Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Fundamental Energy Crisis

     Very few of us seem to be aware of our real energy crisis. Yes, oil / gas / electricity availability is problematic, but to paraphrase Einstein, the energy / consciousness that got us into this dire mess CANNOT possibly lift us out of it, into a better future. Our estranged, adversarial relationship with our own hearts, each other & Nature is what's so painfully unnatural & unsustainable.

If a living system
is suffering
from ill health,
the remedy is
to connect it
with more of itself.” Francisco Varela

     We must wake up to & follow the consistent silent summons of our true nature to unconditionally love & nurture each another and Nature as the wise elders we are. 

    Awakening arises in times of vulnerability and awkwardness between, before, and after where prior identities are canceled and anything is possible and nothing certain.” Lin Jensen

    "Spiritual growth is a fine-tuning of our ear to the needs of our heart. ... Once we abandon the belief that there is a more spiritually useful moment than the one we are in, we have embraced our life and infused it with the energy for awakening." We CAN "recover the sacred in the most remote areas of life, in the midst of difficulty and dissatisfaction, loneliness and despair. The reality of problems is challenged and investigated, and life begins to thrive free of circumstances and conditions. The heart takes over and is resurrected from the conditioned habits of mind.” Rodney Smith

    “Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born.” Albert Einstein

    "One of the gifts of global uncertainty is that it requires us to recognize and release unconscious biases that have been passed down for generations. These include the perception that splits into opposites and values light over dark, speed over slowing down, productivity over attunement, and conclusion over not knowing. Awakening requires that we soften the habit of binary perception and restore our capacity for clear seeing. ... an embodied exploration of luminous darkness (is) our greatest ally in seeing clearly — from the heart." Deborah Eden Tull

    "Try to be mindful, and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha." Ajahn Chah

"We are stars wrapped in skin.
The light you are seeking
has always been within.” Rumi

Don't Give Up... by Mollycules


Friday, September 23, 2022

In Stormy Times, Remember ...

“When you become uncomfortable or frightened, remember that difficult emotions are your most profound teachers.” Ruth King

“Doing tasks fully and thoroughly can help ground us while also providing a sense of accomplishment and, by extension, an enhanced sense of agency.” Christopher Ives

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu

"We lie in the lap of immense intelligence,
which makes us receivers of its truth
and organs of its activities." R.W. Emerson

“When water is still it is like a mirror…
And if water thus derives lucidity from stillness
how much more the faculties of mind?
The mind of the sage in repose
becomes the mirror
of the universe." Chuang Tzu

“Kindness and compassion is the fundamental truth.” The Dalai Lama

Light the World... by Mollycules

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Our Mind, Emotions & Body

    It can be terribly frustrating to suffer from debilitating physical symptoms, for which one physician after another fails to find a cause or effective treatment. Though each clinician might strongly suspect that the cause is primarily psychological, they'll suggest more tests & more referrals to avoid angry outbursts, "Are you saying, 'it's all in my head?!'" and to rule out the progressively diminishing possibility that everyone might have overlooked a rare physical cause.
    Some sufferers (& clinicians) do gradually come to see the problem in a broader perspective. This clearly requires that their narrow, exclusive focus on their most glaring pain / discomfort opens up, so they see themselves holistically. Below is imho Helen Hamilton's exceptionally wise perspective:

    “When we are ... trying to find a belief that is reflecting as this body condition, illness, this dys-ease in the harmony of the body is a reflection of some idea that we’re holding onto, that we haven’t seen or looked at clearly. And of course you know that I’m just kind of saying that to put it into context because our body is trying to tell us, having to tell us, something that perhaps we haven’t looked at emotionally. Something that we haven’t looked at deep enough emotionally. So if we have a strong emotion – fear, or guilt, or unworthiness, even self-hatred – and we haven’t been able to feel that emotion for whatever reason. Maybe it didn’t feel safe to feel it, or we were told it was wrong, or whatever – we were in a situation when it was generated where we couldn’t feel it. Finding the beliefs is going to be looking at the emotions. What emotions do you feel on a regular basis that are reflecting as the body condition?
    Because every karmic pattern shows up 3 ways simultaneously as
        1) thoughts – the unconscious beliefs, and as an
        2) emotion – a more gross manifestation than a thought, and then
        3) physically
somewhere in your body.

