Saturday, February 28, 2009
- On Countdown with Keith Olbermann, there were two powerful signs of cultural awareness. The first case was Chris Hayes from The Nation discussing the fact that inside the beltway in D.C., the media is "hard-wired" to the The Right, and so continues to give equal time or better to Republican talking points that were rejected by a large majority in the last election. If you voted as most people did in the last election, and you watch network and cable news, you know this is true. Last night was the first time I've ever heard that said aloud on network. You will hear it pointed out more often. Awareness precedes change, and exposure to the truth precedes awareness. Besides, the election told the true story.
- Also on that show was an interview with Janeane Garofalo where she talked about Rush Limbaugh, and those who follow him, in a very honest way- more accurately and candidly than I've ever heard expressed on major media. In the last 1:20 of the interview in particular, she defines a form of spiritual sickness that affects a lot of people which she kindly refers to as "human frailty." We're not hearing the word spiritual used quite yet, but it's contained there nonetheless.
- President Obama, in the submission of his first budget to Congress, has created the standard that all costs will be honestly and accurately represented. This indicates a major shift in the approach to the budgeting process that has never been attempted before. Just the intent to institute this standard represents a huge shift towards ethics in our government. Mr. Obama's election and principles represents this shift on an overall larger cultural scale, as you already know intuitively.
- Something not so topical, but equally indicative that those on-line may have already considered, is the simple corporate motto of Google: "Don't Do Evil." That the world's most influential corporation would aspire to that simple level of ethical behavior is truly remarkable, and indicates massive change in the direction our society is heading. Imagine if our government and Wall Street adhered to that simple axiom. In the future, they will have to.
Friday, February 27, 2009
3. Radical Surrender
This last of these three "Tips for Happiness" is aimed at those who really need it. Those who are going through the inevitable difficulties life dishes up to all of us at one time or another. You may not need these tips so much if you're already pretty happy, but "Radical Surrender" can be so effective for those suffering hard times, that it's an extraordinarily effective means for assuring continuing happiness as well. This is surrender not in the sense of resignation, of "giving up" in a pejorative sense, but of surrender as a strategy, as a way to deal with life on life's terms. Surrender in the sense of joining the winning side.
All through mythology and mysticism, in the quest for wholeness, there's the need to pass through "the darkest hour" to reach the place of light; of acceptance, self-love, and love and compassion for others. And that darkness will happen in every life, so resistance to it only energizes that period with more negativity. In recovery movements, there's the expression: "When you're going through Hell, keep going!" And: "Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth." It may not be much consolation at a particularly painful time to try to realize it as a great opportunity for growth and learning. Indeed, it may be a pretty tall order to do so. But this is a first step towards learning to energize every event in your life, "good" and "bad," in a positive, growth-inducing way. After all, when you look back at the hardest times in your life, they're over, aren't they? And you are still here, and all the better for the experience. Surrendering to the broken-openness brought about by your suffering will allow healing energy in, so you can grow out through that break, like a wildflower growing through a crack in the pavement. You may wisely never want to go through something like that again, and because of the wisdom gained from the experience you've had, you may never have to. Of course, you can't do it alone, so it requires surrender in the sense of accepting the company and care of others as well.
"Yeshua said: Blessed are those who have undergone ordeals. They have entered into life."
Logion 58, The Gospel of Thomas
Then, even if (when) similar painful circumstances arise again, you can say (as crazy as it may sound): Here's a chance to learn something I will need to know for the future. This is not really going to be bad at all- in fact, it's going to be very rewarding. I need to be here. I need to learn this. In this way, you can bring a new consciousness to an old situation, and completely transform the nature of the experience from one of resistance and pain, to one of acceptance and growth.
For someone who's basically happy already, and only experiencing minor setbacks, practicing this type of strategic surrender will just support and strengthen the happiness you already have.
"When you put your boat in the river, go downstream."
