, fear of being unloved, fear of commitment, fear of not surviving, fear of meaninglessness, fear of not being important in short, we are all looking for that which will help us handle our fears.

So what can one do to remove the barriers to just being with our fears, no I’m not saying to our becoming or embracing those fears I’m suggesting having them and looking at them honestly? Life is generally fearsome which is why we create beliefs in the first place i.e. to help us deal with them and that can be good but then we act as though what we created was real. What would happen if we just laid ourselves open to what’s actually there without our guard up (no I’m not suggesting we put ourselves into real danger)?

If we were to put our beliefs aside what might we see? If we could really just be in the moment, what might be there? If we could be aware of our fears what might we learn from them? Might we learn how we’ve been letting them determine the direction of our lives? Might we learn that these fears and our reactions to them have over time boxed us up and left us smaller than we actually are? As a reaction to fear we often use our beliefs as a way of limiting risk, what market people call risk aversion, but too much of this leads to a contracted life.

So why did I title this piece, “Don’t believe in the Cosmic Mind, or God, or goddess? It’s okay, they don’t believe in you either”?

The so-called belief in a Cosmic Mind, or God or goddess as an illusion for purposes of self-protection is like a crutch. They are just constructs to help with day-to-day fears. But do they exist? They may exist as representations of our spiritual aspect in that they speak to parts of our being– the deeper aspects to who and what we are and as such don’t require that we believe in them in order for them to exist. They just are or it just is and exist outside our rational brain. And it’s the rational brain as a construct of our egos that the spiritual doesn’t believe in for it is just an illusion. But some may argue that it’s all illusion, but whose illusion? Ah there’s the rub.

Look for the light of your inner candle and be merely what you are and give the rest of what you think of yourself away.

 

candle-girl.jpg
Look for that place between your naval and your solar plexus and you’ll find where the soul of the child resides. It is here that you’ll find the Self you have hidden from your ego self. It is here where the light still burns.

 

Look for the light of your inner candle and be merely what you are and give the rest of what you think of yourself away.

I read somewhere that every human being contains within his or her self the whole universe that the All is in each person and the All is each. But there’s always a “but” attached to these aphorisms. In this case the but takes the form of “but” the awareness or experience of this reality cannot arise when our minds are chained to anything such as a belief, tradition, sacred text, the body or its senses and ego i.e. mind stuff and mind stuff closes off the receptive heart.

As long as there is a craving for separateness, a desire for the individual, we are stuck in the illusion and its companion ignorance. It is only in the most central part of the soul, the heart of the mandala that the wordless, imageless, ageless, and soundless expression of Self resides. It cannot be perceived or understood through any of the bodily senses or the mind that these body things feed into and yet every one of us knows it’s there.

We know it when we stop looking and we know it when we give up becoming and just be. All other reality is just relative because it is of the personal ego. The reality of which I speak is that of the eternal ground of our being and as said cannot be found through the body but only through its transcendence. As long as you and I pretend to be what we are not we cut ourselves off from the reality of what we are.

And yet… there are those who through no energy issued from themselves have been graced the experience of the divine and forever changed by it.

What they saw was that they were bigger than their images of themselves but they were never bigger than they were. There is no pretense of being ‘more’ when one has dissolved into the ground of their being for they are merely what they are and no one can be bigger than that.

But how do we be what we really are when we don’t know what that is?

And there’s the rub but first one might entertain the notion of giving themselves away that is to give up the image and idea of a separate self from the bigger Self that holds the secret of who and what we are. Giving up that self that thinks it knows what it’s doing and what it thinks it should be allows the bigger Self to be heard. To hold on to that little self is to place a barrier to seeing and hearing the bigger Self and acts as a chain that holds us bound to the earth and unable to fly.

The shaman Don Juan summed it up for Carlos Castaneda when he said, “To seek freedom is the only driving force I know. Freedom to fly off into that infinity out there. Freedom to dissolve; to lift off; to be like the flame of a candle, which, in spite of being up against the light of a billion stars, remains intact, because it never pretended to be more than what it is: a mere candle.”

Look for the light of your candle.

Be merely what you are and give the rest of what you think of yourself away.

