Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blog revival!

Wow, a lot has gone on since I posted the bulk of this over 4 years ago! I never realized how much time and commitment becoming a videographer of my own work would require. Well, four videos later and The Integral Anatomy Series exists for posterity. So too now exist a number of articles over at Spirituality and Health Magazine, as well as a whole new website, I'm also teaching one-day Integral Anatomy Intensives, all based on the images created in the lab since I wrote everything below. I haven't re-read what I wrote, but I remember putting a lot of goodies in there. I am continuing to write, but in the form of chapters for a book which I have committed myself to write. It will take the ideas I began in my book, Reconceiving My Body, to the next level: Reconceiving Our Bodies...I am exploring the concepts of the body I have developed from my years of teaching in laboratories to the general public, beyond my own transformation, to the transformation of our vision of the human form in general, and our changing relationship with our embodied selves. Fun!! Thank you for dropping by here~ scroll to the bottom and read your way up to make any sense of it all!!

Friday, May 06, 2005

More on spirits and bodies

The relationship of spirit and body is a complex one, and I can say that my own understanding just seems to get more complicated as I go along! There are many, as we mentioned above, who in principle simply do not have a place for spirit in their model of the person. The person, for such folks, is basically a fancy machine, the main computer of which is the brain, which through various chemical processes, genetic protein signatures and electromagnetic considerations generates a personality. This personality can itself in turn be modified, enhanced, controlled or subdued, by the introduction of various substances and influences much the same as car performance can be enhanced or diminished with fuel, additives, etc.

The reduction of the person to the sum of the machine parts is found wanting on numerous counts, some of which I have already mentioned in earlier posts. The problem is, this machine seems to have a mind of its own! Furthermore, there are some fine examples in the medical literature which certainly put the brain in its place, as it were. My favorite is an article called, “Is Your Brain Really Necessary?” (World Medicine, May 3, 1980, p.2 and 22-24, No. 15, Vol. 13--or 15--...can’t tell for sure from the handwriting). I thank Tom Myer’s for turning me on to that one. In it, some British researchers exploring issues of hydrocephalus and adults with larger-than-average heads find to their utter surprise and shock, through brain imaging technology, that a number of people, fully functional folks, who participated in their study, didn’t have brains inside their heads, to put it bluntly. One fellow, a master’s degree holder from down the hall, in fact had a mere milimeter or two of cortex lining his braincase, with a whole lot of fluid sloshing around inside his head instead, and didn’t seem the worse for wear. While some may say that the exception proves the point, in an instance such as this, the exception busts the model, in my opinion. Not to say that if you had a brain and took it away, you wouldn’t miss it, but if you didn’t start out with one, well, what you ain’t got, you don’t miss. Perhaps the brain is really just a crutch. It may be the water that makes us tick at a physical level, and the meaty stuff is all just artifact of the flow.

I also look to the dead to bolster my case for the existence and primacy of spirit, in contrast to those who hold that the person is basically comprised of meat-as-machine. Having spent ten years or so popping in and out of cadaver laboratories teaching workshops and exploring the wonders of human form with my fellow somanauts, it’s safe to say that the dead have taught me a few things, in addition to the living. When you spend a bit of time engaged in the study of human form in the model of the cadaver, or even if you have simply gone to a family wake and viewed the “remains” of the deceased friend or relative, you are invariably impressed by how lifeless the dead are. Something big is missing there, as compared with the living. What is missing? What is life? What is spirit? Who am I? What is my body? What is the relationship between my body and my consciousness when you are alive, and what change takes place when your body is dead?

I may not attempt to answer all of these questions in the following post --they are the stuff of lifetimes of consideration. Let’s just say that if the body is merely a machine, and my personality and consciousness even are merely functions of the machine, well, there shouldn’t be much difference between the living and the dead. But there is a difference. A big difference! You are, I am, we are, brilliantly, shiningly, thrillingly alive! Life is the deus ex machina of the mechanists model of the body/person: without it, they’ve got nothing but a rotting corpse. Yet the model has virtually nothing to say about the nature of life itself. On and on it will go about mechanisms, processes, and “active ingredients,” but as for life itself, that gooey stuff is left to the philosophy and religion departments to quibble about. You’ll notice, however, that the grant money isn’t flowing to those corners of the campus! The mechanists desparately need life, but they’ve pulled the wool over there own eyes and refused to open them to the truth of life in their midst. Life is that spiritual dimension that makes meat come alive. When the spirit blows out of the form, the physical materials resolve to different levels of order and existence, to be taken up at the whim and will of spirit once again.

When I see the human form in the cadaver, I see a mirror in which I am reflected, and I also see the stunning and stark contrast of the living and the dead. I feel my vitality within myself and notice the lack of it there on the table. I compare myself favorably on that count! Life in a body is a rich and potent gift, however fleeting. What is missing from the cadaver is the particular spirit of the soul which animated that form and contributed to its shape and qualities through their intent and their experiences. It’s not that the body is broken so there is no more personality being generated there. Cadavers have personalities of their own, to be sure. Rather, Elvis has left the building! The animating element has blown elsewhere, and left the shell behind, like a runner who has kicked off hi/r shoes, or a hermit crab moved on to larger quarters. I’m going to go spend some time with Karen, and will come back to this in the next post! Nighty night!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

What is a whole person, anyway?

I articulated above a “three bodies (+ three etherics)” model of the form of the whole person. But a whole person is more than that! A whole person must be understood to include spirit as well: a person is body (broadly understood to include these several bodies and etherics) and spirit. Spirit is the undying aspect of the self. These bodies can and do pass away, but our spirit is everlasting. The bodies pass away in the sense that they can be shed like the layers of an onion, but at the core of the onion is light. The frequency of that light/spirit is modulated or “flavored” by the layers which have accumulated around it, and the light retains those nuances even after the layers have been peeled. The light shines the brightest and truest when the layers are shed, and at the same time the flavoring/frequency modulation arrived at throught the experience of the human forms is valued and in fact intended by the source of all. To the extent that the spirit retains the frequency modulation obtained through the experience of the form, you might say that the body forms of the person, or the “personality,” lives on. However, I will resist overating the personality here!

The personality, as we generate it and generally experience it, is one of the most overated aspects of the whole person going in our culture! Commonly understood in humanistic atheistic scientistic public culture today, the body is a machine, the personality is a function of the brain, and the spirit is a myth attributed to the first two by ignorant religionists. It’s safe to assume I am wanting to develop a somewhat different train of thought and experience here! I have already given some attention in an earlier post to the fallacy of attributing truth to a model once its functionality has been demonstrated. I discussed this in terms of the mechanical model of the body subscribed to somewhat dogmatically by establishment scientific and medical culture. Viewing the body through the lense of the mechanistic model does not legitimize the conclusion that the body is a machine any more than viewing the world through purple sunglasses permits the conclusion that the world is in fact purple, and nothing but.

That the personality is commonly believed to be a function of the brain you can readily conclude by flipping through the psychology department listings in a university course catalogue, or reviewing the dissertation topics of a recent crop of psychology Ph.D. candidates. It is true that personality can be modified through injury to the brain or by tinkering with the brain's pharmacopia with psychoactive drugs or exogenous electromagnetic frequencies. It is also true that one can correllate certain thoughts and activities and emotional experiences with localized and mappable neuronal firing. It is not fair to conclude from these injuries or tinkerings or mappings, however, that the personality is therefore merely a function of the physical brain, or conversely and also erroneously, that the personality as a function of the magnificently wonderous human brain is therefore implicitly deserving of exceedingly high regard and esteem.

If a car has a flat tire or throws a fan belt, or if someone tosses a monkey wrench into the works, pours water in the oil reservoir, gas in the radiator and oil in the wiper washer fluid container, the vehicle performance will be substantially altered. We cannot conclude from this that the driver is a bad driver or that the driver no longer exists in virtue of the car’s total breakdown (though we may suggest the driver hire a new mechanic!). In fact, it's quite possible for the car to be totalled and the driver to walk away without a scratch. Likewise, if a surgeon in an emergency needs to perform an operation with a Swiss army knife, cloth bandages from a ripped shirt, a straight needle and thread from a sewing travel kit, a pen and a pocket lighter, hi/r skills may not reach the height of their expression under the circumstances. The surgeon may enjoy the challenge, however, as a test of skill under duress, and take pride in the accomplishment of the surgery performed, even while the execution was limited by the material circumstances. In the same way, the vehicle of the brain can distort the soul’s expression through a personality according to the limits of its material condition, and the instrument of a particular physical brain may represent a rudimentary tool for an advanced personality or mature spirit, yet these are the kinds of challenges spirits incarnating frequently choose to face as a test of skill, a learning opportunity, or a means to achieve balance relative to other experiences previously generated.

The error of the “scientific” community’s reduction of the personality to brain function is like mistaking the rider for the horse, or more accurately, the rider’s costume for the horse--a more ridiculous error still. That’s because the personality itself, like a costume for the spirit, represents an accumulation of thought forms and experiences, a “totality of elementals,” some of which are handsome and others in bad taste, in which the spirit/soul has outfitted itself. The personality is a work in progress, and will be differentially mature, dependent upon the level of mastery you have achieved. The personality will also be channelled and expressed relative to the particular endowment of the given physical body (brain and all!). That’s quite a bunch of variables. And should the physical body (the horse) expire, the psychical body and the noetical body continue to represent more costuming particular to the rider characteristic of hi/r choice in clothing, as it were.

