Personal Growth, Spirituality

Sometimes the obvious is hardest to see

Last spring I joined a magickal order. The lodge was 3 hours away. I had misgivings about joining because of a particular member. Despite that, I joined but I only made it to 1 other meeting since then. While this one person was a big influence on my not going, they were not the only reason.

I was debating recently about whether or not to demit membership or suck it up and go. Typical for me, I posed this question in the car on my way to work and then talked out loud the answer. As I rambled on about this or that, finally I blurted out “Why am I even considering going? I already found what I was looking for.”

That brought me up short. What did I mean that I already found it? The answer immediately unveiled itself. I found the answers that I sought in my spiritual explorations in my Junior year in college, with the help of a couple of amazing friends. We explored all KINDS of things, pretty much living and breathing spiritual work in various forms for almost a year. In that time, I experienced some truly stellar things and opened inner doorways to even more. Since then, I had thought those doors were closed and I have spent years attempting to re-open them … with no success.

In looking back on my many and sundry attempts, I can tell now that they were all purely intellectual attempts. Nothing was heart-driven. As Castenada said, the path without a heart is a dead path. So while I’m intellectually curious and hoping to unveil more ‘secrets of the universe’, my heart is actually pretty dang content with what it found way back when I was 20 – and I was just refusing to even see it.

To say this revelation was stunning is an understatement. It put me on my butt for a few days as I absorbed the truth of it and was finally able to see just how much energy I’ve wasted in these superficial intellectual pursuits. My heart is still very interested in spirituality, just not in the way my conscious brain has been ingrained to think. I’m discovering that I’m turning more and more toward personal development as an expression of spirituality. After all, isn’t exploring myself and how I experience this world and my relationships within it why I’m here? I already remember where I came from and know what happens after this life. That’s not my concern. My concern is being the best me that I can be … and letting go of insecurities, superficial fears, and other people’s judgments while learning to accept who I genuinely am then finding the strength to actually express that is the next set of major challenges.


Why I Don’t Like Charity

Yes. I said it. I don’t like charity. Does this mean I refuse to help others? Not at all. I help all over the place — I just don’t give something for nothing (and this means I don’t give something without a goal in mind). Why? Empowerment.

I love that line about teaching a man to fish (see featured image). When I think of charity, I think of giving a man a fish. Sure, he eats today but he’s still dependent on someone giving him a fish tomorrow. Did I really help him? I mean, REALLY? No. I just enabled him, but I did not empower him.

As an example, I’m a HUGE animal lover. I’ve been donating to Alley Cat Allies for almost 20 years now with plan to stop. I love them! Why them? Because ACA is not a RESCUE group, it’s an ADVOCACY group. They work to educate communities and local governments about feral cats, train care givers, promote responsible stewardship, and work to change the laws. I don’t give money to pure rescue groups because there’s never an end – there’s always another dog or cat or horse etc in need. It never ends, and it never changes. I’m just throwing fish around. But by working deeper, by changing laws and policies and getting caregivers on board with the goal and the methods … that’s making real change. That’s the art of teaching many men to fish. Does this mean, to use the metaphor, that I will let the man starve as he learns to fish? *chuckles* If that’s where your brain went, consider seriously your own concepts of charity, advocacy, empowerment, enablement, and disempowerment. I won’t let the man starve as he learns to fish, but I will never just hand him a fish and go on my own merry way. I am all for helping my fellow creatures, but my goal is always empowerment. It’s always “to make better in the long run, beyond just today.”

I don’t rescue animals. I help them heal so they go on with their lives. I loathe that everyone who gets an animal from the shelter now a days claims “I rescued my dog/cat”. Ug! I got my cat from a rescue group. I adopted him, and he adopted me. I didn’t rescue him. He didn’t need rescuing. He needed a good home, and I helped him find that. Now he’s fishing up a storm and bringing me heads. Ew. Thanks?

Those I know personally who identify strongly as a Rescuer or as big in Charity are also people who need others to constantly praise them for their work. “I gave X to charity. Aren’t I just so generous and beneficent? Adore me.” Blah. “I rescued this cat, now he is beholden to me. As a result, I feel like a powerful and good person for doing this good deed that I just HAVE to tell you about so you too can think I am a wonderful person.” *rolls eyes* That’s right up there with the fire fighter who demands that every body they save has to call them everyday to tell them just how wonderful the fire fighter is and just how grateful they are for having been saved. Egad. This kind of identification is more about self-aggrandizement than it is about helping others. It’s also about ensuring that those helped today still need help tomorrow. After all, identity is based on helping and if the help-ee doesn’t need help anymore, what else is there?

