The ‘Oasis’ of Self-Inquiry

Whose stories are you telling? And why?

Self-inquiry is so much more important now than I ever could have imagined. I take it so dead-seriously these days that I catch myself off guard.

I used to hear the term ‘journaling’ and scoff a little bit. Mostly because I didn’t have the time to do it (or so I told myself), but also because I was a bit jealous of these people who did have time and did take it so seriously.

Earlier in my life, I latched onto the idea and image of journaling steadfastly – I wanted so to be a writer, and how else would I get there then diligently writing the accounts of one’s own life, every day without fail? Duty bound to the written word, and eventually left with a large stack of journals and pen scratches as evidence. Credentials.

Yet inevitably, those old journals of mine from middle school and high school didn’t quite stick as a habit. I became bored with them and barely ever wrote in them regularly. But I was living in the outside world then – I was scribing my daily traverses, but of course it was boring: I was not turning my attention as inward as I should have.

The inward motion makes a difference; it moves mountains and carves universes. It is fluid and ever-changing. Reflecting on the outward side of things, without the inward motion, only reinforces tropes and boxes of cultural and personal constructs that are already evident.

Once I was in college and testing the waters of asking myself deeper questions through writing, journaling – or as I have come to call it, ‘personal essaying’ – finally found its proper niche in my life.

Writing in self-inquiry has taken its place as the rightful oasis it always was and could be. It is NOT the “palace of intellect” or “shrine to craft” like I assumed it was in my youth. No… it is much more modest than that, as it humbles yet enriches me every time I do it. To dip my pen in and drink deep of the waters I find, thirst quenched in surprise and awe, as I hadn’t realized I was parched in the first place.

In this way, self-inquiry is really, really important. And I want to stress that to all people I know and all people I don’t.

As you write, or think, or meditate, or talk your way through hard, tough questions, take care to not repeat the stories you’ve been told previously. Don’t regurgitate. Don’t just reflect back what the world wants and what culture has told you is important. Take the world and bend it through your most important lens – that of your heart.

Whose stories are you telling? And why? 

In a way, I think this sums up my budding interest in Buddhism, and how I feel about it a nutshell.

To me, it is applying self-inquiry to your life to root out those voices that are telling your story for you. That are whispering in your ear the script of what’s already been written; thoughts already outlined and feelings already validated.

Self-inquiry is a path, a road, to understanding and recognizing the true You that exists regardless. The true You that has always been there, the shining kernel at the center of your outward persona and self-constructs.

I want myself and my loved ones to ask these questions of themselves and look deeper, to know that luminous self underneath all the horrible muck that we tell ourselves. The muck that society / family / culture / friends / gender roles / media / and even their own inner critic (the most formidable voice among these) spews at them every day and in every moment. To see and recognize each of these voices and see how they influence our lives and our decisions. To see how these voices are not them. They are not You.

Whose stories are you telling? And why?

“Tell them stories” has always been one of my favorite  “this is the meaning of life” quips from a fiction book series that I’ve ever read, from the third book in the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy by Phillip Pullman. This quote jumped out at me when I read it.  It was one of those truth-y moments that lies with you for the rest of your life.

Stories are a mainstay in our culture and they define us as humans; a unique attribute of our consciousness. And we have the power to harness and tell the stories that we want to tell.

So in a way, Buddhism to me is a vehicle of self-inquiry from which we gather and amass tools and skills to hear and tell the stories of our true self – to hear and tell the stories of the heart.

An oasis that lies within.

A Rejection of the ‘Reactionary Self’

Uncertain and quiet, I still just don’t know.

Lately I feel like I have no authority to be espousing my opinion on the internet, to post blogs, or even to write privately because I feel contaminated.

A deep-seated feeling of perpetuating something that’s not genuine. Of creating something that’s not bore of myself but merely a reaction of external and incongruous things. Something that in the end is just word garbage.

(And as I pointed out in my first blog post here, this was one of my prominent reservations that held me back when I started blogging.)

We all know that pure and unadulterated “reactions” are not always virtuous or the right idea/thought/feeling to hold onto or to emulate.

Perhaps this explains my relative lack of blogging and writing, perhaps not. But it does explain why I have started and stopped MANY different essays, none of which are posted here, and helps to explain why I never felt comfortable doing so.

A lot of my thoughts lately have resembled ‘rants’ of some kind and have been rather depressing and deflating to re-read (even to myself).

