Gratitude for All Good Things

While dealing with the every day requirements of sheltering in place during the covid19 threat, lately I have come to realize how, for myself, I find I have much to be grateful for.  An attitude of gratitude helps me to tip the proverbial glass from almost empty to somewhat full.

I am grateful for my current state of good health, knowing that for all of us, that is not to be taken for granted.  My state of health allows me to be here for my home family of Sophie (my Shorkie dog), and Emily, my cat, who depenf upon me for their own wellbeing.

I am grateful for my family and friends and for keeping in contact with them day by day.

I am grateful for Love. I perceive Love to be the very fabric of the universe that connects all to one another in all planes of Being and to the Divine, always.  Whatever happens, Love is here and now.  Fear can cast a shadow over our perception of Love but if we can remember to turn our hearts to give and to receive divine love, the light can shine through to dispel the shadows.

I heard a doctor quote from Mr. Rogers the other day: “In times of darkness there are always the Helpers.”  I am grateful for the Helpers, whether health care professionals, compassionate politicians, neighbors and friends, and service workers who deliver supplies and services to those quarantined or staying home.  So quickly have these Helpers become mobilized to serve others in ways unprecedented on the planet Earth.

images are gratefully from pixabay.com

What are you most grateful for today? If this question has become a difficult one for you to consider or to answer because your circumstances may seem anything but fortunate right now, of course I honor your feelings and you are entitled to be where you are at.  Whatever you are experiencing may divine love reach you, bringing some comfort to you and your loved ones.

May the Blessings Be!

For the Good of the Whole

 

What times we have found ourselves mucking around in these days! A global pandemic such as we have not encountered, certainly in America anyway, since the 1918-21 flu epidemic.  As this year’s theme for this blog site is about “Building Bridges,” I feel it is worth noting that underneath the terrible situation we are still trying to get a handle on collectively as well as individually for ourselves and our families, there are some potentially positive undercurrents.

When faced with a common fear or enemy, there can be a unification of otherwise factionalized groups.  We can put aside our differences and come together to share our insights and our resources, our best practices and our compassion, for the Good of the Whole.

May it be so!

I am finding my neighbors are reaching out to each other, checking in on each other to see what may be needed. Spiritual classes that cannot meet at a center or church are starting to occur by phone conference calls or by Skype or Facetime or Teams.  We have ample online resources now so that we can stay connected.  I have found I can order needed supplies and groceries via Instacart for a small fee; they will deliver to your door. Thank heaven for such services and that there are still goods and groceries available.

images are, gratefully, from pixabay.com

We are facing a common dilemma, together.  Hence we are already building bridges and sharing smiles (6 ft. apart!) as we go.  These are difficult times and many are facing peril.  Every single individual matters.  Hopefully we can lessen the dangers as far as possible, so long as we continue to serve the Good of the Whole.

Remember to Smile

 

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Life is precious.

Remember to smile.

Pets giving unconditional love.

Remember to smile.

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Family and friends, and few strangers now.

Remember to smile.

Birds singing Hu-u-u

Remember to smile.

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Sun in the Sky.

All is Love,

Remember, and Smile.

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images (except Sri Harold Klemp) from pixabay.com

 

When You Smile–Not Lost in Translation

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Hi everyone. I apologize for slowing down on blog frequency lately. I am teaching three classes online and trying to complete my next book manuscript (Better Endings!), so I have just been preoccupied.

This month’s theme continues our focus this year on “building bridges” and the theme (same as the title of this post) comes from an experience I had in high school that I have never forgotten. At a drama workshop I took part in an exercise.  One at a time, each student in a group of around ten was put in the center of a circle, with the rest of the group making the circle. The one in the center was to make a statement that they would keep making no matter how much those in the circle tried to override or interrupt the person.

The statement I used when it was my turn in the center was from Crosby, Stills and Nash:

When you smile at me I will understand,

because that is one thing everybody everywhere does

in the same language.

I persisted with this phrase for about ten minutes and gradually the rest of the group relented; they liked what I was saying! So did I.  This statement does carry a universal truth and maybe these days, with so much divisiveness and “tribalism,” we could certainly stand to remember this notion and remeber to SMILE with one another, regardless of anyone’s opinion or angle on ‘truth’ or reality.

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images are from pixabay.com

So that’s enough. This month, I aim to practice smiling more. Next time we can apply this to the conclusion of the story of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, which follows the life of the Buddha. Good reading if you are looking for a respite!

