“Strangeness” Notice #537

notice of noticingThere has been so much strangeness the last few years that it’s becoming the new normalcy.

  • I’m getting used to those ancient memories popping into my head with no visible reason for them.
  • I’m becoming less reactive to sudden bursts of revulsion or general discomfort when standing too near blowhards and narcissists.
  • I’m warming to my new abilities to instantly detect lies and fabrications, especially with American political season in full swing.
  • But it’s a little harder to handle the lack of sleep due to huge amounts of energy pouring through me 24/7/365.

blue sunUnfortunately I think these once-considered abnormalities have become the new norm for many of us.

Something is happening in our world and to all of us; and it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what that “something” is other than to me it feels like we are swimming in a completely different ocean of energy than we were a few years ago.

That newer energy is both purifying and clarifying—almost sanitizing in effect. Perhaps we’re effectively getting our psyches bleached in these higher frequency vibs coming in now.

People seem different now. People act differently toward each other. We are inherently wary of each other.

We don’t trust anyone any longer. And we’ve been given ample reasons to feel that way.energy strangeness

When every information source has been discredited as merely clandestine attempts to manipulate our buying habits, then one starts to wonder who can be believed (politicians) and who can be trusted to put my best interests ahead of their personal ambitions and/or corporate/personal profits?

I wouldn’t call most people indifferent or apathetic to what is currently happening to them, but I think many people are confused about how to view the world around them now, and perhaps more confused about defining their proper place within that world.

Are we global citizens with serious responsibilities toward protecting our fellow world citizens? Are we nationalists with concerns only for our own country’s state of affairs?

Are we being herded together by our ideologies for mass stampedes toward revolt and insurrection; or are we individualists assessing the political climate for sanity and reason but finding little?

bleachWhatever we are feeling, I think it’s all a part of these bleach-out-the-old-stains energies moving around and through us right now. Like it or not, we ALL are getting a strong dose of intense “whitening power” during this lengthy agitation cycle.

I guess the question then might be: is it better to be put through the wringer attachment allowing the last of the residues to be slowly squeezed out of us, or is it better to simply sit in that centrifugal spin-cycle for an indefinite amount time?

Either way, the immediate future won’t be very pleasant.idiot in dryer

Which also means that our next choice might be equally bad: to be hung on a drip-dry line in variable winds or to be tumbled about in tight confinement under intense heat.

But then again, I’m not sure that we have a choice in the matter.

It may be the price we pay for cleaning up our acts.

Aftermath

Similar to afterthought except as applied to actions, aftermath describes the consequences of causal events.quart arm

While afterthought can be considered more benign, cerebral, and sort of “arm-chair, quarterback”-ish on 3rd down plays; …aftermath can be more like “sacked quarterback goes out for the season with broken arm—team in turmoil”-ish.

Afterthought can be second-guessing and reconsidering one’s better options afterwards instead of beforehand.

Aftermath can be the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, even decades following a questionable decision or wide-spread disaster that can irrevocably change the course of lives forever.

Afterthoughts of what we might have done better, rather than what we did do at the time, may haunt us indefinitely.

bombingAftermath is the inevitable result of our bad decisions, choices, or actions that adversely affect (and keep affecting) others besides ourselves long after the initial action occurred.

Where we as global citizens are right now is caught in the aftermath of decisions made by unscrupulous leaders throughout the world many decades and even centuries prior—decisions made by those who were trusted and depended upon at the time, to put humanity’s welfare above their own personal greed and self-focus.

What does this mean to all of us in the NOW?

We are presently living in the aftermath of bad decisions—decisions traditionally based on fear and hatredintegrity—decisions based on self-interest and bids for power and control of resources, finances, and real estate—decisions based on short-term, more immediate benefits and gratuities, rather than long-term sustainable values that help raise people from crushing poverty and provide a solid chance at self-determination.

So with the American election season presently underway, as these latest supposedsaviors of family values and middle-class economic stability trot out their inflammatory one-liners and slash-and-trash campaign tactics, please keep in mind that any afterthoughts you might United States presidential election, 2016have the day after the election for NOT voting in primaries and in November 2016, mean nothing to the rest of us; because we will be too busy dealing with the aftermath of voter apathy and irresponsibility to even consider it.

Listen, …and I mean REALLY listen to what ALL candidates say and claim as his or her platform of beliefs; and then ask if he/she can provide verifiable records of action taken in that same regard before making a decision to give that person your valuable approval.

I think most of us are tired of living in the aftermath of a power-person’s bad decisions made through self-interest and adhesion to conventional party-politics.wisdom integrity

Actions, like wars, have consequences.

Let’s make sure that we all aren’t someone else’s afterthought this time.

Let’s be their primary consideration for a change.

Let’s stop living in the aftermath of someone else’s personal ambition.

Generalizing Specialists

One might think I was referring to the medical profession with this title, and in a sense I guess I am because I was reading a bit on the schism between Humanistic Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology when the bells went off in my head.

I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Abraham Maslow—the self-actualizHumanistsation guru of the last century. While reading a summation of his work and early mentors, I recognized certain well-established names in the psychology profession, especially Dr. Carl Rogers as the one of the primary founders of Humanistic Psychology which was considered in some circles as the third branch of 20th century psychology with Freud’s Psychoanalytical approach and Skinner’s Behavioral approach being the other two branches.

That’s all well and good, but again, what’s the application here?

I had just read about Ken Wilber’s critique of the Transpersonal Psychology approach and preference for his own Integral Psychology approach (everybody has an angle), and my mind shifted back to my early college days when I pyramidonce thought I wanted to be a psychologist. All these offshoots of mainstream psychology weren’t even mentioned back then or I might have chosen a different career-path because I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind and during my early college days thought that course of study would be an amazing odyssey for personal and professional expansion.

So I took a few courses in that designated “PSYCHOLOGY” pursuit as defined by the university that I had attended. And what did I find?

The professors who taught all the courses in that university’s psych department were some of the strangest, most unsociable, unlikable people I had ever met. After a semester immersed in that influence, I changed my major to Art. But head connectedin hindsight, I should have just changed schools if this subject matter had truly interested me. You know—it’s those things you know NOW that you didn’t know THEN….. like: Authority figures aren’t really authorities. They just pretend to be ones.

Back in my early adulthood, I wondered how any student of psychology could possibly be trained by people who themselves were teetering at the very edge of sanity?

Those instructors who seemed to be in charge of judging normalcy in society and the interacting members of such seemed to be themselves standing near the very periphery of normal, interactive social behaviorIF they ever claimed to occupy that location at all. It would seem that during my early years in college the collective WE were all being categorized and judged by society’s ostracized social misfits who had their defensive shields set high and their adolescent vendettas ready to avenge.maze runners

It boggled the idealized mind—at least it boggled mine. Those in the psych department at my university had Ph.Ds in statistics, testing, rats (maze-runners), research documentation, and abnormal behaviors—that means they were primarily Behavioralists.

Where was the Humanistic Psychology or the Transpersonal Psychology back then? Where was even the broader field of Social Psychology at that university? It didn’t exist THERE at the time even though it had been around since the 1950’s; meaning that those who were training budding Psychologists at that university were training students like a Dermatologist might train a Digestive Specialist. You teach what you know, and if you don’t KNOW it—you don’t teach it.

pool in headThe point being for this post (finally) is that even in today’s broader minded and more main-streamed social-psychology movements, practicing psychologists and psychiatrists have specialties. Psychology is NOT a one-size-fits-all profession. Behavioralists are NOT Psychoanalysts are NOT Humanists.

And because all these particular specialties are off-shoots of that larger Psychology field, there is little agreement among the competing branches as to what the tree-trunk looks like, or from which transplanted graft they first emerged, or which branch needs the most sunshine to grow the best humans.

So when people say the state of Mental Health is presently in disarray, it comes as no surprise to me since the main profession can’t even decide what constitutes normalcy in a world of striving individualists and constantly-merging, world-wide cultures.

I’m giving notice to ALL Universities: Please …for all of our sakes,… hire some Humanistic Psychology instructors for the next batch of yearning psychologists, so they aren’t taught by the apoplectic maze-runners that taught during my bachelors degree because a society is only as good as the models that it holds in esteem.

schools of Psych

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?

So Many Questions

Seems like the older I get, the less I think I ever did know.

It isn’t that I’m losing knowledge along the way. It’s more so I’m realizing that those certainties I once felt about life in general, really weren’t. There are no genuine life certainties to be had; and life isn’t what it once seemed to be in the brashness of my youth. It’s just not that simple.

The sureties and certainties that we repeatedly tell ourselves ddelusionaily are often indicators of some deeply-guarded delusions created by the egoic mind. They are “deeply guarded” for a reason: we base every facet of our lives on those core beliefs—everything from WHAT we do, to HOW we do it, and most importantly to the WHY we do it aspect.

While this sounds a bit ridiculous to think that we are basing our lives on such serious inner fantasies, it actually means that to us they are NOT fantasies at all because we consider some of our deepest beliefs to be above intense inspection or reconsideration.

Those are the core beliefs that we aren’t going to change our opinions on without ample evidence to their flawed nature, because we’ve already invested far too much thought and emotion into them (as have our parents invested their time drilling them into us from infancy onwards).

