Inner Guidance

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Let me make no mistake about it, we are living in difficult times. Whatever our beliefs and values may be, they are under siege by opposing values or by the tenuousness of “truth” itself as a standard upon which we can collectively agree.

Some call it a return to tribalism: a refraction of identity into sub-cultural group affiliations. Clan-like factions abound; whom can you talk to or trust? Any stranger might explode at any moment in a public space, opening fire upon the innocent.

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What matters then, in such times of potential turmoil? What goals may still hold value? Where can you turn for reliable guidance? 

On a more positive note, you can always Go Within to find truth by attending to your own ‘inner counsel’. I assure you this is not merely a solipsistic response to collective uncertainty; it is an age-old, universal capacity that has steered the course of history. I believe that when we seek our highest Self and the companionship of Spirit or Divinity Itself in our deepest repose through active contemplation, prayer or meditation practices, we can connect with that which is greater than ourselves alone.

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“The One with the All One” is a spiritual image that comes to mind.  Or, “One for All and All for One!” In other words, when we seek our own answers that ‘ring true’ within our highest (NOT our lowest or our conditionally biased!) states of positive, life affirming consciousness, we assume our relation to the Whole of Life Itself. To me, this brings us to a position of unconditional love. If we act from this love, all will be in accord with that which serves the highest Good.  That’s my hopeful belief, anyway.

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This month I am inviting you to reflect on the role of Helpers in your own—in all of our— life journey. Inner Helpers come to meet us where we seek them out—be it in a contemplative state or in our dreams.  If you keep a journal that includes a dream diary to record your insights that arise from your inner guidance, then reviewing your journal entries once a week or once a month can help you to recognize the help you are receiving in the form of your own Inner Guidance.  Maybe you will uncover a Theme recurring in your dreams or even in your daydreams.  Keeping track of your dreams and daily insights holds open a channel of communication with your ‘inner counsel’ that can help to always to steer you in YOUR right directions.

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images are from pixabay.com

There are many excellent books on the subject of dream techniques and inner guidance. Two I have learned from are THE ART OF SPIRITUAL DREAMING, by Harold Klemp, and INNER GUIDANCE by Anne Archer Butcher.

I welcome always your insights and stories!

 

 

 

Rumi and Shams

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One of the greatest true stories about the appearance of a Helper whose relationship with an ardent aspirant transforms not only that ‘student’ but through him, also the world, is that of Shams-y-Tabriz (one of several spellings) and the gifted poet, Rumi.

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Shams Tabrizi is often claimed as a Sufi or Muslim although more accurately he could be described as a “wandering mendicant” who associated with many religious backgrounds but not only one.  Shams found in Rumi a spiritually thirsty, deeply honest Soul who was able to also put aside a single faith tradition in order to experience Spirit in a most direct manner that Shams taught him to embrace.

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Shams may have been murdered by associates of Rumi who thought of Shams as heretical. After his Master’s death, Rumi’s grief and burning love of Spirit Itself as he had learned to experience IT through his Teacher, was so intense that Rumi developed the whirling dervish technique of spinning to leave his bodily consciousness . He also began composing a large body of some of the greatest spiritual poetry known to humanity, including the Song of the Reed.

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Below is one of Rumi’s poems about his beloved Helper, translated from Coleman Barks.

I swear, since seeing Your face,

the whole world is fraud and fantasy

The garden is bewildered as to what is leaf

or blossom. The distracted birds

can’t distinguish the birdseed from the snare.

 

A house of love with no limits,

a presence more beautiful than venus or the moon,

a beauty whose image fills the mirror of the heart.

The Divani Shamsi Tabriz XV http://www.khamush.com/love_poems.html#Love is the Water of Life

 

The Helpers

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In every Hero’s Adventure—as in your own Journey of life—“when the student is ready, the Teacher appears.” Teachers, Masters, Mentors, Guardian Angels, Guides, and Signs or signposts arrive to escort us or to prepare us for the challenging passage into the Unknown.

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When we look back we can appreciate how a Helper arrived who allowed us to advance in ways we probably never would have otherwise considered. That special teacher appears who lights up a whole field of study for you at school, or that talented role model who demonstrates qualities you long to develop in yourself; by accepting such encounters we connect with our deepest aspirations and claim our life’s motivating Mission or Purpose.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is playing as I write this, so as we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of J. K. Rowling’s gift of the wondrous world of Harry Potter, let’s focus on Dumbledore as the archetypal Mystic Helper. The qualities Dumbledore exhibits in his mentoring of Harry are those latent qualities Harry is needing to develop in himself in order to fulfill his destiny: magical abilities, teaching skills, the practice of right discernment, balancing good vs. evil impulses, and dedication based on love foremost.

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Think of a Helper who appeared or is now present in your life and whose example and insights have helped you develop aspects of your own nature that have allowed you to move further along on your own purposeful journey.

How did you meet this Helper? What interests or abilities has s/he aided you to develop?

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images are from pixabay.com

This month we honor and celebrate The Helpers.

I invite your Comments and Stories.

A Wayfarer Tribute for Larry

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Larry is a kind, friendly man who has served as the director of mail services at my university. This past year several times he and I have chatted when he asked me to sign for some mail at my department. Larry was so excited to be retiring this summer. He and his wife have invested in real estate so that they would have a worry free retirement. He encouraged me in my plans to retire next summer, emphatic that sooner rather than later is the best course to take. He was so excited the last two times we talked, with his retirement date and the liberation it represents edging closer and closer.

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Around two weeks ago, though, Larry suffered a heart attack; my understanding is that he passed from this life the following morning. What a turn of events, I thought at first; how unfair his demise after all of his excellent planning.  How precious and fleeting is a lifetime!  As I will soon be 63 and am beginning to have some health concerns, I wonder about what is to come and want to do all I can NOW, in case Spirit calls me home unexpectedly.

