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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On a wing and a prayer

The Power of prayer

Prayer can mean different things to different people. Let’s break it down to its basic principles. If you are praying then you are usually asking for assistance (help me) or guidance (show me) with something. This is when you feel that you either don’t have the means or capability to help yourself or see the forest for the trees.


This also means that you are asking someone outside of yourself, whether it is God or angels or ancestors. Prayer doesn’t normally mean that you’re talking to a close friend (or parent) in another part of the world. That’s what phones are for. Begging and pleading to a parent isn’t considered prayer anyway.


But if we’ve eliminated God or any higher power in this section of our story, we have to then assume that you’re not praying to anyone. Nevertheless, pray we do. If you don’t then what do you do when you’re hanging from a cliff by the last thread on your rope, watching it steadily fray?  And as covered earlier, our main instinct is to survive. Screaming, or crying like a baby in the face of adversity is an expression of your helplessness and your will to live. You express, you shout at the top of your lungs; you shout for help, if anyone is in earshot; you turn your head skywards and ask someone to just swoop down from those big fluffy clouds and save your ass before it’s too late. Then, when the panic is over, and you’ve said what you needed to say to the world, you calm down and a sense of peace washes over you. You’ve let go of the NEED to live and resigned yourself to the inevitable fact that you’re going to die. Now you’re okay with that. Maybe one last choc nut sundae would have been nice, but here we are anyway. At that moment, the clouds spread apart and the sun shines on you. SNAP. The string gives way and you plummet the twenty centimeters to the ledge below.


What follows the stunned silence, the staring in disbelief at the rope still gripped in your knuckle-white fists, is profuse thanks and gratitude and promises of living life to the fullest and being less of a dick to strangers.


Who do you thank? Afterall the ledge wasn’t there a minute ago. What happened? What’s the bigger picture?


An extremely visceral experience triggers our survival instinct and a moment of clarity descends upon us. If we’re not using the spiritual or religious experience to explain this (and we are not) then what happened was you asked for help or guidance, your mind cleared of all the daily clutter, you analysed what was important in your life ‘right now’ and did what you could to move forward. In this case you saw that complete panic wasn’t the answer.


In a word: you went ‘within’ yourself to find the answer, to find the peace, help or guidance in that moment. Whether you saved yourself or not, that is what physically happened.


When in need, go within for the answers. Prayer is simply the asking. We then let go of the outcome. And whatever happens happens.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Origin & Survival of a species

The natural world is filled with thousands and thousands of species of animals and creatures that do not care about what their purpose on our planet is. The simplest and most basic concept that every life-form IS concerned with is…

 
1. SURVIVAL

That is all that any living being, sentient or stupid, is driven by. Life as we know it – animal or human – revolves around that simple Neanderthal principle. Add any meaning to that existence and you’re thinking like a human.

If you are a living organism then your natural instinct, rational mind, or reflexes tell you to eat, breathe, defend, eat, breathe, defend. This is why suicide is so foreign to animals, but to us as human beings who get to think about it and justify it, it is an option. If we have been given life, it is our universal right and obligation to protect that like a well-guarded treasure.
 

2. PROCREATE

Pro – in latin means ‘for’ or ‘in agreement with’. Being someone/something who is for creation. After we’ve (the animals) have survived, there is an inbred need to create offspring – spread our seed. More importantly, spread our DNA. And yet, a nest of ants is not doing it to leave a legacy behind, or have someone to look after them when they’re old. We all know what happens to the old and frail in the wild. Procreation is a natural state, not a ‘nice idea’ to have children.

