One evening a grandfather was teaching his young grandson about the internal battle that each person faces. “There are two wolves struggling inside each of us,” the old man said.
“One wolf is vengefulness, anger, resentment, self-pity, fear . . . The other wolf is compassion, faithfulness, hope, truth, love . . .”
The grandson sat, thinking, then asked: “Which wolf wins, Grandfather?”
His grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”
Sunday, November 7, 2010
On New Years' Day every year, I host a 'Vision Board" party. This means that a group of women convene at my house, spread out on the floor amongst magazines, and cut out pictures and quotes and words of things that we intend to manifest in the coming year. We then paste them to posterboard and hang them in our lines of vision, to remind ourselves to stay focused on what we are up to, and not get distracted by the minutiae. And it works, to some degree. Perhaps it might not manifest, that year, but the seed has been planted. Many things on my own boards have been recurring, year after year, but I have also learned to be very careful about the pictures I choose, that they are actually depicting what I want and not an idea.
For many years, I hinted at a relationship, but didn't come right out and depict one that I wanted. One year I put a picture of two snow angels, where two people had fallen in the snow and created them. I liked the idea of two people so carefree and silly to do such a thing- but in the picture, there were not only no people, but it was snow, which would melt. The second year, I put a picture of two empty chairs under an umbrella at a beach- I thought, "well, this shows i am willing to share my paradise with someone." Again, no people. And my relationships were, well, not really relationships. and honestly that is how I wanted it, so its no wonder that is how I put it on my board. I wanted to put something there, but I didn't really want a relationship, cuz I didn't know what sort of one I wanted.
This last year, I was sitting there telling the girls how I wasn't going to put anything for a relationship on my board, meanwhile pasting pictures of two people off in the distance in a canoe, and also two sets of flippers coming out of the water in a beautiful, tropical bay, and also the backs of two people on a scooter driving up a country road. Ha! But seriously, these were images of the sort of relationship I would want, where there is a serenity between me and the other person. You'd have to have a quiet world of understanding and intimacy (yikes!) and delight to want to be in the middle of a big lake in a canoe with one other person. And i found that person, through such a series of seemingly random events. I'd like nothing more than to be stuck in a canoe in the middle of a huge lake with him for hours and hours. And no one is more surprised than me. For most of this year I have been discovering what it means to truly love another person, with all their highs and lows and flaws and also, ALSO, most importantly, my own, as they get revealed to me. I am learning not to run at the first sign of discomfort. I am learning to accept and forgive and also cherish and support. This is not the me I have known all my life, or maybe its the me I have been trying not to know. Either way, here it is, and it suits me down to the ground.
I also had pasted that I wanted a job where I was also helping others. And its true; I have found that the only thing that makes me feel a part of the world, connected to it, is to help it in some way. I had a bumpy time of it in the beginning of the year, finding that place. But then I found it- a sober living, waiting for its license to become a residential treatment facility. I went to visit a friend who worked there, and I knew I needed to be a part of it. I could feel the compassion and care and integrity that the place was built on; I loved the different ways they try to help the clients, with vocational training and life coaching, yoga, nutrition, going green, and brain mapping, which I think is incredibly important and the future of mental health as we know it. And dogs- dogs running everywhere on the beautiful grounds of Liz Taylor's former estate, stunning views, and food prepared by an executive chef- everything anyone could ask for. And I got the job, not by applying, but at a speaking engagement where the CEO happened to be in attendance. He approached and said he would like me to be a part of the team. And so I am. ONE80CENTER. YOu can google it. I also blog for the company. My job makes me very very happy, and I can honestly say, I've never in my life said that.
For the first time in my life, romance and finance have converged in a promising place. I'm not saying my Vision Board did it, but the board does help me hone in on what is important to me. Some things have not manifested, but the things that are becoming established this year may make them possible next year. I am able to watch these things ebb and flow, looking back on dream boards from years ago. I can see what I didn't vision properly, but thats okay because it was just a place holder, and i know that now. I remember wanting to be be able to visit a spa more often; I put a picture of a spa, but what happened was that I opened my hypnotherapy practice in a spa. I got to be in a spa a lot, but not for the reason I had put it on my dream board. I put to own my own home; I ended up owning my own condo that year, and losing it less than a year later. It happened, but I not as I expected it. There was no deliberate vision behind it. I wanted to be pampered; I wanted to own my home, not even so much for any good reason, but so I could say I did- neener neener. That is never the right attitude. And that was before I got sober. I was very ego based.