We grew up believing in these things—being force-fed these things in some instances, and even now, those beliefs tend to bolster our mental concept of WHO we are as a person and WHAT we want (and deserve) from life—hence that’s why they are considered CORE beliefs.

To CHANGE a cobeliefsre belief is to create before us a sudden swampland-crossing where prior we had stood firmly anchored on solid psychological pavement. That fast-dissolving sense of inner solidity and environment framing, no matter how imperfect it may later be proven to be, made us sure of a purpose to our life and even provided us tangible future goals of creating a better life for ourselves and for our loved ones—i.e.: good jobs, lots of money, quick advancement, supportive families, the GOOD LIFE, etc..

You’ll recognize those swampland-crossings as unexpected illnesses, divorces, deaths, job losses, financial upheavals, addictions, assaults, betrayals, etc.—anything that suddenly shifts your perspective out of the “my life is flowing smoothly” steam of living and into sudden and complete chaos where firm-footings no longer exist.

That’s the point where your core beliefs come under the greatest inspection. If your beliefs help you through the toughest life issues without losing your sanity, they may be solid ones. If not, you will likely be searching for greater solace in a different belief system; and you’ll also be questioning whether your earlier beliefs were in fact, delusions—things you told yourself because that’s what you wanted to believe, NOT because they were true.

I can’t speak for anyone other than myself on this matter, but over the many decades of my own existence my personal beliefs have evolved—sometimes year-by-year. Learning to think for myself from college onwards was a major step in becoming my own person, rather than remaining the person that my parents or childhoquestionsod authorities tried to mold me into being.

And for many of us, that’s what “coming into our own” is all about—finding our own way rather than being told which way to choose, or how to act, or who to wed, or what to do with our lives, etc. Moving out of our parents’ and authority figure’s shadows is the most important first step that many will make toward establishing their own sense of purpose and destiny.

That being said, there are only a few guideline questions I might suggest if you are searching for the right path for you:

  • Is it a path based on love and compassion for yourself, as well as for all others?
  • Is it a path that makes you feel happy about yourself and how you spend your time? (NO GUILT allowed on this path.)
  • Is it a path that nurtures you, and gives you a deeper sense of expansion and future possibilities in THIS world, not the next one?
  • Is it a path that allows you to grow and BE who you truly are?
  • Is it a path of FREEDOM—or are you forever tied to the expectations of others?

These are a few questions that I would have found helpful to me when I was in my early twenties trying to decide on my own path to take back then.

bike of freedomIf you are so inclined, you might try them on for size and see how they feel to you in YOUR life right now.

Life is amazingly short, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Find yourself (and your true calling) early and enjoy every moment of your life daily.

The Puzzle

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere long ago that I love putting together jigsaw puzzles—in fact, the more pieces, the better. This time of year when the snow is blowing hard and the “wind comes sweeping down the plain” as it does in Iowa, as well as Oklahoma, it provides a lot of reflection time while contemplating how many layers of clothing are necessary to simply go to the mailbox at around zero degrees.

So puzzles be my thing in the winter. They provide mental challenge and keep my fingers active searching for similarities in color, texture and shape. I think I have about 20 boxes of them now, and every winter I pull them all out, one by one, and obsess over them hour after hour until each is completed.

Then I make myself wait at least a day after puzzle completion before I crumple the pieces all together again, stuff them back into their plastic bag until next winter, and pull out another one to start. (My thing must be in the challenge, rather than the completion. I don’t linger long on accomplishments.)

I view thisIMG_5089 dismantling aspect as similar to the Tibetan Monks creating their multi-colored sand paintings. If you’ve never witnessed that amazing process of creation and dissipation, it is well worth your time.

After the monk’s reverent acknowledgement of their sand-mandala’s completion, and after adequate “beauty and unity” contemplation time, the monks then ceremoniously gather all the brightly-colored sands into a single cDSC_0167ontainer and bless the local rivers with the sand mixture that had once been their total focus and purpose for being, during those awesome hours of unified cDSC_0186reation.

Likewise, I always bless the large, plastic storage box beneath my card table with mine, at least until next year.

Why I’m mentioning this puzzle fixation again is that yesterday as I’m nearing the “last hundred pieces” point (meaning 9/10ths of puzzle completed), I was looking at the remaining vacant space in the puzzle frame and eyeing the pieces remaining to be appropriately relocated into the picture, and thinking “If Life is metaphor, what is the metaphor that I am displaying here in what I am doing?”

