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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Paradise Lost

    A Master once reminded us that, if we are to gain the Kingdom of Heaven, we must first become as little children.  I have been thinking extensively about the dichotomy inherent in the engine of convention; how it is both a necessary evil in that it allows us a functioning society and, at the same time, can be a barrier to the living of an unfettered, realized existence.  I mean unfettered in the sense of  losing the western, linear way of thinking and being able to live in the domain of the peripheral. 
       From our first conscious moments, we are taught convention and are then slowly, steadily seeped of our unconscious connection to the Absolute.  By the time we are adolescents we have forgotten our heavenly ways.  We no longer live by feeling or intuition.  The child just knows things, as does an animal.  They sense the good in people and the bad.  They don’t qualify such indications with strings of words and reasoning, but with a grand snapshot of the whole picture which allows for instantaneous response.  The child cries; the dogs bolts…
       Reasoning, induction, logic; these are processes that take time.  When they are complete the thinker has no direct knowledge of their subject, although they may understand the various facets of  certain characteristics pertaining to said object.  Of course the proverb of the blind men and the elephant is relevant here.  In the same sense, the linear human being has for its “self-awareness” snapshots of past experiences, identifications with exterior subjects and therefore an extremely temporal, if not outdated, database with which to compile a definition of itself.  This tunnel vision is learned to enable us to dissect the pieces of creation’s puzzles, but it never reveals the final, great picture.
       I am reminded of the pictographic writing of eastern, oriental cultures, and of ancient Egypt in particular.  It is often overlooked that such “macros” of  reference that their hieroglyphic symbols represent display a non-linear way of thinking.  They had no need to spell out forever every last detail of what they were referring to because the reader already carried an innate understanding of the subject matter.  I am reminded of the “not-doings” again of the Toltec, of the “wu-wei” of the Taoist-a far more efficient “real-time” way of integrating thought and action. 
       To truly “see” everything around you at once you merely need to disengage your tunnel vision; just cross your eyes.  This simple exercise sums up the major difference in philosophy between West and East. Of course, nobody wants to be operated on by a cross-eyed brain surgeon, and I heard that hand-made watches don't turn out as well with that approach, either.  There is a time and place for both ways of seeing what we wish to see, and this fact leads me to the crux of why I felt the need to get out of bed at one in the morning to turn my computer back on. 
       When I see all of Creation, I see the process of expansion and retraction  played out repeatedly in a sort of sifting and refining. As the microcosm, we are no different and we display this entire process within our being and our life cycle. We are born with the ability to see in the peripheral, with the mind’s eye.  We are taught to abandon this ability and embrace the linear way of thinking with each new day of our new life.  We are taught to be “intelligent,” but in that process we lose something very important, something that the wise of the world spend the rest of their grown lives trying to regain.
       This principle of “no-mind,” or wu-hsin,  is repeatedly lauded by such figures as Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu as the key to an enlightened life.  It is liberation of anxiety and, in turn, peace of mind. 
       Being of the West, I see the value in both trains of  thought, and at the moment I personally believe that there is a time and a place for both.  I do not witness the East condemning Western thought, but I feel that our linear approach to understanding the universe often derides and discredits the Eastern approach.  Anyone watching the Science or Discovery channels will undoubtedly sense the gradual shift, however, toward a more global embracing of Eastern mysticism.  The advances in our understanding of quantum physics had much to do with this, as is well known and documented.  That the most famous scientists in history were, indeed, mystics, is becoming more acceptable to popular history every day. 
       Where I feel one of the last major bastions of  linear thinking to the exclusion of all else resides is in the very place that would feign spirituality-dogmatic religion.  How ironic.  I keep hearing how certain denominations even condemn the act of yoga as an illegitimate approach to transcendence. Milton, Milton… 
       In a linear conception of the world a kingdom is an actual stone-and-foundation building.  Did not Christ tell us that the Kindgom of Heaven is within us?   Could not Heaven literally be the Higher Self and "hell" our mundane, "lower",  false egos?  Why do we write His words off as figurative?  I would propose that if anyone is to take the linear approach to understanding what the Kingdom actually is that they take these words literally, too.  If we take the entire process to the macrocosmic level we would see all of Creation in a sea of potential, dividing and becoming tangible, manifested, grounded.  It is much like the ovum. It is conceived so near to its original state, but then becomes conscious.  It studies itself.  It has experiences.  It lives and breathes.  It hardens and coagulates, forming new bodies like its own whole but smaller, mini systems in their own right.
       In the end this will all return.  Prana and Apana. It will return refined and rectified as a more glorious version of its former being, synergistically evolved.  Solve et coagula.  For this is the Pattern.  The search for paradise lost is none other but the Path of Return to our original state of mind; the mind of a child.    In the new and glorious state the child has gained experience, however, much like the grape juice needs yeast to make wine.  Without linear thinking  the child would never have lived to become an adult.  Once adulthood is attained, however, the refined awareness of the mind of the child must be re-introduced as a sort of Fermenting agent.  Only then, when what was lost is regained, can Creation consider its cycle complete.
       All sages are seeking to become children again. Children with experience.  Creation incorporating a conscious experience seeks the same.  Microcosm and macrocosm- different only in degree-with one a perfect hologram of the other.
       I propose that the Kingdom of Heaven is none other but the ultimate evolution realized. As below, so above.  What is true for my evolution is the same for any planet, any star, any galaxy.  We have beginning, we have middle, and we have end. We are born, we live, we die.  In the death of one star comes the dust for countless new worlds. Ashes to ashes….  The Path of Return is everything He summed up when He gave us the aphorism of becoming a child again.  Without that frame of mind there is no enlightenment, no realization.

