Finding ‘Home’

What is the difference between Good and Evil?

Are they just labels that we assign each concept, or are they concepts that transcend our mere understanding?

And how can I know the difference between the two in this utterly confusing present?

This feels like a silly question to ask since there seem to be so many examples of good and evil in the world today – even asking this question feels unfathomable. But the more I lean towards a limitless inner world and trying to erase the lines of separation around me, I tend to believe that these two labels – these two lines in the sand – are causing far too much trouble than they’re worth.

They are both just energy – but in how we direct this energy, in how we assign it, in how we nurture it, it will manifest very differently. The ultimate agent is ourselves.

 

I know, I know
You can bring the fire
I can bring the bones
I know, I know
You make the fire
My bones will make it grow.

 

This is a lyric from the song “Hometown,” by Twenty One Pilots. To me, these lines represent that any of these forces – good, evil, or countless others that we label – can be invited in, be planted and channeled within us. And from within our mere flesh can be grown. Fostered in our bones.

‘Evil’ is a name we attribute to bad things that happen to us in this world, a force that we negatively associate with. A malicious, chaotic energy. A life-removing energy. ‘Good’ is the name we attribute all that we feel positively about, a force that is uplifting, kind, and benevolent. A loving, life-giving energy.

But these are both just forces of energy to which we ultimately assign a name. And there is nothing in our power to stop either from existing except for this: To nurture the energies that give life, and to ‘let be’ the energies that don’t.

 

A shadow tilts it’s head at me
Spirits in the dark are waiting
I will let the wind go quietly
I will let the wind go quietly

 

We cannot stop the wind. We can only let it blow past us. US being the indomitable beings we are – the pure, open awareness; the calm within the storm. We can know the storms that tumble and rumble will pass. We can have faith in our hearts that these storms, winds, energies and forces beyond will always bother us, and will always blow past.

The “evil” energies and malicious thoughts will always be there, but we have a choice to let them go. To let them be. To remain the observer of these forces rather than the grower of them. And when we recognize love and a life-giving energy – we can invite it in.

We are the vessel from which any and all things may come or not come – it is our individual and collective choice.

This is the pivot of our free will, the crucial choice of what we will grow in our bones. Often gone unrecognized and bogged down in the minutiae of everyday life.

*

As these ideas and forces whirl about us, and I fret about making mistakes and nurturing concepts that are not ‘Good’ from within myself, my heart reminds me to look unflinchingly inside: To re-route all things through my heart and examine how those labels are assigned and who did the assigning.

The door of the heart is open, always unlocked with a simple request; a simple recognition. A reminder to me that the lock and key that I imagined there had never existed in the first place.

 

Where we’re from, there’s no sun
Our hometown’s in the dark
Where we’re from, we’re no one
Our hometown’s in the dark

 

This lyric might ultimately mean something else, but for me it speaks of the Heart. That in this darkness of within, the cavern deep, there exists the illumination we seek. It is Home, and it will steer us true.

When we are in love, and acting from love, we will make the right choice – and let the wind go quietly.

 

Tears of Equilibrium

Sometimes I feel that becoming a parent leaves you with your guts poured out on the floor. All of you, in its messy gloriousness, spread everywhere for the world to see.

As it is literally with childbirth, I suppose it is only rational for the rest of you – the inner, emotional you, to follow suit. The inner to mirror the outer.

But I don’t think you need to have the physical experience of birth to feel this way. To be a little “inside-out.” For the outer façade to crack a little, letting your inner ‘innocent self’ leak out. Tears streaming.

I have throughout my life felt I was naïve. Vulnerable. Maybe a bit emotional. And our culture certainly does not value being emotional or naïve. So I – like many others – have adapted my personality and behavior to avoid appearing this way, and detouring around messy spills of myself onto unsuspecting passersby.

Because the last thing anyone wants is a bunch of stares and sideways glances, of people wondering “Why is she crying? What’s happened?”
Hidden for so long under the stoic surface, emotive force was always a hairsbreadth away from cracking my calm, still demeanor. I feel that I reach this emotional cracking point, or tear-stricken ‘event horizon,’ multiple times per day. And it is not due to sadness or melancholy or grief in humanity, although those things are indeed everywhere you look.

For me, this ‘cracking point’ is most evident in ordinary moments of life. In loving my family, feeling profound love, talking about oneness, seeing people come together. By being thankful and bowing to greatness within. Being happy and moved by whatever that “Cosmic Infinite Source” is.

This makes going to any kind of church or having spiritual conversations without tears impossible. So I tend to avoid them. Or to tread with caution.

Because I don’t desire to be a blubbering mess (as society has trained me to believe is “weak” or “inappropriate” outside of grief), I close myself off. I will avoid eye contact. I won’t first reach out to hug someone in distress or sadness. I may clam up and not engage in conversation. I mentally wander away in order to avoid the subject at hand and keep my eyes dry. I push past things without realizing it. I put up walls.

I have been told many times that I am “grounded,” or calm under pressure – and I take these as great compliments. To be a calm within the storm. To exercise my control in the situation, and remain as still as the rocks at the shore. To be pummeled by the waves, but showing little evidence. But sometimes, usually after the fact, I think I come off as cold.

Cold, hard and jutty – just like those rocks.

Maybe it is okay to be a part of the storm from time to time. To join it. To feel it.

I often use these “grounded” compliments as excuses not to cry joy at everyone I meet every day. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as our neat and buttoned-up world would like me to acknowledge, but being a blubbering mess does hinder my communication verbally, and would lead to many stares and personal assumptions from others. My want to keep my emotive forces under control in daily life is my adaptive behavioral response to a messy, spiraling, stormy world around me. A world that makes assumptions and sometimes labels me unfairly – whether I wanted to be or not.

We humans like exercising control, and if we cannot control the government or the Syrian refugee response, then we can at least control our emotions and other people’s perceptions of ourselves. Right?

*

In a past entry, I hypothesized emotions as a divine ‘energy’ or ‘force’ that perhaps we pull from the Cosmic Soup and translate into a specific type of kinetic energy – emotional energy. An energy that we use to drive forward and compel our lives and that of the world.

Some energy is draining (fear and hate), and some insanely uplifting and life-giving (joy and love). Depending upon the energy you express, you will interact with and achieve typical results from either of the two.

In essence, we use our emotive forces to propel forward our world and society around us.

I read some articles recently (here and here – among others) that crying is the body’s biological response to excess stress – and that some studies show people who cry in times of duress are more likely to get their anxiety and stress more quickly under control than those that don’t.

This made me wonder…if crying is a stress response of the body, does that essentially mean it is a stress response to an overload of kinetic energy? An overdose of divine cosmic energy, flooding through you as a particular emotion? Maybe an overreaching thought, but an interesting one.

As someone who cries at ANY powerful emotion no matter what it is – anger, sadness, frustration, happiness, friendship, love, joy, passion – it seems a good explanation. It means I have just pulled too much energy for my body to biologically make sense of, so it must create a response to calm me down and get back to equilibrium. That in fact, through the act of tears, I can be swept away by the storm, but am able to be brought back to the shore more quickly and resolutely.

That in losing yourself in the tears, you will also find yourself – and ground yourself – reliably.

Even taken with a grain of skeptic’s salt, this thought gives me solace. But not necessarily the green card for sobbing at the office in order to gain equilibrium for a mounting workload.

More and more, though, my rocky surface is starting to erode. The storm starts to poke through. The stoic gates come crashing down much more easily than it ever did before.

Once you let the flood into your heart, it returns and pours fondly. Again and again.

Fear: Shutter of The Heart

Is Fear the most dangerous thing of all? Does it really serve a good purpose, or is it hiding the true reality? The thing I find myself fearing is fear itself, and what it’s doing to us as a culture, as human beings.

What do we do when we live in fear? We shut down. When we act from fear, we literally process information in ‘life or death’ terms and activate our ‘fight or flight’ response in the body. This mechanism exists to keep us safe and keep us alive. But in doing so, our immune system shuts down. Our brains turn off. Creativity drains away. Infinite possibilities evaporate. Open arms and hearts close up, barring entrance from anything or anyone suspicious. We process only that information which benefits the situation and the final ‘fight or flight’ decision. Only that and nothing else. Why would your brain waste precious energy in a life and death situation trying to be creative and open-minded? Doing so might cost our life!

Yet even with all the life-saving functions, we were not meant to live in fear ALL of our lives – only for small instances where we needed to outrun someone with a club, think fast on the road, survive an encounter with a bear, or save a loved one from scary situation. But the fear response, and what it creates and does to us, cannot possibly benefit us if we are living it every moment of every day. A dark cloud looming overhead. This emotional force was designed to save our lives in short bursts, not to be endured for an extended period.

What a toll this fear is taking on our health and our hearts. Constant fear certainly will not nurture our souls so we may grow and evolve as humans.

It seems to me that fear cannot inherently exist where there is love. Real, infinite love. If you are operating out of love, you have no fear, only confidence of the moment and the person or situation in front of you. Fear accomplishes nothing; Love accomplishes everything.

Without fear, I really do think we can see things as they really are – and not through the lens of darkness that fear creates. What illusions might we be seeing that we are interpreting as real? That are only shadows from a deep fear in our mind?

Who plants the seeds of those shadows? How can we remove them, shine the light to reveal their true nature and source? Will an open heart reveal them, lift them from our shoulders?

Fear puts words into our mouths that are not our own. Fear ignites motivations that stem from false truths. Fear paralyzes us, but tricks us into thinking we are doing great things and protecting the common good. Fear does not encourage us to think outside ourselves and our own interest. Fear shutters our hearts and minds from infinite love.

The Way Within

Is all experience necessary and good? Even if it’s bad?

In the wake of so many terrible events in our lifetimes, both local and abroad, small and large, I ponder this. In my own experience I have learned things from my tribulations and come out stronger for it. Is this what awaits us? Coming out on the other side of these tragedies stronger and wiser?

Somehow I don’t think so, but I’m not sure why – I am usually not such a defeatist.

Is it possible that we are losing the ability to self-reflect on the impact and condition that these events create, and instead we just react? Impulsively react, over and over again, even if the situation is the same and we should have learned a lesson from it the first time?

I have found personally in my life that if I am not seeing a lesson, or finding the right conclusion or understanding, I will keep encountering this same obstacle until I have conquered it. I have a feeling, an intuition, that we will be struggling to conquer these societal tragic events for a long, long time unless we can find the necessary space and time to soul search and reflect on why these events happen. With our pervasive and increasing desire for instant gratification and sound bite information, I anticipate this to be difficult for us as a culture.

All great faiths, religions and spiritual aspirations that have ever existed emphasized some form or type of self-reflection as being integral to being closer to God or the spiritual forces of this world. Prayer, meditation, chants, ritual, tai-chi, yoga, song, daily study – all of these things are essentially the same: time to reflect, ponder and grow closer with the voices and aspirational flow within so that we may drown out the dictations and mindless distractions from without. Are we lost if we cannot see within? If we cannot make time to connect, pray, meditate?

Is this the way to the heart intelligence* we are so starved for and yearn for? The true place and path of healing and divine love? The only way out of this mess?

This topic of meditation has been popping up for me so often lately. I get the hint universe! I guess it’s time to put my thoughts into action and connect more deeply with the source force within.

*For more on my take of ‘Heart Intelligence’, go here.

Human Context

I feel as if the internet is the wild, wild west of the modern era. Anything goes! Speak your mind! Offend people! Let off steam! Stake your claim! Get into duels! Express yourself! Dig for gold! Free-range thoughts!

I can’t be the only one who is getting a little weary of this attitude? Don’t get me wrong, the internet and the ‘free-range’ thoughts that are expressed and consumed by it seem great –  the immense commerce of ideas and information, how is that not exciting?! The information junkie inside me is revelatory in the amount of data that is available to consume. So-called free-thought. Or is it?

Recently I have been thinking about the online trend to increasingly ‘curate’ or personalize our internet experience. Don’t like that ad? Get one that is more to your liking! Offended by your crazy aunt bitch about Obama on Facebook? You can block her posts! Everything is moving towards cushioning us into our own comfortable bubbles of dogma. So much so that we are forgetting what it is like to have frank, honest and civil disagreements with other people who hold differing beliefs. I’m not sure if the online population has caught on to this yet, but I’m pretty sure it is statistically impossible to convert 100% of all people to one way of looking at the world.

We will always meet with a differing viewpoint. Always. I feel like sometimes there are people online who are actually offended when other people do not view things the way they do. Is this for real?

So how does someone get to the point where they believe their way is the only way? That a civil discourse on a topic that may be contentious turns into vehement hate-spew in the comments of an article? I think the internet is increasingly de-humanizing the exchange of ideas, so when you interact with others online you are missing a crucial piece of the context: the actual human presence. Sure, you see their name and photo maybe, and perhaps where they live, but does your brain actually humanize the avatar of this so-called real person?