Sometimes the Magic Works–If We Let It!

After writing about finding common ground for my last post, I was musing about how that approach could be applied to the political quagmire surrounding the impeachment trial in America. It was the evening before the final vote in the senate. My insight was that if only both sides could agree on some common point at issue, maybe common ground could be forged and progress toward working better together might ensue. Just as I was musing so, I turned on the TV to breaking news: one moderate democrat senator was offering a compromise. He called for a vote of censure rather than removal of the president who has already been impeached by the congress.

Sometimes, the magic works!, was my thought as a common ground solution was at least being proposed. Whatever the result of such a measure would be, at least there was an attempt to move the debate process to a more centrist position.

The measure did not move forward to a vote,  and the final vote of senate for ‘acquittal’ was lodged almost entirely along “party lines.”   As such, a lack of achieving a common grounds discussion perpetuates diametrically opposed parties rather than an obvious (at least publically) dialectical, dynamic interaction.

Ah well. In order for polarized altercations to resolve, where common ground exists it can be helpful to meet there, but such ‘magic’ can only work when we allow it.

images are from pixabay.com

This principle is available to all!

 

 

Common Ground–Finding the Middle Path

This month’s prompt for contemplation is about finding Common Ground to help resolve conflict, relating to our year’s long theme of “Bridging the Divide.” Common Ground or the Middle Path requires meeting someone halfway with respect to a disagreement.  How? Looking for the shared common denominator in one another’s interests or goals is the key. Even though two people or two groups or parties even might seem to be impossibly divided, since we all share a common humanity, there must be a middle ground if only we are willing to find it.

This brings up the notion of a Dialectic. Yeats, whose poem on Words I shared last month, was a dialectical thinker. If you ever want to learn how, take a look at his rather obscure book A Vision.  There he describes the universe as “an egg, turning inside out without breaking its shell.” Or he describes two opposing gyres of thought or belief, bound together so that the minimal content of one gyre is located in the maximum expanse of the other; opposites instersect and coexist, as Hegel would also state. For example, the greatest objectivity implies some degree of subjectivity and vice versa. When you look at these two intersecting gyres constantly in motion though in opposite directions, what stands out is the CENTER, wherein both sides of an argument maximally overlap as the synthesis between thesis and antithesis.

It is the Center, the dynamic space between polarities, where Common Ground is fertile. It is full in its emptiness of opposition.

Apologies if I am waxing too philosophical but I aim to set the stage with this first of the four monthly posts on this topic. So one more step:

We live as physical beings in a dualistic universe of form and values: for every mountain there must be valleys; where there is darkness, so must there be light. Happiness and sadness, the good and the bad, heroes and villains, one side’s right as the other’s wrongdoings: such is the nature of what some would call the illusional matrix of human experience.

So, how can we meet in the Middle to find our way out of the Labyrinth? Finding the Center is always the key. Let’s say there are ten entry points to an actual labyrinth; where would we all meet up; yes, in the Center.

To reach that Center means to let go of tethers to one opposite polarity or the other. We must be willing to step forward, to enter the labyrinth, to LISTEN to another point of view. What is around the bend from that viewpoint? How can you bring yourself/ your own viewpoint, into that exploration without being caught up in a morass?

Openness and flexibility, and simple Acceptance of difference as well as commonality are needed; they are your tools in the labyrinth that can help you find your way back out, like the golden thread that Theseeus was given by Ariadne. There is a great mythic archetype: Theseus and the Minotaur. King Minos imprisoned Theseus’ brethren and was feeding them to the half-man/ half-bull Minotaur (the meeting point between civilized demeanor and animalistic instinct).  Theseus had to battle the minotaur at the center of the labyrinth, manos a manos. In defeating the animal he absorbed some of the brute strength and cunning of the beast and perhaps freed the monster of its animalistic prison. Only by his successful encounter could he earn and assume the rightful position of becoming king back in his homeland of Athens.

In a world of duality, struggle bears fruit.  It is only when we refuse to engage that all sides remain unenlightened.

images are from pixabay.com

Let’s see what examples we can apply this to this month!

