The Pleasant Strangeness of Our Times

In my opinion we are living in pleasantly strange times right now. In many respects it’s hard to pinpoint what makes it seem so strange, but it may be that there is an awakening of consciousness across the globe that is no longer possible to ignore.

70's issuesI may not have noticed this consciousness change had I been born in the mid-‘80’s or later, but I’ve been around longer than that; and there is a large difference in the general awareness level of the mass populace now as opposed to the mass populace of the ‘70’s through the ‘90’s. As a collective awareness, we’ve matured considerably from those earlier attempts at relating to others who might seem “different” from us.

I’m sure the electronics age combined with the Internet connecting us all world-wide has helped many to realize that living thousands of miles apart no longer separates and defines us the way it once did.earth

Many younger people now may even consider themselves as belonging more to the Global Community than to their own regions, especially if those regions are inclined to stagnate and maintain their centuries-old manner of operation. The ability to accept and to relish positive change is a key determiner of a society’s health and advancement.

Even the mind-set of the political party in power affects the expansion of conscious awareness. Those parties who favor inclusiveness and sharing open their consciousness to new ideas and progressive agendas. Mass consciousness truly inflates during these years of advancing social agendas over the previous war-focus.

So many factors are at play in the strangeness of these present times that it is hard to point at one or two of them and say, “It’s because this happened then that was triggered, that everything changed for the better for everyone.” And the betterment of EVERYONE is the key determiner of a society’s advancement.

white peacockPersonally I think that the energies of this TIME are quite different in quality and strength than they have been throughout my earlier lifetime. I believe that those higher-frequency energies pouring in now are playing a major role in lifting human consciousness out of the combative muck and mire where they have been stuck for centuries, and hopefully into a lighter, more spiritual focus on sharing and caring about the welfare of others, with less focus on “but what’s in it for ME” in every major administrative decision.

That perceived newer focus is based on inclusion and compassion, sharing and connecting with others in new and better ways of building community and fellowship.collective consciousness

The collective consciousness change is happening—it is underway. Hopefully it can continue to expand and rise even though we are entering the American political season where inflammatory BS usually trumps truth.

But we can prevent truth erosion by keeping our own consciousness high and above that self-serving rhetoric. Be more aware of your OWN truth and maintain that luminous connection to YOUR higher knowledge. That’s where Higher Consciousness really resides.

CSV or What Makes Real Character?

I ran across this list on Facebook and because these individual character traits are all subjects that I love to explore in my blog, I thought I’d just put the entire list on here with reference to where you can find additional information about this movement toward creating a better life for everyone and how to “grow” a better person to live that life. There are two key points I want to make on this posting before I simply provide the info that I found below:

1) This is a major change in any standard psychologist’s perspective: from what is wrong with you to what is right with you. It is called Positive Psychology. And…

2) by focusing on how to develop and “grow” those positive human traits defined below, it can actually help people live happier and more fulfilling lives.

csv handbook“CSV is based on the book Character Strengths and Virtues by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman (2004), and is an attempt to present a measure of humanist ideals of virtue in an empirical, rigorously scientific manner.

In the same way that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is used to assess and facilitate research on mental disorders, CSV is intended to provide a theoretical framework to assist in developing practical applications for positive psychology.[1] [quote taken from Wikipedia.]

“VIA Description of 24 Character Strengths for living a happy and fulfilling Life: VIA website     (VIA means “Value In Action”.)

http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths#nav )

Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and skillful use of knowledge.
1. Creativity & Imagination [originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things.
2. Curiosity [interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience]: Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; exploring and discovering.
3. Open-mindedness [holistic judgment, critical thinking]: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; weighing all evidence fairly.
4. Love of learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally.
5. Holistic perspective [wisdom]: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people.

Strengths of Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external and internal.good character traits
6. Bravery [valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; acting on convictions even if unpopular.
7. Persistence [perseverance, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles.
8. Integrity [authenticity, honesty]: Presenting oneself in a genuine way; taking responsibility for one’s feeling and actions.
9. Vitality [zest, enthusiasm, vigor, energy]: Approaching life with optimism and energy; feeling alive and motivated.

Strengths of Humanity: interpersonal strengths that involve supporting and befriending others.
flute playing boy with waterbuffalo10. Love & Compassion: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. Empathic connections with all beings.
11. Kindness [generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, “niceness”]: Doing favors and good deeds for others.
12. Social intelligence [emotional intelligence, personal intelligence]: Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself.

Strengths of Justice:  strengths that underlie healthy and harmonious community life.
13. Citizenship [social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork]: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group.
14. Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others.
15. Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same maintain time good relations within the group.

Strengths of Temperance: strengths that protect against unhealthy excess and egotism.
16. Forgiveness and mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting the shortcomings of others; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful.CSV book
17. Humility / Modesty: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.
18. Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.
19. Self-regulation [self-control]: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions (equanimity).

Strengths of Transcendence: strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning in life.
20. Appreciation of beauty and excellence [awe, wonder, elevation]: Appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life.
21. Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful of the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.
22Being Happy. Hope [optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation]: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it.
23. Humor [playfulness]: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side.
24. Spirituality [religiousness, faith, purpose]: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose, the meaning of life, and the meaning of the universe.”

What are your thoughts on the focus of Positive Psychology and these categories and definitions established at VIA?

The Beauty of Dharma

I thought I understood the term “dharma” until I researched a bit and discovered that my assumed meaning was only one of many—depending on the religion that espoused it.

duty dharmaAfter hearing someone’s online spiritual discussion of dharma and how that person interpreted it, I took his meaning as “dharma refers to living your sense of life-purpose and fulfilling your personal duty to your own soul’s evolvement as well as to the evolvement of the collective consciousness.”

In a sense, that’s still fairly true, but depending on whether the interpreter is Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh, the word bears greater variance and meaning, and for those variances I’ll include a few quotes from Wikipedia which is hardly the last word in total accuracy, but for this posting it is close enough.

Hindu dharma

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma

  • “In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible,[10][note 1] and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’.[7]
  • In Buddhism dharma means “cosmic law and order”,[10] but is also applied to the teachings of the Buddha.[10] In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for “phenomena“.[11][note 2]
  • In Jainism dharma refers to the teachings of the Jinas[10] and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of human beings.
  • For Sikhs, the word dharm means the “path of righteousness”.

In comdharma wheelmon parlance, dharma means ‘right way of living’ and ‘path of righteousness’.[23]

Dharma, according to Van Buitenen,[42] is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world.

In Hinduism, it is the dharma of the bee to make honey, of cow to give milk, of sun to radiate sunshine, of river to flow.[42]

In terms of humanity, dharma is the need for, the effect of and essence of service and interconnectedness of all life.[23][34]

So in essence, as I now understand the term, when I contemplate MY dharma, I am considering my sense of purpose for personal existence as well as my service to the whole of humanity, …which makes me then ponder this:

  • What do we really owe each other?def dharma
  • How responsible are each of us to the greater good and to the betterment of our human condition?
  • What roles do we play in the drama unfolding all around us? Are we active participants or passive observers?
  • Do we make change happen for the betterment of all, or do we sit back and let others determine our fates for us?
  • What is our collective dharma at this pivotal moment in humanity’s evolvement?
  • Are we all here in this life together to help each other, or are we only here individually to advance ourselves by whatever means that we can?

As usual, I have more questions than answers.

So what do YOU think?  …What is YOUR dharma?

Making Meaning

If there were a recipe for living successfully and there were willing cooks to concoct it, how many fragrant loaves of “meaningful lives” would there be?breads

(It’s a trick question really.)

In essence I’m asking does living successfully equate to living a meaningful life?

Perhaps the answer might vary and lie more in the eye, mind, and body of the perceiver.

ordinaryI mention this here because I discovered long ago that I could write about any topic that flitted between my ears, and that each one would be EQUALLY important to me since every aspect of our existence on this earth is ripe with miracles and meaning. It’s just that some of the more mundane things that we experience daily are simply too familiar for us to recognize their genuine significance.

To me, meaning is something that shouts “IMPORTANT” to us in some way; but meaning by its very nature also implies that it might be more of an aesthetic/spiritual importance than a material one.

So the next question might be: Does living successfully imply a spiritual or a material standard of success?

Again for that answer, I think it would be up to the perceiver who would consider what “success” means to him or her.

Personally, time has shown me that material success and monetary pursuits are enticing challenges that can indeed offer greater opportunities for experiencing a variety of “things” that money makes possible.meaningful life quotes

But creating a meaningful life has little to do with material/financial success. In fact, a money-based focus usually obstructs feeling genuine meaning in our lives and often pits our higher intentions against egoic pleasure.

To a deeply-spiritual person (and I’m not saying deeply-religious as it’s not the same thing), spirituality is a connection to a source of energy and inner nourishment far greater than earthly confines can provide us. Material items and possessions simply cannot rival that depth of inner satisfaction.

To a deeply spiritual person who feels that intense connection to a power far greater than his earthly presence—who feels his spirit’s transcendence far beyond the body it inhabits—to THAT person, a meaningful life will be viewed as a successfully lived life, and vice versa—a successfully lived life will be a meaningful life.

To all others who do not feel that amazing higher connection to something far greater than themselves, I do not know whcartoon on meaning-Calvin and Hobbsat their answers would be, but I am thankful that mine would be considered one and the same.

So if all of life is considered a miracle, then all aspects of our lives are mini-miracles, and they should be considered as such—all are equal in value and equal of consideration.

All are fair game for meaning exposition. The quest is to simply uncover it.

What IS This Feeling?

Many days in early morning I sit quietly and simply tune in to the feel of the energies that are affecting me. Being kinesthetically energy-sensitive to what is happening within me, to me, or near me is an important first step to deciphering the external energy sources that might be affecting me; example being: It helps to first determine if a grumpy mood is me brooding on my stuff or if it might be something external affecting me in that manner.good feeling

Likewise this morning after opening my eyes, I immediately noticed this amazingly good feeling and thought: What IS that, and WHY do I feel this way?

To be alive in this plane of existence means that we are continually bombarded with sensory stimuli from all sides, and even more so, we are constantly engulfed in oceans of energies from the cosmos, to the earth’s magnetic field, to the variable emotional states of those around us, and to the public media with whatever focus they project that day, which are usually laden with fear and disasters.

We, in our own small energy spheres, are like little islands of stability amid seas of continual turbulence. The rougher the surrounding seas, the harder it is to keep our heads above water.

So as I sat here this morning I took just a minute to tune in to this unusual and amazing feeling of calmness, so soothing and tranquil, like floating on a crystal clear lake, gently rocking back and forth in my little boat. Not a care in the world.

What happened overnight? Did I wake up into a different world this morning?

How can I feel these wonderful, high-frequency, love and peace energies all around me that weren’t there yesterday?

Hopefully others are noticing it as well. I don’t know what happened in the night, but I believe that something shifted higher for us all.

Not knowing how long this will last or the broadness of its effect on others, I guess I’ll just sit back and enjoy it.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem in today’s chaotic world-situations, wherever you are, I hope you also are feeling these wonderful, loving energies flowing through our world right now. It’s probably the reason that I feel so optimistic about our world outcomes.

love peace symbolsI can hear a voice calling out: “May all beings be blessed with love for themselves and for all others; and may all who exist here and forevermore, know peace within their own hearts.”

May you also feel that peace within and ride these gentle waves of love and compassion flowing beneath us at present.

It feels good for a change. That’s probably why I didn’t recognize it.

Social Animals

Dalai-LamaFacebook post today (5.25.15) by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

“We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive. Friends are made on the basis of trust, which only grows if you are kind to people. Exploiting, cheating and bullying others will win you no friends. Kindness and compassion gives rise to self confidence, which in turn empowers you to be honest, truthful and transparent. This self-confidence brings peace of mind, which also favors good health.”

Synchronicity is one of those things that we once referred to as “coincidences” until deciding that there really were no coincidences—that everything in our lives is intentional rather than accidental.