So yeah. I don’t like charity because I view it as disempowering. I love helping if the goal is empowerment. The world needs everyone in it to be as strong and as capable as they are able to be. I do my part to help that happen. Quietly.

Emotions, Spirituality

All is Mental

This is the first of the Hermetic Principles which is nicely spelled out and distilled in the Kybalion. It’s covered ad nauseum in many different videos on YouTube, so I’m not really going to repeat what this means any more than I have to.

Essentially, the principle is that everything sprang from and exists in the mind of the All/the Creator/the Creative Principle. Mind mind mind. Everything is about the all powerful mind, a concept which is echoed very strongly throughout many of the New Age philosophies, a la The Secret. Now using the Principle of Correspondence (as above, so below) I’m going to make the staggering assumption that The All thinks … a lot, like I do. I imagine all sorts of things, but what is the difference between a day dream which is essentially a flight of fancy and a true dream which motivates me to action? Emotion. The difference is emotion.

I particularly like Mark Passio’s take that there is a hidden 8th Principle which encompasses and unites all the other Principles: Care. So what’s the difference between a flight of fancy which has weak mental energy and a motivating image which has strong mental energy? Care. Emotion.

Now I have said somewhere in here that I tend to view that one of the purposes of existence in this dense level of material reality is to learn how powerful our thoughts are; that dense matter is designed to act as a buffer between “thought” and “manifestation”, with action of some form being required to birth a mental construct. Imagine the level of chaos we’d have if all of our fantasies were instantly real? Ugh! We are largely exceedingly mentally undisciplined, and a quick peek at any Social Media outlet illustrates this.

Now I know just how powerful mind is, but I also know that emotion is the fuel. They are like 2 parts of a whole, steering wheel and engine. If the engine isn’t on, turning the wheel doesn’t gain me much – no matter how awesome that wheel may be. If the engine is running but the wheel is allowed to spin, that will not end well either. So now I have to ask myself: is emotion something associated with this level of existence, or is it part of Mind?

As I was typing that out I got a mental image (hah!) of the “separation of head and heart” being an illusion. An image that heart is mind and mind is heart, but again for this level of reality they needed to be separated – at least superficially – in order to teach us how they work together. We as a culture, and by this I mean pretty much every single patriarchial culture on the planet, is terrified of the power of emotions. Of the chaos of them. Of the pain of what it means to feel. Of the vulnerability that emotional attachments bring. This is also an idea I’ve explored here, where “strength” is defined as being largely unaffected by emotions (ie: not vulnerable) with the exception of anger, while “weak” is defined as being emotional/vulnerable. Men are “strong” and women are “weak”, and my take on this was: Bullshit. Cutting off access to the full range of emotion isn’t “strong” – it’s brittle. True strength is flexibility, not rigidity. True strength is having the courage to own our vulnerability while taking responsbility for its protection and care. So in our collective zeal to chuck emotions (especially the hard ones like grief) into the abyss, we’ve created an artificial heart/mind dicotomy – as artificial and non-sensical as the “mind/body problem.”

There is a movie that I really loved called Delgo. The main character is a student StoneSage, and they can control the elements with their mind using their hands to guide and direct. So replace “hand” with “mind” and this quote sums it all up perfectly.

“The novice follows his hand.
The student follows his heart.
The master knows no difference. The hand and the heart are one.”
– Elder Marley in “Delgo”

All is Mind. I’ll agree with that principle as long as Mind includes Heart. All is Mind/Heart. To care about something enough to even think it is what I’m driving at here. If what I think becomes instantly real and I am deeply aware of this and I have any degree of control at all, there are many things that I won’t bother entertaining; but in this level of reality right here where in order to make something manifest I have to do more than think it, I’m fine with mental bubble gum chewing. It’s part of the learning process. Understanding viscerally how Care and manifestation of Mind are actually related is rather one of the main reasons for 3D reality.

Emotions, Personal Growth, Spirituality

Gas for the Engine

Long ago, I went through a Carlos Castaneda phase. One of the statements which I heard and nodded along with as a “yeah, that makes absolute sense” was:

“Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.”

Essentially – the best paths are those with hearts.

Being on a Path of the Individual, I know that passion (heart) is where the power truly lies. What’s interesting is that I find myself revisiting this idea more and more of late, and the true profound simplicity is starting to really sink in. See, motivation does not come from the mind and action is not driven by thought. Ultimately, minds are not the motors which propel us. Minds can steer, negotiate, navigate, direct, and guide. While the mind might be able to whip some action into being, it is not strong enough to sustain that motion.