One day I hope to sit down to so a vision board and not even be able to put anything on it, for having had it all realized- not materially, but for all the basics to be satisfied- family, security for my children, a home for them with a backyard, a flourishing career that afford me the ability to give them the things they need, and a relationship to share it all with. From this place, my ability to be of service to others will be exponential; no longer in survival mode, I will be of maximum service. And that really can't be a vision board; its action, its love made real. Its work, which I love. In my old age (ha) I do not favor repose or leisure or shopping or the nightlife- family, work, service is the true key to the kingdom. I am still unsure what this will look like, if I will start a non-profit, or write a book, or open a shelter, but I'm just living in the spin, waiting for the Mystery to reveal the next step. trying to stay out of the Realm of the Senses and the Hell of Personality- and this alone is one of the greatest challenges. Its partly why I do this blog, to document the journey, and the miracles and roadblocks along the way.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Damn! This is so like life. I am constantly finding those self imposed limitations, and also constantly wondering about the ones I don't even know about. The most recent is in regards to finances. Since March of 2009, mine have been a hot mess. I was laid off of a really well paying job in the fashion industry and found myself in line for food stamps, selling vinegar at outdoor markets when I could, hosting poker parties (I sucked at this; I am not a flirt and it is a requirement), making jewelry and selling it at local stores, and making calls for a law office about class action law suits. Then I got a good gig doing a project that I was passionate about in December, which tanked two months ago before launching. All the while, my ex has refused to pay child support, and let me tell you, that child support would have been a huge help. It would be right now. And even with the project, its been a rough spell, since they only brought me on part time.
During this rough patch, more people than you can shake a stick at have come forward to help me. Its astonishing the love I have received from my dear friends and the people in the recovery community. I have survived almost entirely on miracles, and have learned that the net DOES appear when you leap. Now its time for me to be the net for some one else.
But still, there has been a self imposed limitation. A limitation I was not born with, one that I learned. I seem to constantly be struggling to make ends meet. Last month, when the project folded and I was given only half the pay check I was expecting, my power was shut off, and I didn't have the money to have it turned back on. I had just been hired at a new treatment center (ONE80) and my new boss heard of my predicament and he himself called the DWP and had it turned back on. I have never experienced an employer going to this length for me, much less on my third day of work.
But I could feel this code red in the financial area of my life, never having the entire rent, worrying about my car being repo'd, or having to neglect one bill to pay another, it was getting out of hand. Wtf?
I was given two almonds and told to put in my wallet by a new friend, who did not know of my financial woes, who said, "This will bring you prosperity." Another friend told me to say, every day, "Money comes to me quickly and easily, and it always has."
I did these things. But more stunningly, I started to notice the opportunities I was being given for a real paradigm shift.
When I was little, my dad impressed upon me his loathing for people with money. They were the enemy. This was mostly instigated by my mom's family. He came from a long line of railroad workers, while my mom's dad lived in a big house in Atlanta with a baby grand piano, a real zebra rug, and a library. My dad hated my mom's family and made no effort to conceal it.
My mom's dad had a daughter who was one month older than me- my aunt. We played together a lot when we were kids; when we were littler, the money thing did not matter so much. Yes, it was hard to go to her big house and play in her big pink room that was almost as large as our apartment. But it wasn't until we were pre-teens that I began to really develop an inferiority about it. When I had one pair of Calvin Klein jeans from the Odds and Evens store and she had them in every style and color. When the shoes I wore for two years were finally replaced, my toes curled painfully inside them, were 4 sizes smaller than the new ones that fit, and she had a closet full of barely worn, correctly sized, shoes. It began to take its toll, and I could see why my dad would hate the wealthy, especially in our position. What else could one really do? And so that thing took root in me; reverse snobbery. The rich were the enemy. My enemy.
I've always enjoyed my bohemian sensibilities and have been really good at convincing myself that I do not want too much in life. I've had my moments, where I have found the perfect YSL boots for $1500 and curled up in fetal position for days for want of them. Not really, but I thought dramatic effect would help get the point across. Whenever I wanted something 'out of my league', it always felt terrible, and made me despise the people who could afford that stuff even more. SO I tried not to want stuff, and made a game out of making sure my whole outfit didn't cost more than $100 all together. I made it be MY choice. And its been kinda fun.
I last saw my aunt when we were 14; there was some family drama following the death of my grandfather and that ended it. She has always stood as the beacon that shone the light on my state of lack. As much as I loved her, I couldn't stand that all those lovely things came to her so easily. But what happened to her was not lovely- she lost her father when she was 18, then her brother in the same year at 21, and many years later, her husband and the father of their two little girls. Her life has been filled with tragedy. I've thought of her often, and was sad for her losses, but we didn't speak.
Fast forward to now; I find myself working in a treatment center that is filled with people who come from that world of privilege. 20 year olds driving range rovers, 19 year olds looking to invest a half a million in something or going to their dad's yacht off Ibiza...these are the very people my father warned me about. And how absolutely perfect that I should be in that situation. Because what I have learned is this- compassion. I have learned that it is so easy to have compassion for a homeless person, sleeping on a bus bench. Their condition is obvious. But these people- they have the same state of squalor inside, although their outsides are so perfectly packaged and pampered. they are just as deserving of compassion as the homeless.Of course, not all people of privilege have this condition of spiritual emptiness, but for me, being around these people who are given everything and feel like nothing were exactly what I needed to undo the spell that was cast on me when I was young. They are not the enemy. These people have become very dear to me, and I care about their well being and their future. I can't even understand now how I, a great lover of humanity ,could have overlooked the fact that the rich are people, too.
As I was watching Pretty in Pink with my kids, it really struck me how that division is created- Molly Ringwald and Ducky hated the rich as well, as it flew in the face of the poverty they lived in. Hating the rich was not only sanctioned but encouraged by pop culture. She had to overcome it in order to be with that sparkly eyed guy with the pouty lips, and so did he, for love to prevail.
