Memorable Reads

There are spells when I’m a voracious reader. Every two weeks or so I’ve been going to the library—which is really an excellent library with continual supplies of NEW books, both Fiction and Non.

What I’ve noticed is that lately there are some fine quality Fiction books (as well as Non-Fiction—which are usually coleridgemy favorites) available; and then there are some, how shall I say it, less than well-written books with flashier covers and more provocative lead lines. Those tend to be more melodramatic and trite, and unfortunately, they are quite predictable by mid-story.

As a writer myself, I can admire and marvel at a writer’s skill in not only telling a story, but I also like to note the techniques used to create that story’s setting, how the main subjects’ character traits are defined, and how the author handles the passage of time.

Skilled writers are masters of the subtle details hidden between the covers. They can be tricky—like a sleight of hand artist palming a lesser card mid-deal and replacing it with an ace. A flick of the wrist and an unsuspecting eye could miss a persuasive key stroke.

There is far more to a quality novel than just rolling out a somewhat believable plot. Voice, tone, and tempo are all important factors to how a story is told. It’s a lot like that slogan “Destination is not what is important in life—it is the journey along the way.”

readerA good writer can make it a revelatory journey—show you the terrain—the winding curves, the bumps and potholes, the vegetation massed along the side—help you feel comfortable or uncomfortable with your tour guides who are describing scenes, and allow YOU to form your own opinions on what is really occurring in those faux interactions and situations where the main characters are challenged by extreme emotions or passions.

Ensconced in the telling, you even become the helpless witness when they eventually succumb to their own character flaws, allowing the story to play out like a true Greek tragedy—rich in pathos.

So I want to mention that reading-material wise, I was very impressed with The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson. the affinitiesIt is a bit Sci-Fi but not a far stretch for the possible future of social and cultural evolution where emotional attachments and character tendencies become group-based behavioral classifications. The book is more so a group character study (philosophical and psychological) than action-based, but it is so well-written that I will read it again just to take notes on how Wilson transitioned characters, defined settings, and massaged the passage of time.

Another good book (non-fiction that reads like fiction) is A Death on Diamond Mountain: A death on diamondTrue Story of Obsession, Madness, and the Path to Enlightenment, by Scott Carney, which is a masterful telling of truth and hard-gathered facts as if they were unfolding before you. An investigative journalist allows us to see behind the smoking mirrors of a popularized religion.

So how can you tell good writing from mediocre tries at such?

Good writing is easily distinguished from lesser attempts because it is effortless to read and yet deeply satisfying in effect—a bit like a spicy-hot Italian Sausage Pizza that lingers on your palate long after the meal is done.

Every after-burp is a reminder of its potency on your very being.

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The POINT

After a difficult night’s sleep, who hasn’t raised a drooping head to look bleary-eyed into the bathroom mirror and said, “What’s the point?”

“The point” could mean the point of going to work, or the point of a troubled relationship, orpoint watts even the point of life itself. No matter what subject we are referring to, there often comes a time during the course of our lives when we have asked those simple words: “What’s the point?”

So to this existential question I say: “YOU are the point!”

Your soul’s continuing evolution required that YOU incarnate upon this earth-plane to expand your limited consciousness and awareness of oprahyour interconnectedness with all other beings. Your work and relationships and life itself all fall into line with that same premise. The point is that YOU are here for YOU, and for your soul’s expansion and progress.

In Spirit World prior to your incarnation on earth, you heard the theories of what love, fear, anger, envy, excitement, and heart-felt connectedness meant, but you have to be a physical presence on some type of testing grounds to actually experience those feelings for yourself.

THAT’S the entire point of why you are here: for 1st-hand experiencing of all that you are capable of handling: emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

So when you check out your disheveled self in the morning mirror and shake your head at the sight, please keep in mind that you chose to be here to see what this whole “living” thing was about, and it’s up to you to make the life experience a good one (happiness) or a bad one (unhappiness).

You can do the “victim” thing if you want—it is your choice—but in truth only YOU can determine ythour attitude and activity during the time you are here, so choose wisely—choose love-based activities—and make your time on earth the best possible experience for yourself.

That morning mirror only reveals what you expect to see in it. If you are so busy living your life, who needs the mirror?

Collective Wisdom

This is a subject that both fascinates and puzzles me: collective wisdom.

collect consciousnessIn some ways it refers to the Emile Durkheim concept of the Collective Consciousness—that each of us in our own tiny spheres of awareness is actually connected into a far greater ocean of awareness by those frequencies within the “human range” that are available for our reception.

“The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or creative consciousness.—Emile Durkheim[6]

But collective consciousness and collective wisdom are not quite the same.

Collective consciousness may contain the collective ignorance, attitudes, and judgmental biases of the masses, whereas collective wisdom contains the mature-thinking, accumulation of smaAsimovrt choices for human evolvement amassed only after determining the difference between those and the immature, not-so-smart ones that can get you killed.

One could call collective wisdom the inherent survival kit of a species.

Collective wisdom tends to be ancestral-based as it is often the tribe’s or a culture’s acquired wisdom handed down to a younger generation by the elders of the previous one.

So collective wisdom is commonly considered the learning-from-your-mistakes and not-doing-that-atiger easting grassgain tales that are retold generation after generation, such as: despite their lean and mean appearance, tigers aren’t really vegetarians so don’t try to offer one a handful of grass. It would probably be the last time you tried it.

It’s the sort of thing that your grandparents and parents tried to instill in your psyche before you ventured out the door of the house for the very first time: “Be careful of strangers—look both ways when crossing the street—walk to school, don’t run—and don’t pet the dog next door because HE BITES.”

The puzzling thing to me about collective wisdom is that it isn’t held in as high esteem as it should be because despite what our surviving elders tell us, we just keep doing those same things we know that we shouldn’t do:

  • We try to convince the hungry tiger that nutritious kale is far better for his colon than is our leg or arm. (Please let go!)
  • We try to be nice to strangers because we know that even perverts need friends. (And who doesn’t want to help a lonely pervert?)
  • We are simply too busy looking at our iphones and ipads while driving because no one walks anywhere anymore, so who needs to look both ways no matter where you go? (Besides, I’m sure they’ll see me and stop.)
  • And we know that the neighbor’s dog is just the sweetest, little, misunderstood poochie you ever laid eyes on, despite his frothing, snarly face and warning growls. (Oh he surely won’t bite ME.)

Yes, those previous examples were more so the logic of the “moronic” collective consciousness, NOT the collective wisdom.not so google glass

But still you counter: “Hey….I mean, if collective wisdom was so important to us, why didn’t they put a ‘collective wisdom’ button on my Google Glass?” (Like “duh!”)

Well ….maybe next upgrade.

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.

Beingness

Not sure that I can do this subject justice, but I do have some thoughts on it.

Feeling a sense of higher-purpose for living and imagining a future that draws you eagerly toward it are aspirations that we all share.

Some folks might even be certain that acquiring a good education and having strong career ambitions are one and the same as living purposefully and maintaining an optimistic outlook on future endeavors.

From my point of view now from having done both with education quote from Tolleand career, I know they are not the same as living purposefully and being excited about tomorrow’s unfolding.

I also know now that my present state of beingness is every bit as valid and important to my personal/spiritual evolution as any of the doings that I’ve done in my past, if not more so. Some recent reading material substantiates that belief.

There are two books that I’m slowly wading through, and both are like eating a 5-pound hamburger…you can only get through it by taking one bite at a time and allowing for digestion to do its thing.

One book is Eckhardt Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment; and the other is Dr. David power of nowR. Hawkins’ The EYE of the I, from Which Nothing Is Hidden.

Both authors are said to have achieved enlightenment or what we could refer to as an “enlightened state of consciousness.” And both describe what they experienced and intuited/learned through the mind-expanding experience and the subsequent mind-state following the initial ALL-ness connection.

I’ve certainly invested a lot of pencil-lead in both books; and essentially both say the same thing: It isn’t all the doingness that clears your path to wisdom and unity consciousness (which also equates to success and happiness for spiritual seekers).

It is the beingness—the allowing yourself to simply reconnect to the massive source of energy from which you came—the Source that provides all the answers you desire to every question you could ever conceive.

In other words, the path to enlightenment is NOT a doing path. It is a being path.

The doings that occupy so much of our precious lifetime are simply distractions from finding our true life-purpose and basking in that deep sense of inner happiness. No doubt you can learn a lot from doings, but only being takes you where you truly desire to reach for that sense of inner peace.

eye of II would provide a few appropriate quotes from each to substantiate this point, but Tolle’s entire book is on that very subject of the importance of simply Being; and Hawkins has some great quotes but focuses on tying all awareness into light frequencies and calibrating the consciousness levels between the general masses and the great avatars/teachers who reached that state of extreme expanded awareness. It’s a “numbers” thing with him.

Muscle testing for Hawkins was equivalent to finding the Holy Grail, and is the standard that he used to calibrate all acquired knowledge.5 lb burger challenge

Well, as I mentioned earlier, …lots of reading left to do in both books and I won’t be hungry for some time until after I’ve finished this 5-pound burger on my plate.

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?

River Rocks

rocks in riverSo many ways to look at this title…but only one to follow. Kind of like the subject matter contained here that I metaphorically likened to “River Rocks.”

I have a favorite online astrologer that I follow: Tom Lescher (Astrology for the Soul https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OGanHCos14 ). I’ve mentioned him many times as someone I find extremely accurate in overall energy readings as associated to the planetary alignments of the time.Tom

Whenever I feel something strange or intense in the overall energies around us/affecting us, I listen to his weekly video and usually hear an astro-explanation from him that substantiates what I’ve been kinesthetically noticing. (In a sense, he reassures me that what I am sensing energetically is ‘right on.’)

And because I’ve listened to him so many times and he’s been so reliably accurate to what I had been noticing, I keep listening to him week after week.

But a few months ago, one of his protégés who I shall not mention, caught my ear and I also listened to his vlog for awhile until I began to notice something very different between the two astrologers: a difference in the accumulated wisdom from age and experience, and a lighter (higher frequency)-energy attitude used to deliver the information.

In other words, the younger protégé was a poor substitute for the original, because life does that ‘thing’ to us during the process of living: it ‘seasons us’ the way only time and experience can. It broadens our perspectives and grants us compassionate witnessing.

river rocksThat’s when my mind showed me the image of a rounded, palm-sized, white stone—a river rock that had been tumbled and pounded along the stream bed by torrential rains, flash flooding, and by all things violently affecting the flow and force of a river.

Or to put it more simply, the white rock’s original rough edges and sharp corners were now rounded off from time and river-bottom travel.

That once jagged-edged stone was now smooth to the touch and felt very comfortable in the palm of my hand. That’s the after-effect of being bounced along a rocky, river bottom—you lose all those sharp edges.

To me listening to Tom is like holding that river rock, and his reports are softer, more humorous and compassionate, yet still substantive and real. He keeps his energy light and flowing, and refrains from getting “preachy” with you because he’s been there himself where we all are, and he gets it. It’s more of a been-there, done-that, sharing-the-information-report with friends, than a proselytizing opportunity for an egoic neophyte trying to stand out in an over-populated, astrology-reporting community.

The river rock image I mountain streamsaw in my mind ALSO epitomizes that LIFE may not be as predictable and gentle to us as we often wish that it were, but you eventually learn to tumble along with the flow until those rough edges wear away. Then we can roll more easily during the water’s occasional turbulence instead of catching in every crevice that might snag at us.

Ultimately we learn to ride and tumble along with least resistance to the torrid current around us, until we reach a destination more to our liking; or we may eventually catch an inquisitive eye and find a kindred, fleshy palm to nestle into. Then we can employ a new mode of transportation for a time.wisdom

But wherever it goes, a river rock rolls on and on, because the journey never really ends. Only the terrain changes once in awhile.