Dichotomy

Separation and joining are inherent to competitive societies. We must specialize (or differentiate) in order to deliver worth in the service of others, but must also unite to satisfy the physical and psychological needs that our investment in specialization makes inaccessible to us.

Separation and joining appear as a dichotomy in several spiritual traditions. Among these are the Chinese principles of Yin and Yang, and the masculine (aggressive individuality) and feminine (sociability)characterizations of personality. In this discussion, we adopt the dichotomy of power and love.

While the expression of our unique skills provides us power, without power we cannot execute our skills. Since our skills differentiate us from others, by implication we need power to separate ourselves from others. When individuals compose themselves as a society, their combined power enables expressions of choice that give rise to cultural resilience and advancement.

Love, at an emotional level, is the urge to join with others. Practically, its effect is to create power in our chosen associates. Identification of ourselves with others supports cultural cohesion and the raising of children.

Self-love, conversely, can give rise to a clarity of purpose and directness of vision that liberates substantial energy towards the accomplishment of our life goals.

There is a tension between power and love. Love requires sublimation of our individuality in the service of others. Power, in a social species such as homo sapiens, forces others to hew to our agenda, sacrificing their individuality and – if improperly managed – fostering resistance to the accomplishment of our goals.

I have come to apprehend that these dichotomies are woven into the fabric of reality. The physical principles governing the construction of reality may imply that the world we perceive exists for the purposes of fostering the development of beings that manifest an ideal balance of these principles: The universe seeks to create entities that are optimally configured for the management of energy. For people, that endpoint is a mature adulthood. Surprisingly, achieving that state may open the door for our conscious participation in the construction of reality in higher dimensions.

In short: the Universe doesn’t love us, but invests in our capacity to grow up. Ultimately, the Universe encourages those that accept the imperative to practice love, and rewards us for our success.

Opening Words

Love dissolves the barriers of time and space, allowing energy, wisdom, and understanding to flow between us, and embracing us with the courage, clarity and calm that overcomes obstacles and creates opportunities. When we open our hearts to one another, there is no truth that is not revealed. And – for those that truly love themselves – no impulse to harm that cannot be turned to the purposes of healing and creation.

This series (originally published at everdeepening.org in 2005) is dedicated to the incomprehensible power of love. It documents one man’s philosophical, scientific and spiritual journey towards a comprehension of the mechanisms through which we marshal will to accomplish our goals. The statement above is the simplest way of framing its mission: to bring people into full apprehension of the power of love.

While a personal journey, I attempt to relate my experience to the great paradigms of human intellectual advancement. I have found that, if the right threads are woven in the proper weave, a unity of vision arises that enables us to find a great wholeness in what has been revealed to us by philosophy, science and spirituality.

I know today that we all have enormous untapped potential, and that the great figures of history, both female and male, were gifted by those that trusted them with the power of their unconscious will. That trust reflected an apprehension of the progression of human culture, and that their investment would play an important part in bringing the human story to fruition. The members of those societies benefited by being guided to greater human capacity. Unfortunately, they rarely were capable of transmitting the benefits of their experience to later generations. Time and again, fear and hatred obscured our vision of the future that beckoned us.

The road laid out here is not an easy one. As I have, the successful student will ultimately accomplish a reconditioning of the personality, implying a fundamental shift in the way he or she relates to reality. Typically, men will become more open to the “we”, and women will find tools for defending the ego. Many of the principles provided in my discussion of the paradigms will not make sense until they are applied in resolving significant life challenges. The imaginings and my life history are provided to supply an orientation to the depth of the transformations of consciousness that may be achieved, and provide some comfort that love is a tool that can bring us through the most pressing difficulties.

So: Welcome to the journey.

And may the spirit of love be with you.

Lady’s Man

At my Tuesday morning professional networking meeting, after the speakers have finished we go around the table to offer referrals and answer an ice-breaker question. Yesterday’s was pretty pedestrian: What historical figure would you like to meet and why?