And for love to prevail, so did I. I feel a huge relief. And I know that this is a big piece of my self imposed limitation that has been keeping me from prospering. I had not applied love to it, and love cures everything. But there was still more. And that involved my Aunt, the two almonds, and the mantra mentioned above.
In the span of a week, I had gotten the almonds and the mantra, and had gone to work (was working very part time and for the least amount of money per hour I've made in years and years) and as brought on board to do some marketing stuff on the side, thus increasing my salary. Then I got a call that I had a check from a year ago at the store where I sold my jewelry. I kept saying that mantra. And then, in my mail box on facebook, there is my Aunt, whom I have not spoken to for 27 years. My best friend growing up and the source of so much angst. Now, in the midst of this spiritual shift, as it should be. She is a huge part of this and healing of this relationship is a big part of jumping out of the jar for me.
And yesterday at work, I am offered a full time job in a different department with a small increase in salary, as well as the outside marketing stuff. My income just doubled, a little more than that in fact. Its still not as much as I need, but the shift is happening, and its progress, because I know I will be making not only what I need, but more than that, enough to give my kids the things they need at their age that they are going without, and me too, for that matter. Best of all, I am doing what I love, with people I adore and respect and cherish like family.
I am always so astonished at the way God works. "Ask and you shall receive" isn't so much like Santa Claus, but more in the way of asking not for the thing but the ability to see why you are not able to see the opportunities that will bring that thing. We jump to low, we get tunnel vision, we rush right by our dreams. I ask to see the things I can not see that block me from my full potential as a human being, but also what human characteristics block me from my full potential as a spiritual being. I can't possibly know what I don't know, but I can ask to be illuminated. And then its my job to pay attention. To suit up and show up. To act out of principles. And own my own shit. And be open to waking up and waking up again, as often as it takes to become whole and complete and one with the divinely animated universe.
The dialogue between me and my Aunt has commenced, and I don't know the outcome, but to reconnect at this time, exactly now in this paradigm shift, has healed much. And it isn't terribly far fetched to imagine that was her exact role in my life, critical to my own soul's development, and the whole reason we didn't talk for 27 years- so that her re-surfacing right now, so synchronistically, would be dramatic enough to shock me into a whole new level of consciousness and awe.
I am not less than (or more than) her, nor is anyone less than me (or more than) me. And perhaps I am to fulfill some part of my destiny with her right now, some missing link that will illuminate her journey in a new way. I don't know. But God assembled quite a few players to impress a new mode of thinking upon me, and I am grateful. From Alex and Berni and Justin at ONE80, to my Aunt, to Napoleon who suggested i say that mantra and invite wealth into my life, to J who gave me the almonds for prosperity ALL in the matter of three weeks, to my family and their drama that tore my aunt and I apart for so long, to my dad who gave me his legacy to begin with- all of this so I could see more clearly,
They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I am finding that when I am ready to accept it, the people who have brought about the most discomfort in my life have been my teachers all along. It isn't the teacher that appears, its the student who appears when we become humble enough to recognize the teachers. I have learned that I do not have any enemies. Nor am I an enemy to anyone. I have learned that its important to insist on illumination. I have learned that love is the antidote for all darkness. And, oh yeah, money comes to me quickly and easily and always has. And always will. Word!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Something this week that was meaningful to me was referred to as 'corny' by someone else. That same person also referred to the hobbies he had as a child, that he still loves to this day, as 'nerdy'. Things such and building models, reading, studying the dictionary. Quiet activities.
So I started thinking about this. The whole concept of 'corny.' Its a judgement, first and foremost. But a judgement of what? Usually things that are so fraught with significance that its obvious, and therefore embarrassing. We can not stand for anything to be blatantly sentimental. Billy Joel has a whole song about trying not to mess with a tender moment; it gets intense and he wants to do something to defuse it, say something silly or screw it up somehow. So now we seem to be programmed to avoid doing something that could be deemed 'corny', and that is pretty much anything where we let our guard down or say something sentimental that might not look cool.
I can't help but reflect on all the times in my life that i have wanted to say something entirely sweet or loving to someone, and, out of complete fear that it isn't reciprocated, or deemed corny and looking foolish, clammed up and said nothing. Fear! How much of my life has been dictated by fear? How many choices did I make to avoid being uncomfortable? Too many. I once couldn't fathom taking a risk of that magnitude. Now, I can't fathom not.
As for nerdy, yet again there is another judgement word for past times that are not deemed cool. Not deemed cool by who? I'm not really sure who makes these decisions. Perhaps any past time that involves solitude, or thinking, anything academic as opposed to ego serving, like shopping or doing drugs or making out, or which are not considered that which magnifies your gender's most obvious aspects- competitive sports, or cars or cheerleading. I am referring to high school because we carry those labels, and the fear of those labels, into our adult lives.
