Saturday, May 21, 2022

Steps Along the Way

If we closely observe ourselves, we'll notice an incessantly recurring sense of uneasiness, most readily noticed while sitting or lying down to rest. For no obvious reason, we quickly feel uncomfortable / unpleasant, and automatically shift our position to one that's more comfortable - but only for a very short while, then repeat, repeat & repeat. Besides such primarily physical bouts of dys-ease, we also notice similar recurring bouts of discomfort which we assume arises primarily from our thoughts or emotions. We assume that these are all due to external irritants eg problematic people, situations, places, etc, so we automatically try fixing or correcting these external irritants, to make ourselves comfortable 'once & for all.'

Our materialistic consumer society spends billions each year to ensure that we continue to 'shop till we drop.' Too many of us actually believe that, "The one who dies with the most toys wins."
          It
can take lifetimes to fully recognize that we cannot control our external environment sufficiently to achieve continuous happiness. If we could, then surely addicts, people with OCD & the wealthy would be the happiest people in the world. But eventually, everyone becomes disenchanted with materialism - disappointed, bored & frustrated with experiencing, consuming, hoarding 'things.'  

Even those seeking awakening / enlightenment initially, & some for decades do so with striving acquisitiveness - using the exact same approach to seeking awakening as they used to achieve success in the material world eg business, sports, outdoor survival. BUT this egocentric, aggressive, adversarial, acquisitive left-hemisphere-dominant approach, which seems to work for some to accumulate things, actually blocks spiritual growth. This inappropriate approach to spiritual maturation - like using a sledgehammer to slice cake - is called 'spiritual materialism.'

A fascinating example of this is chronicled in Harley Rustad's biography of spiritual seeker, expert outdoor survivalist, world-traveler & blogger, Justin Alexander Shetler in, “Lost in the Valley of Death. A Story of Obsession and Danger in the Himalayas.” Justin seemed to understand the meaning of 'the finger pointing at the moon' analogy, “Religion is a very very attractive, alluring, sparkling arrow, and everybody gets focused on what kind of arrow or what it’s made of or what kinds of jewels are on it or what kinds of feathers – and no one’s looking where the arrow’s pointing, which is at truth.” He knew first-hand that, “Traveling is often exploring things that make you uncomfortable: physically, ethically, emotionally, metaphysically.” But he was seriously mistaken about continuous traveling (pejoratively referred to as 'geographic cure') & progressively more severe physical deprivation ('asceticism') being essential tools for awakening. Long ago, the Buddha showed that neither of these were helpful

But then it's human nature to stick to the skills one feels most competent at, and the temptation to use these more & more often, with ever-greater intensity - for every task! Over-reliance on a familiar tool is a well-known cognitive bias: "If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail." Justin pushed travel & survival in nature to the breaking point. Many of us have to 'hit rock bottom', before we finally drop our favorite approach, & become willing to learn an entirely new, appropriate skill that actually works. With respect to awakening / enlightenment, it's about relaxing our grasping / clinging, & remembering to connect with our silent, still, eternal Self - which we can only experience when our ego is very quiet

"... maybe at the end of the trail, Justin found nothing; that the harder he tried, the more it felt like he was grasping at mist — chasing tendrils higher and higher into the mountains." wondered Harley Rustad in his Dec 13, 2018 Outside magazine article. 

Of course deep self-inquiry reveals that who we truly are - our Self - is no-thing, Noumenon - "knowable only without the use of ordinary sense perception; & cannot be experienced through the senses." Helen Hamilton. "Dissolving the Ego." Balboa Press, 2021

Spiritual maturation appears to be about noticing when we contract around some 'thing' (phenomenon) which feels stressful; we learn to relax our grip on 'things' (phenomena); & remember to return to our true nature - Self, Noumenon, peace, & appropriate perspective on phenomena.


 Helen Hamilton's EXCELLENT 60 min Summary:


 

 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Just A Shift of Perception Away ...

     You, like many others, probably have some fear & anxiety about having dental or medical procedures like fillings, blood tests, colonoscopies etc. You might start worrying days ahead, thinking of worse-case-scenarios, pain, unlikely mishaps, etc and even have some sleepless nights beforehand. When you arrive for the procedure, you're likely tired, stressed & hypervigilant, ONLY noticing & MAGNIFYING any negative perceptions that confirm your worries, while OVERLOOKING or DISMISSING all positive perceptions - "negativity bias." Afterwards, you're exhausted, mulling over how terrible it was, complaining to all who'll listen. 