 

A Better Endings Yeats Poem about Building Bridges of Understanding

Driving home from spiritual activities the other day a poem came to mind and I realized this poem is very appropriate to this year’s “better endings” theme of Building Bridges. It is a poem by William Butler Yeats, long one of my favorite poets, so much so that I memorized several poems from The Selected Works of W. B. Yeats when I was in my late teens and these poems continue to inform and nurture my life nearly 40 years later.  The poem is “Words.” Notice the Better Endings theme in Yeats’ effort to communicate effectively to his beloved:

 

From memory 1/19/20:

Words

By William Butler Yeats

I had this thought a while ago:

My darling cannot understand

What I have done or what would do

In this blind, bitter land.

And I grew weary of the Sun

Until my thoughts cleared up again,

Remembering that the best that I have done

Was done to make it plain;

That at length I could cry,

At last my darling understands it all,

Because I have come into my strength,

And words obey my call.

That had she done so,

Who can say what might have

Shaken from the sieve?

I might have thrown poor words away

And been content to live.

I can so relate; can you? I feel that building pathways of understanding is the very basis of human experience.  Whether through art, poetry, fictional narrative, memoire, or basic day-to-day conversation, through language and other expressive forms we communicate, either more or less effectively, and perhaps more or less in a reciprocal fashion as well. We listen and we share. Listening probably should always come first, even listening to our own thoughts as well as to what the other is truly sharing, so we can communicate truly, not just remaining stuck in our own ideas.

This is a key to unlocking schismogenesis or downward-spiraling discord, this month’s topic.  Communication, to be true, must forge a bridge of mutual understanding and mutual acceptance.

Maybe even Yeats could have added how his ardent desire to express himself fully to his beloved would benefit from listening well to what his beloved was also aiming to express to him. Communication is a two-way process, not one sided.

So, life is art, art is life. By that I mean, day to day we strive to express and to understand one anothers’ expressions.  As such we move forward, rather than being entrenched. As such we may yet proclaim, ‘Ahah!’ when we finally hear another’s thought or viewpoint as their art form, with genuine appreciation. Perhaps only by so doing may we overcome barriers to harmony and mutual growth in the human community.  Would that the political discourse of the day would share that better endings goal!

Confronting Schismogenesis: A Case in Point

And the world

Will be a better place

For you, and me,

Just wait and see!

Put a little love in your heart!

Week 2/3 of this first month of our annual theme of “Building Bridges.” This month I am focussing on Schismogenesis—Going for the Win-Win. Schismogenesis is when an argument becomes more and more schismatic or divided as people dig into their ‘side’ of a disagreement.  Well of course when I choose a topic, life always provides plenty of grain for the mill.

So, I have accepted a role as a member at large for my neighborhood Homeowners Association, standing in for someone who is relocating. As I step on board, the HOA is working on a policy to shift our neighborhood to a no rental policy over time.  My own input has led to a change in how that policy was being formulated, from a ‘quota’ system (a certain number of houses being allowed to be rented based on the current number) to a grandfathering approach, so that current homeowners can state their intent to rent now or potentially in the future and others can opt out immediately, then after the cutoff date (now passed), no new owners will be permitted to rent out their homes or rooms.

A couple of the owners are up in arms about the new policy, verbally haranguing the president of our board to the point of attacking her online in public neighborhood forums. It isn’t pretty. Most of the board members themselves and the majority of owners on the street filed their option to reserve their right to rent though they do not intend to do so. I find myself a bit bemused at how we can establish strict rules for new owners if we do not find those rules amenable to our own rights, although they did take an earlier survey that determined the majority favor a no rental community over time, so I continue to support a grandfathering approach. The opponents are trying to undermine the legality of the new policy and accuse the board president personally of lying or otherwise abusing her role.

So, here we stand, smack in the middle of the microcosm of a divisive society. My challenge, to myself alone anyway, is how to facilitate building a bridge to help resolve the growing feud?

What comes to mind are:

  • Honesty; and
  • Communication

Honest communication, “across the Board.” I do aim to stand up for a fair process for all, though I generally side with the board’s approach and find the president to be honest, forthcoming, diligent, and also aiming for fairness. I have made it clear to those engaged in verbal attacks online that I find their negative campaign distasteful and unethical, but I do want to understand their points of argument.

Sometimes I do not like my own tendency to sound too direct or assertive about my own ideas. I had a dream the other night wherein the president told me she refused to act if I were telling her what to do. So the next day, I walked over and told her about the dream. She laughed and said no, my ideas are welcome to her and she does not feel I have been too assertive. But that was one way to build a bridge anyway, one small step involving honest communication.

