Friday, July 30, 2021

Safe Harbor from the Storm

      When a storm comes up, where do you find shelter? How safe is this harbor? How much of life is on a mirror-calm sea with a clear-blue sky overhead? These questions are important to observe closely. Unless we wake up & intentionally remain awake, we'll squander our precious time, energy & immense potential by living the life of the most primitive single-cell organisms: pulling away from unpleasant stimuli, and pulling towards the pleasant stimuli. We can live infinitely more meaningful lives.

      “In the first half of life, our summons is to build an ego strong enough to enter the world, deal with it, meet its demands, and create a living space for ourselves in it. This is seemingly what growing up requires and all life apparently expects. But if we are privileged to live longer than that, we often find other, insistent demands beginning to wash up on our shores from the vast sea within. … I think the meaning of the entire second half of life, (second half used more metaphorically than chronologically) is about finding, or submitting to, something larger than our ego needs, something larger than our complexes with their insistent chatter.
     If the first half of life is about ‘what does the world want from me, and how do I meet its demands,’ the second ‘half’ is about ‘what wants to enter the world through me?’ … I further believe that we all swim in mystery, and that that mystery – what some call the voice of God, some the Daimon, some ‘destiny’ – seeks its expression through us. We are the humble vehicles of that expression. It little matters if we wish that summons – it happens. And the more we submit, the richer our live becomes because we are flush with some kind of energy, and we experience our lives, however conflictual and traumatic, as meaningful. The experience of enduring meaning is not found in the precincts of pleasure, affluence, or achievement, as we once thought evident, but in surrendering to something developmental, redeeming, and enlarging, something coursing through us, something wishing embodiment through us."
     James Hollis. “Prisms. Reflections on This Journey We Call Life.” Chiron, 2021.

“Because the volume of the world is so loud,
it’s drowning out the whisper from the heart.”         
Muhammad Iqbal

“That whisper in your heart
may not have wings,
but it has the power to fly.”
     Muhammad Iqbal

     “In the final analysis we do not solve our problems, for life is not a problem to be solved but an experiment to be lived. It is enough to have suffered through into deeper and deeper meaning. Such meaning enriches and is its own reward. We cannot avoid the swamplands of the soul, but we may come to value them for what they can bring us.”
     James Hollis. “Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places.” Inner City Books, 1966. 

     “We are equipped for the journey. We possess the resilience of our ancestors who clung to this spinning orb, tumbling through measureless space, and we survive … rich for all that has accumulated on our journey.”

      James Hollis. “Living Between Worlds. Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times.” Sounds True, 2020.

“The whole path of mindfulness is this:
Whatever you are doing, be aware of it.” 

Dipa Ma

Alex Grey

Monday, July 26, 2021

Suffering, Healing, Maturation

     “Humans have a mysterious ability to deceive themselves and supply the necessary delusions. It is super-honest to recognize that our desires are not always very clear-cut, and sometimes, with the pretext of saving others, we are mainly seeking recognition and gratitude, something to bind our wounds with. A whole host of influences shape our actions and our behavior, and even the way we view the world. If I look back over the path I’ve traveled, I see many moments in which, while thinking myself completely free, I was only deluding myself. Looking more closely at my interest in the spiritual life, the main thing I discover is an immense fear of suffering. In the beginning I was a bit like a shipwreck survivor trying to get hold of a life preserver. Over the course of time, this mainly self-centered motivation has become more diffuse, and I am beginning to open myself toward others.” Alexandre Jollien
     Matthieu Ricard, Christophe Andre, Alexandre Jollien. “In Search of Wisdom. A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most.” Sounds True, 2018.

     “The story begins with Faust, a middle-aged college professor, just becoming wise enough to know that he knows nothing. He has reached the pinnacle of success – the highest position possible for himbut finds himself alone, unrelated, his life meaningless. … When one’s ‘reality function’ – the feet-on-the-ground’ ability – is threatened, an encounter with the dark side … is the corrective.
     This is a terrible moment in the life of an intelligent human. He now sees that his level of consciousness, his perspective on life, will not support him. He has explored discipline and self-consciousness only to find them a dead end. This exploration is absolutely essential in one’s evolution, and the man who has not trodden that road is not eligible for the moment of despair that is also the moment of redemption and enlightenment. This is the midlife crisis, the mute suffering*** of existential man, the dark night of the soul. This is the experience of the intelligent man, the heroic man, the one who has reached the goal of modern consciousness. This is what happens when you reach the top of the ladder only to find that it was set up against the wrong wall. It is the very best human who suffers this Hamlet crisis. Lesser men take refuge in guilt at their inadequacy, or blame their environment, or find yet another set of windmills to vanquish – anything but face the terror of seeing that (their current) three-dimensional consciousness is not bearable, no matter how finely developed it is.
     It is a compliment of the highest order when a man finds that he cannot go farther and that his life is an irredeemable tragedy. His ego consciousness is stalemated, and this stalemate is the only medicine that will drive him out of the Hamlet tragedy and inspire him into a new consciousness.
     A fault of this magnitude cannot be repaired, but can be healed only by finding a whole new level of consciousness from which to function.
     … the ego-centered man fails; (one) who learns a center of gravity GREATER than himself, redeems that failure. If one were a genius the process would be inspirational, but for most of us it is experienced as the torture at the end of the rope. This divine/hellish point is the critical moment that can make or break the rest of a man’s life.”

     Robert A. Johnson. “Transformation. Understanding the Three Levels of Masculine Consciousness.” HarperOne, 1991.

*** “The curative solitude and the healing tears come automatically to us – for nature is aware of our suffering ... All symptoms are healing, but only if we listen to them and respond. ...
     The first task is to take the suffering inside as an interior event. As long as one blames someone outside or holds some institution responsible for the problem, there is little chance of learning or enhancing consciousness.

     Robert A. Johnson. “The Fisher King & The Handless Maiden. Understanding the Wounded Feeling Function in Masculine and Feminine Psychology.” HarperOne, 1993.
     The old meaning of suffer was 'to allow', whereas we try desperately to exclude suffering.

     “in the Old French tarot, the Fool is blindfolded, which indicates a voluntary willingness both to forgo a dependence on the outer eye and to move toward a contemplative life with an inner eye, and to trust the companionship and guidance of his dog. In this sense this figure is the Wise Old Man. (Marie-Louise) Von Franz equates the Fool with ‘a part of the personality or even of humanity which remains behind and therefore still has the original wholeness of nature.’ In this way the dog seems a natural companion to the Fool.
     Another way to look at the dog jumping up from behind, would be … as an instinctual attack from the unconscious, exposing one’s human nature … as a way of being driven onward. Von Franz writes of this instinct within the archetypal process of individuation when she writes, ‘there seems to be a tendency in man to reach a further level of reflection and consciousness, and this comes from instinct and not always from outer disturbing factors alone.’ In this view individuation is seen … as something that must be suffered, and the Fool is viewed as the wanderer, the stranger, the lonely man suffering his own fate, being driven by his instincts.”

     Eleanora M. Woloy. “The Symbol of the Dog in the Human Psyche. A Study of the Human-Dog Bond.” Chiron, 2018.
     Again, the old meaning of suffer was 'to allow', rather than exclude or resist.

     "In times of trial as in times of joy, one must continually ask oneself, ‘What is my existence calling me to, here and now?’ … Here there is no promotion in rank to be won – it’s just a matter of going forward and loving ever more deeply, without clinging to any fixed reference point. Someone who confines himself to a particular identity will never know an end to suffering." Christophe Andre
     Matthieu Ricard, Christophe Andre, Alexandre Jollien. “In Search of Wisdom. A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most.” Sounds True, 2018.


“Whoever uses the spirit that is in him creatively is an artist.
To make living itself an art, that is the goal.”  

Henry Miller

"To heal means to meet ourselves in a new way –
in the newness of each moment
where all is possible and
nothing is limited to the old.”


Stephen Levine


Old French Tarot card "The Fool"


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Playing Small Doesn't Serve Anyone

Chelan Harkin
from: “Let Us Dance! The Stumble and Whirl with the Beloved” Soulfruit Publishing, 2021

There's an Essence
within you
that can neither be
nor diminished

it spans Universes
and embraces the minuscule
the infinitesimal

it is infinite
in the way that the numbers
between 0 and 1
are infinite
which is complete
and wondrously
eternally satisfying
and yet allows for infinitely more

it is the exaltation of the hermit crab
when it ceases to need
to scurry from shell to shell
to find respite

it dips into pools
of intergalactic radiance
for play and restoration

it tickles the stars
and high fives
the suns

it has no need to bypass
the trappings
of the small mind
but nor does it take them seriously

there is nothing to prove or do or please
to earn this --
this is your birthright
that I solemnly swear
no -- joyfully exclaim!

all humanity is growing into.
 DO watch / listen to an excellent, inspiring, energizing interview with this wonderful young poet / mystic Chelan Harkin:

     “One day, when working under guard in a grey dawn landscape (Nazi concentration camp), feeling somewhat numb, (Viktor Frankl’s) mind again questioning and resisting the apparent senselessness of his existence, he suddenly, as it were, ‘heard’, a triumphant affirmative: the word ‘Yes’, filling his mind and his entire soul. At the exact moment, a light was lit in a farmhouse in the distance, as if to confirm the fact of a sacred light ‘shining in the darkness’. This is the light, St. John tells us, that cannot be overcome; a powerful message of hope.
     You do not have to be a psychologist, or even an educated person, for such an experience. The knowledge it brings is beyond thought. The whole psychological being of the person is involved – senses, thoughts and emotions – and such experiences can happen to anyone. They are not accompanied by any impulse to act, because the entire experience is one of being acted upon by some great and loving power. The feeling is of being in a state of awe and acceptance, of surrender, of grace and gratitude, of insight and understanding, of peace. In an instant, life becomes full, complete, and bursting with meaning, with the significance of knowing oneself to be part of and at one with a perfect, timeless, infinite and eternal whole, an indescribably sacred unity, an infallible source of hope. The Hamlet question becomes redundant. Life is no longer about being or non-being. The two are subsumed into one: being and non-being. This works because having once been, we cannot be obliterated. We leave an indelible imprint, an ineradicably secure trace in the realm of the human spirit.”
     Larry Culliford. “Love, Healing and Happiness: In Search of the Flipside of Suffering.”


"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." Kahlil Gibran


Jackson Browne - "The Barricades of Heaven"

Monday, July 12, 2021

Toward Our Unconfused True Nature

    A palpable joyous energy animates us when we're open to our own depth. YET far too much of our life is a meaningless energy drain - which we've learned to quickly rationalize!

     “… wisdom broadly defined is the understanding & practice of the full profundity of what it means to be human …” Michael C. Kalton

     "… what others accept as wisdom, we need not accept ourselves unless we have independently confirmed it to be so; and what we may believe to be wisdom will not be so for others. It may even be that what will appear as wisdom to us now may not be so a year after our present epiphany. Buddhism teaches that when examining its doctrinal explanations of wisdom, remembering these points is essential to the examination and to the development of wisdom itself.
     … it is worthwhile to engender a spirit of inquiry, discovery & experience." Ari Goldfield

     “... there are three categories of worldview: Preconventional, Conventional, and Postconventional, each with its own sense of wisdom and morality.
     The Preconventional worldview is rooted in the notion that those with superior power determine what is true, wise, and good. You know an action is good because compliance is rewarded, and resistance is punished. Wisdom is the system that identifies what is good and what is not based on reward and punishment, and truth is simply that set of ideas insisted upon by those with the power to enforce them.
     In Preconventional worldviews right and wrong are determined by power and personal satisfaction. In Conventional worldviews a more sophisticated level of thinking is required that subsumes individual happiness to group cohesion. The community rather than the powerful individual determines what is good and true and wise. Adherence to the community’s rules and laws, rather than the often arbitrary whim of the powerful, now constitutes morality. This is the worldview to which most people ascribe … The central teaching of the Conventional worldview is that wisdom and morality lie with group conformity.
     The worldview of the wisdom sages falls into the Postconventional
category. The Postconventional thinker seeks to identify universal moral principles, and to use these to guide her actions. The Hebrew Wisdom sages did not find wisdom in the covenant with God, the sacrificial service of priests, or even the revelations of prophets. They were independent observers of life, and their teachings reflected what they saw to be true rather than what the official arbiters of truth insisted is true. … life is more than a matter of trusting in God, adhering to the commandments, or even doing good and receiving good. Life was, and is, a wild chaotic struggle for survival that can be neither tamed nor avoided, only well traveled.
     Creation is irreducibly wild … chaotic and unformed. There is no conquering the chaos of life. There is no avoiding the terror of merely being alive. There is only learning how to make meaning in the madness. … Whatever justice and order there may be in the universe it is beyond the limited anthropomorphic fantasies of the conventional worldview. … A vast and wild universe transcends human categories of justice. It isn’t that life has no meaning, but that only when you see life for what it is are you able to make meaning in the midst of it. Yet seeing the truth can be frightening, and our initial response may be to hide from it.” Rami Shapiro

     “the more one is in tune with one’s inner self, the more natural and more fluid are one’s actions.” Livia Kohn

“Making mistake after mistake, I walk on the authentic path,
Forgetting and forgetting, I rely on unforgetting mindfulness,
Experiencing confusion after confusion, I search for the unconfused true nature.

                                                                                                                                                            Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso 

      Roger Walsh ed. “The World’s Great Wisdom: Timeless Teachings from Religions and Philosophies.” State Univ of New York Press, 2014.