Me and My Shadow

Nice Kingdom Hearts Iphone Wallpaper the shadow knows t shirt by lamontcranstonSometimes my shadow side takes over and I get angry and vindictive with those I interpret as acting against the social good. In this case, with several atheists who set out to attack anyone expressing any sort of religious thought. I am not against atheism. I see it as a perfectly reasonable position to take in this world. I counted myself as an atheist for about a decade between the ages of 25-35. My journey has taken me somewhere else, but I still find atheism a legitimate claim worthy of attention and respect.

But I don’t like bullies. (there’s always a “but,” right?) I don’t like people who set out to discredit others based solely on their beliefs, unless those beliefs are demonstrably harming others (I include animals and the environment in this). This was a case of going after anyone who was trying to discuss nuanced philosophical understandings of the divine and conflating them with fundamentalist ideologies of Christianity and Islam. The shadow side of me decided a smack down was in order in some sort of crusade against religious intolerance!

But first, some perspective is needed…

Atheism SymbolIn our history, to be a self-declared atheist could be a death sentence and often it was. Even after the Enlightenment, one could face social and financial ruin if they admitted their atheism in public. And today in America, while atheism is more accepted and mainstream, there are still consequences that go with it. One only need to look at how many vocal atheists hold public office in the executive, legislative or judicial branches of government today for evidence. There aren’t any. At least none that admit it. And it’s one thing a political opponent will dig through first; what religion are they and when did they establish ties to the church they claim they attend? Obama went through this when his opponents wanted to frame him as a Muslim in the eyes of the public. Just imagine if he was an atheist!

EvolutionAmong the academic and scientific communities in the nineteenth century, atheism rose up in the ranks and became respectable. This was largely accomplished through the publication On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. Many intellectuals saw Darwin’s theory as a means to put God to bed once and for all. God wasn’t needed to explain the world anymore.

But many atheists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially those who were not shielded by academia, felt isolated, ostracized and condemned for their beliefs. This still goes on in many communities in America. A number of my friends that grew up as atheists in communities that were overtly religious often felt threatened and afraid to speak their truth. In this respect, I do understand why some would take a position of attack against religion, as religion was the vehicle for attack against them at some point in their life. Was it religion or the intolerance of the community they lived in that led to the abuse and bullying? Likely both. Especially if it came from a person in religious authority.

My reflection of the history of atheism doesn’t excuse someone who had a bad experience with religion from attacking someone with religious convictions, but it does open up my ability to have more compassion for them. My need for a “smack down” says more about me than it says about them. I was ready for a fight! I wanted to show them that they were as irrational and dogmatic in their thought that they accused others of being! Basically, I just wanted them to feel stupid by showing them how little they understood religion and spirituality outside of Christianity.JungShadow

I don’t know if they were bullied by intolerant religious folk in the past or if they’re bullies themselves who like to harass people for disagreeing with them. I don’t think it matters. I wanted them to feel stupid for their actions. This is about me, not them. Could it be if I don’t make a solid defense and tear them down first, maybe my own set of beliefs won’t stand up to the scrutiny either?  Yeah, I think that’s part of it.

Psychologically, humans are messy creatures. My core beliefs are solid, but I’m still formulating what I believe for myself on this life’s journey. Not everything is on solid ground as I sort it all out. The need to lash out is strong when I feel attacked, because everything is still raw. I feel a knee-jerk reaction to protect it. When an animal has a wound, it will lash out if anything comes near it, even if it’s potential help because all the animal can feel is the pain.

In our society, I think a lot of us are feeling the pain right now. We’re trying to protect ourselves in irrational ways to make it stop. This is not productive. Lashing out only creates more tension and more lashing out. It also aggravates the wound we carry. It can’t heal this way, it only becomes more of a problem.

The main purpose of this blog is shadow work. I write to figure out what’s really going on in my head. There’s a lot of fear – when I get down to it – that needs exorcised. My answer to this is to transmute it into compassion. There is a Buddhist meditation that asks participants to rephrase what they are experiencing from their ego perspective to a universal perspective. So, for instance, instead of saying, “I have fear” or “I am suffering,” say instead, “There is fear” and “There is suffering.” This raises the person out of the individual mindset and to the understanding that all of life experiences this. We’re not alone. There is no duality; no, Us versus Them. We’re all connected. With this connection comes a greater understanding and compassion for ourselves and others.