     You have everything to gain if you try this very simple experiment. Decide ahead of time to focus all of your attention on radiating kind wishes to the people who'll be treating you: dentist, assistant, physician, nurse, etc. Instead of agonizing, worrying & scaring yourself, remember to be the continuous source of kindness & good wishes towards those looking after you. FEEL the warmth, love, good wishes, radiating from your chest, as when watching a beloved child, partner, or pet sleeping, and radiating loving energy to them. As soon as you feel fearful contraction, let it drop, and focus on being the open-hearted source of love, kindness, encouragement, gratitude towards these folks who are helping you. Notice also how you feel when it's all over, compared to how you usually feel.
     I
had advised someone, who was very apprehensive about dentistry, to try the above intentional shift from fearful contraction to being the source of nurturing kindness. He just reported to me that he
had 3 excellent experiences using this technique for his last 3 dental appointments, which included a root canal & an implant placement.

     This shift from fearful contracted self-concern / frightened child to wise, loving elder is a natural evolutionary step we will all make sooner or later, AND it has to & will eventually involve not just dental/medical visits, but every aspect of our lives.

     “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.” Mother Teresa

      Our son, Mike Lovas, pointed us towards Charles Eisenstein's 70-minute interview - an intelligent, realistic overview of our present global situation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggdmkFA2BzA

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

      "I was born
       when all I once feared
       I could love.”                        Rabia Basri

      "Once we are willing to be directly intimate with our life as it arises, joy emerges out of the simplest of life experiences." Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara


      “If we really were in love with the planet, and incorporated that love into all of our systems, into our money system, we would not have an ecological crisis.” Charles 
Eisenstein
      “
If an economy is operating outside of ecological limits, then the inevitable conclusion is that it’s going to completely erode the resource base until it implodes or collapses. So really, the choice that we have is to design and develop an economy that operates within ecological limits. That’s our only safe bet. It’s our only bet at all.” Shane
Ward
        Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future (2018) – Watch this EXCELLENT, INSPIRING 86-minute Documentary:

 


 


 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Awakening Awaits

     Imho, we all have one of 3 dominant worldviews:
          1)
The world's a mess & getting worse, we're all going to die anyway, end of story - nihilism
.
          2) Things aren't too bad for me, I'll get by, my goal is to be happy with as little stress as possible - self-centeredness.
          3) Things are perfect AND could use some improvement - awakening.

     Many people are nihilistic - they've given up all hope because they realize that self-centeredness cannot make them happy. The vast majority of people are self-centered because they still haven't realized that self-centeredness is a dead end. Self-centeredness just morphs into nihilism.
     Increasing numbers of people are awakening to the realization that we are far, far greater than what our usual state of mind ("egoic rational mind") is capable of understanding. In fact, this liberating realization is qualitatively beyond, & is therefore strongly opposed by our ego. It can take a lot of meditation practice, & sometimes challenging circumstances that defeat the ego, before the ego becomes quiet enough to allow us to see "outside the box."

      "Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.
      Perhaps, in a way, that's where humanity is now: about to discover we're not as smart as we thought we were, will be forced by life to surrender our attacks & defenses which avail us of nothing, and finally break through into the collective beauty of who we really are." Marianne Williamson

     "The perennial philosophy, which lies at the heart of the great religions and is increasingly said to represent their deepest thinking, suggests that consciousness is central and its development is the primary goal of existence. This development will culminate in the condition variously known in different traditions as enlightenment, liberation, salvation, moksha, or satori.
     The descriptions of this condition show remarkable similarities across cultures and centuries. Its essence is the recognition that the distortions of our usual state of mind are such that we have been suffering from a case of mistaken identity. Our true nature is something much greater, an aspect of a universal consciousness, Self, Being, Mind, or God. The awakening to this true nature, claimed a Zen master, is ‘the direct awareness that you are more than this puny body or limited mind. Stated negatively, it is the realization that the universe is not external to you. Positively, it is experiencing the universe as yourself.’ … Typical is the claim by an Englishman that to realize our true identity is to ‘find that the I, one’s real, most intimate self, pervades the universe and all other beings. That the mountains, and the sea, and the stars are a part of one’s body, and that one’s soul is in touch with the souls of all creatures.’ Nor are such descriptions the exclusive province of mystics. They have been echoed by philosophers, psychologists, & physicists. ‘Out of my experience … one final conclusion dogmatically emerges,’ said the great American philosopher William James (1960). ‘There is a continuum of cosmic consciousness against which our individuality builds but accidental forces, and into which our several minds plunge as into a mother sea.’
     From this perspective, evolution is a vast journey of growing self-awareness & a return to our true identity. Our current crises are seen as expressions that arise from our mistaken identity. But they can also be seen as self-created challenges that may speed us on our evolutionary journey toward ultimate self-recognition.

