Essay

If Ever There Was a Time…

…when violence might be justified, this time might just qualify.

Stark, real, heavy are those words, and to hear them oozing from me like puss from an infected wound is disgusting!  But honesty compels me to face them, acknowledge and respect them, for they have a place in my vocabulary, and today they seem fitting.  But let’s be clear here…

I do not endorse violence, ever, in any circumstance; I am merely addressing the shadow that rises within in response to such acts of violence in the world outside.  I cannot condone what has happened in Charlottesville and around the world; I cannot remain silent, when such silence equates with complicity.  But it physically hurts to say such words aloud – there may be times when violence is the only reasonable response to violence.

A friend reminded me of that today, asking me how I might “reasonably” react to violence directed my way.  What if someone broke into your room intent on harming you; would you defend yourself?  What if someone kidnapped your grandchild, intending to perpetrate some heinous crime; would violence then be appropriate?  What if people sought to terrorize others or destroy life in the name of money, power, religion, politics, or socio-pathological disturbance?  Would any of these acts warrant a violent response?

Yes, of course, but…

No.  No “buts.”  Own it, Lisa, for violence exists within you, as well as all those you wish to “stand against.”  Perhaps there are times when violence seems justified, and if there are, then now may be that time.  For though I do not currently face those personal attacks, the others are all too real.  Something must be done to stop such acts!  Something must be said to condemn such acts!  Something must… change!

And yet I resist…  Why?

Because the language we are using today, to make a point and take a stand, is as divisive as the rhetoric that spawns these acts of violence in the first place.  Because the words we are using do not heal, but only further and deepen the heartache that separates us.  Because love cannot win in an environment where the only response to hate is vitriol, violence, condemnation, segregation and rage…

We can no longer deny what is happening around us.  We can no longer depend upon privilege to protect us.  We must not rely upon silence to insulate us.  And yet, we should not add fuel to the fires that consume us…  Or should we?

I understand the impulse to violently recoil from any association with such vile examples of inhumanity as expressed by white nationalists, the KKK, the power brokers and politicians and preachers who have made hate and violence a viable path.  I grasp the need to express my natural antipathy towards such philosophies and acts.  But I find myself stepping back, hesitating, when those I wish to stand beside start speaking of “excising malignancies,” “denouncing,” “condemning,” “choosing sides,” etc, for these are not words of healing at all.

So, how do we condemn without judgment?  How do we stop these people without oppressing our “enemies”?  How do we respond definitively, purposefully, constructively, without imposing our will on others?  How do we “punish” these criminals without behaving criminally ourselves?!  Is it even possible?

History is written by the winners, they say, whomever they are.  But “winning” doesn’t make us “right”.  Or “good”.  It only makes us victorious.  And while we might claim the end justifies the means, I can’t find comfort in that, as such “holier than thou” rhetoric has always justified atrocities.  Someone always loses when lines are drawn, and crossed, and people are forced to “take sides.”

“They’re just words, Lisa, and now is no time for semantics!,” I hear myself say.  But I disagree, vehemently, with such a thought.  Because words have power when expressed; this I know, I believe!  Words guide and inform our reasoning, lead and justify our actions.  They empower our analogies which lead us to our conclusions.  They color our metaphors, which frame our realities, making our environments reflect back to us exactly what we expect to see.  So if I speak of “taking a stand against” something, I naturally divide the playing field.  If I think of “opposing” another, I naturally create an enemy.  And if I create an enemy, I justify the ensuing war.  Violence begets violence, ad infinitum…

I find myself contemplating the Yin/Yang symbol – a potent reminder that within the darkness, a seed of light may still exist, while within the light, darkness also thrives.  It leads me to consider that there may yet remain a spark of humanity within those who march and protest with violence; that our natural state, as humans, is not to hate, but to love.  Hate is learned behavior, as any young child can amply demonstrate.  If I focus on the darkness these haters express, rather than that potential glimmer of conscience that may yet remain, then I participate in fueling and reinforcing such hate.  I choose not to do that today, while simultaneously acknowledging that they are free to choose complete darkness, if that is the path that compels them…

But within the light, darkness also exists.  If I accept such words of violence from those I usually agree with, then I become complicit in feeding and fueling that darkness within them.  Continuing along such a path, in the name of “good intentions,” will not erase the damage done when such resistance becomes active violence.  And so the darkness overwhelms the light, as we become active mirrors of, and for, our “enemies”…  I choose not to do that today, while simultaneously accepting that all must act according to their own conscience…

So…  what do I choose to do today to face the rage, the violence, the hate?