In a large sense, they are pure reactions to the pain and grief and anxiety and frustration of the people and situations that surround me and share this life. I’m mixed up in them and these myriad worlds of feeling right now, and therefore do not feel a ‘divinity’ or true connection to my writing space as of late.

The other ‘Me’ that catches words – not creates them.

When I’m writing for myself, I’m elated – because this means I have no agenda but to push my own buttons. But when the world is constantly pushing my buttons for me, I am stuck reacting to them and not my own. I have no thought energy or emotion left for the good stuff: The personal and inner journey.

This one takes effort, too. Much more effort than off-the-cuff reactionary thought.

And after crying and fretting at the news all day, sometimes I don’t want to delve down to the inner recesses of my being. I don’t relish opening up a crisp notebook with empty, white pages staring back at me.

Instead I just want distraction.

I think many of us are feeling this right now. Like a suffocation under chaotic clouds. Disbelief and bewilderment of the swirling, vaudevillian world we are suddenly witness to, manifesting before our eyes and before our children’s eyes.

But my inner voice keeps telling me that my reaction to all this is my choice – and that it is so, so, so important. I’m not sure how, but it is.

My heart swells and whispers to stop reacting and start Being. To stop getting caught in the swirl around me, and to create my own swirl. My own message. My own energy.

To connect to the message and energy that reside at the heart.

This or that tragedy. This or that anarchy. This or that doomsday proclamation of pressure and sadness. This is not you. It is not me. It is not Us.

This isn’t what we truly want. It’s energy gone wild. And I’m reminding myself – and maybe you – not to fall into it.

Be the rock in the swirl. The loving rock that observes and sees all things, accepts them as they are, and lifts them up to know the love that you feel so deeply. The love that exists so infinitely and without condition or borders or feelings or thought.

We are all so cataclysmically loved that we feel torn apart sometimes. But maybe that is ok.

The seams are coming undone. Power for power’s sake is getting ripped with cracks and slivers of truth, and is buckling under the weight.

We crave honesty. We crave connection and spirit. No more fakery. No more facades.

Feel the seams rip and love them all the same. Whether apart in pieces or together as a whole, we need to cover it all in love and fly.

Q+A: A Conversation with the Scales

Where am I?  I whisper into the night. Why am I here, in this place, at this time?

I wring my hands and crack my neck and stay worried all the same. Nothing feels grounded, nothing feels right about this place, this ephemera – this ME.

The constant swirl of dogma. The constant berating threads from social media and how EVERY fucking person needs to express to the world their feelings, and have them legitimized in some fashion.

And, of course, every single fucking person is RIGHT about what they feel because, well, it’s what THEY feel. WE don’t feel it, so how in the world are we supposed to tell them how NOT to feel it. Insensitive, right?

“Ugh.” Inner critic chimes in and scoffs at this thought. “These people are just expressing themselves. The problem is that every expression gets amplified and routed around like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. People will have opinions – this is fucking normal! – what is NOT normal is how we are bombarded with every single one at one time and then expected to nod our heads and tell everyone ‘I respect your viewpoint.’ Because we don’t, really. Not our inner selves. Not our heart.”

{ Inner critic has a point. }  Yes. I see it. So what about these other people’s opinions that we don’t respect? What’s going on there?

“If their opinions differ from yours, it will be a challenge – difficult even – to hear their side of things. You will have to exercise good listening skills and empathy –things that do not exist in great numbers! And are not supported or encouraged by social media and sound bite data streams. People these days listen to speak and react – not listen to learn. Listen to observe.

“But back to topic: you are certainly not going to agree with everyone – it will NEVER be Kumbaya and hugs all the time because there are billions of people with all shades and shadows of disagreement to what you think and what you believe. You will never find solace really.

“But somehow we convince ourselves that it is possible. That maybe – just maybe! – if we create a nice safe box to live in, where everyone looks and acts the same way, then we can finally be at peace. We can finally feel safe in our own skin and our own comfortable canon. But that’s just because people these days don’t know how to have disagreements with others and not feel existentially threatened. A shame really.”

Whoa, Inner critic. On a roll there!

“Yeah, well – needed to get that off my chest. Whew! Felt good. You’re not going to broadcast this on social media now, are you?”

What! And let this gem sit in a Word doc forever?