Buddhism

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Baggage

WotWA few nights ago, I had one of my reoccurring anxiety dreams. This one was embedded in a different reoccurring dream where aliens are invading and I need to move quickly to survive. In this dream, it’s night out and I can only see the spacecrafts from a distance. The night is blazing orange and red from the explosions and I can see the massive ships by silhouette. I know this is the end of the world as we know it and that my wife and I need to get out of there. We don’t have much time, so we quickly start packing what we need for the pets and us. Except in the middle of all this drama, I am suddenly overcome with fear and anxiety over my suitcase.

Yes, the world is about to end, and I can’t move because of my suitcase.

suitcaseIt’s loaded with all sorts of shit that I don’t need. I don’t remember packing it myself, I just found it in that condition. It has everything in it from dresses I wore when I was eight, to brightly colored plastic building blocks I used to play with at my grandma’s house when I was little. There were stuffed animals, tons of worn-out clothing, papers I wrote in college, books that I couldn’t open, broken jewelry, ugly hair clips, loose photographs that were bent and torn, candles, chipped mugs, old greeting cards, notebooks, and old cassettes and VHS tapes with the tape pulled out and completely useless.  All of it was old, useless, shit that would not help in the event of alien invasion. In the best of times, this would be useless shit.

In my dream, I’m paralyzed by it. For a long time, all I could do is look at it and feel despair. When I was finally able to move, I started sifting through it to see if I could find anything that would help us. But there’s nothing. Not a thing in there was worth anything. I can’t even pick up the suitcase, it’s so loaded down. I started hyperventilating, because I know we needed to get out of there, but all I can think about is how I can’t move the thing and even if I could, there’s nothing in it that we’d want.

carl-jung-quotes-on-god-and-dreamsIn the waking world, I’d just go grab a trash bag and shove a few things that we needed into it. A change of clothes, some food, water, toilet paper (never forget that), soap, some pet supplies, and BOOM, out the door! But dreams don’t work like that. My subconscious was trying to belabor a point; I’m carrying around a lot of baggage that is weighing me down. SHOCKING! It didn’t take Carl Jung to figure that one out. The life of me, my spouse and my pets are in the balance, and I can’t move because I’m carrying around a colossal accumulation of mental and physical crap I should have let go years ago.

I finally decided to not take anything and we jumped into the car. But it’s too late, we’re about to be consumed by a firestorm. I woke up after that. I received the message loud and clear; start letting that stuff go.

I’ve worked extensively over the past few months to get rid of the mental baggage. I’ve dug deep in the dirt to confront the old demons of bullies, illness, bad jobs and heartbreak. But in addition to the mental baggage, I did accumulate a lot of physical junk. These are mementos, jewelry, stuffed animals, old school notes, knickknacks, clothing – tons of clothing – and stuff I simply do not need. Over the past few decades, the stuff has added up and it’s taking over my life. Since my transformation started back in April, I’ve gotten rid of several boxes of stuff, but not nearly the amount that I need to throw away. I find I’m having a lot of trouble with the reality of it. I’m giving myself one week to clear out what I don’t need. I’ve realized that unless I give myself firm deadlines, I just don’t get it done. I don’t know if it’s fear of losing something I think I might need later or fear that I will throw something out that held meaning for me once. But it’s quite clear to me that whatever relevance these items once held for me, they are holding me back now. And it needs to end.

Anxiety Dream Comic

http://rhymeswithorange.com/comics/august-10-1999/

 

Spiritual Egotism

“Be careful not to wear spiritualism as a badge to decorate your ego” –Unknown

When I began The Great Work of self-knowledge and self-transformation, I read the Dharma the Catquote above in several different places. Many people warned that being spiritually awake was not about being superior to anyone else. One doesn’t start this process or endure it for bragging rights or to lord it over others. I saw a lot of resistance to this warning, as many other people explained that they put a lot of effort into their spiritual awakening process and getting through it was something they took pride in accomplishing.

I don’t think that there is a problem with having pride in one’s accomplishments. The Great Work is difficult and painful, so there is a sense of pride in sticking with it and working through the sweat and tears. It is a hard-fought victory to walk away with a little more knowledge of oneself or to even begin the process of transmutation. I think the problem is capital Pride, and thinking that one is better than others for having done it. It can be difficult to not get caught up with one’s own spiritual and intellectual accomplishments. When I look at others who get involved in petty disagreements or accept obvious lies from politicians or those in authority positions, I often wonder why they can’t see what is perfectly obvious to me. There is a tendency to think I’m better or more developed than they are. This is ego. It makes me feel a little better about myself, even if I’m extremely annoyed and irritated with them.