     Roger Walsh. "Human Survival: A Psychoevolutionary Analysis." ReVision 1985; 8: 7-10.

   Only when we recognize our true Self can we start to find peace, real happiness, & effectively help ourselves & our world. There are excellent contemporary guides - one of the finest imho is Helen Hamilton.

Helen Hamilton's EXCELLENT talk on recognizing our true Self :


Friday, April 22, 2022

On Becoming The Person You’ve Always Wanted To Be

     Below is a transcript from imho an excellent, valuable interview containing important points that our anemic culture knows or cares little about YET is vitally important to every one of us:

1) Most people enjoy light, upbeat music (stories, movies, plays, books, etc), and tend to criticize music outside of that comfort-zone as depressing, "too deep for me," or confusing. Most of us are acclimatized to our stunningly shallow, consumer society. Immediately following 9/11, Americans were encouraged by their president to "go shopping" to show the world what they're made of! While many went shopping with patriotic fervor; history will find such blissful ignorance impossible to comprehend.

2) We see discomfort as a violation of our basic human rights, and respond to deep suffering with strong aversion, anger, & try every possible escape: an endless array of distractions, suppression, alcohol, drugs - prescribed & otherwise, possibly ending in depression, bitterness & cynicism. Yet hardships & pain are not meaningless punishments. Like everything else in life, they're to learn from, to help us evolve. Most people simply can't handle this last point, so they choose to rail against this reality. Arguing with reality is choosing to suffer needlessly. The infinitely wiser alternative is to relax our ego & body, and humbly learn all the deep lessons being offered. There's absolutely no comparison between these two approaches, yet most of us will absolutely exhaust the first, before trying the second out of shear desperation & utter fatigue.

3) Even psychosocial-spiritually-evolved human beings can & do have all sorts of hardships, including prolonged severe physical pain eg Buddha, Jesus, and in current times, Adyashanti, Jordan Peterson, etc. This can be a shockingly unpleasant surprise, at a time when we may have (prematurely) assumed that we've already 'processed' enough pain, suffering & even heavy "dark nights of the soul." But, as long as we're alive, learning - at times from very hard lessons - continues.

4) We mistakenly assume that happiness comes only after we're finished climbing up the mountain, but as long as we live, we can and need to grow. With age, growth clearly becomes increasingly internal ie integrating our values more & more completely into our lived experience ie intention, speech & other behaviors. The quality of happiness we experience also changes, becoming progressively more subtle, deep, independent of external circumstances & independent of others' opinions. Happiness feels more & more like home, equanimity, peace, silence & stillness (not the brief 'sugar-high' of winning a lottery).

     Steven Bartlett asked Jordan B. Peterson, ‘How are you doing?’ Peterson responded,
     “
Brilliantly and terribly. You know, when you listen to a profound piece of music, one that sort of spans the whole emotional experience, it’s not happy. Happy is elevator music. Probably, you shouldn’t listen to that at all. And you think, ‘Why?’ Well, it’s harmless, treacly, sweet, simple, lacks depth, it’s shallow – that’s a problem. It doesn’t have that deep sense of awe & horror, I would say, that’s characteristic of the best of all music.
     You know, you listen to some so-called 'simple music' – Hank Williams is a good example. You know the blues cowboy from the 1950s, who died of alcoholism when he was 27, and whose voice sounds like an 80-year-old man. Simple melody, you know, but there’s nothing simple in the song and in the voice. It’s deep. You know it’s like black blues in the States from the 1920s. He was certainly influenced by that tradition. There’s this admission of a deep suffering at the same time as you get the beautiful transcendence of the music. And that’s meaning, you know, that’s awe-ful in the most fundamental sense but, you need an antidote to suffering, and it has to be deep. And deep moves you tectonically and it’s not a trivial thing. But that’s better than happiness. And maybe, if you’re lucky, while pursuing that and while you’re immersed in it, you get to be happy. And you should fall on your knees and be grateful that when it happens. You know it’s a gift. It really is a gift. And it comes upon you unexpectedly – your happiness, you know. But you aim to climb uphill to the highest peak you can possibly envision. And that’s better than happiness
.