{ I am causing my Inner critic to deal with hypocrisy, and it makes me snicker so what the hell. }

*

{ But….. I linger on the conversation a bit. I can’t leave it alone. Picking the scab open further, I keep at it. }

So what was that part about not respecting people and that coming from the heart – what in the world does that mean? Because what I have been led to believe by my own heart-searching is that all people are of unfathomable worth and equal in the eyes of God. Why in the world would my heart not respect some of these people, brothers and sisters that share this planet?

“Oh I never said the heart does not respect the PEOPLE, I just said viewpoint.” Inner critic jumps back in with zealous rigor. “People don’t equal their viewpoint. Viewpoints change.

“But yet, to find a viewpoint that the heart truly and deeply disagrees with is a difficult one. I imagine the figure of Lady Justice inside of the heart, mother of the Fates, blindfolded and holding the scales and sword. That is her true home. If you weigh something against your heart and the scales don’t measure right, that is the sign that the heart will find it difficult to respect, because it will weigh against the heart of humanity. The wrongness will ring, and make it difficult to ignore.”

But….what? How do I know if this is the case? I am troubled by this train of thought, it sounds a little religious-right to me. Like, “I feel this is morally wrong because my heart/religion/God told me so, and so I cannot respect you.” A little bullshitty and hive-mind and not intellectually sound.

Inner critic pipes back, “Ah – but that is the hard part to discern. Was it truly the heart we are weighing against – or the words of man interpreted though another mouthpiece and mistaken as heart?

“If it is truly the heart, then you will know it as truth. If they are words you have heard or been reflected to from another source, then it’s not truly the heart. It might be something that aligns with your heart-logic, but it might also be something that aligns with your “safe little box” guidelines, and so they FEEL right. Heart-logic informed solely from mind-logic, which is easily influenced by “safe little box” logic. An erroneous place to start from. Remember that these visceral feelings are fleeting, and should not define a person.

“Also, you inferred that you cannot respect a person if their opinions offend your heart-logic; that is incorrect. They are still fallible human beings that are capable and deserving of love. Sometimes they know not of what they are doing. They just want to be safe in their boxes. And just because you don’t really respect their opinions doesn’t mean you can’t love them and hope they will find unconditional love for all beings.”

Yeah… sorry Inner critic, but I’m having trouble getting on board with radiating love to all people if they are spouting horrible hate-rhetoric, even if they “know not of what they do.” That sounds like it would feel weird and horrible.

“But it is not a silent love – it is a noisy love, a love in disagreement. Because you care. And it will feel weird and horrible maybe. But it will also weigh right against your heart and against humanity. “

OK, shit.

That is true. It feels true.

Thanks Inner critic for this dialogue. Didn’t know you were into love and stuff on top of questioning everything I do.

“Yes, I am 100% dialed in. And remember: if things are done in the name of good, but are detrimental or demeaning to others, then they are not wholly good. 100% goodness is a rarity. Just be comfortable with loving on your fellow people and doing it more noisily. Because you care. That is a wonderful goodness. Just be sure to self-examine once in a while to ensure you are not getting swallowed up in “safe little box” logic.”

Ok – but I’m an introvert sooooo…… can I love noisily on a blog?

“Oh absolutely.”

Wait – are you really my Inner critic, or are you a brand of heart logic that I wasn’t recognizing?

“You’ll have to weigh me against those scales and see where I fall.”
😉

 

Um seriously? A winky-face?

“I’m funny sometimes. Just you wait.”

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.

 

“You Exist Because You are Loved”

“You exist because you are loved.”

These words popped into my head after work one day, out of the blue.

I remember right where it happened: I was starting the first leg of my pedestrian commute, walking block one out of eight. Headphones on, music loudly playing. And right as I was passing a giant, red-neon, laughing Buddha at the Asian fusion restaurant across the street – BAM!

“You exist because you are loved.”

So for me, this phrase of insight that came to me so unannounced and sudden is intricately bound with the image of a red, laughing, neon Buddha.

And now it is for you as well.

The meaning of these words might seem a bit backwards at first take. A little voice in our head reasons with us: “We can be born to a family and not loved,” or, even more sadly, “I’m/she/he/them are not particularly wanted or loved, but I/he/she/they exist!”

If I hold these statements in my heart, though, I don’t think they can be true. My heart offers a different interpretation.

“You exist because you are loved.”