Anything worth being you already are*.

 

Rassouli_InnerBeing.jpg
“Inner being” –The ‘spiritual’ art of Freydoon Rassouli

 

In my last blog I ended with this sentence, “Is being empty of yourself being full of yourself?”

That wasn’t just a play on words. There are a number of “selves” of which I speak. There’s the “self” that you have named and allocated thoughts and beliefs to. Then there’s the self that each of us presents to the world. There’s also the self we would like to be and the self that we think we are.

But there’s more. There’s the self that your parents projected onto you with their “you’re always” or “you never” or “you can’t” or “why can’t you be more like…” statements. And then there are the limits that society places on you with its can and can-nots, shoulds and shouldn’ts that also come attached to and are often held in place by our religious beliefs all of which together define your social-self.

As you can see we are already full of “selves”, ourselves, and all of these make up what is known as the “ego-self”. While wearing this ego-self there’s no room for our real self to be expressed. We spend every moment of every day that we are here on this earth developing and filling our life with the “untrue self”. We spend so much time doing this that the real self is barely if ever visible to us.

“If you do nothing, truly nothing, God cannot help but to come into you.”

“If you leave, God can enter.”

–Meister Eckhart

Basically he’s saying that when you are full of yourself i.e. focused on the development and maintenance of your ego-self there’s no room for the Other.

When we try to be “something” rather than nothing i.e. when we think of ourselves as being objects e.g. body, emotions, beliefs, personality we shut out our true nature. When we think of ourselves as being all these selves the real us can’t come into our awareness. This odd way of being is pure ignorance and illusion and robs us of our true inheritance.

So the act of emptying yourself of all these selves allows for your cup to be full of what you really, and already, are.

In conclusion and as I quoted from the Tao Te Ching in the last blog, If you want to become full, let yourself be empty”.

_______________________________________

*The title of a supplementary meditation manual that I authored in 1979 as part of a Title VI-B Federal Grant supporting the identification of and curriculum development for adjudicated youth with special education needs. https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/5393374

 

The all knowing knows nothing until he knows he knows nothing and becomes all knowing.

coffee_spilling_out_of_a_cup_ie357-008.jpgWe all act as though we know what is real and what is not real. We act as though we know what is fantasy from what is real but are we right? Many think that to be knowledgeable is to be wise, but is this so? If we acquire enough knowledge will we then gain enlightenment and wisdom?

Fantasy, illusion, myth, intuition, the subjective, imaginal, real, sensory, rational, or objective are always seen as opposites of what is considered reality when in all possibility they are just aspects of the whole. There’s an objective reality that each of us interact with subjectively i.e. the subjective creates the objective that in turn creates the subjective. We project onto everything our image of it. Basically the reality that we see is imaginal even what we call ‘rational’ is imaginal and subjective. Yes, it’s all real, but what real and whose real?

All the so-called opposites i.e. the real and not real things are actually compliments that support each other. They are facets of the whole each contributing to the whole and without them there is no whole and without the whole we do not exist.

Get it? No?

Let me try a few quotes from people who are smarter than I am.

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”

–Daniel Boorstin (also attributed to Stephen Hawking)

So you think you know? In short,

“It’s hard to fill a cup that is already full”

–Tao Te Ching– Lao Tzu

“Your cup is only useful when it’s empty”

–RJ Cole

Have you emptied your cup today?

“If you want to become full, let yourself be empty”

–Tao Te Ching

They all seem to be saying, ‘Be less so as to be more’. But aren’t these opposites? Try living that for a while and you’ll see the truth in it. Maybe more and less define and complement one another and are not in opposition.

So if being more knowledgeable or ‘all knowing’ doesn’t gain wisdom, how do we gain wisdom? In order to find wisdom we might need to open our hearts and minds. Perhaps knowing a lot or thinking that we know cannot help because they fill us up and close us off, but an innocent and curious mind might open us to see what’s really there. This is what Buddhists call the “Beginners Mind”. It’s the mind of a child that is open until we fill it with all kinds of sense and nonsense.

“Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

–Jesus of Nazereth

So whadda ya think? Is being empty of yourself being full of yourself?