The River of Feelings

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“There is a river of feelings within us, and every drop of water in that river is a feeling. To observe our feelings, we sit on the bank of the river and identify each feeling as it flows by. It may be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. One feeling lasts for a while, and then another comes. Meditation is to be aware of each feeling. Recognize it, smile to it, look deeply into it, and embrace it with all our heart. If we continue to look deeply, we discover the true nature of that feeling, and we are no longer afraid, even of a painful feeling. We know we are more than our feelings, and we are able to embrace each feeling and take good care of it.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh
Photo: © Yvonne D. Williams

For some reason this Thich Nhat Hanh quote stuck in my head when I read it because I know what he is referring to—I’ve felt it myself—the stepping out of intense feeling, no matter how painful it may be, and simply watching it flow over us as we remain sitting on the bank in silence before the enormity of the water passing through on its journey elsewhere.

If you aren’t sitting a part from it on the bank, that “River of Feelings” is a flow we continually ride—sometimes in a kayak gliding above the water and sometimes in an inner-tube with half our body immersed into it.kayakriverswirl67.jpg

So for us to say that we do not “feel” something emotionally is to say that we are riding the kayak as we skim the waves while still feeling the froth of turbulence. We may bob around a bit with emotion, but we’ve elevated our heads above the water and as long as we remain upright, we know that we won’t drown.

Inversely, when we are immersed in the feeling, we become the feeling and may struggle for our lives; clinging tightly to our inner-tube to keep our heads above water—for fear it drowns us with wave after wave of intense, gut-clenching emotion.

tube on river67Grief is an inner-tube type feeling. So is rage. It’s easy to be swamped when you immerse yourself in those feelings.

Some would say depression is such a feeling, but I believe that depression isn’t really a feeling as much as it is the result of losing the inner-tube completely and accumulating body fatigue from continually treading water without relief in sight.

So what is the difference between riding the kayak and sitting on the bank?

The kayak provides an experiential option for riding the feelings we naturally have during the course of our lives. It gives us buoyancy and distance from the worst of the emotional waves sloshing about us.

The bank is an entirely different perspective on emotional impaction. From the bank you do not participate in the feeling, you only observe it as it comes and goes, and try not to judge its rightness or wrongness; its power or onriverbank45.jpgaffectation on you.  You acknowledge it as it impacts you and note what is being felt, but you let it go—you let it move on and away without clinging to it—without wallowing in it or calling it back to re-experience, over and over.

It’s not easy sitting on the bank and observing your own river of feelings; and sometimes it’s hard to even find a kayak from which to navigate the powerful river of emotions that we feel.  At times when life takes a tumultuous turn for us, we feel fortunate enough to simply have that inner-tube to help keep our heads above the overwhelming waves.

What I think Thick Nhat Hanh was saying in this quote is that observing from the bank (meditation) is the far safer option for dealing with intense feelings, because it allows the greatest perspective on the river of emotion itself that we must experience over the course of our lives.

As humans, we will have good days and bad ones—people will come to us and then leave us through disagreements, grievances or death.

During the course of our lives, we make efforts to achieve or acquire what we do not have, and those efforts are sometimes successful and sometimes not.

We love and we lose love.

We agree and disagree with others, and feel both great joy and great fear at many aspects of life, including our own mortality.

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But during the course of our lives, that river of feelings flows on and on, over familiar ground or new ground—but it keeps moving onward until we individually feel no more and merge again with the Great Ocean of Consciousness that logs “all feelings” as simply a part of the living experience.

So keep your inner-tube always handy, and find a kayak when you can do so to keep your head higher above the waves; but if possible, try instead the view from the bank for its safer, broader perspective, and simply allow that emotional river to flow on by without judgment or clinging.

I know—easier said than done—but it IS possible to do it. Trust me on this one.

 

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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.

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You Are Not Alone

Quote from: Psychic Medium Savonn Champelle

“It is during the darkest moments in our lives that the light shines the brightest and it lets us know that it always was, always is and always will be there. All we needed to do is connect to it, tap into it and led it guide us. Many times during those ‘dark’ moments we can feel abandoned by Spirit or let down because we feel savonnangel.jpgsomething is happening to us, when in reality something is actually being ‘Birthed’ through us and a powerful healing and transformation is taking place ❤ When going through hard times, or ‘dark’ times in your life call out to the Light within you, Call out to your Angels and simply ask what is the healing and transformation that is wanting to happen through me? What is this situation here showing me? Ask them to surround you and lift you up, for you are never alone. Angels are the silent whisper that are often heard moments after asking them your question ❤ You are not alone ”

Seeing Savonn’s sentiments on Facebook this morning, it was an important reminder that this time in which we all are traversing is a tough one for many. Many are facing their own version of “dark night of the soul,” and that is not a pleasant place to visit or linger in for long.