Extinguish egoOver the past few weeks, I’ve been working on this matter. From the very beginning of my journey, I knew the problem of developing a spiritual ego existed, but I didn’t understand how strong the urge would be. It is especially difficult when watching our political leaders, media personalities and people of renown who I feel should know better for whatever reason. It’s frightening to watch masses of people led astray and given horrible advice that can take a whole society down with them. I worry everyday about climate change, economic injustice, lack of decent healthcare, racism, gender inequality, LGBTQ rights, and yes, the Trump Presidency. I feel great anger when I see people mock and ridicule those who are less fortunate and blame them for circumstances beyond their control.

My anger and fear, however, isn’t doing anything to make the world a better place and it6-9 opinion certainly isn’t helping me. Feeling any sort of moral superiority to those I disagree with does nothing to help any situation. The truth as I know it is my truth, subjective truth. I study and learn what I can to arrive at what I feel is a sound, coherent, and cohesive truth. But it’s mine. I will stand by it, hold to it, and try to do my part to realize my truth in the world through my actions. But it does nothing to hold my truth over anyone else or to get angry at those who don’t share in it. Our society is already deeply polarized by factions who believe they are the keepers of capital Truth. When one thinks they own Truth, how can they possibly hear any other perspective?

We’re all on a journey and at different stages. At some point on my Soul’s journey, it was like so many others, happy enough with the illusions. At some point, the universe started to push my Soul in a different direction. I feel some pride in having heeded the call, but I have no idea how many lifetimes it took me. Nor do I know the struggles of anyone else or where they are in their journey right now. I don’t have to agree with them or accept anything about their beliefs and their truth. My job is to focus on my own thoughts and actions and not to be concerned for the thoughts and actions of anyone else or how superior my thoughts and actions are to theirs.

Ultimately, we are all part of the same Oneness. Feeling superior to others only serves a false duality that separates us from each other. In Matthew 5:44-48 of the Christian Gospel, Jesus says,

44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This is a call for us to get off of our moral high horse. Love means that we extend it to all, even those we do not agree with or like. Duality is an illusion that causes separation: Us versus Other. God is One. One is indivisible. We are of God, therefore we are One.

As Above

Know Thyself

Move Him Socrates PaleWhenever someone asks what the most important lesson of Hermeticism is, the answer is universal: know thyself. There are, of course, many other lessons to be gleaned from Hermetic philosophy, but most of them boil down to this one thing. Knowledge of self is the knowledge of the universe. More than that, it is knowledge of the Divine. The Principle of Correspondence is found in all Heremtic texts and highlighted in the Emerald Tablet (600-800 C.E.). It states, “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below…” More succinctly it’s often phrased, “As Above so Below.” I’ve heard the second phrasing often in my studies, typically in Wiccan and Neo-Pagan circles, but I must confess that I really didn’t have a firm grasp of what that meant. I thought of it more in terms of a metaphorical understanding of how the microcosm reflects the macrocosm. Until I began my study of Hermeticism, I didn’t grasp the significance of how the Divine Mind is reflected in the mind of all self-aware beings.

I also didn’t grasp how trying and grueling it is to go through the self-discovery process. I had to learn how to dig in the dirt of my past and to mentally confront what I found. I had to learn how to analyze my thoughts and to observe my analysis. I had to learn how to form many thoughts on what I found and to select those that served me and let go of the ones that didn’t. I had to learn what actually served me versus what I merely liked or found pleasing. I had to learn how to listen to my heart when it spoke truth to me and not brush it off as I have so often in the past. I had to learn that my intuition is real and it deserves my Redpillattention. I had to unlearn all that I have learned before and look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes and an open mind. It is exhausting, heartbreaking, confusing, illuminating, freeing, gut-wrenching, and ultimately the best thing I’ve ever done. But I acknowledge that it is an on-going process and there are tougher things ahead.