First I accept and forgive myself for wanting to react.  I own that seed of darkness within me, and watch it carefully, so that it does not spread like cancer throughout my being…

Second, I reach out to those in need, without first asking (or attempting to divine) which side they represent.  I offer comfort, peace, acceptance, and the right to disagree.  I nurture their humanity…

Third, I embrace the innocent, the maligned, whichever side they’re on.  Only by truly embracing can I hope to minimize our divide…

Fourth, I stand my ground.  I do not stand with you or against you, but I stand fully in my truth.  If you wish to move me, you may try, but I know who and what I am about, and I will not be swayed by words of hate wherever they come from.  I do not wish to martyr myself, but I will not play this game of words and intents; words of battle are bathed in the blood of guilt and innocence, and so I shall not utter them, regardless of the consequence.

This is my response to this time of rampant violence…

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Poetry, Reflections

“Discombobulated…”

And confused…

Out of sync… or even time?

Some moments passing before I can grasp them,

while others simply refuse to move!

Spiritual whiplash… my body aches.

Caused by this stop and go act?

This heavy push forward, pulsing,

while something else holds me back?

I “fail” at everything normal I try,

but “feel” success haunting my steps.

I feel reluctance, resistance…

while the voices are all screaming, “YES!!”…

Frustration boils up, disturbing my peace,

while that deeply calm center still anchors me…

‘Tis no wonder I feel unbalanced these days…

uncertain, bemused and unsure.

Nothing makes sense in a world gone mad…

So I grasp for the truth in a Word:

“Dis-com-bob-u-lat-ed”…

Made up, created, to capture a moment,

comfort found in humor and sound…

 

 

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Reflections, Visions

Answering “the Call”…

BRRRRRIIINNNNNNGGG… BRRRRRIIINNNNNNGGG…

“Hello?”

Hello?!  Can you hear me?

“Yes, I can hear you.  Who is this?”

“Doesn’t matter right now.  Just listen…  Carefully…  To what I’m about to say.”

“Okay.”

“Tread cautiously today…  Watch your steps…  Place each one consciously, paying particular attention to what you are stepping on…”

“Good advice, I guess.  Always.  But is there something specific I should be focusing on?”

“Beware of open doors and planned deceptions; misperceptions are everywhere!”

“Ok, now you’re just starting to sound paranoid…”

“Shhhh!!…  Listen!…  Just listen!”

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Reflections, Visions

“Emma May and Other Stray… Thoughts?”

So…  I’m waking up this morning, knowing that I dreamt, though not having any memory of what that might have been.  It happens that way sometimes – a sense of activity, a stimulated mind, an awareness of thoughts that have failed to stay…

I’m sipping my first cup of coffee, not really focused on anything at all.  And I feel myself slipping into that sacred place, between realms, between worlds, where realities collide and embrace…

I find myself having a conversation, though I have no idea with whom; doesn’t really matter, I guess, or their identity would show through.  I hear myself saying, “Emma May has gotten sooo huge!…”

Yes, I hear that ellipsis ringing in my head; “dot, dot, dot,” like a bell tolling someplace…  It tells me that everything important has been said; everything else in the conversation is extraneous.  Great!  Focus.  Except…

I have no idea who Emma May might be…

“Interesting…,” I think, out loud, maybe.  “But why,” I can’t help wondering?

“Why would that intrigue me at all?”

Because that’s my brain these days, in quiet moments anyway.  Skipping off to who knows where to engage in pointless, mundane conversations with people I don’t know, about topics I’m completely unfamiliar with…  And yet…  It feels so normal!