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But then a few days ago while I was in a dentist chair trying not to pay too much attention to possibly painful probing in my mouth, I was blessed to see Larry.  Inwardly I had introduced him to my own Inner Guide, and I watched as he and this Master walked forward along a beautiful pathway into the Light ahead. He was happy and conveyed that to me. He was more excited and interested in discovering what was to come than in looking behind to see what he was leaving. He appeared younger and spry of step. I felt happy for him, the Soul of Larry.

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Now I get that Larry HAS achieved a very happy retirement to a beautiful new life, albeit sadly without his wife outwardly. I am sure where he is going will be where he has earned the right to go forward spiritually in all that Soul’s interests and love.

Life is fleeting from the short perspective of a single persona or lifetime. It is also of immense value to Soul, as each lifetime we have a golden, unique opportunity to express our love and gain insights from the specific conditions and relationships we cultivate in the current body state we occupy in that lifetime. I am a strong believer in reincarnation and in the continuation of Soul to higher and higher states of being and levels of service to the whole.

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Larry’s departure reaffirms, to me, that we learn life’s specific lessons and take those gems of wisdom with us ever more, wherever we go.  His joyful excitement and love that I observed in his moving along into the next phase of his own spiritual expression teaches me the value of fully embracing this Life for all of its treasures!

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images are from pixabay.com

What treasures would you take with you if you were called home today?

When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare? Adapt!

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June brings our new monthly theme at Better Endings for Your Life Path (see Monthly Topics); the next stage as we proceed forward with the Hero Cycle process is:  TRIALS AND REVELATIONS.

I can certainly relate right now at this juncture in my own life’s journey.  This past month, while blogging here about “Descent into the Belly of the Whale,” I sank into a deep contemplation one day while sitting in the center of an outdoor stone labyrinth. I asked my Inner Guide:

“What is it you/Spirit would ask me to improve upon or change as I proceed forward into the next phase of my journey?”

I received a clear answer:

“Adaptability”

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This answer has lingered in my consciousness.  Adaptability is certainly an important TOOL for me to employ as I approach retirement next summer and the release of my book, Your Life Path, next March.

A few days ago, I had a breakthrough with regard to adaptability. I have been conceiving of one and only one destination for retirement.  Yet when I visited that location through the month of March into April, I encountered a terrifying series of ordeals in the form of an invasion of my very body (and my dog’s and car) by parasitic insects. It took six weeks and a heavy load of new credit debt to clear that scourge, and I find myself left with PTSD around these ‘bug issues’ that I am still working on. When I think of that truly wonderful location, it now brings forth a sense of dread: how could I ever feel entirely safe were I to live there? I know this is not rational yet it is deeply entrenched.

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images are from pixabay.com

So I have been thinking about today’s topic: What Can You Do When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare?

My answer is clear: ADAPT!

With Life Path Mapping, I always encourage people to remain FLEXIBLE and OPEN TO CHANGE. Future life mapping is not about setting a specific location or job or relationship as a necessary or fixed destination. It is about  projecting your VALUES forward into a future set of conditions that will fulfill your sense of purpose, mission, and life satisfaction.

So I took out a map to see where else could I go to satisfy my interests in a retirement community: closer to family, a vibrant community, a lake.  And I found an amazing location I have known of but had not realized how near it is to where I have wanted to be anyway.  I have a new location focus now.

Adaptation rocks!

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I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

 

Liminal Guides with their Gifts of Magical Tools

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How are you to traverse the aqueous or prickly domain of the ‘belly of the whale’ during your liminal descent as you assume the full import of the rest of your Adventure ahead? You will find, if you but care to ask, a Helper is standing by, ready to guide you through the morass. S/he will bestow upon you some device, a Tool that can help you face your internal dragons and illuminate pitfalls and opportunities along YOUR Path ahead.

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Mentors, Masters, Wizards, Teachers, and Guides: all are role models who have already achieved the goals of the Quest you are set upon to realize your most noble Purpose.  They can show you the Way as they know from experience what ordeals you must face, but it is YOU who must walk the Path and learn the Lessons set out before you. It would not help you for your Guide to make your decisions for you or to simply transport you immediately to your destination. For this Journey you are on, this Glorious Quest, is your road of trials that prepares you by letting you develop your talents and your wisdom, so you can become a Master in your own right (and time); so that you may become a Guide to other acolytes seeking their own purposeful goals, down the Road.

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images are from pixabay.com

Your Inner (and/or Outer) Guide will bestow upon you devices appropriate to every stage of your journey; Tools you can utilize to traverse the terrain of the specific segment of the adventure you are ready to engage.  It may be a device to illuminate the Darkness (Lumos!) or a weapon to defend against your most dangerous foes. Luke Skywalker, for example, receives a light sabre that lets him focus and direct his positive force of energy as needed; Frodo wears the ring of invisibility that protects him (while at the same time exposing him as he wears it) from the negative Eye of Sauron, Evil incarnate.

All you must do is to be open and accepting, to recognize your Teacher (as they often appear in disguise).   Remember, as the wise adage states: When the aspirant is ready, the Teacher Appears.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.

Liminal Lives … as Change Agents

 

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Artists including painters, musicians, writers, actors/directors, photographers, and others (including some scientists) who apply their artistic perspective or highly focused talents and perspectives to the work or the vocation they love, often spend much of their lives as what we could call liminal persons.  They might feel or be perceived as “outside” the norms of society, either by happenstance or by design.

As Outsiders, liminal persons can develop a point of view or vantage point at odds with normal convention; it is often this very ‘oddity’ about them that allows them to contribute original or even revolutionary ideas.  They can help a culture or a community to bend and flex in ways otherwise less likely and can help a society to adjust more quickly to new conditions. 

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The Beatles when they first erupted upon the musical scene in the ‘60s were one such liminal group. They broke up thought forms by what at the time was considered even radical hair styles, musical beats, and ideology as represented in their lyrics. Mostly they sang about love, but the love they celebrated was broader and deeper. They wrote of world peace and love as a generational construct at odds with their own society’s post WWII and more recent Korean War global conflicts and the controversial war in Viet Nam. It was important for the Beatles to stand outside conservative norms in order to move society forward, even bringing non-Western spirituality to the fore in their later songs and lives.