IF you are here or have been here, and you are reading this, or if you are existing elsewhere and not reading this – my heart posits that you were meant to be there in that moment. Therefore, you are loved infinitely more than we can fathom.

This is a world of creation, and what is creation but a form of love?

That voice of reason, the shoulder man, is there again interrupting. Reminding me that we exist because of reproduction – a biological imperative. Nothing more and nothing less.

But I think there’s more to it than that, and the girl on the other shoulder implores me to hesitate in coming to conclusions. She is wary, skeptical – but tells me to listen to my heart.

So I chase the seemingly reasonable, logical, and analytical voice away. This voice of mine is rooted firmly into the realm of what can be seen and concretely measured. Palpably observed. And these words that I am contemplating defy a logic that could ever be measured, graphed, or perhaps even fathomed –  let alone scientifically analyzed and promptly debunked.

“You exist because you are loved.”

There is so much in this world that we don’t know, yet so much here that we DO know, if we would just open up. Recognize it. Imagine the unimaginable. See a world without divisions and separations.

Life – ALL of life – is here because it IS love; therefore, it is loved. It is all connected, and we are an integral part of it.

The shoulder voices ask me many things at once: Will we ever rise up and realize these truths? Will we let our hearts guide us as much as our mind? Can we pause our logic for a moment to imagine the unseen?

I hope these words catch you in your heart as they did mine. A little stumble, a double-take at the laughing Buddha. Opening your eyes a little wider, and an offering of peace of mind – and peace of heart.

May it be a little freer, and more loved, than it was before.

“You exist because you are loved.” And you love because you exist.

Adam & Eve (& the Self)

The biblical story of Adam and Eve has always troubled me. It is a story, a teaching, with many pieces that have always felt incongruous in my heart. Maybe I am wasting my time, but lately I have been trying to reconcile myself with it after realizing that there might be some intellectual and psychological layers begging to be explored.

Are you ready for a meaty long-read? Continue on!

*

The story goes that Adam and Eve live blissfully in the newly created Garden of Eden with never a worry, a want, or a need that might disturb them as long as they obey the ONE rule: Do not under ANY circumstance pick/eat any fruit off of the beautiful tree at the center of the Garden, the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If they eat/pick the fruit off of this tree, all hell will break loose and they will be kicked to the curb by the “parent” God, destined to die. A dangerous warning and a fatal rule to be broken.

So then the serpent comes along that lives in the Garden of Eden along with Adam and Eve. The serpent convinces Eve that the warning was without merit; surely you will not die – the knowledge of Good and Evil is but knowledge, and God wants to keep this knowledge from you. What knowledge could be bad? He convinces her that the command given by God was not worth obeying; that only good should come from eating of the tree, of humans having knowledge of good and evil.

Of course we all know how it ends. Eve is persuaded by the logic of the serpent, eats of the tree, and also gives the fruit to Adam, who eats without comment or complaint. Suddenly, “their eyes were opened.” They realize their nakedness; they feel ashamed and hide from God. They feel fear. Then God exiles them for disobeying the ONE rule, forever making them labor for their food and survival, giving pain in childbirth, and sentencing the serpent to forever crawl on his belly and eat dust. Basically, a harsh existence for all three parties involved. God was NOT kidding around!

While reading the story, I am struck by mixed feelings; feelings that should be wrestled with.

Here are four themes and conclusions we take from our human origin story that I felt needed reexamination in order to get to a deeper meaning:

  1. That it’s Eve’s fault that they ate the apple and were forever exiled – separated – from the Garden of Eden, God, and the offering of effortless existence. This creates feelings of misogyny and hatred towards women. Why did Eve have to question God’s authority and not Adam? “Couldn’t she just be happy with obeying?” (And all the other antithetical statements you can think of that men have said to women, portraying them as the scapegoat for this mess we’ve gotten everyone into.)
  2. That the snake is a literal representation of Satan; that he was sent to distract us from walking on our path with God. The snake was deliberate in this attempt to sway us from our path and that he intended to make us sin and succeeded. Therefore, we are all flawed in nature, as mankind has “fallen” from our path with the creator. We are all sinners and need to be redeemed.
  3. That God created Adam and Eve, presumably out of love, yet also sentences them to die after they break the one rule. Doesn’t make sense to me. Oh wait – the Old Testament God didn’t know about mercy and loving kindness??
  4. That the pursuit of knowledge is a sentence to “death.” That knowing Good and Evil is a bad thing. That our creator would prohibit us from wanting/attaining or striving for additional knowledge.