The trees speak to me as well, when I pass by them on the trail.  Sometimes, lately, they come to me, bringing pictures of a typical day… for them.  I love those visits, when they occur, because they’re less demanding than the human ones.  Yes, it’s true, the trees want something from me, but often it amounts to nothing more than company; I “hear” them, and so they “speak” to me.  Simple, straightforward, honest, and real…

Ahh…  “real”!  I knew there was a point here somewhere.  And now I know…

And a picture drifts across my slowly enlightening mind, while early morning sunshine begins brightening the world outside.  I see a title, complete with quotes…

“Emma May and Other Stray… Thoughts?”

Ahhh, yes.  There you are!  Welcome to my… Reality?  Insanity?  Awareness?  Inanity?

Let me be your bridge today, to that sacred place between.  Where anything can happen.  And very often does.  Where none of it may mean a thing, or All of it may mean something…

You decide…

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Conversations, Reflections, Visions

Conversations With… a Stuffed Elephant…?

So, I’m sitting here, in my fevered sickbed haze, minding my own business, mulling over the revelations I’ve had today…  When suddenly I discover I’m having a “conversation.”  Not with the usual participants, mind you; no, this time it’s a small, but adorable, stuffed elephant speaking to me.

Why?  I have no idea!  I don’t even own a stuffed elephant, though I think I would want this one if I did; soft, cuddly, and pale yellow, with a lovely light floral print inside his floppy ears, and along his chest and belly…  He is sitting in a white rocking chair that is several sizes too large for him, all seriousness and sincerity.  I cannot help but laugh at the absurdity of this encounter!  (To which he takes offense, of course!)

Elephant:  You find this amusing, do you?!  Why?  Do I not fit your preconceived notions of sage wisdom?

Me:  Ummm…  Actually…  Well, of course not, you adorable creature!  But that doesn’t mean I won’t talk to you!  In fact, I’m really looking forward to it now…

Elephant:  [trying to hide a grin beneath his oversized trunk…]  And why is that?  Are you willing to take me seriously, or are you merely looking ahead to the many potential opportunities to make fun of me?

Me:  [laughing aloud…]  I don’t need to wait for such opportunities, my friend, as they are abundant and clear from the get-go!  But to answer your other questions, of course I’m willing to take you seriously, and I am grateful to have you here.  My anticipation stems from the unexpectedness of the visit, as well as the form you’ve taken; my experience tells me that such randomness, or blatant distortion of expectation, often leads to “breakthrough” moments, and that is what excites me…

Elephant:  [adjusting the round spectacles he is now wearing more comfortably across a trunk too thick to hold them…]  Well, then.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

[I can only nod, eagerly…]

Your last post had to do with the “axis of power.”  You discussed the Figure-8 Cross in terms of two intersecting paths…

[I nod, somewhat baffled by his desire to bring that up here…]

Yet the picture you later added has three (!) intersecting paths.  Was that a mistake on your part?  Or did you intend to muddy the waters that way?

Me:  Umm…  Neither, actually.  The picture was posted as an attempt to illustrate the discussion.  It just happens to be a more recent model I built (within the last decade) to help me explore the topic.  At the time I was trying to visualize how more figure-8’s (planes of activity) could be incorporated into the model, and I was having trouble doing so.  This physical model forced me to actually make the connections, but I could only physically create the three before it became a hot mess.  Still, it allowed me a little more room to expand my thought process…

Elephant:  And what did your mental model look like when all was said and done?

Me:  It becomes a sphere in the end, created of intersecting figure-8’s that each bisect the Whole.  The outer loops are what give the Sphere its curved shape…

But…  Why is this important?

Elephant:  Hmm… ? [looking up, distractedly, from the notes he has been taking…  Removing his spectacles, he taps them rhythmically against his trunk…]  A sphere, you say?  Now, that’s interesting!

Me:  [confused…]  Ok…  Why?

Elephant:  Now…  Talk to me about those trees!

Me:  The trees?!  What do they have to do with all this?

