The Quest for What We Lack

For some strange reason, the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz” kept coming intotinmanwizoz5.jpg my head this morning, saying, “If I only had a heart…”    And I of course assumed my subconscious was referring to the large “Orange One” on stage with all his daily ranting and conspiratorial lunacy. Yes, if HE only had a heart instead of that huge black hole swirling in his voluminous body.

But, he doesn’t.

So then my mind continued the “Wiz of OZ” analogy with the Cowardly Lion, who must be Congress, right?  If Congress only had the courage to stand up for our democracy’s constitution.  Yes, if only.

wizoz70thannOkay by now I’m paying attention and trying to determine who the other main players are in this mind-game parody.  Who is left: the Scarecrow, Dorothy and Toto, the Wiz himself, besides the witches good and bad, and Auntie Em.   Cheering Munchkins and Flying Monkeys must be all the rest of us, I assume, maybe representing our good and bad angels.

To me the main message of “The Wizard of Oz” depicts the search for self-awareness—where all characters set out to find the qualities that they think they lack in themselveslike the quest for self-knowledge and self-actualization.  And if we were to carry this into our present situation, I’d have to say that I think the large “Orange One” is too self-consumed to ever be self-aware, so I’ll make the analogous connections for him.

Back to matching characters to our current situation, I think Toto—the little dog—is Dorothy’s subconscious trying to guide her back to safety and sanity.

The Scarecrow was looking for a brain, right?  Or did he just represent innocence and ignorance? Who could that be, eh?  I know who I think it represents but I hate to say it here, so you’ll just have to guess.sepiadorothy6.png

But who is Dorothy?  Dorothy who searches to find who she really is and to make her way back “HOME” –who does Dorothy represent?  I think Dorothy represents the American ideal of who we are as a people trying to find our way back to being compassionate human beings who believed in fairness, equality, and the right to self-determination.

Then what does the Wizard lack and who does he represent?  Hmmm.  Well, in the show he’s a con-man.  He’s a fraud.  He pretends to know all the answers.  He tricks people.  He wizbehindcurtain67.jpgruns a phony operation to gain respect and demand adulation, but he is basically insecure and impotent.  Hmmmm. Who could that be??????

Perhaps the Prez can play two parts in this mind-parody: Tin Man and Oz Wiz.

So that leaves the good and bad witches and Auntie Em left to assess.

The witch dichotomy is dependent on your political affiliation, so I’ll leave that for personal consideration, but Auntie Em, … the maternal figure who is Dorothy’s stand-in auntieemsymbol45mother during these harsh-life conditions—who represents the safety and security of a stable, can’t–be-blown-away-by-a-tornado HOME.

She could be the symbol of Lady Liberty—the American ideological standard bearer, don’t you think?  Auntie Em as Lady Liberty.  “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  Yes, I can see that.

So, let’s bring it home here ourselves:  What is it that we the citizens of this once great country lack here, that we keep searching for in all the wrong places, …with all the wrong characters?

That’s a really good question.

characterscartoonwizozWhat do we feel that we aren’twhat do we feel that we lack—that we are trying so hard to make up for by being so gullible and naïve to believe a guy who stands behind the curtain, pulling levers and pushing buttons to make as much chaos as possible for us in our world?

Maybe as a nation of people searching for true, wise leadership, we feel that we lack genuine moral character ourselves and keep trying to find it in others who only play facsimiles of those roles on television.

[Moral character: The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits.” ]

Yes, I think we fear that as individuals we do lack moral character and instead we look for quality leadership in others to help us make it through more challenging times, rather than believing in ourselves to rise above whatever difficulties we might face.

The main problem for many of us in today’s world is that we have no idea where the attributes of moral character and quality leadership can be found, but I’m pretty sure that they aren’t behind that curtain with the Wiz. youhadthepowerallalong6.png

Let’s look in the mirror instead, because I think the entire point of “The Wizard of Oz” show was to say that’s where genuine moral character and self-determination were to be found all along.

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On Being Positive

If folks think that maintaining a positive attitude in today’s world comes easily, I can posemotibunch.jpgassure them that it isn’t.

When we are enveloped in such blatant cruelty to other human beings—strafed daily with offensive, verbal assaults on our person and our differing ideas—staying positive through all of THAT is quite a trick.

