Monday, September 21, 2020

Simple, Solid Bridges to a Working Spiritual Life (Learned the Hard Way)

            I'm known for having had the [mis]fortune of surviving multiple "near-death experiences," and as a result I (unintentionally) find myself absolutely certain that there's a spiritual reality that underlies, informs, and precipitates all of this success-seeking, bill-paying, precaution-taking material existence. It's a function of what the Hindus call Maya, the illusion of Life. While being hit on the head three times very hard may exclude me from what's normally considered as "sanity," I think it was what I personally really needed. I needed experiences that painfully proved the existence of a reality that's magically extra-dimensional in every sense – physically, spiritually, and conceptually. Realizations that I suppose are more commonly known as faith.

            Thankfully a lot of us acquire this understanding in easier ways, from our parents, or from religion, or just in the course of coping with the slings and arrows that life throws our way. Apparently being challenged by hardship does help to make us realize that there's a reliable order alive in the universe we can turn to, especially when things get tough. Naturally, I certainly can't recommend near-death as a means to bridging that elusive gap between the harsh realities of "material" life and a more grace-filled "spiritual" life, but I can offer you a few very practical bridges into that living magic that makes everything so much more enjoyable – grounded in this fundamental concept:

            We are spiritual beings learning through physical experience; we are designed to overcome the mental and physical barriers presented by human sensory experiences and realize our spiritual nature. There are bridges – invisible spiritual mechanisms (choices) – built into this physical experience that afford us passages to our spiritual evolution.
Here are a few solid bridges that help us cross that dimensional divide:

Unconditional Kindness is the most available (and enjoyable) mechanism that engages us with our spiritual life by giving us an immediate heartfelt identification with others – the [proactive] warmth and support that we respond to ourselves, when it's unconditionally shown to us. Being unconditionally kind to others is being kind to ourselves, because we find we can easily forgive others for just being human, and realize that applies to us too. We give everyone a break, because life is tough for everyone. As part of that, Unconditional Kindness obliges there be no exploitation, manipulation, or participation in doing harm of any kind in our actions, so we end up being forthright, friendly vegetarians who work at something that contributes to Life in a meaningful, productive way. (We even get to forgive those who can't understand our approach to Life)
            Hindus call this Karma Yoga, and it instantly connects us to an unseen dimension of profound compassion and generosity that we may have never known was alive everywhere in the world. We make, and find others who are making, good karma.

Honesty in all our relationships and dealings, and in what you might think of as a variation of confession—owning up to our mistakes, not always needing to be right—is really a visible invisible bridge. We all know how it simplifies our life, since being honest gives us fewer of life's complications to fear, because you're simply never adding to them. Your motives remain those of a seeker of fairness, truth, and wisdom. You become seen and known as a person who is resolutely trustworthy, whose intentions are of the highest order...that sounds pretty spiritual, doesn't it? It's a kind of intellectual vigilance that Hindus call Gnana Yoga.

Giving, simply put, may be the single most important bridge, particularly to an agnostic that isn't interested in "extra-dimensions" but does want to live with a more graceful connection to Life. What we might call Compassionate Consciousness (altruistic effort like charity and volunteerism) – often referred to simply as service (like responsible parenthood, being a good friend, etc.) – is the most reliable bridge to a working spirituality. It's simply the singular most effective means to overcoming the sense of separateness we develop while sitting and thinking about ourselves and our own life situations – that selfishness that paints us into our own little corner, only using the color fear.
            In selfless service—with no regard for reward or recognition—we're immediately attached to a greater universal intelligence by the lightest of all yokes: the engagement created by contributing to the cycle of well-being. We almost immediately escape the harsh realities dictated by our ego, and instantly begin to lighten and align our karma. (Karma Yoga, again)

Humility – not as a form of self-deprecatory ineffectiveness, but instead as a subtle, powerful sense of reality and connection; as an extraordinary underlying energy that filters all of your Life experiences, and provides an intuitive ideal to live by with purpose and grace. We've all experienced this powerful kind of humility as a truth-bearing, holistic force in Life, often demonstrated by the people we really respect the most. Nobody is really that important—even if they are; and often people who don't act important but just show up with open-hearted willingness are the most important of all.

"Conscious Contact with Source Energy" is what all these bridges lead us to, actually. A personal attachment and conscious surrender into the energy and intelligence alive in the Universe, regardless of whether we personify that power in popular traditional ways, or form our own concept of it as "The Field of Love," or other force. In this way we surrender—as a strategy—into the power that energizes and directs our being, recognizing the true control that our choices give us over our lives. You become aware of all kinds of beauty, the inherent divinity in nature; and realize that your actions in Life can be devoted to this undeniable Source of Creation – to "God," to Life, to one another, to Love. The Hindus call this devotional, or Bhakti Yoga.

