Friday, July 20, 2012

7/21/12-7/22/12—Making the Right Choice

Weekend Reading: 22/Rain, 24/Sunset and 32/Snow from the Transparent Oracle by Emily Carding. Read individually, these cards speak of cleansing and renewal, closure and peace, and purity and silence—all good things to take into your weekend. But if you examine the three cards placed on top of one another (as you can only do with Emily's transparent cards), you may notice all three forms of water are depicted...solid, in form of snow; liquid, in the form of droplets; and gas, in the form of the steamy rays of the sun. We, too, have a trinity of forms—body, mind/ego and spirit/soul. Water doesn't have a choice in the form it takes. Surrounding conditions of temperature dictate the form it assumes. But we do have a choice in how we respond to surrounding conditions. We can respond physically. We can respond with our intellect or ego self. Or we can respond with our spirit/soul self. Remember this weekend that, no matter what happens outside you, you have a choice. You are in control of how you respond. So consider responding in the way that brings more love, joy and self respect into your life.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

7/19/12—Contemplating Bondage

Today is one of those days that, right before I hit "publish", I lost everything I had worked on for more than an hour. And it was a good read, too. But I guess that message was just for me. You, however, get a repeat today to round out All About Ego Week. ;)

Today's Draw Classic*: The Devil from Wheel of the Year. What ideals are you bound by? What unhealthy behaviors are you nonetheless magnetically drawn to? And are you ready to explore the behaviors that tie you to ego?

In the past we've talked about our shadow sides and The Devil as the gateway to the third cycle of lessons in the major arcana. And today's card shows the Devil as the force behind uncontrolled urges. This is more the traditional message The Devil brings, that of addiction, irresistible urges and our enslavement to ego.

This particular card depicts the throes of passion and is called "The Diabolical Rose". It's that form of love or attraction that has you chemically attached to another, despite the fact that it may prove unhealthy. As an interesting side note, I sometimes blur out parts of nekkid cards for the Facebook audience, but my software wouldn't allow me to in this case. Very interesting. But back to the card. Although they use passion and a thorny rose to depict this kind of bondage, it's really a metaphor for all unhealthy attachments we have in life.

When you look around in nature, you don't see animals bound to addictions or dangerous behaviors. When animals enter a dangerous realm, it's always for survival, not for "pleasure". You don't see cows jonesing for a particular kind of grass or dogs spending long weekends in bed screwing. You don't see cats trudging through the house each morning in a daze until they get their coffee or parakeets bucking for popularity. The idea of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical bondage is a purely human phenomena. As is the idea of escaping into a fantasy world. 

The difference between us and them is ego. Ego is tells us to don an appearance. It tells us we're not good enough or smart enough. It tells us that we need "more" in order to be right or competitive in the world. And, because we're caught up in comparisons to others, we neglect to see our own we are. Here and now. So we escape from the here and now and lose ourselves in addictions and dangerous behaviors, because in those places, if even for a moment, we feel good enough. What does it say that we have to change our brain chemistry through adrenaline, drugs, hormones, etc. to feel good enough? Who is in control when we're out of control? While we're free to do all those things, becoming bound to those things robs us of our freedom. 

Personally, I've always been drawn to escape. I "medicate" myself with food. I zone out to TV and Facebook. And I've also had a tendency to be the chickie babe in this card in the past. All these things put up a barrier between us and our divine selves. All these things hold our true connection to life at arm's length. 

We all joke about how we'll happily cram ourselves into 3" of space on the sofa so our dogs can stretch out, for example. They don't think of being anything but who they are. They don't worry they won't be liked if they accommodate themselves or act wacky or ask for love when they need it or harumph when they feel like harumphing. They don't concern themselves with loss or rejection or judgment. They have no ego that needs to feel "as good as" or "better than". 

So the Devil goes beyond bondage to one thing or another to encompass bondage to the ego...bondage to the need to fit in, be accepted, be loved, be respected and understood. And the longer we live, the more we realize that we will NEVER be universally loved and respected. But too often, that doesn't change our fear-based behaviors. Because, I think, at the root of it all is our fear of being our highest selves. Ironic, no? That we would do certain things to be loved and respected, when if we would just be the light we came from, we might be able to actually achieve those ends? Without bondage to anything? What is so scary about our divinity anyway? That we might actually have to take responsibility for ourselves?

