The Transition of Thich Nhat Hanh

Plum Village

Public Notice:

“The International Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism announces that our beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has passed away peacefully at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, on 22nd January, 2022, at the age of 95. We invite our global spiritual family to take a few moments to be still, to come back to our mindful breathing, as we together hold Thay in our hearts in peace and loving gratitude for all he has offered the world.”

***

“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born and I have never died. Over there, the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies all manifests from the basis of consciousness. Since beginningless time I have always been free. Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek. So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye. Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before. We shall always be meeting again at the true source. Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.”

-Thích Nhất Hạnh, No Death, No Fear

***

The “Great Bell Chant,” read by Thich Nhat Hanh:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1ZwaEzMtJw&list=RDLVF1ZwaEzMtJw&start_radio=1&rv=F1ZwaEzMtJw&t=70

From A Female Perspective

 “When the Yoga Sutra began to be taught by priests and scholars from a masculine Hindu tradition, one with the power of gurus and temples and decades of study behind it, the feminine aspect of Spirit, Devi, began to be pushed aside and a disdainful attitude toward women arose.” – Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D. Yoga, Power, and Spirit: Patanjali the Shaman.

***

First of all—Love the image!!!  Wish I knew the artist but don’t. (It came from Alberto’s blog feed.)

Secondly, my first intro to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra was from a very balanced modern approach explained by Stephen Cope, so the gender bias of it was not as evident, but considering the actual time period that the original Yoga Sutra was first published and taught, I believe Alberto’s take on it is factual.

Thirdly (if there is such a thing) as a woman who has seen, felt, struggled-with, and survived-through ‘gender bias’ from high school onward to my present retirement age, where today’s girls and women can hardly fathom such a thing as ‘female dismissal or exclusion’ having ever existed except in fanatical religions or dead-end cultures; I can say that it did exist and still DOES exist for many women around the world, and it was far from pleasant to personally experience over the years when I knew it and dealt with it firsthand.

I’ve battled my male counterparts for many a job position with less-than-enlightened male employers. I’ve even had to “prove myself” or “prove my worth” to those ‘men-in-power’ over less-qualified male applicants at the time. Sometimes I’ve had to do the work of two people just to show what a better choice they had made by hiring me over the next-best male applicant. If you complained about the workload unfairness, it was, “If you can’t cut it—you’re OUT!”   

So I always “cut it.” I was a hard-driving over-achiever because that’s what it took to make it in the world against workplace gender-bias back then.

Over my work life I’ve been discounted, ignored, laughed at, snidely commented on, and sometimes even mildly assaulted by crude, ignorant men who thought that their male dominance was a permanent fixture in our modern work culture—men who felt that their authority was never to be questioned because they were unlikely to be ever be unseated from their self-created and well-protected thrones.

Well they were wrong.  

Devi—the feminine Spirit, is finally back now.

And if She (Spirit Devi) is anything like me, she came back different than she once was. No more wallflower—no more door mat—no more punching bag—no more the willing recipient of male insecurity and uncontrolled, raging aggression.  

Nope. Not gonna take it now or ever again.

When I look back on the young woman I once was—so idealistic and unsophisticated, so believing of ‘a better world for all’ just waiting to be unveiled and willingly accepted by everyone, I laugh at my previous naiveté and shake my head over all my years of perpetual struggle for ‘worthiness acceptance,’ and the simple acknowledgement of my equal right as a female being to exist on this planet—or the “feminist’s agenda” as some have actually called it, like ‘equal rights/equal pay’ was some female aspirational fantasy.

I think that’s what I like most about this image above—there is such power there—such calmness, clarity and assurance.  And in her eyes I see strong, unbending intentions for a world to exist as SHE sees it to be, no matter how anyone else perceives it.

I look at HER image—the Spirit Devi—and nod now, because from the depths of my being, I can FEEL that new world materializing even as I write this—the birth of a new creation that is sure, steady, and unfolding as it was always meant to happen just as soon as there were enough of us around to strongly hold the energy and intentions of HER.

Well, we are all here now.

And at last, so is SHE.

Reinventing Ourselves

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” 

~ Hal Borland ~ Art by Mark Duffin

(shared from   ॐ Simplicity, Elegance and Grace of Nature ॐ )

***

As one who has spent decades reinventing myself career-wise or at least ‘adding to my collective skill-set’ depending on how you view it, I know a bit about setting goals for yourself.

This time of year people often create New Year’s Resolutions to hopefully change their lives or themselves in some way—by trying to make themselves more attractive to others, or by trying to become better people and help others in some way, or they want to simply feel happier with themselves (less self-loathing or eliminating a sense of guilt over some questionable personal behavior, or even for eliminating that feeling of inner dissatisfaction with the focus of their life in general).