            I don't pretend to know the designs of the Universe, only to have experienced the effectiveness of these visible (invisible) mechanisms in my own life and in the lives of those I'm close to; but I do know this:
            You do deserve the life that you have – with most of your biggest difficulties defined by whether you willingly cross these bridges towards "the spiritual," or stay stuck (and frustrated) on this side of the river, avoiding the magical extra-dimension of Life.

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Six [Dangerous] Modern Fairy Tales on Being Human

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

                        Marianne Williamson


            Let’s begin by casting our imaginations into a popular fantasy that resembles spectacular science fiction a little – namely that we’re not simply human beings fashioned from muscle, bone and blood, but that in a larger reality we’re really beings of pure effervescent energy wired into these clunky human robots, yet simultaneously connected to the limitless intelligence of the Cosmos...(science fiction and fairy tales can have a lot in common).

            Escaping those misperceptions of the human form we could then detach and observe Time itself as an assemblage of discreet moments in “eternity,” and witness the greater forces at work in this world that we fail to perceive from down here on the ground.


            Immediately, we might realize that we humans are unconsciously confined to a set of powerful beliefs suggested by the ‘evidence’ of our world around us as we see it, as our limited powers of perception present to us – so as humans, we simply have a misperception problem.

            Then, people who knew more about manipulating these powerful beliefs could be called wizards, witches, or “movers and shakers.” They would have the power to mold human illusions to suit their own purposes. In the metaphoric terms of Fairy Tales we may say “a darkness had fallen over the land,” the result of a spell cast from the wizard’s castle – the source of all confusion…the source of all evil.


            In the ancient Vedas of Hindu philosophy, this world of illusions/delusions created by our limited human senses is called Maya – an elaborate veil before our eyes. This veil is universal in human experience, so its effects can be explored and uncovered personally, or manipulated through the energies of larger groups into collective systems of delusional thought and action, in short, into different “realities” (like what we see today with the QAnon phenomenon).  

            In Fairy Tales (or The Bible) when this happens, there can be plagues and pestilence, famine, fires, crazy storms; waves of fearful insanity seizing the leaders and sweeping through the masses, leading to accelerating division, the destruction of Nature and a pandemic of fearful selfishness…sound familiar?


“We cannot solve our problems by using the same consciousness that created them.”

                        Albert Einstein


            Now that we’ve got our cosmic fantasy caps on, and we’re objectively looking down on humanity, let’s look at six of the delusional beliefs being propagated by our culture, and its wizards – political movers and shakers, and magnates of the media elite:


1. We are separate from one another, and from Nature


 Because of the insular experience of our human form, our independence is probably the easiest, most persistent delusion to maintain. Our sense of our disconnected self is so powerful that we can’t seem to see ourselves like a school of fish, or flock of birds…but we are.

Ask any astronaut you know and they’ll tell you that the arms-length view they had of the Earth completely destroyed that delusion of separateness. We truly are all one life here on this planet. Why even the nature of our material composition insists that the very atoms that make up our physical selves were part of something before they were part of you – rocks, plants, animals…dust (to dust).

Even though you feel separate and special, you’re not at all. You are one with everything you see, and a lot of what you can’t see. The truth is that we are all absolutely, inexorably bound and connected by our collective thoughts, energies, elements, and actions.



2. What is “real” is observabl­e – you can only believe what you can see


            The old expression, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” got turned inside out years ago when Quantum Physics essentially redefined it in reverse. The fact is, we really can’t see the elemental forces that create our observable world. What we do witness is the evidence of all of those mysterious processes, like gravity, or electricity, or Love…or human ignorance. It’s a scientific fact that the apparent material reality around us – the places and things in our lives – are less tangible, less real, than they appear to be.

            Quantum Physics informs us that the subatomic particles that coalesce into what we see around us look less like Newton’s little billiard balls, and much more like tiny, fuzzy clouds that don’t actually become solid until they’re observed – and so their transformation into ‘reality’ occurs only by engaging with our limited observational perceptions. It seems to be our single global mind – it’s focus and engagement in a great, intangible reservoir of consciousness – actually constructs the “reality” of our reality.

            So as a result, it’s closer to the truth to say: “I’ll see it when I believe it.”



3. All of life has forward momentum, and all arising problems are reversible


            Recent discoveries about Mars tell us something amazing – that there is and has always been water there, and that at one time Mars probably looked quite a bit like Earth. Before it got too hot and started drying up, and the sun’s radiation soaked up its atmosphere and it got too cold, the folks up there probably thought they were on a carousel of never-ending abundance too. The idea that we can harvest the bounty of a planet’s resources indefinitely, ignoring the imbalances we cause, holds about as little water as logging the Sahara Forest once did. We are quantifiably in the midst of one of the great mass extinctions known to humankind, and extinctions aren’t reversible. Time isn't going anywhere, it's results are always present.

            We’re not going to terraform Mars anytime soon – not while we’re so busy transforming the Earth to look like Mars. We can see the paradise we could have, or the Hell we can create.



4. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution demands “Survival of the Fittest”


            While natural selection efficiently promotes characteristics that ensure survival, our cultural misunderstanding of Darwin’s theories (encouraged by the “haves” of industry and media) has to do with what characteristics actually constitute “the fittest,” and what evolutionary direction those traits take us in. In biology, and in the natural world, it’s not greedy leaders that drive evolutionary ascendence, it’s the characteristics that enhance the endurance and viability of the entire species, and that sustain those conditions that support the success of the whole community – “haves” and “have-nots” alike.

            It’s quite democratic, really – there isn’t one strong leader or small group that determines the most beneficial direction for a community to move in, in fact it’s usually a sudden shift (about 51%) of the colony that ‘breaks’ in the direction of collective progress (As our elections should demonstrate…)

            The real lesson of Darwin isn’t dog eat dog – it’s that animals move in groups. It isn't really “survival of the fittest,” but actually “survival of the most cooperatively adaptable.”


5. New advances are always superior to old, and technology provides all the answers


            From the unimaginable aberration of an island of plastic refuse the size of Texas floating out in the Pacific Ocean, to the warped lunacy of “fracking” toxins into bedrock beneath the water table to release more hydrocarbons, to the nefarious insanity of using GPS and the internet to track every person on the planet, the benefits of technological advances clearly depend on to what purposes they are employed. Those technologies dedicated to exploitation, destruction, and personal power are harmful to the human species, and to our non-human fellow Earthlings.

            Indigenous cultures have created advanced technologies too – often to a higher level than ‘establishment’ anthropologists are willing to acknowledge – but here’s the difference: theirs have often been organic technologies of respectful sustenance, in accord with the energies of the Earth – what I like to call Spiritual Technology.

The answers actually lay in a spiritual approach to all of life, what are real “technologies of the heart” – like free energy, transpersonal communication, and inter-species collaboration – most of which are labeled “woo-woo” by the selfish guardians of our status quo who have the most to lose materially.


6. What's “miraculous” or “paranormal” is automatically considered foolish and impossible


            In an earlier article called Paranormality is the New Reality, I discuss the simple fact that most of what we take for granted as modern science was at one time considered “paranormal." ­Unfortunately this is still the case, but as those cultural blinders are being swept away by rapidly spreading Consciousness – the great field of intelligence at work beneath and beyond our human forms ­– it becomes ever clearer that our cultural delusions are kept alive and manipulated by a fairly small group of people who are ignorantly dedicated to self-enhancement and gratification, using the power of irrational fear. That is what destructively deepens their delusions and prevents them from experiencing “the miraculous” spiritual solutions to all the overwhelming problems they create.


     So let’s go back to our beginning sci-fi scenario and imaginatively re-enter our human bodies with this expanded knowledge, perspective, and purpose. Now we ought to be able to consciously recognize, and lovingly acknowledge, the limitations of our present human form. By compassionately freeing ourselves of those veils of human delusion, we can see that our answers lie in the “unimaginable” spiritual potential that we are all heir to – beyond simply being a human being. Life is already quite miraculous, let’s make it moreso.



            "Our present world is conditioned by our present mode of consciousness; only when that consciousness passes from its present dualistic mode...will the new creation appear, which is the external reality of which our world is a mirror."

                                    Bede Griffiths

The latest book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor from Llewellyn Worldwide can be ordered direct on this page or online; and the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for them it at your local bookstore!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Synchronicity is Not a Coincidence (It's Evidence of the Unseen)

 A lot of people have an idea of what the term "Synchronicity" means in popular use, but in a lot of cases they confuse it with the simple fact that sometimes all of us experience extraordinary, timely coincidences. Accidents, that seem as though they were by design. But synchronicity really removes the accident from the accidental nature of those ‘random’ phenomena, and while it can manifest itself as coincidence, that’s only the visible tip of a vast, hidden synchronicitous iceberg.
To better illustrate the nature of this distinction, let me call upon two other simple metaphors: electricity, and eating.

We all have faith in the practical applications of electricity, right? You know the light will turn on when you flip the switch (unless one of those "never needs replacing" light bulbs needs replacing), but sometimes, the light goes on or off at a very particular moment without you flipping the switch. Or in its grander form, a bolt of lightening strikes a tree on your family property. Those are what you may call 'electrical coincidences.' Synchronicity, in this case, has more to do with a very practical yet deeply mysterious lifelong relationship to natural phenomena of all kinds. 
For example, if a bolt of lightening strikes your grandfather's favorite tree on the day of his death – that's synchronicity. One aspect appears to be connected to the other, but there’s no provable material cause for it, aside from an obvious spiritual cause.