It was easily seen that I had left the most “difficult to determine differences” (3D) section of the puzzle to the last where there were fewer pieces to choose from, which meant greater likelihood of success in selection.

At this point, my eyes were tiring and with fewer pieces on the table, I switched to a comparison strategy with the remaining shapes—which means I put all the pieces with knobs at top and bottom, on one side of the table, and the pieces with knobs at the sides on the other. Then I lined them up in columns so my eyes could more quickly slide down each column looking for tell-tale differences in knob size and location on the piece.

Depending on the puzzle design, some have only two basic shapes: knobs at top and bottom, or knobs at the sides. Other puzzles designers have the most contorted, no-two-shapes-the-same thing going that make this type of categorizing impossible, but this puzzle allowed for comparison columns. That was my end-strategy for completion.

“How does this apply to your life?” my mind kept prodding. “What is YOUR end-strategy for completion?” (Oh, now THAT put a different twist to that life-as-metaphor-thing, didn’t it? Yes.)

My end-strategy for completion as demonstrated by this metaphorical puzzle presently under my nose:

  • Subtlety….it’s about subtle differences now—about detail and finesse—the aspects you might have overlooked before when there was too many choices.
  • Now I looked for subtle color hues and picture clarity or fuzziness per piece—individual distinction and color blends.
  • I simplified the selection comparison process—to be easier on the eyes and mind.
  • I had a specific area left to finish, so I narrowed my focus and attention to further sub-dividing the section left to work into even smaller areas until one area was completed, then I moved to another section and did the same. (That “sub-dividing and conquering” thing.)
  • I also savored the selection of the last ten pieces because I knew that what was left was the end of my time with this puzzle, so I carefully scanned the choices before reaching for a possibility. I’m more selective of friends now as well.

As I now stare down at the completed puzzle—a white-ish Bavarian castle surrounded in fall foliage, backdropped by blue mountains and baby-blue sky with puffy white clouds—all 18” x 23” of it, I think of what my friend said when she saw me about midway into it: “Why are you doing that one? It’s not very pretty. It doesn’t look very fun to do.”

And I think, well, once I start a puzzle I don’t quit until I’ve finished it. Maybe that IS the metaphor of my life here. It may not be very pretty or much fun, but it’s mine—it’s MY puzzle.

It’s really not the end-point that matters in life, since the end is pre-determined for all of us. What matters most in life is in how well we face each challenge along the way, and how we make all those seemingly-random pieces of our life fit together into a coherent picture by the end.

Life for all of us is a challenge to be accepted, deciphered and made sense of in the best way that we can.

We frame our lives in the context of not-so-random pieces brought together for a purpose. The challenge for us is in determining that IMG_5049purpose before we complete the puzzle. Hopefully we all can do that—make some sense of our own puzzles before the end. I hope you can. I’m still working on mine.

Photos by Angel Lyle, Davenport, Iowa

When Good Things Happen to Bad People, …. Or Was It Vice-Versa?

Whoa…that’s not supposed to happen is it? Good things happening to bad people?

The largest problem that I see with the statement, let alone the actual happenstance, is with the judgment calls in both directions, and in determining who sits in the decision-making seat on any of it.

It can be so tempting to plop ourselves into that weighty chair and swing that resounding gavel for “Justice and The American Way,” but, “alas poor Yorick,” I’m certain I did not know any of them well enough for that, no matter who the person might be.

People are simply people, with challenges and reactions to whatever each may face in life, from birth onwards.

Some may come into this plane with generous talents and ripe opportunities to express them.

Others may struggle from that first breath onwards—trying to survive, trying to stay alive, trying to make sense of a continued life of senselessness at every life stage. And the most amazing thing about some of those folks is that a few of them actually do survive, do stay alive, and do make a type of sense of any predicament in which they may find themselves.

But it’s also likely that a few other folks will not agree with the conclusion drawn from that life of senselessness, unless it involves overcoming the perceived life-difficulty and attaining a greater sense of higher purpose and collective benefit from it.

Hence we throw around the good vs. bad labels when it comes to people and what they do with their time and their lives.

A society functions under a recognized set of rules for order and sustainability. We have law makers, law enforcers, and law arbitrators. We have judges, prosecutors and defenders, and place to put away those who don’t live within the established rules.

But which ones are good and which ones are bad in any of those categories?hang that chad

Gosh, if you listened to political ads this time of year, it’s a wonder any of us are still alive to think about it because the entire rule-making and enforcing establishment is bad, …or is it good that the other bad choices for governance are less bad, which makes them more good?

I don’t know. I’m so confused. I just know that Election Day can’t come soon enough to end this non-stop nonsense before I wear out the mute button on my TV’s remote control.

Is that a good thing?