Whenever we are expressing a personality with a physical body, the thought forms, whether emotion-thoughts, or thought-emotions, which accumulate to us, and which we generate willy nilly or conscientiously, must be dealt with on the terms of the particular physical endowment. The physical form serves as a lense with which to focus and interpret a personality on the part of an incarnating spirit. The spirit can no more be reduced to the terms of the body than can the personality be reduced to the terms of the body, and the spirit likewise cannot be reduced to the terms of the personality. This is about ordering perceptions. You cannot look at a person’s physical body alone and conclude something definitively about their spirit, and you cannot look at a person’s personality and conclude something definitively about their spirit either, any more than you can conclude definitively about the heart of the rider by analyzing their horse or outfit. Clothes really don't "make the man," at least in this case.

For those who can grasp that the body is a gift, and that expressing through one is a bit of performance art for a spirit dressing in the outfits of personality, accumulated in the wardrobe of life experience, this all makes a lot of sense! On these terms, the spirit in union with the human forms (physical/etheric, psychical/etheric and noetical/etheric) consititute a whole person incarnate. The personality of the whole person, we encounter as the accumulation of the thought forms and experiences of that spirit interpreted through the endowment of those particular forms. Where a body is “broken,” limit cycles of an additional order are placed upon the interpretation.

As for the spirit itself being nothing more than a bit of fluff and fancy sprinkled upon the passing “meat” of reality, well, everybody is entitled to their delusion, I guess! All I can say is that the atheistic humanistic scientistic materialists of our popular and public culture are in for a pleasant surprise upon the death of their physical bodies! Such belief systems are sometimes necessitated by an otherwise tentative commitment to the incarnational process. For many, the challenges of life would seem overwhelming if they could readily remember how sweet life can be without a body, and they might attempt to escape the opportunities of their own spiritual design if they dared to entertain such an option. Temporary forgetting is actually a highly functional choice, and should be respected by others. It is less important that everyone grasp the ins and outs of the incarnational processes than that they develop for themselves a compelling rationalle for embarking upon a path of self mastery and service!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Introduction to the body-model of the whole person

Ah, it's nice to be back at my desk in NJ, without the pressure of an internet kiosk waiting for another buck, clicking off seconds while my post is loading, possibly kicking me off line and disappearing an hours worth of writing! Whew!

I have, in the last bunch of posts, introduced a whole bunch of language in a sort of casual manner and without much explanation, knowing that I would have to come back to the terms and explain something of what I mean by them. Sometimes that's a choice I have to make in order to continue a strand of thought without running off on explanatory tangents, and now is a good time to double back and make more sense of the references. I have used three categories in particular, namely the physical, the psychical, and the noetical, to reference levels of the person.

I have already gone on a bit regarding models as such, as well as described a model for the path of self mastery, namely the six pointed star. In the first chapter of my other online book,
  • Integral Anatomy
  • , I explain these levels of the person using the language and model of the body, adapting the terms and categories of Daskolos to my own understandings. So I footnote Daskalos, aka Stylianos Ateshlis, as well as the works of Kyriacos Markides here, and acknowledge that I am not always exactly clear what they mean by these terms, but I have borrowed them, and I know what I mean by them! Perhaps we mean the same thing, and I have borrowed the meaning as well, in which case I'm happy to credit them for that as well, but if I've got it all wrong relative to their meanings, I am more than happy to take responsibility for the meanings I have layered into their terms. Got that?!

    So rather than reinventing the wheel here, I am going to paste in slightly modified sections from Chapter One of Integral Anatomy where I outline a model of the whole person based on a three-body perspective, those being the physical body (which I am committed to explore at length in the subsequent chapters of Integral Anatomy), the psychical body and the noetical body, the details of the latter two being more carefully explored in The Heart of Service.

    The model of the body implicit in the concept of the whole person includes several specific bodies, and together they constitute the human body fully understood. The physical body, the psychical body, and the noetical body together make up the whole human body. As noted above, I borrow freely from esoteric traditions here as well as studies in psychodynamics, because I find the categories provide useful leverage points for opening up that pandora’s box which is the human form. One point common to many esoteric traditions is that the physical form of the human body coexists with an etheric form, sometimes called the "etheric body" or the "etheric double." Physical death involves not only the dissolution of the physical form but the etheric form of the physical body as well. In these traditions the etheric form is usually understood to be an energetic pattern or matrix within which the physical form itself is built up. The etheric double of the physical body does not represent “the soul,” but rather simply a mold. On this view, the physical form corresponds exactly to and is very much the artifact of the etheric double of the physical body. Certainly any scientist who may be reading here must shudder at the resurrection of a term so seemingly archaic and politically discredited as “etheric.” I would say that it is no more preposterous a notion than that of “the vacuum of space,” that deus ex machina of physics computations, and that it is highly serviceable for modelling human form! The etheric double when posited renders certain realities explicable (to be discussed later --later in Integral Anatomy, that is-- eg. ageing, nerve function, phantom pain, self anaesthesia, etc.) which might otherwise escape explanation. Consider it for now as a place-holder in the realm of the “commonly unknown,” but not unknowable.

    The psychical body proper, which like the physical body also has its corresponding etheric counterpart, is also a real human body (it’s not a dog or cow, after all!). It has form. It is composed of those emotional patterns and dispositions which constitute the emotional life of a person. It helps here to be able to extend one’s general concept of form to include aspects of our common reality like emotions and thought which are outside of the range of what we generally refer to as physical. The very tenuous and spacious nature of matter as energy revealed by modern physics should at the very least stimulate the imagination as to the possibility that emotion and thought could also have form, even if of a more spacious quality than physical matter per se. Something need not be “physical” to have form. A form only becomes “physical” when it has slowed to a certain rate of vibration and in so doing accumulated/congealed “material/energy/etheric substance” to an extent that it begins to reflect physical light and have other properties that we commonly associate with physical “stuff,” like tri-dimensionality and relative bump-into-ability. The psychical body “outlives” the physical body as it is not subject to deterioration in the manner that the physical body is. The implication here would be that our accomplishments with regards to emotional development, the disciplines and maturity whereby our emotional life is rendered more and more coherent, organized and clear, are "heavenly treasures" which, unlike physical riches, can indeed accompany us beyond physical death. On the “down side,” the emotional turmoil produced by an untutored and reactive emotional life can generate burdens and liabilities which will require balancing beyond the temporally structured terms of a given physical life. During physical life, there is an intimate relationship between the physical and psychical bodies, each built up within its respective etheric counterpart. The characteristics of that relationship are unique to each individual and make for a fascinating exploration. What is the relationship between my physical and emotional life? How do my responsibilities as regards my physical and emotional life differ? What is the relationship between my emotional life and my physical shape and genetic expression? These and other similar questions are fair game for the common discourse of integral anatomy, as well as conversations revolving around the path of self mastery and service. The study of physical anatomy can function as a lever to understanding our psychical form. Likewise, the integration of the body of our emotions can transform our experience of our physical body.

    The noetical body and its etheric counterpart constitute the body of ideas, concepts and principles which both precede and “outlive” even the psychical body. The noetical body itself is a function of pure thought. It affords definition and direction and purpose to the specific project of a spirit incarnating. I have already made some reference to Machael Small Wright and her Co-Creative Science in an earlier post, and apply her concepts here to help explain the qualities and character of the noetical body. With respect to our human body, its noetical form is made up of the definitions of movement or digestion or the principles of sensation or immune responsiveness, which are antecedant requirements to subsequent psychical and physical movement, sensation, etc. As a matter of fact, the noetical body as compared to the physical or even the emotional body is decidedly abstract by its very nature. Fortunately, there are two related "leverage points" for filling in the entailments of the noetical body as part of the model of the whole human form. They can help us “get a grip” on the noetical body.

    First, the capacity to provide "definition and direction and purpose" is the particular endowment of human intelligence, as compared to the intelligences of nature under the auspices of which the "matter, means and action" are organized to fulfill such purposes. (do put Co-Creative Science on your reading list!) If the whole human form is a garden and spirit is the gardener, the noetical body would be the set of plans defining what kind of a garden the specific body is to be, its general purpose, and the more particular purposes of the varied elements out of which it is composed. The capacity to generate the definitions and purposes whereby a form so spectacular as a physical human body might come into existence seem far, far beyond our typical endowment of human intelligence. Such capacity humans generally regard as divine, and the prerogative of a creator. I should say they regard it as divine in enlightened moments only. From my confessedly esoteric religious perspective, there is little more utterly ridiculous than to assume that the phenomena of life which fill our planet, including the miracle of our own bodies, are the fruit of accidents of lightning strikes on primordial soup and subsequent natural selection and survival of the fittest. Left to its own devices, the primordial soup would, I guarantee, be inedible!