Or say you're getting hungry around lunchtime, and for some unusual reason you've been craving oysters. Just then, a co-worker starts talking about the great oysters he had last night. That's coincidental. But if your girlfriend gives you a surprise call to meet her at the oyster bar for lunch, and then tells you how much she loves you – well, that's synchronicity. Reaching beyond just the particular coincidence, synchronicity may have everything to do with how you met your wife.

Dr. Carl Jung, the creator of synchronicity, may have taken that example a little further by suggesting that love revealed itself to you like a pearl, and that the opening up of your life revealed this timeless treasure to you. His original version of synchronicity brought in, and out, the presence of recurrent images and ideas, archetypes, tying us to another dimension where dreams come true, timely meetings change your life, omens accurately predict the future, and phenomenal ‘signs’ are deeply significant to our personal experience.

Dr. Jung didn't define the new principle because he was a mystic, but because after years of working with patients and bearing witness to the events of his own life, it became clear that there appeared to be a mysterious, underlying kind of 'field' effecting a whole different level of experience. Even though he first coined the idea of synchronicity in the late 1920s, it wasn't until 1952 that he committed his concept and data to print with "Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle," as the first half of his book, The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche.

Around the same time, the world was learning about quantum theory, and the concept of a quantum field, or source plenum, from which all matter arises. With it came evidence that we’re all participants in an observer-based reality, of sorts; that our focused attitudes, intentions, and actions may interact with an unseen mechanism to create our personal and collective reality. It confirmed Jung’s observations, and he referred to this field as unus mundus – a unified world. In this unified world, coincidence is only an indicator of an underlying reality.

Jung’s observations were based on the rejection of a coincidental, one-dimensional life, and instead, the recognition that we engage in the world in a very complex way through our psyches, our energies, our emotions, and our actions and experiences. Seeing life this way, it becomes less a series of coincidences mixed with our projections and manipulations, and instead a far more interactive (albeit far more mysterious) experience. Life becomes a unified co-creation that is answering your questions. Life is reflecting to you what it is you need to know.

“Continuous creation is to be thought of not only as a series of successive acts of creation, but also as the eternal presence of the one creative act.”
Carl Jung

Jung based the synchronistic model on three characteristics of spiritual potential: meaningful coincidence – that random events happen sometimes with very specific, personal meaning; causal connection – that despite there being no apparent material cause and effect, there is an undeniably profound personal significance, and so an apparently intentional connection at play; and luminosity – the indication that all of this happens within a kind of shared field of divinity, in communion with a greater whole.
Across most life experiences, these three aspects actually do work to describe something that happens in everyone’s life, even though no one knows exactly how.

Scientific materialists see consciousness as an individually brain-generated phenomenon, generated independently by every consciously living thing, rather than as a shared field that’s accessed by every living thing through their sensory capabilities. Because of this, they tend to dismiss synchronicity, yet their limited model of consciousness supports synchronicity too, because if each life form has a bubble of consciousness around it, they become like 'quanta' of quantum physics when they simultaneously, "acausally" share information through the principle of entanglement.       
Synchronicity merely recognizes the existence, and potential, of this ­in-formation ­field of shared consciousness.

Skeptics say it’s all coincidence, chalking it up to what's called "confirmation bias," which is our very real tendency to remember our 'hits' and forget our 'misses.' It means that you're more likely to remember the bird at the window the day of your father's death than all the birds at the window on other occasions. Of course, it all depends on what the bird is doing, and when it's doing it, doesn’t it?

My wife and her family witnessed just such a bird hovering nearly motionless outside the window of her father's hospital room, that flew away at the moment of his death. It was the first and only time any of them had ever seen a bird hover outside a window like that before. That’s synchronicity: meaningful coincidence, causal connection, luminosity.

Materialism considers all such verifiable testimony as 'anecdotal' (as is all of personal spiritual experience, when you think about it). But spiritual experiences are realized through ones heart, not through ones intellect – a mechanism that's been proven rather unreliable after centuries of scientific reassessments and  dangerously ‘adjustable’ dogmas. The miraculous has always ironically been rejected by learned men, who have yet to provide an explanation for their existence on a planet in outer space, other than that it is likely the product of "coincidence."

The acceptance of synchronicity as an unpredictable, yet wondrously reliable mechanism in our [observer-based] life, leads to a very practical realization that you could relate to any natural force, like electricity, or gravity – it works much better for you when you believe it’s there, and learn how to work with it. When you have faith in it.

A personal story to end with: About fifteen years ago I'd come to accept my self-reliant bachelorhood. A series of remarkable, synchronicitous coincidences suddenly put me in the position to buy a small house, overlooking a wonderfully scenic river in northeastern Pennsylvania. In what I (anecdotally) consider miraculous fashion, the sale went through, and I spent a day signing papers that granted me the deed to my new house in Pike County, Pennsylvania.
Back in Manhattan, on the way home from the bus station, I bumped into a charming woman I'd briefly met before. She seemed to be lit from within, and after a very nice conversation, she wrote her name and number down for me. Her last name was Pike, and without knowing where I had just come from, she told me that she was hoping to get away to the country soon. I made sure she did.