One of the opponents who has been canvassing me with his ideas claims he sees me as bringing a degree of ‘balance’ to the process. I believe that is because he simply has not targeted me with a negative bias as he appears to have done with the president. It feels like a power or control struggle on his part. The board president, for her part, has reached a point of stating her terms directly then standing back rather than continuing to react to the personal attack.

 

images are from pixabay.com

This little glimpse into the inner workings of one small neighborhood process has illuminated dynamics present in the much of the whole of modern society. For myself I find I need to be careful to remain as neutral and as attentive as possible while still supporting the organizational process going forward. If I cannot fulfill this role properly, I may need to walk away–down the road as the phrase goes–, to remain a detached though supportive neighbor.

A New Year of Better Endings: “Overcoming Schismogenesis–Go for the Win-Win.”

In America and the world today, I can think of no more helpful Better Endings topic than “Building Bridges,” so that will be the theme for the blog this whole year. Please see the Monthly Topics tab for our list of topics we will address.  Generally I will  introduce a topic on week one, then the next two weeks I will share my own and others’ stories pertaining to the topic, and week four I will present a Better Endings approach to the topic based om insights gained throughout the  month.

For January, let’s get started with the topic of: “Overcoming Schismogenesis–Go for the Win-Win.”

The insightful psychological anthropologist Gregory Bateson, in his book Steps To an Ecology of Mind, wrote about the psychological dynamic principle of schismogenesis. He explained this as being in effect when two people or two opposed groups of people get into an argument that becomes more and more heated, each side “digging in” more and more deeply to diametrically opposed or binary points of view. Each party in the argument holds to their truth as if it were absolute, insisting that the other’s point of view is patently false and unfounded.

“Fake news!” each might proclaim about their opponent’s ‘facts.’ The wedge widens with each new round of the argument. It is as if both parties or groups are inhabiting distinct ‘thought worlds’ that exist at polar-opposite or perhaps in parallel worlds of Reality.

Does this sound familiar? Try watching a left-leaning newscast then switch the channel to a right-leaning rendition of the same ‘news’ story. This polarizing of worldviews creates what is tantamount to a civil war of ideas, each side certain they are right because their side of the argument has become established over a long period of time and is reinforced by like-minded, equally entrenched folks.

It is probably nearly impossible to overcome schismogenesis by continuing to mount opposing arguments. Bateson suggests that the two parties, such as a husband and wife caught in such a headlock, should back off, separate for a time and agree to revisit the situation at a later date without holding to either of their original positions. They need to find a win-win solution that involves each side giving ground and compromising for the sake of preserving the deeper relationship.

images are from pixabay.com

What can we agree on? What do we both want apart from our differences? Is there a way we can build a bridge to arrive at a new, fusional sort of solution that meets the common goal even if we must sacrifice more partisan objectives?

Let’s construct a hyptothetical.  Spouses argue over whether to stay in and cook (one party to do the cooking) or going out (the cook wanting that option instead). Cost is involved; but the cook is tired from working all week too. Perhaps the solution is EITHER that they go out but to a less costly than usual restaurant and share the expense, or they have fun making a meal together, sharing the load.

So, try it out! Let me know if you are able to build a bridge in your own relationships. Go for the Win-Win and everyone gains!

A Shaft of Light, Beacon of Hope

Driving two mornings ago to Ithaca (NY), early morning on a crisp winter day, suddenly to the East I saw a single shaft of light streaming through hazy clouds. Like the lucky end of a rainbow, I thought, amazed at how this golden shaft of light, distinct and enduring, carved out a pathway from sky to ground (so I first thought), breaking through clouds and through the treeline just east of Lake Cayuga; like a portal, a straight avenue up to the heavens.

The mythical import of such a sign—which later I learned to call a “sun pillar”—struck me as a positive message. Ithaka is the home of Zeus and the Greek pantheon of gods atop Mt. Olympus, so as the poet Cavafy has brilliantly penned in his poem Ithaka (click on link to read), returning to Ithaka is a pilgrimage Home to our spiritual Source.

