Friday, August 10, 2012

8/11/12-8/12/12—Making Tough Decisions

Weekend Reading: Seven of Swords from the Rohrig Tarot. One of the more subtle skills to acquire in this lifetime is to know when to keep trying and when to give up. There is honor in both options, but too often we're plagued by "what ifs" and doubts about choosing one of the two options too soon. This weekend you may be faced precisely that challenge—do you try one more time? Or do you just call it a day? This particular episode may be a good time to start developing your own system for checking in with your higher wisdom. 

I often do "gut checks" where I state one option to myself on my inhale, then monitor my exhale for signs of butterflies or discomfort in my gut that might indicate it's the wrong option to choose. If my gut relaxes and feels "right", then I know it's the right option to choose. Another option would be to meditate on the situation and see what answers come. Or you could imagine your life continuing in the current direction and see what that looks like. Then imagine it moving in the new direction and see which seems more attractive to you. People who are adept at using pendulums or other divination devices might want to consult their oracles. I know I often have to be reminded I have that option available to me. Or you could just ask yourself, "would I be able to live with myself if I never made the change or chose the other option?" Whatever you decide this weekend, though, know that most decisions can be undone. It may not be easy and, in some cases, it may require another person's buy-in, but sometimes just making a decision—any decision—can be the very solution you've been looking for to end the conflict within. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

8/10/12—Slithering Into A New Way of Thinking

Today's Draw: The Snake from the Dia de Los Muertos Lenormand. What would you want a stranger seeing when they look at you? What benefits do you see from seeing others as different from you? Has learning about the idea of oneness changed the way you see others at all?

To round out Oneness Week—the week that's all about seeing the similarites in people, rather than the differences—we get the image of the snake. Now, the Lenormand is an oracle deck with its own meanings and traditions. I've recently become interested in this system, so I don't really know it well. And since I'm not a traditional tarot reader, I don't imagine I'll be a traditional Lenormand reader, either.

Traditionally this card is read as betrayal and it's associated also with a dark haired woman. So you could read it as a warning of betrayal, or you could read it as a dark haired woman will enter your life, or you could read it as both. It really just depends on the context and question. 

But the way the artist, Edmund Zebrowski, draws it, other thoughts occur to me having to do with Oneness Week. First, snakes mean transformation to me and the two heads facing in opposite directions signals that we all need to do an about face in regards to the way we think of others if anything is going to change in regard to the hate, battling and violence in this world. Moving in the direction of oneness is the way to start. 

Another is that the card number is 7, which is the number of the searcher and seeker of truth. This is the person looking for the reality behind a situation. An introvert. A spiritual person. And someone seeking to move away from the gossip, pettiness and dramas of life. In other words, this is someone likely to be reading this blog and also someone suited to make the tough changes that go with oneness consciousness. Of course doing that means also working on some of the drawbacks of 7 energy, which include a tendency to create "truths" more beautiful than reality, operate as if "my way is the right way" and choose detachment over compassion. 

But back to the betrayal aspect of the card. One of the important things I want to point out about oneness is that it doesn't mean everyone has to be your friend. First, many of the people we separate ourselves from may be criminals, drama junkies, meanies or whatever. The idea is not to cozy up to them, nor is it to look in the opposite direction like the snake's two heads. The idea is to, instead, look straight at others from a other than the perspective of approval. Then ask:

  • Why is this person pushing my "separate from me" button and what can that teach me about myself?
  • What is this person mirroring back to me, including aspects I consider both positive and negative?
  • What can I see I have in common with this person?
  •  How can I change my initial "repellant" feelings about this person into compassionate ones?
  • What do I think this person sees in me as a result of our interaction in terms I might consider both positive and negative?

Keep in mind that the person pushing your "separate than me" buttons might be someone you admire. I mean, we put people up on pedestals and that's the same thing as putting people in the gutter. For the sake of argument, Angelina Jolie may be taller, more beautiful, richer, more charitable and more universally desired by men than us, but she's no more special than us. We are all born of the same light and we all have paths to walk and we are all special. I mean, I don't see you reading HER blog every day...haha. ;)

In the end, people are people. You can get as spiritual and loving as you want, but others are still going to do what they're going to do...and need to do to walk their path in this lifetime. Some people knowingly allow themselves to get screwed by others as part of their spiritual journey. But that's either too advanced or too stupid for me...haha. Being able to look at others, smile and think "I see you" in the Avatar sense is enough for me. I'm not in an energetic place where I can purposely expose myself to people who seek to hurt without getting hurt. But I can look at them and see "I am that, I am" without feeling a need to denigrate or hate. Well, much of the time. I'm still working on the "denigrate" part. 