      Wherever
I go in the world, people come up to me and, I wouldn’t say they’re happy to see me. They’re often in tears, and they often have a pretty rough story to relate – they were suicidal, or nihilistic, or homicidal, or trapped, desperate. And they tell me that, real fast. And then they say, ‘I’ve overcome that to a large degree, and thank you for that. And then you think, well that’s really something, to have that happen over & over. In some ways you might think, well how can anything better possibly happen to you, than to have people come up to you all over the world, strangers, and open themselves up to you like that, like they’re old friends, so quickly? But at the same time, it’s an awful thing, because you see even in the revelation of their triumph, the initial depth of their despair. So I wouldn’t change that. But it’s not nothing. It’s certainly not just happiness. It’s better than happiness, but it’s almost unbearable."

Q: "Why do you do what you do?"
     “To see what will happen. Some programs you cannot predict. You cannot predict how they’re going to end. You have to run them. Well, I believe that truth will save the world. I believe that. So you speak truthfully, and you watch what happens. And you take your consequences. And maybe you hope and have some faith that, in the final analysis, things will work out in your favor, but perhaps they will and perhaps they won’t. But that’s faith, eh? That’s faith. Faith isn’t believing in things that you regard as ridiculous, sacrificing your intellect. It’s a decision. Will truth, beauty & love save the world? Well, you can find out.
"
     Jordan Peterson: How To Become The Person You’ve Always Wanted To Be | E113 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uLDin9A9pc EXCELLENT INTERVIEW well worth investing
1hr 6min of time



Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Our Light Frightens Us

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference
.
     Reinhold Niebuhr - later adopted & popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous & other 12-step programs

     The Serenity Prayer (above) is fairly well-known, and takes a simple black-and-white approach, dividing life into controllable vs uncontrollable aspects. We love simplicity so much that we make simple models of even the most complex experiences, then pretend that our simple models are the real deal.
     Below
are deeper, more nuanced understandings of life's complexities

     The process of maturation or evolution seems to involve a step-wise release / healing of addictions, phobias, traumas, dogmas / exclusivisms, neuroses / hangups, magical thinking, must-haves / must-avoids, prejudices, spiritual bypassing, etc. The most dramatic way we can evolve is from severe trauma that causes collapse of our world as we know it, including our model of it: our self-concept / worldview, forcing some of us to build progressively more inclusive self-concepts / worldviews. Such shifts tend to be from exclusive self-concern (egocentric), towards a balanced concern that increasingly includes others & the environment (allocentric & ecocentric), even according to secular models of wisdom - eg: http://www.robertjsternberg.com/wisdom

     In the quote below, "Spirit" is used to point to "something greater" than the individual self - a transpersonal consciousness, Universal Intelligence, "Self", Quantum Field, etc (this includes Christian mysticism but little to do with dogmatic proprietary religious exclusivism).
     “When an addict ‘bottoms out,’ what this really means is that his or her personal will has broken down. And when our personal will has broken down, a whole different force comes rushing into our system. It’s the force of Spirit, and it can now become operational, because we are no longer avoiding it through grasping at personal will.”
      Adyashanti.
“The End of Your World. Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment.” Sounds True, 2010
.