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Socrates in classical Greek times was likewise viewed as an Outsider to the established order. He went about encouraging free thinking in public arenas through his method of philosophical questioning. Socrates’ decision not to escape his sentence of drinking hemlock for the crime of “corrupting” traditional Greek thought of the time was in itself a violation of norms, forcing people to think about his premise of the immortality of Soul.

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Let’s list some more names of historically well-known liminal persons whose departures from norms helped humanity to be more open to new ideas or even to revolutionary change:  Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Rumi, Gertrude Stein, Frida Kahlo, Emily Dickenson, William Butler Yeats, Lord Byron, Albert Camus, Immanuel Velikovsky, Nelson Mandela, Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Michelangelo. You can add to this list to form a litany of change agents who in the times they lived were relative loners or outcasts.

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

So we see the genius of Life inflecting in such broad strokes of diversity–often accompanied by intense sacrifice or by long-term personal isolation and hardship–so as to illuminate and break through boundaries of perspective and limitations of human consciousness in ways that have allowed our species not only to survive but to thrive.

Vive la difference! as the French might say.  Or, as Lennon and McCartney contributed: “Imagine!”

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

Liminal Passages (Liminality, Part Two)  

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Victor Turner said of the betwixt-and-between (where one is likely to experience marginalized feelings during this Transition stage of a Rite of Passage) that one is caught up, as it were, within a Liminal Zone—like a limbo or purgatory—which Turner describes as Anti-Structure.  You have left the settled life of being part of the Structure of a society to enter into this no-persons land. You have stripped away or have had stripped away much of your former identity (this point is for my sister to read re. her recent dream of identity loss; Hi, Lee!).  You have obstacles to face in your Descent as you pass through the Forbidden territory of Anti-Structure, before you can (with your successful passage) re-enter Structure but in a new role and status based on the transformation of your consciousness and personhood you will have attained during this important, meaningful Transition. There is usually a role model or Guide to lead you through this stage; s/he has been where you are aiming to go and has achieved the new status/ level of consciousness you seek to attain with your Quest. Your Guide will help you so far as you need, or ask.

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Liminality is such an important stage for anyone (or group) seeking to bring about a positive, transformational adjustment in order to realize a deeply beneficial goal, that I want to share more examples here for you to ponder in their possible relation to your own contemplated, desired changes.

Hiawatha and the League of the Iroquois (A Whole-Society Revitalization)

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Hiawatha has lost his wife and three daughters, who were murdered by a chief of his own village during a blood feud among the Iroquois tribes and other regional tribes.  He wanders in the woods, desolate and alone. Some say he develops cannibalistic (Windigo-like) thoughts which he despises in himself.

Hiawatha, either from a boat looking into the waters or in a cabin looking in a pot of water, sees a figure—a god, as he is called—named Deganawidah, looking back at him. This figure—some say a real man with a speech impediment also in the woods—conveys to Hiawatha a Condolence Ritual to help him and his peoples grieve their losses, and he imparts guidelines for a new political confederacy, an alliance of the member tribes: the League of the Iroquois. Six tribes eventually joined this League, which still has relevance today. They put aside their internal fighting and agreed to select lifelong delegates (sachems), installed by the Clan Mothers, who would adjudicate disputes. Greater peace, and strength, ensued for many generations to follow.

Lost Horizon (A Personal Calling and Realization of True Potential)

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Robert Conway and a small crew of allies (unknowingly hand-picked) are hijacked when a small plane leaving China-controlled Tibet (in the post-WWII era) suspiciously crash lands in the deep snows of the Himalayas.  Porters carrying just the right-sized and number of coats appear and the porters escort Conway’s group through a difficult passage in the Himalayas over several days. Eventually they round a bend and see the spectacular, verdant and temperate valley where the Abbot and staff of the amazing Temple of Shangri-La welcome them.

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Conway comes to understand after meeting with the aged Abbot that he has been called to replace this spiritual giant when he (soon to be) passes. Yet he has to reach a degree of faith in the validity of this calling and of the purpose of Shangri-La itself in both a world-beneficial and personal sense.  He escorts his cynical brother away from the Temple when his brother nearly convinces him Temple staff have been lying, but once his brother dies in an avalanche and the woman who claimed she was not protected from aging at the Valley suddenly ages and dies, Conway develops but one core ambition: to return to Shangri-La even after he returns briefly to the US. Following another arduous adventure and crossing (a Second Threshold), Conway returns to Shangri-La to return to the woman there he had fallen in love with and to assume his unselfish, divinely inspired role.

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Star Wars Episode 5: Return of the Jedi (Spiritual Warrior Training and Transformation of Consciousness)

A name that you all recognize: Yoda.  Luke Skywalker departs (separates) from his compatriot rebels to find this Jedi Master so he can train to become a Jedi Knight, “like his father before him.” Luke’s training has all the character of a Liminal Passage. He feels frustrated and powerless at first, doubting his own abilities and doubting the veracity of Yoda’s capabilities as a Teacher. Yoda shows patience with young Luke and reveals his own strengths only as needed, asking the Acolyte to work at self-mastery instead of relying on his master’s techniques. When Yoda sends Luke into the mysterious, swampy domain where he will meet his own negative side in the form of Darth Vader (his Dark Father nature, after all), Luke disregards Master Yoda’s suggestion that he leave his light saber behind. Luke ends up defeating only himself by allowing his fear and anger to lead him to confront the image of Vader therein, a lesson very important for Luke to learn.

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Luke gains Jedi skills from Yoda, yet he has more to learn in the forge of experience as the saga continues. He returns to the fields of battle to save his friends and to serve the Rebellion as best he is able.

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To conclude this reflection on Liminal Passages, consider their role in your personal Life Story.  The more deeply the Liminal Zone is entered into and absorbed, the greater the transformation of consciousness that may occur and with that, the greater the benefits may radiate out from the Hero(ine) to the Whole and its values they are pledged to defend and uphold. The Hero is a Role Model for those s/he serves and  hence can become a guide or Teacher for other Acolytes.

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images are from pixabay.com

And so the Great Cycle continues, life after life, purpose after purpose.  What is YOUR PURPOSE for being Here? What strengths can you develop to be of greatest value to the Whole?

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

 

Liminality: The Betwixt and Between

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Why is it that after a hero has crossed the initial threshold of adventure, there is always a descent to undergo before the adventure can be pursued to the point of true fulfillment? An adventure story worth its salt, so to speak,—fictional or yours—is first and foremost a Rite of Passage.

Anthropologists recognize that a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle adventure occurs over three ritual or Hero Cycle stages. The adventure proceeds from:

(Stage 1)  Separation–whereby the hero(es) remove themselves from their normal state of affairs in order to pursue a personally meaningful and collectively beneficial Quest–; to

 (Stage 2) the Transition Zone–wherein they meet themselves and encounter obstacles in the form of trials and tribulations–; to

(Stage 3, when or if the Quest is successfully fulfilled), their Return and Reincorporation–whereby the more mature and better individuated Self benefits others as well as themselves from their positive transformation of values and the maturity they have brought back from their ritual passage.

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The Transition Zone (Stage Two of a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle odyssey) is where a Descent—sometimes metaphorically depicted as being swallowed up or in the Belly of the Whale—must occur in order for the Quester(s) to develop and strengthen their depth of character quite literally, as in what Jung would call a more integrated and thereby a better balanced unconscious-with-conscious Self. 

In the Transition Zone of a Rites of Passage cycle, the Quester encounters liminality: the experience of feeling as if they are “betwixt and between” normal spheres of reality or society.  As both Victor Turner and Anthony Wallace have described rites of passage, this sense of liminality—whether for an individual or sometimes for an entire society when a revitalization movement occurs—places the person (or social group) in an experience of marginality. They are no longer in the status or role they had before embarking on their adventure, yet they have not yet accomplished or fulfilled their quest whereby they could claim a new, greater role or their successful social-psychological adjustment. I love Anthony Wallace’s description of this (when successfully achieved) process as a Mazeway Resynthesis: a psychological/cognitive reorganization of values and behavior according to an adjustive, fulfilling new Vision of (individual and/or cultural) reality as a whole!

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images are from pixabay.com

Here are just a few examples of popular literary/ fictional stories that include prominent LIMINAL ZONE sub-plots or scenes:

Harry Potter: especially in his feelings of isolation from even his closest allies and in his nightmarish dreams of Voldemort from episodes 4-7;

Lord of the Rings: in Frodo’s passage, with Samway and the devious trickster Gollum as companions in liminality, to Mordor to destroy the One Ring in Return of the King;

The Wizard of Oz: e.g. in the Forbidden Forest, the Poppy Fields, and the Wicked Witch’s castle; and

The Bucket List: in the main characters’ unsuccessful outer quest to climb Mt. Everest,  during which they come to realize the true value of love and family.

What about you in your own unique LIFE STORY? Can you identify with a time in your life when you have experienced (or have yet to) LIMINALITY?  I invite you to journal about this experience or prospect. What did or have you to GAIN?

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

 

Descent–Into the Belly of the Whale

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For this month of May let’s explore here the stage of the Hero’s Adventure which requires Descent and Re-emergence.  Once an adventurer set upon their glorious Quest crosses the (first) threshold to enter into the domain of their field of action to achieve fulfillment, they are often initially “swallowed up” or they descend into a “forbidden (verboten) zone” of a sort that accords with their needs.  Descent signifies allowing oneself to explore the fertile realms of archetypal unconscious potential. Descent is a necessary process to undertake before you can claim any true progress in attaining your most worthy purpose or goal.

Many an epic narrative illuminates the rich though challenging encounter with ‘denizens of the Deep’, such as is represented by the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. This is a descent into the “dynamism of the Unconscious” according to archetypal psychologists including Carl Jung, James Hillman and Joseph Campbell.

Your unconscious psychological Innerscapes that you may feel are “below” or ‘beneath’ your surface level of conscious awareness are vital like rich loam, oozing with multiple, too often “buried” perceptions, feelings and insights.

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Halloween, for example, is a time of year set aside to release and engage with such a ‘dark,’ shadowy level of consciousness that may actually represent your own unconscious, ‘inner’ worlds. Who do you like to dress up as on Halloween? What might that say about your own archetypal ‘shadow’ selves?

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This month I invite you to “step down,” to accept and listen more closely to your own subconscious and deeper unconscious–often called “gut”–voices. They are YOU; facets of your own total consciousness that derive in part from the various roles and lived experiences you have accumulated and enacted in your life, including those usually more ‘hidden’ parts of Self that might feel stunted, silenced or in “Shadow”.

Sink Into Deep Waters: A Creative Visualization Activity

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As a self-discovery, active imagination technique that you can use to facilitate the psychologically energizing experience of Descent, I invite you to imagine sinking deeply into a body of water. Remember the scene from The Graduate when Ben Braddock (the title character played by Dustin Hoffman) is overwhelmed by his conflicting feelings and relationships, so he dives into a backyard pool and lets himself sink to the bottom? He stays there as long as he can in this depth domain, performing a sort of soul searching.

Try this in a bathtub.  You can fill your tub with bath bubbles (if you wish), with time apart from family or others, and sink back (not really putting your head under the water for so long!).  Imagine sinking to the bottom of a pool or of a lake or even of an Ocean. You can breathe, though; do make sure you give yourself this ability.

Now explore: what is ‘on your mind’ or heart?  What deep questions or decisions are you contemplating, do you need answers about from your own inner parts of Self or inner guidance?

I just did this exercise myself about an hour ago and loved it. When I asked my Self what I needed to better understand I found it is my fear of being alone in my retirement.  My dog Sophie was at the bathroom door and I knew she and my cats will be with me, but I do have a fear of leaving all my friends and outer spiritual community behind me in Colorado when I move in just over a year across country.

So I stayed in the tub, continuing to imagine being underwater like Ben in The Graduate. (Actually this turns out for me to be a very apt fictional analog, as I conceptualize retirement as a graduation from Academia as a professor.) I found my inner selves piping up about the various aspects of Self I could connect with in seeking new friends at my new location. I can connect with writers, and readers, and retired teachers; with pet lovers, Scrabble or other game players, hikers, neighbors and of course my family will mostly be closer, plus a highschool friend still there. Even further, the thought arose that through today’s social media, I don’t have to wait until I make this Big Move before connecting to seek out some like minded others.  I can find online networks and begin connecting even before I leave. I have a full year left to do so before I leave. This last awareness felt very liberating to me; an idea I had not focussed on very ‘deeply’ before now!

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pictures are from pixabay.com

And so, dear fellows, Go For It! I invite you to try this creative visualization technique, either in the tub or in any environment that allows you to engage in an active contemplation session.

I invite and welcome your comments and story!

Contemplative Hopping (Internal Threshold Crossing)

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Story 1:  Yogic Flying

Sometime in the late 1970’s, a group of Transcendental Meditation practitioners first stunned the world with their release of video (before the Web even!) demonstrating “yogic flying” or “hopping” while in a deep meditation state of consciousness. They would levitate and shift position on their mats apparently as an exercise of Mind over Body.

Yogic Fliers reveal that we are capable of controlling the body directly through thought or Mind. What else can we take away from their example?

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Story 2:  Conscious vs. “Unconscious” States of Consciousness

For a graduate school assignment in linguistic semantics one week, our professor asked us to compose better semantic accounts than standard dictionary references for a related set of terms.  I chose CONSCIOUS and UNCONSCIOUS and compiled a wide range of definitions in order to sort these out and arrive at a holistic semantic analysis. What I discovered was that any state of consciousness that is not “conscious” or a “waking state” perception or experience people tend to lump together under the very large umbrella of “unconscious” in American English parlance.

Included under the far-reaching semantic domain of “unconscious”: unconscious, subconscious, dream state, daydreams, ‘other side’, Mind, (unconscious) thought, brain synapses, Self, soul, precognition, memory, lack of awareness. What I noticed about this wide range of concepts is that, simply put, Americans comprehend on the whole very little about anything they cannot directly See, Hear, Taste, Smell or Touch. All the rest, which in my view is the whole-enchilada iceberg under that tiny tip of “conscious” sense awareness, is lumped together as “unconscious.”

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As one who has engaged in daily, active contemplation and dreamwork for at least 44 years, I have discovered that the “Inner” is much more vast and is much more open to exploration and freedom of experience than the “Outer” realm of matter and conscious awareness.  There are many (perhaps infinite) levels of consciousness beyond the outer physical senses and body, and you are free to explore this diverse multiplicity of states and levels of consciousness through various modes of meditation, contemplation, active imagination, dreamwork, prayer, paranormal investigation and/or mindfulness techniques.

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That which is BEYOND the physical body states is neither defined by the mind nor contained or controlled by the Brain.

Implications for Contemplative Hopping—Internal Threshold Crossing

Using Jung’s approach of active imagination, a mode of contemplative envisioning and inner action, I encourage you to try your beyond-the-physical wings!  You do have them, at least figuratively speaking.  Dreams of flying (with or without wings as they are usually not needed!) are a very common early mode of inner travel or shifting of attention inwardly.  Explore an inner landscape, for instance, of an outer place you will soon be visiting “out here.”  Or actively contemplate the results or consequences of some anticipated move or action by yourself or others.

When I  was to make a big move from Buffalo (East) to Arizona (‘Out West”)  some 38 years ago, every night I asked to be shown something about the life I was about to embark upon plus I asked questions to trouble shoot this grand adventure. I was shown four people I would later meet (independently of one another) along with some glimpse of their role in my upcoming life.  I was also shown that  the experience would not be without its hardships but they would be necessary (karmic, let’s say), and when I later experienced what was foretold in these dreams very directly, I had been forewarned so was better prepared to meet the challenges.

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images are from pixabay.com

Let’s call your active inner explorations (past, present or future) to be forms of inner Threshold Crossing. I like to say, you don’t have to die or nearly die in order to explore the Heavens as well as really anything/ any state your Heart desires. Sages like the poet Rumi, actually, encourage us to “die daily.” This means you have the spiritual freedom to explore and investigate beyond the limited reaches of brain-mind or body.

See? I welcome your comments and stories!

Draw a Cornmeal Line (Don’t Look Back!)

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Pueblo Native American cultures (e.g. Hopi, San Juan and Zuni) of New Mexico and Arizona have strong traditions for ‘drawing a line’ between that which has ended and that which continues forward. This takes several forms in ceremonial use and is very evident when a person has died, transcending this surface plane to move on to higher worlds spiritually. Because the emotional bond is so strong among family and loved ones, at a ceremony a cornmeal line is scattered on the earth to signify that the departed shall go on spiritually while the bereaved must allow that spirit to go on and let them go. Otherwise the deceased Soul might want to linger and visit their loved ones psychically and the bereaved might be tempted to follow their loved one to the other side.

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To cross a threshold from one domain of life experience to a new Life Chapter full of ripe opportunities, it is important to draw that line, to make a clean departure or separation; to not look back once you have committed to your new direction forward.

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For example as I prepare to retire in just over a year now, to launch a second career around writing and services related to Life Path mapping (see sidebar), it is hard not to let doubts belay my forward progress. Shall I really retire to a lakeside community where just this past month I was beset by a throng of pest invaders? Maybe I should just sell the house but relocate in my present Colorado town: easier, safer?

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But, no! Life carries us forward and we must discern Its directions and accept and walk upon the path that opens up before us based on our own life purpose and mission. I must trust in Spirit, relying upon all the insights gained along the way.

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So yesterday I did an Alternate Futurescapes journaling myself (see previous post). I still envision myself (in most of the alt-scenarios, not all) moving to the lakeside community, but now it is to a recently built or well-maintained, very pest resistant sort of home, maybe a condominium or town home with homeowners fees that tend to pests regularly, or I could buy land and place a modular or a cabin on that. Anyway, my experience was a wake-up call for self (and pet) protection and vigilance, but it was not a barrier to stepping forth, come what may, to Live My Dream.

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images are from pixabay.com

So, draw a cornmeal line. Say your goodbyes, allow the past to pass while you turn your shoulders, brace against any inclement symbolic winds, and step cleanly and fully forward into your next step, the next Life Chapter of your mythically charged Life Story.

I welcome your comments and stories!

Making a True Departure / Shifting to Here-Now

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I recognize a distinction between the Present as a current moment in time-space and the Here-Now as a spiritual focus. The NOW experienced in contemplative spiritual practice is a liberating orientation while the notion of Present from a time-space frame of reference is artificial and can be self-limiting. It is a matter of perspective or more accurately it depends upon where you place your attention. If we accept, as I do, that time is an illusion or an artifice of context, then as we shift our focus of attention such as to look ahead with creative visualization or to re-envision a former state of being by reactivating a stored memory, we can focus our consciousness in such a manner as to alter our Present reality. From this angle, the Past is NOW, the Present is NOW, and the Future is also available NOW.

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When I was first in college in Buffalo, New York, I had a friend Ann who was an artist specializing in sculpture. Ann created this amazing piece of conceptual art which was comprised of a five foot tall vertical array of multicolored fabric cords with simply a one foot tall plexiglass tube around them. The art was interactive so it invited you to change the position of the tube up or down along the colored cords, slightly compressing the bundle of colors as you would shift the transparent tube. To me this has always been an excellent metaphor for the practice of contemplation or active imagination. We simply shift our consciousness from Here-Now to another Here-Now to OBSERVE; we focus our locus of attention as we choose. We thus can place and activate our consciousness in any dimension of Nowness at will.

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pictures are frompixabay.com

Locked within a Time orientation, the Present is a bubble from which we never seem able to escape. The freedom to Act is in the Now. To bring about a true change of life conditions as in realizing a desired future that is a true departure from present conditions requires only a subtle shifting of your attention to a Now of your imagining.

See?

I welcome your comments and viewpoint.

Beware the Naysayers

My cross country trip is still ongoing, and in fact after booking for home to deliver my dog safely and visit a doctor, I am actually on a flight this morning right back to New York State. My entire family is gathering to celebrate an early 90th birthday for my mother, Elizabeth (Betty), and I do not want to miss this big event.I am still not 100 percent recovered from the ordeals of this trip, but I am going anyway.

I do hope I have met the tests and challenges of the threshold Guardians well enough to find resolution and restore my body’s health fully soon. I am still taking every necessary precaution and hoping the harsh lotions do their healing work and ebb in their harshness soon. I have a threshold to Cross this next month and need the fortitude and enthusiasm to accomplish that.

To wind up this month’s discussion of the phase of a hero cycle involving the encounter with threshold guardians, allow me to mention two common varieties: Naysayers and Gatekeepers. You might encounter either or both along your Journey’s Quest.

When I was in grad school, and since then as a professor, I became aware of an almost guaranteed stage a student will experience in the course of pursuing their academic—and personal life—dreams. Invariably as they approach their threshold of commencing on a major task or study (E.g a dissertation or thesis venture) there will be someone who challenges their goal.

“Are you really going to try to do your study at Zuni Pueblo?” These Naysayers would ask. “They don’t like White people. They will never talk with you!”

Or, “Your idea is too big / too small… it will take too long… maybe you should try something easier, or different.”

But you know what I observed? Those enterprising students who refused to be deterred by their appointed Naysayers were those who succeeded to graduate in the field of their choice. Those who could be swayed very often did not finish with the program or degree they were seeking to obtain.

And then there are the Gatekeepers. You know of these and perhaps you are yourself in a role that serves as a gatekeeper for others, too. The gatekeeper minds the entranceway to a role or status opportunity. S/he sets or upholds the standards of admission. I remember when my best high school friend, Barb, came from a guidance counselor visit having been told, “You are not college material.” Yet Barbara was the school’s most talented artist. She went on to become a sought after wax figure sculptor who has peopled whole museums as well as a line of period wax dolls. Once later she took a college class just to investigate that direction. She excelled but was bored by the academic approach. She could have accomplished much in that direction had she chosen to, but then again perhaps Spirit had other plans which the Gatekeeper unwittingly opened.
If you are in a position to be a Gatekeeper fir others this is a sacred responsibility. Say YES as often as you can. Encourage the Aspirant to engage in meaningful self reflection rather than imposing what might be your own feelings of self limitation upon them.

The approach of Life Path Mapping which I will be providing with my upcoming book, YOUR LIFE PATH, is all about encouraging you to review, reflect, and then steer or if necessary redirect your life course so that you will absolutely Live Your Dream, Now! This month I intend to deliver the manuscript to the publisher; that is the Threshold I aim to cross during this next phase of my own Hero Cycle Quest!

Guard Your Own Threshold (My Creepy Crawly Road Trip, Part 3)

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For those of you who have been reading the blog this month, I am still on my road trip with my dog Sophie, and hopefully I am on track for overcoming the creepy crawly scourge we have encountered since day one, Feb 25, of bed bugs, hair and body lice, and tiny brown mites… oh yeah, and possibly dog mites too. My body as well as Sophie’s show the scars of the engagement. I am using lotions, meds and showers to try to regain a  balance, and today (yay) I am taking Sophie to a vet who will know what to do. (Previous vets have not found the root of the problem since her mites are burrowed, not actively moving about.)

The hopeful turning point phase began about six nights ago when I started taping rolls of sticky lint paper at the bottom of the bathroom door to sleep protected in there, keeping the mites in the bedroom. Then I realized turnabout is fair play, as I have now become the threshold guardian of my own and my dog companion Sophie’s bodies/ skins. Four nights ago while waiting for an Orkin treatment to be fully effective, I went out to Walmart, bought two tarps and a mummy sleeping bag and I  slept one night at least on the bed again, free of the tiny brown ones.

Yet even the next night a new patrol of tiny white specks  cropped up from apparently the fibers of the freshly laundered sleeping bag, nipping where they appeared. I almost succumbed to total surrender at this latest foray, but I got up, took a shower and used that magical wand of a lint roller to start picking these critters up as they surfaced. I continue that vigilance since moving to a hotel.