In his book Mindwise, Nicholas Epley notes a study which highlights a huge disconnect in the way people think they will act in a certain situation, and what they actually do when faced with the real face-to-face interaction. There is a certifiable contextual element when you have real people in front of you, and your subconscious has spent millennia learning how to interpret body language, facial expressions and mood into a very human interaction. And now we are having to re-train our subconscious in translating the subtext of internet slang and emojis in order to complete our social transaction. I’m pretty sure that without the real person in front of us, our consciousness is not able to properly interpret and react the way it needs to, leaving us with a more or less empty encounter, devoid of real energy and exchange. An interaction that is mostly about ourselves and our personal agenda. Humanity removed.

I believe firmly that we have a social consciousness that is crucial to our ideological mindset and evolution, and without actual interpersonal interaction it is rendered useless. Unless we are somehow able to humanize these interactions? Is the internet stunting us in this regard? I certainly hope not, but this thought has moved me to build more in-person social activities in my life. The virtual version of such is of no comparison, and is indeed missing so much context.

Kernels Within

Children are so much work. But I try to observe and let them shine through to me the truth of human nature. And what have I seen?

These little people are pure mischief, pure energy, pure sadness, pure curiosity and pure joy. These are the kernels of which all adults in this world are borne from, and of which still lie deep within. As we reconnect ourselves with nature, god and the pure energy of life, we rekindle these kernels in the fire that was submerged by expectation.

Smothered by the will of others.

As a mother, I am now constantly aware of these false constructions that our society builds, the constructs of expectation, and how easily – and eagerly – we fall into them. How can we grant the freedom of these pure kernels of the soul to express themselves fully? How can we unleash them so that we may live as ourselves, truly?

A few thoughts before I head into the mountains for a few days, untethered from the wires of society that cradle us so strongly. May we be aware of those wires and work together to fray them even just a little bit, so that we may live a little more connected to the pureness within – and not from the false concoctions without.

Dual Intelligence

In my last post I was contemplating emotions, and how I believe they are divine forces pulled from the Source – or the God-consciousness. Pieces of kinetic energy of the cosmic soup from which all emanates. The force of emotions are a fairly unique experience to humans and deeply embedded within our nature. We make many decisions from an emotional base. To burst into tears and sob is a truly human experience.

If given the chance to live a logic and brain-based consciousness akin to Spock and what the Vulcans on Star Trek emulate, I’m not sure it would be the best choice. To make decisions from logic without human-centeredness is a cold, harsh world that is unforgiving and unyielding. To ignore and sweep our emotions under the proverbial rug is not respectful to ourselves as human and stunts our evolution. Sometimes I get the feeling that we are headed in this direction; down a road of less nurture and kindness and more intellect and power. Less helping and more ‘sink or swim.’ Unfortunate would be the day that we do for we would be ignoring the best parts of ourselves: Love, kindness, and benevolence.

All the smarts and wisdom in the world will not make up for a lack of love and kindness.

I am slowly coming to the conclusion that true intelligence – real smarts and wisdom – come from making decisions from both the heart and brain. Not just one or the other.

I have been reading much on the subconscious and how this piece of our brain is the main motor for our lives and decisions (although we are not acutely aware of this). In concert with that is the conscious part of our brain – our ongoing thought-process and ‘self’ – a dual component of the subconscious and what we believe to be the source of our decisions. All of our experience comes from these two forces interdependent on one another, interlocking in ways we are only beginning to understand.

After thinking more on the subject of a heart-based intelligence, I ask: Is the heart the center of the subconscious? If we surmise the brain to be the center of the ‘conscious’ and logical reasoning, is the heart the center of the subconscious flow? The receiver of the information, the feeler of the information? Is the subconscious the conduit of our emotive and intuitive forces?

More wild ideas. I know any neuroscientist will explain which areas in particular are tied to the subconscious in the brain, so I am thinking quite outside the box in relating them to the heart. In any case, I feel that only by combining and leveraging both of these dual components – heart and brain, conscious and subconscious – can we fully know anything in this world and experience a human-centered life. I posit that our world needs more of this dual intelligence, for it is the only way we can step forward. Without it, we slide.