As my beautiful friend sat there, peacefully building models with his sons, he called it 'nerdy.' He said, "I used to love all this nerdy stuff when I was a kid." And I thought, well, no, I actually said, "No effing way, this is a valuable, quiet past time when alone, and something your sons will remember always. Its not really nerdy. Its fun and relaxing, isn't it? " And he was like, "Oh, yeah, you're right." And I was right, because he looked content. Moreover, he is showing his boys that its okay to have hobbies that allow for using hands, crafting, sitting quietly- no computer, no hoopla, just focusing on a project. That is missing in our culture- so much emphasis on interaction, and showing off that the value of focusing on a project or learning because one loves to learn in one's spare time is mostly lost. And just that one word- NERD, helps shut people out of that arena for fear of being judged. It got me to thinking about my childhood, spending so much time alone, reading all the time, building houses out of boxes and mud huts for crickets...nerdy. And suddenly I don't want to fight the label anymore. I want to embrace it. Emancipate it. Re-appropriate it. I AM A NERD. I AM A CORNY NERD!
I am a nerd. And I am corny. Because I will no longer be afraid to leave a tender moment alone, will not fear being vulnerable (or, if I do, I will just have to climb over it and stay present and take risks in spite of the fear), and I will embrace the quiet activities and solitude that nourish my soul and make me better company. It seems silly to have spent years avoiding these things because of labels concocted by pimply teenagers. Its crazy to me how we live at the behest of others, always seeking approval, always shrinking to fit the situation. But it is learning to identify the bars of the cages we build that is the challenge, and love is the thing that melts the obstacles that kept us small. There is nothing else more worthwhile than becoming more authentic, and more available to others. The process of self discovery is easily the most epic journey. It is what the old fairy tales meant by the slaying of dragons. Its why the dragons always needed virgins- the dragons of our psyche devour all our innocence and leave us trembling in fear. The hero's journey takes place inside. As they say, the longest and most epic journey one can take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.
Monday, August 30, 2010
For those of you who are not in recovery, that means I dreamt of drinking. I have committed to a life of abstinence from mind altering substances, and having a dream about using is akin to a nightmare for me.
In it, I was in a meeting of some sort, something like Landmark Forum, which is all about smashing the ego and reprogramming the computer. I left to get a snack from the kitchen and found some sort of vanilla whiskey in the cupboard (yuck, right?) and I drank it. And I drank more. A friend of mine asked me why I was slurring, and I was shocked that it was evident- I thought I was maintaining my composure. I went back to the meeting area, and I noticed that instead of water in the water cooler, there was milk, and everyone was drinking milk in plastic cups.
And then, of course, I was full of remorse and dreading standing up as a newcomer. Having 3.5 years, I felt the full weight of losing that sober time. And it wasn't even fun. It was incomprehensible, and I was fully aware of the insanity of the obsession.
It was good to have that dream. It really reminded me about the insanity of it. I also reminded me of how much effort it took to look like I wasn't effed up- its hard to try to look like you are straight when you aren't. Its a life of total denial and dread. Its terrible! And that was my life foe many many years.
I loved how the people were all drinking milk- I see it as the milk of human kindness. It was right there, available to everyone, and I walked right by it. Its always there, in abundance. I can't forget that. What a nightmare; I never want that again. Moreover, I don't want it for anyone. Ever. I am devoted to holding the torch for others; recovery and sobriety have given me a full, rich, fun, sexy, and satisfying life. In using, I am bound for jails, institutions, or death. In sobriety, I can have any life I want. Its all possible.
This blog is all about the miracle of life- whether you are in recovery or not. I hope you join and suggest to friends!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
In sobriety, I unearthed this plaque during one of my archeological expeditions in my storage. I laughed at my own expense, but then it hit me. We use words like repent or amend without ever really looking them up, and I have learned in sobriety not to simply assume that my version of anything is THE version, the only version. When I do that, then I am disappointed when the rest of the world does not act in accordance. So, I looked it up.
re·pent 1 (r-pnt)v. re·pent·ed, re·pent·ing, re·pents
To make a change for the better as a result of remorse or contrition for one's sins.
I had previously considered repent to be a state of being deeply, almost suicidally, sorry. And the whole saying- Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand- to mean, "you better be really, really sorry, cuz you're gonna die soon, mother f*cker!"
When I looked up the word repent, I realized how close it is to making amends. Not just to consider one's previous actions deplorable, but to take accountability and change them for the better of all. That altered everything for me. I realized, suddenly, what that plaque now meant, given the new information (bestowed on me in a moment of clarity and grace, allowing me to make the distinction between MY version of reality, and another possibility, which was infinitely more profound )...and it is this-
"When you realize the error of your ways, and set about making them right, then the kingdom of heaven IS at hand." Heaven here and now is available when we are able to repent, to make amends, to set the record straight. I personally don't believe in a heaven hereafter, or a hell down below, I believe it is right here, right now. And when we live right, we experience the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Even if you are not in recovery, this is a spiritual truism that affects us all. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
In one program of recovery that applies an amends process, that requires that we clean up the shame and guilt our past, it says "you will be amazed before you are half way through. You will understand the word serenity, and you will know peace." When we seek the people we have harmed and set the record straight, clean up the wreckage and own our part in it, we heal our little corner of the world. And the more of us that do it, the more we heal the entire world.