    Although I in no way regard myself as a “creationist” of the fundamentalist christian pole of the infamous debate, I do have sympathy for their scepticism regarding the brute stupidity out of which the cohorts of Darwin’s legacy purport the world to have evolved. Some like myself perceive the sheer counterentropic tendency of life and the magnitude of organization it represents to indicate an awesome and intelligent precedent. One need not align with an equally mindless biblical literalism or doggedly refuse to acknowledge the most basic discoveries of mechanistic science or the geological record to reverently and mindfully acknowledge the source of all, should the recognition of its loving omnipresence pleasingly dawn upon you!

    Further contemplation might even allow for the identification of that creative source within ourselves, should one permit a truly grand expansion of what one considers one’s “circle of possibilities.” I know there is company out there among intelligent, spiritually active people--think Mathew Fox or the legacy of Teilhard de Chardin--who refuse to succumb either to the dogmas of atheistic scientism or those of fundamentalist biblicalism! Speak up, wherever you are! The plans for our body come to us as a gift. Yet admitting the humble exersize of our own abilities, it is in the very image and likeness of the source of those “master plans” that we qualify and alter and individuate our general endowment with our own definitions, directions and purposes, which we generate throughout the whole course of our lifetime. In so doing, our noetical bodies assume form peculiar to the character of our own chosen purposes, and the impact “trickles down” to our psychical and physical structures. We define our very selves, and step, consciously or unconsciously, into the role of co-creators of our given lives. Thus our noetical bodies are comprised of the general set of principles and definitions which give rise to our psychical and physical bodies, as well as the particular set of purposes and directions supplied by our own selves for our lives.

    Now for the second point with which to fill in the entailments of the noetical body as part of the model of the whole human form: when I consciously generate freely chosen thought forms of specific and positive intent and support them with honest, heart felt emotion, I am aligned with a method for moving mountains and manifesting a new creation. I am freely exercising my endowment of human intelligence in a manner that develops my noetical body and rightly orders my psychical and physical bodies to align with my conscious intent. On the contrary, when I randomly react emotionally, generating charged but unconscious, undisciplined, and spurious emotion-thought forms, I set myself up for more distorted emotional experiences and inner turmoil which have ramifications for my physical health and well being. Thought as the lapdog of emotion is a formula for disaster! Further, when I play the victim to my physical impulses and subsume my free will and purposes to the peculiar qualities of my physical endowment, I abdicate my responsibility as co-creator of my life and subject myself to the undirected vagueries of a horse with an incompetent rider. If the rider does not direct the horse according to hi/r proper role in the mutually cooperative endeavor of a walkabout on planet earth, the horse will munch, romp, meander and mate, it is true. That’s about all that happens when destiny is left to the impulses of the horse, and the rider won’t get very far down the path.

    The capacity to supply definition, direction and purpose are talents to be developed. The proper domain of such talents is the noetical body. We are granted free will to excersize these talents and enjoy such freedom to the extent that we recognize and acknowledge and accept responsibility for our choices. Where we abdicate responsibility we simultaneously imprison ourselves as if we have been locked up without a choice. We allow the horse to drag us about, dominated by physical propensities, or we live a life of emotional reactivity, pointing errantly to our bodies or anyone else as the cause of all of our suffering. The victim consciousness is the bottom of the scale of integral development and self mastery, because by abdicating responsibility for life experience the possibility of the very freedom whereby we excercise choice over our direction is denied: denied to the self, by the self. The principles and definitions whereby one lives an embodied life serve a structuring function for the discipline of emotions and physical impulsivity. Healthy and vibrant emotional expressiveness defined by choice in turn manifest positive signatures in the physical form. The well-harmonized co-vibrancey of the noetical, psychical and physical bodies represent personal maturity and an integration of human form based upon which a whole new level of service can be undertaken. All the great teachers this planet has known came not for power over others but to serve, and they did so from a place of inner harmony, clarity of principle, and personal integrity, not as victims but as masters. Integral anatomy as a moral and spiritual science pursues self mastery with a view to service as a basic orienting goal. The physical, psychical and noetical bodies provide a model of human form coherent with this pursuit and rich enough to sustain a prolonged, rich and fruitful exploration.

    Saturday, April 30, 2005

    Giving the gift of giving

    This is my last post from the computer kiosk in San Francisco! I have 25 minutes on my account and I have no more money, so this will be a relative quicky, compared to some of my more recent lengthy posts :-)

    Another pitfall to watch out for on the path of service is the propensity to become the kind of person who "only gives." It's sort of an angle on the servant as doormat theme. I used to be this sort of person. I would give and give, but never receive. I was pathologically incapable of receiving, you might say. In my way of thinking at the time, giving was good, and receiving was selfish, so I was more than happy to give and give in this situation and that, but very poor at receiving or asking for help. Chronic givers often align with chronic takers, and the results are often that the giver plays the doormat and becomes resentful and feels used, but this rarely stimulates a shift on the chronic giver's part.

    What is at the heart of chronic giving is actually egotism and selfishness, however ironic that may seem. Chronic giving without receiving is actually a means of controlling your relationships, and structuring them in a way that generates an unwarranted, even if unconscious, sense of moral superiority and safety relative to those around you, based on the false assumption that giving is good and receiving is bad.

    The key which unlocked this problem for me and brought it to my awareness was the idea a college friend shared with me. She told me I needed to "give the gift of giving." She was quite the poet :-) When she told me this it struck me like a gong. All along I had been generating my unhappy heroism and my unrewarding "sanctity." Unhappy and unrewarding, that is, because I had really not been doing service from the heart. I was attempting to control how I would be blessed, and structuring my relationships in a manner that generated inequalities: after all, if giving was good and receiving bad, what ultimately did that say about the folks I was giving to? Not very promising! I recognized that I had refused an extremely important gift: my receptivity. By holding back the gift of my receptivity, I refused others in relationship with me the pleasure of serving me, of gifting me, of reciprocating my gifts, of surprising me with their own inspiration to share.

    Well, recognize, acknowledge, accept, choose, act. My friend's words were potent medicine, and I've been practicing receptivity ever since!

    vs. servant as doormat

    So I consider a life cultivating a habit of love toward all to be a supremely practical endeavor. What place in there for the emotional component of love in such a life? The path of self mastery and service leaves plenty of room for the emotion of love. In the first place, feelings of love are powerful movements within a person which often take you by surprise. A significant friend, a spouse or lover, a parent or child, a wonderful sight, beautiful music, a special fragrance, a comforting touch--any of these and more can readily generate feelings of love within you. Devotional practices, such as prayer, meditation and singing, can also generate feelings of love in the heart of the practioner. By all means, welcome these feelings of love. The more the merrier! Seek them and experience them! They are refreshments in the sometimes arduous practice of self mastery. Extending your love to another is another important means of generating feelings of love. If you want to feel love, love! It works! You who would master yourself do not wait about for someone to love you. You dare to love first, knowing that by dropping buckets of love overboard into that universal pond in which you row, waves of love are certain to make their way back to you, from sources distant and unknown. This fact is simply built in to the structure of the universe. It works! You who choose to master yourself therefore must love without demand that it be reciprocated. Such a demand is alien to love. Give your love freely, there is no need to know the manner of its fulfillment. Prior expectations and demands of reciprocation are nearly guaranteed to breed disappointment. Since when did anyone say it was your role to demand or know how any of your intentions, even those in perfect alignment with the divine will pleasure, will be executed and balanced by the source of all and the universal laws? Studying universal law you know to allow, and you know that conditional loving is oxymoronic.

    Now some folks might at this point start rolling themselves out as a doormat on the erroneous belief that "loving everyone unconditionally" is a legitimate license to spend yourself willy nilly in the cause of service. Well, it just ain't so. You are to love your neighbor as you love yourself and while you love yourself. Service sometimes comes at the expense of self, but never at the expense of self love, or at the expense of love of the source of all. When you play the doormat, and invite others to walk all over you, and then wonder at the resentment that's growing in your heart, and compound it by trying to hide your resentment from yourself, you reap what you have sown. Service which is offered at the expense of self love, service which is rendered in a manner that generates resentment, is not offered freely, but out of a sense of obligation. When service is rendered from obligation, it may seem as if coerced, and not a free will choice, and as such a function of tyranny or dilemma. Under such a set of perceptions, the servant as doormat is in fact not operating under the terms of self mastery, but under the terms of the victim consciousness. When you serve because you have to, or because you should, you play the doormat, you play the victim, and your heart fills not with love but with the clutter of resentment. You feel burdened by the "cross" rather than freed: you carry the cross of the martyr.

    On the contrary, the master of self carries a cross which is easy and light. That's because the path of mastery is a path for the free will, not the chained will of the victim. Even duty can be chosen! When it is chosen, it is rendered a responsible exercise of free will. Love of self does not mean always placing yourself first. Service sometimes allows placing yourself first, but sometimes middle or last as well. Given that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, it is the willing choice to place yourself in the path of service at all that ultimately matters. If you find yourself playing the doormat, and resenting your service, place the situation squarely in the crosshairs of introspection. Find your choice in the matter, and if it is a choice which amounts not to self love, but self betrayal, then your service is not service from the heart, and must be re-evaluated. Either your manner of choosing and disposition relative to the situation must change, or the pattern of relationship in this harmful service must be abandoned for another course of action.