The group is evenly split between men and women, but by the time the table had come around to me, the first nine answers had all been men. Eventually a lady after me offered “Susan B. Anthony.” The same woman also showed a religious turn of mind, saying that I had stolen her answer – “kinda” – before concluding “and Jesus.”

And myself? I would dearly love to sit for twenty minutes near the pregnant Virgin. Perhaps at the well as she rested for a few minutes in the sun’s warmth.

Just to feel her grace wash over me.

Loving Death

Out at Thoughts, Prayers & Song, James declares his intention to stop tolerating systems of predation that allow the wealthy to survive by pressuring the poor into situations that guarantee their premature death.

In guiding our sensitivity, James focuses on war and violence. Those are only methods for something more profound: worship of death. Those that flourish by ignoring the costs on others are in fact reliant upon sacrifice. They may willfully ignore that reliance, but death still flourishes as the driving preoccupation of billions of people. Everything they do is driven by that preeminent power.

James hopes for an era of peace, and with Advent that hope focuses on the arrival of Jesus. The lion sheathes its claws to lie with the lamb.

Paradoxically, Jesus’ mission ended at the cross. Death prevails, at least for a time. Even given the resurrection, we might wonder: is the only path to eternal life through death’s door? Is that the meaning of “pick up your cross and carry it?”

I am confident that it is not. That confidence is grounded in the similarities between death and peace when considered as spiritual agents. Peace keeps things apart that might create conflict. The lion does not take the lamb in its jaws; nations agree to honor their borders. Peace becomes death, however, when it asserts the right to claim what it guards as its own.

Jesus died on the cross with perfect love, and so death could not claim him. Instead, he redeemed the peace that was corrupted by selfishness. In loving death, Jesus reminded Death of its of its former purpose. In choosing to accept it, Peace was restored.

The great promise of Rev. 13 is that “those that die in the Lord will rest form their struggles.” Dying in the Lord is to give our souls into the safe harbor of love, and thus to be held in peace until this age of death is brought to a close.

Thus I understand “pick up your cross and carry it” to mean “Do as I did, and reclaim the death that hides your soul from the father.” Have sympathy for the great heart-cry in Eden: “Where are you?” followed by the lament “Surely you will die.” Allow Christ through you to reclaim every smallest portion of his kingdom, until fear and callousness lose their grip, and we enter Paradise.

This came to me Monday night during a scribble response to the Hawaiian practice Ho-opo-no-po-no. The healer enters into a corrupted place and meditates on these four lines:

I am sorry. I forgive you. Thank-you. I love you.

My image started as a hillside with a dip. The next stroke added a boulder, atop which Sisyphus was drawn in contemplation. Death’s skull hovered over the horizon. The redeemed sage addressed it: “Plplplplplplpl!”

And I realized that my subconscious was telling me to focus my Ho-opo-no-po-no meditation in this way:

I am sorry, Peace, that you were corrupted by selfishness. I forgive you, Death, for keeping those I love from me. Thank-you, Death, for preserving their integrity until I was ready to receive them. I love you, Death, and offer you the gift of my love that you might be restored as Peace.

HypnoEuphoria

I am happy and proud to announce that last night I completed my year-long training program at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute. I am qualified for designation as a Certified Hypnotherapist. Along with the required coursework, I completed more than a hundred hours of certification trainings with the American Hypnosis Association.

The most painful part of the process was the slog from Ventura through rush-hour traffic. The frustration moderated mid-way through when I discovered K-LOVE, but I must admit that over the last week – with four sessions back-to-back instead of the usual two – as I crawled through early Christmas deadlock I found myself thinking “I am SO OVER THIS.”

But it is over – or at least the beginning is over. Now comes the fulfillment: I’ll be down in Ventura giving presentations, organizing group imagery sessions and working with clients.

