Sunday, 22 December 2013

Winter Repose

Oh frozen veil of winter’s embrace
Illusory in nature
Life seemingly suspended
 In your crystalline shroud
And protracted beauty both
Plunged into extended darkness
How faintly then the Call
As even now upon the stillness
Infinite forms of light
Whisper hints of an approaching dance
Listen then with ears of the heart
Fear not the deceptive silhouettes
The trickery of diminished light
Refraction can make available friend or foe
Desolation and barrenness conjoined
With soul visitation and reconciliation
Being, found in the slumber
Dreams foretell of awakenings held within.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Truth - Fact or Fiction?

In a place that might well be described as my “wildest imagination” I hope that what I write is insightful, expansive, even provocative – ultimately I hope that it serves others. It is my vison that my own introspection and inquiry reach beyond the personal and touch the universal.  Nothing I write is exhaustive – though I may well express exhaustion. I seem to think of myself at times as suffering an acute lack of expertise and yet much that I seem called and drawn to ponder doesn’t necessarily require one to have wandered the halls of academia. It’s long past feasible that I would shape my life according to some vision of my youth – I still marvel at those that have that surety of vocation and life direction. It’s fascinating to me to consider the biography of those that are framed around some sort of theme or refers to their “life’s work.” I neither intend to discount these definitive paths nor admonish myself (or others) for the lack of one.
My life it seems to me is defined, by lack of definition. If I were to declare a focus for this particular post – I might go with “Letting Go.” (That’s the “idea/theme” that is up for me).  Given the declaration in the first paragraph – I feel compelled to submit the disclaimer that upon declaring the topic – I must immediately “let go” that I have any particular qualification to write about it, or claim to expertise.
I gather that papers written to achieve academic or scientific acclaim begin with a “thesis” then weave various research and evidence to support the claim and some sort of closing argument (or at least that is my “uneducated” notion of how that goes down – I don’t know – I’ve never written one). It also seems to me from witnessing the anecdotal experience of many that have gone that route, that often (though I wouldn’t make a sweeping claim that always) that the work presented must meet the approval (and perhaps even be aligned with, the belief system of) the professor. If that were true, I think, “What’s the point?” “There’s no new ground being broken here” “How can there be any evolution if there is only dogmatic adherence to existing knowledge?” (Especially given that information that is adamantly presented today as being “scientific fact” – is dispelled tomorrow).  There is even “evidence” today that the premeditated expectation of those conducting the experiment can and will, affect the outcome).

Of course there is required – discipline, and there is a human existential journey that occurs in conjunction with the learning process.  As I say that I’m struck with the question, is the inner journey (and development) of the individual, any less important than the scholastic criteria, which is ultimately what the “student” is evaluated by. It seems to me that education has become so “commercialized” that it can be, nothing more than an extension of a hyper-capitalist economic system (as such there can be little or no attention paid to heart and soul evolution, full attention placed instead, on intellectual development and the standing that will give one in the system after graduation).
I don’t wish to over-simplify matters and acknowledge as well, that many people enter university and colleges for a love of learning and a passion that will be fed by what they learn, which might well set them on the path to do – their life work.

From that statement I then include, letting go of the need for me to compare myself to those that have chosen such pursuits. Clearly to date, I have “chosen” otherwise, it doesn’t serve to judge myself by a system that glorifies those that have such an education over those that don’t. (Even though I live within it and must accept and reckon with, certain realities as a result – which mostly consist of the views and beliefs of others). None of those at the end of the day really carry any weight with who I am in the world (though of course the judgment exists and at times includes my own).
So then, no thesis to speak and strictly speaking no “hard evidence” to “prove” anything I represent here. Yet, does subjective experience not have a part to play in the ongoing evolution of humanity? Facts and figures (“hard science” aren’t necessarily as exacting as we’re led to believe) – once again, the “truths” of yesterday become the mistaken beliefs of today or tomorrow. Everything is not at all, as it seems  - therefore paradigms and ways of being that are widely upheld through adherence of the masses, doesn’t make them a fail-safe path to successfully navigate life.
What if, as the analogy goes (one did their utmost to position themselves upon the ladder that represents the social/economic hierarchy only to discover the ladder is up against the “wrong” wall)? If one were to come to suspect that, then further participation may seem futile, or if one’s place on the game board were to “backslide” (as in for example, a job loss or divorce scenario) then it might not be as compelling to “rebuild.” Given it’s not likely to be fruitful for me to declare the whole system flawed – letting go might then look like “accept the things I cannot change” (there is nothing to be gained by trying to be in direct opposition to that which I don’t agree with). But, I might need to reconsider what I personally value and work at letting go of assessing my “worth” based on external measures.
Seen in this light some of the more useful things for me to examine, would be my attitudes and beliefs to determine the ways and means that I limit what is possible and perhaps work at letting go accordingly. Certainly it seems to me to remain true, that it is challenging to walk a congruent path and not be in opposition to everyone else.  Though I have now come to believe that I want to direct my energies toward what I believe in – not spend endless time being “against” things.  So in that respect I could continue to look for attitudes of self-righteousness, of the need to be “right” concern for “getting it right” (life), fear of failure, shame – based perfectionism, all that might have me hesitant to trust my own instincts, constantly looking outside of myself for validation and approval.
What a conundrum! I consider the innumerable examples of people that have made major contributions in various walks of life and many did so without following “conventional paths.” Of course it could be argued these were exceptional people (which I suppose is true with regard to their ability to have little or no concern for conformity – or if they did, they didn’t allow it to prevent them from making “their” discovery (contribution)– or transforming society through championing social justice, standing in the world as avatars (messengers of the divine) whatever their path, it might well have involved a “lifestyle” that was not aligned with the neighbors. What an awesome demonstration of integrity, conviction and clarity. Both “the Buddha” and St. Francis of Assisi gave up on lives of affluence in order to follow their heart-paths, Mother Teresa could have had easier “assignments” – but turned down these postings in favour of her “calling” to help some of the worlds most forgotten and marginalized people. This is not to say that a life that includes financial abundance is wrong – (much can be done that serves the world if one has the wealth to make that happen).  It just also happens that wealth and abundance comes in so many other forms none of which can be bought or awarded through formal education. At the end of the day – no amount of “stuff” is going to matter (it no doubt plays some part in the mosaic of human life) – but it seems to me less of it affords one a great deal more freedom than amassing more.
No longer is it clear to me to what degree it serves to continue to be “making a contribution to the economy” if, all that means is unchecked consumption. I believe in the value of service to others, but who says (beside the marketing professionals) that an equally or more valuable contribution, might be to consume less? A contribution “to the village” seems to me to be of great importance – it just seems to me that the consciousness that has been brought into being (one of stark individualism) – which I reckon began at the end of the Second World War, presumes that we all can work (earn), buy (consume) and amass enough wealth (security) has all but eroded any semblance of connection. There is so much divisiveness that each, in its blind pursuit of their objectives, does so at great cost to the others (and ultimately themselves).  All the while the “machine” keeps churning out new products and stirring the appetites of the “consumers” into a frenzy and the “dream” once again moves the bar higher (“once you are here you will have arrived”) only there, is not “here” and there is, no arriving – as here becomes there and you haven’t arrived yet!!!

Perhaps had I partaken in some further forms of “higher education” I might have “got it” but from where I sit – the “dream” seems like a nightmare (of course I am left-handed and it seems to me that throughout my life my viewpoint is not widely shared – in fact it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that when I arrived through the birth canal I was facing one hundred and eighty degrees in the opposite direction of “normal”) so maybe I’ve got it backwards?

Let’s see – the dream offers “freedom” (from what I wonder?) Nomads for example are afforded freedom of movement (in part I suspect because they don’t need to hire a semi-trailer truck in order to port themselves to the next destination). Of course they are faced with more immediate survival considerations – but then I imagine they are not stressed about the volume of stuff they need to pack, they aren’t leaving redundant couches on boulevards, nor needing additional income to buy a bigger house and insurance for more stuff, rent storage lockers or buy additional houses to get-away from the life they created to buy the second house.
Maybe at the end of the day the “dream” is an illusion? I’m not suggesting an end to dreaming.  Instead I’m suggesting scrutinizing the fiddler calling the tune (who’s dream is this that is being so widely embraced?) Does the dream you are pursuing resonate with your own heart? How can a dream that pits one against another – that consumes that which supports life in one place to “further” the lives of others elsewhere be sustainable, or even acceptable? If while playing “the game” you capture all the “opponents” pieces the game is “over!” What then have you won? While you sit there with “it all” – how long before it creeps into mind that someone now, has nothing? What of fear that someone will now “take what you have?” Where is the freedom in that?

The dream doesn’t seem to me to address the barrenness of spiritual poverty! (I am certainly not advocating that economic poverty equal spiritual mastery) but it seems to me that lives lived strictly by the dictates and directives of economics invite a special kind of longing and loneliness. The hunger of heart and soul (that which connects us to the greater whole) must be satiated from an entirely different menu. No amount of earning, buying, Prozac, alcohol, sex, drugs or rock & roll will quell the disassociated soul from wanting to realize its “wholeness” (holiness). One could literally destroy themselves in the vain attempt to quiet the silent roar of their soul (without necessarily knowing they are doing so).
My journey through life so far may well be largely unremarkable by many standards and at times I think I have spent more time skinning my heart and knees (to say the least) than making any worthwhile contribution. All the while I have been in quest of the truth (even while in stark denial of realities in my own life of my own creation that are rather painful).  I suppose my “research” has taken me places and circumstances that many avoid altogether simply because they were told, “don’t go there!” Apparently I have always needed to find out – why? (I inherently seem to frame things through the lens of “who says it has to be this way.”) Naturally I have often discovered there is an “easier” way to do many things that I seem innately inclined to make more difficult (but certainly not always). “Common sense” is a concept that apparently frequently eludes me (I still think one should be wary of consensus approaches – it could be that it represents some long standing wisdom, but it could just as easily be that no one thought to (or dared) ask why is it so?

 Do I represent “the truth” now? No! Am I any closer to it now than when I began in this life? Maybe.
I don’t think truth can be discussed in terms of “absolutes” – there are laws such as gravity, causes and effect for example, the truth of which defies denial. For a considerable time in my life I looked outside myself for what is true (doubting what “seemed to be true” as presented through my own perception) often reinforced by either no one else sharing in this perspective or if they did, nothing being done about it (the status quo upheld by some sort of unspoken collective agreement to remain silent and perpetually operate within an under-current of malaise and discontent). I have vacillated between compliance and speaking out (the latter resulting in various forms of “punishment/disciplinary action”) which might imply the inappropriateness of my action or serve to discover that something indeed underlies the oft touted “truth” – “to get along you go along” or what I believe is the misrepresented “go with the flow” (I don’t think that actually means to blindly participate in what is going on around you – just so as “not to make waves.”) What if there is a “flow” of deeply existing truths that one is being invited to connect with and it doesn’t involved the status quo? Fear of reprisal can be a very convincing motivator for compliance – but silence has it price to pay too. Somewhere within what is being upheld as being “how it is” there is someone (or somebody’s) that are highly invested in “it” staying that way. The “truth” isn’t necessarily being served in this case. Breaking the rules might be the “right thing “ to do in an abhorrently “wrong” situation (even when punishment is a potential outcome). Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Joan of Arc and countless others throughout history, have paid dearly to speak and live (their truth) – they did so without concern for the admiration and acclaim they received posthumously (I suppose you could say the outcome – their death, was part of their life, in a way that is not true for everyone even though death awaits us all) So often doing the “right thing” can result in what appears to be the wrong outcome – Nelson Mandela spent 27 years of his life in prison, the Dalai Llama most of his life in political exile (the former once seen by the U.S. as a terrorist the latter certainly not exalted by the Chinese that occupy his homeland) yet their resistance and subsequent consequences have (and are) bringing about social/political change, raising awareness and altering the consciousness of humanity (in many of these examples long after their human lives have passed.
This brings me to consider that “letting go” could be as simple as some nutritional adjustments or picking up a book instead of turning on the television.  Discovering the truth for oneself though, might be more complex – it could come about as a result of (or the need to) let go of entire paradigms. I would suggest this is considerably more challenging as to do so might mean stepping away from ways of being and mindsets that are widely practiced and accepted as “how it is.” To renounce such things will be met with no end of resistance (including from within the self). However continued participation invites the stress of abandoning alignment with truth beyond the collective. I believe many of histories “spiritual teachers” (Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed) knew and lived the truth of this personal connection with the divine (the universal conscious) instead of embracing the lessons and embracing the paths to personal connection, spiritual freedom and oneness with all that is – religions (comprised of dogma and conformity) were created to control the masses – the truth of what they tried to teach was lost in what became presented as “the truth” (to question the truth was to be labeled a heretic and was punishable by death). Considered in this light – there was considerable motivation to live in lies and claim the true and righteous path.

Undoubtedly change is occurring but his observation seems to me to still be valid both previous to and after, the time he said this. Where is any of it going? Even a brief repose from “shoulder to the wheel” yields a disquieting view. Granted I likely won’t live long enough to see “how it turns out.” Which leaves the burning question – what then to do, while I’m here that contributes to the solution? When measured against the infinitesimal, many might come to realize that their contribution is a seed planted that they may not see bare fruit (still their heart and soul was engaged in the tilling of the soil for a lifetime).
As I ponder such things a certain irony is revealed, so much time and energy has been spent in a attempt to discover “who I am” only to have the quest turn from inward to out, as the current face of truth seems to emphatically suggest all that which has been discovered be directed in service (in other words now that you are found – lose yourself in something beyond and greater than yourself). On the one hand it feels like arriving somewhere after a very long journey and though I didn’t expect that there would be fanfare (well maybe on some level I did) there of course is none (not even from me). I suppose that can be attributed to a “hunch” that all arrivals are just preludes to departures (and vice versa).
It is said the “truth will set you free!” I would also suggest that once one picks up the sword of truth they will come to realize it is simple to carry it and even to swing it – though once it begins to reveal the previously obscured path an ongoing challenge is presented to continue to wield it.