So contemplate this notion today. And please share your musings on the topic. The more I get the Devil card, the more I understand its message to us. If you travel the path of personal evolution, bondage to the ego is a topic you'll need to address at one point or another. Not that having an ego is bad. It's the bondage to it and anything else that should be considered. Because like the illustration shows, it's the bondage to an act or mindset that harms us, not the act itself.
*Repeat of 5/10/11

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

7/19/12—Having it All

Today's Draw: Feast from the Gifting Bones. Are you someone who wants it all right now? Does your bank account suffer because of it? Or have you developed a good balance between feast and fast?

It's still All About Ego Week here at the Daily Draw and today's draw is a Gifting Bone. Gifting bones are little porcelain rods with a drawing on each side. They're all about duality or opposing forces. So while I drew Feast, the other side of the bone is Fast.

One of the lessons about ego is that it's a necessary part of being human. Along with the body, it's what differentiates us from our spirit-self form. So the object is not to eradicate ego, but temper balance with it. Like we might temper our feasting with fasting. Or, better, just consume wisely at all times.

The message of the Gifting Bone "Feast" is to look at all that's on offer to us at this time and determine what's right for us in this moment. It sounds like it makes sense, but we know people who want to have it all, whether that means material things or a combination of material things and pursuits. Chances are you may even feel that pull yourself. 

Our current financial issues in the United States, I think, came about from people wanting it all, right now. The bankers wanted it all right now. The homebuyers who bought overpriced or oversized homes wanted it all right now. People with loads of credit debt wanted it all right now. We're a nation of people who want it all right now and I include myself among them. 

What's working for me in this equation, is that I fast as much as I feast, financially speaking. I may be a conspicuous consumer of tarot decks, but I make tradeoffs. There are a lot of things I don't have that other people a new car, new furnishings, electronic toys, a cell phone contract, new appliances, a nicer neighborhood...debt, haha....the list goes on and on. I may want it all, but I make tradeoffs within my personal economy.

Frankly I need to make more tradeoffs to put money aside, so I don't mean to paint myself in a wholly favorable light. But when I look at statistics about credit card debt, home debt and car debt, then compare that to where I am, it's clear there are a lot of people who aren't stopping where they should...who are feasting more than they fast. And that all goes back to the thing about finding value and affirmation in things outside of yourself.

So while there are many ways to measure whether your ego is in balance, this is one that came to us today. You know what you can afford and what you can't...what you're giving up for what you have. Are you in a good place...saving for retirement, your kid's education, paying off all your debt? Or could you do better? I could do better. I could make more tradeoffs.

One of the things our economy has done for a lot of people is show them what's really important. Ask someone who's been unemployed at some point over the past few years, or who has lost their home and they'll tell you what's important. It's not where you live, but the fact you have a roof over your head. It's not what luxuries you have, but the fact you have the necessities of survival. I imagine from that humbling perspective, the whole idea of "having it all" takes on a different definition.

So many of us will never have to face facts that hard. We're fortunate. Many of us are choosing between Whole Foods and Giant, Apple or Dell, Ruth's Chris and Sizzler. Those are fortunate choices to have. We still get to "have it all" and even take it for granted for the time being. So while we're in such a fortunate place, it wouldn't hurt to consider what's feeding our ego vs. what's feeding our survival and maybe make a few more tradeoffs in our lives. We may find out that "having it all" is more about having the choice and using it to make tradeoffs than it is about getting everything we want.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

7/18/12—Finding Your Purpose

Today's Draw: Ace of Water from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert. Do you know your purpose in life? Do you suspect that, at this moment, you're living out of alignment with your purpose? And how can ego concerns help you find your true north?

Here we are midway through All About The Ego week and I'm worried I'll run out of things to say before week's end. Fortunately, this Ace of Water has come to us before and what I said about it then has applications to the ego. The entry was all about seeking your personal holy grail. There's a link to it at the end of this entry for Facebook users. 

What often happens when we get too caught up in things like money and reputation and appearances is that we make choices that detour us from what we really came here to do. And few, if any of us, escape getting caught up in ego matters. It's part of being human.

One way this might look is that someone who's really talented at art might choose to be an architect instead of an illustrator. They do this because the perception is that architects make money and artists don't. Architects are also mainstream in society and artists exist on the fringe. 

So we make the practical, acceptable, "smart" choice, rather than the one that calls to us. And we subordinate our artistic side, when that's probably the side that better drives purpose we came here to express. By the time we get to the point in life that we question how our life aligns with our purpose, we've convinced ourselves that art isn't part of it, so we struggle to find our holy grail.