When one opts for the red pill, they don’t usually know what they’re really asking for in the end. We all want to believe that we’d have the courage opt for the red pill over the blue, but there is no end to the illusions that burst when one swallows the red one. I’m not sure I would have chosen it had I known what it’d really be like. What I found, is that once I really dug in and went there, I couldn’t find any refuge from the crumbling of illusions. Not the societal manufacture ones and definitely not the illusions I created for myself.  I found my own created comfort illusions were as numerous as the comfort foods I stocked up on in case of panic. I could probably match a comfort illusion with a comfort snack to coordinate the anesthetization process of my brain.

baconmaccheese

I’ll have the bacon mac and cheese quesadilla with a side of sour cream and a midlife existential crisis

Finding out the extent of my self-created illusions was more difficult for me than the societal ones. While those are bad, I’ve always had a healthy distrust for what I’ve been told by authority figures and institutions. While I wasn’t always aware of being duped, I can’t think of a time when it actually shocked me to discover that I was being duped. Angered and saddened, but not shocked. But how often I did it to myself was shocking to me. I’ve made a lot of life changes based on my discoveries in 2018. Each one has been mentally exhausting, but necessary.

as-above-so-below2How does this relate to the Principle of Correspondence? Well, when all the clutter is cleared and one learns how to think and how to process information into personal knowledge about themselves and the world, one begins to know God. We can learn to know God because we were created with minds in God’s own likeness. As Above, so Below. Within our own minds the universe exists. As God created the universe and all that is in it, so too can we create a universe in our own minds. The ability is there if we break out of all the illusions that society imposes on us, but more importantly, the illusions we impose on ourselves that keeps us from breaking through and recognizing the Divine presence that exists inside of each of us. We are not God, but we are Godly and made of Divine Godstuff. We have access to this power if we want it. But we must work for it. To say that it is difficult is to understate the case, especially in the modern world where we tend to either reject the very idea of Divinity or we think that every opinion we hold is of value and worth without the process of discernment. Mentalism

The Principle of Mentalism in Hermetic philosophy is the notion that all that exists is a product of the One Mind. Put another way, the universe and everything in it is a physical manifestation of the Thought of God (Logos). The physical universe didn’t give rise to consciousness, it’s the other way around. The universe is inherently ordered by the Mind of God and operates on physical laws. As the universe is ordered and unfolds according to these laws, so does everything in it. Our minds, then, operate as microcosms of the One Mind. When we know ourselves as we truly are, stripped of ego and accumulated illusions, we know God. Not in the afterlife, but in the here and now.

icecream

Some whipped cream would be nice

This is not the easy road. It is on-going and there are many stumbling blocks along the way. I have to tell myself to keep going up that hill when often times I want to get off and find a dark corner with a giant bowl of ice cream. The past two weeks have been this way for me. I didn’t want to write this. I haven’t wanted to study. I didn’t want to think about how I’ve been telling myself a lot of comfort lies to get through the day. But the heart of the matter is this: I can’t go back. Once illusions are stripped, they’re stripped. I don’t want more in their place. While I haven’t been writing, I’ve managed to keep reading, and more important than that, to meditate. I still need to learn to not give myself a hard time when I reach a difficult patch, but I’m still on the path. I getting there.

 

Lego My Ego

egoI teach religious studies and philosophy to make my living. Teaching has taught me so much more than I could have hoped to learn as a student myself going through the process. All my students, dedicated and not so dedicated, have given me valuable lessons in both academic and life in general. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned, is that the ego is very sticky. If one is trying to banish it from their lives, it will try to defend itself in whatever way it can. It can act like a beast or a frighten child to keep its hooks firmly in place.

Normally I start to see egos come out around the time we start studying Hinduism. The idea of detachment doesn’t sit well with most students who were mostly brought up with Christian values in American households, even if they no longer identify as Christian. Individual rights are placed higher than that of community for most of them and those values run deep. Hindu ideas of the Divine, the trappings of the ego, and Eastern values of community over individual entitlements, typically do not resonate with them. They have a difficult time wrapping their minds around a seemingly polytheistic tradition that see the Divine intrinsically tied to all things. For these students, God created the universe out of nothing and is entirely separate from Its creation. Placing community above individual interests is communism and destructive in nature. This is not something that is thought out, it is the result of indoctrination. It is also the ego claiming its stake.Christinaity-and-Hinduism-212

As we go through Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Jainism, and so forth, the students tend to conclude that we must agree to disagree. For a few students, they have found their home and they continue to research and learn about these faiths. But most walk away with the notion that they’re glad they were born in the West.

This is not to condemn them for this stance. Most people prefer the ideals and religions of the region they were born into, as is to be expected. Our place of origin is an accident of birth, its not something we can control. And each place has their own form of teaching children their values and beliefs. Typically, through the methods of indoctrination by their parents (who were indoctrinated themselves) and educational institutions. Breaking out of the paradigm one was born into is not an easy task and comes with many negative consequences. Even those who intellectually rise above the indoctrination must weigh if that is more important to them than losing the support of family and community. In counties like America that claim to value individual rights, the irony is not lost.