I can’t forget that 'hit.' We've been married now for thirteen years (the best of my life). And like electricity, she invisibly powers my life; and like eating oysters, well, let's just say it was no coincidence that I bit into a synchronicitous pearl.

The latest book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor from Llewellyn Worldwide can be ordered direct on this page or online; and the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for them it at your local bookstore!  

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Where Ego, I Go – Avoiding My Bad Ego Trips

"Ego specialness prevents you from authentic feelings of sacredness by creating an inner experience of fear."
                                                                    Dr. Wayne Dyer

            Egomaniac. Egocentric. Egotistical…not nice things to call someone, right? But just what the heck is your ego? The simple translation of the word ego from its Latin origin is “I.” That’s all, just “I.” What can be so nasty about that?

Despite the simple ordinariness of it, I have learned this one particular lesson the hard way: Whenever I start a statement with “I,” there’s a much greater chance that I’ll regret it than if I start it some other way. So I ask myself, why do I have to be so careful about my ego? How does ego get such a bad rap? Why do “I” have to ask “myself?”
It’s because generally speaking, there are two different kinds of “me” in here – two aspects or types of my ego that are always competing to define the world for me, and make me behave the way I do:

The first (and ideally more prominent) type is that healthy ego that allows my true, grounded self to interact with material life in an easy, less-demanding way (hello, angel on my shoulder). Things can come and go in life without seeming so terribly important. I find that “me” rarely gets offended, because tolerance and acceptance just come naturally. 
This is my healthy, beneficial ego because it provides a reasonable, balanced foundation to my life, and plays a relatively small active role in my experience of things. It demands less judgement and comparison, and much less control of everything I clearly can’t really control. So listening to the inner voice of my healthy ego makes it easier to "stay out of my own way," and allows me to experience a more balanced exchange of Life energy that lets me share, express, and grow. I become more tolerant and teachable. It’s not all about “me,” and so I can live much more easily with “my self.” Simply put, this ego is grounded in Love.

            My other ego is more or less the opposite – unhealthily self-absorbed; over-important and over-complicated (hello, devil). It’s the voice of what I think of as my “False Self,” because it’s rarely (if ever) who I want to be. Unfortunately, this self-important ego often acts as my instant default interface with Life, pressing unfair and unnecessary demands and comparisons on all the people and situations I encounter. It's easily offended, lacking in tolerance and acceptance, and foolishly wants to control the uncontrollable. It’s a kind of shadow “me” that stifles the expression of my natural, easy-going self with unnecessary defensiveness and negativity. It obstructs that beautiful, balanced exchange of Life energy – which is Love. In this way, I can unconsciously become my own worst enemy. Simply put, this is the ego that’s grounded in Fear – it’s what gives ego a bad rap.

             This double nature is expressed in the beautiful mythic metaphor of The Garden of Eden. The unhealthy ego knows everything and always needs to be right. It wrongly makes a constant diet of "the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil" – judgment and comparison, and so insists on “playing God.” Then, when it serves as the sole interface to Life, our grounded natural self is “banished from the garden.” Simply being what we really are is never enough, so we must become something other than our authentic, natural self, based on what the unhealthy ego demands us to be – on how it compares us to “what others expect from us.” We get locked out, separated, from the beauty of the natural world.

            On a larger scale, this unhealthy ego process is the mass default for commercial culture. The rapid expansion of this dangerously delusional unhealthy mass ego – driven by unconscious, top-heavy corporate media – is the reason for our gravely unbalanced world. It’s why we find the very survival of all species – the very ability of our planet to sustain life as we know it, suddenly in such precarious circumstances. This mass ego lives to control and exploit the Earth in order to meet endless voracious needs that can never be met. It lives by creating its own "map" of reality, and only functioning by focusing on that delusional map, instead of paying attention to the actual geography and conditions of the world around us. 

            As soon as we escape this useless, destructive mass ego and live in the simple underlying truth, becoming honest with ourselves and the rest of humanity, the sooner we'll see that no matter how big the problem there’s always a solution. With this simple realization, we will become spiritual beings, and the inevitable spiritual evolution of our species will become a real and workable thing. 
Evidence of this spiritual evolution of humankind is all around us. Our extreme circumstances serve to inspire more people all the time to say:

"Wait a minute! This is insane – we can't do this anymore!"

That's your window of opportunity. Climb through it, and from that moment on, your healthy ego (your intuition) will be activated and will direct you to behave in a whole, newly responsible way that will lead to your connectedness with all life (Love & happiness); to the healing of our mass psyche, and – most importantly – to the healing our planet.

"When Man ate of the fruit of the Tree, he discovered himself in the field of duality instead of the field of unity.  As a result, he finds himself out, in exile."
                                                                                 Joseph Campbell

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Could it be "The End of the World" as We Know It?...Yes!