     “
The Serenity Prayer rotates around a kind of social convention – the idea that virtually everything answers to the following description: can you control it, or can’t you? That’s the whole axis around which that prayer rotates. Can you control it, or can’t you?
     So my simple question is, ‘When did human life – the inner life, the intra-psychic life, the interpersonal life – when did it become a matter of the irreducible constant by which you calculate every move, every decision, every relationship, every self-understanding? How did it come down to, ‘Can I control it, or can’t I?’ Because surely you can hear in there the addiction to control as the principle understanding of why everything happens the way it does, or why it doesn’t. Why you feel this way, or why you don’t.
     So what is grief? It’s an antidote to the Serenity Prayer – not methadone, antidote. It doesn’t replace the Serenity Prayer’s function. It doesn’t replace an old understanding of control with a new understanding of control. What grief does, is essentially let you in for this: the world is bigger than you. The ways of the world are bigger than your decisions & belief systems about it. And your proper posture in the face of the world is humility, not control. It’s taking a knee, not taking more of what you need. So that being the case, you know the old adage, 'the best way to make the gods laugh is telling them your plans.'
     So grief it seems to me is a kind of skillfulness, not a coping strategy. So you can feel all manner of things in the presence of ‘your grief’ - for example, joy is utterly compatible with this understanding of what it means to grieve. Because when you grieve, some aspect of that action is affirming life. In its most heart-rending appearances, grief still affirms life & the ways of the world.
     A formulation that came to me years ago that I’m very fond of & proud of goes something like this: I wondered to myself one day, ‘What is the lived relationship between grief and love? Because oftentimes, people, particularly in the throws of real heartbreak, will understand these things to be absolute & polar opposites, and hostile to each other. And in fact, you craft love so as not to have to grieve. And by the time grief rolls in, it’s because it’s devastated your capacity to love. So these things are implacable adversaries. I don’t think so at all. I think that one is the midwife to the other in fact.
     So it could go something like this. Love, you could say, has a relationship to grief that’s unsuspected & unsought. And it might be this, if grief is a way of loving those who have slipped from view. And I think anybody listening to this would say, ‘Well certainly that’s in the mix.’ Grief is a way of loving. It’s an expression of love in a fashion. You wouldn’t grieve over something that you didn’t have a deep-running attachment to in some fashion as it slips away. So grief is a way of loving. Yes. That which has slipped away. Got it. You’re going to turn this on it’s head aren’t you? Yes.
     And I’m going to submit to you, ‘Love is a way of grieving that which has not yet slipped from view.’ But love is whispering to you, and grief is whispering to you, ‘That that’s a time-limited arrangement.’ Did you realize that, be you a Buddhist or not a Buddhist, something about grief is teaching you about the impermanence of things. Even grief itself is impermanent. And that impermanence tempers your understanding of love – that love’s not eternal, that the object of your love is not eternal either, and that you’re doing all you can to get your love in order NOW, not only for the heavy weather, but for the end of the weather, for the end of the time that you’re alotted to be able to do it.
     So imagine then, that love is an active form of grieving, that doesn’t require sadness or misery, but it stops you from time to time
.
     And
if you have children in the world, I mean anybody who does, knows what I’m going to say next. That you look at them occasionally, and if you can bear the thought, one of the things you realize is, you dragged them into this world to die. That’s what you did to them. You didn’t mean to. You didn’t even think of it at the time. You may not even have thought of deliberately making a child, in the moment that you did. But all of that’s besides the point. And that kid’s over there, making a fool of themselves as an idiot teenager, whatever they’re doing, right? And some part of you is awash in a kind of bottomless sorrow - that’s not sad. It’s somehow deeper than sadness. It’s the most adult version of sadthe realization that you’ve put in motion things that will deliver genuine heartbreak to people that you claim to love. And that’s what you did. And it’s a package deal. And some part of you wants to take them aside and just apologize. And of course they’ll look at you and say, ‘What?’ They have no idea what you’re talking about – right? And you realize that you’re in this alone, for the time being. They’re not old enough to know how sorrowful you’ve become over what you’ve done to them. It’s an amazing stew of impossible-to-resolve things. And if this stuff has its way with you as you age into your days, your capacity to stand & deliver, informed by this kind of understanding, is really one of the most politically, socially & psychically dangerous powers that a human being can have - the understanding that it won’t last.
      Don’t get me wrong – it can go dark. Of course it can. You can decide that nothing means anything. That your attachment to people and social institutions & so on, is irrelevant & meaningless, because it’s all going to burn away like chaff. You can do that. But there’s no grief in that. There’s resentment & hostility & grief is gone
.
     But
if grief informs your understanding of the impermanence of life, it deepens your attachment to life. It doesn’t increase it. It doesn’t mean you hold onto it tighter. It means you deepen your capacity to love knowing how, like dust it is. You know Leonard Cohen, my countryman, has a line for everything. He’s got a line for this too. In one of his songs he says
,

'Oh my love,
be not afraid,
we are so lightly here,
it is in love that we are made,
in love we disappear.'

