Evolution and Transformation

I’m still considering the previous post with theworldreligionsnames.jpg “Evolutionary Tree of Religions” showing the known beliefs of cultures from our earliest documented origins to the present, when I assess my own life for my personal belief transformations throughout the years and decades of my own existence.

As children, we don’t have much say in how we are taught to perceive the world around us and view our place in that world. Those beliefs were thrust upon us by parents or religious leaders, or we were simply immersed into them by the religious community’s power in our birth location.

age of questionsWhen we reach a more questioning age, we start to have doubts about what we’ve been told to believe because we can then pit that prescribed belief against what we see for ourselves as occurring to us and around us—what we feel as opposed to what we’re told to feel.

That’s when the “WHY’s” start to accumulate within us, and we conclude there must be more to this world and to ourselves than what we have been previously told by others. That’s also when we start searching for our own answers to the deepest questions of WHY we exist and what we are supposed to do with our lives.

jimmycarterquotereligion.jpgThe biggest WHY I’ve always felt about organized religion in general is: Why are they trying to control my thoughts and my behavior, or trying to force me to believe what makes no sense to me?

Why are they insisting on placing blame on me for something I had nothing to do with that supposedly occurred thousands of years ago, or why are they trying to shame me simply because I am a woman?

So my own spiritual evolution has been as transformational as that chart showed, except mine happened in a considerably shorter time period. And amazingly enough, I find that the earliest form of religion known as animism, is still my basic belief because I’ve personally witnessed it through my own energy work and shamanic experiences.  Spirit is a conglomeration of energy, and it can take innumerable forms.

ANIMISM:animismrock.jpg

“Animism is the worldview that non-human entities—such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects—possess a spiritual essence. Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of some indigenous tribal peoples, especially prior to the development of organized religion.” (Wikipedia)

I would hardly call my evolution of beliefs primitive, but I would certainly call most organized religions as such: primitive, judgmental, biased, misogynistic, deceptive, and meant to control the masses using psychological ploys with threats of physical harm to non-compliers.

Check out the chart again for the most recent dates of those religions mentioned and see when your own religion originated. See the branch that it grew from. See the root of that branch and the tree it connects to. Everything on that chart is simply a matter of a particular interpretation per region of what is happening to us and around us.

Every different religion is a particular perspective associated with an original founder’s perception or interpretation of life and how it developed.

Then others took that original perception and tweaked it to match their own interpretations for whatever reason they felt was valid.

Maybe God spoke to them. Okay.  Maybe God speaks to anyone who will actually listen. OR….maybe they interpreted whatever they “heard” or intuited as GOD when it might have been something else laying down rules of shoulds or should-nots.

sciencereligion.jpgBut again, why were these behavioral rules even necessary if not to control the masses and justify a self-appointed leader seizing control over a group of people?

One thing you cannot do when you assess a religion’s origins is to take the personal motive out of them.

No matter the myth—no matter the story, someone said to others: “This is the world as I see it—This is the world as I was TOLD it is to be—This is how we live our lives—This is who we pay homage to and worship in specific ways—This is MY truth and it must also be YOUR truth because I said it is so—This is MY belief and it shall now be YOURs as well, because I am stronger and more powerful than you are—My followers are stronger and more powerful than your followers—We will crush you if you do not follow our beliefs because MY GOD IS GREATER THAN YOUR GOD!“  10powerfulreligions

Etc., etc., through the ages. Dominant religions were the ruling religions.

So if you take the human motives out of organized religion, there is little left to actually believe other than what one personally interprets for oneself.  I think that’s called subjective relativism.

Relativism is the idea that views are relative to differences in perception and consideration. There is no universal, objective truth according to relativism; rather each point of view has its own truth.” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Or that’s simply my opinion of organized religions: They seem to operate from their own concept of cultural relativism which tends to negate the opinions of others not within their circle of influence.

 

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The SUM of Our Stories

We are the SUM of our stories.

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The world around us becomes the result of what we tell ourselves is happening.

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We interpret our lives and the doings we experience within the confines of our beliefs. And we make what we see and feel adhere to those beliefs.

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From our first attempts at understanding all of life and our relationship to it, we created tales—myths—origins for ourselves within the context of what we saw and felt and intuited about our situations.

This chart—“The Evolutionary Tree of Religion” is fascinating to study and contemplate—at least fascinating to those of us who find it as such.

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If you can’t quite make out the details, I broke it into 3 parts, but if you need a closer look, go to the Facebook address listed for HumanOdyssey.

The VICTIM or the WORLD

“So the question is fundamentally, do you define yourself as a victim of the world, or the world?”  – Alan Watts watts meaing oflife56.jpg

Here in this short video narrated by Alan Watts,  he asks “What does it mean to spiritually awaken?”

video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7blUYJm6i-c

“So then, here’s the drama. My metaphysics, let me be perfectly frank with you, are that there is the central Self, you could call it God you could call it anything you like. And it’s all of us. It’s playing all the parts of all beings whatsoever everywhere and anywhere. And it’s playing the game of hide and seek with itself. It gets lost, it gets involved in the farthest out adventures but in the end it always wakes up, and comes back to itself. And when you’re ready to wake up, you’re gonna wake up. And if you’re not ready, you’re gonna stay pretending that you’re poor little me.”   – Alan Watts

Alan Watts is always interesting to hear; and his take on enlightenment is more direct and sometimes more cutting than the often gentle approaches of Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra.  But Watts is usually pretty clear and concise in his talks.

watts univers quote.jpgHe gets to the point quickly, but with more ‘attitude,’ I guess you could call it, than the others. (Some might call it an ‘entertainer’s ego’. Others might say he simply loved to poke fun at others who claimed to be “enlightened,” as well as poking fun at himself for his “polished spokesmanship” on the many subjects that he discussed.)

His online biography is interesting and quite colorful. He died in 1973 at the age of 58, but his influence lives on in all the YouTube videos that are broadly shared throughout social media. He has presently entered a resurgence of popularity for his sharp frankness and critique of religious institutions in general.

His second video listed here is called “How to Wake Up”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAQ4FuKlY9g

I personally find it helpful to sample all the flavors of enlightenment that others offer to us. Perhaps our own personalities respond best to one over the others.

To me as an energy worker, the feel of listening to Watts is not as peace-inducing as Tolle’s more soft and gentle approach.  Watts affect is more like stepping naked onto the shower floor and then turning on the water—where the first blast sprayed from the showerhead is cold and shocking before the warmer water rises through the pipes.

But in the 1960’s and 70’s—during the rise of the ‘Flower Children,’ he was the man to hear.

alanwattsoceanquote56.jpg

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.

“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.

 

Dueling Beliefs

dueling beliefs.jpgMany thoughts were swirling this Christmas season, as I recollected memories of friends and family who have passed from this earth-based existence.

Even the day of the BIG day, I shared a Facebook post on the essence of the season being that of peace and love, then immediately thought of a departed friend who would have countered my post with her own dueling-belief version stating that the reason for Christmas is Jesus, period.

Well, in a sense, yes, the day represents his birthday, whether factual or not (but since truthbelief.pngwhen does FACT ever matter to those who strongly believe the opposite) however, there is a symbolic representation of what the man Jesus represented to those around him at that time in the history of the world, as well as to the present world society that has interpreted his messages in unique and divergent ways.

Her particular beliefs were cemented in a few specifics of interpretation and appropriate “Christian” attitudes for her to maintain. When I first met her, she made that point clear to me from the start.

There was no diverging or differing in her religious belief system. As one might also expect, her political beliefs were very similar in effect.

She proudly was who she was—take it or leave it—staunchly content and vociferously defendant of her self-proclaimed “Christian Republican” label.  And when we talked, we avoided subjects that might lead to our confrontation of opinion.nograyarea

To her, there was no variance—no leanings to consider— life was right or wrong, black or white with no tolerance for gray shades—she was that certain in her opinions because she also believed that they defined her as a person.

But many years ago (2011) when she became stricken with some form of digestive cancer and I (with REIKI and hypnosis) did whatever I could to help her maintain her health and life activities for as long as was possible, her certainty and solidity began to waver.

She actually mellowed a bit. She considered the word “maybe” in her conversations on what had once defined her life.

So this morning when I shared that one little post that might have inspired an opposing opinion had she still been around, I reminded myself that her countering voice was now forever silent here, but I seriously wondered what her opinions might be now that she had transcended this plane of physicality. How do you see it from that vantage my friend? transcendence.jpgIs it all the same as you clung to here or is it a bit more loosely considered there? I’d love to know.

I can understand a sense of desperation in some beliefs—the emotional commitment to basing your very existence on holding some key tenants to be beyond reproach, but I also understand that when death calls you home, earthly beliefs mean little if they can’t stop death’s beckoning hand. At times such as those, inner peace may mean the difference in letting go of life with love or fighting to the last breath with fear of what lies beyond breath itself.

I hope she chose love.chooselove.jpg

That love would have sustained her and aided her transition to the next level. If she truly believed the energetic essence rather than the strict doctrine of what she once stated, she let love guide her home.

So this morning I sent blessings to her wherever she resides in the ethers, for that once strongly-countering voice I can hear echoing in my head.

At Christmas time I still think of you, Carolyn, …with a smile.

How to Reset the Mind

As I mentioned previously, new info sources are really flowingdeepak2.jpg before me now. Saw an article this morning by Deepak Chopra, MD, who most everyone on the planet who is and has been into spirituality for the last 20 years, knows in some way.

I’ll post a few way-too-long excerpts before I make my own comments:

 “Does the Human Mind Need a Fresh Start?” By Deepak Chopra, MD

In SF Gate – On November 20, 2017

https://www.deepakchopra.com/blog/article/5915?sso_code=eyJpdiI6IlNPZHBsUDljdUZZcHpwUFpRZlFcLytBPT0iLCJ2YWx1ZSI6IkZFY245OUFGNGQwWHlLcXQ3Vm8zXC9UMjBYTlR6YlJLTXJHb0tXWGM4N1dOWTc1Z1lIbmR4ZnkrXC91cWU3Y1hSaW9kcERCdmNsUE5EdENnbzNXRUhtbWcwVk5EZUF0Z3Yza25YV1BlSlYzWDQ9IiwibWFjIjoiN2NmMWI0OGZhYTUyZTFjMDk4ZDlhNjMxMjE4YjZhNzlkZDY5OGM3NWY1ZDE4MWE5MDc1MDUyZGMzNWJkZTU3ZSJ9

“Most people would agree, even without a degree in psychology, that many if not most problems are created by the mind. …

resetmind“Medicine aims to relieve people of mental distress, with the goal of addressing a mood disorder like depression, for example, and returning the mind to a normal state. But this only highlights our confusion over what “normal” means, because there are plenty of ills created by people who would pass the test for normality. …

“It isn’t the brain that has created such misery and confusion, such lack of self-awareness; therefore, neuroscience and psychotropic drugs aren’t going to save us. It’s the mind’s status in everyday life that lies at the heart of the dilemma.  Here are the basic areas of confusion and conflict that remain unsolved.

  • Is human nature changeable? If so, why is history a litany of the same oppression, war, and strife repeated century after century?
  • Are we inherently good or evil? Where do good and evil come from?
  • Is the unconscious a dark, fearful realm or the source of inspiration, insight, and love?
  • Why is it so difficult to curb the tendency toward anger, fear, envy, and insecurity that lies just beneath the surface when people are put under stress?
  • Why are whole populations addicted to us-versus-them thinking? What makes common humanity so feeble in comparison?
  • Finally, why is it so difficult to find happiness? Is happiness ultimately a fleeting state, a blip in an existence ruled by every kind of unhappiness?

“One reason that these questions remain unanswered is that modern society has devised no kind of answer that seems to fit. These aren’t medical questions, nor are they within the domain of scientific problems.  Psychology as currently practiced is about relieving the mental distress of people who need it, not diagnosing and treating “normal” people. Philosophy and religion are on the wane so drastically that they have little influence, and it’s not clear whether religion in particular is part of the problem or part of the solution. Secularism based on reason has its advantages in dispelling myth and superstition, but rational, dispassionate science gave us atomic weapons and ever-more-lethal means of mechanized death. ….lifechange.jpg

“These vexing problems aren’t being laid out to sound gloomy, but to place a proposition on the table, the proposition that the human mind needs a fresh start. This is the only path to redefining what it means to be human. Despite the evolutionary argument that would make us prisoners of the past (violent because of the lower brain, predacious because of the need to compete for food and mating rights, afraid because of the need for continual defense in the harshness of natural surroundings, etc.), there is an equal argument for free will, higher consciousness, our so-called better angels, loving kindness, and everything else one associates with enlightened humanity. …

“No one doubts that such qualities exist, and they too are mind-created. So at bottom we aren’t talking about the human mind, or human nature, as inherently evil, ignorant, and self-destructive. Instead, the human mind and human nature are divided, and the division exists in everyone. Realizing this fact, most of the solutions to human ills come down to the same thing: coaxing people to identify with the positive side of human nature and denying or releasing themselves from the negative side. …

“In this case it refers to the mind but not to the totality of awareness—that’s the clue to a workable solution to the divisions created by the mind. Awareness is the foundation of thought but it isn’t a thought. It is the foundation of good and bad behavior, positive and negative impulses, but awareness doesn’t behave or feel impulsive. By analogy, awareness is like color. Horrible and beautiful images use color, but color itself isn’t horrible or beautiful by nature. …

“This single fact allows us to know ourselves in a new way, to give the mind a fresh start. Everything we call innate about the mind is conditioned, learned, constructed, inherited, reinforced, and struggled against. …

universalconsciousness3.jpg“It is inevitable that consciousness wants to know itself, unlike the mind, which spends endless time and energy not knowing itself. The inevitability of consciousness is the second greatest insight of the world’s wisdom traditions—let’s see how it expresses itself in our time.”

***

Ok, ….so aside from the fact that I wish Deepak would condense his article a bit more into a few specific thoughts to explore rather than defining the entire human condition in one blog post, the key point I got from it was all of humanity’s problems stem from our conditioned responses to every aspect of the world that we inhabit, and that we need to reset our minds to change the inevitable conclusion that we default to, which is our being preprogrammed for violence and self-preservation.  (“You want to be good—then stop being bad” sort of thinking.)

The main questions that he raises here on humanity’s potential for changing itself are important ones to consider further:

  • “Is human nature changeable?
  • Are we inherently good or evil?
  • Is the unconscious a dark, fearful realm or the source of inspiration, insight, and love?
  • Why is it so difficult to curb the tendency toward anger, fear, envy, and insecurity that lies just beneath the surface when people are put under stress?
  • Why are whole populations addicted to us-versus-them thinking?
  • Why is it so difficult to find happiness?”

Here are MY bullet points pertaining to that:

  • I’m sure that every therapist in existence today makes a living dealing with those same key issues.
  • Self-help gurus make their fortunes providing palatable answers and working solutions to those same questions for the crowds who follow them.
  • Philosophers and theologians have staked their life’s work on providing theses and institutional hypotheticals pertaining to the countering of man’s innate badness tendencies with man’s potential qualities for goodness.
  • There are real-world ego/financial-based reasons shown above that may stymie genuine progress in evolving mankind’s earth-based consciousness.

everyconsciousne.jpgAnd if I understood what Deepak was trying to explain, he is saying that “consciousness” (here meaning the Great Awareness—Universal Existence—GOD) is the infinitely larger reservoir of ALL THERE IS TO KNOW, while the human mind is more finite and self-focused on its own perpetuating state of existence within the human vessel.

So when we can expand our awareness beyond the limited self and tap into the larger UNIVERSAL AWARENESS consciousness, we have the potential for changing the human condition and humanity itself for the future.

At least I hope that’s what he was saying.meditationsit.jpg

He’s been pushing meditation and spiritual transcendence for decades, so focusing on connecting into the Higher Aspect Consciousness is his suggestion to resetting the human mind to recognize its potential for goodness and maximum co-creativity for our world.

But retraining ourselves also involves lengthy undoing of previous training (from our infancy onward by parents, teachers, religions, peers, media, etc.). That’s why there are so many practicing psychotherapists, and I bet they do way more untraining than retraining.

reset button

Too bad we aren’t like our computers in that respect. You hit the reset button with your fingers crossed and your mouth held just right, and hope for the best.