What Then?

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“They went from world to world,

and each time they lost the world they left, 

lost it in time dilation, their friends

getting old and dying while they were in NAFAL flight.

If there were a way to live in their own time,

and yet move among the worlds,

they wanted to try it. …

(Ursula LeGuin, “The Shubies’ Story”)

I envisioned. Wrote, edited,published, prepared for the Big Move, left… to live my dream, Now! Arrived at one place, then searched for the next. Found it. A refuge for me and my pet family. Moving, again.

But, why all this? Or as W. B. Yeats once asked:

“What Then?”

His chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

Everything he wrote was read,
After certain years he won
Sufficient money for his need,
Friends that have been friends indeed;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘ What then?’

All his happier dreams came true –
A small old house, wife, daughter, son,
Grounds where plum and cabbage grew,
poets and Wits about him drew;
What then.?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

The work is done,’ grown old he thought,
‘According to my boyish plan;
Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught,
Something to perfection brought’;
But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’

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I once posed a similar or perhaps it was the same question to a Philosopher, my college mentor, Dr Antoinette Patterson in Buffalo, NY.  I was glum that day.

“So, what?”

I asked Toni in her office, there for an independent study session on a topic we had agreed to, the ‘philosophy of Silence’. 

“Take out a pencil and a piece of paper, and write down

two words and a question mark:

So   What ?   Your assignment by next week

is to answer that question.”

Bemused by my mentor’s response to what I thought was a futile question, I went off to seek for answers.  I read an essay by Emerson called “The Transparent Eyeball” and many poems and essays about silence, thinking somehow that must connect. Who was I beyond my embodied personality; what was Life beyond the day to day back and forth of conversations and classes?

When I went back to Toni’s office for our session that next Wednesday, she was waiting for me. After I shared about what I had been reading and journaling about, having not really answered the question at all, she took me to a far corner of her office where she had set up a card table with a large, empty sheet of sketch paper she had laid across it. She had me write “WH-” words on every corner of the page:

What? 

Why?                                            Where?

When?

Dr. P. then used a pencil to draw connections between these WH- words, allowing the  lines of connection to intersect at the center of the page where she drew a blank circle and wrote in that space one word:

W  H  A  N

There before us on the page was our answer to the proverbial question.

So What?

Whan.

In that moment in that office on that one day, nothing seemed clearer than that one discovery: the answer to every question about meaning or purpose, about Why/ Where/ When/ What resolves to a singular unity: WHAN!

As we discussed what is WHAN, I realized it meant not to worry about Why? or what Matters. Life IS, therefore life is meaningful of Itself alone; and no amount of thinking or wishing or proving or disproving would ever have any effect upon that which simply IS. Whan! and so Life flows forth and I must with it, wherever It may lead.

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images are from pixabay.com

So this is my monthly Better Endings life question to answer for myself this February:

What Then?

I sense this is the natural follow-up question to the discovery of Whan!

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments. I encourage you to form a personal monthly question to explore with your dreams and contemplation this month.

Daily Miracles

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For this final post about our monthly theme of Spirituality as a Life Theme, I’d like to express gratitude for those daily miracles that happened just two days ago and indicated to me the ever-present protection and guidance of Spirit.

I drove to New Jersey then took a subway train to Manhattan for lunch with my wonderful, excellent literary agent (pinch!), then back again in time to give my dog Sophie her dinner and insulin. All day I noticed the miraculous workings of this tandem relationship with Spirit.

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Once while driving I was nearly in what would have been a terrible accident. I pulled into the left lane but a car was already there, in my blind spot! For a dangerous, long moment we shared the same lane. I was able to fold back unto the right lane just a fragment of time before the worst would have occurred. It felt like there was a force field separating our two vehicles just to the perfect degree to allow us to adjust and correct the situation.

At the subway station in Journal Square, Jersey City, I had only a short time left to reach Manhattan in time for my meeting, and all of the spaces in the parking structure were taken. I drove around three times and came to the realization I would need to exit the parking garage and try my luck outside in the mayhem of the over-crowded street parking, which would make it nearly impossible to stay on schedule. Instead, as I was ruefully leaving the parking structure, just one parking space, just wide enough for my car to fit into, miraculously appeared. I had been driving around hoping for someone to leave, and no one had left, I was sure!

Once in New York, hailing a cab was no ordeal at all; both going to and returning from the restaurant across from Central Park a taxi pulled over immediately.

Lunch went splendidly as always with this amazing, brilliant soul who sees and inspires the value of my writing. She gave good advice and guidance about promoting my new book, Your Life Path (see right panel or click here to order), telling me I need to promote the book in every blog post (😊). We also talked about my next book which is in progress.

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images are from pixabay.com

Then the return trip was smooth, bringing me home—thanks to the excellent voice guidance of Siri on my phone—just in time for my Sophie to receive her meal and insulin in a timely manner. Once while I was booking it homeward a squirrel found itself in my lane and s/he literally high-tailed it—now I understand that phrase. Its tail fluffed high as it scooted quickly out of danger, so quickly that it looked like a gentle hand of Spirit must have cupped it from behind and given a needed push! Usually squirrels tend to slow down when confused in such a situation, so again I was grateful for the intervention.

So, home safely, I was reminded of the quote I was going to be posting as the full post today. It is about the subtle nature of Spirit or the Universe, the Force; whatever you choose to know It as. Paul Twitchell wrote that Spirit is:

“…that thread, so fine as to be invisible yet so strong as to be unbreakable, that binds together all beings in all planes, and beyond time into eternity.”

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

The Force of Spirit

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Spirituality is one of my core Life Themes. All of my life it has been a motivating force to my thoughts, questioning, and adventures.

Spirituality brings depth to any experience. It frames experience as gifts and as lessons to grow by.  It provides guidance and protection as a source of inner guidance. It illuminates the meaning and purpose of life events and relationships. It nourishes and supports one, always.

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To map the Theme of Spirituality over the life course can be revealing. One of my earliest “shaping events” based on what I would come to understand as Spiritual was that when I was around 7 or 8 I recognized a “blue man” in my conscious awareness. Somewhat like an invisible friend, the Blue Man was with me always, in my thoughts as well as my actions. I could pose questions to him and he would help me understand things generally. Because of him, I for awhile believed that all adults, not just him, could read my thoughts and knew everything about me; I even thought animals, though choosing not to speak, could do the same.

I remember as well when I was around twelve I stayed home from school one day. I was shy and for some reason wanted to avoid going in that day, though really I was only “faking” being ill. For some reason that day my mother was angry with me; I do not remember why but I do recall feeling guilty, perhaps for malingering. I went to my room an wrote in my diary. I remember writing a lot, painfully confronting that maybe the Devil had sent me to this world, but even so I chose instead to be a vehicle for God! When I discovered this little diary several decades later and found that diary entry I was surprised; the entire entry was about one sentence long! But that was a Turning Point for me. From then forth I have always sought to be a positive agent to be of spiritual value in the world.

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images are from pixabay.com

What about YOU? What are some early ‘shaping events’ involving spirituality in your life? How have these affected your sojourn through life to Now? What lessons do you take forward from these?

I welcome your story and comments!

 

 

IDEALISM in Action: Go Broncos!

 

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Okay so I’m a sports fan of the Broncos football team, who just last night won the 50th Superbowl! Sometimes I volunteer at the Broncos stadium for a fundraising service that my spiritual group conducts there gathering staff laundry shirts after the games, so I get to see some of the insides of the organization and its supporters and, I can report, the spirit of the Broncos organization is positive and contagiously so! I have never heard a negative remark in over 7 years from staff at the stadium, and the fans are supercharged with the forward looking, goal-oriented energy of the team and its managers and owners.