Many have lost loved ones over the past year or two and are still stinging from the pain and emptiness in parts of their lives.

Many are feeling disconnected from life in general and feeling isolated from people that they were once close to and relied upon for support and friendship.

Others are feeling a gnawing in their gut that some part of their lives is dissolving away to nothing and the void left behind will be too overwhelming to accept.

All I can say to you who are feeling these very things is to repeat what Savonn said at the end of his comment. “You are not alone.”  Yes, the Angels are there for all of us, but more than that—we are there for each other as well.

You might feel like you are very alone, but you aren’t—we’re all here.  We’ve all been where you presently stand or sit or lie or wallow or crawl, or curl up into a ball in the corner of the room. We’ve been there also.

I know that I have been, and I know from the story Savonn has told in the past that he also has been there. I don’t know what worked for him, but for myself, I told myself all sorts of things to keep pushing through the darkness back toward the light—like trudging down the dark train tunnel  where you can lighttunnel35.jpgonly see a faint hint of daylight at the end and hope like hell it isn’t the train itself.

Well, it isn’t the train.  It truly is the light. And if you just keep holding on and hanging in there—no matter how trite that sounds—that is exactly what you have to do to get through the tough times in life.

The greatest gift I ever received was the knowledge that no matter what happened to me, I could handle it.  I could get though it—someway—somehow.  I could endure it—I WOULD endure it!   And I did.

I think that is often the purpose of many ‘dark nights of the soul’—to show us what we are really made of—to show us our resilience and our determination to rise after falling—to lift ourselves off the floor when others aren’t there to assist us.  We must learn to do it for ourselves.

And in the process of picking ourselves back up, we realize that we rise stronger than we were before and wiser in many respects because we’ve dropped our delusions about our self-importance and jettisoned our assumptions/expectations for others in our life.timesaretoughyoucan do it

We learn quickly that the only person you can ever truly rely on is yourself—and that is how it must be because no matter how much any other person wants to help you—they simply can’t.  It is something only you can do for yourself.

So know now that no matter how difficult your present situation is, you are gaining great personal knowledge from it. You are testing your own metal in unimaginable ways that will make you stronger, wiser, more compassionate toward others, and far more humble than you ever believed that you could become.

The worth of a life is not measured by the quantity of the days it holds, or the material items it accumulates.  True soul-worth is gauged by the self-knowledge and wisdom gained during the process of living. That’s what you are doing at present—you are gaining hard-won knowledge and higher wisdom on your life journey.

Live with courage, my friends—live with the integrity to be who you truly are as loving individuals—and live with the determination to be the very best YOU that it is possible to be, because that is the ONLY way you can live.  notalone78.jpg

 

The Quest for What We Lack: Part Two—Family Reunions

reunion-cartoon.jpgTis the season for family reunions and family gatherings in general, involving picnics and potlucks and people you seldom see all gathered together playing nice (sort of) for a few hours.

It’s a time to clamp your jaw shut and hold your clever comebacks at the rude, intrusive, in-your-face questions—a time to curb your overwhelming desire to tell off the perpetually-mouthy aunt or the ever-drunken uncle (or role-play vice-versa)—a time to not snap at the obnoxious kids in your face all vying for attention and exuding their excessive “look at me-ness”—a time for staring with slack-jawed disbelief at all those people gathered together in this park to whom you are supposedly related and your saying aloud to yourself, “Uh-uh….NOPE…..that’s not in my genes—NO way—NO how!”minioncircus.jpg

But you know that they really are.

And these are the better thoughts you’re having at that yearly, quality “family-gathering time.”

The worse thoughts throbbing at your temples during the group get-togethers are the “family secret” thoughts that make you watch Uncle Sonny or Uncle Dicky as closely as possible, especially when little ones are near him—watch for the tell-tale enticement tricks he may have once used on you or your siblings—the “Come over here, little Suzy. Come and sit on Uncle Sonny’s lap.”  Or the little tickle games, he used to play. Or the little grabs he made when others weren’t watching and you were too unclebadtouch.jpgshocked or scared to say “Don’t do that!”—the little secrets he told you to keep just between you and him—and “Oh, here’s a shiny, silver dollar just for you if you don’t say anything to your mommy about us.”

Oh yes.  I know about Uncle Sonny and Uncle Dicky, both personally and in the late-night tales from female-adolescent slumber parties—I’ve heard the warnings not to be alone with such-and-such—to ignore such-and-such’s enticements or “games”—to watch at the next gathering for how Uncle Dicky avoids certain older adolescent family members that he once used to excessively dote on.  Yes, Uncle Dicky is a family secret—except he’s not really a secret. Nor should his behavior ever be one.

Yes, these folks, no matter how questionable some might be, are all a part of our genetic pool. Perhaps some families have a few more perversion-inclined members than others, but all families have at least one or two of them, just as all families have members who are openly addicted to drugs, alcohol, and porn.  These aren’t things that you should ignore and pretend aren’t affecting others, because they definitely do affect them—especially the vulnerable, young ones.

I’ll honestly admit that I’ve always hated family mazine not coming.jpggatherings—both with my own family and my long-time friend’s family.  The ones I’ve personally participated in, especially from childhood, were cringe-worthy for me and felt downright alien. Not only did I NOT feel like a part of that group—I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be considered a part of them.  So I have a hard time relating to the positive experience of family reunions that others crow about.

After seeing a few sets of my friends’ family-reunion photos on Facebook, I was thinking intensely about this family-gathering hostility that I still harbor; and the question arose in my mind wondering what about this family-reunion experience appeals to the folks who DO like to attend them?

I know old folks like to gather all the little chicks around and say “See what I did with my oldfolkreunionlife?!!!  Here they are—right here! You all came from ME! Aren’t I proud? Look what I did. I made ALL of YOU!”

I get that part. I’ve heard older folks say that very thing as justification for why we were all torturing ourselves playing nice for parents and grandparents during that required togetherness time.

And many folks feel that family reunions carry on traditions and ancestral heritage—long sheets of genealogical trees are spread out on picnic tables while gnarled fingers trace lineage from some distant relation in some far away land—an ancient relative who once traveled the greatest adventure of his and her life by coming to America to create this new life here for all of us—even for Uncle Sonny and Uncle Dicky, bless their pathetic, perverted hearts.

Once in awhile, the old folks exclaim with glee queentree.jpgpointing at the far-right tree branch, this part of the family tree produced some genuinely PERFECT fruits—real peaches who made the perfect peach marmalade or jam and produced the PERFECT offspring themselves who did likewise, etc..   “Look what this branch over here produced—all these great people—they are all relatives of ours! Look how successful or prominent they were/are.”

Implied, of course, is that that branch’s success meant that the entire tree trunk must have value. And likewise, so do we—even if we can’t see it materially at this time, but we know that one of our future direct ancestors might prove us worthy of having existed at this less-than-ideal time of us personally. It gives us hope for our future redemption.

I guess our weakness as human beings is that we long for connection to others—long for belonging to the greater tribe—long for some verification of our existential validity. Genealogical tracings seem to give some folks great comfort.  I can acknowledge this fact, but I’m also not maxinespeakstruthone of those folks.

“We carry their bloodline,” we say if they are positive role models for us; and if they aren’t we say, “Must have been some overnight fling with a fly-by-nighter that slipped into our lineage. They aren’t really OUR kin.  We sure don’t claim them.”  (Ever think that on someone else’s lineage tree, they don’t claim you either?)

So while I do understand that some folks really get into family reunions, to me it is another one of those quests to determine what it is that we lack in ourselves that we try to find in others and in their familial relationships to us.  What hollowness within us do we keep trying to fill in our search for definable connection to our heritage and bloodline?

disfunctionfamily56.pngAnd when we occasionally run across our own version of an Uncle Sonny or an Uncle Dicky, do we likewise just shake our heads and say “Nope!  Not in MY family tree!”

Or do we risk alienation from the family to do something about it, and make the family secrets stop?

I shouldn’t even have to ask that question.

On the Nature of Consciousness

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In this video Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD., were discussing “the Nature of Consciousness” in front of a large in-house audience. https://www.facebook.com/1975293189394717/videos/2006140909643278/

Kabat-Zinn was talking about his parents who, through their own careers and pursuits, kabatzinnport.jpgboth held very separate views of what reality meant to them, and how he, as a child and then a man, used his parents’ disparate reality views to steer his own late-adolescent life into the subjects that he pursued during his academic endeavors.

