May the Balance of the Force Be With You

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When Star Wars first emerged in 1977, I was there. I crossed the city of Buffalo twelve times on my little yellow Puch moped to see that first installment. I could very much relate to the idea of the Force as Spirit then, and I still do. The continuing saga of Star Wars including Episode VII, which I saw in 3D at an IMAX theatre on the first day it came out last week, continues to develop the theme of the Force but they have emphasized the notion of “bringing balance to the Force” with the characters of Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) and now his dark, worrisome grandson, Kylo Ren. Thus the story continually pits the Light Side against the Dark Side of the Force, as if this dualistic jostling can ever bring true Balance or peace. No, they cancel each other out but they can never bring a genuine, lasting Balance. So, what does?

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Note the resemblance to Jedi Master Yoda!

I want to say here that the Force as I know it, and as many of you do who practice active contemplation, prayer or deep meditation, is not inherently dualistic. We can understand It as trinary: embodying the Light, the Dark, and the NEUTRAL force emanations of Spirit. The Light and Dark are only energetic expressions of that Neutral force operating within the limited worlds of Duality.

To answer power with power,

the Jedi way this is not.

In this war, a danger there is,

of losing who we are. Yoda

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Note the difference between Jedi Knights and Jedi Masters.  Jedi Knights “fight for the Good;” they serve the Light Side of the Force as versus Siths, who serve the Dark Emperor and their own selfish desires. But true, tempered Jedi Masters generally exhibit Detachment and acceptance in the face of conflict. They might fight if they are called upon to defend some worthy cause in the worlds of duality, but they have their Home in Divine Love or in the Heart of Spirit Itself.

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To connect with Spirit you need only find Your Center and hold your awareness Here. Do not be pulled to the right or to the left, “right” or “wrong,” up or down, or in any Outer direction that is dependent on external pressures. Find your genuine, core spiritual nature within and operate from this Soul perspective. It will not steer you wrong if you Listen closely to what your Heart—which could take the form of an inner or an outer, tried and trusted spiritual Guide—advises, and act accordingly.

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The Jedi Masters represent an Elder Leader archetype form that I wish to celebrate and invite you to cultivate this month. What is your own ELDER LEADER nature? When does it emerge in you in its most balanced form?  Invite your ELDER LEADER to reveal Its WAY to you this month of January, as January is the astrological month associated with Capricorn and the Elder Leader Archetype Ally.

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images from pixabay.com

Remember, the FORCE IS with you, always! May it inform your Way!

The Dream Master

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Archetypes appear often in their purest forms within our nightly dreams, where they can bypass the conscious mind to deliver important messages. Here’s a significant dream I feel fortunate to have experienced involving my own Dream Master:

I have been hiking (in the dreamscape) in a mountain region with a small group of fellow travelers. We have come to a level plain in view of our destination, which is a spiritual Temple perched atop the mountain we are ascending. We are accompanied by  a Guide whom I recognize as a spiritual Teacher.

The Teacher steps center to address us. He tells us there are two pathways by which we can make our final ascent to reach the Temple at the top of the mountain. One path, off to his right as he addresses us, is a wide, long and winding trail that leads eventually to the apex by a slow, easy trek. The other approach, he points out, would be by the canyon wall just beside the open area where we are standing. There is a redrock canyon spire wall that leads right up to the Temple.  It is our choice which way we choose to take.

The group of hikers splits, as the majority head off to take the long and winding trail. I notice that these folks are middle aged or more senior, like me.  The other group is a couple, a young man and woman who take one look at the canyon wall and, one-two-three, they have clambered up the cliff and they have already reached the Temple! Well, in my younger days I hiked often in redrock canyons in Arizona, so that is the way I want to get to the top of the mountain, too.

I approach the canyon wall and start up. I get just three or four footholds upwards when I get stuck! I cannot see a way upward that I can reach from where I’m at, but I can’t see a way to get safely back down, either.

I look down to the clearing below and I see the Master there, looking up at me. He is wearing the colors of Superman, with a blue suit and even a small red cape!

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images are from pixabay.com

   “Master, can you help me?” I ask.

   The Master immediately directs me with his hand, pointing to where I could step down to.  He coaches, “No, not quite; just a little further down, now to the right.”