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Last night, watching the Big Game as the Denver Broncos’ “Orange Crush Defense” and  its talented Offense as well once again managed to upset a major contender to win the National (World) title,  I found myself thinking about how the Broncos team energy embodies the IDEALIST Archetype quite directly, both in individuals and in the collective body of the team. In fact, the amazing collaborative effort of this dynamic team exemplifies the most positive values of the IDEALIST Archetype Ally in us all. It is goal-oriented but also team-oriented. It serves the whole, not just the selfish individual. I noticed in the post-game interviews how every Bronco and Bronco manager or owner interviewed after the game gave credit to others than themselves.  The quarterback, Peyton Manning, credited the Defensive players, who themselves credited Manning and the coaches. The coaches credited all the players and the managers and owners, and John Elway, a former Broncos Superbowl quarterback and now a general manager for the team, credited the owner, Pat Bowlen.  All realized how the synchrony of the WHOLE allowed each individual to rise to the challenge and perform as they needed to attain, literally, the collective trophy.

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On the other side, I saw that as the game progressed, the quarterback of the opposing team grew gradually more and more apparently despondent and withdrawn. Before the game he had paraded about the stadium dressed in gold athletic shoes and a gold Superman costume (cape included!) After the game, he covered his head and walked off the stage after a few short replies to questions. I guess the Broncos brought Kryptonite to this quarterback; here we see if anything the Shadow Idealist: frustrated for not having achieved the Ideal. Well, better luck next time maybe!

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images from pixabay.com

May the Balance of the Force Be With You

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

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Note the resemblance to Jedi Master Yoda!

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

To answer power with power,

the Jedi way this is not.

In this war, a danger there is,

of losing who we are. Yoda

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

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

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

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images from pixabay.com

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

Time Heals All Wounds

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Is Time really a Healer? What wisdom does this age-old adage impart?  Time heals by allowing you to readjust or to establish a new set of conditions that have changed in some manner after an event that might have felt wounding: harmful or grievous or disastrous even, “back then” when the change first occurred.

Time brings us around some major bend in our Life Path that ultimately can result in “better endings.”

But, how? I am reminded of Garth Brooks’ song lyrics to “Unanswered Prayers” :
“Unanswered Prayers”

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/garthbrooks/

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Just the other night at a hometown football game

My wife and I ran into my old high school flame

And as I introduced them the past came back to me

And I couldn’t help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I’d wanted for all times

And each night I’d spend prayin’ that God would make her mine

And if he’d only grant me this wish I wished back then

I’d never ask for anything again

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs

That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

She wasn’t quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams

And I could tell that time had changed me

In her eyes too it seemed

We tried to talk about the old days

There wasn’t much we could recall

I guess the Lord knows what he’s doin’ after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife

And then and there I thanked the good Lord

For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs

That just because he may not answer doesn’t mean he don’t care

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered

Some of God’s greatest gifts are all too often unanswered…

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

So… thank heaven for some of our unanswered prayers, or for any condition in our life that changes unexpectedly, often undesirably.  Change can lead us down unanticipated pathways that can produce surprising benefits ‘down the road,’ and so often we cannot tell from here and now where that unexpected change could lead to!

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For example, we might lose a job we have been feeling stuck in for some time but would not have sought to change but for being laid off or “moved along.” Yet this sudden change might prompt us to move to a new location where eventually we might meet the love of our life or develop talents we had been neglecting.

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Spirit or the “universe” may ‘know’ better than we do with our minds what path is our true destination. So listen closely to your heart when change comes calling; perhaps it is calling you Home!

“Beautiful People Here” (parking lot attendant, Denver Coliseum, Mar. 22, 2014)

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As I sit to write an introductory post for a Better Endings week about Spirituality, I am in a bleacher seat at the Denver Coliseum, attending the Denver March Powwow. One of the largest Native American powwow venues in the country, people from many tribal communities and many other backgrounds come to Powwow, in part, to recharge their spiritual batteries.

Grand Entry. Drumming circles surround the gymnasium that fills with dancers in regalia from all age groups and genders, creating a Spiral, the Sacred Circle of Life. Feathers, colors, blankets, shawls, buckskin, moccasins, beads, VOICES, and RHYTHM: the heartbeat of the Earth, vibrancy of Spirit. Grandmothers enter: “Keepers of Mother Earth”.