    So have a look at the negative emotions you feel. And mind will say, ‘You feel this emotion because you have this thing going on in your body.’ But in truth, that is separation – the emotion caused by what’s happening to the body. So if it’s life-threatening, there’s probably some fear there, and mind will say, ‘I’m scared because this thing is happening to my body.’ But in the truth, I’m scared because I think I’m a separate being, I’m in danger. And that’s reflecting. This belief is not allowing the fullness of the life-force to flow through the body, and it looks like illness & disease. And the more constricted the life-force is, the more severe the illness or disease will appear to be.
    So first of all, having a look at the negative emotions that you feel, and then working that back to the beliefs. My website has a list of emotions & hidden beliefs behind them, as a suggestion to go with, using the contemplation technique : “Emotions & their Stories”:

    And still even, if you look at the body itself – a second way to look at this – the body is a very literal metaphor for what’s going on inside of us. So autoimmune disease is where your body is kind of attacking itself (as far as I know – my understanding might be limited here), the immune system is attacking tissues & systems that it shouldn’t be, so something is out of sync, there’s an attack going on inside. And this is symbolic of something happening deeper inside, where you’re attacking yourself, where you are criticizing yourself, where you’re hating yourself even if you look deep enough. And I know as I say this, most of us will say, ‘Well I don’t hate myself. It’s not that deep. I don’t have any such feelings I’m aware of.’ And that’s why the body’s having to show us, because we haven’t really seen it.
    It was astonishing to me that even after several deep seeings (awakening experiences), when I actually looked at what was going on because my life wasn’t still flowing – I finally dug out this kind of intense self-hatred, this self-loathing inside – that was still there after many seeings, experiencing peace & joy. But my life wasn’t flowing, so there must have been some belief stopping the energy moving down through the energy centers of the body and out into the greater manifestation.
    So looking at the metaphor - self attacking self - why would you be doing that on some level? Can you admit that that must be going on at some level and be willing to see that? Now others, especially this far along the path of awakening, want to see that, because we value love & truth & honesty. It doesn’t feel right & we don’t really want to look inside to find some kind of self-hatred still going on. We might not even believe. ‘Well I’m obviously not the egoic structure, I’ve seen what I really am.’ But that seeing, sometimes doesn’t penetrate deeply enough yet to undo this mechanism
    It’s very rare that someone will have a seeing
(awakening experience) powerful enough in one go to obliterate all these egoic structures that are still working. We only hear about the ones that do. But most of us still have to go in and look at these patterns underneath. So just listening to yourself when you talk, are you unknowingly criticizing yourself, diminishing yourself? How do you really feel about yourself? How you feel about your body too is a reflection of how you feel about you. How you feel about your abilities, & your mind, and all of that is a reflection of how you feel about you.
    For me, I had very negative feelings about my body. I had to admit eventually, that’s how I actually feel about myself. My body is just innocently reflecting to me – it doesn’t have any other choice about what I’m thinking & feeling, on a deep unconscious level of course. And that’s why it’s having to show us, because we can’t see it any other way.

    So I hope that gives you some direction to go with that. Have a go applying what I’ve said here. Do write back if you need to kind of fine-tune that. And my gut feeling is that it’s about some kind of self-hatred going on inside. And not blaming yourself for that, because that just adds to it. Each one of us has been functioning from mind’s perspective, and mind is taking a snapshot of our life looking at who he thinks we are, comparing it with where he thinks we want to be, need to be. When I get to this point in the future, I’ll be good enough, I’ll like myself, I’ll love myself. And it can never kind of arrive at that point there, because this one, where it thinks we’re starting from, is deeply flawed. We are not this separate being that mind thinks we are. So how can we ever go from here to there if the starting reference point is completely untrue? But mind thinks it’s true, so it keeps trying & failing to be this better person, more awakened, better father, better wife, better career, … all these things it’s trying to get to, whatever that is for you, where I’ll finally be happy & I’ll like myself. So recognizing it’s not your fault, not any of our fault. We have these deep feelings about ourselves and that is a natural byproduct of using the mind to try to navigate through our life to try to find happiness. That’s the only tool we had till now, so we can let go of the blame in that.