Cut out cleverness and there are no anxieties!
People in general are so happy, as if enjoying a feast,
Or as going up a tower in spring.
I alone am tranquil, and have made no signs,
Like a baby who is yet unable to smile;
Forlorn as if I had no home to go to.
Others all have more than enough,
And I alone seem to be in want.
Possibly mine is the mind of a fool,
Which is so ignorant!
The vulgar are bright,
And I alone seem dull.
The vulgar are discriminative,
And I alone seem to be blunt.
I am negligent as if being obscure;
Drifting, as if being attached to nothing.
The people in general all have something to do,
And I alone seem to be impractical and awkward.
I alone am different from others,
But I value seeking sustenance from my Mother.”
                                                     -Tao Teh Ching 20


Of the w's it's the what and the why that really get me-the who, the when, and the where not so much.  And how isn't even on the horizon...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Get Up!!!

      In my effort to extricate my divine nature and soul from the profane aspects of self, I have been subjected to those same passions from which I am trying to distance myself.
      The revealing of these hidden, integrated characteristics can be unpleasant and discouraging as they incarnate as real experiences.  The tendency, at least it has been for me, is to want to feel unworthy and retrogressive when, in fact, the opposite is true.  I was fortunate enough to have drawn this conclusion myself  intuitively but, nevertheless, I can see how this condition of apparent “retrograde” could discourage someone from the Path.  
    The fastest planet, Mercury, displays this retrograde motion in the sky.  By visiting a planetarium one can witness the apparent “slingshot” of this tiny world around the sun at the end of an apparent deceleration.  It is as if the backward motion is the pulling back of the bowstring.
      I think a proper understanding of any method of self-grading, whether it be a “ladder”, a step, a medal, a degree-whatever, will take into account the fact that THE PATH IS NOT LINEAR!!!  It is a twisting spiral, traversing backwards and forwards,  up and down..  As with any ironing job we have to go back over the garment and revisit the wrinkles we could SWEAR we just ironed out.  
      Over time, a new condition within ourselves WILL arise.  The key is PERSISTENCE. Persistence is dependent upon INTENT.  Intent is related to HEART and WILL.   Purity of heart.   Purity of intent.  Veneration, of ourselves or others, will always be detrimental to the Path-a stumbling block to our progress.  Worship no other human being.  Realize your inherent value.  Ironic it is that the term “veneration” derives from “Venus,”  whose association is with harmony…

Help Yourself

       A few years ago I was working at a jobsite in Santa Ynez, California.  I was doing home-automation/low-voltage installation work at the time for the upper one percent of society.  A few days before on an outing to Red Rocks in Coldwater Canyon I’d gone into blackout while hiking and swimming due to my intake of copious amounts of vodka.  Somewhere along the hike back I’d  taken a header into some jagged rocks, gashing my forehead above the left eye.  It was an obvious, ugly sight to behold, but I had to work.  I had bills to pay.  
The client wasn’t particularly an easy one for any of the contractors (she’d gone through five already), but she and I got along rather well due to my exuberance for her rescue dogs.  I was the only one she actually welcomed into her house. She and I had a special bond through the intermediary of animals. 
I’d  done my best to cover up my shiner and gash-especially in light of the fact that my workplaces were $35 million homes.  I was very careful to avoid conversation about my disfigured face.  Knowing of my disposition through prior conversations of wanting to rescue dogs myself, without even acknowledging the gaping wound she just quietly remarked to me, “You know,  you won’t be able to take care of them if you don’t take care of yourself.” 
 This profound reminder never fails to tap me on the shoulder when (always afterward) I find myself in a state of self-destruction.  Likewise, the scar on my forehead that glares back at me in the mirror will always be there to remind me of this admonition. 


     A paradox is a flicker in the corner of the Mind's eye, drawing ones attention to the existence of a higher truth. It shimmers there in our peripheral vision, only to disappear upon our directed gaze.  It is the stuff of the Nagual, of Direct Knowledge, of Symbol.
   I’m finding that a great number of profundities are apparent “paradoxes”.  For example, my goal is to be of practical importance, but  to realize the praxis I must apply myself in the transcendent. 
        This would appear paradoxical to anyone who does not place the intangible in its proper perspective as the greater reality.
        True Imagination.
        Lao Tzu said that the intangible gives practicality to the tangible.  The space in the bowl, after all, is what we are using to contain its contents.
        Another paradox: We want things to be easy, but things are usually not easy unless we apply much effort, first.  As I noted this morning in my last journal, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to achieve effortlessness.  No master of ANYTHING ever achieved that state without a concentrated determination.
        A master makes the apparently impossible look like child’s play, but the path to that mastership began with a simple thought-like the tiny seed that becomes the Sequoia.
        The building of the bridge across the chasm begins with a simple line. In the Grail quests, the participants had to DO THE WORK.  It was a self-appointed task.  In a sense they were together in that they scoured the same forests, but they had different entry-points.
        The Way coaxes and leads, but we have to take the steps. The Way is self-filtering; by its very nature it will weed out those who are not yet ready.  Perhaps this weeding-out is temporal, as with Percival. We stumble, we fall, but the pure of heart will always return to the path.
        We are all participants, actors in a Sophoclean tragedy.  We each have our Achilles’ heel.  But these “thorns-in-the-flesh” turn out to be our allies upon revelation--our motivators.  This is the paradox of Hermes.  This is the paradox of the Subconcious.  They can be psychopomp or trickster, gatekeeper or usher.   They answer to the universal laws and exemplify them.
        Like the Chinese finger puzzle they teach us to let go, a conclusion we only come to after a lifetime of struggle.
        We learn about Polarity, Rhythm, Cause-and-effect.  Communication is initiated between the objective consciousness and the subconscious mind.  The Rebus, the Phoenix, the Bennu Bird-all visions of death becoming a rebirth. Another paradox… Separate. Purify. Recombine.  Solve, Rectificando, et Coagula.  We now “walk in the Spirit”.   We become the Philosopher’s Stone.

Houses Of Sand Require Maintenance

         Many of the mundane pleasures in life are based upon illusion--the contexts of perception we have accepted as reality.  Most of the associations with the false ego-identification, self-importance-have pleasure-bases built around them (the accumulation of wealth, fame, ambition, praise) that to maintain require vast amounts of personal energy to be expended.
        Houses built upon sand.
        Temporal pleasure is gradually replaced with eternal contentment in the Tao, the pursuit of the Primordial Tradition-in essence, Equilibrium-leaving vast areas of attention to be re-allocated and divided up.  Ironically, this otherwise-beneficent state can be a source of division in the realm of relationships already established. Homeostasis is thrown off balance in the new paradigm of "evolution" and great care has to be addressed to roles and expectations shared hitherto with  significant others. 
      Right isn't always right right away.

Redemption (Pt I)

      Close to my heart is the theme of redemption.  The road of any life with any purpose seems to be laden with the ubiquitous motif of (initially-perceived) weakness and bad judgment.  
      I was struck with the poignancy of the fact that through bad choices we realize our inner resolve.  I think of  Jacque de Molay and his initial inability to resist the torture of the Inquisition, only to find through his disgust with himself and his apparent failure the truth behind his mettle.  Losing his attachment to this world, he traded it for the higher ideal in the end.
      I think of  Biblical story of Jonah,  enduring his trials after rejecting God’s command that he visit Nineveh only to, finally, find his resolve.  (One could take any number of Biblical characters for this example; take Saul of Tarsus...) 
       Even in popular culture we have Anakin Skywalker's return from the Dark Side.  I remember as a boy watching the James Bond movie Moonraker and being struck by the turning of the "Jaws" character to the apparent forces of good.  (Obscure reference, I know, but a valid one).
      These are a few examples, but our sphere of reality in art, literature, history,  is replete with the same archetype in one form or another.  The Sophoclean tragedy centers around the inherent nature of the character-the “character of the character”.   We would have no irony in literature-or in life-without the possibility for paradox and the opposites of Polarity.

       It is the final act of the Hero that defines him to posterity.


  “True motivation”.  I am finding that the word “true” added before any attribute transforms its polarity and quality.  It is indeed the epitomization of the Alchemy of the universe-the “Coagula”.  The Stone.  The transcended, transmuted product.

True Imagination.
True Inspiration.
True Desire.

True Love.

  It is the stamp of the Higher, the evolved. 
  We fall, but we learn through our faliures, remember the flavor, and live to ride again.
  Purified, battle-scarred…
  We are ready when the heat has dissipated from within us after we have been subjected to the oven.”