 
3. PROTECT

While not all animals in the natural world adhere to this concept, most do. If you take a close look at the world around us you will be surprised by the animals that look after their young, and those that leave them to fend for themselves. A crocodile will take each individual hatchling in it’s mouth and deliver them safely to the water. Then another beautiful and graceful water reptile, the loggerhead turtle, will find a deserted beach in the middle of no where, lay her eggs, and abandone her young to hatch at sundown and fumble the hundred metres of shoreline, past waiting gulls, to be engulfed in raging seas. We won’t even try to understand what it is that makes the turtle hatchlings emerge after the sun has set, or why they know that they need to head for the ‘safety’ of the sea as quickly as possible. Or for the mother to travel thousands of kilometers and still come back to the same beach every time she chooses to lay her eggs.

Eat, breathe, feed your young, protect your offspring from predators. Simple.

 
4. TEACH (THE FAMILY DYNAMIC)

Street smarts. Teaching our children how to survive. Although some of us would like to think that our kids are the brightest, they are not like a black widow spider who instinctively knows how to hunt and build one of the world's most intricate structures - the web - if you put them behind the wheel of a car they will wreck it. Lions in Africa spend many hours teaching their cubs how to hunt. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

 
5. THE HERD (The Group Dynamic)

As with the lion pride or herd of buffalo, the larger family unit or herd create an integral part to the dynamics of any individual. Here, interactions with your peers reveal the underlying notion of unity. A stronger animal will protect, and in the case of lions, suckle and nurture another's child. A buffalo herd will rally together to fend off an attack by a host of lionesses - even risking their own lives. The strength and bond of a group extends past individual egos, it ignores petty grievances in the face of common hardships and challenges. Not standing together could mean the downfall of the entire herd.
 

6. THE SPECIES

Without being physically aware of its connection to another of its species thousands of miles away, if two elephants cross paths on the plains of Africa, there is a mutual connection, understanding, language and respect that cannot be explained. Their commonalities go far deeper that how they physically appear to one another. And deeper still is the fact that if they were to cross paths in the distant future, there would be a sense of recognition. Now, under normal circumstances a male elephant would vehemently defend itself from intruders and be conscious of its 'personal space'. But a fellow elephant generates quite a different response (unless otherwise threatened). The survival of the species is understood and respected. How much respect and understanding do we bring to our relationship with those of our species? The rise or fall of the entire species.
 

7. THE PLANET

Now we enter the human realm. No animal, that I am aware of, has any concern for the survival of the planet. If we were to explain the situation to a pod of dolphins, I think that the word would quickly spread and a few fishing trawlers would be under threat. So let's assume that it's in our hands. If the planet goes, the species goes, the herd goes, the family goes, and bang! you go. Protecting and ensuring the survival of the planet isn't just the tree-hugger notion of 'SAVING THE PLANET'. It could mean protecting against outside threats (no not aliens) like meteors, solar flares etc. Saving the planet from man's affect on it, a noble cause, has its limits. In the blink of an eye, a huge volcano could erupt, sending ash into the atmosphere and blotting out the sun. The earth could shift on its axis and wipe out everything on its surface. Bad for us, not bad for the planet. As scientists have illustrated, the earth has gone through countless rejuvenation processes. All without the help (or destruction) of mankind. If we mess up the planet, the planet will simply start afresh. We are but an itch on the surface of a beautiful and resilient sphere hurtling through space. Sometimes we can only sit back and marvel at her. Other times we need to act.
 

8. THE UNIVERSE

The planet is where, at this stage of the game, our influence and survival abilities end. But as we reach out and touch other planets, it needs to be with the same respect and understanding as with crossing paths with one of our own. The fingerprints we leave behind can corrode or breathe life into aspects of the universe yet to be discovered.
 

If we are alive, have been given life, or brought back to life, it is our obligation to live it. Ending life, yours or another's, - other than for survival - goes against the natural order of things. A lion doesn't kill on a full stomach. There aren't thousands of buffalo carcasses lying rotting on the savannah, and a lion in Africa is not plotting the overthrow of a tiger in India.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What if this IS Reality: Part 3

Now that we have proven that we are real, physical, and in a physical environment, let’s look at what is not physical. No, not what isn’t real.


The Facts – Non-physical:


You make something “good/bad” by giving your opinion about it.


Yes, you really are thinking that this is crap.

I think, therefore I am. We would like to think that that phrase in some weird way sums it up.

OK. How about … what you think, is real to you. But, what others think, is merely opinion. Therefore it is assumed, and not fact. I had a dream that I was flying. Prove that I didn’t have that dream.


Emotions are real. Tell a child that their hamster died. 


And as I pointed out earlier, we are only interested in what we can reference as fact. What we think and feel can not be entered as something that is real. But on the other hand, what we express and how we express it is real.

Therefore, emotions (although felt mentally) are expressed physically. Emotions are things that make people act or react in their own unique way. Two people can have the same emotions, but choose to express it completely differently. You can also tell the difference between someone who is physically emotional and someone who is mentally emotional. Emotional doesn’t mean unstable, but rather feeling/expressive.


Things outside of here are not provable and not guaranteed.


What about the physical that we can’t prove to be physical/real? Prove that there are other places to go and other people to meet. Sure you can pick up the phone, or turn on the TV and they are there. But ask them if where they stay is still there, and if they actually exist on the other side of the phone. Whatever they say is purely opinion. I’m sure that they will give a good argument, nevertheless. We won’t even get into the brain-numbing question of, “Surely the Universe must have a limit. How big can the infinite really be?” (ow!).


The future is a second away


The past is/was real. It can be argued that it is not part of reality (the here and now). But, it can be proven, and sometimes has physical remains. So the past does count. If the past wasn’t real, then explain a library. And convince me that you didn’t read all the other words before this one, and this one.

The past is real. It has made you who you are today, and it is always a point of reference for everyone. And yet Time is simply a measure of change. Time is man made and doesn’t exist. The time difference between yesterday and today is simply how much the earth changed position on its axis.

The future is not real. Got any physical or mental proof that it’s there? And why is it that we’ve been in the past, we are in the present, but we can never get to the future. Some of us live in the future (in their heads) and dream of how their life is going to be. Imagine being around someone who was from the future (or thought they were). You would experience the most boring person who new everything that was going to happen; who would say annoying things like, “I told you so”; who lived for the next moment  & not the “Now”; who would have no sense of adventure or not value the element of surprise; and best of all, a person with a strange dress sense. Basically, someone who wasn’t real.



“Like, connect with the Oneness, man.”


Sure, we are connected by energy and atoms and air and earth - which apart from being a nice spiritual concept that can be proven scientifically - in my physical experience you are over there and I am over here. Therefore separate. We are separated by physical time, space, distance etc. I can’t visually see our connected energy (unless I begin to acknowledge that fuzzy blue glow around you).

Even reaching out and touching someone doesn’t mean that you are one. You as a finger are still touching them as an arm. Your finger doesn’t become their arm. Most people would pass out or have to go to therapy if that were to happen.

So, Oneness is one of those concepts that you either eventually get your head around, or you simply trust in your experiences of the world around you. Understand that you do have a ripple effect in anything that you think and do, and that your power and influence on the physical and non-physical world does make a difference - the butterfly & Tokyo analogy.


Getting Past Our Physical Limitations:


Sure if we transcend the physical we call it dying. But what about transcending the physical and NOT dying – transcending Death? If you truly transcend the physical, then death is no longer a factor. And we’re not talking about some egotistical, materialistic “I’m afraid of dying” sense, but in a complete mastery of you mind, body and soul.

What I believe…

Beliefs” definition (Oxford):
1. the feeling that something is real and true, trust, confidence.
2. something accepted as true, what one believes.
3. religion, something taught as part of this, Christian beliefs.

Now look at definition 1. I want a big red marker underlining and circling and starring the word “feeling”.

Adding to the world’s conflicts:
If we could ask you to think of a religious (not spiritual) belief that has not caused conflict at some stage in history…insert blank here. A true spiritual belief doesn’t feel the need to justify or get angry, doesn’t get your back up when argued against, and respects other’s individual beliefs. Now read definition 1 again. Isn’t that how it feels (or should feel) if you trust your beliefs? The definition doesn’t say something that you fight for. It doesn’t say something you judge others by.
Religious dogma hinders spiritual progress. You cannot penetrate through the dogma or imposed belief systems to get to Spirit.

Process:
Let us start at the beginning. Birth.
Strip away all that you believe – everything that you have been taught. Picture that in your mind for a moment. Suddenly your mind starts to quiet.
Now imagine all the beliefs that you have gathered from personal experience – not from other people’s experiences, but your own. No ideas or theories. Experiences. Listen to the tone of your voice in your head.
Active but Calm.
As good as that feels, take the next step. Imagine all the beliefs that you have been taught: from parents, family and friends, teachers, the media, and society.
A bit noisy?

Belief systems are the things that distract and hinder your journey. Rather than truly experiencing something, you experience becomes filtered through a dark lens. And most importantly, limit you in the physical universe. Anything is possible when you drop your belief systems.

As I sit here writing this passage, I feel despondent (correction: damn depressed and useless), and don’t have the slightest inclination to ask myself, let alone anyone else, for damn guidance. So no one is saying it’s easy or that you just flick a switch and everything is fine. I’m not writing this because I’m perfect or that I can always do the things written here. We’re human. We’re physical beings living in a physical world.

So let’s get physical for a moment...

(see 'What if This is Reality')

What if this IS Reality: Part 2

The Facts – Physical:


Your body is real and what you experience is real.


Yes, you really are reading these words on the screen. Remember, assume nothing.

You can feel the chair under you, you can see the screen with your eyes, and I’m sure it’s got an ozone kind of smell to it. You can go as far as tasting it to prove the next sense that you have. You can even hear the words spoken as you carry on with the physical experience.


Other people are real and what they experience is real.


Find someone close by (sitting next to you; in the other room; stick your head out the window to find a passer by.

Now smack them on the shoulder, or if they are far away, tell them that they ride elephants on Sundays.


Other people can affect you or not.


Their reaction should be pretty real enough. Maybe so real that it affects your personal Reality.


Nature is real and all that is in it is real. 


Pick up an axe. Yes a real axe. Stand at the base of a huge Redwood. Now for some environmentalists, that is very real. So we won’t carry on there. Suffice to say that a male lion munching on your leg in the Serengeti can seem very real.


Confront what is put in front of you in the physical.


The physical world is there and it is real. If something affects your physical Reality, deal with it in the physical. Don’t get into a big mental spiel about what it means and “why is this happening”. Deal with it. Don’t escape it.

Your car is stuck across a railway line. A slick, state-of-the-art, bullet-train is bearing down the track (yes, in your direction). What do you do, hot shot? Do you say to yourself, “Why is this happening?”, “Is that train real, or am I just dreaming?” Action! Not Thought! You’ll have time to reflect on its meaning later in your psychiatry session. You get out the way, and then find the higher “meaning”.

(see Part 3)


Monday, June 22, 2009

What if this IS Reality

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

For the purpose of this exercise, let’s, by some stretch of the imagination, take it that this is reality. Let’s forget about what everyone thinks and assumes. In fact, let’s assume nothing.
Let’s not assume that there is an alternate reality. Let’s deal with what is.
Let’s not assume that the dream world is reality. Let’s just dream our dreams.
Let’s not assume that there are other dimensions beyond our imagination. Hell, let’s not use our imagination.
Let’s not assume anything about what happens after death. Because that assumes that when I die I get another chance or I get punished/rewarded for my life. That’s opinion.
Let’s not assume that your body is not real. Give yourself more credit than that. I mean you being a pain in the ass is pretty real.
Let’s not assume that this is not reality.
And for this notion to be completely contained, let’s not assume that God exists. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are taking an atheist stance, it just means that we are being fair to all involved in reality by eliminating what is “fact” for some and assumption for others.