     You can’t improve on that. It’s all there. ‘Be not afraid’ – that’s the recipe. Not, ‘hold on tighter.’ He was in a Zen monastery in California, and he took his vows & the whole thing. And as he told the story, after he came down from the mountain, his teacher looked at him one day really hard & long – perhaps like a parent looks at a child, the way I described earlier – and he said to him, ‘older you get, lonelier life becomes, greater love you need.’ That was his recipe. If you listen carefully, he didn’t say, ‘lonelier life becomes, greater love you need to get for yourself so you’re not so lonely.’ He didn’t say that. Because this isn’t the solution to loneliness. This is a radical act that comes from an understanding of loneliness. ‘Deeper love you need’ to be, or to do, or to deliver to the world – not to get for yourself. That’s dangerous. In a culture that believes in taking care of yourself & protecting & so on, the notion that your appetite for being able to make love deepens as you realize its impermanence & its limits. That makes you an elder in training. It’s very dangerous to the status quo and my favorite kind of trouble.
       Stephen
Jenkinson (part 1 of 7) "Elderhood in a Time of Trouble" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSIlixSuMYQ

      We're so used to being stuck in the rut, the echo-chamber of our petty self-concerns. But if we're fortunate, we'll get the opportunity to be able to fully, deeply experience pain of sufficient severity & duration, that we'll know with absolute certainty that this pain is far too great to be one person's, that surely we must be experiencing the collective pain of the entire human race. If at that point we willingly endure & process it for the benefit of all, the crazy intense suffering unexpectedly MIGHT transmute into bliss - little me opens to a mystery that's infinitely greater - the small individual screaming for relief & love becomes, temporarily, the Source of relief & love for all. This is a mysterious alchemical shift between realities - personal to transpersonal / universal? matter to energy? Newtonian to Quantum? physical to spiritual? human to divine? created to co-creator? - all of these?

          "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
           Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
           It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us."      Marianne Williamson

      "Of course, not all people grow from crisis. Some refuse to accept the need for redefinition, and orchestrate their own intellectual and emotional shutdown. Those who do grow manage to stay awake to the anguish, confusion, and self-doubt. This requires a high tolerance for discomfort, as well as the ability to see the world as it is, not as they wish it to be. Over time, the people who continue to struggle emerge wiser, kinder and more resilient. After they have broken & rebuilt themselves, they feel less breakable.
      Living is a complicated process, a journey of discovery that never ceases. As I grow older, the basic facts of life seem increasingly simple. The closer we live to our core, the more we realize that we are like other people. My fear and sorrow are yours, as is my harsh self-judgment. My desire to be good and to feel loved is your desire, too. We all seek peace."
     Mary Pipher. "Seeking Peace. Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World." Riverhead Books, 2009.

     “Mindful awareness is fundamentally a way of beinga way of inhabiting one’s body, one’s mind, one’s moment-by-moment experience. It is a natural human capacity. It is a deep awareness; a knowing and experiencing of life as it arises and passes away each moment. Mindful awareness is a way of relating to all experience – positive, negative, & neutral – in an open, receptive way.
     This awareness involves freedom from grasping and from wanting anything to be different. It simply knows and accepts what is here, now. Mindfulness is about seeing clearly without one’s conditioned patterns of perceiving clouding awareness, and without trying to frame things in a particular way.
     It is important to learn to see in this way because how a person perceives & frames the moment generates their reality.” Shauna Shapiro PhD




Sunday, April 10, 2022

Basics of Waking Up

     MANY have to "hit rock bottom" as a result addictions or other types of major shocks to the system ("shipwrecks") which completely shatter worldviews & self-concepts, forcing them to construct far wiser, shock-proof worldviews & self-concepts from scratch.
     SOME
of us continuously observe our internal dialogue, and realize how self-talk keeps us sleepwalking through life, & then we feel the urge WAKE UP and start LIVING deliberately.

     “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau

      “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 

     When we relax, when we really let go of every conceivable mental & physical contracted armoring; let go of every anxious urge to do something, go somewhere, be someone, etc; when we allow ourselves to become as silent & still as possible; and IF this peaceful state doesn't frighten us, & we now deeply listen to the most delicately subtle sense of aliveness within, THAT ephemeral, untouchable, undefinable, spark of vitality is - imho - who / what we actually are. One wisdom tradition advises: "Rest in 'I am' before 'I am' becomes anything."
      Imho, t
his spark of life has LITTLE to do with our personal fears, neuroses, preferences, "must haves" & "must avoids" - superficial, transient nonsense we typically (wrongly) assume is who we are. Imho, our ultimate identity has EVERYTHING to do with our transpersonal Buddha-nature, Great Spirit, Brahman, Tao, Yahweh, God, Allah, Primordial Source, The Light, Love, Loving Intelligence, Self, Unified Field, "The Force" (Star Wars), etc.

      “The term 'perennial philosophy' was coined by Agostino Steuco (1497-1548) and refers to a fourfold realization:
      (1) there is only one Reality (call it, among other names, God, Mother, Tao, Allah, Dharmakaya, Brahman, or Great Spirit) that is the source & substance of all creation;
      (2) that while each of us is a manifestation of this Reality, most of us identify with something much smaller, that is, our culturally conditioned individual ego;
      (3) that this identification with the smaller self gives rise to needless anxiety, unnecessary suffering, and cross-cultural competition and violence; and
      (4) that peace, compassion, & justice naturally replace anxiety, needless suffering, competition, and violence when we realize our true nature as a manifestation of this singular Reality.
      The great sages & mystics of every civilization throughout human history have taught these truths in the language of their time and culture. It is the universality and timelessness of this wisdom that makes it the perfect focus for the spiritually independent seeker."
      Rami Shapiro. “Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent.” SkyLight Paths, 2013.

      “The two extreme worldviews are probably represented by materialism and the perennial philosophy, the central core of understanding common to the great religions. The materialistic perspective suggests that life and consciousness are accidental byproducts of matter, and that their evolution is driven by the interplay of random events and the instinct for survival. The purpose of human life and evolution is solely what humanity decides it is.
      The perennial philosophy, which lies at the heart of the great wisdom traditions & religions and is increasingly said to represent their deepest thinking, suggests that consciousness is central and its development is the primary goal of existence. This development will culminate in the condition variously known in different traditions as enlightenment, liberation, salvation, moksha, or satori.
      The descriptions of this condition show remarkable similarities across cultures & centuries. Its essence is the recognition that the distortions of our usual state of mind are such that we have been suffering from a case of mistaken identity. Our true nature is something much greater, an aspect of a universal consciousness, Self, Being, Mind, or God. The awakening to this true nature, claimed a Zen master, is ‘the direct awarenesss that you are more than this puny body or limited mind. Stated negatively, it is the realization that the universe is not external to you. Positively, it is experiencing the universe as yourself.’ … Typical is the claim by an Englishman that to realize our true identity is to ‘find that the I, one’s real, most intimate self, pervades the universe and all other beings. That the mountains, and the sea, and the stars are a part of one’s body, and that one’s soul is in touch with the souls of all creatures.’ Nor are such descriptions the exclusive province of mystics. They have been echoed by philosophers, psychologists, & physicists. ‘Out of my experience … one final conclusion dogmatically emerges,’ said the great American philosopher William James (1960). ‘There is a continuum of cosmic consciousness against which our individuality builds but accidental forces, and into which our several minds plunge as into a mother sea.’
      From this perspective, evolution is a vast journey of growing self-awareness and a return to our true identity. Our current crises are seen as expressions that arise from our mistaken identity. But they can also be seen as self-created challenges that may speed us on our evolutionary journey toward ultimate self-recognition.”
      Roger Walsh. "Human survival: A psychoevolutionary analysis." ReVision 1985; 8: 7-10. (available for free on the web)

     “… 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.” Mooji

     “Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as humans, and the catastrophe towards which this world is headed - be it ecological, social, demographic or a general breakdown of civilization - will be unavoidable. . .
     The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and in human responsibility.”
       Vaclav
Havel, address to the U.S. congress, when he was President of the Czech Republic (1993-2003)

     “Survival and fully being alive & fully living are not the same thing.
      Gabor
Mate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2cJb1QeMIQ  a truly EXCEPTIONAL interview!

 


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Stronger Every Day

      A few days ago, I made good progress on a stationary bike (so far, this sounds like a joke) rehabilitating an injured knee. The following spontaneous response was a first for me: I held my head in both hands & silently told myself, 'Well done!' - the way a loving parent would congratulate & encourage their small child. Immediately I strongly sensed that this was initiated by my deceased parents, now standing together smiling, filled with love for me & each other.
     This
whole event was deeply moving, healing & empowering, because during their life, my parents had never given me loving approval or congratulations. I knew that my Dad loved me. But his idea of good parenting involved consistently reminding me, no matter what I achieved, that I should have done much better, and anxiously urging me to work smarter, harder, longer, etc. My Mother on the other hand, from probably before I was born, found creative ways of letting my Dad and I know that she didn't love us, was ready to leave, & finally did so in my early teens. Even as a little kid, my Mother's other-worldly coldness always felt wrong - something too broken to ever understand, repair, or even communicate with.
     It's
now very well known (Adverse Childhood Experiences {ACE} studies) that lack of secure attachment & lack of unconditional love, especially during early childhood, are severely traumatic, predisposing to many adverse mental & physical health consequences throughout life.