So anyway, that's how we're rounding out the week. All that's asked of you is to be honest with yourself, see similarities in others and learn from the experience. You don't have to hang with murderers, just understand that they're not so unlike you as you thought. And, if you can, see and feel their pain, because you've probably felt it before to different results. All we need to, if we're up to the task, is try to leave this earth a little more loving and accepting than we found it. The tipping point may not happen in our lifetime and we may never end the cycles of hate, but at least we'll know we've done good work while we're here. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

8/9/12—Finding Your Source of Power

Today's Draw: The Devil from the Nigel Jackson Tarot. Do you believe in the Devil? What external sources of power do you identify with? And how does that separate you from others and your God?

One of the nice things about using different decks every day is that I get to explore some of the decks I've basically looked at and never used. So I discover new and amazing cards. I love this Devil card. The colors are so intense and beautiful!

So it's Day Four of Oneness Week, the week that's all about seeing the similarities in others, rather than the differences...the week of seeing ourselves reflected in the sparkle of 8 billion sets of eyes. 

In Biblical terms, the Devil is an angel whose pride and arrogance got him turned out of the kingdom of heaven. When we're arrogant enough to see ourselves as superior to anyone or anything, we turn ourselves away from God, too. Because God is in all those things we're "too good" to align with. We betray our God because we place ourselves above the things he has brought into this world. 

I've really not mentioned this except in passing, but oneness includes all things, not just people. When we disrespect natural resources, we're disrespecting the soul of God. I believe they are here for all living beings to use, but in a sustainable way. And when we disrespect the creatures of this earth, we disrespect our fellow animals. Our arrogance alone is what tells us that humans are somehow different from all the creatures on this planet. Science certainly doesn't support that belief. Scientifically speaking, we're just another species. Somehow we manage to forget that. 

At the root of the Devil card is a thirst for power and status that is externally identified, aka ego. By that, I mean considering money, rank or title—things outside of yourself—as a measure of your power. Devil/ego energy strips the individual of their self-identified power and chains them to measures of power they have no control over. Once chained to external means of power, our individual and god-given power wanes and we become the devil's puppets. 

In fact, the first step in the Devil's "grooming" is separating you from the infinite power of God/Source/Universe. Each time you identify with external sources, such as money, drugs, sex and other "pleasures of the flesh", you move further from God. Unlike traditional religious teachings, however, I believe you're free to enjoy all of these things. You're also able to seek the rush of endorphins they offer by means that exist within yourself, such as meditation, self love and moments of transcendence. It's when you turn yourself over to these things that the devil works his way in. It's when you value those things over yourself and god that you become chained to the devil. 

FYI, I'm not a believer in the actual Devil, I'm talking about the card here and the principle behind it. In the tarot, the Devil is more Pan-like than Satan-like anyway. Following the idea of oneness, nothing is separate from us, so our devil is within, just as our god is. And that's another aspect of this card. Also, I'm speaking to you philosophically here from the standpoint of beliefs that make sense to me. It's ok if you believe differently. The whole point of this blog is to put out thoughts that evoke spiritual- and self-examination, not to bring you around to my way of thinking.

Anyway, bringing the discussion back around again, seeing others as separate is a way of a) seeing yourself separate from God and b) seeking external identification of power (in the sense that being "better than" them is your source of power.) Authentic power comes from the self-identified confidence of knowing you're good and powerful and wonderful without anyone needing to be bad and weak and terrible in the process. Authentic power comes not from comparing yourself to others, but from knowing you are the light of god in human form. Same as everyone else. And their light is of no threat to yours. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

8/8/12—Becoming One With Oneness

Today's Draw:  Two of Wands from the Art of Life Tarot. Are you sometimes impulsive about the way you think about others? Do you find yourself "sizing people up" the minute you meet them? How can you change the way you think about others to be even more inclusive than you already are?

It's Day 3 of Oneness Week (which by the way, can be tongue twisting if you say it multiple times fast) and the Art of Life is going to make it easy on us. First, oneness is a term about seeing yourself in others...seeing the similarities in all others, rather the differences. Over the past two days you've done a lot of soul searching and seen how certain ways you've been thinking add to the very issues you abhor in this world. If you don't believe me, go back and read the entries. We all agreed it's all YOUR fault. :D

So now that we've determined that, what do we do about it? Well, the Art of Life has an answer for us with a quote from J. P. Morgan: 

"The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are."

Simple, but profound. 

So that's our first step—to make a decision to not continue seeing others as separate from us, whether they're criminals, movie stars or a little of both. And the second step is hidden in the Wands aspect of the cards which, by the way, all three of our cards this week have been. 