For most of us, finding our purpose—our holy grail—follows a process similar to the salmon's. They swim hundreds of miles to live most of their lives in the ocean, but return back upstream again to spawn in the freshwater spot they were born in.

Like the salmon spawn swimming in the fresh waters of the river, I believe we were all born with a clear compass pointing to our purpose. As we moved toward adulthood, we swam closer to the ocean and our lives adjusted to the saltwater of "real life", which includes ego concerns. We swim around in that for much of our lives, then move away from our "saltwater ways", making our way back to the clarity we held before the ego concerns of adulthood overtook our lives.

Obviously this doesn't speak for everyone. But the majority of us work and live a certain way for many years before we begin to realize that there's got to be something more...a higher purpose. So how you do you begin to find *your* purpose? Well, I think the clues are scattered throughout your life. So think back on your life and explore the common denominators in questions like:

•  What did you want to do when you were a kid?
•  What are your favorite hobbies? And why?
•  If money were no object, what would you do?
•  How have you chosen to volunteer in the past?
•  What is effortless for you that is hard for other people?
•  What energizes you?
•  What was your proudest day? And what about it made you proud?
•  What do you "get" that you think others don't get in life? 
•  What do yearn to have the time and/or resources to do?
•  If you knew your unique talent, what would it be?

When I looked back on my own life in this manner, writing was always a talent of mine, as was my ability to envision things through the eyes of others. And as I grew older, I saw my desire to help or heal others emerge, along with a desire to teach. My proudest moments as a writer have not been the awards I've won, but rather when a client reports back that they got results. I cry at shows where people have emotional/spiritual breakthroughs or they achieve their best moments. I've also become a very spiritual person and someone with a wide body of knowledge in spiritual matters in my adulthood.

So when I look at all of that, I see my purpose as healing and teaching others with my words. And, quite frankly, the times I've been most engaged in my writing career are those times my writing has taken a spiritual, healing, educational bent. This blog is one of the things that is bringing my entire life into alignment with that purpose. But it's a process that's taking years to complete. It's about way more than my career. It's about who I am as a person. Like the salmon, I have to readjust to fresh waters again.

It's important to note that some of the things that go into making my life's purpose aren't things I feel like I was born with. They were lessons that emerged from my immersion in the saltwater of the ego. Just as the salmon lives much of its life in the ocean, so do we. That experience is what matures the salmon and brings it to full adulthood. And leaving that experience leads them back to the legacy they were meant to create.

So seeing what I came up with for my life's purpose, what clues can you excavate about your own? Or do you already know it? And where are you in the salmon's journey of life? Once you uncover your purpose and become energized by it, you'll see the ego concerns that have dogged you will begin to float away.

Monday, July 16, 2012

7/17/12—Seeing the Wow of the Tao

Today's Draw: Queen of Swords from Art of Life Tarot. How powerful do you feel in your world? What will make you happy that you don't already have? Are you ready to find your Tao?

This week's topic is the ego. Yesterday I told you what the ego is—essentially looking outside yourself for motivation and self-value. But one thing I didn't say (which a wise woman reminded me of today) is that the goal of the spiritual seeker isn't to eradicate ego entirely. We are human and ego is a necessary part of the human experience. 

However, when we identify ourselves by external means—when our jobs, possessions, reputation, etc. become our source of power—we separate ourselves from our greatest source of power. And that's what today's card is all about. The card contains a quote from Lao Tzu that says:

"Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you."

Taking this at face value, if you can be happy with what you have and the way things are, it naturally follows that nothing is lacking and you have everything you need. But that's taking it at face value. There's something much deeper in this quote because it comes from Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism. 

You've probably heard of the Tao before (pronounced "Dow"). The Tao is a hard word to pin down. It literally means "the path" or "the way". But it also refers to the source and creator behind all that exists. For Taoists, that source comes more from an interconnectedness than a physical God. I think of it as akin more to the idea of the "the universe" than a Judeo/Christian image of God. One of the first things Lao Tzu tells us about the Tao is that "the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao". So ultimately, it cannot be defined in words or understood with logic. It is better felt and sensed. 

The ego and the Tao are at odds. The Tao is all about entwining yourself with all creation in such a way that you are as if the same organism as creation. In the Tao, the source of power is within you. In fact it's everywhere, but the recognition of it within you is what creates the difference between ego and inner Tao. Because with the ego, the source of power is external. It's in what others see and think of you. Go too far in that direction and you lose sight of the Tao...the path to our higher being. 

So, "be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are" is essentially saying that the way things are is a gift god co-created just for you, with you. Because all of life is a co-creation between you and your god, you not separate from anything you need. Because your god is everywhere and you are entwined with it, the world belongs to you. You are not separate from anything you desire, because you are not separate from source of all creation. 

The ego mind separates you from god—creation is outside of you for you to seek and claim. And we all know that cycle...the second you get what you want, you want more. The Tao mind reminds you that all of the infinite abundance and recognition you need is already yours. Right this second, it exists in that Tao place where it can be felt and sensed. And if you want to hold it in your hands, then align with the Tao, understand the Tao and it will appear. Once you realize the power of that, you can create situations that fulfill, rather than situations that keep you wanting more.

In the way of the Tao (the principles of which are practiced in countless religions around the world) there is nothing we are separate human condition, no desire, no deity, no acclaim, nothing. When Moses asked God his name, he replied "I am that I am". Take the word "that" and add anything to it. "I am that tree. I am." "I am that homeless man. I am." "I am that bird. I am." Practicing this type of meditation/mantra alone can bring you into alignment with the Tao.

If God is everything, then God is you. And if God is you, then you are that bird. You are. There is nothing separate from you. There is nothing to lack. The whole world already belongs to you. Which is WAY better than identifying with anything outside of yourself. When you walk this path, it starts out as a principle or a philosophy. Then it becomes real. And enduring. That is the value of taming the ego.

HELP! If the first three letters of your name are Rad and you usually come to my tarot meetups, please email me at (I know your name, but don't want to print it for the world to see...haha)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

7/16/12—Getting Real With Your Ego

Today's Draw: Duration from the Tao Oracle by Ma Deva Padma. Think back to your first memories of yourself...what was true then that is true today? Is there a part of that you suppress because it just wouldn't fly with your family or friends? Do you know who you were born to be?

This week's theme is all about the ego—what it is and how to move past it. I had a bit of a hard time when I first came across the idea of ego in my spiritual studies. To me, ego meant "being full of yourself". But in a way, in spiritual terms, it's the opposite. It's more like being full of everything but yourself.

Ego is that part of you that seeks external affirmation. That part that's motivated by external stimuli. And that part that gets your cues on how to be from external sources. And by "external", I'm talking about anything outside of yourself.

So ego is that part of you that measures yourself by your title, bank account or the way others see you. Your ego cares whether or not others approve of you. It gets restless when a new technology comes out that everyone "should have". It worries about wrinkles and gray hairs. And when it's not conforming to social norms, it's rebelling against them. For better or worse, the ego drives you based on what society deems correct, what others will think and what others expect from you.

For anyone on a spiritual path, the time will come when the ego gets so cumbersome that you cannot continue moving forward with it on your shoulders. It puts distance between you and your higher self or authentic self. For many of us it's hard to even know what's genuinely authentic to us because it's hard to tell where our parent's dreams for us end and we begin...or where society's norms end and we begin. Are we who we are because we consciously chose it? Or were we shaped and molded by the expectations placed upon us? And why is that even important?

As today's card shows, it's important because when you are living in your authentic self, no matter what happens outside you, you will never lose sight of yourself. If you lose your job, you won't lose your identity. If you lose your home, you won't lose your value. If you lose your looks or your spouse or your health, you won't lose your "self". No matter what happens outside the mountain, the mountain remains unchanged. It is what it is, what it always was and what it was always meant to be.

It's also important because, when we're aligned with our higher selves, we have more personal power. We're better able to serve others. Things fall into place and become less of a struggle. We stop being controlled and we stop controlling. We no longer need to be right or understood. And when we detach from needing to be liked, accepted and understood, we free ourselves from the fears that drive inauthentic decisions.

Be honest with yourself. How much of yourself is the way it is because it's what was expected of you? Or because it's proper...or practical? Or because you find people like you better this way? Or because you're rebelling against conformity? Or because you seek to control? Or because it's what you can be successful at? These are all externally focused motivations. Now what parts of you are authentic to you...the you you were born to be? That's a really hard thing to excavate! But valuable to know. Can you imagine dying without ever knowing who you were?

Like the mountains in the card, our authentic self is that part of us that is eternal and unchanging....solid and strong. It is at one with nature and the universe...a part of the "god" organism rather than separate from it. Ego tells us that everything worth having and being is outside of ourselves and just within reach if we just do more, be more, get more. When we shed that ego, however, we see that everything worth having exists within us. We've already arrived.