   My foot finds the  foothold he is directing me to, and quickly I am back down in the clearing. I step toward my Dream Teacher and thank him.

   “I have the ability to watch,” my Teacher says.

   That message is Golden to me. My Teacher ‘has the ability to watch,’ and He is always there, ready to help if I will but remember to ask.

   As I awaken I know I will be going over to the wide, winding pathway upward, grateful for the lesson and humbled by the ordeal.

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Have you had similar dreams with your own Dream Teacher?  What key lessons has he or she imparted?

You can always ASK before going to bed or in an active imagination form of contemplation any question for which you seek deeper understanding. ASK your Inner Teacher, then pay attention! Listen for outer “waking dream” events that offer serendipitous answers to your question. And ask before going t sleep to remember your dream that provides insights about your question. Imagine your Dream Teacher with you in your dream.  For remember, your inner Teacher “has the ability to Watch.”

I welcome your comments and stories.

Happy New Year!

 

A Learning Encounter

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At the end of each month I will share a personal story about our monthly Archetype theme. The month of December being associated astrologically with the Sagittarian TEACHER archetype, let me share with you a story of how teaching/learning has enhanced my Life Path.

One of my greatest Learning—and Teacher–encounters I associate with one of my greatest Mentors, Dr. Antoinette Mann Paterson (or as her closest students would lovingly call her, ‘Tone-the-Bone Paterson’). She wrote a book called The Infinite Worlds of Giordano Bruno. Toni Paterson was a professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York College at Buffalo, my undergraduate alma mater.

Toni was a beguiling, dynamic professor and a strong friend. She would stand before a large class of students and teach often with her eyes closed. Then she would pop her eyes open to stare at one student and ask a direct question, waiting for their answer before continuing. She is the person I have blogged about before who handed an acorn to her son in a park and declared, “There is God!” She also took a nap every day on a little cot at her home. She told me this was so that “Every day, I swim in the Ocean!” Mind you, this was in Buffalo, New York.

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One Fall day in Buffalo on campus, I encountered Toni P. while I was walking between classes. I hadn’t seen her since over the summer.

“Can I take an Independent Study with you this semester?” I queried.

“What topic?” she asked.

On the spot and not having thought in advance of this chance encounter with my mentor, I answered what came to mind: “Silence. A         philosophy of Silence.”

“See me next Monday. 10 AM, my office.”

That Monday when I went to Toni’s office for our first session, shortly after some small talk about how I had been (I was feeling down over some emotional issues), she directed  me:

“So take out a pencil and a piece of paper.” (I did.) “Now, write down this question: ‘So … What?’ Answer that question for next week. I’ll see you then.”

All week I researched philosophical and poetic or literary topics that might pertain to this topic. “So What?” suddenly seemed to me the most vital, important question I had ever considered. “So What?” was the question of existence (Descartes) or of transcendence (as in a Ralph Waldo Emerson essay where he spoke of identity as a “transparent eyeball”).

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The next Monday I arrived with many pages of notes. Toni never asked to see them. Instead she brought me to a table where she had laid out a large sheet of sketch-pad paper. With a marker she began to form a diagram. Who? What? Where? When? Why? These were words she wrote around the borders of the page.

“Where do these intersect?” she probed.

I didn’t understand.

Toni then drew lines from each of the bounding terms that intersected squarely at the center of the page. She wrote one word: “W-H-A-N”. “Whan!” she said, pleased. That is the answer to “So, what?” WHAN!!!

And she was so right! Whan certainly was the correct answer to, “So what?”  It came to mean, for me, that the answer is not materialistic. “Whan” means “It Just Is!” and that is Enough! Where all the WH-Questions combine and intersect and even cancel each other out, see? There doesn’t need to be a substantive answer. IT JUST IS! Life Just IS, and that is Enough. That is Good; Life is Good. WHAN!

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We read a lot that semester, and I journalled a lot—about the nature of existence and about the nature of Silence. Whan is a principle that ever since, I associate with my own Silence. I see it everywhere, hear it whispered in all of existence. It is associated for me with a Word found in many religions, too: HU! This is an ancient, sacred name for God found in many religions and sung as a mantra or song of love for God (on the outgoing breath as H-u-u-u-u-u-u). While in college around that time I was also studying James Joyce’s ULYSSES. In the structural center of the text (however I may have figured that out back then), I found these lines:

“What’s the word?”

“HU!” A bird, sitting on a wire, chirped…

So, WHAN! And, that’s enough then.

Merry Christmas to All.

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images from pixabay.com

Teachers and Learners, An Alchemical Pairing

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I love being a Teacher, as I have taught now for 37 years, from 2 years tutoring and then teaching developmental English for inner city Buffalo students in New York to teaching for 13 years for Phoenix area community colleges and Arizona State University, to 22 years since 1993 as a professor at the University of Colorado—Colorado Springs. And, I love being a Student, as I have been from the very start and will always continue to be!

We learn through teaching and teach through learning, and those we teach are also our own teachers, too! So here I want to celebrate the Learners who teach their teachers how better to connect, to stay informed and current with contemporary issues, and above all, to better LISTEN to their learners’ needs and their hopes and dreams.  For being a Learner can be a daunting, brave act, especially when the student steps forth to ASK their pertinent questions and to personalize their QUEST for gaining grounds toward deepening their topical interests and toward fulfilling their individual life goals.

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Never settle for less than what is stated in the previous sentence.  As a Learner, you have the right and in fact the obligation to not just attend classes and complete assignments but to question, to expand your reading beyond that given, to critique perspectives presented and to elaborate and develop your unique viewpoint, sensibility and expertise.  There has never been in the entire history of creation another YOU (true for All), and your specificity of experience, feelings and outlook truly make of you a very special Learner—and Teacher, too.

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Learning takes many forms. It could be in a formal classroom setting but it does not need to be, and even when it is, it doesn’t really begin or end in a classroom. Nature might be your Classroom, or your Family might be the soil in which you are planted to gather and to share nourishment and understanding and love.

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Learning is the process of manifesting Better Endings, with any endeavor. We learn to drive a car, and this brings greater personal freedom along with greater responsibility and awareness. We read a novel, and whole worlds unfold before our imagination; worlds we never knew before but that are now realms we can return to forever.

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images from pixabay.com

As you learn, you gain invaluable lessons of experience; not just head knowledge but compassion and passion for serving others and for attaining the capacity to embrace and live your Dream! 

 

 

Be a Wayshower: Positive Role Models

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Role models are often our greatest Teachers without trying to be.  We see in others examples of what we are striving to achieve in our own lives; we emulate those who exhibit and live up to our high ideals and strong values. Role models illuminate the pathway we are set upon, as we follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before.

Who have been your greatest Role Models or Wayshowers?  Spiritual prophets and faith leaders demonstrate the canonical Wayshower form.  Religions have formed around the heroic spiritual values of their founders. If your role model is a spiritual Wayshower, what have you applied to your own attitudes and behaviors based on the values your role model has exhibited?

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“What would XXX do now? (Where XXX might be Christ or Buddha or Mother Theresa or the Mahanta or Muhammed, or your parent or a primary role model teacher or friend.) You might ask yourself this question when you seek to arrive at a positive decision or course of action that resonates with your deepest values and beliefs.

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Some of what I have gained from my Role Models (I invite you to write your own list and I welcome your sharing in Comments or stories):

  • Practice, practice, practice to attain self-discipline (from my fencing coach in college when I was on what became a highly successful intercollegiate fencing team);
  • Edit, edit, edit to arrive at writing that ‘sings’ (from writing books and teachers);
  • Contemplate, read deeply, dream to arrive at spiritual awareness and realizations (from spiritual authors and Guides);
  • Do not sell yourself short, go for your Dreams and persist to manifest your ideals to advance creatively and to be of service (from several teachers and author role models);
  • Accept, forgive, love unconditionally to attain a balanced viewpoint free of negativity (from my pets and closest friends and family).

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My Sophia

So also consider, in what ways are you and can you be a role model Wayshower for others? Learning from role models and applying these lessons is a reciprocal process that allows us to be of service to others as well.  So remember to be a positive role model, allowing your attitudes and actions to inspire those around you, whether in public or with your closest loved ones.

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images (except My Sophia) are gratefully from pixabay.com

You never know who is watching and listening, and what their needs might be that you could help them with, even unknowingly. In fact this mode of being a role model simply by the example of your highest or most mindful attitude or behavior is the highest order of teaching for its humility bespeaks the authenticity of the role model’s overall effectiveness in practice.