There can be many reasons that we desire change—some reasons we are currently aware of and some reasons we only intuit at a deeper level until our unconscious mind makes it glaringly apparent and unavoidable to our conscious self.

I once made New Year Resolutions, but now I don’t. What I realized is that no matter what “resolution” I had set for my inner or outer “intentional change for the better,” if my heart and my willpower weren’t behind the intended personal improvement, that resolution would be discarded by mid-January. Few of my actual New Year Resolutions survived. Most fell away, until I began to view this yearly “resolution” dictate differently.

What I instead replaced them with was a year-end assessment in my journal of what had actually occurred in my life that past year, and then made “suggestions” to myself on how to improve my life situations and to improve the overall ‘feel’ of my existence for the coming year ahead; i.e., like how could I be more joyful overall, or how could I simply enjoy each and every day more than I was currently experiencing it.  You know, start simple and see where it goes—make simple daily changes and see where it takes you.

It’s like that ‘gratitude and appreciation’ focus that you can learn to adopt—it enables you to stop for a moment and ask yourself if your most basic needs are being met (ample food, warm place to stay, some endeavor to occupy your mind, and enough outside activities—like walking—to keep your body moving so it doesn’t deteriorate).  

And if your basic NEEDS are being met then you have very good reason to be appreciative, and when you adopt that ‘gratitude and appreciation’ mindset, your energy field changes to magnetically attract more and more situations and experiences into your life to enhance that ‘appreciation’ mind-state. “The energy you hold is the energy you attract.”  It just is.

Here is the simple KEY attitude shift to developing more ‘gratitude and appreciation’ in your life:

Start observing more and judging less.

Start each day with this simple mantra: “Watch and Learn,” — observe every aspect of your life, all interactions and situations without comment or criticism, including self-criticism, because sometimes we are hardest on ourselves.

Take notes at the end of the day on what you ‘observed,’ and write down what you saw that day and how it made you feel, and then ask yourself WHY you felt that way because of what you had observed. You don’t have to label the feeling good or bad, just note what it was that you honestly felt about what you non-judgmentally saw.

Do this for at least a week—stating the WATCH & LEARN mantra to yourself wherever you are. ‘Observe, don’t judge.’   Just watch everyone and everything without comment or criticism. (Not easily done.)

At the end of the week, then ask yourself in your journal, what did you LEARN from that exercise?

The real value in the process is the inner realization of how most things that arise in our life path are fairly neutral in intent toward us, but WE choose to interpret their significance to us one way or anotheradversely or beneficially.  And that INTERPRETATION of what we are seeing is on us.

When you can shift your perspective to be simply more observant and less judgmental about everything that crosses your daily life path, you naturally become more flexible and adaptive to be able to either avoid potential drama-inducing situations or to take advantage of possible opportunities that suddenly appear before you.

Maintaining neutrality throughout your day enables you to reinvent yourself moment by moment, depending only on how open you stay to all those ‘multitudes of possibilities’ that may arise before you with every step taken.

How I Feel

***

“The beauty of the trees, the softness of the air, the fragrance of the grass, they speak to me.

The summit of the mountain, the thunder of the sky, the rhythm of the sea, speaks to me.

The faintness of the stars, the freshness of the morning, the dewdrop on the flower, speaks to me.

The strength of the fire, the taste of the salmon, the trail of the sun, and the life that never goes away, they speak to me.

And my heart soars.”

~Chief Dan George

Shared from Tao & Zen

NLP and Reframing Situations

While listening to a Brandy Gillmore session this morning on healing a client’s self-blame/inner-guilt, I finally realized what techniques she was actually using with her client—it was a mixture of distant energy-work, combined with light hypnosis and some serious NLP (Neuro-Linguistist Programming) phrasing and reframing meant to shift the client’s current unhealthy ‘stuck-perspective’ and expand her perception of her actual situation to one more accurately depicted, and therefore changeable.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  But it’s not.

We initially dig our own little ‘bunkered hidey-holes’ to peep out of because we feel safer in them than we do out in the world-at-large facing those ‘scary unknowns’ of all sizes, shapes, and emotional intensities. The unfortunate problem is that while our fox-hole of sorts protects us from the most violent incoming verbal/emotional barrages, it also prevents us from seeing the more accurate picture of what is really happening to us and around us.

This subject relates back to the online Trauma Conference that I recently finished. While I clearly loved Dr. Aimie Apigian enough to make her MY prime presenter, there were many others who were interesting and a few who were familiar to me, like Connirae Andreas, who co-authored a book with sister Tamera Andreas called Core Transformation: Reaching the Wellspring Within, of which I had previously mentioned in my post long ago on trauma-relief techniques with which I was familiar.