Among other things, wands are about passion and impulse control. So now that you've recognized "certain types of people" that annoy you or that you label with unflattering terms, stop...haha. When you see yourself going down that path, re-adjust your thoughts. See the other as you. List all the things you have in common. Put your passionate side aside and see them as they ARE...360 degrees, and not just the angle it's convenient to see them from in order to make yourself the one who's superior in the dynamic.

For example, maybe you hate "people who complain all the time" and consider yourself separate from them. Set aside the fact that complaining about people who complain all the time makes you a complainer. We won't even go into that. But consider that they're human like you. They want a happy life, like you. Maybe they have kids like you, and have the same dreams for those children as you. They have good taste for furniture, like you....etc. See how it works? You stop the negative thought about the person and see them as yourself. They're really just like you except that they complain about things....while you silently swallow the poison of that which annoys you without comment...haha. 

We've all developed habits over a lifetime of thinking in terms of good and evil, mean and nice, valuable and worthless, black and white, smart or stupid....dualistic thinking where you're either one or the other. Further, we tend to see ourselves as the favorable one, while the other one is less favorable. Someone cuts us off in traffic and they're rude, arrogant, SOBs who probably kick their dogs, right? Well, maybe they're just like you, but with a bit of a control issue that you don't have at all, because you tried everything in your power, short of wrecking the car, to keep him out of your lane and he still barged in anyway, control-hungry SOB. Controlling people are the worst!

The truth is, none of us are good OR bad. We're all shades of gray. And while there are shades and tints, gray is gray. The prisons are full of people a couple shades more desperate than you are. Forbes billionaire's list is filled with people a couple shades more resilient than you are. The Westbrook Baptist Church is filled with people a couple of shades more closed minded than you are. There are situations in life in which you're desperate, resilient and closed minded and all things desirable and repulsive. Some hover closer to the poles on the dualistic scales than others. But none of us walks through this life being entirely one thing or the other. And if we've consciously put forth effort to get closer to a more desirable behavior, then we really can't judge anyone who's not quite "there" yet.

Whether "monster" or "angel", we're all the very same spirit in human form, just with different lessons to learn and paths to walk in this incarnation. And everyone that crosses your path is there to help you on your path and reflect back a part of yourself you may be in denial of. 

These principles and the idea of oneness isn't something you master overnight. I've been working on it for years and there are still people I see as separate from me...there are still groups I struggle with. That said, over time, I've swallowed some very big pills and accepted people into my heart and my self awareness (but not my life...this isn't about being besties with everyone) that I haven't really wanted to. But that's when you know you're reaching beyond and learning a lesson. 

What it's all about is a mantra exercise I mentioned a couple of weeks back. When Moses asked God his name, he said "I am that I am". And the mantra exercise goes like identify yourself as everything and everyone you see. "I am that tree, I am." And by that, perhaps you embody the similarity of the tree's ability to bend with the wind with your own, for example. "I am that stream, I am (because we both flow with life's direction.)" "I am that traffic cutter-offer, I am (because sometimes I interrupt others when they don't want me to.)" See how it works? There is common ground everywhere you look. And when there's common ground, nothing is separate from you. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

8/6/12—Taking a Good, Honest Look

Today's Draw: Three of Wands from Melissa Townsend's Tarot. Do you act in alignment with your beliefs about how others should be? Do you ever find you've fallen short of the mark and become akin to the very things you judge others for being? Have you ever noticed that, just when society starts to forget all the hate in the world, someone comes along to remind us?

Every time there's a hate crime, an act of terrorism or hate rhetoric, it elicits a certain response in this country. First people say, "how could anyone be so cruel, unaccepting and judgmental? There's just no excuse for it." Then, shortly thereafter you'll hear people say, "those bastards should be tortured the way they tortured others" or "string those useless mofos up and be done with them!"

You've probably even thought something along those lines yourself at one time or another. But can you see the irony?

This week's theme is about oneness. Oneness is seeing others the same as we see ourselves...focusing on similarities, rather than differences...seeing ourselves in others.

I believe having a stronger sense of oneness is society's way out of hate and separation. I believe that's important because the more diverse our cultures get, the more we need understanding. There will always be hate. But there will be less of the hate we hate, if we just learn to stop hating.

Who, you? Yes you. When you hate the haters, you're a hater. It's that simple. And if you're a hater, you're part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Further, if you feel you're "better" than the haters—even the worst among them—you're also part of the problem. There is no moral high ground in oneness. There is no good and bad duality. No us and them. There's just one.

Yeah, yeah. I said a lot of this yesterday. And some of you may have decided that hating the haters is the only morally correct thing to do. And that's ok. I'll just address whomever is left.

I think sometimes these acts come along to wake society up. I mean, look at their timing. It seems as soon as we get complacent, another thing happens to put us back on our game. And "our game" isn't about taking the easy road. It's about taking a good hard look at ourselves and seeing if we're in alignment with what we believe.