Hamilton. “Awareness recognising awareness.” from the excellent video below:

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Equanimity & Suffering

    “Someone asked me,
‘Aren’t you worried about the state of the world?’

    I allowed myself to breathe and then I said
What is most important is not to allow your anxiety about what happens in the world to fill your heart. If your heart is filled with anxiety, you will get sick, and you will not be able to help.’

    There are wars — big and small — in many places, and that can cause us to lose our peace.
    Anxiety is the illness of our age. We worry about ourselves, our family, our friends, our work, and the state of the world. If we allow worry to fill our hearts, sooner or later we will get sick. Yes, there is tremendous suffering all over the world, but knowing this need not paralyze us. If we practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful sitting, and working in mindfulness, we try our best to help, and we can have peace in our heart.
    Worrying does not accomplish anything. Even if you worry twenty times more, it will not change the situation of the world. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so. If we don’t know how to breathe, smile, & live every moment of our life deeply, we will never be able to help anyone.
    I am happy in the present moment. I do not ask for anything else. I do not expect any additional happiness or conditions that will bring about more happiness. The most important practice is aimlessness**, not running after things, not grasping.” Thich Nhat Hanh

    ** "aimlessness" is easily misunderstood, but refers to remaining appropriate in the present moment RATHER THAN being so obsessed with some future (or past) possibility, that we ignore present moment reality eg being calmly aware of the fact that we're driving in busy traffic with pedestrians crossing etc RATHER THAN recklessly speeding while obsessing about being late for an appointment. See:

    The word "appropriate" in the context of mindfulness can be expanded to "relaxed & attuned." It's very challenging to behave wisely if one is very stressed, anxious, fearful, angry etc. So we practice being physically, mentally & emotionally relaxed, equanimous. Attuned refers being intimately aware of, connected to, harmonious with one's self & one's surroundings - ie the very opposite of being lost in thoughts about the past or future. All of this is "doable" with patient mindfulness practice, which in turn makes EVERYTHING WORKABLE!

David A. Lovas photograph

Thursday, September 8, 2022


    When I intentionally (or unintentionally) say or do something silly in front of my 7-year-old granddaughter, she gives me that look and exclaims, "Seriously?!?!"
    But without the benefit of such instant, honest reminders, our most common error is taking ourselves too seriously. We do this individually (self-centered, egocentric, self-serving, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, narcissistic) and also as members of a group (partisanship, sectarianism, religious exclusivism)
his narrow focus on our 'self' & 'tribe' shows up as: jealousy, gossip, theft, pessimism, cynicism, nihilism, impatience, anger, arguments, shouting, bullying, sabotaging, fighting, racism, sexism, misogyny, ageism, religious intolerance, war, genocide, etc ... in brief, as 'greed, hatred & delusion.'
    'Delusion' because
these are misguided, dysfunctional expressions of our innocent, universal need for love.
Chris Germer's 8-minute video:

    “... most of us seem to experience three stages in the way we relate to others.
    Stage 1: … emotional slavery, we believe ourselves responsible for the feelings of others. We think we must constantly strive to keep everyone happy. If they don’t appear happy, we feel responsible & compelled to do something about it. This can easily lead us to see the very people who are closest to us as burdens.
    Stage 2: … obnoxious stage, we become aware of the high costs of assuming responsibility for others’ feelings and trying to accommodate them at our own expense. When we notice how much of our lives we’ve missed and how little we have responded to the call of our own soul, we may get angry … we tend toward obnoxious comments like, ‘That’s your problem! I’m not responsible for your feelings!’ when presented with another person’s pain. We are clear what we are not responsible for, but have yet to learn how to be responsible to others in a way that is not emotionally enslaving.
    Stage 3: … emotional liberation, we respond to the needs of others out of compassion, never our of fear, guilt, or shame. Our actions are therefore fulfilling to us, as well as to those who receive our efforts. We accept full responsibility for our own intentions & actions, but not for the feelings of others. At this stage, we are aware that we can never meet our own needs at the expense of others. Emotional liberation involves stating clearly what we need in a way that communicates we are equally concerned that the needs of others be fulfilled. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is designed to support us in relating at this level.