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Guarding your own threshold means stand up for yourself against all would be attackers who seek to feed off of your own good nature and integrity. You have a right to the sanctity of your own personhood and space. “One’s freedom ends where another’s begins” is a spiritual principle as stated by Harold Klemp, the spiritual leader of Eckankar. I get it now; that works in both directions.

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images are from pixabay.com

On a happier note, I had two wonderful days meeting with the team of publicists from Scribes Unlimited, Paula and Paul, this past two days, as we are preparing to  launch and make available to the general public my book, Your Life Path, with its related life mapping services. Pretty soon you will be able to link from this blog to an interactive site about Life Path Mapping, podcasts and all!

I welcome all of  your comments, help…,and stories.

Threshold Guardians

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After Heeding the Call and setting forth with your well-considered Departure, you are set to approach the first Threshold so you can Cross the Threshold into the full engagement with your Adventure to achieve your Quest. But wait! It is not quite so easy as that.  Approaching the Threshold of a deeply  significant transition or a personally meaningful adventure invokes Threshold Guardians!  Only if you can pass by these daunting agencies or meet challenges designed to strengthen your weaknesses will you in fact step across that Threshold better equipped to meet your challenges successfully and realize your dreams.

Threshold Guardians are common archetypal character forms found in many a mythic tale.  The Never-Ending Story represents them as monolithic, winged Gargoyle figures guarding the entryway to  Bastian‘s destination. He must pass their enigmatic questioning in order to rescue his Princess and prevent the Nothing from spreading to annihilate all of his mythical world.  Scylla and Charybdis are rocky shoals that block Odysseus’s path to complete his Quest and return to home to Ithaka in Homer’s Ulysses. Dorothy faces winged monkeys sent by the Wicked Witch to deter her progress.  So then, what are some of your own Threshold Guardians and how have they served you or how can they aid you in completing your own mythic Quest?

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Boundary Gremlins

In Your Life Path (see sidebar), I will share a story about a significant dream from a few years ago in which I visited a ‘high altitude’  region inhabited by beautiful winged horses which I felt served God-realized Masters in the far reaches of the Heavens. As I approached the boundary of their realm, excited to witness this, suddenly Gremlins appeared! Honestly I had never even known what gremlins might look like until after I woke from this dream, but there they were: little, broad faced imps with huge ears. They popped up along the boundary to prevent me from stepping into this rarifed realm of the Horses of Heaven.

Recognizing that these Gremlins were doing their own valuable work in this realm I had stumbled upon in my dreaming, I stepped back and knelt down at a respectful distance from the boundary. I felt grateful to have witnessed this realm at all and content to just be there for a moment. The Gremlins were not apparent then but I knew they would pop up again if I were to try to advance.

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images are from pixabay.com

Behind me in this heightened inner realm, two winged Pegasus horses arrived, returning from their heavenly missives. One, white-pink-bluish, knelt gracefully onto her front legs beside me. I knew this was her invitation, and so I climbed up onto her bare back and held lightly onto a shock of her white mane as she stepped across the Threshold of the boundary into her domain.

I woke immediately, humbled and deeply impressed by this encounter with the Horses of Heaven! I realized the Gremlins were Threshold Guardians.  I needed great purity of heart, deep humility in order to venture into this sacred realm.

What or Who Are Your Threshold Guardians?

Your Threshold Guardians will be appropriate to the Quest and to the Threshold you aim to cross so you can achieve your own heroic purpose. I invite you to share YOUR story of Threshold Guardians. What qualities do they help you better master in order to advance to realize your Purpose?

Refusing the Call? A James Joyce Cautionary Tale

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The opening story in James Joyce’s short story anthology Dubliners is a tale not actually about Departure–though it appears to be on the surface–but rather it is about a Refusal of the Call to Depart on a potentially liberating heroic adventure. The protagonist, Eveline, lives with her widowed father and brothers in Dublin. She tends to their needs as a housewife ‘should,’ standing in for her departed mother.  She meets a sailor, Frank, who would whisk her away to Buenos Aires (“Good Air”); far away from  family, from her nation of Ireland, from her Church community. Throughout the story Eveline muses about Frank’s offer to leave, but as the ten page story unfolds we realize that Eveline cannot possibly leave. Joyce describes Eveline at the end point, refusing to step forward as her lover holds their tickets at the boat, “passive, like a helpless animal.”

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The opening lines of Eveline set up the pathos:

“She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.”

Joyce portrays Eveline as trapped. She is trapped in her role as daughter and homekeeper for her family. She is trapped in her Irish identity (how could she run away to Buenos Aires, such an exotic, foreign place?) She is trapped in her identity as a good Irish Catholic woman who must sacrifice her personal passions or dreams to serve her family.

Joyce’s brilliant final passages say it all:

“She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save her.

She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something about the passage over and over again. The station was full of soldiers with brown baggages. Through the wide doors of the sheds she caught a glimpse of the black mass of the boat, lying in beside the quay wall, with illumined portholes. She answered nothing. She felt her cheek pale and cold and, out of a maze of distress, she prayed to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty. The boat blew a long mournful whistle into the mist. If she went, tomorrow she would be on the sea with Frank, steaming towards Buenos Ayres. Their passage had been booked. Could she still draw back after all he had done for her? Her distress awoke a nausea in her body and she kept moving her lips in silent fervent prayer.

A bell clanged upon her heart. She felt him seize her hand:

“Come!”

All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.

“Come!”

No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish.

“Eveline! Evvy!”

He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was shouted at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.”

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“Eveline” depicts a Refusal of the Call to Depart upon a Hero’s Adventure. But the story does not have to end with Eveline’s surrender to her essentially paralyzed life condition. I propose  below a “Better Ending” version of Eveline. 

My re-vision of “Eveline” transpires in contemporary Ireland, where 62% of the population is urbanized and globalization offers many options to the youth for emigration and jobs.

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“Eveline” Revisited

(by Linda Watts)

Eve stood at the railing of the Odyssey’s prow; straining to find Frank in the harbor crowd as the boat’s powerful engines pulled it away from the shore. Why had he not come? She felt deeply into the pocket of her windbreaker, palming the passage stub, a misty rain in the morning air obscuring her view of all that she was leaving: her father, the rocky countryside, even the steeple of the church she had attended since baptism. Her woven wallet was secure in her pocket, with all the money she had saved from weekly allowances over the last thirteen years. She covered her head with the windbreaker’s hood and tied it so only her eyes were exposed. She turned away from the rail and climbed down from the bow into the passenger deck. Ten or twelve tourists peered out the windows, happy enough to be safe and dry. Eveline, drenched from her watch above, gazed out an open window from her wooden pew seat. East was her direction now. Her very life was about to begin.

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images are from pixabay.com

 

Departure: A Double Entendre in Current America

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This month I am sharing about the phase of the Hero’s Adventure known as the Departure. It is a response to the Call to Adventure and must be undertaken mindfully, with good intention in order to bypass Threshold Guardians and Cross the Threshold of Adventure as you embark upon your Quest that only you can fully accomplish!

But as I attend to the news in this unsettling era of American conservatism in the White House, I recognize that “departure” is a word with a double meaning. The first meaning is as described in the above paragraph. The second is darker, more foreboding. A Departure can also be a turning AWAY from everything one has valued or known to be true for themselves. Where this new administration is going–or trying rather forcefully to take us to–is an extreme departure from much of what I value dearly and hold to be true based on the evidence of science and the witness of my heart.

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Climate change; Native American sovereignty rights over reservation and cultural resources; immigration and an open heart for refugees fleeing violence, poverty or corruption; racial and religious equality and freedom of choice including a woman’s choice over her own reproductive rights: suddenly all of these appear imperiled.

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The first sort of departure, acting on the intention to embark upon an Adventure in pursuit of one’s Dream, is positive and it can bear much bounty of a profound, heroic nature for all concerned. The second, a reversal of value-orientations developed over decades or even centuries in our democratic nation, feels ‘negative’ and disheartening to me. I feel disempowered by this second-order form of departure from the course the vast majority of people in my entire country have been pursuing toward achieving our collective American Dream.

So, the first departure, you must hold to, even in times of radical change and upheaval. Never turn back from your Dream!

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As to the second, darker seeming reversal (or any such external sort of reversal of charge threatening to obtrude within your world), do what you can, of course. Step forth, speak out as that becomes available for you, march, sign petitions as an active citizen who does have rights of free expression and whose values DO MATTER!

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Perhaps the collective good will ultimately triumph over the narrow nationalism and bigotry we see paraded about before us daily. The political comedians and newscasters are doing their best to stem the tide. Activism IS bearing fruit and will continue to do so. If that is the departure you are now being called to or in addition to the positive path you are set upon, all the best to you.

But my core message here for you is to not let the Threshold Guardians–any would-be naysayers or fatalistic pessimism itself–deter you from heading out on or continuing forth with YOUR Adventure.  Joseph Campbell would remind us that every successful Hero’s Adventure, both in the pursuing and in the realization of one’s Quest, one’s Dream, profoundly benefits not just the individual but the Universe as a Whole.

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images are from pixabay.com

We need to support one another in our joyful pursuit of our Dreams, perhaps Now more than ever.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Burst your Bubble!  (Are you living in a bubble of the Present?)

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Time is a funny concept; after all, that is what it is.  Quantum physicists such as Brian Greene have declared time to be a grand illusion.  As a cultural anthropologist familiar with ‘Indian Time’ from living and working in Native communities I know this to be true.  The Hopi concept of “manifesting” from a subjective, non-physical realm of thought—of bringing into manifestation that which is positive, as Benjamin Whorf aimed to describe in the 1940’s—is quite different from the English language coded notion of time as a linear progression of objectified “minutes” or other imaginary time frames  ‘getting later.’

Living in the Present conceived of as a distinct moment of a linear flow of Time keeps you in a bubble.  The Past is always experienced as prior to this moment of active awareness, the Future is ever elusive,  ahead of where you are; both Past and Future are but illusions then, from your sense-based bubble location in Time.

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Being in the Now, having your mindful awareness wheresoever you choose to place your focus, embraces experience as an undifferentiated flow of consciousness. Your clear memory is Now; your current sense-perceptions are Now; that which is latent or potentially yet to be and can be realized from Here is also Now; see?

Lodged within the temporal-bubble concept of Time, you may believe you are where you are at today because of decisions and actions from your past and that future conditions are determined by your past and current choices.  From your viewpoint within this Bubble of the Present, your current life conditions may feel inevitable; so it can seem very difficult to change momentum in a major way to pursue goals that feel ever elusive.

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Shifting your perspective to that of Being in the NOW can help you Burst the Bubble of your current life predicament.  You can creatively envision any NOW you choose to imagine, and in so doing you can perceive and construct a pathway to manifest that Now of your imagining.

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images are from pixabay.com

Imagine your Life Dream fulfilled. Where are you Now (in this desirable future scenario)? Where are you living, how did you get Here? What habits can you change and what choices can you make today and in the near foreseeable future that will alter the course of your Life Path to realize your deepest ambitions? 

Choose one of these activities or new behaviors to implement, Now!

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

Say Yes!

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Lawrence: Say yes!

Linda: Yes. What did I just agree to?

Lawrence: Fencing! There’s a ten week class starting at

the Community Arts Center this Thursday.

So, at 17, began my adventure of becoming a Fencer and of meeting a dynamic, unusually talented person who would become a close mentor and a friend for life, the fencing teacher who taught and opened my eyes and heart to allowing adventure, spirituality and love of Life into my world. Until that opening conversation with Lawrence, my life was sheltered and small.

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images are from pixabay.com

This was my Call to Adventure. It opened opportunities and exposed me to ideas and adventures that have shaped my life’s journey ever since.

 

Say Yes! to YOUR adventure, whatever it may be.

 

“Yes I said Yes I said YES!”

(Molly Bloom, from James Joyce’s Ulyssses)