Trying to find ways to de-progam the “I am worthless” crap that has taken up residence in my deeper self, I decided I’d look at various self-hypnosis options. As I listened, I felt … bothered, irritated by the messages and then I had to wonder why. The answer was immediate: every single – EVERY … SINGLE … ONE – took a 100% mental approach. There was no heart anywhere at all.

So here are these self-help self-hypnosis tapes completely buying into the “mind over matter” mantra, as if the mind would ever be strong enough to truly over-rule the heart. Hah! Being an ego based society that is, quite frankly, terrified of its own emotional reality, we have elevated the mind into some sort of pseudo-god (especially the spiritual crowds). What a bunch of crap.

Please don’t assume this means I’m saying the mind is powerless. Far from it, but understand the true nature of the engine that is our heart. A path without a heart will lead nowhere because it is dead, without power, a car with an empty gas tank.

So I’m listening to this “think your way into motivation” and I remember thinking “dude, you want to motivate me, speak to the heart rather than the mind.” Now the mind can most definitely affect things – remember I said the mind is the navigator? Have a good navigator and you can reach anything you wish; have a bad navigator and it doesn’t matter how powerful the engine is!! You are not getting where you want to go.

So, if I want to make lasting changes in my life, my Self, then I need to find the path with heart. Find the passion. Find the emotion, and I think emotion is always tied to values. If something simply isn’t valued, then the motivation isn’t there – plain and simple. I can wish, brow-beat and punish myself until the cows come up for “failing” at something I simply don’t value enough to bother with, and nothing will change — other than feeling guilty and depressed. But find the values? The TRUE values which lie within the heart, not the ones the mind is convinced it “should” value? That’s the gasoline which powers the engine.


About the Featured Image: I found this on Your Energy Medicine blog. No idea where is came from other than this.


Might Makes Right vs Rule Of Law

Might Makes Right: the arbitrary exercise of power to gain desired results

Rule of Law: the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established rules of conduct

I’ve been doing a whole lot of work slogging through the various cultural and familial wounds that are cluttering up my psyche. A HUGE one is the gender wounding which largely appears to stem from religious notions. As part of this work, I’m attempting to examine things from multiple angles and I was thinking about War Lord levels of society as compared with civilized societies and it hit me:

Might Makes Right is a deeply patriarchal notion, which encourages bullies among other things. In fact, this statement is pretty much the bully mantra. Alas, bullies are not particularly empowered or balanced people.

Rule of Law, however, is the guiding principle of ‘civilized’ societies and under the Rule of Law … “might” means nothing. Just because you can beat up your neighbor and steal his car does not mean it’s yours. While it’s tempting to consider the Rule of Law as a manifestation of a matriarchy, I think it’s actually an egalitarian system where ideally (heh) the law applies equally to everyone: poor or rich, male or female, strong or weak. That said, Rule of Law only works if the vast majority of the culture agree to follow the rules established.

So think about which mindset is being espoused behind someone’s rhetoric. Rule of Law? Or Might Makes Right? Which one do you personally prefer and why?

Dreaming, Spirituality

Nothing. Just … nothing.

I can’t find the source now, but it was from some TV show or movie. The setup is that a small group of characters are working to resuscitate one who’s heart had stopped or something. They succeeded and brought the man back to life. The character who has a more spiritual bent asks “What did you see?” After a moment of silence in which the character literally appears shattered replies “Nothing. I saw nothing. Just … blank. There’s nothing there.”

And here was my immediate response if I were in that scene.

“Oh pulease! You have all the subconscious awareness of a brick. I see you’re descending into an existential crisis here, so let me ask: How often do you remember your dreams? Ever worked with them at all? I mean actively.” To which I imagine surprised head shakes. “And if you don’t remember your dreams, does that mean that when you are asleep and there is ‘nothing, just nothing’ that you have ceased to exist?” More head shakes with a furrowed brow.

“See, the world that awaits us after death is the one we visit constantly in our sleep. It is our dreaming self’s native world. Those who work with their dreams and have an actual relationship with their dreaming self will have the most ‘awareness’ – at least to our conscious concept of such – at to what goes on after death. But for those who have not developed that relationship, those psychic or mental/spiritual muscles? Nothing. Just blank. Why? Because your conscious capacity to process what it encounters is what is actually blank. We are 3 dimensional creatures visiting a 6th dimensional realm, to pose an analogy – and most minds simply can’t handle that.”

It’s akin to asking a kindergartner to solve calculus problems and then using the inability to do so as proof that that level of math is impossible and bogus.


On the Edge of An Abyss … or A Larger World

I was musing on the last Great Expansion that we as a culture went through, which began in the late Renaissance and the discovery that the world was twice as big as we thought it was. Not that it wasn’t flat, please. They knew darn well it wasn’t flat, but they did miscalculate the size. All grade-schoolers should know this.

Back in that era, we saw a massive shift in all different areas of life. The rise of the printing press, the rise of Humanism fueling the Reformation, discovery of the New World and all the new foods (corn, squashes and potato being most famous) plus the telescope’s ability to view heavenly bodies along with the proof that the sun was the center not the earth, etc etc. This was an era in which the very precepts of How The World Works were kicked out from under people in many different areas of life and it left them floundering and seeking meaning. Enter the Era of Enlightenment, my personal favorite era of them all.

Essentially, within 100 years not only did the world as we know it double in size, but the universe itself was reordered and reimagined. That’s BIG, folks. BIG. HUUUUGE (or YUUUUGE). Try to imagine… Oh wait, we don’t have to. We’re in another era of massive expansion, or right on the cusp of it.

The internet was a massive move, shrinking the world so that I can play a game on my phone with team-players in my own guild who are from Greece, Turkey, Japan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Columbia and the USA. Real time. No delay. Each of us co-operating to accomplish the mission of the moment to further our team and ourselves. That’s huge folks. HUUUUGE. But that’s not all.

We have figured out how to create wormholes, like real wormholes. Astronomers have discovered multiple earth-like planets just a mere 40 light years away in conjunction with the “impossible” microwave propulsion engine that might actually be a feasible drive system for space travel but it’s also not the only space travel design on the table. The creation of actual time crystals. The discovery of the long-theorized Dark Matter. The growth in understanding of Quantum Physics. To top it all off, as with most other eras of expansion, astronomers are finally starting to close in on the existence and location of the 9th planet in our solar system – birth of a new archetypal pattern! Much closer to home, we are undergoing a massive climate shift and with that we’ll be facing massive migrations as populations flee starvation in search of survival.

Once again, as in the 1450-1650 time frame, we are undergoing a massive expansion in our awareness of the world and universe that we live within, and by necessity our place within it. See the early part of that 1450-1550 was about expansion, the 1550-1650 can be characterized as reflection and exploration. It’s not a neat division but from a macro view that works. 1650-1750 was about integration and settling everything into the psyche in a workable manner. That expansion period? That was also a very bloody period which includes the Reformation and the Inquisition.

I think right now, we’re just beginning an Expansion phase on the magnitude or more than the 16th century saw. It’s just a matter of time before it’s confirmed that we are not alone in the universe and for many that will trigger an existential and theological crisis. As always, with large expansion comes the fight against it, with old systems struggling retain their power in the face of new systems coming online. Unfortunately, we today also have some serious firepower to bring to bear in that fight that our ancestors did not have. If fundamentalists of any flavor, who are struggling to make sense of rapid changes by looking to solidify the fundamentals as they see it, get a hold of nuclear weapons or chemical weapons or biological weapons…. This is terrifying. Truly terrifying. It’s an ideological struggle, not a struggle against a state or nation. There is no uniform to target.

What’s truly interesting to me is that, unlike the expansion of the 16th century, this one will and is encompassing the entire world … whether ready or not. Much of the world is still in a feudal or war-lord level of existence! In the parlance of Caroline Myss, these are 1st and 2nd chakra societies. We in the West are largely on the 3rd and heading toward a 4th chakra society. That is a massive jump in terms of energetic awareness. That much of the world is reacting poorly is hardly a shock. It’s to be expected. How to respond?

That’s a tough question. The Sophist Gnostics believe that Armageddon will be triggered by a struggle between the Educated and the Uneducated. *looks at the proliferation of anti-intellectualism* Interesting. Not sure where to take this, but I’m looking at literally hundreds of years of psychic momentum. It would take a LOT to derail that momentum. It’s possible, but the act of doing so would derail humanity far more than the Dark Ages did for Europe. I think if we’re looking toward a 4th chakra or heart-based society, responding from heart is the wisest course of action. That is with empathy for those who are terrified and angry, compassion for those who have been hurt, and a hand up for those ready to move forward.