Elephant:  Well… [shifting in his seat, somewhat annoyed with me]  Indeed what?!…

Do they not possess both vertical and horizontal axis to be explored?  Do they not present a curved canopy to the outside world (more or less anyway, as their trunks hold up their tops, while their roots spread out beneath)?  Have they not been seeking to express themselves in the world in which you live?  Have they not accepted an offer of partnership in moving forward through that world?!

Hmmph!  [Shaking his head, annoyed…]

Sometimes!  I swear!…

[I can only stare at him; I have no coherent response as yet…)

Me:  So… [thoughtfully…]  Is this the point (notice I don’t use “time” here), that we acknowledge the elephant standing in the middle of the room…?

Elephant:  If you insist, of course.  Personally, I never forgot it!

[And winking at me, his image fades…]

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Reflections, Visions

The Axis of “Power”…

No, this is not a political post; sorry to disappoint you.  It is about my favorite topic – reality and its creation and manifestation.  (In spite of the variety my posts display in form, they nonetheless remain essentially true to topic, after all… lol!)

Today I’ve had another epiphany, and one I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit to.  Not because it’s an embarrassing topic, but because it’s so simple.  I’ve tripped over it so many times before, I don’t even notice it anymore.  I’ve received confirmation, validation and reminders from sources too numerous to recall and/or credit.  I’ve known this all along, and yet it feels new to me somehow.  That’s the embarrassing part, but the truth is often humbling, I’ve found…

So, here’s the deal…

In looking to “change” my reality, to create an outer world that reflects my inner desire, I have looked for ways to project my creative visions into the world I live in.  I “see” it happening.  I “believe” it will.  And sometimes it actually does!  Easy to use such validation to reinforce such methods…

The problem, of course, or perhaps better to call it the challenge, is a lack of consistency.  It doesn’t always work.  And that creates doubt.  Doubt is a block against manifestation.  Thus a self-defeating pattern/cycle emerges…

But all of that stems from the misguided belief that I am a human trying to develop a working spiritual practice or power.  All of that visualization, projection, validation (or lack thereof),  is done on a purely horizontal level!  Done within the confines of this particular (small) self I identify with most closely; the self writing this blog today.  But that self is such a small part of who I truly am, that it is almost (though not) inconsequential!

Many, many years ago (decades now, if you can believe it!) I had a vision of “reality” I called the Figure-8 Cross.  It taught me that for every paradox we encounter in the search for Truth, there is a solution, if you are willing to follow a path perpendicular to the first path.  But that new path you’ve taken is itself a paradox, resolvable only by the first paradox.  From the center point (where the paths intersect), you can see how they interact, but you cannot alter them; while travelling along either path, you cannot see how it interacts with Others, but you can manipulate it.  Figuring out how to use that info has proven daunting, troublesome, and frustrating…

Which brings us to today…

When suddenly I see the cross again, but it is the perpendicular relationship that catches my eye this time.  The actual “power” (to escape the paradox, or to manifest change) comes not from the horizontal plane, but from the vertical one!  And it matters not which plane you are currently oriented toward, as the Other always remains vertical (perpendicular) in relation to it!

So…

The “answer” literally does “come from above.”  Things literally do manifest according to the axiom “as above, so below.”  But that “above” is actually Me – my Universal Being – that I am only Now beginning to truly recognize…

(I will allow myself one simple “uh duh!” here in acknowledgement of my stubborn resistance to letting go of my ego… lol!)

This is not earth shattering, new, improved, exciting, self-help guru kind of stuff; this is simple fact, known by countless Others through many generations, expressing it in many forms.  But this is me, finally grasping yet another fractured, obscured part of Me.  And that is the accomplishment I choose to accept…

***     ***     ***

The most recent vision that has been haunting my waking moments is of a group of people standing around the edge of an empty swimming pool, holding hands.  No, the pool isn’t actually empty, I suppose, as it is full of people rather than water.  We, of the “circle” above, are watching those Others milling about in the empty pool, bumping into one another, causing friction.  Every once in a while such jostling leads to conflict, which quickly spreads through the crowd below, as they cannot move without stepping on each other.  The crowd in the pool grows agitated, sensing perhaps that they have outgrown their space, that there is no escape.  That something “awful” may be about to erupt among them…

Those of us above the pool want to help, but we don’t know how.  We try yelling at those below, pointing out that there is a shallow end much easier to climb out of.  Some seem to vaguely “hear” us, but that slow migration not only causes friction with those they pass, but also increases the crowd in the shallow end, making it more difficult for them to maneuver there.  The way out seems totally blocked.