If you are into meditation or meditative philosophy, you are familiar with Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose first book that I read way-back-when was Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.

These two were talking about many of their early-academia influences such as quantum physicist David Bohm and religious scholar Huston Smith, and the Indian mystic/intellectual/philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti whose subject matter included psychological revolution, the nature of mind, meditation, and how the group psyche must evolve to meet the needs of this world now awakening. “I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. … The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

So basically during this conversation between Chopra and Kabat-Zinn, I’m chopradialog.jpgcomprehending that all these previous influential thinkers mentioned by them provided the scaffolding from which each of them constructed their own personal views on life in general, and showed them how best to perceive and interpret this reality experience for themselves.  They each created their version of reality through the influence of others who had previously affected them in some way—a newly shared perspective perhaps—a new way of thinking or considering the world around us.

And while I’m writing this, I realize that I’m doing the very same thing in my blog posts—I’m charting the history of my early influences and how my personal philosophy now reflects those influences and the thoughts first expressed long ago by others. Perhaps most of us are mere synthesizers of other’s original thought.  Possible, I suppose.  Or there is NO original thought, just periods of time in which that thought surfaces for consideration from various humanpreceiverconscious.jpgreceptors of consciousness who interpret it in their own ways.

So back to the nature of reality and consciousness: Here you have two meditation masters discussing the process and benefits of meditation, but also how reality is a personal creationan intention of how you focus your consciousness.  Okay but…..

 So what is consciousness?  (I thought that’s what they were suppose to discuss but didn’t.)

What is consciousness?  Wow—that’s a tough one (which must be why they didn’t get into specifics), other than to say consciousness is awareness of self and the greater surroundings.

Awareness is simply sentience—the ability to feel, perceive, or experience.

But interpretation of that awareness is what shifts the perception to judgment or opinion, and makes for subjective reality, which is how each of us interprets the reality experience for ourselves.

the-nature-of-human-consciousness.jpgSo then does that mean that the nature of consciousness is simply the aware observer observing that whatever is, IS? 

Or is consciousness an infinite ocean of Allness from which our meager perceptive abilities can sample only droplets at a time without flooding our sensing mechanisms (blowing our minds)?

I think Eckhart Tolle referred to this previously somewhere, that consciousness is NOT a “thing”—it is EVERYTHING—ALLNESS—the Source of us individually and ALL other possibilities.

Consciousness is that infinite, ever-present ocean—ever churning, ever pulsing, ever being, wave after wave, in indescribable vastness and indeterminable immensity—substance, void, material and non, presence, imfiniteocean56.jpgessence, simply ALL possibilities both imaginable and inconceivable.  

For humans, consciousness refers to our material processes of being alive and aware of our surroundings, including the awareness of ourselves.

But consciousness in general is indefinable and indistinguishable from what we refer to as God or Source.

No wonder Chopra and Kabat-Zinn avoided the details on the nature of consciousness in that hour discussion.

 

The Pretender

Sure, I could SO go there!

The obvious reference to this title would be the brooding hulk occupying the oval-office desk chair; when he’s not on the golf course, that is.anatomymiraclebookcov.jpg

But I was actually referring to a Jonathan Miles book I had just completed called Anatomy of a Miracle: A Novel*—The True* Story of a Paralyzed Veteran, a Mississippi Convenience Store, a Vatican Investigation, and the Spectacular Perils of Grace (with TRUE being the questionable descriptor in this story because it is, after all, a novel—meaning a work of fiction).

So my biggest question at the end of the story was is the book actually based on verified facts or is it simply fabrication pretending to be based on actual accounts?  I still can’t determine that, but I’m guessing it is fiction that reads like fact because we want it to do so.

jonmilesauthor.jpgAs the NY Times review suggested:  “…the genre that Miles is aping applies fiction’s methods to real-life stories, “Anatomy of a Miracle” offers the Victor-Victoria frisson of watching a novel impersonate a work of journalism impersonating a novel. It’s a difficult balancing act that Miles for the most part pulls off, and his book is best appreciated as a highly entertaining literary performance.”

Personally, I thought it was an astounding character study exploring the ulterior motives of everyone involved in the telling of a paralyzed vet’s miracle of suddenly rising from parkinglotstorefronthis wheelchair after four years of confinement to it–and doing so in the parking lot of the Biz-E-Bee convenience store in Biloxi, Mississippi while he waited for his helicoptering sister, Tanya, to purchase their daily smokes, beer, and Cap’n Crunch.

I’m always in awe of a skilled writer, and Miles is so gifted: intellectually, philosophically, and linguistically. He makes me want to study his techniques for topic exposition and subject exploration—how he carefully weaves the plotline into the unraveling research directions of the phenomenon; not to mention what an amazing perceiver/recorder of human nature that he is.

Then I went to the Amazon reviews of his book and was astounded by the depth or more appropriately, lack thereof, in the reviewer’s comments on it, and thought can people really be that shallow that they missed the point entirely?

biloximisscar.jpgA novel is far more than plotline. This was social comment all the way. Anatomy of a Miracle was an astute observation on what makes an unexplainable, sudden change in the human condition considered a miracle—with the word “miracle” implying an intervention by a force greater than ourselves.  Even the Vatican gets involved in considering the incident as such primarily because of reasons far too shadow-dependent to call it a holy vindication of God’s possible hand in the healing process.

But what does this sudden life change mean to the protagonist who has supposedly received this amazing proof of God’s Divine grace now bestowed upon him? And how vetchairflag.jpgdoes it likewise affect all those closest to him? As the camera pans out from the now-standing vet with the twitching legs, to how everyone around him interprets what has happened to him, and most importantly—how each proximal character determines in their own way what this supposed miracle means to each of them—how others try to use this strange phenomenon for their own personal motivations—use it as their own vehicles to a personal lifestyle change for themselves also—use it to substantiate their own faith or belief in the possibility of miracles existing; and how this phenomenal  situation benefits/affects individuals, institutions, and cultural trends in general as it becomes simply the commercializing of miraculousness.

money god miracles.jpgOne of those key questions seems to be:  “What’s the quantity of dollars you can make from a miracle, directly or peripherally?

The other key question seems to be “How can I personally cash in on that guy’s ‘miracle’?”

I called this post “The Pretender” not because the protagonist faked the miraculous regrowth of his spinal cord that allowed him to stand up out of that wheelchair in the Biz-E-Bee parking lot, but because during the process of all those people so closely scrutinizing his life, he finally stood up for the person that he was pretending NOT to be all those years prior.

He simply stopped pretending to be something other than who and what he was. That was a miracle in itself.

 

Explaining the Divine Purpose of the Universe

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Well now, THERE’s a subject to consider!

Here are a few quick notes from Eckhart Tolle’s explanation from the question he was asked on this subject.

(Here also is the actual video of Eckhart Tolle giving his explanation for the Divine Purpose of the Universe:  https://www.eckharttollenow.com/new-home-video/default.aspx?free=/594579485/ )

“The Universe wants to awaken consciousness (in general) coming into this dimension.  ..But the Divine Purpose is two-fold:  One, is the Universe delights in creation, …creativity, …creating new forms….  It delights in experiencing itself THROUGH those forms.  …ONE life expressing itself through countless life forms…

TWO, the Universe also wants to know its own source…it wants ‘source-realization’. … There is an outgoing movement into creation, but there is a return movement where it wants to realize itself, and its essence through YOU.  The Universe wants both.    …

The return movement expresses as coming totally into the present moment, stepping away from becoming, into BEING.

BECOMING is the outward movement, … BEING is the return, the BE STILL and BE in this present moment and go deeply into just BEING.  …divinepurposeunitolle56

For us (as humans living in this dimension), it means finding balance between the two.

 

For outward movement, create not from a place of Egoic need, … create from a playful participation in the world of form without losing oneself in the creation or the DOING aspect.

There are those who simply hold the frequency of the planet. (He calls them) ‘frequency-holders’ … they are more into BEING, than DOING.

There are those who are more into creation and DOING, but they must maintain their playfulness (to do so without ego fixation).

So the Divine Purpose of the Universe is to know itself, both through the creation of form and the realization of the formless essence (the Source itself). …And YOU are here as part of that (process).”

***

This makes perfect sense to me because I’ve been on both paths: Earlier in my life I was creating the activities that help to shift energetic frequency, and I am now simply HOLDING the energetic frequency as high as I possibly can.  I was once a Do-er, and now I am more of a BE-er.

And that’s okay with me, which is quite a flip for a once Type-A,  DO-er.

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