     In my adulthood, I avoided thinking about my childhood, but when I did, I angrily resented my Mother - anger is a massive drain of vital energy, yet some of anger's (toxic) energy can keep one going (in some ways) better than depression.
     "
Holding on to ‘it shouldn’t have happened’ perpetuates a grievance. This creates an energetic contraction that freezes your life force, locks it into the past, and prevents full engagement with life now. ... But even though this self-protective pattern continues way past the original event, it is possible for the energetic knot of trauma to be released."
      Amoda
Maa. “Embodied Enlightenment. Living Your Awakening in Every Moment.” Reveal Press, 2017. 

     After decades of meditation practice & learning about trauma, I gradually forgave my Mother, realizing that she herself had been traumatized by her cold-hearted father, and had unconsciously behaved like her father towards me - "intergenerational trauma."
      Bessel
Van Der Kolk. “The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” Penguin Books, 2015. 

“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek & find all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”                                                  Rumi

     Listening to about 50 interviews of people who had near death experiences (NDEs) revealed a consistent pattern of them being received by a loving intelligence that instead of judging them, accepted & welcomed them regardless of what they had done. Life was seen as an opportunity to learn - much like small children falling in the process of learning to walk. THIS was the nonjudgmental light in which I now perceived my parents.
    
People who are able to recall pre-birth memories recount that before birth, some of us volunteer to be "bad" in the life to come, specifically to evoke positive changes such as forgiveness & loving support, from those around us, because it often takes a shock to our system, such as abuse, trauma & wounding to catalyze our awakening. This is yet another reason to be nonjudgmental & be the source of unconditional love & nurturing.

     "Our task is to discover a freedom that's independent of all circumstances & times."
       Kornfield
J, Breiter P. "A still forest pool. The insight meditation of Achaan Chah." Quest Books, 1985.

    The relationship between our body, mind, and overall energy or 'life force' is vitally important to understand. A few weeks ago, my injured knee was stuck for two weeks at a maximum of 60° flexion (bend). I felt a rigid hard limit beyond which I simply could not progress - very frustrating & energy-draining, as I had been happily active before my accident.
     Around
this time, I started taking an online course,Progressive and Intensive Online Course Bundle by Dr Joe Dispenza.” https://drjoedispenza.com/ This is a very intelligent - incredibly important - immersion into letting go of our past negative conditioning. Much time is devoted to re-education, meditation & other trainings to focus on & realize our aspirations. An excellent 60-minute interview about this training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH8GtM7CCcI

     Over
the past week, my attitude & energy has become far more optimistic, and not surprisingly, the flexibility in my knee continues to improve very nicely - presently around 98° (a huge improvement).

      We
seriously underestimate how negatively our past traumas impact our outlook on life, our ability to create a better quality of life, & perhaps most importantly, on the quality & quantity of energy we have to make critically important life changes. We can hugely benefit from becoming conscious of the autopilot that runs our lives. We CAN write a NEW program for a MUCH MUCH brighter future - it really is ENTIRELY up to us.
      The
older we get, the more challenging it is to be positively energized - which is absolutely necessary not only for bouncing back from injuries, but to navigate all the other inevitable 'set-backs' we encounter. We CAN be positively energized & filled with joy even as we lose physical & mental competencies as we approach death, right up to, and during death itself. Who we truly are is beyond time & space.

     “A single force, love, links and gives life to infinite worlds.” Jordano Bruno

 

     We FIRST have to bravely shed a LOT of rigid protective armor (that we don't realize exists) around our traumatized hearts before this even makes any sense.
     A lot of people
have a strong impression that they've never been traumatized, that their heart is not armored & may even get upset that there's too much time wasted on the subject of trauma! These folks especially would benefit from reading: Bessel Van Der Kolk. “The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” Penguin Books, 2015.