So, some of us above try reaching down into the pool to “rescue” certain Others.  But that, of course, puts us at risk of falling in ourselves.  I have, in fact, witnessed more than one brave “rescuer” get dragged into the fray; once there, they struggle like the others to free themselves…

What I “see” now is that those Others gathered around the pool are all “me’s,” in their own rights, which makes them actually Me.  As are those below us, milling about in the empty pool.  I am so caught up in trying horizontal approaches to “reach” and “aid” them, that I totally miss the truly verticle approach.  (Reaching for them down below seems verticle, but it still rests on creating a horizontal connection; in essence, I am stepping off one axis to “reach” for the Other.)  My eyes are drawn to the skies above me…

And so it begins to rain…

And the water begins to collect in the pool…

And the crowds there begin to panic…

And those gathered around it become “concerned”…

And I can only smile…

***     ***     ***

You may now return to your regularly scheduled rants about political powers.  Or was it political rants about power?

Whatever…  ;D

 

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Essay, Reflections

A Question of Competence… or is it Commitment?

I notice these days that there are a lot of people out there “selling” belief.  I get inundated every day with emails and ads, suggestions for how to improve every aspect of my life through holistic healing, energy work, prayer, divination, spirit guidance, contemplation practices and fitness regimes.  Everyone has an angle that they guarantee will work for me.

But I’m not sure I agree…  Why?

Why can’t I embrace any of these techniques?  Why can’t I even bring myself to try them out?  Clearly my life needs healing in so many ways, and I’ve always been open to both mainstream and alternative means.  Non-judgmental.  Yep, that’s me…

Or is it?  Because I find myself discounting these believers and teachers without even attempting to test their theories.  I find myself hitting “delete” without even listening to their spiel.  Is it just a question of competency?

To be sure, times have definitely changed.  I remember, not so long ago, when “experts” in any field were judged by the length of time they had invested in an area of study, as well as by the efficacy of their results.  Anyone new to a particular field had to “earn” their stripes, so to speak.

But in this digital era of instant gratification, and You Tube, everyone becomes an “expert” by saying they are, and by earning a “following.”  An interested party does an internet search on their topic, then chooses what site(s) to visit, or what videos to watch, not so much by researching qualifications, but by the number of “hits” or “followers” that “teacher” has.  “Mob rules” defined and practiced…

But I’ve never really been a follower type, preferring to take someone’s idea or theory and research it on my own.  Always looking for flaws in reasoning or data, critical in my assessments, judging what part(s) appear to work, or not, for me.  Self-defined reality…

And I can’t honestly state which path is “better” or makes more sense in the end, because both ways have their pros and cons.  Self-definition provides flexibility and adaptability to any path or belief system, but it also prevents any commitment or benefits of dedicated practice; you basically believe or do what you want, while discarding the rest, and that rarely leads to deep knowledge or wisdom.  But mob rule, while clearly directing your practice and belief, without requiring deep contemplation, also requires you to accept a whole lot of stuff you might not normally agree with; much harm has been perpetrated by those following a path too strictly, without regard for how it may affect the lives of others…

Hmm…

I know that in these tumultuous times people are desperate for something hopeful to believe in.  I know everyone wants to feel empowered, capable and competent.  We no longer believe in the “system” to provide for our needs consistently and competently, and we are correct in questioning it; the society we knew and trusted is collapsing around us.  So spirituality has become big business, and gurus are hawking every corner.  And many are providing (and feeling) some relief.  That’s good, right?