Before we delve into each of these four subjects within the story, we should revisit some other symbolical inferences that I believe we were meant to intuit within the story itself.

*

Serpents / Snakes in Mythological and Symbolical History

The references of snakes or other serpentine creatures in our past, both symbolically and literally, from the Bible to Mesoamerica, are way too numerous to list out. As a general rule, the ‘snake’ – as we humans experience it – is a creature that lives below foot. Snakes are largely unseen, burrowing around and sneaking in the grass, and as a result they are synonymous with any lurking ‘threat’ to our well-being; snakes have such a deep connection with danger and death in our collective consciousness. There are anthropologists that posit that snakes were such a superior threat to our ancestors’ survival that they have been burned into our base brains as an ingrained fear from the beginning of time.

However, snakes are also symbols of creation, healing, and wisdom – and this is much more prevalent in our history and mythology, in my honest opinion, than the outright evil as we understand it from the Adam and Eve parable. The Rainbow Serpent from Aboriginal Australia comes from under the ground and forms the Earth – a creator god that exists from within and is associated with water and the rainbow that arches over the world. Quetzalcoatl, the feathered winged serpent from Mayan/Aztec lore, associated with learning, knowledge, the Milky Way, the cosmos, and the boundary between heaven and Earth. Ningizzida, the ancient Sumerian fertility god. The Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet, known as the all-seeing eye of wisdom and vengeance, who is depicted as the crown of Egypt on the pharaohs and other deities. Not to mention the Hindu ‘Kundalini’ energy – Sanskrit for “coiled up” – in reference to the energy channels within the human body that pass through the chakras, which brings awakening and leading to altered states of consciousness.

None of these historical references to serpents or snakes seem to be overtly ominous or treacherous. Unless we consider another metaphor…

“Chthonic”

Chthonic, from the Greek khthonios, which means “in, under or beneath the earth.” Otherwise known as subterranean. In Greek mythology, this word was primarily associated with deities and gods from the underworld – those who were literally subterranean.

However, when all of the above is considered, I see the clear association of the snake with living underground or underfoot – subterranean. What else is subterranean? What else burrows beneath, is mysterious, and cannot be seen from without and only from within?

Perhaps the serpent in the Adam and Eve story is a symbol for a subterranean concept. Something that is housed within, unseen; yet is powerful enough to convince us, persuade us, reason with us, that the path away from God is not only safe – it’s preferable. An idea.

Duality

After considering the concept of “unseen” and subterranean forces that exist within, we cannot dismiss the concept of duality inherent with Adam and Eve. Obviously male and female, but perhaps Eve was the always the one destined to lean towards the serpent, as the feminine energy is more inclined towards the ‘subterranean’ aspects of human nature. For female, there are associations with Yin energy, the Moon, emotions and imagination, and Mother Earth. As opposed to male, which are themes of Yang energy, the Sun, willpower and strength, and Father Sky.

As such, I think it appropriate to ascribe the ‘snake’ to the female within the story, who associates strongly with unseen energies at work: the womb as a source of creation, emotion, imagination – the subconscious. Likewise, the male is ascribed to the force we experience: willpower, strength, the light we see, and the visual, tangible energies at work – the conscious.

Garden of Eden

Gardens symbolically represent something tangible that we sow, that we plant, that we put effort and intention into. That we nurture. Jesus mentions many metaphors about fruit in the New Testament; implying that we are spiritually working towards the fruit of our labors. That we are the grapes on the vine.

To me it seems that the Garden of Eden really represents an effortless ‘blossoming’ of the spiritual fruits – or the culmination of what it means to be in connection with God. In this way, to live outside the Garden of Eden is to live outside of God, outside the natural order. I think it is natural to consider that Eden is more of an ‘inner garden’ than an actual place.

Ego & the Tree of Good and Evil

Finally, the forbidden tree. Lately it occurred to me that the real downfall that lies within the Tree of Good and Evil is the idea that Good and Evil can be judged by anyone other than God – who is infinite and unknowable and who is both everything and nothing.

I lean towards the idea that there is really no ‘good’ or ‘evil’ – that they are subjective concepts in the end. Something that is amazingly good can be amazingly bad to someone else. There is no label of ‘good’ or ