Friday, 24 October 2014

Wait for It!

How then to extract the extraordinary
Contained within what might be considered mundane
If one were to allow themselves
To be lulled into believing
That while in the embrace of the ordinary
That sleep was the desired outcome
For subtly but surely
Magnificence is being forged
Ready to stake it’s claim
In what many would be quick to presume
Was the witnessing,
Of an “overnight success”
Dismissed as a “flash in the pan”
Little did they know
The energy, attention and focus
To light the fuse.

Down But Not Out

Upon commencement of this post I have no idea where it's going, no outline, no theme. I suppose it could be described as a metaphor for the idea which I'm being "encouraged" to adopt - "Embrace the Mystery"- in this moment I would say of that, Fuck I hate that idea!!!!!

Having said that there is not much different about my "process" - there never actually is a structure, which might well be painfully obvious to some and revealing that, a kin to a magician sharing the secret to his illusions, that would presume what I create is in anyway seen as magic and that I the writer, or you the reader are operating under some illusion. If you're expecting me to address that with some form of explanation, forget it, it's part of the mystery. I'm embracing it and therefore, I don't know.

Now, I did have a thought/observation that prompted me to think I'm going to write. At first I thought that meant to write "about it" now I'm going to say "into it." Is there a difference - "I don't know!" Who am I to say, I'm just the piano player attempting to give the music a voice.

As I was walking downtown today, round about an area of town that is punctuated with various gathering places,  a social assistance office, multiple churches which at times double as "extreme weather shelters" food banks and soup kitchens, I was struck by a gesture of acknowledgement that came often enough that it both got my attention and led me to suspect it's not random.

It could be described as perhaps the anatomical equivalent to a tipping of the hat, a quick nod of the head in passing. But what does it mean? This is not a fear response - rather a curiosity. It occurs to me this might be "expected" where there is some familiarity, albeit a rather limited expression. The thing is I don't "know" these individuals nor they I.

In a more protracted version of it there is bowing in far eastern cultures as a form of respect, there are head and accompanying hand gestures along with "Namaste" to acknowledge ("the light of Spirit within me acknowledges the light of Spirit within you") and even full body prostrations.

If this weren't so frequent or was a one off thing - I might conclude mistaken recognition like when waving to someone in a car that is waving at someone else or a "I could have sworn it was ............" scenario, instead perhaps it was their evil twin; but this happens quite frequently, not just today.

It's interesting to me that the segment of the population this involves, may frequent and use some of these places for their between religious services services, and though they might not be part of the "congregation," many may practice a facet of spirituality (even if they wouldn't consciously admit it) that would be the envy of many of the congregants if they even knew it existed, or weren't so intent on judging it's practitioners. This is not meant to be a reverse stigmatization, it's just part of my continued observation and to be clear, it's not from the outside looking in or from above looking down the bridge of my ample nose - I'm accessing some of these same "services" myself.

They say "their are no atheists in foxholes" or apparently they did when that form of warfare was in style - I'm sure there's got to be some twenty-first century equivalent that reflects the advancement of technology for waging war, but hasn't changed the fact that somebody/s going to fucking die here - when? I don't know, but it's could be any moment. There's an immediacy to that I'm suggesting and while it's technically true for any of us, in general terms, I don't think many in this part of the world spend much time considering the likelihood of it for themselves or like some on the streets, wishing for the respite of it. Having said that in this segment of the community known to some as "the visibly poor" there exists a spirit of community, fellowship, generosity and yes spirituality that one might be hard-pressed to find in a "gated-community." I qualify that by saying that of course there are generous people in these bastions of affluence - and I can't speak with any absolute experiential authority as I haven't been a resident or visitor in many such communities. I would pose the question, what's with the gate? Though frequently ornate - I never seen one that is embossed with a "welcome" sign. Maybe this is the same mindset that when conceiving of "Heaven" as though it were a geographical location - and guess what? They put a friggin' gate there too! Albeit "Pearly" the great big friggin' oxymoron in the sky! Heaven has a gate!

"Wow would ya look at those gates, those have got to be the most beautiful gates I've ever seen - what 'cha got behind those gates?"

"Why that's heaven!!!!!"

"I'd love to go an' have a look around in there - bet it's really something!!!!

"Yes indeed it is - but well...... I hate to be the one to break it to ya, but those gates are there for a reason and not just anyone can go in there!"

Take it from some one that has built so many walls around my heart those structure are not created with the idea of letting anything or anybody "IN!!!!!!!"

Cue the credits - Satirical Theology 101

My but I have digressed - there should be some structure here, is there a point to this? Of course, it's held within the mystery!! There just happens to be considerable real estate between here and there (the point).

So back to this collective assortment of individuals and their "nodding acquaintance" - despite none  existing, at least as in, prior knowing or association with each other. Is is possible that they are recognizing something that goes beyond "facial recognition." I mentioned the immediacy of those in war zones - many of the people I encounter in this particular part of the city had "war zones" for home environments and then lived various manifestations of this post-traumatic energy in subsequent circumstances that often weren't any less violent, demoralizing or traumatic, but they are still getting up and facing the day whatever that entails, which to me demonstrates a great resilience of human spirit and will to carry on. I have met many different individuals that are deeply spiritual people despite being the West Coast North American version of the "untouchables." Not everything is as it seems and many people are able to see, to perceive, that which "the majority" of others don't. Not necessarily because they lack the capabilities, but because they haven't cared to make it any priority to develop them. I believe that those living day to day on or close to the "streets," with life and death being a more present reality, may not have entirely renounced the material world, but in many cases may have a far more intimate connection with the world of spirit. Sadly instead of being embraced for their insight and guidance many of these folks are ostracized and seen as delusional, psychotic, drug addled miscreants.

As my full time pursuit of "inner peace" seems to be rapidly unraveling everything I believed was it's source and the optics of an accelerating downward spiral, threaten to engulf me entirely; I realize where I came from doesn't make me public enemy number one,  true also for the supporting cast in my story, nor does it nor did it ever, make me better than anyone else. As anyone that knows me could attest - I ain't no fashion plate, still there ain't no price for being the best dressed guy in the food bank or soup kitchen line.

Song says - "Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out"  I'm not so sure that's true. Here in the midst of so many people that many would say, have little or no reason to continue to "let their light shine" and yet I see that they do. So maybe this passing nod in the street is a recognition of that - a gesture of: though nobody else cares to look, maybe not even yourself at times, I will, I do, and I see you.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Spinning the Classics

Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream

- "English language nursery rhyme"


Encrypted passage of universal truth and wisdom?

Of course I remember singing this verse as a child - as was the case with other "nursery rhymes" (some of which in later life, I came to know depicted some rather grisly events and shadowy aspects of "human nature." I don't recall deriving any particular meaning from any of this nor was any offered. I absolutely value (to this very day) music, song, singing - but in retrospect I think children should not just be fed arbitrary rhymes without a mindful consideration of the meaning behind them. Seems to me it trivializes/minimizes the impact of the original events and might even create a difficulty with reconciling the rote learning and recitation of these verses when one comes to know of their origins. A consciousness - or rather lack there of, that systematically desensitizes, creates the need for disassociation and denial of otherwise horrific atrocity, implicitly grants acceptance and permission for the violence to be perpetuated.

Returning to the above referenced rhyme then, what might be gleaned from it's seemingly trite presentation?

Row row row YOUR boat (capitals and emphasis mine);

I consider what is being expressed here rather explicitly suggests, that I row my own boat. Why? Well I could let someone else do it, but how long is it going to be before they decide, "I'm rowing, and I want to go over there!" I might be thinking I'm pretty clever, look at me I'm getting a free ride here, until I give my head a shake, look around and realize my boat isn't anywhere near my desired destination! At that point I might spend more time confounding my situation by screaming at the person I gave the oars to - rather than saying, thanks for the ride, I'll take those oars back now and by the way, not only am I rowing now I'm captain and GPS!

Gently down the stream:

If I am the vessel (boat) that is traveling upon this stream (life) how much easier would it be, if I "go with flow?" rather than expend untold energy thrashing around sometimes even going against the current - fighting and struggling every inch of the way, only to become exhausted and unable to continue battling the stream, I finally give up and I'm taken to some little oasis upon it's banks. Of course by then I'm battered, bruised and depleted and it's some time before I can appreciate where I am or how easy it might have been to get there without all the force and efforting. The other thing is when I'm quiet enough - the stream can be heard sharing endless wisdom and beautiful melodies. However, if I'm so busy huffing and puffing, thrashing about I can't hear any of it! Perhaps contrary to mindsets such as: "No pain - no gain," "Do or die" etc. one could consider: Go - but go gently!

Merrily merrily merrily merrily:

I don't want to insult anyone's intelligence but the post would be incomplete if I didn't comment here! I would submit there isn't anything in the way of a hidden message here! And just in case it's unclear - it's repeated four times!

 How then are we to engage with life? - Merrily!

What's that you say? - Merrily!

What are you some kind of Polly Anna? - Merrily!

No I'm not a pessimist - I'm just being "realistic" - Merrily!!!!!!!

Joesph Campbell said: "Follow Your Bliss"

It has also been said: "It is Your Father's great pleasure to give you the kingdom."  Though you might need to consider that if what you are doing has you feeling miserable, then maybe it's not the path to your kingdom.  (See Row Row Row Your Boat) If you're not rowing take back the oars. If you are - I'll be kind............ consider a course change.

Life is but a Dream:

I know... I know.... my shit feels pretty real too!!!! Think about some of the things you might have anguished over sometime previously. Now perhaps you wonder, what was all the fuss about? But how much time and energy went into that stew? And for what? I mean no disrespect to anyone that is still processing some past life event - do what you need to do to honour and make peace with yourself. All I know is with an expanded perspective my stories (my dream) are not carved in stone the way that  I might have previously believed and as the veil is removed, all is indeed not as it seems and events upon my own personal stage and likely those upon the world stage alter as my "vision" transforms. I am becoming more firmly convinced that heaven on earth and hell can be right here - right now and they are of my own making!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

There's a Prophet Next Door - Ya Right....... He's Unemployed!!!!!

It has both been said that: "that a Prophet has no Honour in his Own Country" and on a less known scale "don't discount the message because you dislike the messenger." The first was one of the many things attributed to have been said by Jesus. An "explanation" I sourced, indicated that those that had known him since his childhood might have taken issue with his teachings based on the notion "who did he think he was to be espousing this "wisdom." After all he was just that Jesus kid, from down the street (maybe it went a little like this .... come down off your high horse mister..... you son of a............. carpenter!!!) Then this same source went on to excuse the rabble for not realizing Jesus "was God" (that aspect of the theology would be where I get off the ride).

I do believe he was a highly evolved human being - but I also believe his "teaching" was to demonstrate what is possible for each and every member of humanity. Which still could raise the question within his "peers" isn't he just a regular bloke like you and me? Well, I suppose yes and no!

As for the other idea, think about whether you have ever dismissed something someone has said for no other reason than you don't like him or her. It could be "sage advice" - you might hear it again from someone else you find less objectionable and then be more receptive. Or get to a place where it occurs to you (as though you thought of it) and then it's heeded for it's validity. The fact that you have it in for this particular person might well be telling in itself.  But even if you don't have any intention of hanging out with this person, doesn't mean that they don't have something of value to say.

What does it take in order for someone to go from relative obscurity to someone that is being quoted later in their life or centuries after they have gone? Will Stephen King be continually quoted as is Mark Twain? If not why not? They are both writers - that achieved public attention and acclaim.

What is it that makes some individuals seem so extraordinary that not only their lives are seen as outstanding but they are also then seen, as possessing a perspective on life itself that you wouldn't solicit from let's say for example, your plumber.  (I have no particular reason for choosing the profession of plumbing to make my point). And who's to say that when the plumber isn't responding to household crisis, he or she doesn't spend a great deal of time in contemplation and might well have some significant pearls of wisdom to share. I will once again point out that much was made of the teachings of Jesus and he was a carpenter (by trade).

What I am suggesting is that nobody has the monopoly on universal wisdom nor exclusive access to it. Francis of Assisi before he embarked upon, and led the life, that posthumously had him declared a "saint" was the son of a wealthy merchant who was given to carousing and reveling around town. He then aspired to be a knight and fight in the crusades. Despite these rather pedestrian pursuits and even what might be described as skeletons in his closet, he underwent some sort of transformation which entirely changed his life trajectory. Even still what he was doing certainly wasn't embraced by his father nor did the towns people aplaud his passion for those cast away by society. So despite his non-conformity (or perhaps because of it) his word and deed are seen by many as worthy of both heeding or being seen as a model for replication. Not that fame or popularity was his aim, but there again exists the lack of recognition by the people of Assisi that there was a "prophet in their midst."

 My understanding of the teaching of Jesus was that it was a path of personal transformation (certainly not as demonstrated in many churches created "in his name"). This transformation opened one through their own heart and soul to the creative intelligence of the universe (sometimes known as God) - it was not necessary to depend on an intermediary (priest etc.) This empowerment and autonomy that he advocated, might well be what got him killed (not unlike other outspoken figures throughout history that speak "subversive" ideology (a.k.a. truth) that threatens those in power. 

Now while I'm suggesting all humanity has the innate "wiring" to undergo this transformation it is not everyone that dedicates themselves to it's pursuit. It is not a case of anything a kin to "holier than thou," moral or spiritual superiority that makes this possible - it is more determined by free will choice. As is fairly obvious there are no end of material world distractions. Interesting to me that religion was once called the "opiate of the masses" - I'm not sure that "it" can hold a candle to the zombie apocalypse created through mass media and the God of Consumerism. Here within each is assigned his or her "value" by their ability to continue to participate - needs are addressed  rather quickly and completely in the scheme of things and yet there is no cessation. It would appear that the achieving of satiety is not possible or even seemingly desired. Now I am not speaking from some perceived high ground - it just so happens that I felt compelled to examine my life (& life itself) quite sometime ago now. I had no idea that it would take me where I have been nor did I imagine it would still be ongoing some six years later. Now I suppose I entered into this exploration with the hypothesis - I couldn't examine the life I was living - while continuing to live it. The journey has revealed for me many a flawed premise through which I was operating. Income generation became less a primary focus as I lived off other resources - therefore consuming became more and more moderated. Fast forward to now where the current status is a need to resume generating income while at the same time there is nothing in the way of surplus, so beyond food and shelter there is a complete state of "consumption interruptus."

I have a hard time imagining that a return to income generation would signal the automatic resumption of consumption - I see very little point in that being so. 

Thoreau said of his retreat to the woods of Walden pond: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

I had no idea he said that - I searched on the name of the lake to get a sense of what he had gone there for - to perhaps liken his withdrawing from the society of his time in some way, to what I have made this period of my life about. I found this quote immediately. It is both fitting for my comparison and also serves to expand my query with regard to what is it that created an enduring appetite for the perspectives of this particular writer who went into solitude. Any parallel I might draw for myself might well be quickly dismissed by the "peanut gallery" as deluded or illusions of grandeur, "the life of Riley, "your a layabout" - shirking responsibility. That could only really be said if it's maintained that my responsibility is to the "economy." Who exactly is responsible to live out my heart and soul directives? If I were to completely lose myself once again in the "rat race" that would be a renunciation of my responsibility! It simply can't be justified on the basis of the number of other people doing it. I don't know about anyone else, but deepening my awareness and awakening my consciousness couldn't have happened while I was busy "keeping up with the Jones." I had to slow things down and simplify things enough, that I could even see that was what I was doing!

The irony of the quotes that are plucked from the life work (like some "greatest hits album") of those that chose to engage with life in the pursuit of their calling - is that they end up on calendars to become part of the blind consumption not so merry-go-round, and the essence of what they were trying to convey becomes a stocking stuffer! (Ho-ho-ho!!)

I sat in a circle at one time - it was a discussion group on some facet of spirituality. I forget now what I said  - one women responded, "oh I like that, who said that?"

I replied, "I did"
"No really who said it?" "I know it just came out of your mouth, but who really said it?"

"I'm telling you - I said it, whether it came from my mind or the creative intelligence directly through me, you won't find that expressed anywhere else."

She laughed and still was hesitant to accept my answer.
"Alright I said, it matters not - I don't have the copyright on it, you can believe it came from elsewhere, go ahead do the research and by all means feel free to "use" it. At the time I was exasperated - the very idea, that because you have seen me a number of weeks in a particular circle not only could nothing profound come through me, but that it was also held true that if I said something inspiring I must be quoting someone else!

Apparently Buddha was verbally abused in front of some of his followers by someone in his village who demanded to know "what gave him the right to be teaching others about life?" Buddha wished him well, ignoring the barrage. Afterward one of his students was upset and asked why had he tolerated the abuse of this man? The Buddha replied - "if someone offers you a gift and you decline it, who does it belong to?" The student replied to the one who offered the gift.

So even though the Buddha had a consciousness that gave rise to both his behaviour and explanation he was challenged by someone that was unwilling to see the value of his consciousness and teachings because he knew him previously.

Am I comparing myself to Jesus, Buddha or Thoreau? Not directly, I am however questioning for myself how much can I affect change for example, in my own community - given the apparent credibility gap that these "heavy hitters" had in their own time and locale. I suppose it's all relative but it occurs to me the message of the importance of a spiritual life is difficult to qualify within a society that is so materialistically oriented. I know that the two don't need to be mutually exclusive but I have not entirely got to the place where the two are reconciled and my life embodies a non-dualistic representation.

Other questions I might ask myself are: how uncompromisingly am I willing to pursue truth, passion and soul guidance? Can I throw myself completely into my life path without concern for recognition - rather then, for the love of my work and that my work would represent both the love that I am and love of myself in the doing? What is the source of this perception of lacking credibility? (external or internal) Are there any limits when stacking a soul-guided, "self"- directed life path versus the societal paradigms with its status symbols and academic standings occupying hallowed ground and hosted upon pedestals?

Maybe it is a recognition that the work is what matters not recognition for the work!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Curtain Call for a Season

The landscape still speaks in stilted whispers
Of the vibrancy of the dogs day yield
She advances unfettered by whim or fancy
The air betrayed her arrival
Before any would dare speak her name
The grasses drought parched thirst
Begins to be quenched
Resurrecting it’s chlorophyll complexion
With each step that she takes
Her robes of amber hue
Proclaim the theme of her intention
Hill and dale
Moor and mountain
Are to become her canvas
Palettes dripping of ochre and crimson
Will soon be applied with grace and flair
Pageantry and a festival of colours
She is the consummate hostess
For a celebration
Prequel to the Solstice chill
The carpet red
Flags her exit
Her brilliance
Will arrive
Without fanfare
Depart without applause
With no further ado
I give you Autumn
With my appreciation

Friday, 3 October 2014

United to the Call

I don’t know what I did expect
When it first occurred I must connect
Alternative paths most not direct
Renounce their dogma and what they project
My search for my tribe becoming suspect
First told you belong – then me you reject
If from collective mind one dares defect
Conditional love the group will reflect
Unyielding heart dropped shield meant to protect
Fellowship’s price – flood of conformity, to deflect
Do I have a part – to question correct
I seek to walk my way home - to deep self respect
To diverse and varied people collect
My truth offered with no disrespect
The voice of many may still misdirect
I answer only where soul and the Divine intersect.