Every morning we have to armor up and set our defense shields to “DEFLECT” just tosupersademotri.png make it through the day. That’s a little sad, don’t you think? (Insert SAD- face emoji here for emphasis.)

Yesterday I watched a lovely, gentle person I know try to defend her immigration/child separation Facebook posts against cruel, heartless comments that countered her message.  I offered my simple “HEART-LIKE” (insert HEART emoji here) to her just to let her know that I stand hearteoti9with her, if only from a distance; but at the same time I know that when we engage on social media with people who strongly disagree with us and disagree with who we are as loving individuals, then they are NOT really our friends, even though they might be on our FRIENDS list.

And if we can’t handle their unkind comments, then we must either remove them as our FRIENDS or stay off the PUBLIC airwaves—it’s that simple.  But then it isn’t really simple, is it?  In fact, it’s a large, complex issue that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Unfortunately the level of venom in today’s public discussion has reached such fever ick emoti8.pngpitch that it’s like watching a foot-long hotdog being torn apart by two ravenous dogs. Something’s gonna give there—and within seconds that once-whole hotdog will never be seen again—at least in the same form that it previously was. (Insert “ICK!” emoji here.)

How can we be positive about the present state of our declining human condition?

A couple days ago I heard someone on a news show discussing what was happening to our sense of civility in general; and this person said something that I agree with: We are in an unmasking period in human interaction where the “shadow-side” of human nature is dislikeemoti84.jpgrising to the surface for all to view and assess.  No more pretending to “tolerate” others. (Never did like that word “tolerate”)

I agree.  Clearly we don’t tolerate dissension now. We don’t tolerate views that differ from our own. We don’t tolerate people who do not look like us or act like us, or talk like us. We don’t rise above our prejudices or biases—we embrace them, right? We remove the mask and say “Hey those of YOU who do not look or think, or act like me, … I hate you! And I’m proud of hating you!  So there!  Deal with it!”

As we now look closely at that unmasking of our deepest and darkest human natures, we say, “Yes, bigotry and prejudice, and racism, and homophobia, and xenophobia, etc….YES, …these all exist in our present world society and in each of us to some degree; and we are not as culturally and consciously advanced as the civilized people that we once believed our nation and the people who compose it, were thought to be.  We are barbarians still—pure and simple—we are still immersed in our primal fears of scarcity and fears of personal annihilation, and we are incapable of rising above those fears!”

We fear “otherness” in general, and in today’s permissive environment we act out those fears in the most putrefying and nauseating ways imaginable.horrifying emoti5

And that’s not just emoji “SAD-face” folks—that is emoji horrifying!    (Insert that nasty thing here.)

 

But yet, ….the POSITIVE from this great unmasking is that people can no longer hide behind who they once pretended to be—because they have been unmasked–unmasked by themselves in all their acrimonious glory–they have all exposed themselves for their true feelings on just about every imaginable subject—whether you wanted to know them or not.

gagmeface6

 

(Insert big “SMILEY-face” here.) ……

 

No, …that’s the “GAG-me” emoji.

Conundrums

Some part of me knows that whatever is happening around us or in the world at large is likely a part of something far bigger than my own comprehension and concerns.

changevoteThat same part of me that knows this, also knows that severe irritants are often the catalysts to extreme but necessary change.

That’s all well and good, but I think that this same part of me that is so all-seeing and all-knowing should now move from the back seat to the front because the view from my vehicle’s windshield is becoming much harder to navigate through when so much smoke and debris have clouded the road ahead.

What I know for certain: Something BIG is happening behind the scenes.  I know this because I can FEEL it.  It is in the energies rippling through us at present.

I don’t know exactly what that BIG thing is other than it feels a lot like the energies of mass rebellion.

When major shifts in awareness occur they don’t usually come with pounding fists andchangeandcourageflag screaming animosities—although those are the results of voices too long ignored.  No, genuine awareness shifts come in more quiet clandestine ways. Those are by far the sneakiest and most effective changes made around us.  I think that is happening now.

The biggest conundrum I personally face is the one of determining the right response for me to what I am seeing and feeling happening to this country and to the world we share.

Of course I want to rant and rave, to stomp my feet and shake my fists. I want to shout: “Stop being so stupid people!  Don’t you see what you are doing by allowing this constant insanity to persist?”

And yet I know that adding to the venomous airwaves only increases the likelihood that no real, higher consciousness change will occur.

What I view as hopeful and extremely powerful are the semi-quiet, large gatherings of people—voters—who are ready for full-scale change out of representatives to congress.  swarzneggerquotecourage.pngThey feel, like I do, that if our elected representatives are allowing this presidential insanity to continue, then they are not really concerned about our democracy, our constitution, or our nation’s defense or perpetuation.

They are more concerned about “tweets.”

That’s a bit disconcerting, don’t you think—for Congressional representatives and senators to be concerned about presidential “tweets.”

Long ago, Stephan Crane wrote about a young, civil-war soldier’s wish for a bloodstained uniform to show others he met along redbadgecourage.jpgthe road that he wasn’t the coward that he had just proven himself to be, because the blood itself stood as “A Red Badge of Courage” for all to see, even when he wasn’t courageous or brave enough to face the enemy fire head-on that day he ran from the battle.

IT’s a bit of disheartening to see so many in Congress afraid of a little battle of words when they are so willing to send our soldiers into real battles to die for our supposed American ideals that they themselves are so afraid of upholding.

My personal conundrum is how to be “positive” about this ludicrous yet deadly serious situation.

Well, the one positive choice that I do see in all of this chaotic mess is the plan to change out our elected representatives with new ones who DO care about our American ideals and our democratic constitution.

That sounds like a good plan to me.  No conundrum there.

Let’s just do it!

The TAO (the Dao)

“Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea.”
~Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching~thetaoqquote5.jpg

“Tao or Dao: 道 is a Chinese word meaning ‘way’, ‘path’, ‘route’… ‘Tao signifies the primordial essence or fundamental nature of the Universe. Tao is not a ‘name’ for a ‘thing’ but the underlying natural order of the Universe. It is thus ‘eternally nameless’ and to be distinguished from the countless ‘named’ things which are considered to be its manifestations.”    (posted on Ecological Consciousness)

I love Lao Tzu and Tao Te Ching quotes—they just feel good to me—like TRUTH feels when it resonates inside me.

Can’t say I am very learned in The Tao or Taoism, but I can say that what little I know, moontao5.jpgagain, feels more like a natural expression of myself in some way.

The Yin-Yang symbol (called the Taiji) is often used to represent the concept of the Tao—the in and out, the give and take, etc., often even representing the seeming polarity of the masculine or feminine principles.  But rather than as opposing forces, the pairings are meant to represent the complementary forces required to signify the wholeness or unity even in apparent duality—just as salt and pepper are simply condiments meant to enhance flavor, while still being distinct in their own attributes and coloring.taoquote67

I knew I could do an entire post with nothing but Lao Tzu or Tao Te Ching quotes because these abound everywhere and they still seem applicable to our present life.

The Tao Te Ching is a Chinese classic text traditionally credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi, or presently known as Lao Tzu. That’s a long time for catchy phrases to be hanging around and still be considered as ancient wisdom.

Even simple ones still have tremendous depth of meaning:

quotTao_Te_Ching_Ch_11.jpg

 

Wow…that one hit me in numerous ways—the positive and negative space references—the substance and emptiness aspects. The “It’s all in how you fill the emptiness” aspect that can be so significant to the vessel’s importance—just ask any psychologist the truth of that statement.

There is so much potential in that one simple quote.

Then there is one quote more applicable to what I normally write about on self-transformation:taoquote63

 

So while I may not know much about Taoism other than I really like the quotes of Lao Tzu, in some ways I feel that I really do know the TAO—which is the essence of the universe that expresses itself through us in unique and powerful ways, because that’s the part of my life that I like the best.

The ‘Believability’ Factor

As an avid reader, I finished another book today. This one was fiction, and was a collection of one author’s nine short stories compiled into book form. She was a newer panashreal.jpgauthor with impressive academic credentials, not to mention a few awards under her looks-to-be-slim belt.

At times when reading I thought she was very skilled at the nuances of story-telling, and then there were other times when I thought, “Oops, … she just lost me there. Her inexperience is showing—her youthfulness has side-tracked a believable sequence of events, or disrupted a once-believable character study.”

She simply hadn’t lived enough of life to make those character interactions truly believable, nor had she been in enough difficult situations to portray what likely happens to those unfortunate people who do become involved in them. Even fantasy writing has to be “believable” to fully engage the reader.believ78.jpg

While she had mastered the word skills, she lacked believability in her accounting of the tales to make the book commercially viable and recommendable to others.

And other than as a book review, this matters here why?

In today’s world where ‘believability’ and ‘credibility’ are under constant assault by the supposed leaders of our nation, what was so offensive to me about a fiction/fantasy book that didn’t seem real enough?

Well as a writer, I know that the best quality fiction reads as though it were absolute believastory81.pngfact—like you could walk out your front door one morning and experience those very same strange interactions yourself and relate completely to what the book’s characters were feeling, saying, and stewing-about-doing in them.  Conspiracy theorists wouldn’t even have to stretch to claim that situations such as these had actually happened, because it simply seemed real enough to be a likely occurrence with believable character interactions given the entirety of the proposed situation. That’s good writing.

Whereas in this present reality-as-we-know-it, as an actual person living in this democratic country on the verge of major internal insurrection, I also know that we hold “facts” as being the basis for any federal investigation and that there are NO such things as “alternative facts” allowed in those, despite what the President’s “reality-show” counselor seems to imply.snlpresident show.jpg

It just doesn’t happen.  Laws are well-defined. The constitution is fairly specific on possible considerations and limitations. There are evidence-based criteria for a jury to consider. You can’t just spin a yarn and expect the people who actually have the facts at hand, to believe it.

So despite the fantasies portrayed by the President and his co-conspirators in this distraction of the Mueller probe and truth-dodge of what actually occurred prior and since his election to the office, the story line for this timeframe doesn’t have to just seem believable; it actually has to be the truth.

People may have read a fiction novel and engaged with it so completely that they claimed it was factual, even when it wasn’t.  That might be delusional on the reader’s part, but that is simply good writing by a skilled author.

But a President of the United States cannot spin one yarn after another nor hoist one surviverealitytv.jpgconspiracy theory after another up the flagpole to see who salutes it then expect the judicial branch of the government to not have (or use) corroborating or refuting evidence to substantiate or dismiss the claims made.

The actual Presidency of the United States of America is not a “Reality Show” where truth is what the main character claims it to be. That’s the fantasy Presidency—and that show is PURE FICTION.

The true Presidency is the top administrative office of the land meant to exemplify supreme integrity and purposeful leadership that holds democracy and the American values to the highest standards for all—both in our nation and throughout the world.

It is NOT one man’s sandbox for building fantasy scenarios to demolish our constitutional underpinnings.

It is NOT his propaganda factory for creating a personal, bullet-proof empire guarded by the Nation’s Secret Service with intelligence and law enforcement professionals at his disposal per his every whim.

It is NOT his latest lucrative business enterprise peddling influence and commemorative coins for selling our national defense down the sewer for higher media ratings.

This President’s believability factor has bottomed out to zero.   johntruthtrumEven FOX News is disputing his latest accounts.  There are many now who simply don’t buy his fictional plotlines.

Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until the last page of this “book” to see how the story ends.

But I don’t think it will turn out well for any of us.

 

“If Not Now, Then When?”

(Thanks to Tao & Zen on  May 25  for this posting from Lama Surya Das in 1994)

(I personally align to no particular religion, but am open to quality spiritual thought. I like Buddhism for its psychological depth and self-examination aspects. I like Hinduism for its ancient Vedic Seers (as well as more modern saints) who were capable of parting the veil obscuring our perceptions on this life. I like agnostics who claim that we can’t possibly know God based solely on our limited comprehensions. And I especially like the wisdom of our own Higher Self aspects that define our life experiences within the context that this human vehicle is capable of understanding.  To me, this article expresses all of those ‘likes’ by simply discussing Dharma—the way of awakening to one’s fullest potential.)

“Buddhist meditation is the heart of the path of awakening. It is called Dharma… the way of awakening to one’s fullest potential, in Western terms.buddhamedpic5.jpg

‘Awakening from what?’ you might ask. Awakening from the sleep of semiconsciousness, the dream of delusion. Awakening to enlightenment, illumination, freedom, nirvanic peace, inner peace as well as outer peace.

This is a path that we travel. It is not a dogma or belief system that we need to accept. In fact, as a very wonderful wise friend of mine, an American lama, once said, “It doesn’t really matter what we believe. It only matters what we do and are.”

I found that interesting. In Buddhism we usually say it doesn’t matter what we do, it matters how aware we are. It shows that the outer and inner are totally inseparable. It is what we are that counts, but that is what we do, actually. Our inner state shows up in our behavior…

If we practice this path, we experience the fruits, the results. Each of us innately has that Buddha potential or Buddha-nature, enlightened perfect nature.

Not just in us, like a needle in a haystack, so hard to find; rather, it is us, just waiting to be realized fully, or actualized. So this path of meditative practice, of self-inquiry, of cultivation of awareness is a practice path that we travel ourselves. Not a dogma we need to believe.

This meditative practice is like a mirror to help us see ourselves, to better know ourselves, thoroughly — our true selves, not just our superficial personalities and conditioned social selves, our persona, but our true nature, our true selves. To unfold and realize that is possible. That’s what we call awakening the Buddha within.

An ancient rabbi, Hillel I think, said, “If not you, then who? And if not now, when?” If you are not the Bodhisattva, a selfless spiritual activist or hero serving the welfare of beings, who will be?

And if not now, when? This is a call to action–not just worldly, compulsive busy-body-like activity, but a call to Buddha-activity, enlightened activity, enlightened living… ifnotnowwhen7.jpg

Not just living wisdom from the eyebrows up, totally cerebral and intellectual. Rather, embodying truth and living it.”

~ Lama Surya Das ~ Excerpts from “Dharma Talk,” October 24, 1994; Cambridge, MA.

 

“Blowciferousnous”

There.  I’ve created the perfect descriptor for politicians who try to cash in on tragedies just to get their own mugs on the evening news and to hear themselves “blowfuscate” about flagrant injustices occurring near them while pushing their own tainted agendas that helped create the very situation they are now railing against.  Most politicians in today’s world are nothing more than “blowciferous.”3ofhtenotsamekind.jpg

Political blowhards like to hear themselves talk—a lot! And they really prefer a captive audience like they can garner at press briefings after the latest school shooting. Senators, governors, the president—they all line up to so sadly address the cameras with meaningless platitudes and empty promises for a better tomorrow than today had unfortunately turned out to be.

Vociferousness is what they offer—a vocal outcry for pseudo-reform that isn’t really reform at all—just meaningless noise from a propagator whose sole purpose was to appear at the news conference itself—not to help those in the aftermath who are genuinely scared or are grieving with deep loss—but to step in front of the gathered crowd and act like they are taking charge of the situation, when instead they are the very people who have helped to create it.

Blowhards obfuscate—they shout their indignation to obscure the situation’s genuine meaning and manipulate the truth of what has actually occurred.

Blowciferous politicians bewilder their listeners with coarse banality and unintelligible logic. They portray themselves as champions for social change, when of course, they are just the opposite.  Status quo serves them far too well to support meaningful change in our society and culture.

santafehsshooting

 

Any tragedy deserves heartfelt sympathy, as do the people who are most affected by the loss of loved ones. To them there are no words that can ease the depth of their pain—no “our hearts and prayers go out to the families” bullshit spoken far too frequently and with less and less conviction each time repeated.

And absolutely NO ONE deserves self-serving politicians trying to cash in on the latest school shooting with no other remedy for protecting our kids than to “arm the teachers.”

In my humble opinion, NRA-loving politicians should be careful with those suggestions.

If you arm enough teachers as the primary solution to our most serious social problems, you might not be around long to witness the result of your actions because teachers are already pretty fed up putting their own lives on the line day after day—without receiving combat pay.  Even teachers have limited patience when their elected officials refuse to do their jobs.

The real solution:  Don’t add more guns to schools!

Make the change at the ballot box—change representatives.  Eliminate gun lobbies. Stop celebrating the gun culture.

It’s time for meaningful social change and time for a new breed of representatives of peace-loving people.

No more “blowciferous” politicians!  Tell them simply: “Do your job or be thrown out.”

And then actually DO IT.giffordsquote.jpg