Abraham (via Esther Phillips)
Monday, February 23, 2009
Take the experience as a lesson and opportunity to transcend the petty destructive and unconscious tendencies that human beings unwittingly indulge themselves in, usually in an effort to enhance themselves. See it as an opportunity to deal with another's pain with compassion – the juice that facillitates life's natural ease and elegance. Then you put yourself in a place to help someone, and you suddenly might see that the person who "ruined your life," actually gave you the greatest gift you've ever received: self-awareness, self-love (the willingness to show love to another), and compassion...which all adds up to freedom.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Aurobindo said that a long time ago. Some of those swamis really know their stuff...
"How To Survive Life (and Death)," is available from Conari Press, or at all major booksellers––but ask for it from your local bookshop.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
"Philosophy is really homesickness."
Have you ever seen the classic cartoon where an appropriately drunken stork delivers a baby to a family of the wrong species? That was how I tended to feel a lot, from my earliest memories on. Unsure whether I'd been dropped off on the right planet. Easily persuaded that this was all some kind of accident.
I began to adopt an identification with a set of heroes which I'll call The Legion of the Separate. Every one of them had experienced a profound sense of displacement. They had an inability to accept their reality, and so were forced to seek or become something other than what their surroundings would suggest to make of their lives. They had a need to exorcize the sense of a "False Self" that life had foisted upon them, and journey to the real persona that God, in his infinite wisdom, meant for them to discover. I was down with that.
I loved explorers; like Coronado, the first European to explore the American southwest, who set off looking for the lost city of gold, but instead discovered Kansas. Captain Cook, who was symbolically eaten by Nature-men of Polynesia when he discovered the Paradise that he had been cruelly separated from by an Empire of delusional ego. Marco Polo, whose travels presaged the western search for enlightenment in his quest to the Far East, only to be most famously falsely credited for bringing pasta back to Italy. Of course, the Italians already had pasta. They're Italian.
Also, all comic book superheroes; generally victims of some personal tragedy, who'd been further separated from normalcy by their misunderstood and transcendent powers. Compelled to suddenly appear dressed in multicolored tights (branding logos on their chests), save lives, and then disappear into a kind of hyper-anonymity. I tried this out as a child in my sister's dance tights (sans superpowers), and quickly discovered how profoundly confusing it could be.
Let's not forget – Knights on romantically esoteric quests. Gunslingers and samurais, who didn't want to have to kill anyone, but had gotten really good at it in case it was justified (it always was). Demi-gods and mythological heroes, especially those with impossible tasks to perform. But by far, my favorite of all was Tarzan ... ahhh, Tarzan.
It was a common evening, there in the backyard of the little house on Linfield Avenue, right up against the dusty edge of the canyon wilderness that was eastern San Diego in 1962. I was six, sitting towards the top of the pepper tree, up with the young green leaves, and little vermillion berries. I'd taken to climbing trees at an early age, because, naturally, I could not be reached there. I was dressed ( or undressed, as it were) as my favorite hero from The Legion of the Separate. A thin Mexican leather belt kept my hand-towel loincloth in place. A red rubber knife, the silver paint worn off the floppy blade, tucked into it at my side.
I was Tarzan. Displaced and heroic King of the Jungle. Master of the dark wilderness that fate had inexplicably delivered him into. Rendered parentless at birth, living by strength and guile, I scanned the rooftops of the outpost suburban tract with the cool indifference of a Great Ape, methodically picking at my toes. I was crosslegged in the upper branches.
The screen door opened, and my mother walked out, slender and lovely, with her red hair and her brow bunched. She stood beneath my tree, arms crossed, one foot pointed out just so, squinting up at the King of the Jungle.
"I see you up there." No answer.
"Time to come down now, dinner's ready"
"Tarzan no hungry." My Tarzan had little to do with the transcendent hero created by E. R. Burroughs, instead being unfortunately based on the movie character as portrayed by Johnny Weismuller, the famous swimmer.
"Tarzan has to eat dinner. You're already a pretty skinny Tarzan."
"Tarzan no eat your dinner." I imagined feeding on bloody gazelle, I imagine.
"Tarzan will especially no eat if his dinner gets cold."
With that I shifted to a less visible position in the tree, redirecting my savage gaze to the sunset in the west, all silly bright pink and yellow, in the days before smog had reduced every dusk to sad shades of coppery grey. The screen door shut behind her, and I was again, for the moment, stoically content in my treetop. And then Tarzan got hungry.