 "The Promised Land has nothing to do with real estate."  
Joseph Campbell

Remember all those poor old evangelists who promised the end of the world? They all had a lot riding on that prediction, so you can't help but feel a little sorry for them when it didn't happen when and how they said it was going to. But then perhaps it did happen – it is happening, just not the way they thought it would.

May I be the first to bring you the real good news right here and right now? Despite whatever evidence to the contrary, The World – as we have known it – has ended.
It's been the "end of time," and "the end of the world" so many times now, it seems like it never will really end, and it won't. Of course, it's never actually the end of the world we're talking about. As George Carlin (the patron saint of cynical enlightenment) said: "It's not the end of the world, it's the end of people, man. The world is still gonna be here – we aren't.

The end of the world hasn't come the way we usually think of it, because the classical "End of the World" doesn't describe a literal ending; like all scriptural spiritual scenarios it's really a metaphor. "The End of the World" is really a spiritual and psychological end – the reframing of a new reality brought about by a big change: a transformational coalescence of consciousness, a "singularity" after which old ways of thinking and doing are in an instant rendered obsolete. Sound familiar? It is a lot like what's been happening around here lately. 
It even fits quite nicely into that Mayan theory that around 2012 the Earth began to resonate with a level of consciousness that simultaneously threw things into a kind of chaos, and seriously began to inform it's occupants that a major change was taking place. The "occupiers" showed up in town squares, the "Arab Spring" took place. Hong Kong began to percolate. Fraudulent elections became unacceptably obvious, and their results provoked the most massive global protests ever known. War became obsolete (but it's chief proponents will never admit it). Now pandemic is defining the falsehoods of financial structures, the equivalent needs of all people – and the grotesque inequalities forced onto humanity by unconscious folly, greed, and self-worship. A revolution has erupted against the "Era of Power" that supports itself on lies and hatred. Climate change attests to the truth that what we do has consequences – that we can cause irreversible destruction to this beautiful world.
And all the while, arising awareness and Love demonstrates the solutions presented to us by spiritual sanity. We are all one.

Wherever you're at home now, everyone is learning that the Earth's endless potential is being mismanaged by a criminally unconscious minority (God bless 'em). It's global knowledge that misguided, destructive segments of humanity are intensely wasteful, while the majority of our brother and sister humans are subject to unnecessary want and deprivation. It's clear that our extreme economic disparities are selfishly foolish and completely unsustainable. The occupants in every small town know about the elite class of super-wealthy, extraordinarily fearful (suffering) people, who feel they need to control the world's resources and media (the true "Fake Media"); corporate agents who are happy to kill off every Mom & Pop business in the world, and control all consumption from soulless global distribution centers. We can see their duplicity and their political mess on TV everyday, and increasingly we are living in it, too.
Yet the true, vast majority of real earthly occupants are aware of what the miraculous potential of the Earth actually is.

Naturally it's all happened before, when these literally medieval disparities bring us to a spiritual renaissance. We suddenly realize that being programmed to identify ourselves with the insane demands of corporate materialism, like "trickle-down," "know your class," "what you deserve and must have," and "how our way is right," is a form of destructive insanity that's forcing us to live totally inauthentic lives. The death of that inauthentic self becomes inevitable, and that's the shift – "The End of the World." Nothing can ever be the same after that.

Here's what it means: Everyone deserves to be who they are. Everyone deserves to be reborn into a fulfilling, authentic life. Everyone deserves life, health, and sufficient wealth – the shared resources of this incredibly abundant planet. We will have that, but there almost always seems to be a kind of "Dark Age" first, where faith is not always a well-lit place. It's like that period inside the caterpillar's chrysalis that is pure chaos, before the formation and flight of a new Era of Ethics.
I can't say exactly where we are in the process – at the start of that dark age, in the middle, or towards the end of it – whether we've stopped crawling and are growing our wings...but I do know one thing for certain regarding "The End of the World:"

Humanity is currently experiencing a mass metaphysical impulse to transcend the delusion of separateness. It's the collective death of an illusion, and it's spreading faster and more completely than any virus ever could. The resurrection is arising; the "Ethical Era" is settling upon the followers of the one true prophecy: That all Life on Earth is beginning to realize that it is one in the same thing. The Earth already knows, the animals do too – it's just people that are a little late to the real party.

As that global entity, we can all recognize the unfathomable mystery that everything comes from somewhere and goes somewhere, to a kind of ultimate ground of being that we're becoming aware of through quantum physics, cyber-consciousness, and verifiable sixth-sensory perception. We know that a mysterious ground of being – a 'matrix' of loving intelligence – transcends this form we're in; that this "radiance of the eternal" penetrates everything and everybody, and is intuitively informing a graceful and responsible way to live that's possible for everyone, and that everyone in this world deserves as their birthright. The darkness just requires deconstructing first.