Too bad it doesn’t feel that way.  At least to me…

I have been asked twice in the last week or so, to offer my advice/guidance in a public setting; to “teach” on topics I used to be well versed in and confident to teach.  I have refused both opportunities, claiming “incompetence” as my excuse.  I no longer feel “qualified” to offer advice, even on those topics in which I was formerly an “expert,” recognized by both “time in” and “results of.”  And I find the whole situation rather amusing; but then, I’ve always had a twisted perception of reality, and a great appreciation for irony.

The bottom line for me today is that I no longer know what is “real” or not, or what is worthy of believing anymore.  My daily life is so overrun with time inconsistencies, and “bleed-through” from other realities, that I feel like it’s one continuous, unsubstantial, channel surfing adventure.  It’s like being on one of those rides at Disney World, where you sit in a little car that takes you through different scenes, changing rapidly, each trying to capture your imagination and “feel” real, while a part of you remains focused on the hard plastic seat you’re sitting on, and the wealth of darkness framing every scene.  You want to throw yourself into it, to wholly embrace the vision before you, but that seat is so uncomfortable, and the people behind you won’t stop talking, and your stomach is growling (oh, did I forget to eat again today?), and…  well, you get the drift.

I had a dream recently…

In the dream I was one of a half dozen people or so invited to attend a special retreat.  At that retreat we were to be trained on how to “pray” for others, and to teach them how to pray for themselves.  In this case, though, “prayer” referred to the actual practice of miracles; in other words, we would be taught how to manifest real change in the world, and how to pass that skill to others.

At first, I was excited, but then the doubt set in.  I knew that these prayers (this technique) came from a tradition I was familiar with, but not a follower of.  I began questioning whether I had a “right” to attend, coming as I was from curiosity rather than belief.  I found myself speaking about my concerns to a friend I know in real life.  We do not “believe” the same, but we share a mutual respect for each other that often allows us to discuss ethical or moral concerns, and actually learn from each others’ perspective.  When I finished explaining the situation to him (in the dream), he grew very stern, pointed his finger at me accusingly, and said, quite seriously, “you better make damn sure you can commit to this, Lisa, before you go; otherwise, don’t go!”  His whole demeanor spoke of dire warning, as though this were not some trifling matter, which is very unlike him in real life.  I woke, telling myself I’d better test my commitment to this path before attending the retreat…

When I shared this dream with him in real life, he pointed out my use of present tense in the waking world (as in “I’d better be sure before attending…”).  I started to say that it was just a grammar/language error, then stopped myself.  He laughed, quick to catch that, as we both know how careful I am with words in the real world.  I believe our language affects our reality, so I am meticulous about saying what I mean, and meaning what I say.  So there is no room for such a “slip of the tongue” in my world, especially when speaking to him; he will call me on any bullshit he hears…

So…

It’s not really a question of competency plaguing me, I think, but one of commitment.  I know I could learn these “techniques,” whatever they are; I’m basically intelligent, well studied, and own a long tradition of learning and practicing competently.  I am a born teacher.  But I am hesitating, even knowing that such “techniques” may bring actual relief…  Why?

Because I am reluctant to commit to any particular path these days.  I am thoroughly enjoying the free flowing nature of my reality these days.  Because I do not want to be restricted by rules or expectations if something new and more appealing reveals itself to me.  Because I do not want to accept responsibility…

Ahh…  That’s it, then, isn’t it?

Commitment comes with responsibility, and I do not want that in my life.  I do not want to be responsible for others, to be held accountable for what they do with any knowledge (complete or not) they may gain from our interaction.  And that’s what’s missing in the wealth of big business based spirituality, too.  No one wants to be responsible.  No one wants to be held accountable for the “wrongs” committed by their beliefs and believers.  And while I have always believed that people should be held accountable for their own actions, rather than blaming their past or their preacher/teacher, I recognize that there is a line marking where such independence becomes hypocrisy. Because some people truly do influence others who want to be influenced, and we do become at least partially responsible for anything they do “in our name”…

Could I actually learn to change the world?  Could I make it a better place? Could I then competently teach others to do the same?

Can I wholeheartedly commit to finding out?

That is the question, isn’t it?

 

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