For each of us that has gotten sober and made amends, I like to think of all the hurt that has been transformed. Thousands of people, maybe even millions, healed by the power of recovery. What happens in recovery doesn't stay in recovery; it ripples out into the masses and creates a better planet overall. That is why I like to call it a movement; its growing and expanding, affecting many people who are not having trouble with addictions, changing music, art, literature, movies with its message of hope. Recovery is light in a dark world. Its a force to be reckoned with, its truth and healing and love...and if that isn't heaven on earth, I don't know what is.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I was once told, when I was young, that a writer at 20 is 20, but a writer at 40 is a writer. I didn't believe it then, that experience shapes the words, and not the other way around. But the proof is always embedded firmly in the pudding.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Last night, I was sitting on my balcony talking to my good friend Laura. I have a very good view of the night sky from my spot, compromised somewhat by the city lights and some other impediments that prevent a full view. I just happened to be looking up as I was talking to my homegirl, and to my surprise, a ball of white light came shooting across the sky and exploded into a small bright blue fower and vanished.
its so funny that when I have gone looking for such things, I never see them. And yet when I am not looking and least expect it, I get not just a shooting star but a whole explosion. I wish someone had been there with me; you kind of want to look at someone and confirm that you just saw what you saw. My room mate came home and said it was incredibly good luck to see something like that. If so, dear readers, then you will be the first to know. Sometimes just being told to expect good luck is enough to make it happen. With that being said-
A MIRACLE IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. Yes, I am talking to you, I know that something good is going to happen- so just hang on through the rough patches and keep your eyes peeled. Good things are coming!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon... I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Like in the movie Inception, each level down into dreams gets closer to the subconscious, that spooky realm where everything lives- every memory, fear, hope, desire, every dream and nightmare- all swirling in a cauldron of you, and the collective, which is all the yous you have ever been, all conspiring to both help you attain another level, and also fail. Ego lives here. And so does soul.
I find these metaphors, pedestrian though they might be, sufficient enough to stand in for universal themes. There is a verbal roccoco and frothy emotionally sentimental way of decorating concepts about love, but I prefer to ground it all in moe palatable terms, and to investigate the phenomenon rather than be run over by it, puzzled and spinning.
First, there is the initial thrill of the first level, the falling, at first seeming effortless and almost beyond choice because the game sucks you in and allows many small victories to encourage you onward. “I got this,” we think, suckers that we all are. Then, BAM, next level, suddenly the stakes are higher, if you lose then all those snazzy points you worked for are gone, and moreover you want that feeling of mastery again, that exuberance that is so satisfying that so quickly departed upon entry to the next level. But new skills are required. (And I think most people stay in the first level, they don’t want to bring what it takes to go to the next, they want to continue in what they know and understand, and thus the curse of the human condition. Fear of what comes next, desire for what must be given up)
What happens is that the new skills are developed on that level, more quarters thrown in the video game (OG) to go back over and over again to learn what needs to be learned to master the second level. It gets tedious sometimes, frustrating. “How do I navigate this?” “I didn’t see this one coming.” “I can’t take this, I suck at this, I give up.” “I can’t give up. I want to see whats next. I want to be good at this.” “Fuck this.”
Then, the next level is attained, and falling, again. And even with the elation and the glorious ache of it, there is knowing that it heralds a new level, and new skills, and deeper trust. It gets closer to the subconscious, no longer content to frolic in shallow water. The subconscious, where archetypes roam, where a universal language is spoken and immortal dialogues take place in the primordial ooze of all potential, where everything we know and everything we don’t know we know waits to be discovered.
What strikes me as odd is the consensus that anything is really real. In the sense that we mostly take for granted that we live in a solid, static, predictable world that does its own thing and we just try to fit in the best we can. The fact for me is that it is all a divine exchange, constantly creating situations that challenge the spirit, spirit constantly creating situations that challenge the soul, the darkness trying to get us to believe that there is only this and nothing more- it is the intent of the dark side, absolutely; it is it’s only job, and it never sleeps. It never tires. It is not only as smart as we are, it has us believing, too often, that it IS us. We carry it inside us, and listen to its voice and act on it as if that was our own thought. It wants to lead us into darkness. Away from the light. It wants us to believe the lies and the hype, to keep us from the truth. Because, I think, there is no reward if there is no struggle. The more we go towards the light, the more we master the levels, the more intense the game gets. Darkness gets more clever, more crafty, more cunning. It has to; as we get to new levels, so does it, right along with us. But without that, we would not get the the level of soul mastery that will allow us to be what we were truly meant to become. Transcended. Pure harmony. One with God, which, in effect, means we are God, we become God again, on a soul level. There is nothing more important, and yet so few realize this. This is why we are here. Not to be distracted until death by personality. To come to God through principles.
Love is this. To be loved is amazing, but to love is the key to all the levels, it’s the magic coin that gives special powers in the invisble realm where all the work takes place. Not just romantic love, but where else is anyone so challenged on such a personal note? Who else but our beloved will bring out every deep seated insecurity, every trust issue, every conceivable character defect? All these tools of the darkness, attempting to prevent the soul from reconnecting with the source, are in full force in a relationship. And maybe one of the most decent concepts that get lost in the idea of commitment (in that most people fear commitment more for what they lose access to once they are all in) is the idea that you have agreed with another person to go the distance, to go as deep as you can go, to continue to do battle with the darkness that is brought up in the relationship; in effect, you are a team, working towards the most spiritual level of all- where God in me connects with God in you, and allowing a sacred space for that to exist, a new world, which can only happen inside a relationship. There is so much to distract from this; the shallow diversions of the ego- desire, the handiest tools of the darkness, like catnip, so easy to divert an individual from the real work. And fear, the other handy tool. Its hard to survive this- Darkness weilding its power tools, desire and fear, running amok in a new relationship, trying to destroy the divine spark. And not just any Darkness, The Darkness. Tailor made for you. Stamped with your own seal of approval. Your very own ego.