Then the "radiance" (that understanding we all share) can illuminate the dark place where we'll find trust in ourselves and each other – call it Faith. That is the light we can shine now to penetrate our media, our destructive mass-ego, our "One Percent," and expose it – penetrate through it back to the fundamental mystery where we all live free and equal lives. 
Now we can stand our ethical ground with an unassailable authority; the boundaries protecting humanity simply can no longer be contested; and if you stop for a moment, and just listen and feel, it is yours to occupy.

The best and easiest way to make all this happen is to simply show up for life with this knowledge in our hearts, and try our best to live our authentic lives – where the inspiration for our actions comes from the inside, not the outside. We're being taught the difference between what is really important, and what is completely unnecessary and destructive – just pay attention and follow that direction! 

And here is the good news, here is the real gospel – the world has ended. Welcome to the new world.

"It will not come by watching for it. No one will be saying, Look, here it is!
Or, Look, there it is! The Kingdom [of the Father] is spread out over the whole earth, and people do not see it."

Logion 113, The Gospel of Thomas

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Experience Your Own (Rebellious) Resurrection – Quarantine-Style

These are strange times we live in, the global pandemic, forcing us into a 'quarantined' life and a major economic re-calculation; the unexpected onslaught of authoritarianism – the bizarre betrayal of our standards of fairness and civility by our 'leaders' in what we thought was our solid democracy...and all of it concurrent to the synchronicitous celebration of Spring. Cooped-up like this, it's easy to be overtaken by a rebellious urge, an urge that arises from the underlying sensation that things just aren't the way they're supposed to be. Life is absurd and crazy. Life is harsh and unjust. And this enforced isolation can make us feel that we're living in a personal exile of sorts, separated by the unfair complications of material life from a source of contentment and wholeness that we're naturally heir to – a source from within that we're currently forced to seek (and that we may occasionally be succeeding in finding). 
For me it seems that seeking and finding almost requires my being troubled – experiencing this profound discomfort to force me down the hard path that may eventually lead to inner peace. Then in those liberating moments when I manage to get there – however brief they are – I find a familiar, comfortable knowledge, an understanding when I seem to I know why I'm here. 
That, in a nutshell, is my experience of Gnosis – that rebellious urge to root out and live within Life's greatest solution.

"Get outta that state – outta that state you're in!
             The B 52s, Private Idaho

Simply put, Gnosis (coming from the Greek, for knowledge) is that knowledge – that understanding of transcendent being and belonging-to – that naturally arises from within our hearts. Inspired by the inner longing to reunite with a serene, unifying power that we inherently know to be our benevolent source, Gnosis isn't a product of any science, or even philosophy or religion, really. Instead, Gnosis is a personal discovery based in self-exploration and inner experience, and as such, it's experienced both as a process, and as a state-of-being.

It's natural that Gnosis is the product of that rebelliousness – after all, it is a search that requires rocking the boat a bit (or in this case, being stuck in this shaky little boat), since you have to abandon the definitions and conventions of who you are supposed to be, and what society says is important in order to open to a state of inner completion that really isn't available through any outer norms, religions, or institutions. In all its incarnations throughout human history, Gnosis has been the product of that personal alchemy, likened not only to the Hindu process of samadhi sought through forms of yoga, but also to the spiritual rebellion that led The Buddha to nirvana.

That's also why the search for Gnosis was originally associated with the early growing Christian insurrection. These pre-Christian rebels developed a process, a mythology, and a language of metaphor (including the idea of 'resurrection') that would lead an individual to enlightenment through personal inner experience, completely at odds with all of the prevailing religious institutions of the time – even Christianity itself. 

"Yeshua said: Whoever searches must continue to search until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed; and being disturbed, they will marvel and will reign over All."
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 2

"The Gnostics," as referred to by academics were specifically those pre-Christian Hebrews and early messianic Christians whose "Messiah" primarily took the form of an inward self-realization of God. Everybody was [and is] a "Christ" in a personal way, or is capable of realizing their very own "Christhood" through an initiation, in which an initiate could dis-identify with the difficulties of their material being by way of an alternative practice of personal ritual, absolute honesty and nonviolence, and unselfish service – which sounds a lot like the things many of us have been forced to realize in our "stay-at-home" surrender, doesn't it?

Of course, in the harsh light of the religious, political, and economic institutions of the day, these alternatives – the social and economic re-alignments, and the realization of a personal divinity – was absolute heresy. The most stubborn sacred cows aren't really sacred at all, they're political and economic. At that time, the Gnostics 'radical' suggestions led to the genocide of these rebellious, peace-loving "heretics."  