Good book and good example of how NLP techniques can be used to probe deeply into a client’s self-restricted perspective on their life situation to help them expand that limited view and to shift their possibilities-thinking out of the ‘fear-defined mode’ and into more helpful and enriching scenarios.

That ‘self-blame perspective’ Gillmore mentions was a reoccurring theme in many conference presentations on the unhealthy affects of trauma emotionally, psychologically, and even physically.

How you help a client shift out of self-blame and into the all-important self-empowerment is the real trick—and it takes a skilled practitioner to facilitate that transformation. So I admire those skills when I recognize them knowing how difficult initiating and then consolidating/solidifying the client’s new perspective shift can be.

If you are interested, there are many resources available to better understand NLP, including books, online sources, training classes, etc.  The Andreas (Connierae, Steve (deceased), and Tamara) were all great trainers, with numerous books among them. They still offer valuable info on their websites. 

NLP BOOKS:  I first read Bandler’s Guide to Transformation, and Bandler and Grinder’s The Structure of Magic; then NLP: The New Technology by Charles Faulkner and Steve Andreas. Also Transforming Yourself, Steve Andreas; Heart of the Mind, by Steve and Connierae Andreas; and of course, Core Transformation mentioned above by Connierae and Tamara.

***

General background on NLP from WIKI:

“Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a pseudoscientific approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States, in the 1970s. NLP’s creators claim there is a connection between neurological processes (neuro-), language (linguistic) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (programming), and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life…”.[1][2].

“According to Bandler and Grinder, NLP comprises a methodology termed modeling, plus a set of techniques that they derived from its initial applications.[15][16] Of such methods that are considered fundamental, they derived many from the work of Virginia Satir, Milton Erickson and Fritz Perls.[17]

Bandler and Grinder also drew upon the theories of Gregory Bateson, Alfred Korzybski and Noam Chomsky (particularly transformational grammar),[15][18][19] as well as ideas and techniques from Carlos Castaneda.[20]

Bandler and Grinder claim that their methodology can codify the structure inherent to the therapeutic “magic” as performed in therapy by Perls, Satir and Erickson, and indeed inherent to any complex human activity, and then from that codification, the structure and its activity can be learned by others. Their 1975 book, The Structure of Magic I: A Book about Language and Therapy, is intended to be a codification of the therapeutic techniques of Perls and Satir….”[15][21]

Ethical NLP websites to consider:  

Connirae: https://conniraeandreas.com/

http://steveandreas.com/

Dr. Aimie Apigian

Personal assessment of the Trauma Conference: As one who loves to establish a contextual framework for all aspects of this shared life experience, complete with defining the proper components within LIFE itself so that all the interconnections can be assessed and understood both for their individual functions and for the synergy of the entire system, NO ONE in that entire 70 speaker Trauma Conference put explanations of TRAUMA treatment itself into a more practical, logical, and low-jargon comprehensive matrix better than Dr. Aimie Apigian did.  Wow. And she did it in such an informative, organized, clear and humble presentation, that I wanted to capture her statements for further consideration. So I took notes to share here because after today, it’s not available for FREE. 

***

“Dr Aimie Apigian

Dr Aimie is a Board-Certified Preventive and Addiction Medicine Physician with a Double Masters in Biochemistry and Public Health. She specializes in trauma, attachment and identifying and reversing the effects of stored emotions in the body and on our health. Having personal experience in foster parenting, adopting and then her own chronic fatigue and autoimmune issues, she has discovered that negative life experiences become our biology, not just psychology. Compromising every system in our biology, these stored emotions cause inflammation, digestive issues and contributes to all disease and aging. Stored emotions become the biggest thief to our health, happiness and aliveness without us ever knowing.

A two-time Summit Host, she is the founder and director of Family Challenge Camps, a weekend intensive for families, and founder and CEO of Trauma Healing Accelerated where she provides education and courses for those wanting to hack their survival systems and accelerate their healing journey from trauma to achieve their best mental and physical health. Her courses include experiential courses for the general public on shifting The Biology of Trauma and a certification coach for those in a healing profession to have more tools for understanding and addressing the Biology of Trauma.”

***

My NOTES:  Attachment trauma—anything that is not a Secure Attachment, is an ‘attachment trauma’ because her definition of a “trauma” means that it overwhelms the system leaving lasting effects on the biology. And when an ‘insecure attachment style’ develops, it leaves lasting effects on the bio-chemical processes and on the body itself. When the ‘insecure attachment style’ becomes severe, it would become an ‘attachment disorder’ as it can affect all aspects of the person/child’s life—behaviors, emotional regulation, physical inflammations and sensitivities, body pains, etc. 

