The Hero Cycle as Rites of Passage

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The Return is a significant stage of achievement in a Hero Cycle adventure, marking the hero as ‘bringing home’ the strengths and wisdom s/he has attained through facing life’s arduous challenges and fulfilling their Quest. As the Hero returns, s/he benefits all Life and the family and community s/he serves more selflessly after having individuated as a mature, dynamic Self.

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But there is more to the story. Keep in mind that the Hero Cycle represents the mythic structure of a Rites of Passage ordeal which the individual (or group) undergoes to bring about a transformation of his/her/their Identity or to rebalance a situation tending toward decline. The three phases of a complete Rites of Passage cycle include rites of Separation, Transition, and Reintegration. These three universal phases of Rites of Passage cycles are mirrored in the three primary stages of a Hero Cycle adventure: Departure, Fulfillment, and Return.

The Return phase of a Hero’s Adventure involves a Reintegration back into the web of relations, roles, and aspirations of the hero’s Home Base; yet the hero returns to bring bounty to the Whole from having achieved individuation as a powerful, more loving and self-actualizing Self.

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images are from pixabay.com

Reintegration means rejoining a community you had departed from in order to gain maturity and to refine your talents. You rejoin this community with a higher order of Identity, from which you can better serve the growth potentials of the Whole.

Thus when Dorothy returns to Oz as a Self-integrated, mature Person, somehow we know that Toto is going to be okay. Dorothy brings back with her the integrated strengths of Courage, Heart, and Wisdom that she had lacked, and in this more aware, empowered Self she expresses the ultimate realization:

“There’s No Place Like Home!”

The Sea Turtle: Coming Full Circle

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The other day en route to work I listened to an NPR interview with a Chinese man about his experience as a “Sea Turtle.”  In China this metaphor refers to someone who leaves their country and family to travel overseas and then eventually returns. Compatriots who never left will test the returned ‘sea turtle’ to see how s/he has been changed by their exposure to foreign ways ‘across the waters’.  Will they still be loyal and faithful to their own kith and kin?

I like this metaphor, which can have other layers as well as the Chinese associations. The initial journey of the infant sea turtle is fraught with danger and hazards, as only one percent of a group of up to 600 or so hatchlings will even survive the crossing of the beach to reach the Ocean. When the mother sea turtle does return to build her nest and deposit her eggs, it is after from 20-50 years living alone, depending on the species, before reaching sexual maturity and mating.

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The mother sea turtle’s voyage brings her full circle, back to her exact beach of origin. One internet author remarks that the home beach of the sea turtle is “where the magnetic heart is.” Does she return to where she was a rare survivor in evolutionary hopes that her hatchlings might fare as well as she did?

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The Sea Turtle is a  metaphor that applies to my own coming ordeals and adventure as I am set to retire in seven months and I will be returning ‘Back East’ to the conditions I was born to, after nearly forty years ‘Out West.’  I return to bring back lessons and insights from all that I have learned, and will spawn services connected to my book about Life Path Mapping that comes out in March (Your Life Path, see right panel), and to complete additional books in the Life Paths series.

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Are you a SEA TURTLE?  What do you aim to spawn on your Return from your Oceanic journey of experience and maturation? Where is your home beach where you may build your new nest? How can you best provide for your own hatchlings?

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR comments and stories!

Fruition!

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Ideation–Goal-Setting—Planning—Development/Learning—Trials/Practice—Implementation—Fulfillment–Fruition!  Such is the process of Creative Manifestation, and I must admit, I love it. There is no feeling more satisfying to me (right up there with sharing timespace with my pets and family and friends) than arriving at Fruition for some worthwhile, service-oriented project.

I say service, and that is important to me.  It is not only a PRODUCT that is generated through a manifestation process that lights me up, but to be worthwhile there must also be a SERVICE brought to fruition. The product must serve the whole in a positive, growth-enhancing manner; that lights my fire!

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My father (bless his Soul, I dreamed of him this morning) used to tell me: “If you’re going to be a ditch digger, then be the best darned ditch digger you can be!” Dad worked his way through college at Ohio State University just after serving as a bomber pilot in the Pacific in WWII by digging ditches for a telephone cable service.

I recall myself similarly working for college tuition over two summers as the sole farmhand for a farmer’s peach orchard and grape vineyards in New York state. Coming home at the end of a grueling, hot day in the orchard or dragging the vineyards on a tractor brought the same feeling of Fruition that I later associate with planning and implementing a seminar or public outreach service for my spiritual organization, and seeing my book, Your Life Path –with deep thanks to my agent, editor and publicist team!!–, going to production this week!

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

I will be graduating (er, retiring) from full-time academic service as a professor this summer after teaching for nearly forty years altogether, and that will of course bring a major project to fruition.  I have accomplished what I set out to do over the past 25 years at my present post in many respects, and I will go forth still teaching but focusing full-time on writing and related services for a wider field of sharing. I intend for my final blog when I leave this post in Academe this June to be titled:

Mischief Managed!

What brings YOU to a feeling of Fruition or of successful Completion? What service project are you working on Now that will light YOU up again for the good of the Whole?

To me, this image of LIGHTING YOUR FIRE through bringing a worthy project to Fruition is apt: for Fruition lets us tap into that Holy Fire which empowers us to light the world through our service.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Better Ending Tales of Return

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Here’s a fun practice for this month’s theme of The Return (the eleventh stage of the Hero Cycle as we are framing it this year on the blog site):

Think of a film (or a novel, or myth) begging for a sequel that has not yet been produced. Write a synopsis of the sequel as you would wish it to be!

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One Better Endings movie-sequel tale I have in mind (which will appear in my book to follow Your Life Path, to be called Better Endings), is a sequel for the film Close Encounters.  I call the sequel “Mr. Neary Returns.”  What has Roy learned while away as an earthly ambassador with the alien race that whisked him off into the cosmos at the end of the first film? And what has happened to the earth Roy knew when he departed?

Roy returns, having hardly aged at all, to an earth in great peril of global nuclear annihilation.  He brings a wisdom based on a history of interplanetary species that have survived this great test, while most have failed.  He becomes a global ambassador for open dialogue and forgiveness, recommending a global federation that empowers cultural pluralism for the good of the whole.

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

Now, writing Better Endings stories is part of a larger opportunity for “revisionist” envisioning generally.  The same “better ending” principle you can use to rewrite fiction or history you can also apply to reflecting on episodes or themes from your own life! (That will be the basis of the book to come…)

For now then, write a Better Endings movie or novel sequel. Try it! Let me know if you would like to share your story!

There’s No Place Like Home!

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The completion of a Hero Cycle adventure brings the traveler Home. The hero returns to their point of origin yet it is not the same place, because the hero is a changed person from before their adventure began.  S/he has come into her own strengths and gained maturity from having overcome the obstacles and ordeals inherent in the adventure of living. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With 1000 Faces aptly notes that what the hero returns with are strengths not only for that individual but as well for the good of the whole.

“The presence of a vital person vitalizes,” says Campbell in his film documentary with Bill Moyers called “The Hero’s Adventure.”  This is the whole point on one level of the Hero Cycle: persons depart from their too comfortable environments to challenge themselves, to strengthen their whole assemblage of archetypal sub-selves; in Jung’s terms to “individuate” by integrating and developing the full range of their individually focused human capacities.

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The Prodigal Son is a big picture or covering myth that expresses a fundamental unity of most religions: Soul departs from Its divine origin to experience life in the worlds of duality, so It can eventually face the weaknesses of the human consciousness. From encountering ordeals and learning the value of divine love, eventually Soul surrenders human passions of the ego and recovers awareness of Its Divine nature; then It can return to the Godhead to assume a greater responsibility to Life Itself with a fully spiritualized consciousness. In a way, all of human experience can be thought of as subsumed under this greater mythic motif that permeates our lives, at least from a spiritual perspective. (BTW by mythic I do not mean a false narrative but rather a vital tale of profound scope and consequence!)

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One of my favorite movies with a slight comic twist of the Prodigal Son/ Daughter theme is Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.  Daniel and Julia, two recently deceased individuals, find themselves–and meet each other– in the afterworld purgatory city called Judgment City, amid a thriving throng of others recently deceased.  They are assigned attorney angels to represent them at a trial before a panel of judges, whose verdict will determine whether the defendant Soul will need yet to reincarnate or they can “go on” to higher planes.

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Daniel and Julia fall in love. Julia (Meryl Streep) is a shoe-in for transcending to higher planes as she is a bright, heroic sort already. Her trial lawyer shows images of her having soared through her previous life: rushing into a burning house to bring out children, then going back in to bring out a cat! Daniel, on the other hand, has a more challenging trial. His lawyer–played by Rip Torn as a rather querulous defense attorney—shows images from Daniel’s his former life that reveal how he often came up short when it came to taking risks; so it becomes very likely Daniel will need to return to earth to finesse his character a bit more. I won’t give away the ending, but you might imagine what Daniel could do to in order move on with Julia.

Defending Your Life conveys important messages about the Hero Cycle and particularly regarding the Return. WHY ARE YOU HERE? What sorts of challenging experiences recur again and again in your life as if to teach you well? What are you here to learn as your most vital life lessons?

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images are from pixabay.com

Have you learned your specific lesson(s) well enough yet? How might you take your lesson one step further? Another way of asking this is:

WHAT ARE YOU HERE TO GIVE?

What could bring YOU Home from your ordeals, for the good of the Whole?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Happily Ever After

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Certainly one of the greatest elixirs is Happiness. After attaining our worthy goal, we achieve a degree of happiness which we can carry forward with us into the next ordeal and adventure. Probably most people would claim greater happiness—for themselves and for others—as a measure of success, whatever their endeavor.

What makes you happy in the deepest sense? I mean, not only in the moment but long-term? A child (or a pet’s) smiling face (or their playfully wagging tail or purr), a beautiful mountainscape or an Oceanside sunset: these bring a valuable though transitory happiness. They warm the heart and bring a smile. They reveal, I would say, a deeper state of intrinsic happiness. They reveal a harmony of Nature, an innocence of Spirit; breaths of fresh air, a tonic to the Soul!

Still, how can you expand your condition of happiness beyond the fleeting moment?

So I ask again, what could make you Happy in the grandest sense? Is it your job? (Stay then! Take it as far as you can!) Or your relationship(s)? Then Bravo/a to you! Or maybe it is your chosen environment, where you experience At Oneness with the All One? (More cosmic, loving power to you!!!)

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For many people, enduring happiness is yet an elusive goal. Achieving their ultimate happiness shall be a result of fulfilling their most ardent endeavors (or, it may be found in the very practice of those endeavors themselves). Many will gain their enduring happiness by serving others and/or producing good works; by fulfilling, that is, their sense of Purpose and their Mission for this life.

So now, what is your Purpose; what can you claim as your Life Mission?

As a personal example, my life mission inflects on several levels. I have a spiritual Mission, which I do not feel the need to share. On a practical level, I have always sought, in one form or another, to serve the Whole…that is, to embrace and express my own inherent wholeness as well as to serve however I can the greater Whole of the community, family, fencing team (e.g.), and the world in which I live. Like many, I have always strived to make a positive contribution—whether through teaching, sharing in general, through responsible service, or through writing/publishing.

“What difference does it make?”

“It doesn’t matter!”

These were my calls in the wilderness to God, my deep laments through at least the first five decades of this life. So then, I would try harder, work more.

Until, gradually, as on cats’ feet, the Process itself—e.g. of communicating, teaching, contemplating, writing, living—has become fruitful in itself, in the moment of Doing, Being, or Knowing.  I find that I am still very goal-oriented, yet now my goal and the process I engage with to fulfill the goal have merged as one focus; see?

With this transformational shift from a ‘product/goal’ to a ‘process’-oriented mindset, now that I check in with my Self, Happiness has set in!

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images are from pixabay.com

This is not to presume that I am always “happy” in the glib/ surface sense. That has never been my goal. Actually I can sometimes let things bother me now just as much if not more than ever before. This comes from my passion for advancing what is in process. Disruptions or interruptions of this forward arching flow can set me back, but only long enough overall now until I can accept and absorb the lesson (for there is always a lesson!), and move on.

What Is Your Life Mission?

My upcoming book that is announced in the right panel of this blog, Your Life Path, is my best contribution so far to serve the Whole. This book provides a complete/ original Life Path Mapping process with its chapter-ending self-discovery Tools. I have developed and practiced this approach over the last fifteen years, through interview research, analysis of results, producing a previous academic book on the subject, and—more importantly—through developing the embedded self-help Toolkit from applying the mapping and reflection process with large classes of students and with many individuals, as a “life path mapping” coaching approach.  It has been helpful for many and even deeply transformative for some.

The Your Life Path Tools can guide you gradually yet gently to review your past, to reconsider your present with regard to how you have reached where you are in life now; then to explore your values, your inner conflicts and challenges (from an archetypal psychological  perspective), and to reveal your deepest, most integrative goals. It leads you to express and embrace your Life Mission; then to claim your Life Dream and plan a fulfilling future course, beginning here and now, to live into the life of your dreams!

I do invite you to check out this book if it may serve you. You could pre-order using the url address in the right panel, either through Amazon (as a book or ebook), Barnes & Noble, or Indies. I will be offering a preview webinar series on Life Path Mapping by December (I will post about that as it becomes available).

And so, wherever your life path leads you to:

Go For It!

A Te Sante!

Be Happy!

Live Your Dream, Now!

I always welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

Create a Totem of Your Goal Achieved

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An elixir is a potion or aid you receive from achieving some degree of fulfillment along the path to attain your highest goal.  The elixir is like an alchemical agent in that it raises your energy levels, your awareness, to a higher plane that you have attained with your accomplishment. So you come away from the ordeal you have successfully met with a greater power of insight or a force of greater love that you can carry forward with you on the next leg of your Journey.

A Totem is an image or object you can literally plant in your ‘growing space’ or carry with you as a reminder of the qualities you have gained and of your higher Goal.  It could be something as simple as a talisman, like a necklace amulet, pin, or charm bracelet representing the qualities or goal you wish to focus upon.  It could also be a collage of images you compose and place in a highly visible personal space to serve as a Vision board. (I do these often and pin them on my office bulletin board).

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Totems are anchors that “ground” your vision and amplify your intentions like a magnifying glass that concentrates the rays of the Sun.

To create a personal Totem of your goal or aspiration, whether that be a concrete objective or a value you wish to strengthen day to day, find or create an object, or create a collage of images that will remind you to center your attention on your ideal.

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With online imagery such as at pixabay.com or with clipart, it is easy to find images to represent your goal or the values you aim to strengthen.  I recommend placing an image or photograph of the goal or value itself, or of yourself having achieved this goal, in the center of the page to form a mandala composition.  You can surround that central image with additional images that represent how you are to attain this level of fulfillment and what will be the outcomes when you do!

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Place your collage or object somewhere that you will see it often. It could be at your office or in your bedroom or kitchen, somewhere you spend a lot of time thinking about your goal and actively pursuing that.  Or you could wear your totem talisman close to your heart or on your person. It could be private, like a special stone that you carry in your pocket, or even a personal mantra or prayer or poem that you repeat inwardly as you move through the day or before sleeping at night.

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Your totem can be any means of focusing your intentions deeply. This plants your intention in the loam of your everyday life, infusing your activities with a greater sense of mission, of value and purpose, and of unconditional love.  For no one but you can fulfill your deepest Soul objectives, which enhance not only your own capacity to live but your determination to serve Life Itself.

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images are from pixabay.com

I value your Comments and stories!

The Elixir of Musical Harmony

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On Fridays I am doing a “negativity fast.”  That means that any critical thought or negative emotion that enters my mind, I wash it away or dissolve it immediately, focusing instead on only neutral or positive thoughts and experiences.  Because I have made a conscious choice to do this fast, it works wonderfully!

The goal of this fast is to help me maintain a greater harmony in life overall. I tend to be fairly overwhelmed at this stage as I am teaching several extra classes to prepare for retirement and relocation, plus I have a book release coming up that I need to shepherd by preparing for a book event tour.  With all that in addition to health matters requiring daily maintenance, I find my nerves are often somewhat frayed. All these changes looming on the horizon are unsettling to my introspective, balance and security seeking Cancerian nature!

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One great elixir that helps me achieve a greater harmony and positive acceptance of what I can do to press forward day by day is music.  Thank heaven for Pandora as a musical companion while working!

Music weaves harmonies that can lift, inspire, soothe and encourage us to face our challenges with grace instead of acrimony.  Such a gift!

My love of musical companionship pervades my life history; does it yours too? My mother would play piano on many an afternoon while her five children did homework or played at home. “Moonlight Sonata” was one of her favorites and so it is one of mine always.  I played violin in several orchestras and took private lessons for many years. My sister Lee and I spent countless evenings during high school years talking and playing cards in her room while listening to Simon & Garfunkle, the Beatles and other popular songsters of the 60’s and 70’s. Lee’s favorites were “MacArthur’s Park” and “Delilah”; some of my favorites then were “Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “King of the Road,” “In My Life” by the Beatles, and “Imagine.” Lee and I both loved, and still do, Ravel’s “Bolero.”

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

A musical Life Map can be revealing of the trends and focus of your life over time.  What are you listening to now compared to during earlier life stages? I listen more now, in my sixties, to melodious Classical music and to Celtic artists, who seem more in touch with harmonies of place and family rather than romance or intrigue.  Yet I still enjoy most of the music I have always enjoyed.  Music weaves the various stages and experiences of life together as a unified whole!

Here for your enjoyment then, a song that bares my Soul, In My Life :

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories. What was/is your favorite music or song, and why?

 

Potent Potions

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Felix Felicis: Liquid Luck!  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter wins this helpful elixir by concocting the most perfect potion in Professor Slughorn’s Potions class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  So, when Harry really needs a boost of fortuitous inner nudging in order to achieve an important aspect of his mission as the Chosen One to save the world from the evil horcruxes of Voldemort, he drinks a vial of this potent potion and knows just what to do to accomplish his purpose.

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So, what is your Felix Felicis? For some of you it may be a Mantra, which focusses your attention on higher awareness.  Or it could be a talisman, like a rabbit’s foot or a very comfortable, old pair of socks. (We may explore both of these topics later this month.)

“Luck”…after all, what is it?  Is it magical, or is it a matter of focusing your attention on a goal and persisting in the direction of that central focus? Can you create your own good fortune by committing wholeheartedly to its worthy cause? I would say the cause does have to be worthy, and then, yes absolutely, the sky’s no limit!

Is Liquid Luck for real then, or does it provide Harry merely a placebo effect, allowing him to draw upon his own deepest wisdom based upon the self-confidence that comes with his belief?  Rowling alludes to that assumption when she portrays Ron Weasley winning a Quidditch contest because he thinks Harry has gifted him his Liquid Luck.

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images are from pixabay.com

Placebo effect or a direct causal agent, it matters not.  Use every possible positive means to achieve your worthy goal!  Now then the only caveat is, choose well that which is truly worthy of your focus.

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

The elixir of Patience

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This month we have been exploring elixirs. Elixirs are qualities of consciousness assumed with the process of unfoldment of one’s deepest potentials for the good of the Whole. One such quality is Patience.

“Patience is a virtue” sums up nicely the alchemical nature of this positive attribute. Combined with other qualities such as persistence and even passion, patience can propel our actions forward to help us manifest our most worthy goals.

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So here are some nuggets about patience I found on the web:

“Being a good teacher takes patience; being a good doctor also takes patience. In fact, if you want to excel in anything, master any skill, patience is an asset.” Eknath Easwaran, Patience: A Little Book of Inner Strength 

“Struggles often serve to release the wisdom, patience, and strength we all possess but too seldom demonstrate.” Jim Stovall, Wisdom for Winners Volume One: A Millionaire Mindset, An Official Official Publication of The Napoleon Hill Foundation 

“But ‘not giving up’ requires a certain level of patience, of hours and hours, and sometimes days or weeks, months or years of trying and perfecting.” V. Noot, Don’t Give Up

“Doing interesting work when nobody notices takes patience and belief.” Brian Knapp, Creative Pursuit 

“One of the paradoxes of life is that being impatient often makes it harder to achieve something. As with any skill, you get better at manifesting the more you practice.” Simon Foster, Manifesting Change: How to Manifest Change, Love, Abundance and Prosperity 

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images are from pixabay.com

Create Your GRAIL Collage

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images are from pixabay.com

What is your Sacred Calling, your Holy GRAIL for this life? Create a collage representing your Life Dream as an Elixir such as the Grail at the center of a mandala sort of composition.  Represent on your pictorial collage as well: How you will achieve your Grail, and what will result from your reaching this level of personal fulfillment.

You can simply find images online (I recommend pixabay.com for free, common domain images, or clip art), or paste in your own photos or scanned magazine clippings to represent your ideas. Here is my Grail Collage from this week, below.

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I welcome YOUR pictures or story!

The Elixir of Compassion

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Compassion is a quality of personal fulfillment. Having undergone an arduous ‘hero cycle’ journey, the survivor-hero has experienced within him/herself many of the so-called faults s/he might earlier have harshly judged in others.  To be an independent-minded person, as one must often be to escape the bonds of group-based limitations, one must strike out alone, forging new pathways. This may lead others to judge that person as an outsider or as a rebel. But to follow your own heart and fulfill your Soul longings often requires a departure from standard norms.  In the end, the highest standard we must aim to achieve is mastery of our own individual potentials for the good of the greater whole.

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Compassion is an empathetic appreciation of someone else’s difficulties or hardship.  Living outside the bounds of normative behavior or attitudes oneself can help one develop compassion with regard to other ‘outliers,’ other “Others.”  And in some ways, we are each outliers, as we are each so individual in our personality and Soul potentials.

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There’s a wonderful though terribly heart-wrenching film, Two Spirits, about the too short life of Fred Martinez, a Navajo teen who was murdered by a skinhead in Cortez, Colorado, because s/he was “different.”  In Navajo culture, traditionally gender is a continuum rather than a binary dichotomy: four genders are recognized, not two.  Fred Martinez realized his core gender identity as a nadłe, sometimes translated as “two-spirit.” Navajo traditional culture not only acknowledges but celebrates these special persons who, as nadłe, blend male anatomy with a feminine role identity. Unfortunately, many in Anglo/ White society are not yet so enlightened as to “live and let live” with respect to gender-benders.

Fred Martinez transversed masculine and feminine gender modes fluidly in his young life, sometimes dressing “trans” and other times in jeans and tees.  But as he grew into him/herself, despite encountering opposition from authorities and some of his classmates at school, he embraced his individual uniqueness and displayed a mixed identity with honesty and courage.  On the way to a fair one horrible evening, Fred took a ride from a group of skinheads, one of whom later chased him down and violently murdered him, bashing in his head many times with a rock.

(sigh.) Fred Martinez was described by his mother and friends as a compassionate person who would go to great lengths to offer solace and lend an ear. He may have grown to become a counselor had he survived.  Navajo culture, in fact, recognizes Two Spirits (male-to-feminine and female-to-masculine persons) as specially gifted communicators who transcend divisions between people, so they can be the greatest mediators in a community.

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images are from pixabay.com

How  has learning more about yourself from being an outsider or ‘different’ in your own ways helped you to develop compassion for the troubles others experience?

I invite YOUR  comments and stories!

A Musical Tonic

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We are focussing on Elixirs this month as bringing  welcome encouragement and strength  that allows one to move forward from a personal achievement to ever new cycles of continuing  growth and development. The other day, I was feeling overwhelmed from a very busy schedule and at the same time feeling grateful for my book going forward (March 6 is the publication date for Your Life Path and I will post pre-ordering info soon!). One of my favorite of all time W.B. Yeats poems in the form of a song by Loreena Mckennitt, called “The Stolen Child,” played on my Pandora station. I replayed it several times and it was just the Elixir I needed then to reconcile my movement from where I am currently to where I am going as I will retire from Academe and relocate in under 9 months. The coda verse of this poem conveys where my heart is these days:

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world’s more full of weeping

than you can understand.

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Beautiful music and poetry can be a balm unto the Soul.  They lift us to a realm of Spirit and to an eternal Presence of divine love and companionship that the outer, day-to-day reality can appear to remove us from, if we let it.

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images are from pixabay.com

So for your enjoyment, here is a Youtube version of Loreena McKennit’s “The Stolen Child,” composed from W. B. Yeats’ deep-hearted poem:

What music lifts your Soul? I welcome your comments and stories!

 

Name Your Elixir!

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After the initiatory achievement of Apotheosis (see September posts), the adventuresome Hero (you, for instance!) may partake of the Elixir of personal empowerment. Such Elixirs may come in many forms: Manna from Heaven— as my sister, the Rev. Lee Ireland’s guest blog discusses in last Sunday’s post; or Logos/the Word; Spirit essence; spirit waters; Ambrosia of the Gods; or more simply, an empowering sense of enlightenment or awareness that empowers personal Life Mission to serve Life!

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I guess my elixir is, ideally, humility. To me, humility is the awareness that the “best that I have done” has been of divine inspiration and service. I like the phrase: “Love is all, and do as thou wilt.” (From Stranger By the River, by Paul Twitchell)  Love and humility are the best cocktail I could drink! They fuel an ardent passion to serve Life.

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An elixir may be as pure and simple as an attitude, like humility, that comes with your  success in some endeavor or service that benefits the Whole. Some elixirs we might contemplate this month are:

Gratitude

Compassion

Empathy

Unconditional Love

Joy

Harmony

Balance

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome this month any suggestions of elixirs which you seek or from which you have benefitted.

So, name YOUR Elixir!

“Manna From Heaven” 

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Welcome to this month’s topic of ELIXIR: Personal Fulfillment.

I have a wonderful sister (three actually!) who is a pastor for the United Church of Christ. While that is not my own spiritual path, she and I share deeply and I treasure her viewpoint from her inclusive, liberal theology. While thinking of how to open this month’s theme, my sister Lee (Rev. Lee Ireland from Connecticut) told me of a sermon she was giving, called “Manna from Heaven.” Well, of course, that is the Elixir of Personal Fulfillment itself, so I invited Lee to share her sermon focus with us here.

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She agreed, so here are her words:

September 24, 2017 

Here we have one of the most human passages in scripture…this is a passage that is close to home as I think about all of those who’ve lost everything to the hurricanes and earthquakes. 

2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” 

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” 

and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.” 

11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ 

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. 

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.”  : Exodus 16:2-15  

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   Have you ever felt like the Israelites in the passage above?    Like your life was going along just fine and then suddenly – the rug was pulled out from underneath you and you had to pack up and move??? And start all over again – with nothing? Think of all of those who are now feeling like that in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Mexico –  who are enduring the consequences of the hurricanes and earthquake! 

    Last night I happened to see that “Bruce Almighty” was on TV and it was hilarious to listen to his lines from the beginning of the movie, which could’ve been exactly what was not printed in the Exodus passage.  It became even more meaningful when toward the end of the movie, God was playing a blind man begging for money and we heard the words to the song playing in the foreground:  “What if God was one of us?”   A profound touch to a movie that begs us all to consider our understanding of God and who we are as human beings living on this earth and in fellowship with one another.  Interesting!   

What if you had the role of being God for a few days?  What would YOU do?     

So – If you had been an Israelite – would you have not appreciated that the leaders were complaining to God about the way they were being treated? I mean, if God had said your tribe was his chosen people, and then led you out in the desert and proclaimed your freedom but now you were struggling to figure out how to survive, wouldn’t you be belly-aching and demanding justice just like you see described in this passage?  Justice from God?     

And what would you feel like when you heard God’s answer? – “I’ll give you your daily bread and quails”…. 

That would get old pretty fast, wouldn’t it?  

 What would you do?    

What would you have been hoping for God to do?    

It begs the deeper Q – what is your image of God?  A being up in heaven who manipulates us human beings like chess pieces?   Making demands before our needs will be met?   

BUT – according to this passage in Exodus – your needs ARE being met! Just not as you were expecting or according to your hopes and perhaps your design of how you wanted your life to go.   When you realize that your daily needs WILL be met – but not as you may have wished – you will hear the invitation – bringing a change in your mindset. 

You know that feeling?  

L I S T E N  
 
Begin to see with new eyes.  

Hear new messages that you wouldn’t hear otherwise. 
Trust differently.  Stop trying to influence other people’s free will.   
Recognize that God’s angels come in many different forms. 
What is it that you are seeing is emerging that couldn’t come any other way .  You know it could be because you have been demanding that God create things to fit into your vision rather than allowing the ways of love to unfold. How are youy today being asked to let go and Let God – be? Be the creator of your own life? 
It means you will have to check your ego at the door and “surrender”….surrender your attachments to particular outcomes  and thus  become a servant of divine love. 

May God’s light and peace and love pour down upon us this day and strengthen us in our ability to walk with one another and those we don’t yet know and share that and watch as other’s lives begin to open and be enriched and transformed.    Peace and grace, Amen.  

Prayer of the Day 

Gracious Lord,  
Fresh as each morning  you come to us, 
Crafter of manna. 
     Your grace rests  gently upon us, 
      waiting to be gathered, to become the bread of life 
we share throughout the day. 
 
Fresh as compassion’s justice, you come to us, 
Servant of the poor. 
Choosing to give as you desire, 
you show us the last, so we can make them first 
     in our hearts and hopes. 
Doing no wrong, you make us right 
     with God for all time. 
 
Fresh as the water, which turns a desert 
into a meadowland of flowers, 
Spirit of uninterrupted grace, you come to us. 
When we would grumble, you give us the gospel to live out; 
when we would protest, you teach us songs of praise; 
when we would utter laments, you fill us with God’s laughter. 
 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
refresh us with your presence 
as we continue to give you thanks and go forward with your love.  Amen.  

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images are from pixabay.com

Thanks for your Guest Blog, Rev. Ireland!

I welcome YOUR comments and Stories!

The Road to Sadhana

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The poem I shared last Tuesday I composed in 1978 while on a very memorable road trip across country by bus from Buffalo to Tempe, Arizona. I was traveling with a friend, Grace, to check out Arizona as I would be attending college there the next year. It was a very eventful trip on so many levels. The Greyhound bus broke down in Effingham, Illinois, and about half of us stayed on until Flagstaff, Arizona, where we were rerouted on a Trailways bus through what was one of my and Grace’s primary spiritual destinations anyway: Sedona.

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All through the bus trip, especially after the breakdown and even moreso after an encounter with apparently a murderous pair hightailing it out of Albuquerque (I’ll tell that in a bit), I composed a trip length poetic account of the journey. Part of the coda verse I still recall for the epic poem was:

On the Road to Sedona,

Where all is Sadhana…

Sadhana is an Eastern term designating a state of spiritual enlightenment; a state of calm one achieves from centering deeply.  As our theme this month is the similar or related experience of apotheosis, it feels right for me to revisit this adventure, now 39 years later.

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So the murderer, even more than the breakdown of the bus and rerouting through Sedona, sparked a major change of consciousness for me.  Grace and I were at a bus stop in Albuquerque where Grace met a police woman. She told Grace she was on the lookout for a murderer and his accomplice trying to get away from New Mexico.  Our bus left there at midnight, the last bus for the night. Two men, one recently bald, paid the bus driver directly when he got onto the bus instead of paying as was normal at the ticket booths. Grace and I were sitting second row from the front of the bus to avoid cigarette smoke. The tall, bald man, wearing a serape with a metallic bulge in the pocket which he arranged over the seat to be positioned so the bulge was just behind his head, sat in the front row, with his partner sitting catty-corner behind us across the aisle (carrying only a wrinkled, paper bag). The Bald One, who resembled Lurch from the Addams family to me, pulled out a cigarette (forbidden for the 1st three rows), stared ominously at the bus driver, and chortled: “Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!”

OK, so that sets the scene. My friend Grace immediately figures this is the murderer the police woman is after, so she leaves the bus to tell the woman about him. She returns, telling me the police woman acted frightened to know the men might already be on the bus and asked Grace to be careful and not stir up trouble. So, I got off and told her what I had seen re. the money exchange with the driver. She acted concerned but frightened and told me to get back onto the bus and also to not cause waves.

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The bus wound slowly through the night from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, a very long night for me as I was on high alert. I whispered our suspicions to the woman behind me, Terry, who had been instrumental in getting our passengers to stay after the breakdown and to be rerouted through Sedona so that some of the rest could go directly to LA. Terry was traveling with her grandmother. She started a phone chain whisper throughout the bus, notifying everyone of the possibility we had a murderer aboard. Unfortunately, this whisper also reached the Accomplice across the aisle, who suddenly started coughing and rattling his brown bag to get the attention of the Bald One.

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At a roadside stop in Holbrook, Grace and Terry and her grandmother and I sat huddled together at a diner. The Accomplice shadowed us, being sure to sit within earshot. The Bald One never came into the diner at all, pacing outside and at one point pressing his face and nose up against the window glass to stare in at us.

When we reboarded, the bus driver shot me a frightened glance, as if to say again, ‘Don’t cause waves!’

So, back on the bus for the next few hours I entered into a deep contemplation, the deepest of my life til then. I sang a mantra, HU, which is a sacred name for God known to many religions. I chanted and went into a deep state of repose where I encountered spiritual Masters and agencies giving me instructions on how to be a channel for calm and Light in this situation, to prevent a major catastrophe involving all the passengers.

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Then something really weird occurred on the bus. People who had thought the whispered suspicions were a hoax or funny started joking loudly about who the murderer was going to take to the back of the bus and shoot first! This was surreal to me. I sank deeper and deeper into my contemplation.

At dawn, as we were approaching Flagstaff and the beautiful desert and San Francisco Peaks there, I came out from the contemplation, truly altered. I felt a calm as I had not known before. As I looked out at the desert and the Mountain, I said to Terry and Grace:

“People think that the Desert is barren and dead;

It is not: It is teeming with Life!”

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At this statement from me, Bald Lurch turned his head slowly to stare me down.

“So, how do you feel about YOUR life?” he cooed ominously.

Now, you might think my response would be fearful, but no. Because of the alteration in consciousness I had enjoyed in the deep contemplation, I actually was feeling quite elated. I looked back at him, eye to eye, and smiled broadly:

“How are You!?” were the words that came out of my mouth.

The Bald One merely grunted in disgust and turned his head back to set upon that metallic bulge.

We reached Flagstaff, alive.  The Bald One and the Accomplice were the first to rise from their seats and head for the door. Once again, Lurch uttered mysteriously:

“Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!”

That was the last any of us saw of these two men, now across the border in Arizona.

After a few hours those of us going on to Phoenix boarded the Trailways bus that would take us through Sedona, known to Grace and myself as a very spiritually charged area as our spiritual group had land there at the time.  This part of the journey was like a pilgrimage for us.

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As we rounded the bend from Flagstaff down into the majestic Oak Creek Canyon, the bus stopped at a rest area. I walked across the field and stepped down a bit from the  cliff edge to sit and be immersed in the Canyon overview. It was like an Eagle’s Nest, and I have returned many times since. That is where The Canyon poem emerged:

It is drawing me into Its depths;

It will contain me;

Yet in that instant It shall free me,

Until IS-ness dissolves beyond

Eternity

Where Just Isness IS.

We reboarded the bus and headed on down the canyon into the red rock splendor of Sedona. At the bottom we got out for a food stop.

“It’s like love,” Terry said.

“It can never be contained,” I responded.

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images are from pixabay.com

Other than those words, language failed me. I could not speak, identifying one mountain or person or bus or tree; all was an absolute Unity. This utter silence stayed with me until we reached Phoenix. I would later remember it as a brief glimpse of cosmic consciousness, experienced on the Road to Sadhana.

* * * * * *  

This will be the final September post, as I have nothing more to say now on the topic!

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

The Double Vision…

Yeats, Statue, Sculptures, Art

image from pixabay.com

Today I will share my favorite lines from one of my favorite poems, by W. B. Yeats.  These lines have stayed with me since high school years and they return this month with our monthly theme of Apotheosis or the merging of opposites associated with initiatory fulfillment. The poem is The Double Vision of Michael Robartes, and the lines that still line my heart are:

On the grey rock of Cashel I suddenly saw
A Sphinx with woman breast and lion paw.
A Buddha, hand at rest,
Hand lifted up that blest;
And right between these two a girl at play
That, it may be, had danced her life away,
For now being dead it seemed
That she of dancing dreamed.
Although I saw it all in the mind’s eye
There can be nothing solider till I die;
I saw by the moon’s light
Now at its fifteenth night.
One lashed her tail; her eyes lit by the moon
Gazed upon all things known, all things unknown,
In triumph of intellect
With motionless head erect.
That other’s moonlit eyeballs never moved,
Being fixed on all things loved, all things unloved.
Yet little peace he had,
For those that love are sad.
Little did they care who danced between,
And little she by whom her dance was seen
So she had outdanced thought.
Body perfection brought,
For what but eye and ear silence the mind
With the minute particulars of mankind?
Mind moved yet seemed to stop
As ’twere a spinning-top.
In contemplation had those three so wrought
Upon a moment, and so stretched it out
That they, time overthrown,
Were dead yet flesh and bone.
I knew that I had seen, had seen at last
That girl my unremembering nights hold fast
Or else my dreams that fly
If I should rub an eye,
And yet in flying fling into my meat
A crazy juice that makes the pulses beat
As though I had been undone
By Homer’s Paragon
Who never gave the burning town a thought;
To such a pitch of folly I am brought,
Being caught between the pull
Of the dark moon and the full,
The commonness of thought and images
That have the frenzy of our western seas.

The full recited poem follows for you to enjoy:

I welcome your comments, insights and stories!

 

WAY Will Out

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Philosophically, I value dialectical reasoning that allows for  a “tension of opposites” to resolve what may seem paradoxical at first blush, so thought arrives at a new, higher order of Synthesis. I have embraced this way of thinking and feeling ever since encountering it from reading W.B. Yeats’ theosophical book, A VISION, when I was 19.

Dialectical reasoning can be helpful in the most practical of situations as well as when contemplating some of the more horrific aspects of life.  Just as Day follows Night and Sun and Moon intercourse daily, in these material worlds Duality is a basic underlying reality, even though from a higher perspective, unity supercedes duality as an ordering principle. We always come back to the Center.

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Here are some common idioms that reveal the dialectical nature of our lives:

The darkest day is always before the dawn.

S/he loves me ;  S/he loves me not.

The best of times ; the worst of times.

No pain, no gain.

When faced with a difficult decision, we may call it a conundrum; that is, a dialectical choice.  Do we go or do we stay?  Give up, or press on?

The best solution to a dialectical conflict, I have found, is to:

SURRENDER

Ah, sweet surrender! You need not give up anything but your conflicted reasoning process.  Surrender to your Higher Consciousness.  Return to YOUR Center and act from there.

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I once had a Quaker friend who liked to say:

“Way will Out.”

That Way is the essence of Surrender, as also expressed through the Tao Te Ching, the Book of the Way.

“If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

So remember, if you choose:

Water seeks its own level; Way will out.

Die daily to be reborn anew.

Effortless Action issues from Stillness.

Find harbor in the eye of the storm.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!

Music for Your Apotheosis

Dear readers, be Listeners! Here is a piece of music I found at the top of the search from looking up “Beautiful Music.” It is called “Everdream” by Epic Soul Factory.

May this music help you today to attain your apotheosis, that state of inner peace and balance that can inspire and uplift you to advance in the direction of fulfilling your highest Life Dream!