And blogging again – most of it out at Hypnosis Rising, where I plan to publish an article and post a week. But I’ll also be more active here in a new way. Where in the past I’ve been trying create value by explaining “life, the universe and everything”, with hypnotherapy as an outlet for my caring self, I can commit now to developing and solidifying friendships with like-minded people in the blogosphere.

Shame

A dream this morning around 2 AM.


Wearing a loose loin cloth, I sat on the edge of a square stone slab in a garden. Across a channel of water through a stone portal I glimpsed a beautiful light-filled vista. I had a heavy burden on my back and one at my feet. My hopes were to find a way across the channel – perhaps only ten feet.

Perhaps there were stones to step on, but I realized that the stones were statues of holy people in the oriental style, with exaggerated drapery that would puncture skin if stepped on. Undeterred, I stretched my leg forward, but they shrank unwillingly into the water. I considered throwing my burdens across the gap, but they were too heavy. I resolved to walk on the water, but that visualization was rejected.

I felt a hand on my back and knew that it was my beloved. When I turned to look, the lady indeed had her hair piled up on her head. Her almond eyes were care-worn. Deprivation had dulled the long, lustrous black hair – worse, pests had infested it around the neckline, where it was cut away. As I watched, the skin stretched taut and thinned, losing its glow. Her hand reached up to my shoulder for support. A deep wound on the back of her hand was covered by a thick, hard scab.

I turned to gather her in my arms as she testified, “This world is breaking my heart.” Seeking comfort for my own situation, I began “It is the same for me,” but she had collapsed, her soul escaping with a final sigh.

And I was left with my shame and guilt, to have forgotten the plight of one so much more deserving than I.

Oak Forest Saved

Thousand Oaks is named for the pinnacle species of the sage. The crown of the Coastal Oak are waxy bowls with points. Fallen leaves turn downwards in layers that trap rainwater. The trees, which are drought tolerant and fire resistant, stabilize the landscape. Recognizing this, city law protects all specimens.

Westlake Village takes its name from the artificial lake that drains through the property on which Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood was staged. The property was converted to a park with mobile homes nestled among the oaks. The ambitions of the developer led them to place roads and foundations too close to the oaks, reducing the size of the leaf litter fields and so starving the roots of moisture.

My parents moved into the park thirty years ago, and my father spent twenty years educating the residents on the importance of the oaks for fire safety. When the oak rooted in the middle of the street outside their unit fell, four acorns sprouted in their yard. Fifteen years later, the crowns shield the roof.

At 10 AM Friday morning, the Santa Ana wins shifted from seaward to blow down the 101 freeway. Half an hour later, my son Kevin sent me a link to live helicopter footage. Fire crews were deployed on the ridge above the park, flames licking at the expensive decks. The valley below was hidden by smoke blown from the blaze that had closed the 101 at Reyes Adobe.

The consensus among family members was that my brother and mother had lost everything to the flames.

The pictures below were taken this morning. The winds had subsided overnight, and as I drove into the park the fire team that had secured the hillsides was gathered to leave. As I inspected the park, it was clear that at least one heroic fire team had been working under the smoke the prior day.

Though homes were lost, the battle was won at the downstream end of the park. The last unit caught up in flames had holes punched through windows and sides. A cul-de-sac separated it from its neighbor, and the descending shield of an oak crown whose leaves had been singed but resisted burning.

On the other side of the road, the defense had been mounted at a gully that drained into the stream. The power of the fire was evident in the ruins, but also the resilience of the neighboring oaks that had burned only on one side.

With the progress of the fire blunted, apparently it followed its updraft along the hillsides on either side. A photo from the street running up to the ridge shows the effectiveness of the oaks in protecting the combustible mobile homes from embers.OakForestSurvives

Finally, the joy of anticipation that another holiday season will be spent in my mother’s home.RobinHood51

And gratitude to the oaks for protecting the homes of those that protected and nurtured them.