“….she has discovered that negative life experiences become our biology, not just psychology. Compromising every system in our biology, these stored emotions cause inflammation, digestive issues and contributes to all disease and aging. Stored emotions become the biggest thief to our health, happiness and aliveness without us ever knowing.”…

Trauma—it means lasting effects on the biology and the nervous system. When working with ‘attachment styles,’ we don’t have to go into “the story” or “blaming” someone. We just have to acknowledge that at that time in the child’s life there were things going on in the parent’s life that affected how attuned the parent might have been to their child’s need for closeness and support. Because these disorders develop when a child’s earliest needs are either met (and the child feels safe and loved, and can rely on the parent to provide for his/her needs as they arise) or not met (and the child feels unsafe and unloved, and the parent seems to be unable [or unwilling] to provide the stability and security necessary for the child to feel safe and appreciated). The parent may have done her best at the time of the child’s early development, but it wasn’t sufficient for the child’s need, and that created the sense of instability and insecurity, or feeling unloved and unwanted. If the child comes out of the early relationship with a sense of disattachment (to parent and surroundings), that affects the child’s nervous system to be more prone to experiencing more traumas later in life.

The child’s nervous system needs ‘regulation.’  Attachment is regulation. Trauma overwhelms the nervous system on a biological level, and ‘secure attachment’ is the regulation of the system.

Regulation: Going back to the idea that the nervous system has three states:  (20:49) Parasympathetic, that middle window of tolerance; the high-energy state of STRESS—called the Sympathetic; and then the very low-energy state that is the FREEZE response—the dorsal vagal response—the Polyvagal theory.  An infant doesn’t have the ability to regulate its nervous system state. So it takes its cues from mom—meaning that whatever ‘nervous system state’ mom stays in, is likely the reciprocal state of the infant as well.  If mom is stressed, the baby likely will feel the stress also.

No condemnation or blame intended here though, because everyone is doing the best that they can at the moment with whatever they have to work with. Just how it is.

The nervous system is the driver for everything in our health, because it is communicating either a biological state of 1) safety, 2) danger or 3) overwhelm. Those are the three states that it can communicateyou are safe—you are in danger—you are toast: so freeze and shut down.  

Fight or flight is the DANGER State, it is high-energy—RUN.  In OVERWHELM—then it’s the ‘you are TOAST’ state—the nervous system says shut down all internal power sources, and go either into sleep-mode or flat-line to minimal activity or minimal emotional response, period. With OVERWHELM—or shut-down, you just barely get through each day…you are so overwhelmed in every way. Physically/ biologically, emotionally, and the nervous system can’t handle the excess stress, so it shuts down and people get sick with inflammations and auto-immune diseases, or digestive disorders, or are in pain and distress with basic physical movement.

It’s a ‘mitochondria’ problem when energy levels dip so low that the body barely functions. Mitochondria and energy work are vital to trauma recovery. She sees trauma as an energy problem. So first off, long before the talk-therapy begins, she addresses how to rebuild the energy reserves and focuses more so on the body itself, not the psychology of the situation—it’s the biology of the trauma that must first be addressed for all the other solutions to fall into place.  Detoxing and establishing nutritional input to rebuild the body’s ability to generate and store energy.

She shows how interrelated all these issues are—the biological reasons for aspects of the psychological problems. So she begins to address the physical problems and rebuild the energy engines, before the client can address the psychological reasons for the “stuckness”.  When the nervous system is bathed in inflammation, nothing in the body works as it should.

She has established a set of protocols and practical strategies to walk people through the entire process of healing the trauma and healing the body.

She first determines whether the client is dealing with STRESS (high-energy) situation or OVERWHELM (low-energy) situation.  What prescriptive response she suggests depends on the nervous state that the client is currently in. Her goal is to first stabilize the client’s nervous system. Each state requires specific protocols and procedures. ‘High-stress state’ is different than ‘Overwhelmed state’ and needs different initial treatments.

Once the nervous system is stabilized then therapy can begin, and then the therapeutic psychological and emotional work can start.

***

It’s a ‘unified systems’ approach—how novel and how logical for maximum effect.  I was very impressed with her presentation. It was to the point, clear, concise, and highly informative. And with no ego or posturing. Nice.

If anyone is interested, she has a couple websites: https://draimie.com and https://www.traumahealingaccelerated.com

And she offers numerous YouTube videos, any of which I would recommend after hearing her talk.  

Assessing the ‘Tapestry of Life’

Alberto Villoldo 

 “We have to become still in the midst of the turmoil so we can observe clearly how our actions and the actions of others, past and present, fit together in the tapestry of life. In the timeless instant when we stop moving and simply witness the moment, the dust settles and the big picture emerges.” ― Alberto Villoldo, PhD., One Spirit Medicine: Ancient Ways to Ultimate Wellness.

***

This morning I saw the Villoldo quote from his book mentioned above and this sentence stuck with me: “We have to become still in the midst of the turmoil so we can observe clearly how our actions and the actions of others, past and present, fit together in the tapestry of life….”

Had I not been diligently listening to ‘The Trauma Conference’ speakers since last Friday, I might have let this statement pass with a blip of conscious recognition, but with little correlation beyond that.

However after hearing so many psychologists/psychiatrists/therapists/spiritual-gurus daily discussing how traumatized we all are knowingly or not from our past, including our collective ancestral trauma; and how those deeply entrenched and repressed traumatic memories/energies that we ALL still hold at some level of our being are still affecting us individually and collectively every moment of our lives until we address their origins and release their emotional impacts on us—only after being immersed in that discussion for 5 days, did I better understand how Alberto’s comment on “how our actions and the actions of others, past and present, fit together in the tapestry of life….” actually applied to our current personal and world-wide environments.

In other words, our group “tapestry” is one HOT MESS right now. So what do we do about it?

The rest of the quote then follows: “…In the timeless instant when we stop moving and simply witness the moment, the dust settles and the big picture emerges.”

Okay.  Let me sit here for just a moment in silent contemplation….  What then is the “big picture” that will soon emerge for me to see so I can figure out this ‘hot mess?’

THAT is a really good question, isn’t it?  I’ve often considered this in my own puny way pertaining to that ‘1st all-important answer depends on the 1st all-defining question’ dilemma:    

So what is that 1st all-important question to ask that provides the ‘key answer’ that clarifies our personal/collective situations and defines the manner in which we resolve ALL of our individual and group problems?  

That is our current “big picture” isn’t it?  How do we ‘fix’ this huge mess we’ve created for ourselves—all 7.9 billion of us—and for our home planet?

How do we learn to “get along” with our neighbors, both near and far—when we can barely stand ourselves—just ask those trauma therapists I’ve been listening to for days—they’ll tell you that self-criticism and self-loathing are adversely influencing our every relationship. While we may not have initiated the traumatic experiences that we received at some point in our lives, we can’t seem to stop blaming ourselves for the fact that it happened to us. So we sit stewing in our own ‘victimhood’ until we finally decide to dig ourselves out of that self-imposed pit of exile.

Similar to how we view our current collective-presence situation here on Earth—do we scratch and dig our way out of this nasty pit that we’ve dug, or do we just wait patiently for the dirt to fall in on top of us?

As Alberto claims above, do we only need to “…stop moving and simply witness the moment, the dust settles and the big picture emerges …” —is that what we do?

We stop. We witness the moment in all of its entirety and complexity. And as the chaos recedes and the anger diffuses, do we just take a deep breath and blow out all our frustration and annoyance at….?  At what?  At the greed?  At the cruelty?  At the stupidity?  At the self-interest?

What is our biggest problem as a collective group presence on this planet?  Give it a label that sticks. Identify the ‘key problem.’

Hard to do, isn’t it?

Evolution has shown us that all of LIFE is “survival-focused”—where only the “strong survive”—where only when you take away from others who have more than you do, can you keep yourself and your bloodline alive to live one more day.  

But what does that life entail? What is the cost you must pay to keep your physical being alive but deaden your soul in the process?  

THIS conundrum is the tapestry of our LIFE—our collective LIFE. We are all tiny woven filaments of the entire fabric of existence: past, present, and future. We create our own direction or pattern in the weave by how well we interconnect with other individual filaments, and that interweaving process is how that fabric pattern develops.

 “We have to become still in the midst of the turmoil so we can observe clearly how our actions and the actions of others, past and present, fit together in the tapestry of life….”

So become very still. 

How do YOU want that ‘tapestry’ pattern to look?

The American Transcendentalists

The Garden Of Pensiveness

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson    

      ~ Art by Tara Turner

***

A little background on RWE: 

Ralph Waldo Emerson —  1803-1882  (from  https://www.biography.com/writer/ralph-waldo-emerson)

“…Emerson became known as the central figure of his literary and philosophical group, now known as the American Transcendentalists. These writers shared a key belief that each individual could transcend, or move beyond, the physical world of the senses into deeper spiritual experience through free will and intuition. In this school of thought, God was not remote and unknowable; believers understood God and themselves by looking into their own souls and by feeling their own connection to nature. …

…Emerson’s later work, such as The Conduct of Life (1860), favored a more moderate balance between individual nonconformity and broader societal concerns. He advocated for the abolition of slavery and continued to lecture across the country throughout the 1860s.

By the 1870s the aging Emerson was known as “the sage of Concord.” Despite his failing health, he continued to write, publishing Society and Solitude in 1870 and a poetry collection titled Parnassus in 1874.

Emerson died on April 27, 1882, in Concord. His beliefs and his idealism were strong influences on the work of his protégé Henry David Thoreau and his contemporary Walt Whitman, as well as numerous others. His writings are considered major documents of 19th-century American literature, religion and thought.…

***

Those Emerson words and beautiful image lifted me up for a moment, then dropped me back into the desk seat of that first class of my Masters graduate studies where I found myself sitting uncomfortably with students much younger than I was at the time (my late 30’s), most of whom had far better backgrounds in English Literature than I had had back then with my BA in Art/minor in Music; and having to make up 24 English undergrad credits just to be ‘probationally admitted’ to their English Masters Program.  

The best thing about this particular ‘Graduate Center’ established at a local private college in conjunction with the major universities of both Iowa and Illinois, was that it accounted for and accommodated its “students” to be full-time employees at day jobs so that classes were offered at night, weekends, and in two-week blocks during the daytime summer months so most of us could squeeze in the class time without endangering our livelihoods. 

The bad thing was that this endeavor took my every waking hour, every work break and lunch, and all my accumulated vacation time to pull it off. Working fulltime as a Graphic Artist, I still accomplished the English Masters in two and a half years and did so with honors, proving that stubbornness and determination do pay off.  

But back to that first grad-class….for me it was the absolute perfect introduction to my NEW vocation: “The American Transcendentalists.”  It covered Emerson of course, but also Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Melville, Hawthorne, Poe, …all the ones I truly loved—all naturalists and spiritually connected folks. It was the perfect welcoming intro to the English Masters program.

During those studies I found that Emerson was definitely the ‘philosophical statesman’ of his time—a scholar of both academic and theological training:

  “…He was the son of William and Ruth (Haskins) Emerson; his father was a clergyman, as many of his male ancestors had been. He attended the Boston Latin School, followed by Harvard University (from which he graduated in 1821) and the Harvard School of Divinity. He was licensed as a minister in 1826 and ordained to the Unitarian church in 1829. …

Emerson married Ellen Tucker in 1829. When she died of tuberculosis in 1831, he was grief-stricken. Her death, added to his own recent crisis of faith, caused him to resign from the clergy.

In 1832 Emerson traveled to Europe, where he met with literary figures Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. When he returned home in 1833, he began to lecture on topics of spiritual experience and ethical living. He moved to Concord, Massachusetts, in 1834 and married Lydia Jackson in 1835.

Emerson’s early preaching had often touched on the personal nature of spirituality. Now he found kindred spirits in a circle of writers and thinkers who lived in Concord, including Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau and Amos Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May Alcott)….”

***

So today seeing that kaleidoscopic image with his words beneath it, made me smile and nod my head in recognition that RWE really had it together back in the 1800’s—he knew his stuff, both intellectually and spiritually.

***

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.”

 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

           

‘The Way of the Hero’ per Joseph Campbell

One of my gifts or flaws depending on how you view it, is that I’m always searching for a logical context/framework to better understanding all aspects of LIFE in general; and how we humans interpret/make-sense-of all the ‘beings’ and ‘doings’ of this world that we experience in our somewhat unique way—or as ‘unique’ as 7.9 billion people co-existing at the same time can possibly be.

Alberto’s prior attempt at defining ‘The Four Insights’ of the Andean Laika (Earthkeepers) for outlining his approach to teaching their philosophy, resonated a bit within me, but it also hit some discord  with the older Joseph Campbell’s books on the world’s ‘mythic hero stories’. So I reviewed some of Campbell’s writing to clear my thoughts.

Once considered to be the popular ‘godfather of modern comparative religions and documented mythology research,’ Campbell wrote many books on all aspects of the COLLECTIVE MYTHS subject matter, one of which was his best known:  The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)  by Joseph Campbell .  Here are a few quotes from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell :

“Joseph Campbell (1904–1987) was an American author and teacher best known for his work in the field of comparative mythology….”

“…As a strong believer in the psychic unity of mankind and its poetic expression through mythology, Campbell made use of the concept to express the idea that the whole of the human race can be seen as engaged in the effort of making the world ‘transparent to transcendence’ by showing that underneath the world of phenomena lies an eternal source which is constantly pouring its energies into this world of time, suffering, and ultimately death. To achieve this task one needs to speak about things that existed before and beyond words, a seemingly impossible task, the solution to which lies in the metaphors found in myths. These metaphors are statements that point beyond themselves into the transcendent. The Hero’s Journey was the story of the man or woman who, through great suffering, reached an experience of the eternal source and returned with gifts powerful enough to set their society free….”

… “In the 2000 documentary Joseph Campbell: A Hero’s Journey, he explains God in terms of a metaphor: ‘God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, even the categories of being and non-being’.…” [47]

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The HERO or HEROINE of each ‘collective myth story,’ by enduring nearly-unbearable experiences during their life journey found inner strength enough to transcend the personal pain and hardships to discover LIFE’s truest meaning—the transcendent experience—then returned back to the rest of us to both describe it and establish ‘the path’ for us to follow so that we may do the same.

That is the basic criteria for most of the world religions ‘Hero-myth’ stories, like for Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Moses, and many others… “If you follow the path of ____________ (insert a name), you will eventually reach God/Allah, or enlightenment, or salvation, or the ‘promised land’.”  

In other words, if you modify your current abhorrent behavior in this particular way and believe these particular things that are defined for you to believe or do, then you will eventually reap the full rewards for your efforts, because it has already been done in the past!  Simple as that; because these ‘HERO/HEROINE models of appropriate belief and behavior’ have already done it, and have established a path for you. “Just believe what we tell you to believe and do, and YOU can do the same!”

That is/was the function of ‘collective religion’ since most of humanity moved out of the ‘animism phase,’ long before the Egyptians and Sumerians.  But with Alberto and the Laika that he follows, they have not left ‘animism’ behind, in fact they have clarified and elevated it to be less about the individual—the HERO—and more about transcendence in general.  Having never lost touch with the Spirit and energies of the Land itself, one doesn’t need to ‘follow’ someone to reach transcendence—just allow yourself to be more fully a part of the environment in which you operate, and that total immersion with the land and the Spirit IS the Transcendence experience.

Religions and Myth Stories in general had their practical functions in fast-growing early societies as behavior modifiers and large-group controllers. They were useful to gaining collective agreement on group goals and common basic-survival focus, besides establishing a standard of human behavior that allowed larger tribes of people to live in closer proximity with each other without vying for resources or partnership.

Sometimes in an attempt to clarify and simplify complex subject matter, we may lose the point of it entirely. But again, that’s just my opinion.

“A New Theory of Intelligence”

Never knowing what will show up in my morning email, this was one of those surprising, “That’s right,…I DID  sign up for these,” notices that I found.

Months ago, after seeing a Netflix documentary on the latest-and-greatest humanitarian-related concepts that Bill Gates was now into [He’s constantly reading the newest theories on basically everything eco-scientists/medical-specialists are attempting, to decide where best to plug in his philanthropic money], I thought I’d like to know more about what he reads because some of the same documentary-mentioned subject matter that he had read also interested me, meaning I wanted to hear more of what he thought might be worth future reading, and I signed up for his newsletter describing those same topics.

“Of all the subjects I’ve been learning about lately, one stands out for its mind-boggling complexity: understanding how the cells and connections in our brains give rise to consciousness and our ability to learn….”  Bill Gates from his blog “GatesNotes”  https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/A-Thousand-Brains

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Okay, now that subject definitely peaks my interest: defining consciousness and hearing about ‘a new theory of intelligence’.  The problem being that I am writing about this NOT from having read this book, but only having done background research on Hawkins’ book mentioned, and on his previous one that many reviewers were more enthralled with, called ON INTELLIGENCE:

“Hawkins develops a powerful theory of how the human brain works, explaining why computers are not intelligent and how, based on this new theory, we can finally build intelligent machines.

The brain is not a computer, but a memory system that stores experiences in a way that reflects the true structure of the world, remembering sequences of events and their nested relationships and making predictions based on those memories. It is this memory-prediction system that forms the basis of intelligence, perception, creativity, and even consciousness.

***

Now to me—THAT would be interesting to read.  I’m not sure that I agree with all said by the reviewer, because I think “consciousness” is the ‘ocean in which we swim,’ and we are only “receivers/imbibers” of it to the degree that we open ourselves to it; but I can agree that “intelligence” per se is the ‘building of that reception’ or by birth the ‘natural receptivity’ to larger amounts of that vast ‘ocean of consciousness’ available to us.  

However beyond all my personal opinions expressed here, I just wanted to generally mention that those two Hawkins’ books are available to peruse as possibly helping us better understand how the mind functions and how we interpret our world, our relationships/interactions, and our surrounding environments.  

Too bad my library doesn’t yet have them.  (Sigh.)

Becoming a Spiritual Warrior

I really didn’t want to blatantly rip off Alberto Villoldo’s latest newsletter, but what he mentions here is worth sharing in its entirety with others who might have some interest in the subject matter discussed.

In some ways this does remind me of Buddhism’s “Eight-fold Path”—or “The Way to Enlightenment,” complete with the “Four Noble Truths,” and the “Precepts,” etc.; but each culture has a particular way of outlining wisdom/enlightenment concepts—or defining the path to enlightenment per se, and this is Villoldo’s interpretation of the Peruvian/Andes shaman’s (the Laika or Earthkeepers) version. I’ll keep my comments to a minimum until the end as he’s very thorough in his assessment.

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Nov. 15, 2021 Newsletter from The Four Winds (Alberto Villoldo’s organization):

“November is a great month to be a spiritual warrior and look inward toward the self and personal development.  Meditating on the sixteen practices that are part of the Four Insights is the theme this month. 

The Four Insights are wisdom teachings that have been protected by secret societies of Earthkeepers, the medicine men and women of the Americas. The Insights state that all creation — humans, whales, and even stars — are made from light manifest through the power of intention. The Four Insights reveal ancient technologies to become beings of light with the ability to perceive the energy and vibration that make up the physical universe at a much higher level. The ancients used their mastery of the insights to heal disease, eliminate emotional suffering, and grow new bodies that age and die differently. 

The First Insight, The Way of the Hero, is associated with the physical body, the material world, and sensory perception. As you master it, you’ll start to see beyond the most simplistic, literal level of reality. You’ll begin to recognize the events from your early life that shaped and molded you, as well as how your parents and culture affected who you’ve become. And then, when you outlive that story, you can craft a new one that’s better suited to a hero’s journey. You can let go of the tedious tale of a middle-aged man reliving his adolescence, or a woman in her 40s trying to look and act as if she were in her 20s, and write a far more original story for yourself. You will recognize the divine choreography of events in your past that have propelled you on your journey of healing, learning, and discovery.

By meditating on the four practices associated with the way of the hero you can create new and better stories.  Those practices are:  Non-judgment, Non-suffering, Non-Attachment, and Practice of Beauty.  You can find more in the first November blog.

The Second Insight, The Way of the Luminous Warrior, is associated with fearlessness.  When we become luminous warriors, we recognize that our job is to use love to vanquish its opposite – and its opposite is not hate, but fear.  Fear is the absence of love in the way that darkness is the absence of light.  Fear disconnects us from Spirit, from nature, and from our own inner selves.  Our challenge is to exorcise fear and its darkness within by embracing love and its light.  The second insight teaches us to wield a sword of light and dispel fear forever. 

By meditating on the four practices associated with the way of the luminous warrior, you can dispel fear.  The four practices are:  Fearlessness, Non-Doing, Certainty, and Non-Engagement.  You can find out more in the second November blog.

The Third Insight, The Way of the Seer, is to walk softly on the earth and dream

In this modern world, dreamtime has been consigned to the domain of sleep. To experience it, you have to lie down, close your eyes, and enter that deep reverie where images appear to you. Yet for an Earthkeeper, there’s little difference between the sleeping and the waking dreams of everyday life. Earthkeepers try to be fully awake even while asleep, and, when awake, they are able to dream a world of grace and beauty into being.

By meditating on the four practices of The Way of the Seer, you will learn how to create with your eyes wide open.  Those practices are: Beginner’s Mind, Transparency, Integrity, and Living Consequently.  You can find more in the third November blog.

The Fourth Insight, the Way of the sage, means you look around and see only beauty.  The sage understands that everything they experience is a projection of their inner landscape, or dream. This means that because we are the creators of each event and incident in our life, nothing ever happens to us. We never need to fix anything in the outer world—if we want to transform some circumstance that appears to be outside of ourselves, we need only to own it and change it within.

The world is a screen that we project our movie onto. This doesn’t mean that the world isn’t real . . . the world is very real. We simply confuse the image we project with reality, trying to change the action on the screen when what we really need to do is edit the movie or change the script. Once you understand that you can do this whenever you want, you’ll forever cease to be a helpless victim or an innocent bystander.

By meditating on the four practices of the Ways of the Sage, you learn how to forever cease to be a helpless victim or an innocent bystander.  Those practices are:  No Mind, No Time, Owning Your Own Projections, and Indigenous Alchemy.  You can find out more in the fourth November blog. …”

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Again, not much I can say here other than originally Alberto trained as a psychologist/anthropologist, and then he like many of us at the time, became enthralled by anthropologist Carlos Castaneda’s recently published, multi-part saga of The Teachings of Don Juan, the Yaqui native sorcerer—or the northern Mexico “Man of Knowledge,” as Castaneda often referred to him. 

Thus anthropologically inspired, Villoldo then went in search of his own native-shaman mentors still occupying the Amazon and the Andes, and likely got more than he had bargained for; but he hung in there to glean all he could from the quickly-dying keepers of this ancient knowledge, and in doing so, inspired eager northerners to flock far southward in search of their own spiritual awakenings.

In truth he’s been at this personal exploration and native-shaman education for many decades, and has written numerous books on it—of which I likely have most of them as he’s a good writer and easy to read.

While Carlos Castaneda was later proven to be a questionable reference to actual Yaqui sorcery/shamanism, Villoldo always stayed true to his source material and to his native mentors.  

If you are interested, the BLOG itself is on The Four Winds main page.

*Alberto Villoldo’s BLOG page on The Four Winds website.  https://thefourwinds.com/blog/

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