    So do not sweat it if you find yourself playing the doormat now and then. Consider it an old habit which you are transforming through a new practice, and act according to the new whenever you recognize the behavior and see the opportunity coming. The experience of loving unconditionally, without expectation of return, can serve as the litmus test of your giving.

    Friday, April 29, 2005

    The habit of love

    I've been characterizing love in terms of attraction, attachment, and union. At different levels of human experience and expression, attraction, attachment and union characterize love, but it should by clear by now that not every attraction and attachment manifest as love, although physical and emotional love do involve attraction and attachment. With regard to union, that is ultimately a demonstration of love alone, as that state cannot be experienced from any other perspective, as it is definitive of love at its most essential level. Spiritual union is the experience of love unadulterated. It's pretty intense, so I hear!

    When we spoke about attraction and deliberate intent, free will and choice, you could see also that such matters can go "either way," as it were. You can attract for good or ill, you can choose for good or ill, you can intend for good or ill, in a free-will universe. So if you want to attract, intend, choose and act in a manner that is coherent with the will of the source of all and universal law, it is essential that you take responsibility for your choices again and again, through the process of introspection. It is through the process of introspection that you study your experiences to root out the role you are playing and to make behavioral adjustments in the direction of service and self mastery. In that way you can consciously create a deeply satisfying life experience because it is coherent with the divine will-pleasure, and generates an integral experience of the self.

    Put in terms of love, the path of service and self mastery is about creating a life which is a habit of love. In my dissertation back in graduate school I spoke of marriage in particular as a habit of love. By that I meant that marriage itself is a loving relationship between two people which is generated through their practice of loving acts with respect to each other, and who through that day-in and day-out practice, generate a disposition or tendency, inhering in their mutually oriented wills, of love for one another which is enduring. The converse implication is that where those same two partners in relationship practice not loving acts but controlling acts or mean acts or spiteful and vindictive acts over and over again, they generate not a habit of love but a mean spirited relationship which essentially represents a viscious rather than a virtuous habit. Such a relationship should be dissolved in its tendencies at the very least, through a recommitment to a habit of love, in order to dissolve the viscious habit, for in itself it does not represent a marriage at all. Marriage is not a ceremonial event but a relationship process having a certain character. Sometimes it is the case that through lack of will and comittment on the part of one or both partners it is not possible to truly marry, and in that case, despite ceremonies and cohabitation and children and shared property, a marriage understood in terms of a habit of love simply cannot form.

    So a habit is a disposition to act inhering in the will. Since the will is free, such dispositions can be changed, but a habit is by definition enduring, so it takes considerable intention and effort to shift from one direction to another. Anyone who has ever experienced changing the contents of a drawer from one place to another or moved a light switch permanently knows what I am talking about. You may find yourself checking the old drawer before the new, or trying to flip the old light switch now gone, for years to come! "Old habits die hard." This is true whether they represent exclusively physical dispositions, or emotional ones, or patterns of thought. Two points follow: it is unreasonable to expect instant transformation from one habit to another, so be compassionate with yourself and with others who have generated an honest initial intention for transformation but do not yet act in perfect coherence with that intention. There is a learning/practice curve to be mastered in the endeavor of forming new habits and dissolving old ones which must be accepted. It is also unreasonable to expect that by merely generating a new intention a former habit could be dissolved and a new one generated on the spot, without the concommitent practice and repetition of action over time which represent the meat of the new behavioral groove.

    So this is some of the backround for my statement that the path of service and self mastery is about creating a life which is a habit of love. A marriage which is a habit of love is a particular relationship based on the practice of loving acts between two people. A life which is a habit of love represents a more general orientation of love. Such a life involves a commitment to act in a loving manner, to generate a loving disposition writ large, to pursue the experience of love with regard to all, enemy as well as friend, with the knowledge that the "maximization" or universalization of the intent and practice of a loving disposition with regard to all does not imply or require that everyone will love you back!

    A marriage which is a habit of love, and a family which is a habit of love, are awesome training grounds for a person who would seek to live a life which is a habit of love, and they certainly represent good foundations upon which to build such patterning of character. It is also possible for a person to transcend their less-than-loving circumstances of familial origin and generate a life and family and marriage which are habits of love nonetheless. In either case, the life which is a habit of love is dependent upon lots of practice, introspection, employment of the tools of self mastery, and devotion to the source of all as the ultimate lover radiant behind the veils of form and everpresent for loving union.

    When manners controlling and aloof, or patterns of belief, thinking, behavior and relationship rooted in the victim consciousness are recognized and acknowledged, when you accept yourself as you are in spite of the fact that such manners are still operative in your life (and mine!), the stage is set for the formulation of new intentions which are coherent with the will of the source of all and universal law, and the ongoing practice of love.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2005

    More on love: attachment and union

    In our experience in the physical world, love is not merely about attraction, but attachment. Attachment is the extremely limited and ephemeral, passing mimicry of the spiritual reality of union. Attachment happens at the level of the physical, emotional, and even noetical bodies. Each of these levels represent passing aspects of ourselves as forms, and I'll talk more about their implications and meaning in later posts. For now, it's enough to say there are different aspects of ourselves which can pass away, without erasing who we are essentially. Because our physical bodies pass away, or can be rendered distant from one another, physical attachments can suffer "breakage," and be lost. Emotional attachments can span distance and time in a manner that physical ones can not, yet anyone who has ever been "dumped" or initiated a breakup of a relationship knows the potential fragility of emotional attachments. Emotional attachments are of course not merely limited to people, of course. They extend readily to objects, places, creatures, activities and dispositions as well. That's what enables us to say "I love dancing, or I love my car, or I love New York." When we say such things it is not that we are wanting to trivialize love, but rather we are revealing and acknowledging our emotional attachment, which is a significant dimension of love in the realms of form. It is possible as well to have attachments in the world of ideas. Our attachments to a particular intention, notion or concept can be quite intense, and extremely durable, yet ultimately these kinds of attachments as well represent only imitations of the experience of spiritual union.

    The fragility of attachments, regardless of what kind, are the source of enormous amounts of pain and sorrow, and it is those experiences of pain and sorrow that give love its risky reputation. Doing the "love" thing here on planet earth carries with it certain assurances of loss, and these sorrows, variously interpreted, can lead you to assume certain things about love that may not really be fair, when arrived at out of a spiritual context. One thing that can be said for sure, however: where love is based on attachment, the seemingly "loss" of love is a function of separation. So there are notably a variety of strategies for dealing with the seemingly inevitable experience of separation.

    One strategy is to allow for attachments, but to live in fear of separation. This anxiety often colors a person's whole life, and is not surprisingly a function of the victim consciousness. The victim consciousness is prone to perceive "loss happening," and when it does, there is much inconsolable sorrow, lasting pain and anguish, as well as anger--actually, people like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross mapped out stages of grief more carefully than I have here, and her work is very interesting, as she maps out stages of denial, anger, bargaining, grief and acceptance, or something like that(!) She is not speaking to the victim consciousness as I am, and I am not implying that grief is an experience of the victim consciousness alone, as you will see.

    When you approach attachment through the lens of the fear of separation, you will also likely employ strategies of control in order to avoid the feared outcome. Unfortunately, fear and control are not qualities inherent in a truly loving sort of attachment, and tend towards attracting the feared outcome more than anything, as like attracts like. So this is a vicious circle: you willingly attach (love) yet the tendency of fearing the loss of the attachment actually generates separation, confirming the fear, and the ultimate perception of attachment as a slippery matter requiring better control.

    Another common strategy around attachments deriving from the same fear of separation is the strategy of detachment. With this strategy, loving/attachment is held at a distance: intimacy is held at bay. Unlike the strategy of the last paragraph, where intimacy is attempted, but subject to control in a manner that limits its flourishing, the aloof person does not dare risk intimacy at all. When the potential for intimacy intimates itself, the detached person may feign intimacy from an idealized perspective. This person will appear to be willing to be in an intimate relationship, and may even seem to be actively seeking an intimate relationship. But when the circumstances of relationship manifest, this one has an internal sense that the whole thing is a fraud at some level. That's because it is a fraud: this person is not really willing to risk intimacy, on the assumption that the result will be pain, suffering and loss. So the detached person either doesn't enter into intimate relationships, feigning disinterest to mask fear, or upon entering into a relationship feigns intimacy in order to avoid the hurt of separation, and thus never forms a real attachment. When the relationship not surprisingly fails, the fears of intimacy are confirmed, despite having been generated by the self defeating strategy of aloofness, and the empty or false relationships it generates.

    Many folks who opt for the strategy of aloofness will find aspects of religious traditions or work situations that support their strategy. If this is your strategy, you may seek refuge in the tenets of Buddhism, for instance. Of course I'm not saying all Buddhists preach a pathological form of detachment any more than I am saying all Christians preach salvation through victim consciousness, but only that people with a strategy of detachment may conjure solace from their interpretation of certain Buddhist tenets, just as people with victim consciousness will interpret Christian scriptures in a manner that supports their pathology. Perhaps you will undertake your work in a manner that takes over your whole life, and keep yourself so busy that you couldn't possibly "have time" for a relationship. This is a way of passively refusing to make time for a relationship, yet it allows you to play the victim of your solitude based on the extreme circumstances of your work commitments, which themselves require a certain kind of aloofness as well (ie, being "businesslike."

    So the strategy of detachment is undertake by a person who holds hi/rself aloof to avoid the perceived risks of intimacy, while the strategy of control is undertaken by a person whose anxiety of separation overwhelms and shortcuts hi/r experience of true intimacy. In either scenario, loving attachment is forfeited out of fear of
    loss. So is it really better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? From the perspective of self mastery, it certainly is! That conviction arise from the principles and strategies inherent to the path of self mastery. True love does not attempt to control the beloved, but allows them to become their own loving self. Every attachment carries within its formation the necessity of letting it go. Attachments when broken for whatever reason still generate grief, for loss is loss, even when ephemeral or strictly physical, but that grief itself is passing. It is not ultimately debilitating, given the foreknowledge that all physical attachments are destined to end in separation, and all emotional attachments are destined to be transformed and matured and universalized, and all ideological attachments are destined to be relativized in light of the ultimate truth to which every idea must in the long run be subsumed.

    The master who would love loves in a manner that endures beyond separation, because love manifest can never be lost, and s/he knows it. The love of the master does not blame, is not jealous, does not control, allows, attracts, and lets go. Separations are endured more easily when time is put into its proper perspective, and when you understand that nothing that is real is ever lost, although it may seem through the veils for a moment to be at a distance. The real grief of the master is the sense of separation from the source of all that arises in the process of clarifying your own intent and your own experience. You seems in that moment to be something other, and something other seems to postpone the ultimate spiritual union. But even this grief of the master is ephemeral, and will pass like the night at the breaking of the dawn, since the union is the "real."

    The path I am describing is a path of love. When you take responsibiliy for your experiences, you are truly ready to love. The path of self mastery is a path of devotion, a path of service from the heart, a path which rejoices in loving attachment without fear of loss, because nothing that is truly loved is ever lost, and the love we experience is the experience of our very selves. Love is durable and abundant, despite the desparities of the fleeting physical world. Love is the stuff out of which our ultimate union is built, and we are here to liberally imitate that love and render its likeness on every plane of our existence, knowing that by our experience of responsible love we generate the patterns whereby we and those who follow us will step forward for the ultimate letting go which is our union with the source of all. Our loves and our losses are all preparation, practice, whereby we develop the permanent habit of love. So allow yourself to love, and love in a manner consistent with the tenets of self mastery and univeral law, so that you compound your experiences and open your heart: you have only your fears to risk, and your love to gain! See you in heaven--it's beating in your chest :-)

    Monday, April 25, 2005

    What's love got to do with it?

    When we talk about a parent willing to do anything to help their child, or a teacher taking on a difficult role/life in order to facilitate a student's growth, or when a healer takes up the illness of another and resolves it in themeselves, we are describing forms of service, indeed, but we are also talking about acts of love. Love, after all, is that which binds us together, as it is the nature of the source of all. Love can be considered at many levels, as it bears different meanings depending upon the level of the person we relate it too. At a physical level, love is attraction. The universal law of attraction is a law of love built into the physical universe. Literally, the physical universe is held together by the love of the source of all. The cloud of electronic energy swirling about the nucleus of the atom, the planets about the sun, the raw physical magnetism of the sexes, all have this principle of love/attraction at their operative root.

    At the emotional level, love is the attraction of psychical likenesses, where hearts meet as one, and the movements of one psyche and the forms it generates attract like movements and forms of another. Here, when love is experienced by a person, it is a psychical condition of attraction accompanyied by a feeling state of open-heartedness and longing to be joined to the beloved, to fulfill the attraction through union: in this type of love, you want to be with another and keep their company.

    At the noetical level, love is the power of intention to manifest: it is the attractive power of an idea taking form. It is the alignment of causes assembling around a deliberate intent. It is the stuff of creation.

    At the spiritual level, love is the source of all. Love is the one, being one. Love is the identity of us all.

    I'll leave the last words and the first word on love to another. For now, I'd like to identify a common misperception about love, particularly what I called "psychical" or "emotional" love above. Often times, when a person experiences their love awakening, they desire to fulfill that attraction with some kind of union. This can actually be a tricky thing! You see, there are social structures and commitments which represent the "container" of our particular life, and they do not always permit the ready fulfillment of that longing for union which might arise out of the awakening of emotional love in a person. This emotion of love can be very powerful, even seemingly overwhelming. A key to mastering the emotion, for it must be mastered at some level, is to recognize it to be a movement within oneself. However much you may want to identify your feelings of love as a entirely dependent upon another person (who may or may not share your feelings), your feelings are in fact entirely yours.

    Mastering the emotion of love is to be understood here not as a matter of suppressing your feelings: not at all! Rather mastering the emotion of love is about recognizing your power to love, and allowing the feelings of your love to move about your form and awaken in you your attractive life force, your devotion to all that is good, your intent to create a life in keeping with the divine "will-pleasure," and your longing to experience the oneness of the source of all. When the raw attractive force of physical and emotional love are given reign over one's intent to "make" or create love in a manner coherent with the will of the source of all, trouble is a brewing! It is through our intent and commitment to love that we create a context and a container for the expression and outpouring of physical and emotional love, rather than the other way around. When intent follows emotion rather than leads it, it is like the rider waiting for the horse to decide where they should go. Such is rarely the stuff of successful human interactions!

    Certainly, in certain cultures, this one of ours in particular, we have a tendency to follow up emotional and physical love with a commitment. In India and many other cultures, the commitment comes first, and physical and emotional love are invited to grow in that context. In the US, the emotional and physical love more or less are allowed to sprout up where they may, and when it looks worthy, a commitment may follow. The problem there is that when it sprouts up again somewhere outside of the commitment, there is a tendency to pursue it again in the same manner as in the first instance. In either case, where the emotion of love manages to take hold in a person and move them, it is essential to identify the feeling of love as a disposition arising in the person who feels it, and that person must own it as their own. When I feel my love for you, it is my experience, ultimately. And while it can be very satisfying when two are both feeling their love for one another, even in that case of mutual love, what is mutual is the common experience of feeling your love moving within, and that feeling is your own, although it is a commonplace mistake to believe that feeling and that movement is dependent upon another.

    The love which plays out as service is an expression at the noetical level, as it begins with an intention which is coherent with the will of the source of all, and it is aligned with the creative movement inhering there. Loving service is powered by the charge of raw physical attraction and the juice of emotional love rightly ordered. When you recognize your love to be the creative "battery" that it is, and overcome the tendency to mistake your experience of love for a dependency upon another person's feelings, you can direct it intentionally, as you please, with deference to the source of all, and in service to those within your sphere of influence. This is the love that is kind and patient, and forebears all ills, not out of a masochist desire to endure slights for negative pleasure, but out of a maturity where you can continue to feel your love under the most complex or challenging circumstances and vibrations.

    That, I believe, is what Jesus meant when he said "my cross is easy, and my burden light." Coming from a place of love, from an intent to serve, what might be endured on such a path is borne lightly as the internal experience of love lifts you above the inherent challanges. Where service is drudgery, chances are you are playing the doormat rather than accomplishing true service. That you might as well skip. When love is at the heart of service, then the slave becomes the master.

    Why "bad" things happen to "good" people, re: accountability

    So not every seemingly untoward event represents the effects of prior causes as an issue of accountability. Everyone who is here made the courageous choice to come to this school to learn something of value. Some folks sign up for the extra-intensive course, however, because they want to accelerate their growth. This is an agreement we make before we choose to embark upon this life. So while some folks are aware of their need to balance out past choices with new experiences, and enter upon a life with such a task in mind, others choose challenges which they know will supercharge their spiritual development and self mastery as they meet those challenges. So they volunteer for a particularly challenging body, or set of life circumstances, or project to undertake, or set of complex relationships, the mastery of which will represent a significant leap on the growth curve. So when seemingly "bad" things happen to "good" people, it may or may not provide you some satisfaction to consider three options: 1. they are meeting up with waves they introduced in the pond some time ago; 2. they are meeting up with waves they introduced in the pond rather recently; 3. they are encountering circumstances for which they volunteered knowing that by facing the challenge they would stretch themselves to new levels of perception and spiritual growth.

    Now, we have touched on the first three options, but there is a fourth possibility: they may be doing service for someone else. This is something we must consider in terms of accountablility. It is possible, is some measure, to carry the burdens of another. Jesus offers the perfect example of this, but so do most parents. It is possible to bring one another along on the road, and this is a profound form of service. Folks who have addressed their own accountability issues can, by generating a "surplus" of positive and coherent elementals, contribute to the balance of the universe both in general, as well as in a directed manner.

    We can in fact bear one another's burdens, to the extent that such service does not undermine the essential lessons for which a given person came to learn. So by all means, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, comfort the sorrowing, make peace, love your neighbor, pray for your enemy, do good to those who would harm you, heal the sick, pray for one another, lay hands upon one another, and even lay down your life for a friend!

    When we render such service to one another, we accelerate growth all around by our experience, by our example, and by generating more of that in general (like attracts like.) Some skilled healers have mastered an otherwise dangerous technique of bringing the illness of another into themselves so as to work it out "locally" in their own body. This is not advisable without the requisite considerable knowledge to do so with relative safety: a person who too easily or unconsciously takes on the burdens of another in this manner without the skill or energy to handle it will find themselves burned out and of little help to anyone pretty quickly.

    Some individuals may have chosen a life of a particular station or in a particular set of relationships with service as their main intention, taking up a role to facilitate the growth of someone else. Teachers do this on a regular basis. The life circumstances may appear to be such that "bad" has "happened" to a "good" person, when in fact that person chose the set-up as a means of facilitating another on hi/r path. This is a very real way in which one may "lay down hi/r life for a friend," not by giving up a body as a non-ultimate value, but by taking up a body and living out a life purely as a volunteer in service to another. Of course that servant will grow as well from their choice, but they do so as a matter of course rather than out of necessity to address their own issues of accountability.

    Sunday, April 24, 2005

    More on accountability

    Imagine a person in sitting in a boat along the sea coast. The boat is filled with various objects of different sizes that you can toss into the water: pebbles, floaty toys, rocks, anvils, fish bait, treasure chests, and various other items, some that float, some that sink, but all capable of making waves, big or small, and all capable of attracting the attention of passersby. Imagine that this person is not very skilled at the oars, and is generally new to boating. Let's say you are the person, and you toss in a rock. The water is calm, and you can see the waves ripple out away from the place where the rock entered the water, and then they appear to dissipate after a while. Then you toss in a couple of scoops of fish slop. You also see the waves rippling out, but this time you've attracted some seals who were swimming nearby, and they come by to snarf up the fish. When they do, all of their activity gets your boat rocking. You become very nervous that you will tip, and try to shoo them with your oars, accidentally wacking one on the nose and giving it a boo-boo. Now there is blood in the water and the sharks come hunting for the seal. You thought the seals were nerve racking! Now the sharks have come and you are totally panicked, lie down in the boat, and beg for them to go away.

    Let's say despite this rough start in boating, you keep on practicing. You become skilled at handling the boat in the water, can climb in and out of it with ease, can right it when it capsizes, are a confident swimmer, and all that. Let's say that back before you had become more skilled, you had dropped a sealed box of shark attractant in the water. Today you happen to be out rowing, just the same day that sunken package broke down, and the sharks come swarming in to you. No problem now. You've seen that before and now how to handle them, how to maintain the boat, your balance, and your cool. Just another day at sea for you!

    I intend for this little allegory to describe the manner in which accountablility can be rendered a little less daunting. You see, when you first start out generating thought forms (thought-emotions and emotion-thoughts), you probably don't have a very good sense of the implications of what you produce. We learn from the effects of our causes. So if you dump fish bait in the water, you may attract more than you bargained for, but you can't undo what you've done. At first, the implications of what comes back to you as a result of your ignorant actions may seem daunting. However, as you build your skill at handling yourself in the lag-time between your action (oops! I dropped a sealed box of shark attractant!) and its effect (here come the sharks!), you render yourself more capable of handling the repercussions of your action.

    The universe is in a sense a closed system. So the waves you generate in the form of thoughts and actions redound back upon you eventually. Imagine the universe as a sphere, and yourself as a wave generator. The waves generated by you will eventually work their way around the sphere and back to you. When they return, they will have encountered other waves of similar frequency generated by others thinking like thoughts and committing like actions. So by the time they get back to you, they are of the same frequency, but of increased amplitude. And when they return, you'll likely give them yet more energy and out they'll go again, destined to return even more energized still, with greater amplitude yet.

    A while back in an earlier post I noted the way in which the body speaks to us. First it whispers, then it whines, then it shouts and screams for attention. That final point usually gets our attention, but our response is often to just shut it up somehow rather than actually listen to the message. We may do so at our peril, because such shouts left untended can lead to the breakdown of the human body quite completely. Furthermore, there is an illegitimate tendency played out by the victim consciousness relative to the shouting body to accuse the body, as if it is causing the pain, rather than to inspect the behaviors and patterns that generated the warning message in the first place. The victim will blame the messenger. This whole scenario transfers exactly to thought forms in general. You generate a thought form, which works its way around the universal sphere and back to you, its source. That's the whisper. If generated in an unconscious manner, you may not recognize it upon its return, but will charge it up again nonetheless. When it returns again as a whine in the circumstances of your life, or later still as a shout, from the victim consciousness you may be inclined to identify what's happening as something from outside of your "innocent self." In fact the universe is simply functioning perfectly as designed and keeping itself balanced and yourself accountable for your thoughts and actions in the way it does best.

    This scenario of course applies to all of your thoughts and actions, and not merely the ones which are imbalanced and out of synch with the will of the source of all and with universal law. The good stuff comes back amplified too, whether you're conscious of the good stuff you have generated or not. It's the same deal either way! Both the good and the bad which we generate redound upon us as waves flowing round the sphere and back to their source, same frequency, higher amplitude. This is called the law of sevenfold return in some esoteric literature, perhaps based on the reference of Jesus in his parable of the room swept clean of the evil spirit only to find seven more to replace it. What is sent out returns amplified. This is a good thing, in the same way that the shouts from your body are a good thing. They alert us to what we are doing, in case we are too thick or unconscious to notice in the first place. When we generate causes, that is, our thoughts and actions, unconsciously, one way that they can be brought to consciousnes is to have them return to us so loudly that they grab our attention and compel us to take a look at what's going on.

    Those attention grabbers usually seem to come out of nowhere. They blindside you because although they are the effects of your thoughts and actions returning, the patterns which generated them were in all likelihood unconscious ones. The person in victim consciousness will immediately scream foul, and begin looking for something, anything outside of the self on which to pin the blame. The person on a path of self mastery, however, while also taken by surprise by an event, will take up the experience as an opportunity to explore previously unconscious patterns of thought and behavior, and acknowledge the opportunity to bring what was in the dark to light.

    Further, when you practice self mastery, like the boater in our earlier example, you become more skilled at handling the effects of the traps which you unconsciously set for yourself. Not every seemingly untoward event in your life represents the effects of prior causes. We'll talk about that tomorrow!

    Saturday, April 23, 2005

    Regarding "accountability"

    Hey there, friends! I am posting from an internet kiosk at the hotel where I'm staying: $0.10/minute -- that's dedication!

    For anybody locked into a victim conciousness mentality, all this talk of universal law and the mathematical precision with which it holds us accountable for our every thought and action may seem a little spooky and overwhelming. If you are of a mind to believe that your sins were all forgiven because you believe in Jesus, well, that is true in so far as you will not be sent to bake in eternal hell by a judge for your past deeds or the deeds of "Adam," but far be it from Jesus to undercut universal law completely and erase the paths of growth which you have worked out for yourself with the consent of the source of all. There is a lot to be said for accountability. Accountability is different from responsibility. In these posts we've had lots to say about responsibility. The perspective I have been developing here posits responsibility as a strategy of introspection intrinsic to the path of self mastery: the practice of responsibility involves the willing inspection of our role in the creation of our life experience with a view to correcting sub-optimal choices and creating a life experience ever more in keeping with the divine will-pleasure and universal law.

    Accountablility, on the other hand, is not so much a practical function like responsibility. Rather, it is more a mathmatical function based upon the universal principles of attraction, intent, allowance and balance. The universe holds us accountable, not as a function of judgement, but simply as a function of the structure built into it by the most wise source of all. We are accountable for our thoughts and actions. The universe is not mad at us, or bent on punishing us, or anything of the sort. Such are the attributes which the victim consciousness mistakedly assigns to G-- from the depths of its guilt and craving for self-punishment.

    Now, for those of you who have whipped out the calculator and begun tallying your debt to the universe for all of those nasty thoughts and actions you have been accumulating in the basements and subbasements of your unswept conscience, let's pause for a moment and consider all of the ways in which it is possible seemingly to mitigate accountability. It is important to do this, because if you toss in all of your nasty thoughts and actions for which you are accountable from your past lives as well, it may seem an unreasonable prospect to overcome your past and move forward.

    It is precisely that sense of overwhelm which we need to address, lest you give up on the prospect of moving forward altogether, as if you were a hopeless case, on the one hand, or on the other, you attempt to outmaneuver your accountability without actually learning anything from the effects which you have caused, which would sort of defeat the purpose of coming to school in the first place. This latter outmaneuvering of accountability often seems to me to be at the heart of some of the more simplistic strategies for gathering converts to christianity.

    I said "seemingly" mitigate accountability because although you can't really mitigate accountability, you can in fact grab the bull by the horns today and begin to generate the movement towards self mastery in your life which will reduce and dissolve the implied necessity of working through the repercussions of your past. When you, for instance, begin the practice of generating a stream of positive elementals, consciously constructed thought-emotions the intent of which are coherent with the divine will-pleasure and universal law, you simultaneously begin to dissolve the negative elementals which you generated in your past. That is because habits are dissolved through the repetition of the opposite action.

    You need not necessarily become conscious of every single thought and action which you have deposited in the history of your life to dissolve them all. More important matters will indeed require a deliberate process of introspection to unfold your role in the particular drama, but in large part, your concern will be to generate a new state of mind, one which habitually creates in a positive manner coherent with the will of the source of all. On that track, you will be dissolving the implications of your past at a rapid rate. For example, say you had a fear of flying, and you undertook to address that fear head on, and you arrived at a point (and this can happen quicker then you may have dared to imagine) where you can get on a plane or look out at a vista without the fearful charge welling up within you. Well, at that point, all of the emotion-thoughts which you generated over the long course of your history and pattern of fear over that particular issue are effectively discharged and no longer have any leverage upon you. You have in effect discharged your accountability through your conscious effort. Congratulations!

    Another kind of example is when something that used to bother you doesn't anymore, because you let it go and grew beyond your initial diposition. For instance, say your spouse has a habit of doing something that you initially react against. After recognizing your reaction, through the practice of introspection you determine that the matter is in fact inconsequential, and you consciously choose to look at it from another perspective, to live and let live. Now when your spouse does "that," it no longer bothers you. Instead of demanding they change, you transformed your own perspective.

    I'm up to seven bucks in this machine with more to say, but my brain is slowing down...I will post more tommorrow when I am thinking faster (and therefore cheaper...time is literally money in this machine!

    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    I'm on the road

    I am travelling to teach in San Francisco from Friday, April 22, returning May 1st. If I can post on the road somehow, I will, but if I do not have access to a computer, please come back with me to this blog around May 2nd! Thanks for reading along!

    How the past matters

    In an early post, I commented that “the past is basically irrellevant.” It is important for you to understand the context of that statement given what I have said about responsibility in the interim, and in light of the last two posts. When it comes to taking up the path of service and self mastery, and getting off the victim consciousness treadmill/train-to-nowhere, the past is irrelevant in the following sense: no matter what you’ve done, no matter how poor or unconscious your choices have been in the past, no matter how long you have buried your talents under a rock, betrayed your self, hurt others, feared the truth, avoided honesty, conjured false selves and worshipped false gods, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO WAKE UP! How many times shall I forgive my brother, Lord? Seven times? “I say not seven times, but 70 times 7 times,” said Jesus. That’s bible numerology for “perfectly” or “infinitely,” for you literalist bean-counters out there who might be tempted to do the math and stop forgiving/practicing archery after a mere 490 misses-of-the-mark! Just ask Thomas Edison how many times he and his lab team blew it before they came up with a working lightbulb, and you’ll know that 490 misses is barely getting going in the learning/innovating/development arena, which is also the stuff of growth and self mastery.

    So the past should never be considered an impetus for remaining in the victim consciousness. Many use the past as their excuse for not moving forward, along the lines of claiming “I was so naughty, I’m unforgiveable, so I’ll just keep wallowing in guilt here (as opposed to doing the work of introspection to reveal my patterns to myself, become conscious of my choices, and practice new habits which are coherent with universal law, the divine will, and my own nascent consciousness of self mastery and service.) In this sense, for sure, the past is no excuse for not taking up the cause of self mastery in the present. In that sense, it is irrelevant.

    Another way that people use the past as an excuse for not moving forward is via the strategy of unforgiveness. This strategy is self-defeating at best, and another fine example of victim-consciousness strategizing. The Greek word aphiaymi (roughly transliterated) is one of my favorites in scripture because of the multiple English meanings which it simultaneously carries, including to let go, to forgive, to cancel a debt, to permit, to allow. When you hold on to something someone else did to you, when you refuse forgiveness, when you hold someone indebted, it’s you who is stuck holding on. Unforgiveness is a ball and chain, but as opposed to the kind which is shackled to you, the unforgiving one willingly, consciously or unconsciously, grips the chain hi/rself, drags the heavy ball about while moaning and retelling the story over and over again about what happened and how wrong it was and how it made me suffer so, and on and on. While I fully recognize the real hurtful experiences that people endure at the receiving end of bad choices, stupid mistakes, and wicked doings, forgiveness is still the most powerful strategy for moving beyond these experiences.

    People often cling to unforgiveness either because they feel obliged to hold someone accountable for actions commited by another, or because they want to punish that person themselves, or because they believe they simply “can’t let go,” along the lines of: “I tried to forgive him, but I just can’t!” Or they hold on to unforgiveness because it is a way of maintaining their own innocence while leaving their own role in the events uninspected.

    As far as holding others accountable, this is a waste of time given the active corrective nature of universal law. The laws of attraction and balance guarantee that each and every one of us will be held accountable for our every thought and action. It is an unnecessary duplication of efforts to play the judge, and to mete out punishment, a role from the victim consciousness’s dramatic repertoire. Furthermore, such role playing also represents an attempt on the part of the unforgiving one to control how another person should experience the ultimate outcome of their actions, and this is simply not for us to control or decide. It is not in our sphere of intelligence, frankly. So judge not, lest you be judged, for the measure which you measure out will be measured back to you. That attempt to control the outcomes through unforgiveness actually represents a breach of the law of allowance on the part of the one who does not forgive. Generating elementals of punishment merely attracts more punishment to oneself. This is the manner in which our universe is structured. If you don’t like it, move out! But since the grass isn’t any greener on the other side of the universe, it pays to play by the rules, and forgive, let go, allow. It may be easier to do so when you become aware of how destructive the state of unforgiveness is to your own self, and of how universal structure will take care of matters with far more art and grace then you ever could have according to your own vengeful design. “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord” in these terms means that your vengeance is unnecessary, as the source of all has made the repercussions of our thoughts and actions to be certainties of universal law. The “vengeance” of the Lord is victim-consciousness poetry reiterating this fact of structural necessity.

    So the belief that one simply can’t forgive is nothing more than a false belief. Unforgiveness is an act of control contrary to universal law. It is a choice in a certain direction, which itself carries it’s own miserable repercussions. When you recognize the choice involved in unforgiveness, and the strategies you undertake consciously or unconsciously through unforgiveness, you empower yourself to construct new thought-emotions with respect to the experience at issue which enable you to build up the pattern of letting go in your system. When you practice letting go (and I mean PRACTICE! One act of letting go will not constitute a habit of letting go, or a permanent experience of having let go. For events that you experienced with an intense charge, you must practice letting go until the habit of letting go is fully formed and in place as a habit itself powerfully charged, and ultimately capable of dissipating the charge of the other experience.

    You may have noticed that none of this discussion of unforgiveness revolves around the plot or story of the experience in question. It frankly doesn’t matter in the slightest what she said or what he did. All that matters is what have you done with it, and how does unforgiveness represent a negative pattern in your life, and how are you going to heal yourself of it. Every time you go back to the past in order to charge up with emotion your version of the events in question and your status as innocent victim, and claim for yourself the power to forgive, and hold that over another person as a club with which to beat them or as some sort of dispensation which they need to beg for like a dog or which you may grant them today but maybe not tommorrow depending upon whether they live up to your most recent standards of perfection, when you do these things, you imprison yourself, you wallow in the victim consciousness, you drag around a ball and chain which you could be free of by simply releasing your grip upon it, again and again, every time you experience the temptation to grab hold of it again.

    When you return to the past, return instead with an intent to witness it from the eyes of the other person. Return to it with an intent to witness your own strategies and choices. Return to it with a view to recognizing the false beliefs which were operative in your life at the time, and which may or may not remain operative now. Return to it as a reality to check, so that you might reduce a mountain back to a molehill. Return to it to exercise your power to move a mountain and cast it into the sea, if in fact the event was of epic proportions. Whether it turns out to have been a molehill, or a mountain indeed, in either event your responsibility is to forgive, to let go, to move on. When you do, you will ultimately be able to look back dispassionately upon the past experience, for having established the habit of letting go of it, and for having discharged the pattern of holding on to it.

    So, the past is highly relevant! It is the meat upon which one needs to chew in order to move to a higher level of consciousness. Anyone who dismisses the past as irrelevenat in order to avoid inspecting their responsibility for their thoughts, choices and actions is no better off than the person who dwells upon the past in order to reiterate a version of events which justify their unforgiveness. Both represent strategies of the victim consciousness weighing in to maintain its innocence based upon the false belief that taking responsibility for your life experience represents a bad thing rather than a good thing. The path of self mastery willing looks back through the pages of past events to study them, to identify places that still hold a lot of charge, and to call forth new intentions to rectify destructive and unhelpful patterns, false beliefs and the like, with a view to cultivating a life experience coherent with the will pleasure of the source of all.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    More on Why be moral? and the economy of salvation

    So basically, I’m saying that the only thing newborn about a newborn is hi/r body, because the consiousness has already been around the block a few times, on average. We each show up with an agenda for our lives: christians call this the plan of G--, and to the extent that this life and body are gifts from the source of all granted to us with our consent and willing, conscious participation, in order to help us learn what we are ready to learn and resolve what we are ready to resolve, I agree.

    Now some might be picking up here that I imply reincarnation when I say all this. Well, that’s right, I do. Whether or not an understanding of the principles of reincarnation are logically necessary here, I am not sure, but since I don’t carry the burden of needing to fulfill tenets of any christian orthodoxy, I freely subscribe to notions of reincarnation, as was taught broadly throughout the christian world by the fathers of the church for the first three or so centuries of its existence. If folks find the world of the early church communities somehow worth reconciling themselves too, then they’ll need to find a place in their thought system for reincarnation as well.

    The notion comes up in scripture out of the mouth of Jesus himself. He asks his friends who do people say that I am, and when they say Elijah returned, he corrects them and says, no, John is Elijah returned. He doesn’t say, no, you fools, there is no such thing as “returning.” Rather he helps them to understand who has become who on another go round. That passage is what you call a sleeper, meaning someone on the editing committee was napping and let that one slip by while they were busy axing all of the other references in the community documents refering to such commonplace christian teachings on reincarnation that no longer fit the systems of control being put in place by the newly established church-state alliance of the day.

    Reincarnation met the chopping block of doctrines that had to go, not because it wasn’t true, and not because it hadn’t been taught for the prior three hundred years running, but because it didn’t cohere with the absolute limits being placed upon the possibility of “salvation” on the part of the established church/state, new holder of the keys to heaven. By limiting the hope for salvation to a single lifetime, which obviously isn’t enough time to work out what needs to be learned to finish your walks on this planet, folks were duped into buying the instant salvation lottery ticket where everyone who plays can win: ie, “submission to church and sacrament” (the modern easy-ticket version being “confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior”). Unfortunately, such an option does little to inculcate a meaningful motivation for true self mastery, except the kind of truncated and juvenile “self-mastery” that amounts to controlling oneself out of fear of eternal punishment.

    To sum up this little screed at this point: the christian formulas that hold out that “all men are sinners” carry the grain of truth from the perspective of self mastery that each and every one of us comes on this planet and takes up life in a body with tasks to complete and skills to be practiced. Divergence between a program of self mastery and the standard christian formulas of our day comes regarding strategies for reaching the end game. Burdening a savior who bares responsibility for irresolvable guilt is not a legitimate strategy on the path of self mastery.

    This is not to say the the one who would be a master has no place for the teachings, example, and accomplishments of Jesus. On the contrary, it is Jesus himself who has provided the very program of service and self mastery upon which these posts are based. It is Jesus who taught that the one who would be a master must be the servant of all. (Self Mastery through Service.) It is Jesus who taught that we reap what we sow. (Attraction.) It is Jesus who taught that those who have but a bit of faith will do greater things even than he did. ( Deliberate Intent) It is Jesus who demonstrated the power of aligning one’s will with the will of the source of all: thy will be done. (Allowance.) It is Jesus who taught that all of what happens in the dark will be revealed. (Balance.) It is Jesus who said get up, take up your mat, and walk! (Responsibility) It is Jesus who faced the freedom of the will even in it’s most ignorant forms and poured out his love nonetheless: forgive them! they know not what they do! (Freedom.) It is Jesus who invited followers and respected their decision: sell what you have, and come follow me -- but the man went away sad, for he had many possesions. (Choice.) It is Jesus who taught about thought forms and elementals: a man swept his house clean of a demon and it returned with friends! It is Jesus who said I am the light of the world, and you are the light of the world. Put that light upon the table for all to see!

    I believe it is a gross injustice and literalist misrepresentation to reduce the life of Jesus to the death of Jesus as a blood sacrifice for guilt. What satisfactions for the guilty conscious various formulaic confessions may provide are fleeting, ultimately, and fail to resolve the core guilt of a person. The only thing that resolves the core guilt of a person is taking conscious stock of one’s responsibility for one’s thoughts and actions and the effects they cause through introspection, and engaging in the transformative work and practice of new and conscious habit formation that recreates the sleeping “victim” of Adam’s sin into the waking master who multiplies his talents in the service of the source of all.

    If there is an “economy of salvation” to the path of self mastery, it is the belief that we are given all the time in the world to work out everything that we need to in order to master our free wills and balance their expression in a manner integral with the will pleasure of the source of all, from whose womb we have never departed in fact, and in whose sacred heart alone we will find true rest.

    Why be moral, pt. 2: the economy of “salvation” inspected

    Now the odd thing about choosing otherwise, that is, choosing to be immoral, or out of synch with the tenets of universal law, is that, although it is a choice that arises from the freedom of the will, it leads to the ultimate curtailment of the freedom of the will, and so is a choice against the self. The choice to be immoral, that is, the choice to exercise your freedom in a manner that generates imbalance, in a manner that attempts to control instead of allow, in a manner that deliberately intends ill and attracts negativity, or in a manner that yields to unconscious processes that for which we are ultimately responsible, such a kind of choice generates in the universe wrongs that need to be righted, imbalances that need to be corrected, and thought forms that need to be discharged of their energy.

    Those wrongs, imbalances, and thought forms which you cause, whether consciously or unconsciously, have their effects upon others, to be sure, and ultimately, they play themselves out upon you directly. I am responsible for the legacy which is generated in the wake of my thoughts and actions, and the very structure of the universe will call me to ultimately face the effects which I cause. Everything that happens in the dark will be brought to light; everything whispered in secret will be made known.

    Now at this point, many a christian at least by name will step in and say “Gil! That’s why Jesus came! We are such awful sinners, rotten to the core through our inheritance from Adam, that there’s just no way we can pay back what we owe! We are rightly deserving of eternal fire, and nothing more, but by the blood of Jesus we are washed clean! He who was innocent and owed nothing has paid our debt through his sacrifice on the cross and set us free! Acknowledge him as your Lord and Savior and be born again, and you too can be saved, for everyone is indebted, and only through such an allegiance can you overcome the burden laid upon you by the unrighteousness of Adam, and your own sins as well.” If you have ever been on a college campus for more than a day or two, or travelled south of the Mason-Dixon line, watched late night preachers, flipped radio stations, or read Cur Deus Homo by “St.” Anselm, you have heard this argument. Admittedly the Catholic Church upped the anti on this formula a bit by piling on some sacramental obligations and submission to the authority of the Church embodied in the pontiff who assumes the consecrated role of bona fide mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit on earth, but the initial bit holds for Catholics as well.

    Tiresome as the “economy of salvation” may seem for jaded New Agers, apostates, Hollywood, and heretics in general, this basic formula is held near and dear by a very large chunk of the planetary consciousness, and deserves a going over from the perspective I have been developing with you for the last month or so. There are truths layered in the formula, and with a little digging it is possible to find some overlap, as opposed to a knee jerk dismissal of the belief system of nearly two billion people, or instant submission to an altar call, neither of which seem like appealing options to me.

    For starters, it is pretty much an obvious point for everybody except the most naive idealists that indeed “all men have sinnned.” (You’ll have to consult Phillis Schaffley about whether its true for woman as well. I’m assuming that the equality of men and women would logically extend to their propensity to sin as well!) Now we could quibble about what counts as a sin till the cow jumps over the moon, but I am partial to the etymological roots of the Greek word “hamartia,” which in English translations is rendered “sin.” In classical Greek, an older form of the language predating the Koine or common Greek of the New Testament, hamartia is a term from archery meaning “off mark,” or “a miss.” So everyone should agree that at least etymologically speaking, to sin means “to miss the mark.” The levels of culpability you choose to layer into that mix will depend on a lot of things, like whether you missed by accident or on purpose, whether you missed over and over again or just once, whether the shot was really important or not too important, and whether you consider it appropriate to slather blame and guilt on top of a miss, or whether you prefer the road of introspection, conscious responsibility, and practice, practice, practice.

    Another point for quibbling always arises around babies, who obviously aren’t culpable for their actions in the way that an adult is, due to sheer developmental limitations: you can’t miss the mark if you can’t even pick up the bow and arrow! However, many find themselves cringing when they hear christians-by-name going off in all seriousness about how babies can be damned to hell, or maybe limbo, or perhaps just an eternity watching The Home Shopping Network without a telephone. I know I spent plenty of (uninformed) time pondering this mystery as a youth, thankful that I was baptized straight out of the starting block (though this somehow failed to relieve my perpetual feelings of guilt). It always seemed to me like a raw deal that on top of being gypped by a short life, a baby who died without benefit of baptism would be excluded from the heavenly banquet.

    While I personally find such a conclusion downright sick, misanthropic, and disconnected from any possible sense of “a loving and righteous G--,” I am keen to point out what is true in this part of the formula: all have missed the mark, in the big picture. Now the reason I believe that and the reason why a christian-by-name believes that may be utterly different, but I must acknowledge the place of convergence nonetheless. As mentioned above, for the christian-by-name, the concept of original sin holds the children of Adam stained from birth by his culpabilty for betraying the rules of the garden. Basically, babies inherent original sin sort of like a genetic disease, and Jesus is the cure.

    Now my mytho-history may or may not be more rooted in fact than that mytho-history, but I find mine more palatable. As mentioned in an earlier post, I hold that our consciousness predates our coming in to form, and that our coming in to a physical human form is a choice, a choice chosen in co-creative intention with the will of the source of all. I also believe that we show up here as works-in-progress, and as such we come to this school with a bookbag full of projects to work on: phobias to overcome, defensives to let down, fears to relinquish, loves to blossom, and so on. We show up needing work from the get go! In this very real sense, we have all “missed the mark.” We are in archery class, after all, because we need practice. If we were all expert marksmen before the fact, we wouldn’t need to come at all.

    I will continue this tommorrow!