Personally, I viewed seeing this Facebook posting from the Dalai Lama right after I had just written a follow-up to Jean-Jacque’s comment about my previous posting, as a synchronous affirmation that indeed, what I should focus on in writing was perhaps more along the lines of helping to define what “community” means, and how to help others to become caring and compassionate community members who support each other along life’s journey.

HTH III covPerhaps this also applies to re-introducing the third book in my HONORING THE HERMIT series, called: HONORING THE HERMIT III: Building a NEW World (2005), where I actually DID once define it and elaborated on what options might help to create a better living environment for everyone.

I once had the ebook available free on my website at www.lightfoundations.com, but when the original site died last August, I never replaced the pages where it was shown in PDF form. Maybe I can just post sections from it occasionally to make my point on how you actually do go about building that NEW (and better) WORLD.

OR….. maybe I simply start another blog just about that subject: BUILDING A NEW WORLD which defines successful social and cultural customs and practices, and others can participate in defining it and discussing working examples of supportive practices. That might be better for posting because Lord knows I’d have a hard time making that subject (or anything else) my sole focus on this blog. 🙂

So I think that’s what I’ll do. When I have it up and running I’ll mention it again here and direct readers there for that blog.  (Okay, here’s the new site address:  https://hth3buildinganewworld.wordpress.com/ )

Basically what Jean-Jacques and I were discussing earlier was how so many small communities everywhere have lost that societal glue that once held them closely knit—providing all community members the safety and security of knowing that your neighbors “had your back” no matter what disastrous thing occurred, and likewise, you had theirs.Building-Community

We both feel it is essential to reestablish that cohesive framework of solid community-building where members are encouraged to create caring and compassionate societies, because as the Dalai Lama so aptly describes above: “We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive….”

So, let’s build one on-line first and see how that goes.

Taking It As It Comes

tornado and farmIn the aftermath of severe storms, people gather together supporting one another, while they plan how to get on with their lives. Communities become like extended families of genuinely caring individuals who find a way to make life better for those in the greatest need of help.

In the Midwest (I’m in Iowa), many have had wind and hail damage this spring, with a few areas hit worse than others. We were lucky in our location and had only straight-line winds and golfball-sized hail requiring roof and siding replacements.

But a few miles to the east of us, barns and entire homes were obliterated by a tornado. It all depends on where the storm tracks as to who gets the worst damage, or who skates by with minimal affectation. Last year we were lucky and skated free when only two blocks away from us trees throughout town were downed and siding ripped from many homes—but we were NOT so lucky this year.

So I’m sensitive to the way life can suddenly change for anyone; and hochaos graphicw those changes can create havoc to habitual living, forcing change and complete start-overs in many lives. There is a Chinese ideogram that states: Crisis creates the opportunity for change, but some would call it a necessity for change.

To many, these are just the challenges that go with life in general no matter where you live. Challenge-wise you simply learn to take it as it comes. If you are knocked flat, you take a moment to get your breath back and then stand up again—brushing yourself off and getting on with your life. We all learn to do this, one way or another.

What I and those in my community are going through is pretty mild compared to the major devastation that many have endured over the last few years, and I am thankful to be sitting safely in my own home as I write this. The same cannot be said for everyone. So as challenges go, for us this one is minor compared to many.

But it only takes a few situations like these to discover how interdependent we all are on each other for support and encouragement when we need it. Many helping hands make short work of sorting through a field of debris, or removing the rubble from toppled buildings, including rescuing loved ones from beneath them.

Parkersberg tornado helpIn farm country as soon as the danger passes, dozens of trucks show up out of nowhere to areas of devastation, and people jump out with work clothes on to start the massive cleanup. Tables of food instantly arise from the suddenly cleared yard to feed the folks helping those who were unlucky enough to be in the path of destruction, but LUCKY enough to have friends and neighbors to help them through the bad times.

That’s just how it is—you help your neighbors and know that if it’s ever your time to need help, they will be there for you as well.

Wherever we live, that’s what we do as caring individuals—we do what we can to help others, knowing that if the time comes that we ever need the help, that same help will be available for us as well.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You simply have to take life as it comes—good or bad, with gratitude and respect; and then you pay it forward in some possible way because some day you know that YOU might need others the way they presently need you. And that’s the beauty of it all.