As I watched them resist the new ideas they were exposed to, I’ve recently concluded that I was pretty self-righteous in my own position. I’d sometimes get irked that they wouldn’t even try to wrapped their minds around them. I never expect students to actually change their ideas on their own values or faith, I just want them to understand that there are other ways of thinking and these different modes of thought are not inherently wrong. In addition to that, their out right refusal to entertain these ideas also leads them to form misconceptions. How can they reject something they didn’t understand?

Ego GotG

Ego the Planet from Guardians of the Galaxy Volume #2

Last night I was meditating on the new fall term and how I would approach it. And in an overwhelming sudden realization I asked myself, how the hell does your ego fit through the door? Was I not a student once too who had a difficult time accepting new ideas that were previously foreign to me? Hell yeah, I had a hard time with some of the new concepts! I may have changed my position on many of them, but it wasn’t over night or even over the course of a single class. I was introduced to concepts that then took a few years to stew. Some new ideas I encountered outright scared the hell out of me!  And, of course, I’ve been down right wrong in many ideas I had and conclusions that I drew. I’m often wrong now and change my opinion as I learn more about something. I am seeing these students in 8 or 15-week intervals during one fraction of a phase of their life. I do not know the path they are on or where they will end up as they go through life.

I once read a review that a student submitted regarding my Ethics course. The student stated that they liked me and I was very helpful, but that the subject matter was boring and not useful. I nearly cried. But that’s ego. It is ego to think that what interests me should interest anyone else as well. The example I give regarding the power of the ego, is to imagine your best friend hates your favorite song. Since that song becomes part of the Ego2ego identity, it can be hurtful if people you know and love hate it. It might mean that they hate the real you too! It doesn’t mean that at all. But when the ego is bruised, it can be difficult to shake that off.

It is pure ego to think that after a few weeks in my class, while they are taking three or four other classes, my course should have any effect on students. My job is to present the information and hopefully drive their curiosity to seek more. In my own experience, I’ve found that it’s sometimes years later that a particular class I took or idea I learned starts to germinate. And so, I think, it is with many of us. Some things we learn speak to us immediately and take up our total focus for a time. Others take their time and only come to full fruition years later. And still yet others are quickly forgotten and discarded, only sometimes rediscovered later, or never.  I have no idea what will stick and what will fall by the way side for some students. It should not be my concern. Each of us is on our own path. My job is to teach my courses to the best of my ability and spread a few seeds of understanding. What happens after that, is none of my business. In my previous perceptions of my class and students, I violated Agreement 2 and 3 of the Four Agreements.

FourAgreements

By Don Miguel Ruiz

So, my lesson this term, is to keep the ego in check and understand that my job is to teach my course material to the best of my ability and encourage curiosity and discovery in my students. It is not to judge them or think myself above them. It is not to create young philosophers in my own image. It is my hope that they take this information and turn it into their personal growth, but what they choose to do with it is theirs. When one offers a gift, it’s not a good idea to check up on it and make sure everyone is using it as intended by the giver. It’s not a gift if there are rules attached; it’s a leash.

Letting Go of Toxicity

Types of ToxicDuring this period of letting go of the past and things that no longer serve me, I came across the most difficult of them; letting go of certain people.  Some were easy, because they never were a major part of my life. They were the people that breezed in and out due to jobs or mutual acquaintances. These types of people are always coming in and out of one’s life. Seeing some of them go is a relief to me. One was so highly toxic that I was a bit fearful of the enormous amount of poison that she emitted. She was my former boss, so it was difficult to completely extricate myself from her initially. Cutting ties from my former line of work means I no longer need to worry about recommendations from her. I wish her the best, wherever she is now, so long as it is far away from me.

Unfortunately, not everyone that needed to go was as easy as my former boss. There is an old friend whom I’ve loved since I was in my teens that continues to occupy my mind. We’ve had a rocky relationship since the beginning. Back then, I was so desperately in love that I twisted myself into various shapes to get his attention. I’ve never been able to keep it long. If I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure I ever had it at all. About a decade ago, we renewed our friendship and began to talk with each other frequently again. By then, we were both in relationships with other people. Neither of us were looking for anything more than friendship. We both had similar interests and views about the world.

