Further

Stephen Victor photo

Further

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know. —Ernest Hemingway

There was a time I characterized my life as a ship in transit on which I repeatedly busied myself redesigning and reconstructing its hull — while underway — in heavy, and becalmed seas. I had a knack for creating unnecessary difficulties — while oddly enough, being a decent naval architect and ship fitter. Curious, huh.

Not so much difficulty created these days though — by me, that is.

There is a story, true or not I don’t know. A farmer asked Picasso why he did not paint portraits like everyone else. He replied: You know how any of those I had to paint before I could paint these!?

Often what we once believed to be our ‘truest’ sentences were born out of, and borne on our necessary self deceptions — those simple stations along our way offering solace to our beleaguered selves as we burnished the shine within us — the one we were yet to see.

May the sea and winds render our resolve capable of our truest sentences.

Particularly now – particularly now, may we become equal to circumstance.

Further!
© Stephen Victor 2020

Comedy or Tragedy

Stephen Victor photo

Act I Colluding

“…a man who lived a short distance from himself.” —James Joyce, “A Difficult Case”

Human life is but the loveliness of a passing fragrance. Few see it this way. Most are frequently fraught with challenging experiences leaving life hellishly difficult and long. Also many regard life’s fragrance with suspicion. It need not be this way. Life is more. Beauty is abundantly redolent.

Though Joyce’s descriptor is uncommon, we commonly live it out, unrecognized. Distant from sweetness. In this fray we are wont to trundle on — hastened — to do what we must. Meanwhile, bereavement lingers as subtext.

We, good cultural representatives, are ill-prepared — failing in our attempts to manage the effects of collective folly.

Many proceed dysfunctionally — nearly all drowsily possessing lemming-like proclivities.

Our conformity is our act of collusion — as we must — to the bequeathal of our human nature.

Act II Colliding

“What is madness but nobility of soul at odds with circumstance.” —Theodore Roethke

We soldier-on. In seeming oblivion. Chaffed.

Faint, freeze, fight, flight — resistances all. Each missing the mark.

Our denial collides — bumping against our sovereign autonomy — with our profound personal agency — our overwhelming creative potential — with what lies beyond the dream. Each collision colossal.

Act III Collaborative Cooperation

“Whether all is really lost or not depends entirely on whether or not I am lost.” —Vaclav Havel

The dance between the consciousness of whatever-it-is-we-are and our corporeal consciousness — the human nature of the animal in which we reside — is intended to be fraught. DNA changes only under pressure. This metaphor helps when considering the imperative of our colluding and colliding: Sirens call and we are thrown against the rocks — of necessity.

The animal consciousness of human nature is hardwired to evolve. The consciousness of whatever-it-is-we-are does not evolve — rather, it expands: The consciousness of our human nature — AND — the consciousness of whatever-it-is-we-are exist on the planet to be changed. The degree to which we change is proportional and consonant with the how of our responses to the vagaries of high and low pressures in our daily lives.

If we consent to the Mystery’s prompts to change, we begin our awakening within the dream of our life. This means we mature in self knowledge and develop skills to manage our attention and emotions — truly becoming adult — possessing the requisite skills for becoming functional in the management of our expression and experience. Said differently, we develop a strong healthy ego enabling us to participate effectively in life’s interdependent dance.

Awakening within the dream is the first phase in believing we are not lost. In this awakening we acquire the necessary self-deception of believing we have found ourselves. This is a noteworthy achievement! Few people do this.

Once awakened within the dream, the Mystery prompts us to awaken from the dream. Fewer still detect these prompts let alone awaken. Awakening within and from the dream are collaborative processes involving the consciousnesses of our animal body, whatever-it-is-we-are and the Mystery Herself. Truly finding ourselves — no longer being lost — is one of the successful outcomes of this cooperative undertaking. Another is the evaporation of our necessary self-deceptions.

Absent each awakening — and remaining awake, we humans do not know how to cooperate. Not in our most intimate relationships nor in the broader collective. Yet, cooperative collaboration is our greatest collective strength.

Love is the intersection between the worlds — the traffic circle — for those yet awakened, those awakening, those awakened to the dream and those awakened from the dream.

Love is an instrumentality: The instrument of awakening. It is the backstory of cooperation. Of intimacy and falling in love with the world — and Life Herself. It is the opening to having an Act III in your life.

Is there a third act in your life? Will there be?

Facts, Stories and COVID-19

Photo: Stephen Victor – old iPhone

The future is not what it used to be. —Arthur C. Clarke
Lore holds, stories are to personal growth and becoming as facts to science.

• Facts either exist or they do not.
• Some stand the test of time. Some help. Some do not.
• Others nullified. Some helped. Some not.
• Apocryphal stories can be as relevant as factual. Some not.
• Facts are subject to interpretation; interpretation subject to facts.
• Facts and stories are characterizations of our experience of Experience.
• Story is not for presenting explicit meaning.
• Story is not for anyone’s entertainment.
• Story is not to hold your attention.
• Story is to put you back doing your work—inner and outer.

1st fact:
The corona virus known as COVID-19 has made sorties into human territory.

2nd fact:
Some will have a catch-and-release Experience.
For others COVID-19, a means of getting off the planet.

3rd fact:
There has been and will be profound loss, grief, sadness.

1st story:
In coming here, whatever-it-is-we-are beyond body, personality and imagination, aligns with the consciousness of the human body and our particular lineage—replete with their antecedents, friend and foe. It needs to be this way.

Our initial gasping inhalation upon leaving our mother’s body constitutes our soul’s consent to our human bequeathment. Whatever-it-is-we-are begins collaborating—cooperatively or not—with the beleaguered and besieged consciousness of the individual and collective human animal—in which we—for a Moment—have taken up residence.

In this breath, our first concession to profound restriction, we become bound; to moments of ricochetting and—or—flowing in the turbulent nature of Human Life. Life is not intended to be easy. We are here as expressions of Experience: those from precincts within the Mystery.

In an evolutionary context, DNA only changes under pressure. This is a useful analogy for us—in human form. Though, whatever-it-is-we-are does not itself evolve human anatomy, physiology and psyche do. Whatever-it-is-we-are are here to directly experience Experience and then to complete Experience by expressing our actual and genuine response to It. OUR own genuine response. Not that of the animal of our body. Re-read this paragraph please.

In this we are Changed. As such, the Awareness of whatever-it-is-we-are perceives and knows the Mystery’s Wisdom. Its Universal Intelligence. With this Awareness, whatever-it-is-Earth-is, changes: its Nature changes—as so too, the corporeal consciousness of the human animal opens and expands. Moves. All—and each of whom—increase their Luminescence. Their Beauty.

2nd story:
Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions by London Reverend Edwin Abbot – 1884

There is a two dimensional world called Flatland. It is a world that has length and width, but no height. Everyone in Flatland moves around as freely as shadows move around the surface of the Earth, totally unaware of height.

“Square”, the protagonist had a dream one night. In the dream he had been transported to Lineland. In Lineland all there was were either points or a series of points arranged in a straight line.

Everyone in Lineland moved freely in this one dimension but had no idea of width or height. While visiting Lineland, Square tried to explain to the inhabitants the missing dimension of width.

Eventually he got frustrated and went to the longest line of Lineland—the King of Lines, the Line of Lines and stated: In my land you would be nothing compared to me and I’m just a Square. In my land I am nothing compared to the nobles in my land.

Eventually all the lines got angry with the Square and began to line up their points ready to attack Square—at which point, he awakened from his dream and felt relieved to realize that he had been dreaming.

Later that day Square was explaining to his grandchild—a hexagon—some notations on geometry. In Flatland, succeeding generations of males had one more side than their fathers until there were so many sides to figure that they were indistinguishable from a circle, the priestly order. Except for triangles—they would always be triangles.

As Square was explaining to his grandson how to figure the number of square inches in a square—this is done by raising the number of inches on one side by the second power—the grandson asked what it would be like in the geometry of something were raised to the third power.

Square explained patiently that there was no such thing as the third power. The grandson persisted until Square got angry and sent the child to bed, telling him that he would do better in geometry if he would talk less non-sense.

Later that evening, Square continued saying to himself “there is no such thing as the third power.” He then heard a voice say “Yes there is!” Square looked around and saw a Sphere in the room with him. The Sphere was a visitor from Spaceland.

The Sphere began explaining the third dimension and it was to no avail as Square was not comprehending. The Sphere then created for the Square a transcendent experience that transported the Square to Spaceland.

Square then yelled “This must be madness or hell!” The Sphere said “It’s neither! It is knowledge. Open your eyes and look around.” The Square go so excited and began talking to the Sphere of the possibility of a forth and fifth dimension. The Sphere said “There is no such thing!” and immediately and angrily threw Square back to Flatland.

Square told people of the other dimensions to no avail.

3rd story:
In times gone by a horse of unknown origins came round to a farm family’s house and barn.
Neighbors came round praising the family’s good fortune.
The farmer responded “Maybe”.
The farmer’s son was thrown from the horse breaking the boy’s leg.
Neighbors came round deploring the bad luck.
The farmer responded “Maybe”.
Army officers came round conscripting adolescent boys and young men.
The son’s broken leg stopped him from being taken.
Neighbors came round praising the good fortune.
The farmer responded “Maybe”.

4th story:
Humanity has experienced extreme exposures to peril myriads of times before. Each one rendering its future altered. And so now too with COVID-19. The intellectually indefensible part of this fourth story is: Each of us are poised to take a fundamental decision. It is based on the choices—many or few—available in the current state of Awareness. This one decision must be taken before taking the many others that too must be taken. It is wise to take this decision consciously. With Awareness.

The fundamental question: Will I let the fear and folly of the provincialism of human conscious take the lead in my Life, or will I, whatever-it-is-I-am, lead my thinking and action?

There are calls to action in the facts and stories of this piece. Take them Awares.

Falling in Love with the World

Whether all is really lost or not depends entirely on whether or not I am lost. —Vaclav Havel

The late mythologist, Joseph Campbell, brought to the world’s attention that we each live out what he called The Hero’s Journey. A story in which we have the course of our lives spectacularly interrupted by an uncompromisingly epic ordeal. One we are uncertain we can survive.

The intent of which is garner our consent. Our surrender. To be become irrevocably changed. After which, we are to rejoin our community and its acknowledging witness to the differences we embody—our change in the direction of the good, true and beautiful.

The ordeal is given us by the Mystery. By Life itself irrespective of where we, ourselves, project blame or responsibility. As good representatives of our upbringing and training we fail to recognize the relevance and validity of this initiatory spiritual process. As such most of us try to abort the process desperate to recover normalcy. To ostensibly feel better again.

Some of us are changed. Some not. Life offers no promises.

Is the story of The Hero’s Journey also allegorical?

Might these circumstances
• Countless refugees
• Political and economic dramas
• Wealth disparities
• covid-19
• Global warming
• Prospects of governments using limited nuclear weapons
be ordeals of epic proportions be bent on irrevocably changing us in the direction of the good, true and beautiful?

Tell me now — Are you lost?

P.S. Given that Life, Earth, the Cosmos and the Mystery are feminine, I invite you to look at the stages of The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock as the model is fittingly relevant and necessary.

P.S.S. The color black contains all colors. White is the absence of color. They are opposites. Giant Panda embodies the alignment of opposites: Wholeness.

Tears

Photo: Stephen Victor

I heard a short story, whether real or apocryphal who knows. It went like this: A woman whose circumstance and those of her community were extraordinarily challenging was asked why are you so happy. Her response was because I cry so much.

This morning I cried and cried—missing my late wife. I looked to identify what prompted the emotion. I checked the calendar. Today would have been her birthday.

Though the majority of us attend little to the unseen media we exist within, I refer to it as energy or energy fields. Affectionately I call it the Mystery. Energy itself is memory. It stores experience. Our own and others’. The greater the emotional intensity of experience, dreaded or desired, the more intense the stored past experiential content: it is present in the energy around us, here and now.

Places and locations and borders of things, and calendar dates, accumulate and store quantities of energy rendering them more easily perceptible. My sense of loss and my associated sadness, though prompted outside my Awareness, are very present this morning. My crying released my response to this date’s content, changed me, changed my energy and body chemistry. I feel greater ease. Lighter. Happier.

Consider the story of the happy woman in light of this story: A person repeatedly asked herself Why am I so unhappy? Why am I so unhappy? An insightful other responded saying it is because all you do is think of yourself and there is no self.

If there are truths, that answer may point to one of them. However, in the here and now in a practical sense, unhappiness may well ensue from content stored in the energy we have become inured to whether carried within ourselves or resident in the places and locations and borders and dates we frequent or inhabit.

Is it time to return to our senses? To inhabit and live in our body again. To know and sense our body’s sensory experience and allow ourselves to directly experience our experience? To give our selves over to Life’s flow? The one our body knows? The experiential flow that will then inform our intellect via the Wisdom of direct experience?

A long time ago I watched my brother instructing his young daughter to stop crying—it’s not to be done… Hmm?

The Much that Calls for More

                                                                                                                           The Red Boats by Claude Monet

 

“The much that calls for more.” — Margaret Fuller 1810-1850

There are moments when The Mystery, through circumstance, opens the ledgers of our life revealing its accounts—the credits and debits of experience and expression—our daily commerce. At these junctures we are best served to sit well in our body—relaxed, body-centered, connected to Earth’s center and attend to here and now via our direct experience.

In this we are to allow non-intellect- and non-imaginative-based awareness to inform our understandings. In this we begin the accounting The Mystery is asking of us:
• Is my commerce buoyed on the agency of my resounding “Yes!” to Life?
• Or—is my “No.” leaving me subsisting in the wake of another? of circumstance?
• Is my commerce predicated on Awareness? Right Attention? Clear Intent? Mutuality?
• Or—does it ensue from my solitary impoverished self-interest? albeit unawares?
• Am I in love with Life?
• Or—do I favor the psychological over direct real-time sensory experience?
• Do I allow others into my inner circle?
• Or—do I hunker isolated behind rigid ramparts of my own making?
• Is my commerce suffused with me being gracious–with myself and others?
• Or—do I impose anguish or vitriol—though unawares—on those in my sphere?
• Am I giving myself love-based treasure which provides charge to my daily life?
• Or—do I rely on the currency of my cherished resistances to give charge–which of course I remain oblivious to the taxes doing so levies on me? on those near me?
• Am I equal to circumstance?
• Am I equal to the moment?

In this accounting we remember we are much.

In this accounting we can detect calls for more.

 

The Winds of Fate by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

But to every mind there openeth,
a way, and way, and away,
a high soul climbs the highway,
and the low soul gropes the low,
and in between on the misty flats,
the rest drift to and fro.

But to every [woman] man there openeth,
a high way and a low,
and every mind, decideth,
the way [her’s] his shall go.

One ship sails East,
and another West,
by the self-same winds that blow,
’tis the set of the sails
and not the gales,
that tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
are the waves of time,
as we journey along through life,

’Tis the set of the soul,
that determines the goal,
and not the calm or the strife.

Leveraging Decency

I grew up in America’s mid-west: Mom from Brooklyn. Dad, rural Iowa. Dad never distanced himself from depression era losses. We all enjoyed THAT world. Mom struggled to imbue a fundamentalist Christian bent. WHEW! If that’s not a small box to add to impoverished thought… myopia and degrees of difficulty notwithstanding, the reconciling of a Self and Life can be achieved.

Sidebar: The American Mythologist Joseph Campbell said something to the effect that there is Light in every religion though their structure prevents most from realizing it. Though I know those who found it—none in my family—nor I. Now add this bit: The great writer, musician, painter and teacher Martin Prechtel reports that “Religion cannot be sold to happy people.”

As testimonial, my family and community ignorantly followed our marching orders furthering our unhappiness: We pursued ethics of hard work, self-sacrifice and restrictive/diminishing Christianity. Unwittingly we maintained the lie that girls and women deserve second-class status. Fear and unhappiness are fertile ground for religious currents—chilly though they were. You’d wonder what could grow THERE?

What grew in addition to our unhappiness—of which echos remain—pressure from the boot of patriarchy securely placed on the throats of girls and women. That’s what grew! To which every girl and woman can attest. Some men too, but too few.

Get this: The majority of us are unaware that the source of our daily exhaustion lies with our keeping those weighty boots in place. A place they don’t belong. Few if any have sussed this root cause out. Boots belong on the ground. This misplacement lies at the center of humanity’s denial of girls, women and the feminine. This also perpetuates the imprisoning of boys and men… gravely, this confinement is oblivious to nearly all.

Setting aside the pandemic nature of this obscenity, it is curious that my otherwise bright, intelligent, quick, clever and good thinking parents—as well as one can think within confines of fear and conviction—didn’t see though this. Hmm? Just goes to show that the intellect pales when considered in the context the Mystery’s Universal Intelligence—Wisdom and Awareness—which is of course, the province of the feminine—whether accessed by women or men. Stay the course, There is a point…

So, what helped me sort myself out? you wonder: The short answer is women. I’m serious. The disenfranchised themselves—being their genuine selves doing what they were impelled to do changed me enough to reset my heading.

It all started really with my 3rd grade teacher. She had me stand in front of her desk after class while she told me off for beating up my older brother while in the queue for the busses. Looking at her across her desk I realized that she was pretty cool. She was ragging on me for something I had done rather than for who I was. This was a first!

The next bit was my 5th grade teacher: She touched my shoulder once while queuing the class for lunch and I sensed her respect for children in general, and in this moment, me. Hmm? I already liked her yet this was a lot to take in. She changed me.

Nattering on a little longer, there were also three particular women on my paper route. When I collected for their paper I interrupted them preparing a meal or eating it. Irrespective, each was consistently gracious, kind and fully present. They were not polite. Instead they were real and interacted genuinely. Patiently. One of them worked at the bank where I took my loot. She was nice there too.

While my first wife was generally more Yang than Yin, she was equal to circumstance seemingly always: academically; and in her fluency with several languages; in her musicianship and as a school teacher, headmistress and university instructor. There simply were no longer grounds for me to stay the course of the less-than party line.

Oops. This actually began when I was nine when my older brothers and I got a sister. I was ecstatic when she arrived. She and I were and remain closely connected. Never understood this until the last few years when I realized that I was head-over-heels in love with the Feminine. No, I don’t know all of what this means. Nonetheless, it is the case.

What I’m leading to is bigger than the individual women mentioned. Bigger than all of us. It’s about letting go. It is about lifting the boot from female throats. It’s about ending the folly of women being less than. It is this: Our releasing girls and women from the place they’ve been relegated becomes the fulcrum providing the precise leverage to free ourselves individually, and what we regard as the world-out-there, from the humanity’s most insidious and pernicious juggernaut—which is imperiling us all. That’s a mouthful.

Intellectually indefensible? Yes!

Fact! nonetheless.

I do not offer this at the expense of men but rather advisory: Without each of us, women and men, lifting the boot of patriarchy, men cannot remove it from themselves… nor free humanity from its encumbrance…the one impeding decency.

P.S. Look to the bodies of work of these authors:
Aimie K. Runyan for lauding unsung heroines
Sara Pascoe for educating us on decency and gender

This piece is for my sister…

Choosing: Making Decisions—and Un-Choosing

“Whatever you do in life will be insignificant but it’s very important that you do it.” —Mahatma Gandhi

There can be madness in our lives if we allow it. Now—today—locally and globally—there are myriad circumstances that don’t jibe well with our lives. Or so we are wont to assert, but this is for another time.

Nonetheless, we possess the capacity to become Aware and consequently choose to avoid, or un-choose madness should we find ourselves in its precincts. We no longer need be the children of Hamlin lured by the omnipresent Pied Piper.

I used to train personal growth workshops. One block of instruction was on resistance. It begin: “What you resist, you create, exaggerate or become.”

I had numerous experiential examples justifying the claim—and that our circumstance improves in our letting go of resistance. What I didn’t know at the time was the phenomenology of Attention nor its incomprehensibly impactful role in our lives.

I did not know that consciously—with Awareness—managing the placement of our Attention is one of the differences that profoundly makes The difference in the quality of our lives—in our direct sensory and psychological experience—in expressing ourselves creatively and not.

The Pied Piper of today is of course social media and the news and the television and the internet and the entertainment industry and advertising and our politicos in service to their gods—and all our myriad personal and cultural crisis and disasters—small and large—whatever their cause.

The Pied Piper of today also consists of the energetic vestiges of our Karma/karma, and the Fates; and in our ancestral, familial and personal experiences—those that hadn’t gone so well. Our past and current wounds are present with us most generally in our subtle sensations of feeling heavy or unnecessarily pressured, or our fatigue or our feeling a bit unwell with seemingly no easily traceable cause—the sensations that we’ve become inured to—habituated to—lollygagging at the threshold of our awareness.

Everything that captures and holds our Attention without our Aware, well-reasoned conscious consent—or our well-honed Awareness of the non-ordinary realities, or our long tested intuitive knowing—is an invitation to an entrapping madness. Want to know more? Curious what directing our Attention has to do with choosing and un-choosing?

What do the following questions evoke?

1) Ever wonder whether you’re making the best decision? The “right” one?
2) Ever uncertain what to do now? Or next?
3) Ever allow your emotions to influence your decision taking?
4) Ever put decisions off?
5) Ever aware of of options yet unable to choose, decide and execute one?
6) Ever want or need to know the “how-to” models of choosing, un-choosing and
deciding?
7) Ever wish you had a Whisperer or psychic to access what lies beyond your current
understanding and knowledge?
8) Ever want genuine insight? Authentic real-time Wisdom?
9) How have you unwitting chosen madness? (If you have.)
10) How did you continue doing it?
11) How do you un-choose madness?
12) How do you choose a resourceful equanimity instead?
13) How do you choose to more frequently engender a relaxed-in-your-body-for-no-
reason presence? and a fitting energetic/mental/emotional state?
14) How do you genuinely be yourself?
15) How do you discipline yourself to do the things you want and need to do?
16) How do you choose to love completely? And, what does this mean?

More in upcoming posts.

Three Ethics to Change the World

1) Do no unnecessary harm.
2) Do not presume.
3) Do not compare experience.

The world doesn’t need changing. We do. Read on and live the three ethics and be changed.

Do no unnecessary harm
We can’t live without harming someone or something. Though we can completely avoid doing unnecessary harm. This requires that we are intelligent and compassionately Aware in our state of being, that we embody our power while being gracious in the face of another’s. One requisite for this is being centered and grounded in our body—in the moment—here and now.

We need to be connected with and informed by the non-ordinary forces of the Mystery which guide our choosing and our decision taking—rather than making choices from our emotions and understandings. (The “how” of doing these things is another conversation.)

Do not presume
Nearly all or our difficulties are brought on by ourselves—save for being caught and injured in natural disasters, political or environmental calamities for example. Thinking we know is problematic: thinking we know more, or better, or what’s up when we are actually caught up in the folly of the fables we’ve told ourselves. This is the status quo for most of us. Everything we think we know is story—made up or adopted. Over the years my teacher, Paul Richards, passed these ethics to others and myself—without saying more than identifying them. Me passing them to you is an example of presuming—thinking I know.

Ethics are a model to guide us. The wonderful thing about a model is that we have a model. The problem with a model is that we have a model (limiting our creativity).

Do not compare experience
She’s doing better than me. I’m envious of so and so. I wish I had his job. She’s prettier. He is respected more than me. So and so has been published. I haven’t. I’m the better parent. At least I’m not a drunk. My life isn’t as difficult as his.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

• Psychological experience
Psychologists say “experience is what we do with what happens to us”. They’re correct if we limit the use of the word to mean psychological experience—thoughts and understanding—which is, by the way, a consequence of transforming direct sensory and extra-sensory experience into language and thought.

“I think I know what a strawberry tastes like…” — Jody Richard

But there is more!

• Direct sensory experience

“…until I’m tasting the one exploding in my mouth.” — Jody Rickard

We are sentient: We see, hear, feel, taste and smell things directly—before and without involving thought.

Again, there is more!

• Direct non-ordinary experience
We possess, distinct from our five senses, an array of perceptual faculties through which we experience the non-ordinary realities suffusing our lives. Generally girls and women are best at this, particularly when they keep them active—something patriarchy eschews. Too, there are sensitive boys and men in the world who perceive the non-ordinary.

“I awoke knowing I’d been selected for the promotion.”
“Out of the blue I knew something tragic had happened to so and so.”
“I saw her across the campus quadrangle for the first time and knew we would marry.”
“The phone rang and I knew it was her.”
“Suddenly I knew what I had to do…”
“The solution came to me in the shower.”

There are forces of the Mystery awaiting our detection… awaiting our collaboration… awaiting our co-creation.

Comparing experience is a thought-based-psychological undertaking. It’s predicated on values and beliefs which are themselves constructions of our own, or another’s. They are not real. In the right context they are useful. Others, not so much as they destabilize ourselves and others, impede intimacy, our connection to our creativity, to the Mystery.

1) Do no unnecessary harm.
2) Do not presume.
3) Do not compare experience.

The world doesn’t need changing. We do. Live the three ethics and be changed.

Self First, Unselfishly: A Study in Grace

Tree of Life — Gustav Klimt

 

“Poems are rough notations for the music we are.” — Rumi (Coleman Barks translation)

 

Rumi’s acumen in perceiving people as music is not such a stretch given that science describes reality

 

in terms of frequencies—waves of matt

er, sound, light, electromagnetism and so on. So our suspicions of not being who or what we’ve thought ourselves to be may be spot on. No wonder when left to their own devices children dance—do they still hear and feel their music?

Rumi also said there is an Awareness present in everyone that existed before the Universe itself existed; and it, and ourselves, came out of that Awareness. Not the other way round. Hmm? What if this Awareness is but a single notation? and what if this single notation is an original score? and what if this original score is a love song? and what if this love song—when audible and palpable in our lives counterbalances the juggernaut of disharmony in our world?

Musing further, I love the French concept of étude. It means a study in an instrumental musical composition, which is usually short, of considerable difficulty, and the étude is designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular musical skill. Are we not composing our lives? Do we not by late mid-life appreciate life’s short duration? Do we not experience considerable difficulty in effecting our desires to help others? to be genuine in ourselves? and in our expression and movement?

So what specifically is our study?—our étude? What is the particular skill we’re here to perfect? It is to live in ways in which our thought and action reveal the luminosity and numinous beauty of the single notation of the extant Awareness within us? This Awareness, the one Rumi reminds us of—the one seemingly oblivious to us—the one that is The original score, it is—I contend, a love song.

Isn’t it odd though that such a love song—our love song—the what and who that we essentially are—is largely obscured and drowned out by our upbringing and the cacophonies of our time? I submit to you that it need not.

Let the beauty of the love song that we are move and resound and refract through the instrumentality of our thought and action. What practice need we undertake to develop this skill? Placing the self first in our lives and do so unselfishly. Honoring the integrity and dignity of the original score and the love song that we are. Doing this by placing ourselves at the front of queue. The top of the list. Making ourselves and meeting our needs priority one without entitlement or arrogance. Without injuring or shorting others. Without cruelty or diminishment.

What blasphemy am I suggesting? Is your psyche rebelling? If so, consider the resistance a measure of the mettle of our indoctrination, the rigor and strength of pressures to conform and domesticate and diminish ourselves—even though doing so occurs at our expense.

Placing ourselves first in our life is The prerequisite to fulfilling the promises of our life. It is:
1) Recognizing the imperative to graciously live interdependently in cooperative and creative collaboration.
2) Loving, valuing, supporting and making place for the feminine and her voice, standing, methods and motion.
3) To genuinely be ourselves living in our own way—which means:
a) actually and genuinely helping others while caring for ourselves equivalently;
b) opening to and participating in the Mystery Herself, the realities suffusing us all—not through belief or contemplation—but rather, through movement in Her realms, and being changed by these experiences; and by
c) making our lives themselves—and our unique creative expression—impeccable works of art.

We will not and cannot fulfill the promise of our lives without placing ourselves first! We will not be first among equals. Remember: No one is equal to another. There are always those more powerful and those less. We can, however, be equally gracious in our differences. We can live and work interdependently. And cooperatively. And collaboratively. But can only do so by placing ourselves first in our lives and doing so unselfishly. Putting oneself first is The Study in Grace—Our étude.

Look around: independent selfish agency and agenda prevail in the world. It is increasing at an increasing rate.

Bringing our love song to the fore can counterbalance the selfishness that is imperiling us all. The more of us doing so, the sooner the tipping point. The sooner global change. Whether we do this timely enough I don’t know. It’s worth doing so nonetheless.

Lastly, remember please that the now canonized never-take-no-for-an-answer Mother Teresa did everything she did for herself. She knew the power of placing herself first. She knew the benefits to self and others of doing so.

Happy New Year!