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The last time I was here, two years ago, I came with Juanita, who enjoyed telling people, “I am only 92!”  She hadn’t been to the Denver Powwow for many years but in her youth, in 1954 (my birth year), Juanita interviewed all  Native American families in Colorado Springs for a city history book, and she gained many friends. Here at the Powwow Juanita told me she could see and hear the voices of the elders who had passed Beyond, still attending Powwow.

Juanita passed herself, just two weeks after Powwow. Ke:shhi (‘Hello”, in Zuni), Juanita. K’ettsanishhi do’ andewadu (‘May you go happily’).

Spirituality is Universal. No single religion or philosophy has a monopoly on Divine Love or Truth.

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As I stand in line now for the one frybread stand (in a line that may take over an hour to arrive there), I invite YOU this week to write or to somehow express what Spirituality means, to you, or about how Spirituality has helped you. I will save all Comments to this effect and post them together on Thursday along with re-blogs on the topic which I also invite you to send.

Spirituality is a Better Ending in and of Itself. In whatever form you “Hook Up” and “Tune In” to Spirit, and whatever you may name It and the Divine, we will celebrate the Pulse of Life, Divine Love and awareness all this week at Better Endings.

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As a lover of Rumi, who lived and breathed the universality of spirituality, I share from his poetic illumination:

WORD FOG

Words, even if they come from the soul, hide the soul,

as fog rising off the sea covers the sea,

the coast, the fish, the pearls.

It is noble work to build coherent philosophical discourses

but they do not block out the sun of truth.

See God’s qualities as an ocean.

The world is foam on the purity of that.

Brush it away and look through the alphabet to essence,

as you do the hair covering your beloved’s eyes.

Here is the mystery:

This intricate, astonishing world is proof

of God’s presence even as it covers the beauty.

One flake from the wall of a gold mine

does not give much idea what it is like

when the sun shines down inside

and turns the air and the workers golden.

 – (Rumi: The Big Red Book, Coleman Barks, transl.:149-150)

Prayer Flags

At a Crossroads?

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This week’s Better Endings topic is better choices. Choices are opportunities to steer your ship more consciously in the direction of…your choice! They are crossroads, bridges between one state of affairs and potentially another. Therefore our choices are golden keys we can use to open new doors, to enter new vistas of experience and change; or, not.

I love the final scene of Castaway. (Well, okay, that’s after I got over the fact that Chuck had to let go of Kelly; and that she never finished her Ph.D..) After surviving his 5 year ordeal of being marooned and barely surviving, Chuck is shown to be at a literal crossroads along a dusty Western road. He is free–if not in another sense potentially adrift or stranded again–; free to start a new life in any direction he might choose. But then Spirit or the universe offers a sign: the same picture of angel wings that he had used to make the “sail” by means of which he had escaped his captivity on the island. Chuck senses intuitively that this sign indicates the right direction for him to follow, because it reveals synchronicity, events lining up in an unpredictably ‘connected’ way.

This week’s life mapping activity lines up well with our topic of better choices. Among all of the 12 or so significant life events you wrote down last week (or could this week; see last week’s Life Mapping Activity in the Category archives to catch up), some of these influential, shaping moments were more “critical” than others, right? Your Critical Life Events  (CLE’s) are those that have been so extremely impactful in your life that you might feel you were not quite the same person even, before and after that event or situation occurred. Critical events of that magnitude are your life’s Turning Points. They are real chapter turners.

So this week we will focus on Turning Point sorts of opportunities for making “better choices”. How have you typically approached the major choices and transitions in your life? Have some of the most critical events in your life so far felt like they were beyond your own control? How does choice factor in with those circumstances, in retrospect? How much choice do you have, really, in various kinds of situations, and how can you make the very best choices possible so that, now, if you choose!, you can begin to align your choices with your conscious intention to manifest Better Endings?