After a bit of time, I started to notice that he only came around when he needed emotional support. He’d turned the conversation toward sexual jokes. This did not initially bother me, because we live on opposite sides of the country and we’re both in happy, stable relationships. But when I wouldn’t return the flirtation, he’d lose interest in other types of conversations and drift off. More and more, I’d get irritated with the way the conversation became littered with sexual innuendo and jokes. I noticed his contact would be timed with fights he’d have with his wife.

I let this go on for a long time because of a friendship that existed mainly in the head of a fifteen year old girl. I am starting to realize, that “we” never really existed as anything other than a hope I once had. A few days ago, I was listening to an astrologer (Sky of Esoteric Healing on Youtube) talking about letting go of bad relationships. He stated that sometimes we get stuck in the narrative of a relationship rather than the reality of it. I began to realize that this was true for me. At a young age, I created a narrative of our relationship that I never let go of from that time. Perhaps I was holding on to hope, but as time went on, I forgot why I was holding the torch. I just kept holding it out of inertia.

cycleOur continued friendship is not serving either of us. He keeps me around for emotional support and I keep him around out of a sense of nostalgia. In the end, I think we both irritate the hell out of each other. Over the past few weeks I’ve come to realize that we need to part ways. Neither one of us are currently happy with the friendship. But making that move to say, no more… it’s tougher than I thought it would be. I feel like a gambler that keeps thinking, one more time, “This time it’s going to work out!” Except, we’re in different places. I know we no longer “vibe” with each other. In many ways, I’ve out grown him and he continues to lingers in the past. Most of the time, lately, I think he’s an asshole. I know he feels the same way about me. And still…

Most people have that one asshole in their life that they just can’t walk away from for whatever reason. First loves are hard to shake. Over thirty years later and still it lingers. No longer love, just old memories of something that never really was.

This is a person that I need to let go of if I am going to move forward.

Sanvean – Dead Can Dance, Toward the Within

(When words don’t really cut the emotions going through the mind, there is always Lisa Gerrard)

The Rejection of Fear

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”  —Frank Herbert, Dune

FearisALiarFear is the mind-killer, the thing that keeps us from total self-realization. It is the thing that creates nightmare worlds and holds its inhabitants hostage. The good news and the bad news are the same; It’s self-inflicted. I inflict a lot of fear into myself. I’ve been afraid of what others thought or me in my youth. I’ve been afraid of what others could do to me now in my middle age. I’ve been afraid of not making enough money, of not having healthcare, and of not being able to take proper care of my family. I’m fighting the fear of what lies ahead if I live my truth now. I’ve lost a lot of time because of the fear I hold. But fear is self-inflicted and because of this reality, I can stop it. I hold the power to end my own suffering if I choose it.

Fear_Itself_intertitleEasier said than done. But once I said it, something interesting happened. The fear slowly started to lose its grip over me. It didn’t happen instantly, but over several days and weeks of meditation and setting an intention to lift my fears. Just last night as I was meditating on the Principle of Polarity (which I will write about at length later), I became aware that certain fears that had their talons sunk deep into me, didn’t seem to have such a strong hold any longer. Fears that could bring me to tears in a matter of a few seconds… didn’t! They simply do not feel as important as they did to me only a few days ago.

Like most people, I want a little certainty and stability in my life. I want the peace of mind that comes with it. But if I am being honest with myself, certainty and stability are illusions. These things can be stripped away at any time with the rise and fall of social customs, political agendas, and environmental catastrophes. Sacrificing my own truth One-Earth-Peace-Lovefor the illusion of certainty seems a particularly bad bet to make. In Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, they use the term maya* to describe the illusions in life that deceive us and keep us off our true paths. Deeper than that, maya is the illusion that this physical world is all that is, when a much greater Ultimate Reality exists far beyond this physical manifestation.  Hermetic philosophy teaches that we can come to know that Ultimate Reality through the exploration and mastery of our own mind. Our minds are made in the likeness of the Divine Mind and expressed in the axiom – As above, so below, as below so above.

I felt a strange and wonderful release of built up negative energy this morning. The fears that kept me off my spiritual path are letting go of my mind and freeing it to move about with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and anticipation of discovery. I also feel so much discoverywondergratitude for being alive right now and fortunate enough to live through this experience. Despite all the hardship and ugliness in this world, there is also wonder and beauty.

And here is the most important thing I’ve come to understand; suffering and pain are not to be avoided in this life. No one likes to go through it. It hurts like hell and sometimes it feels like it will never end. For some, it may even be too much. But if we survive it, there’s gold to be found.

GoldTeaCup

*Not to be confused with Maya, a manifestation of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi.