In Search of Answers

Long ago I felt that I was on the path to a great KNOWINGGandhi—a certainty—a TRUTH, and this truth would be so absolute and clarifying that all falsehoods would fall from the sky around me, shattering like dirty windowpanes on the ground below—enabling me to see that TRUTH unobstructed for the first time.

I thought that when this sudden clarity arose within me (some call it ENLIGHTENMENT) I would KNOW and understand the WHY of it ALL—and I mean the ALL—I would understand the WHY of everything that we could even conceive and of all things presently existing beyond our comprehension that it CAN exist.

My erroneous belief was that this sudden KNOWING would allow me a deeper sense of peace because I would suddenly be aware of the PLAN to all happinessexistence and being. I would SEE the Great Design behind the workings of the world and all creatures in it.

What I did not realize at the time was that I had also assumed that the path of KNOWING was also the path of happiness achieved through understanding all WHYs of the ALL.

At present I no longer believe that such sudden knowing gives one a lasting sense of inner peace. I think it does allow for greater understanding of our mutual, polar experiences of love and hate, of goodness and badness, of happiness and sorrow.

KNOWING the workings of the world and all beings in it does not instantly choose peacecreate peace of mind in anyone still a part of that same world because such peace is a conscious choice that we make every moment of the day or night.

I realized a few years back that I could indeed find the answer within me to any question I might raise by allowing myself to reach a deeper level of silence—that is the level where KNOWING exists. And yes, there is definitely inner peace to be found at that level of KNOWING.

HOWEVER……when I returned back to the world that we all share—where we interact daily and where we are intentionally good or bad to each other in that same shared world, then that illusive sense of peace seemed to dissipate within me like morning mist under a rising sun. It was hard to be peaceful around so much dissonance and anger in the others I was encountering. It was especially inner peace.jpgdifficult when the ones I cared most about were dissonant within themselves.

In other words—when I was in close association with others, I could not hold my energy as highly as the “peaceful-level frequency” required that it be held to sustain my own sense of inner peace while interacting with such dissonance. When my energy level dropped in frequency, my sense of peace seeped away with it.

It doesn’t surprise me that monks or holy people in general isolate themselves to attain and sustain those higher states of being with a deep sense of purposeful silence. That is the easiest way to reach and maintain profound inner peace.peace pull.jpg

The problem is that few of us live in isolation, which requires that we must daily state and live our intention to be at peace within ourselves and to share that same peacefulness with others.

Being at peace is a choice. It is an intention. We can’t expect world peace if we can’t tame ourselves prior to expecting it.

be still.jpgAnger and rage, hatred and fear, are all opposites of where we say that we want to be.

Love, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance are the paths to peaceful coexistence with everyone. And those are choices that we make daily!

 

No matter the circumstances, choose LOVE. Choose PEACE.MLK.jpg

Those are the only answers that KNOWING will readily provide.

JOY!

During this night of deepest darkness she heard a voice sayingjoy1.jpg: “Let there be JOY!”

“Joy?” she said to the emptiness around her, “Joy now? Joy after all of this—this loss—this sadness? This is NOT a time for JOY!”

The voice calmly said, “JOY for ALL time and ALL places.

JOY for the meek and the mild.

JOY for the downtrodden and the derelict.

JOY for the desperate and the despairing.

Let there be JOY!”

“But how?” she cried. “How can I feel JOY after all of this death and destruction?”

The voice was silent for a moment, and just when she began to question herself that she had ever heard the voice at all, it spoke again:

“JOY is the light in any darkened room. It is the rising of fallen spirits. joy3.jpgIt is the underlying laughter in each breath of life.

JOY is the music of your soul’s purest essence.

JOY is the child’s uncompromised innocence and the expectation of goodness with every new discovery.

JOY is the heart so clear and light that it bursts with happiness at the sun rising.

JOY is always there awaiting you. Open the door and let me in.”

Again she scanned the too familiar bedroom so full of memories and emotions, and again saw no one speaking. “Who are you?” she finally whispered.

“JOY!” the voice sang with exuberance. “I am JOY!   I exist!   I am here with you always. Let me in.”

By now she was certain that she’d already had too many drinks trying to kill the deepest pain and all else was hallucination, however, the tiny spark of curiosity within her disheveled mind sent her to the tarnished door handle; and she opened the bedroom door.

The darkened hallway looked the same as usual, and the long night’s silence was broken only by the ticking of her old analog clock beside the bed. After looking up and down the empty hallway, she closed the bedroom door again and turned to the window beside the bed.

She walked over to the window and parted the curtains to stare out into rising sun.jpgthe night. Beyond the barren trees of winter a distant horizon was appearing and the earliest rays of dawn were peeking through the darkness before her. She had successfully made it through the sleepless night once again. No matter how dark the moment or how difficult sleeping became, the new day was dawning before her now and she was watching it appear. As the growing light overpowered the receding night, she stood there for some time—longer than she could fathom, watching it all unfold before she heard the voice again saying:

“I am JOY! I am the beautiful sunrise after an endless night. I am the light ever-building across this land. I am here—right here—right now—waiting for you. Just open your heart and let me in.”

A tear began to slide down her cheek, and she let it run nearly to her chin before wiping it off with her sleeve.

“New day,” the voice said. “New sun on the rise.”

She nodded, “New day,” she repeated. “New sun, but….”

choose joy“I am JOY!” the voice crooned encouragingly. “I am JOY! Say it.”

Tears were streaming effortlessly now—sobs erupted from her chest, and as her knees began to buckle she sat back heavily onto the bed.

“Empty your heart of sadness to clear the space for me. Let the sun shine now into the darkness of your sorrow to light the way for your new day. …I am JOY!” it repeated with emphasis.

“I am JOY,” she mumbled unconvincingly. Then after a few more tissues and a deeper breath she said it again, “I am JOY.”

The night was fast giving way to the strength of the rising sun, and soon a golden ball of brightness appeared above the distant hills—a light so bright that eyes could not contain it, but her heart could feel it filling with a soothing warmth and a unusual sense of peace. She stood, parting the curtains again to view the new day birthing before her now.

“I am JOY,” she repeated to the window pane with greater hope than before. As the sun rose higher and higher in the sky she repeated it even louder, “I am JOY!”joy2.jpg

“I AM JOY!” she suddenly yelled and scared herself at the intensity of the lifeforce behind the statement. Where had that come from?

Again, she looked about the room void of a presence beyond her own and asked, “But what am I to do without him?”

A lilting laughter sang between her ears, and the voice said, “Just let there BE Joy!”

 

Anger Only Breeds More Anger

Fshirt.jpgor me the message on the sweatshirt says what I’m honestly feeling right now: “I’m practicing mindfulness, compassion and loving kindness so don’t piss me off.”

The latest homicidal lunacy in San Bernardino, California, Dec 2, 2015, conducted by a few misguided and deeply unstable individuals who were trying to find some sense of meaning to their lives by killing others and themselves in the process, is both heart-sickening and totally stupid. I mean, when is homicidal-suicide ever meaningful?

And since I don’t handle intentional stupidity well; especially the malevolent stupidity that brings harm to others, I get angry. But like the shirt mentions: I’m also trying to be loving and compassionate and not allow my anger to consume me, so that inner incongruity creates tension within me over this sad and senseless replay of group-inspired insanity. I’m sure many of us are feeling this same thing.

I mentioned November 16th in the posting on Assessing Terrorism that “Most people fear and powerwho use this “fear” tool are banking on the flight response more than the fight response.”

Do they not yet understand that freedom-loving people everywhere do not flee when threatened? We fight!

When we (who love freedom and the right to make our own choices about our lives) are threatened, we react immediately with anger not fear: Angry words, angry gestures, and anger-based counter threats at those wishing to harm us. Didn’t wars in Afganistan and Iraq show assaulters anything about how nations with epic arsenals react to homicidal attacks?

However sometimes there are those who may over-react to threats of being assaulted and use a very broad rhetorical brush to paint ALL members of associated religions or races for the homicidal intentions of only a angerfew individuals. That is unfortunate and equally stupid, and because I don’t handle “stupid” well, THAT makes me angry—again, the shirt sentiment.

With political campaigns in full swing, there is no excuse when idiots on podiums in front of television cameras use these incidents to inflame their vocal audiences with unified hatred and spewed bigotry.

The problem is that idiots are idiots, no matter the national origin or the party affiliation. And audiences who buy into their political messages of hate are just as malleable as the misguided recruits for homicidal suicide—they only hear what fuels their fears and their anger, because anger makes them feel more powerful.

So lehold angert’s all get a better handle on our OWN anger and let’s make positive changes in our lives and in the world around us. As I mentioned previously, I am far from a pacifist and I tame myself down daily in search of a solid, positive solution to the festering wounds of wide-spread racial tensions, religious intolerance, and opportunity inequality.

My premise is pretty simple: I know that I can’t help spread peace if I can’t hold it within myself, so it is extremely important for all of us to acknowledge our own anger at these senseless and misguided actions of individuals and groups bent on creating chaos and social anarchy.

Don’t allow it. Take a deep breath, and then another one, and say aloud:light

“I am love, I am light that outshines any darkness, and I am deeply at peace within myself as I spread this inner peace throughout the world now. And so it is.”

Don’t give in to your own anger, and for certain never allow fear to cloud your thoughts, but foremost above all else, recognize that only you can decide how you wish to react to any challenge you may face.

peace.jpgMy suggestion is to face it with grace and determination to make this a better and more loving world for everyone. That really is the only rational choice that we have here.

“The World According to Garp”

While watching the early morning news shows, that old book/movie title came to mind: The World According to Garp.

garp.jpgThe book was by John Irving, and the movie starred Robin Williams back in 1982.

When I search the dank archives of my memory, I can still recall snippets of the movie because it was a somewhat dark-themed effort at breeding reality with twisted humor, or as Wikipedia describes it:

“The story contains a great deal of (in the words of Garp’s fictional teacher) ‘lunacy and sorrow’, and the sometimes ridiculous chains of events the characters experience still resonate with painful truth.”

Why the news reminded me of the title is probably because of hearing the many laughable versions of world affairs offered by political candidates who think they want to be in charge of them all. Now THAT consideration is an Irving-esk dark comedy in concept-expansion stage—being both ridiculous and painful to watch.

For most of us, LIFE is an experience that we all share and yet recognize that each of us has our individual perspective skewed perspective.jpgon what LIFE in general means, on how it works, and why we believe that we personally matter to any of the events around us.

For our society in the broadest sense, reality itself is a consensual agreement governed by majority rule, and the majority that does rule determines the acceptance of behaviors, mores, and attitudes for the rest of us.

If we share that “consensus agreement,” it’s great—life is good. But if not, ….well I guess it depends on the majority who is ruling the rest of our hands in circle.jpgbehaviors, mores, and attitudes as to their punishment for being someone thinking or being different than they are.

This is often called the tolerance factor of a society. How expandable or rigid are the acceptability guidelines within that society?

Have you ever thought about this? What about you? How broad- or narrow-minded are your views on major issues that define our society in general?

Marcus Aurelius.jpgMutual agreement on much of anything is pretty hard to come by these days in congress or in coffee shops around the nation. But overall, opinions are plentiful.

That I believe is what we are presently hearing: huge volumes of vociferous opinions on what candidates believe people likely want to hear.

To me, what is most important is to watch and listen to the manner in which these opinions are expressed, and to note how they veer into tailored variation depending on the intended audience. If the message changes from day to day or event to event, what does that say about the speaker?

And if the message is one full of intolerance and hateful rhetoric, what does that also say about the audience listening to it?

Like the fictional character Garp, we all have our own take on the world around us—we see it as WE see it—we judge what we see by how it affects us and those we care most about.

garp plane.jpgAnd like that twisted tale of skewed perspective determining his future life tragedies, we lean toward the perspective that best matches our own.

Hopefully this revised movie version plays out better for all of us than Irving’s did.