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Better Endings to You!

 

Lessons to Glean from your Inner Teacher

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As an educator for nearly forty years, and always a student as well, I have had many opportunities to learn from my inner TEACHER Archetype Ally, also from my ‘outer’ teachers, and from both inner and outer Spiritual Guides I have discovered and welcome within my ever developing consciousness. Teaching is a way of life dedicated to serving All Life and to stimulating progressive unfoldment toward manifesting personal ideals and values, or indeed, ‘better endings.’

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Some of my own lessons gleaned from the PRACTICE of Teaching include:

Flexibility: This is the greatest tool I feel that a Teacher will demonstrate often.  Whatever the lesson plan might be, you must meet the student aspirants where they are at. Every student and every class has their own character and begins at their own level based on their prior experience and goals. What worked once before with teaching a lesson or a topic might not fit the needs of the current student or class, so you must respond with a new approach, tailored to the interests and needs of the individual as well as the group. Generationally these needs change and develop over time, so as you continue to teach, you must become ever more flexible too.

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Listening: Empathy is a strong Teacher trait that develops from the skill of listening closely to the questions—and attending to responses or actions—of your individual student. Why does a student choose their specific research topic; what is it they are hoping therefrom to learn or to discover? Why does a student resist a given lesson? Is their personal background experience leading them to assert a certain approach? How can you ALLOW that which the student is there to learn of their own character? You are in this sense but a willing servant the student has chosen tohelp them take their next steps in understanding, inspiration, or self-discipline. Reveal to them the tools they can use to take their own next step forward.

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Goal-setting: Education is a progressive process of setting out to experience ever-new vistas and horizons. Whatever we learn fertilizes the grounds for further learning in a never-ending adventure. The Teacher helps the aspirant to establish their own aspirations and to attain realizations of their goals, of any form. Whether the Goal is one of DOing, KNOWing, or BEing, the Teacher serves as a positive example of one who shows there is always a Way to manifest worthy goals.

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 Creativity: Whatever the topic of study or art, the Teacher fosters creativity, not simply sterile methods or rote repetition of facts or ideas. Ultimately the Teacher must stand back to facilitate the student’s own inner Teacher potentials. For when the class is over and the student has graduated, the student must have gained their own capacity to proceed forth to successfully encounter new challenges and opportunities on their own.  In fostering creative abilities in the student, the Teacher also shows their own willingness to learn; to encourage the student to become the Teacher, and so Life itself continues to unfold and adapt.

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What have YOU learned from developing your own archetypal Teacher traits? How do you share this with others in your life? The outer Teacher—while genuinely someone who has developed the knowledge and skills you aim to comprehend and use—is also in a sense but a projection of your own inner Teacher potentials, so that learning is as standing before a Mirror to perceive and unfold your own inherent, latent qualities, especially when you seek to learn from a well advanced instructor or Guide.  

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images from pixabay.com

Authentic teaching/learning is self-tailored; the Teacher becomes a transparency through which you find your own Way. While this may seem to characterize especially those spiritual forms of Teacher you might aim to emulate, every Teacher is THE Teacher, the Teacher in YOU, too.  And so the true TEACHER demonstrates detachment and humility, knowing in the end it is YOUR process you seek to advance, YOUR lessons that the Teacher is charged to help you to teach yourself in such manner as you can unfold the knowledge and  the capacity to proceed forward on your own and share with others.

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I welcome YOUR reflections and stories!

 

Practice What You Teach

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Here is an oldie but golden adage: “Practice what you Teach!” This month we are exploring how the Teacher Archetype Ally, which is our  ‘unconscious’ Teacher part of Self, can help us attain to what we may construe as ‘better endings’ in our life choices and pursuits, so this saying is entirely relevant!

Here’s a self-discovery technique I invite you to practice:

First, make a list of what you teach (or, focus on ONE precept you often aim to help others to understand); then second, journal, contemplate or share with a loved one about how practicing that precept has or could help you to improve upon some aspect of your life currently or in a foreseeable future scenario.

As usual, I’ll start the reflection process by way of example, then I welcome you to practice this self-discovery on your own

One PRECEPT I often share with others which I have learned from the spiritual teachings of Eckankar is:

“IS IT TRUE, IS IT NECESSARY, IS IT KIND?” (Answer these three questions before you think, say, or do any action.)