The nicest, and probably the most influential of these heretics were called "Essenes" (essence, essential), a "fringe" sect of Hebraism that were happy to let the Establishment Pharisees and Sadducees run the show around the second Temple in old Jerusalem, just before the Christian Era. I suspect that like the segment of citizens we today call "Progressives," Essenes also made up a much greater share of the population than reported, but because they rejected destructive commerciality (including slavery), ritual sacrifice, and phony spiritual authority, it was the guys with the hats and swords who miswrote their history, as usual. Theirs was – and is to this day – the essential rebellion of those seeking Gnosis. 
(Present day media academics pigeonhole the Essenes as heretics hidden away in the caves of Qumran, near the Dead Sea, where a particularly devoted community of ritual Gnostics made their last stand. In fact, Essenes were less a part of Hebraism and more a spiritual nation of their own, spread out across civilization, and bridging the east to west, and the many disciplines oriented towards enlightenment through inward experience)

Essenes established inns called hospitals, where anyone was welcomed, healed, and fed. They practiced hygiene, strict vegetarianism, and holistic medicine way before any of that was cool. Everyone – man, woman and child – was spiritually equal, possessing the same spark of divinity and spiritual potential for unification with The Divine as anyone else. All that was required was initiation into "the secret teachings" of inward exploration, and the willingness to live a life of compassion and integrity. They were absolutely non-violent, and only participated in commercial and agricultural efforts that benefitted everyone. In short, they lived the ideals of Christianity, before Christianity.

In other online articles I've told a version of the wonderful Gnostic myth of Sophia, the princess of Wisdom, and her descent to earth to elevate humanity through the example of her struggle back up to the light, and her gift of consciousness to mankind through the power of feminine energy. It is the classic myth of metaphor, describing Gnosis in a way that resonates in the heart and mind. Summing up the essential myth of the Gnostic inner journey goes something like this:

Humanity is an expression of a Divine Light imprisoned in a clunky, imperfect plane of existence, surrounded by the beauty of human life and the earthly realm, but victimized by the suffering that is such a big part of it all. Each human contains a spark of the Divine Light within, and enduring Life's painful challenges (pandemic, for example) inspires the desire to reunite that inner spark with the great field of Divine Light, our Source, called the pleroma. It sounds quite a bit like Buddhism, doesn't it? That's because it is, in a way – there are ways, in ritual, action, and practice, that the suffering can be avoided.

The self-realization of the light within requires a more austere approach, a set of principles designed to merge the earthly ego with the eternal self; and a community of shared consciousness – individuals who are cooperatively seeking the same state of happiness, wholeness, and purpose. 
I find the elemental directness of Gnostic myth and scripture very helpful and instructive in these times of quarantine:

"Yeshua said: When you bring forth that within you, then that will save you. If you do not, then that will kill you.
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 70

This is what attracted people like Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung to Gnosis and Gnosticism, the fact that it pre-dated every form of modern depth psychology with its remarkable synthesis of human experience into an applicable framework, and an alternative process of rebirth, recovery, and "resurrection" – like that which is forced on us at times like these. It's the timeless story of every authentic spirit's journey from a fearful, semi-conscious "death,” to the wholeness of a compassionately conscious “re-birth.” It symbolizes every individuals shared journey to wholeness and happiness, and the hard path we have to discover to lead us out of this darkness. 

"[Mythology inspires] the natural metaphysical impulse to transcend the illusion of separation."
Joseph Campbell

The Gnostics' understanding of Life was finally symbolized not as the iconic early Christian fish logo (submerged in the depths of the divine mystery), but as The Crucifixion Cross, symbolizing the horizontal experience of Life on earth – and the ego-death that's necessary to transcend it by way of the vertical inner knowledge and realization of our true ascendant nature and potential. That's what the cross really means (the Romans actually crucified people on short, X-shaped crosses, to save wood).

So Gnosis begins with an uncomfortability about Life (easy to imagine in the "stay-at-home" mode), and a rebellious dis-ease that moves us to reunite our selves with a wholeness and comfortable being that we're all entitled to. In this way, Gnosis is both a subtractive process – intentionally eliminating the unsupportable expectations and constraints of this style of human life; and it’s an expansive process – bringing us into the consciousness of our limitless potential by merging our damaged, earthly egos with a pure, eternal Love, accessible through our hearts.

But unfortunately, you may have to get a little pent-up first...

"When you make the two into one, when you make the inner like the outer, and the high like the low; when you make the male and the female into a single One…when you have eyes in your eyes, a hand in your hand…and an icon in your icon, then you will enter into the Kingdom."
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 22

Discover the true Gnosis of the Gnostics, with all its ancient metaphoric mythology, and applications to contemporary spiritual psychology in Gnostic scriptures such as: The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Phillip, The Pistis Sophia, The Gospel of Truth, The Gospel of Mary, and in many fine resources, like: Elaine Pagel's The Gnostic Gospels, Stefan Hoeller’s The Gnostic Jung, and Jung and the Lost Gospels, or in Carl Jung’s Seven Sermons to the Dead, and Answer to Job.

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!