    … an important form of self-compassion is to make choices motivated purely by our desire to contribute to life rather than our of fear, guilt, shame, duty, or obligation. When we are conscious of the life-enriching purpose behind an action we take, when the sole energy that motivates us is simply to make life wonderful for others and ourselves, then even hard work has an element of play in it. Correspondingly, an otherwise joyful activity performed out of obligation, duty, fear, guilt or shame will lose its joy and eventually engender resistance.
B. Rosenberg. “Nonviolent communication. A language of life.” ed 2. Puddle Dancer Press. 2003.

    AND what if all that we experience were just a dream, like ones we experience during sleep? Wouldn't this markedly reduce how seriously we took ourselves & our life? This is exactly what some very wise folks say about reality! Yet to us, this sounds ridiculous because we've been conditioned from early childhood to be anxious, frightened, hyper-vigilant perfectionists. Here we have two diametrically opposed ways of seeing ourselves & life. How we can resolve this quandary is expertly presented in these 2 books:
    Robert Wolfe. “Living Nonduality. Enlightenment Teachings of Self-Realization.” Karina Library, 2014.
    Robert Wolfe. “Emptiness.” Karina Library, 2020.

    “The trouble with the rat race, is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” Lily Tomlin

    “Dear ones, you who are trying to learn the miracle of love through the use of reason, I am terribly afraid you will never see the point.” Hafiz

    “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Joe Klaas

    “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” Winston S. Churchill

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Who / What Am I Really?

    Most of us are anxious, frightened & confused about life, aging, sickness & death, so much so, that we try (without success) to not think about or discuss these "depressing matters." Yet it is actually our aversion that keeps us trapped in the thoughts & associated emotions we're trying to avoid.
We hyper-rational, control-obsessed individuals declare that death is "unacceptable!" Our society has conditioned us to consider ourselves bigger, better, smarter, better looking, and certainly independent of everyone else. How dare life slip out of MY CONTROL with all this aging, sickness & death crap! That's for "losers" - NOT "me"!
most of us have failed to learn that arguing with reality is THE cause of needless suffering. Only by "leaning into" the very things that scare us, and learning as much as possible about these, by truly becoming intimate with & directly experiencing these challenges physically & emotionally, can we come to a radically different perspective.
sounds alarmingly ridiculous to most of us, I know, yet it's true. And you'll only know how true it is AFTER you've given up arguing with & denying reality, have completely accepted the harshest of life's challenges, and awakened to lovingly embracing ALL of life's "10,000 joys AND 10,000 sorrows." Then and only then, can you possibly get how everything is perfect as it is.

    “So, what is it that animates this chunk of meat (our body), that makes it vital? The teacher would call it ‘the vital principle’ or life-force. It is in the absence of this that the body is inert.
    If there is such a thing as life-force, does it evaporate when the body dies? No. This ‘vital principle’ is present in the very movement of the cosmos: evidently, it is universal and eternal.
    So, the teacher would ask: what, then, can we consider real; a piece of flesh which decays and returns to the earth, or the force which is eternally present?
    Without the presence of this universal force, the body does not ‘see and hear.’ We cannot rightly say, then, that the body ‘sees and hears.’
    That which is seeing and hearing right now is not the body – it is the vital Principle. ‘You’ are that

it is indubitably recognized that your nature & the nature of the absolute are fundamentally the same, indivisible nature, this is the ‘recognition of one’s true identity’: the realization that any and all identity is eclipsed by an actuality which renders separative distinctions ultimately meaningless.
    Such a realization, or non-dual perspective or awareness, cannot help but have a profound effect on one’s consideration of ‘personal individuality’. One cannot recognize that truth, of all pervasive indivisibility, and continue to maintain the fiction of separate personification – of the ‘me’ that was born and the ‘I’ which dies.
    This fruit of realization – that the absolute essence of all being does not ‘come’ from some place nor ‘go’ anywhere – quenches our deepest, final fear, the fear of extinction. Then the liberated may, indeed, ‘take no thought for the morrow.’