That's what today's Three of Wands has come here to ask of us. It's never easy to see yourself as part of something you don't approve of, but that's what personal growth is about. We see something in others that we find annoying or reprehensible and live that way for years, only to look at them again one day down the line see ourselves mirrored back to us.

As our lives go on, we seem to have an inexhaustible supply of self denial as we uncover ugly bit after ugly bit and fix it. And it is only then that we can look back and see why so-and-so was in our lives and what they came here to show us. They were ourselves, echoing back at us what we needed to take a longer look at. And, instead, we pushed them away. We separated them from us with an attitude of "that kind of person is not MY kind of person."

This is a hard week. If you didn't read yesterday's entry, do. Because it's time for all of us to not only ask ourselves what we stand for, but to also see where we're falling short of our own mark. When we separate ourselves from the world's issues thinking that it doesn't have anything to do with us or that we would never such-and-such way, we're part of the problem. If we really want to honor our paths and live up to our rhetoric, we'll have the balls to look deeply and honestly enough to become part of the solution.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

8/6/12—Seeing Similarities

Today's Draw: Six of Flames from the Margarete Petersen Tarot. Is there a certain kind of person that you really can't abide? Do you feel powerless over the hate in this world? What, if anything, do you feel you have in common with people who commit crimes like the recent one in Wisconsin? 

Based on today's draw and recent news about seven Sikhs being killed in a temple shooting, we're going to do a week on oneness. When I say oneness, I mean the idea that we are all one. There's more to the idea of oneness, but that's what I mean to focus on this week—our connection to everything in the universe. Our similarity to everything in the universe. The idea that no one is different from us. No one is a stranger. 

The book for this deck says two things regarding this concept. First, it says this card is about "the fire of going beyond your limits and expanding your boundaries." We tend to live insulated lives around people "like ourselves". And in doing so, we nurture a "people like us" and "people not like us" mentality. It happens everywhere and it's not something I'm judging. We all do it. There are people we feel comfortable around and people we don't. 

The problem is that when we insulate ourselves too much, we tend to see the differences in people who are not part of our group, rather than the similarities. Oneness is all about seeing the similarities. So this card is asking you to go beyond your limitations and expand your circle large enough to see similarities. This could be about befriending someone of a different culture, volunteering to serve others less fortunate or attending an event you wouldn't normally attend. If there's a particular group you have issues with, really push beyond those boundaries and spend time with them...focusing on the similarities. 

The second thing the book said was "the boundaries of Not-I and I are beginning to dissolve." That's what I'm talking about. And it's not just that other humans—or even other sentient beings—are at one with you. It's everything. When you think about the spiritualities people pretty much universally admire, like Buddhism or that of Native Americans, the common denominator is respect for all things. There is nothing that is not sacred.

It's easy to say, "I'm not the problem here." But I contend you are. We all are. I don't think there's anyone in the eyeshot of my blog that has this principle mastered. Whether it's stupid people, homeless people, drug addicts, murderers, cheaters, Muslims, aboriginals, mean people—whatever—there is some group or "label" you have judgments and unflattering opinions about. Those opinions, magnified ever so slightly become fears. And those fears magnified ever so slightly become hate. Then justification for violence. Then violence. And the catch is, you are more similar to "those people" than different. But because we see the differences rather than the similarities, we support a line of thought that, down society's line, leads to this kind of tragedy.

When it comes to those whose behavior is different than yours, you nonetheless have the same *capacity* to do the things they've done. Think you could never be an addict? There but for the grace of God go you. Think you could never be a criminal? If you had been raised under different circumstances, you very well could be. Think you couldn't be mentally ill? Just one change in your chemical makeup could change all that. The line between "us" and "them" is not only thin, it's fragile. Nobody dreams these things for themselves. The are the result of minor variables that you somehow managed to skate past. You have the same capacity for that behavior as the do. It was the details in their lives that made the difference.

As for people from different cultures and religions...they have the same dreams for their children you do. They have the same love for relatives, the same need to be accepted, the same talents and dreams. When you approach others from the perspective of what's similar rather than what's different, you're walking in the footsteps of Jesus and Buddha....and love. 

Sunday morning, a congregation gathered to worship their god. Seven people were killed. Early reports said, among them, was at least one priest. I believe you have to be mentally ill to do something like that. But I think we also need to see how each of us contributes to these kinds of hate crimes. We contribute by participating in and enabling an "us" and "them" sensibility. We are more like those sihks than we realize. We are more like their killer, too. And until we, as a society, learn to embody that truth, we won't be supporting change. It has to start somewhere. It can start with me and you.