I almost did not take this drive. I was returning to Ithaca College to close out my office there from teaching online for the college this semester. But something prompted me to go, and to leave early morning from my new home an hour and a half or so away. I am so glad I did go, so I could witness this beacon of hope, for myself and perhaps for the world. From a Native American perspective this might signify the breath of a New Dawn, harbinger of a new cycle of growth and realization of spiritual fulfillment. Elahkwa! (Thanks!) might a Zuni person utter to the Creator for sending such a pillar of Light to fill the hearts of Its beloved children on Mother Earth.

We are never alone and ever loved. That message I share and bring forward for you.

Never before in this lifetime have I witnessed this celestial phenomenon of the Sun Pillar. But just as I pulled off the road to take a picture with my phone, the orange top crest of the Sun rose up into the shaft of light and climbed like an orange ball along the path of this golden shaft, up into the Sky. This, I realized then, was two days before the Winter Solstice and two days after the impeachment of an American president; it felt like a sign of hope, this singular stream of golden sunlight illuminating a passageway up from darkness into Light on this golden morning. The full, round orb of this brilliant Sol rose along its own trajectory upwards to rest in its height over serene Lake Cayuga.

images are from pixabay.com

Better Endings to All, and to all a Good Year!!!

Life is Good! Really, It Is!

We live in turbulent political times. Yet, life is Good. Regardless of material or social conditions, political opinions, or racial/ ethnic and religious divides, I affirm that all is well! This is more than a naïve, Pollyannish outcry from denial or vain hope. It is an appeal to Higher Grounds, higher consciousness.

Duality implies a Trinity, which includes the neutral, unifying Center. If we could but just lift our awareness above the fray, we must be in that Center in order to view a situation. That seems to be the optimal place to be of any true service to the whole.

Humor helps, being able to laugh at our own biased viewpoint and the “other’s” as well. Of course, some humor is targeted and mean, but humor can also relieve tension to allow a higher perspective.

So how about this for a mantra: Life is Good! Regardless of the weather or the stances people take in social media or on the news, Life IS Good!

Images are from pixabay.com

It is good to be alive, for those of us who are. Having recently “lost” two great friends to cancer, I realize how little any petty argument will matter once we fly free of the mortal coil into the great Beyond.

Grist for the Mill 

Because I derive a great deal of happiness through service, this month I am contemplating how best to proceed with the potential of service in my early semiretirement life. So far, about a year and a half in, I am quite active day to day. Teaching online and prepping a new course for the Spring, assuming an outreach role with my spiritual organization regionally, contributing as a member at large to my neighborhood housing association board, caring for my beautiful dog Sophie and cat Emily, writing, blogging, being active with family and friends, providing for the household and my home family; in short, I am very happy!

My brother at one time expressed the view that there are “producers” and then there are “servants” and that the former are inherently ‘better’ than the latter. I disagreed then, since teaching is my primary profession and teaching is most definitely a service role, and I love it! Now I see that service is a product in its own right. Service is a productive activity, not only supportive, and being supportive is a good thing too. It is not only about helping others, though I am happy to be of service in whatever capacity I can for another. It is about sharing from the foundation of accumulated knowledge and acquiring some measure of wisdom in the process; it is about giving, and giving back, to Life Itself, with love and gratitude.

Learning to be of greater service day by day provides grist for the mill, fuel for the dynamic expression of energetic outflow. That sounds rather lofty, yet simply expresses a dedicated sense of purpose. We breathe in and breathe out, every breath a divine energy of life. To receive and to give forth at least in equal proportion maintains balance, connection, and provides a grateful contribution to the Whole.

images are from pixabay.com

Building Bridges through Service: Introducing A New Year of Better Endings for Your Life Path

 

Every year in December or January since 2016 I have introduced a new, yearly Theme for this blog about how I or you might develop Better Endings in our lives. This new year, bridging over to it this month, I would like to focus this next year’s monthly topics around the theme of “Building Bridges.”

When I look at the society I live in today and our global experience as well, it appears that to achieve both our individual and collective Better Endings we could all benefit from exploring and putting into practice ways to address or build bridges between highly polarized viewpoints. Some say we are living in a “tribal” sort of culture in America today, and in many other countries as well. Whether this is a result of polarization in our access to social media and news perspectives or primarily through the increasing gulf between political party outlooks, allegiances and goals, we are exposed to conflicting viewpoints daily. I feel that this extrinsic polarity and factionalism can reflect and/or could threaten our internal psychological and spiritual sense of integration or harmony.  Our very selves, let alone our families and communities too, may be subject to a greater sense of inner conflict or fragmentation to the extent we allow this, because of the challenging times we inhabit.

So every month this year I will set forth to explore a topic relevant to the overall theme and goal of “building bridges,” aiming to develop some positive outlooks and practices that might help me or any of us to heal or to improve upon tensions that might arise because of a polarization of viewpoints.

Let’s get started. This month I would like to both close this last year’s quest for manifesting happiness and to open this new year’s probe of “building bridges,” via exploring the topic of “service.”

I find that service is one of the best ways for me to be immersed in being happy in the moment. The expression “In service is my reward” feels exactly true for me. Whether through teaching or writing or listening to a friend or even walking my dog, the aspect of giving love through any form of service lifts my spirits.

Isn’t it interesting how service builds bridges? In providing a service, all are served equally (or should be, of course).  Political divides nearly dissolve when I interact with students, even when we know each other to hold different positions outside of that connection.  Why?  I feel it’ s my responsibility to be respectful of all points of view with students, so I may be better able to listen to points of view I might otherwise react strongly to when it is a student voicing the viewpoint. Of course, if there is a radical or extreme viewpoint I am likely going to say something to make it clear I cannot agree, with a clear focus on facts from the topic I am teaching about, but even so I do aim to be respectful and to encourage the student to explain their position clearly.

In giving service it is perhaps more natural to assume an equality-based connection, what I like to call “Soul Equals Soul.” So the question becomes, how can I be of greater service to the whole even while I am a consumer by choice of biased news or charged information? This shall be my December focus in preparation for a year of Building Bridges as a Better Endings theme.

Centering

Lemur, Wildlife, Madagascar

My question of the month is about maintaining balance as a byway for sustaining happiness. Centering is a golden mean for establishing balance. This is widely recognized in athletics as well as in health and in the arts. “Holding your center” allows you to respond appropriately, even artfully, to any condition or situation. Meditation or active-imagination contemplation along with a regular practice of honing mastery skills can create a core condition of centeredness from which to act with deep awareness and with well-grounded intention.

My fencing friends—hi Ro and Michael!—know well where I am headed with this. As in most sports yet very explicitly for fencing, you must be centered in a balanced form to have the fluidity to advance or retreat, to defend as well as to establish and launch an attack, at will. As well, pulling an opponent “off center” is a paramount tactic for defeating their ‘game’ so you will control the pacing of the action yourself.

Agility, Ballet, Dancing, Athlete

Here is a contemplation seed that I have been reflecting on this month while considering the value of balance:

“Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

Is it true?”

(from Harold Klemp)

For those on the (and my) spiritual path of Eckankar, this is a standard practice, to consider these questions before expressing any thought, words, or action. If the answer to any of these questions is negative, it may be helpful to reconsider. I have succeeded and failed often enough depending on whether I have utilized these brakes, or not, in the moment. I find it brings patience and a higher viewpoint or greater wisdom, when I can pause enough to consider my actions with care.

I will add this week a record of a dream I had yesterday morning, as I see a balance theme hidden in it. I was being chased by a negative force, one main negative agent pursuing me and a friend along with several of the negative agent’s minions. This dream went through several scenarios, and I and my friend successfully evaded all attacks (including an attempted break-in, a violation of my personal space), until finally it had us cornered at a high cliff’s edge. As I looked back I could see several pairs of the negative force’s agents guarding any possible escape and closing in, with the central villain approaching to capture us once and for all!  I looked over the edge at the high drop, seeing that a leap into the void would likely mean instant death. But in the dreamscape this was preferable to me than being captured and killed by this vile force, so I leapt over the edge! The villain did not want me to escape his control that easily, so he lept after me with a ley-line to anchor him to the ground so he could pull us both back from the descent. As he came toward me and tried to hold onto me assuming I would want to be saved, I pushed him off from the ley-line and watched him cascade to hit the bottom, killing him. Somehow then I was poised against the cliff top, grasping a small knob perilously. I did not think I could climb back to the surface so I contemplated just letting go, thinking I might be able to aim to the wall of the cliff and roll down, possibly still dying but trying anyway to save myself. At this point instead of dropping, I realized I had another choice, which was to wake up. That’s what I did, grateful to realize this had been a dream yet also wondering if I might have died physically in my sleep from the night terror of falling.

So where does balance enter into the dream equation here? First, I was in a situation of needing to protect my boundaries from negative forces aiming to invade my consciousness and draw me off center. Second, at the cliff-hanger edge (literally!), I had choices to make while perched perilously at the edge. I chose to act, to be a cause rather than an effect of the negative agent, which allowed me to retain my own agency rather than relinquishing that to the negative force. When I released the hold on the villain allowing him to fall to his death, I felt no emotion—neither for nor against—as I watched him fall. I knew it was his own actions which had caused his demise so that I had no responsibility for his death. And I had a further choice either to take the descent myself and possibly perish of my own accord or to, ultimately, find an alternate path and “wake up,” which of course I am glad I chose! (Where that awareness of the choice to wake up came from I would have to attribute to my protective inner guidance, so I am grateful for that, always!)

Fantasy, Clouds, Woman, Castle, Sun, Sky

images are from pixabay.com

Being centered in the moment allows choice. It slows the action from a higher level of awareness, so your action or expression can flow from your Center rather than your being merely reactive to or the passive effect of external situations or forces.

Neither For Nor Against

We live in a dualistic universe and, these days, I would say we in America and in several other societies have created a binary society.  I like to think in terms of the outer reality being a reflection of internal states of consciousness, so if my outer world is polarized, politically or otherwise, and if I align with one ‘side’ to the point of feeling negative about or toward people or points of view from an ‘other/opposite’ side, I may question my own internal state as being itself conflicted or in a state of emotional or attitudinal imbalance.

How to resolve this? It would be false of me to claim or to defend neutrality in terms of values or beliefs. I do accept some values that–necessarily in this dualistic world–are opposed in principle to other, opposite points of view. I am a citizeb and vote according to my best understanding of positive values and policies that are, I assume, for the good of the Who;le.

However, I am old enough to not want to create or perpetuate conflict. Like Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce who chose to migrate his tribe into Canada rather than face another bloody battle or to have them be herded onto a restrictive reservation:

“I Will Fight No More Forever.”

images are from pixabay.com

My goal, spiritually, is to be “neither for nor against,” while at the same time not sacrificing what I hold to be true and good. With this I recognize how my values come largely from what I have been exposed to and/or conditioned by, as do everyone else’s.

To be neither for nor against while maintaining integrity means, to me, not to be attached to outcomes and to be willing to listen and to allow viewpoints other than my own. There are ideas and facts I will stand up for, even march for or represent in open forums, But having expressed my sense of truth, I must allow that others have too theire own truths and the right to express those as well in a peaceful assembly.

Let justice and the laws and moral fiber of a just society handle the rest.

Inwardly, I aim to resolve internal conflicts as they may arise. Listening, not closing off or closing out competing ideas or interests, can help bring my archetypal sub-selves to the Roundtable in search of a dynamic, harmonious solution to any apparent quandary.

If only we could agree to do this outwardly: to listen with deep care to one another and to aim to incorporate each other’s best founded ideas and viewpoints to serve the higher interests of the Whole.

In the Balance: Building Bridges

In this eleventh month of my yearly quest to comprehend and achieve happiness, I realize how in many ways now, I am happy. Despite losses and coming to terms with leaving my friends to relocate/ semi-retire, and with two good friends having recently departed this earthly sphere, both from complications due to breast cancers, nevertheless I am happy to be where I am and to be living the “life of my dreams,” to date.

My November sub-quest is about Balance, another major necessity for achieving a lasting happiness, in my own life and I would say in the world at large too. There is so much polarization of values and beliefs today. It is easy to take a side and hold to a one-sided perspective even to the point of reviling other persons, opposite political parties or policies. Certainly we are not in a condition of societal or widely shared happiness these days, at least not in the U.S.. Avoiding communication with those with whom we expect to disagree becomes disengagement and expands the rifts between us that further divide the whole.

images are from pixabay.com

Where is the balance, how is it to be achieved? This week I am personally contemplating how to build bridges rather than perpetuating the Divide. I believe that approaching communications by looking for ways to bridge conflicting viewpoints or attitudes externally will bring healthful benefits internally as well.  Impersonal, unconditional love can be the foundation of such bridges.

Love unites, it does not seek to divide; it heals wounds and gives ground, even when it may be necessary for people or groups to separate or to agree to disagree for the sake of serving the higher interests of all concerned.

I am reminded of the well known passage from Corinthians (13:4-8), so let me start my own probe this month by putting forth this contemplation seed (from Gatescorer.com):

 

Agency

For a final week of probing the topic of Acceptance as a pathway to genuine happiness, I am left with the awareness that what I cannot or should not accept is important too. To clear space and time for creative or productive activities, sometimes it is helpful to remove clutter and to improve existing conditions. This calls for right discrimination or practicing discernment and then acting to correct or sometimes to detach from situations or conditions which are creating clutter or ‘noise’.

Agency is the capacity to act in accordance with one’s awareness and understanding of life conditions. Agency is a causal property of the individual, a matter of being Cause rather than effect, a matter of accepting responsibility for one’s choices and acting accordingly.

It is not always easy or even graceful, for me at least, to know when to bend or when to release so that growth can occur. This seems an appropriate topic for the autumn season. Trees in the area I live in now are at their peak of fall colors, releasing their beautiful leaves to prepare for enduring the winds and storms of winter.

I am reminded of St. Francis’s famous poem:

 

Serenity

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change those things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

 

images are from pixabay.com

What Are You Ready to Accept?

“Before you can do what you want,

You must know what you do.”

A therapist shared this quote with me many years ago, from a psychologist I am unable to find online today to attribute the statement to. Such wisdom here. As I contemplate the principle of Acceptance this month in pursuit of a larger quest for understanding how to manifest and sustain true happiness, I have realized so far that one of the things I do that limits happiness is to accept things as they are, for the most part, but without clearly expressing what I am READY to accept; that is, how much more abundance I am ready to allow in order to open my heart and consciousness with a greater capacity. At the same time, I am also realizing this month how we may also need to be clear about what we are NOT willing or able to accept, either in ourselves or our outer world of relations and life conditions.

What am I / are you READY to accept? I invite you to compose a list of positive affirmations (one or more actually) of the form:

I am READY TO ACCEPT ____________.

For example, I will share a small portion from my own list.

I am READY TO ACCEPT:

  • Full responsibility for my own choices.
  • A greater appreciation of Beauty, daily.
  • The freedom to establish and define boundaries.
  • The ability to communicate honestly.
  • The capacity to realize my creative and spiritual goals.
  • The time needed for stepping up.
  • Abundance from all endeavors.
  • Greater joy and gratitude in the Moment.
  • Daily progress toward Fulfillment: health, wealth, wisdom, happiness
  • humility, purity, vision

images are from pixabay.com

So, what are YOU ready to accept or receive?

Acceptance

 

This year I am probing an annual quest. For me this is about manifesting true happiness; I encourage you to choose your own Quest. Each month we are probing a subquestion of the larger quest. This month I am contemplating “acceptance” as an aspect of achieving or manifesting happiness.

Already I am realizing that Acceptance is two-pronged:

What am I willing to accept?

What am I ready to accept?

This is a personal breakthrough to recognize this second level of acceptance. I have long held to a princiople well expressed in the statement:

“Your state of consciousness

is your level of acceptance.”

–Harold Klemp

To me I have understood this to mean to be able to accept whatever happens, to accept what IS, in order to grow through direct experience. Acceptance in this sense is not a passive state but rather it allows you to confront or accept present conditions in order to respond actively in the process of creating your own positive conditions and learning lessons along the way.

But today I am seeing how my state of consciousness also means to be open to receive and accept bounty, blessings, abundance. What am I ready to accept means what  degree of magnificence am I open to receive! How much beauty, truth, love am I ready to accept? The more I can accept, the higher my consciousness may rise from the sheer abundance of spirit.

images are from pixabay.com

So this week I will be focusing on this question of what am I ready to accept? I invite you to do similarly or to pursue your own Quest segment.

I welcome your comments and story.

Life After Life…

I share a poem this week, in loving honor of two excellent friends, one of whom has recently passed on, and the other now facing her physical mortality and her spiritual freedom:

 

The Tide Rolls Out

On the incoming wave

comes the bounty:

times spent with friends

laughing, loving,

serving Life together

day by month by year

by decades shared in the fellowship of Soul.

 

Then the wave breaks

against the rocky shoals,

sends shimmering mist

that dissolves

any rigid formations.

 

Now as I watch

the tide rolls out

carrying the tiniest gems

of eternal blessings, holographic

universes of light and sound

memories

rolling back to the Source

 

never to be washed away

nor forgotten.

images are from pixabay.com