    Robert Wolfe. “Living Nonduality. Enlightenment Teachings of Self-Realization.” Karina Library, 2014. 

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this 47min Robert Wolfe video: 


Sunday, August 7, 2022

One Love

    "Going inward & making a connection to the deepest parts of you — physical, emotional, energetic, or spiritual — is the best, the deepest way to live and the deepest way to create impact." John Wineland
    HOWEVER, the deepest, truest, or most authentic aspect of who we are - according to saints & mystics - is beyond (transcends) the capacity of our usual level of thinking to conceive & of language to express! So the foremost experts at this, again
saints & mystics, can at best provide pointers for us to directly experience ultimate reality:

    “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Mother Teresa

The problem with the world is
that we draw our family circle too small.”
Mother Teresa

    “There is more hunger for love & appreciation in this world than for bread.” Mother Teresa

    “The important thing is not to think much, but to love much, and so to do what best awakens us to love.” Saint Teresa of Ávila  

    “When it is indubitably recognized that your nature and the nature of the Absolute are fundamentally the same, indivisible nature, this is the ‘recognition of one’s true identity’: the realization that any and all identity is eclipsed by an actuality which renders separative distinctions ultimately meaningless.
    Such a realization, or non-dual perspective or awareness, cannot help but have a profound effect on one’s consideration of ‘personal individuality’. One cannot recognize that truth, of all pervasive indivisibility, and continue to maintain the fiction of separate personification – of the ‘me’ that was born and the ‘I’ which dies.
    This fruit of realization – that the absolute essence of all being does not ‘come’ from some place nor ‘go’ anywhere – quenches our deepest, final fear, the fear of extinction. Then the liberated may, indeed, ‘take no thought for the morrow.’ ”
    Robert Wolfe. “Living Nonduality. Enlightenment Teachings of Self-Realization.” Karina Library, 2014. EXCELLENT BOOK


    "Even when we've awakened from ego-identification, we still need to unlearn & relearn about love. What we call love, or what we think is love, is often mixed with a lot of early personal conditioning, old belief systems, & emotional attachments. When the heart doesn't go out to look for love, but looks instead back to its source - the ground of Being - we can discover unconditional love as who we have always been. Then this new experience of love can become the foundation from which relationships are formed. A whole different emotional way of being & seeing gives rise to a new, vastly more compassionate & connected way of relating.
    Open-hearted awareness, which is operating from our heart-mind, begins to include necessary judging functions of the mind, but leaves behind the fear, separation, & controlling anger that made us ‘judgmental.’ Our normal judging functions are transformed by open-hearted awareness into discernment & discriminating wisdom.
    The judge, the critic, and the superego are not essential or rigidly fixed parts of the human psyche. As soon as we shift into open-hearted awareness, an immediate feeling of being nonjudgmental & more compassionate arises. We develop a more mature conscience, a sense of integrity, & an acceptance of what is, while having the capacity & motivation to change what needs to be changed.”

    Loch Kelly. “Shift into Freedom. The Science and Practice of Open-hearted Awareness.” Sounds True, 2015.

Robert Wolfe “Quenching the Thirst: Fundamentals of Nonduality

47-minute interview:


Monday, August 1, 2022

Live, Love, Learn, Enjoy

    Meditation teachers often repeat Ajahn Chah's guidance: “No one to be, nothing to do, nowhere to go,” reminding us that during meditation, we have the opportunity to assume the spacious awakened perspective of witnessing awareness, by simply letting go of the role of a separate "doer."
conditioned mind constantly wants to be someone, do something & go somewhere. Completely identifying with the content of our conditioned mind (from "noisy ego" to narcissism) is very common & problematic. Just for the time we set aside to meditate, we can gently accept our conditioned mind's chatter, allowing thoughts to settle down (like mud settles in a jar of water), until the clarity & freedom of our mature, peaceful, joyful true nature spontaneously emerges

    "The only thing that makes us suffer, is resisting what is." Helen Hamilton

    "Everything yearns to resolve itself in love – that love being the open space of acceptance, of allowing, of staying resolutely present, & unconditionally open to every nuance of your inner experience. In that way, awakeness can filter into every aspect of your life." Amoda Maa. "Surfing the Heart of Darkness: Suffering as a Doorway to Liberation."