  1. How have I practiced this that has lead to some better endings?

“Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind” (in THAT order) has often helped me to formulate a statement or frame an action in response to potentially stressful situations. When some interaction (e.g. some email exchanges in the past) have gone “very wrong,” in retrospect I did NOT apply this practice. In one of these exchanges in particular, after contemplating how I should use this approach, I was able to do a very helpful mid-course correction, resulting in a much more heartful and positive interaction. In fact because of this principle, I asked that this email exchange would shift to a person to person, face to face chat, and that indeed “made all the difference.”

2.  How might I practice this precept with respect to some foreseeable future scenario?

As a department Chair at work I need always to practice this precept. I can place this on a placard and place it on my office wall:

     IS IT TRUE? IS IT NECESSARY? IS IT KIND?

This placard, visible to myself and to those with whom I interact at my office, can help everyone to be more aware and Mindful. This can only have a better endings effect for  all concerned!

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images from pixabay.com

Now it’s your turn. What teaching do you often impart that is also beneficial for you to practice mindfully?

I welcome YOUR comments and stories!

“I Get It” Now…Better Endings from Listening to Your Mentors           

 

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For this month’s topic of how the Teacher Archetype as a persona Ally can help us to attain Better Endings in our lives, here is a suggestion for this week:

Think about how you have learned and grown from what your own finest Mentors have helped you to understand. Then also, what would you hope for those whom you love and care for to potentially learn from your own experience, too?

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To light this idea, I’ll share a bit by way of example from my own experience. I have been fortunate to have had several excellent mentors in my life. Allow me to list just a few of their insights and suggestions that, in retrospect, at some point I have come to value and apply.

  • “Listen!” : When I first went to Zuni Pueblo some 31 years ago (I was back there this past weekend!), I was told by the Tribal Council members to seek out a particular man (now deceased, so I will not use his name here) about my dissertation project. This amazing man was a mentor for me with respect to that project and life generally. He advised me not to come to Zuni with a head full of questions based on theories of what I thought I needed to “study.” Rather I should LISTEN with an open heart and mind; “They will know what they are supposed to tell you,” he said. Also, he said, “Never forget that it is about PEOPLE (not ideas or things or theories).” I get it now; he was so right. Only by suspending my own preconceived ideas was I able over time to HEAR a very different set of perspectives on the topic I did interview people about and eventually published about, hopefully with their sake in view. And that remains my approach to collaborative projects today. I share this advice with students in my own classes, and I encourage them as well to “pass it forward.”

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  • “You see yourself in others”: This old adage passed to me from my Father has often served as a good reminder to take full responsibility for my own attitudes instead of foisting them onto others. It reminds me that others may sometimes unconsciously project their own attitudes or values onto me. This helps me to forgive and at the same time not to ‘own’ what is not mine nor to react to that which is projected.

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  • “You must learn to trust yourself with another” : I have learned over forty some years since receiving this advice from a beloved friend that this line helps me to apply ‘right discernment’ in my life regarding relationships of all sorts.  I have learned that with this IDEAL in mind I must weigh the degree to which—or the level at which–I ‘should’ in fact trust another. Not everyone requires or perhaps is ‘worthy’ of or desirous of that level of connection. But those that ARE/DO are GOLDEN.  I am so grateful for the true friends I have connected with deeply, and I know this level of trust comes with equal reciprocity. I wish this for all to discover!

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“There is God!”: This is from a story a beloved professor-mentor once share with me, from a story about her interaction with her son. Taking him to a park one day, she picked up an Acorn and showed it to him. THERE IS GOD!, she uttered. However her son might remember this insight, I myself shall never forget it! This mentor, Toni Paterson, a philosopher, had only oak furniture in her home, from Salvation Armie stores. The Oak was her unifying symbol.

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images from pixabay.com

So that’s where this reflection about my own Life Lessons from just a few of the dearest mentors in my life takes me to initially.  I will continue to journal this week about my Mentors’ good advice that has indeed led to many of my own ‘better ending’ experiences.

I encourage you to journal about and/or contemplate about your Mentors, too! As always I will welcome your Comments and stories!