Then there is the soul which wants nothing less than ecstatic return to God. It is like a piece of God inside that throbs with a great longing to be reunited with its lover. And so it does also love love, because God is there inside the other if the obstacles can be overcome. The soul is The Lover, and the Darkness is so able to take that soul longing for God and cunningly fill it with desire for other things to satiate it- material posessions , ambition, addictions, obsessions- like giving a screaming baby a pacifier when it wants its mother’s soft nipple and milk. Eventually it accepts the substitute because the same motions are present. We are so lucky in AA, at least, to have access to another level, to reunite with the soul and recognize the Ego as having fooled us, allowing us to take a sincere yearning for a spiritual experience and warp it with toxic substitutes. The gentle Soul, lifetime after lifetime, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. Love is the great battlefield of triumph over evil, in its best and most pure aspect. Oddly enough, this is never even really seen topside. As if the relationship takes place above the water, while dragons are slayed and wars are waged invisibly just below- ancient combat, immortal victories and epic defeats. And on the surface, we are going to dinner, fucking, talking, texting. Rarely realizing what lies below the surface. As above, so below. And vice versa. Life is but a dream. But love is the alarm clock.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Lately I am on fire with ideas. I know, I KNOW that they are all gestating, waiting to bloom; these do not feel like the ideas that you have and then just sit on, maybe talk about over coffee one day. These are ideas about healing, recovery, education, values, relationships, empowerment- about how to take a non profit and make in such a way that it doesn't have that 'non-profit' look to it- you know what I mean? So many non profit companies really look like they are doing it on a shoe string. If I were to do a website to empower women about making choices by understanding how their value system is constructed and possibly needs demolishing and rebuilding, or to identify if they are victims of psychological abuse,o r if they are trapped inside mediocrity of experience due to limiting belief systems- then I would want to use directors who could make small movies that convey the subtleties and the complexity of self discovery and being a survivor. I would want to have amazing interviews with strong women who are fighting the good fight and want to teach others how to be organic, authentic women. I would want it to be, well, cool, for want of a better word. I would want women who need to be reached to want it once we find them, not a website that is decked out like an institution, with royal blues and clouds and italicized serif fonts. I think healing and recovery can be packaged differently with the same content- if you put Yoohoo in a can it would still be the same Yoohoo, right?
I also want to find a way to propose a bill to include a new sort of class in the public school system, one that teaches values and self esteem, what it means to be human, self discovery, boundaries, identity, respect. These are things that used to be taught at home, but its a different world now, and families, even really good ones, are lacking in that nuclear way. I think the future of the country is in jeopardy if the value system that is in place with most kids will be the prevailing (and entropic) value system- and this will be handed down to their kids, and it will continue to corrode- it does not bode well. If we can get to them now, then there will be less need for non-profit treatment centers, abortion clinics might go out of business, the abuse hotlines will need fewer phone operators, suicide-rape, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, violence, you name it, will be, not eradicated, but curtailed. If this was in ALL public schools, every single one, in every single grade, as part of the curriculum.
Moreover, I am also interested in taking recovery to the next level. My recovery is undergoing that transformation; I need it. I love the program, and the steps, sponsoring, fellowship; I love everything about the 12 Step program of AA. I owe it my life and will continue to be active in it one day at a time. But there is more. That isn't all. Now that I am sober for a little while, I need newer, deeper, more profound spiritual experiences. I don't know what exactly, because spirituality is such a personal issue for me, and I am not interested in borrowing someone else's, lock , stock, and barrel. The next level for me will involve social experiments (like giving away money at freeway exit ramps or getting a group together and walking around hugging strangers- we'd ask first, of course...) but the purpose of which would be to not only give me a brand new experience, and allow me to see the looks on peoples faces, but also allow the people to have a moment of pure delight, wonder, surprise- to allow them, even if just for a second, to light up the nerve receptor sites of delight, because the more that is lit up the more likely it is to again, as the nerve receptors build relationships. I'd like for people to want to have that feeling again, because it is fresh and pure and spontaneous, and there is nothing bad about that. Its almost childlike. (not to be confused with childish.) I would like to video tape these antics and show them on a website so even more people can experience the joy second hand- Like the Bhoddisatva in the Metro clip on youtube- good humor, is contagious. I am happy that it is, and I want to infect as many people as possible. Laughing, smiling, delight, wonder- all these are spiritual experiences. For the time they are present, we are in the moment, we are not self conscious. Its healing. Its like a magical elixir- the ecstatic state that Jung says is a necessary state for human beings, and if we don't get those experiences in positive, legitimate ways, we will seek them out in negative ways, like drugs and alcohol. And if people crave ecstatic experiences in legitimate ways through outrageous compassion and spiritual rambunctiousness, then that opens up a whole new door for a whole lot of people. It creates the desire to wake that up in others. And the more people want to encourage awakening in others who walk around in a trance, self obsessed and myopic, the better chance we have to stay connected to God consciousness, not just for an hour or a 10 minute meditation, but all day, every day.
And I still want to show people that life in recovery is anything but bland or boring, like we had planned to do with the now defunct 247 Recovery Channel- that in truth it opens the whole world up to you on several different levels. Its hard to know that when you are using, because you aren't even aware of the full range of feelings available to a sober person. You can not imagine what a spiritual high is, or a pink cloud, or the feeling when you have been of service to someone, or spoken at a meeting, or when someone says, "I trust you."
Finally, I want to start talking about the sacred space that a relationship is, that marriage is not an outdated concept, its the ideas we have about it that need an overhaul. Trust me, three months ago I would never have said such a thing; but I have come to realize that we all carry God within us, and when we unite in relationship and marriage, its also God re-uniting, and the space that is created IS sacred. And a child being born into that sacredness is in the lap of God. There are a lot of details that distract us from the truth of this, a lot of ego and fear and confusion about what the role of a man and woman truly is in these modern times, but its really one of the most spiritually profound journeys, and worth living for. It isn't really looked at like this now- in fact, what I am proposing sounds old fashioned, but it only sounds old fashioned in a modern world with a weak value system. Very few people are happy in their relationships; if they are, its new. And very few people are truly happy single. None of my girlfriends are happy; they are having a terrible time dating men who got used to how low women, as a rule, set the bar for a man. They get away with murder while we sit staring at our phone. I thought the idea was the empowered, emancipated woman? I've recently been hearing a few girlfriends say, "Er, no. You can pull the panties out of your ass and grow up. Its not cute anymore. You can not only make a choice, but stick to it. thats commitment, and I am not interested in anything less. Call me when you grow a pair." This isn't hard ass- this is a woman valuing herself. And no man will unless we do first.
Then there is the intellectual aspect of the quantum world, which is, for me, absolute proof of the Divine Order of things. I can hardly be afraid of anything in a world so beautifully constructed, and so dependent on the observer to exist. There is the science of the cells, the receptor sites and neuropeptides, which are fascinating and answer a lot of the questions about behavior in terms of how we all are addicts- we ALL become addicted to certain feelings and experiences and continue to recreate them to satisfy the cravings on a cellular level. If you think you are heavy set in your physique, for example, if that is all you talk about, then you are addicted to the feeling that produces, you are looking for situations in which that negativity will be reflected back to you so you can talk about it more, create more scenarios, and perpetuate your deep seated craving for that negative experience. You will stare longingly at clothes you think you can't wear and detest others who have figures you admire. And your whole world becomes reduced to this, forms around it, and defines the quality of your life experience. This stuff fascinates me, it stimulates new thought in me and allows me to have a new experience when I am able to understand that I have a HUGE struggle in front of me always to liberate myself from my own programming. I want to create a forum for this sort of dialogue, an internet salon, a place to share the new bits of scientific data we are exploring that open the eyes up to new possibilities, and dismantle old structures and habits that no longer serve us.
I have a lot to do. I have no idea how, but that is none of my business. Yet. The next step will be revealed. What I do know is that the more of a community there is, the more that people are interested in these same things, the more likely they are to happen, and on a grand scale. I know that the people with money who believe that these things must exist will come forward until other funding can be made available through grants or non profit fund raising. I learned in the 247 Recovery Community project that the energy that flows through a community makes a movement, and the enthusiasm of that movement is also infectious, and begins to lift off and takes on a life of its own, above and beyond the original seed project. I believe that its time for a new spiritual movement that is hip and fun, ecstatic, empowering, sexy, relevant, healing, helpful, connecting, thought provoking, inspiring, and accessible.
In the midst of my financial struggles right now (oh, and are they truly challenging currently, to a degree that is almost comical- the word 'ghetto' gets tossed around a lot to describe how I am getting by right now) and relationship uncertainties, kids who are becoming teenagers and an ex husband who wont pay child support and want me 6 feet under, I get to have thoughts like these. Marianne Williamson says that the trick is to have 'immortal' thoughts in the mortal world. Mortal thoughts are the worries and fears and plans and schemes and details and hurrying and list making....I don't have room for those thoughts. In my old ways, I would be consumed with fear and anger and more fear and worry, I'd probably be on my way to a strip club to make money. But now I know that everything is happening exactly the way it is supposed to happen- in fact, this whole blog would not exist, these thoughts are exactly a manifestation from recent experiences, seemingly 'hard times', that allowed new thoughts to emerge. There is never a pearl without first there being an irritation that creates a thing of beauty. It is always from the seed of discontent that new hope springs.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
One of the most basic ideas of the Sufis is that man is asleep in this world. He experiences only illusion instead of reality, because is caught up in a vast waking dream. His whole life is a dream.
In order to approach the Sufi Way, the Seeker must realize that he is a bundle of what are nowadays called conditionings,- associative thinking, which is a completely automative process fed by outside stimuli. This realization can be arrived at by the use of those disciplines which have been tradtionally used in the West, and which are called Introspection and Retrospection. If these disciplines are followed long enough one reaches the point where one has strengthened the retrospective memory sufficiently that one can be aware of and follow the inner stream of thought. One can then arrive at a realization of the completely automatic process at its basis. For example, you are riding along on a bus and think of someone you have not thought of for years. You trace the stream of your thought backwards and see that you passed a billboard which had something on it that started the stream of thought which eventually led you to think of that particular person.
Let me give an example so this will be clearer. Some years ago I was driving home from where I worked in Washington, D.C. I was listening to the radio as I drove. Every few minutes the music would be interrupted to give an advertisement for a sports supply store near Baltimore. In this advertisement the phrase "Backrack Raissonne on the Beltway" was frequently repeated.
I drove home, and when I got there I sit down to read a book. After I read for awhile I got up to get a glass of milk. Just as I reached in the refrigerator to get the carton of milk the phrase "Backrack Raissonne on the Beltway" flashed into my mind. I didn't give it any thought. I poured my milk and sit down to read again. After awhile I decided I wanted another glass of milk. I went to the refrigerator, and reached in again for the carton of milk. The phrase "Backrack Raisonne on the Beltway" flashed into my mind again. That this had happened twice just as I reached into the refrigerator for the milk carton was too curious to ignore. I stopped to analyze the situation, and I saw immediately what had happened.
The carton of milk was sitting on the BACK of the RACK in the refrigerator. The mechanical associative functioning of the conscious mind, plus its pre-programming by the repeated hearing of the phrase on the radio advertisement, added to the act of seeing the carton of milk on the back of the rack in the refrigerator had been sufficient to trigger the phrase twice almost as if it had been a post hypnotic suggestion. The automatic, associative functioning of our mind works in this fashion all the time. We are machines, although normally the light of our consciousness is so dim we are not aware of this automatic associative process which takes place hundreds of times each day.
The letters on this page are another example. Try to look at them and see merely the characters without being aware of the associated letters and the words. From years of reading, the automatic associative process has been programmed into your mind. It is now extremely difficult for you to penetrate behind this screen of conditioning to the state of pure perception. Your mind during all of your daily life is trapped in an analogous associative thinking web like a fly caught in flypaper. This prevents your mind from operating in what should be its natural state, the state of pure perception. The mind of children normally operate in the state of pure perceptions until they are six or seven. At this point a number of pernicious factors kick in (the main one being our education system) which operate to degrade the consciousness into the travesty found in adults.
from the website - http://www.sirbacon.org/mshrew.htm, about the use of Sufi-ism and the layers of awakening in the play, The Taming Of The Shrew by Sir Francis Bacon
Monday, July 26, 2010
You gotta have soul
By Tom Robbins
Mental Bungee-jumping may not be your sport of choice, but there’s a cerebral ledge that sooner or later each of us has to leap off. One day, ready or not, we glance in a mirror, cuddle an infant, attend a funeral, walk in the woods, partake of a substance Nancy Reagan warned us to eschew, chance a liaison, wake in the night with a napalm lobster in our chest, read a message from the pope or the Dalai Lama, get lost in Verdi or lost in the stars – and wind up thinking about our soul.
Yes, the soul. You know what I mean.
Popular culture to the contrary, the soul is not an overweight nightclub singer having an unhappy love affair in Detroit. Nor, on the other hand, is it some pale vapor wafting off a bucket of metaphysical dry ice. Suffering, low-down and funky, seasons the soul, it’s true, but bliss is the yeast that makes it rise. And yet, because the soul is linked to the earth (as opposed to spirit, which is linked to the sky), it steadfastly contradicts those who imagine it a billow of sacred flatulence or a shimmer of personal swamp gas.
Soul is not even that Cracker Jack prize that God and Satan scuffle over after the worms have all licked our bones. That’s why, when we ponder – as, sooner or later, each of us must – what exactly we ought to be doing about our souls, religion is the wrong, if conventional place to turn.
Religion is little more than a transaction in which troubled people trade their souls for temporary and wholly illusionary psychological comfort (the old “give it up in order to save it” routine). Religions lead us to believe the soul is the ultimate family jewel, and, in return for our mindless obedience, they can secure it for us in their vaults, or at least insure it against fire and theft. They are mistaken.
If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It’s a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.
To one degree or another, everybody is connected to the Mystery, and everybody secretly yearns to expand the connection. That requires expanding the soul. These things can enlarge the soul: laughter, danger, imagination, meditation, wild nature, passion, compassion, psychedelics, beauty, iconoclasm, and driving around in the rain with the top down. These things can diminish it: fear, bitterness, blandness, trendiness, egotism, violence, corruption, ignorance, grasping, shining, and eating ketchup on cottage cheese.
Data in our psychic program is often nonlinear, nonhierarchical, archaic, alive, and teeming with paradox. Simply booting up is a challenge, if not for no other reason than that most of us find acknowledging the unknowable and monitoring its intrusions upon the familiar and mundane more than a little embarrassing.
But say you’ve inflated your soul to the size of a beach ball and it’s soaking into the Mystery like wine into a mattress. What have you accomplished? Well, long term, you may have prepared yourself for a successful metamorphosis, an almost inconceivable transformation to be precipitated by your death or by some great worldwide eschatological whoopjamboreehoo. You may have. No one can say for sure.
More immediately, by waxing soulful you will have granted yourself the possibility of ecstatic participation in what the ancients considered a divinely animated universe. And on a day to day basis, folks, it doesn’t get any better than that.
By Tom Robbins Esquire, October, 1993=