    “We are one, but we will only feel that when we love everything.” Ram Dass

    "To be enlightened is to be intimate with all things." Zen Master Dogen  

The only real purpose of being here on this earth is to learn or to re-remember our original nature state of no limitations.” Lester Levenson 

    “The only service you can do for anyone (including yourself) is to remind them of their true nature.” Stephen Levine

    “… there is one, indivisible, unborn, ultimate reality beyond time & space, name & form. The discovery of this reality as our own true nature is the real opportunity, possibility and purpose of human existence. … suffering & delusion (is) caused by ignorance of the real Self.” 

    Helen Hamilton skillfully incorporates the above in her meditation instruction:
    “The separate sense of self is really obstructing our peace. It’s not an entity. It’s a movement, a habit, an energy, a vibration. And when we look at what it is really, it’s trying to change this moment in some way, isn’t it? And it will say, ‘I’m not how I’m supposed to be. You’re not how you’re supposed to be. This moment isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This meditation isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This contemplation isn’t going the way it’s supposed to be.’ It’s not always so overt, but it’s kind of this one-track, very single-minded pushing against what is. And if you’re sitting in meditation, getting nice & deep, and this thought comes up, ‘I should be doing something different.’ What we really experience is the meditation & the thought, and that is all there is. There isn’t a separate being thinking. There isn’t a separate being meditating. If you can just let that thought happen in its fullness. Just let it happen, not being at war with your mind for just a second, not saying it should or shouldn’t be this way – which is also mind
happens when you just let that thought happen? Even if your attention goes with it for a certain amount of time, it comes back eventually. And the more you fully go with that thought, let it exist. Whatever wants to exist in this moment can. I’m not going to try & police that at all, most of all my own thought process. What happens when you do that? Because the essence of this ‘should & shouldn’t’ is a trying to control, isn’t it? Trying to keep this moment in a way that’s going to make me feel better, or keep me safe, or something like that.
if I don’t have any thoughts, and don’t allow my thoughts, mind says then I’m more awakened; and if I have lots of thoughts, I’m less awakened. What if that’s not true? What if it’s what I’m doing with those thoughts, or perhaps more importantly not doing, when they come up? The essence of awakening is really just being with what is, and not really being able to, or wanting to do anything other than that.
you’re sitting in meditation or just having a happy moment with your family, some real resistance comes up. What do you do with that? If it’s, ‘OK now, there’s resistance,’ - that’s a very awakened way of being with it. If instead we go, ‘Why is this here? What do I need to do to get rid of it? I thought I got beyond this. Why is it happening again?’ These are all very subtle ways of trying to push against that resistance and going to separation in relationship with it. And then by doing it, we’re trying to change ourselves, change this moment, change reality – all those are the same.
, this moment, reality – they’re all names for you. Have a meditation session where ‘I’m just going to let it happen.’ Even if ‘this shouldn’t happen, I’m going to let that happen too.’ Love sees these thoughts as its creations, arising out of it like steam off of hot water. And the water isn’t trying to control how the steam is going, is it? It’s just arising, whichever way it wants to arise.
can be like that with all phenomena, just this is what is in this moment. Some of them you might like better than others - some thoughts, some emotions. Of course we like bliss better than physical pain, or we like joy better than sadness. We like a self-loving thought better than a self-critical thought. But we still have the ability none-the-less to be with that. You can actually feel a deep sense of peace, contentment, & eventually bliss, if you just let your mind be how it is right now. If it’s running rampant, just stop trying to control it completely. Abandon all attempts to change it, and you’ll feel extraordinarily peaceful, even before it stops talking. You won’t even need it to stop talking. You’ll begin to feel bliss and some deep, deep sense of joy. This isn’t my work to manage my own personal universe.
Hamilton. “I am alone but not lonely.”


Monday, July 25, 2022

Greater Than We Commonly Know

    If in our childhood, we sometimes sensed the presence of a powerful invisible guide, and perhaps were occasionally surprised by feeling exuberantly wonderful - despite challenging, far-from-ideal circumstances - then this mystery of the "greater than" will likely re-emerge in adulthood.

    "Greater than" is a subtle yet powerful sensation that can strike us with awe & wonder. Joanna Macy's quote points to this:
    “If this world is to be healed through human efforts,
    I am convinced it will be by ordinary people
    whose love for life is even greater than their fear."

    Fear is a universal defense mechanism to preserve one's own life & safety. When fear dominates ("egocentric / noisy ego," "left-brain dominance," "fight, flight, freeze reaction") the world is a dangerous place & all one's attention & energy is focused only on survival. This otherwise healthy brief reaction to transient danger is grossly distorted by severe past & ongoing trauma, as well as by conditions like narcissistic personality disorder. When lost in fear, we see a dangerous, chaotic, uncaring, perhaps even malicious world / god. To cope, many override fear with anger / disgust, bulldozing their way through life - at a cost:
    Today, even those who've not experienced severe trauma, tend to be spiritually illiterate - not
having the knowledge nor even the language to consider or express what is most meaningful to them. By default they assume that science knows all, and that anything beyond science - religion / spirituality is "old-fashioned superstition," leaving them boxed-in, hopeless, cynical & paradoxically angry at a cartoon-like image of a "God" they don't believe in.
    Psychotherapy (with or without entheogens) and meditation / contemplative practices can be powerfully beneficial.

    Many years ago, I saw a patient in his 30s for severe chronic pain in his mouth. He was extremely angry & frustrated because severe chronic back pain, & more recently mouth pain prevented him from doing the work he loved. He wasn't even able to lift up his small children to play with them. He must surely have been terrified of being unable to support, or be of any practical use to his young family. I told him that his anger (due to fear, sadness & frustration) is perfectly justified & understandable, HOWEVER it's preventing him from healing. I advised him to learn to let go of his anger so he could heal & regain his life, & prescribed an ointment for him to apply to his mouth. A few weeks later he returned with marked reduction of the pain in his mouth AND his back. The clinician from his pain clinic phoned and asked me for the prescription I had given him because "it" had such a profound beneficial effect on his back, while months of potent narcotics had not reduced his back pain at all. Of course the topical agent for his mouth had nothing whatsoever to do with the remarkable pain reduction in his back. His letting go of anger was key, allowing him to face, deal with & come to terms with his underlying great fear & sadness directly, and then he was freed to live his life.

    When / if fear subsides, then our far more evolved true nature can surface ("allocentric/ecocentric," "quiet ego," "right-brain dominance," "tend & befriend instinct") and our concern & energies SHIFT to nurturing others & everything around us, creativity & joy. Our true nature sees profound interconnection between everything ("oneness"), and that "all shall be well." This perspective is totally incomprehensible to the fear-driven left-brain and therefore, to many people today - including psychologists, physicians & other health-care practitioners.

    "contemplative practices allow the egoic mind to drop of its own accord, and for you to experience something greater – that direct experience of the vastness of which we are a part." Rami Shapiro 2021 interview:

    “There’s a great hue and cry now about ‘What is the meaning of life?’ And I think the Golden World is the meaning of life – that which supersedes one’s egocentric view of life - to find something that’s greater than I am; something that I can work for, outside my own egocentric structure. And I must safeguard my egocentric structure, in order to have a platform for that too. That’s the either and or that’s so difficult for the modern person.” Robert A. Johnson. “The Golden World. The Search for Meaning, Fulfillment, and Divine Beauty.” Sounds True, Audiobook, 2018.

    "The ecstatic experience involves escaping from the ‘I-ness.’ This requires that we break the boundaries of our separateness to experience a greater realm, a realm that taxes our finest poets and artists to convey. It is the most valuable experience any person can have. The beauty of the Golden World is that one sees a vastness, something so much greater than oneself that one is left speechless with awe, admiration, delight, and rapture
    Very few people have the intelligence to surrender with dignity to forces greater than themselves. Most of us have to be hit in the head ... and thereby forced into a realization of the Golden World
    ... when one has stopped trying to maneuver external reality so that it will work out as the ego desires. One turns authority over to something greater than oneself; the ego is sacrificed to the Self, the earthly world serves the heavenly world, and one learns, at last, to trust the slender threads.”
Robert A. Johnson, Jerry M. Ruhl. “Balancing Heaven and Earth: A Memoir of Visions, Dreams, and Realizations.” HarperCollins, 1998. EXCEPTIONALLY WORTHWHILE BOOK

    Balfour Mount, the Canadian surgeon who introduced palliative care in North America, studied existential suffering, & the experience of integrity & wholeness, in persons with life-threatening illness. He identified 4 types of 'healing connections' involving a sense of bonding to Self, others, the phenomenal world, & ultimate meaning. These situated participants in a context that was greater & more enduring than the self, thus leading to enhanced meaning and quality of life. (More recently, this phenomenon is referred to as "post-traumatic growth.") Balfour M. Mount, Patricia H. Boston, S. Robin Cohen. “Healing Connections: On Moving from Suffering to a Sense of Well-Being.” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 33; 4: 372-388, 2007.

Near Death Experiences (NDEs) often lead to a paradoxical decrease in devotion to any one religious tradition, despite a greater awareness of guidance by and connection to a higher power. ... Many experiencers describe adopting a form of nondenominational spirituality since their NDEs, in which all religious traditions are valued but no one religion is given precedence." Bruce Greyson. “After. A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond.” St. Martin’s, 2021.

    “The search for reason ends at the shore of the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. (ineffable means too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words)
    We do not leave the shore of the known in search of adventure or suspense or because of the failure of reason to answer our questions. We sail because our mind is like a fantastic seashell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore.
    Citizens of two realms, we all must sustain a dual allegiance …” Abraham Joshua Heschel

    "There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe." Teilhard de Chardin

    Perhaps the most common & saddest example of needless suffering today is seen among the elderly, especially those with progressive diseases such as Parkinson's, dementia etc, who have nothing but a materialist / physicalist worldview, and see their situation as meaningless loss of control & suffering, or perhaps worse, the victim of a cruel creator. In this unfortunate situation, Dylan Thomas' famous words, "Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light." may sound heroic, BUT there is infinitely wiser advice:
… in any situation in life, confronted by an outer threat or opportunity, you can notice yourself responding inwardly in one of two ways. Either you will brace, harden, & resist, or you will soften, open & yield. If you go with the former gesture, you will be catapulted immediately into your smaller self, with its animal instincts and survival responses. If you stay with the latter regardless of the outer conditions, you will remain in alignment with your innermost being, and through it, divine being can reach you. Spiritual practice at its no-frills simplest is a moment-by-moment learning not to do anything in a state of internal brace. Bracing is never worth the cost.
    This does not necessarily carry over into an outer state of surrender, or ‘rolling over & playing dead.’ On the contrary, interior surrender is often precisely what makes it possible to see a decisive action that must be taken and to do it with courage and strength. To ski down a hill or split a piece of wood, you first have to relax inwardly; only then can you exert the right force and timing. It’s exactly the same in the emotional world. Whether it’s a matter of holding your ground in a dispute with your boss, handling a rebellious teenager with tough love, or putting your life on the line for an ideal you believe in like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., action flows better when it flows from nonviolence, that is, from the place of relaxed, inner opening
surrender is an act of spiritual power because it opens the heart directly to the more subtle realms of spiritual Wisdom & energy. One hands oneself over, in the poet Dante’s beautiful image, into ‘the love that moves the stars and the sun.’ When the attitude of prompt surrender has become permanently ingrained in a person while still in bodily life, that person becomes a powerful servant of humanity – a saint, in the language of the Christian West – whose very being radiates blessing and spiritual strength." Cynthia Bourgeault. “The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming An Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart.” Jossey-Bass, 2003

    “Most important of all, do everything you can to nurture your spiritual intelligence. It is your only genuine source of hope, direction, meaning, and comfort.” Thomas Moore

"Girl with Two Owls" by Lobsang Mendelez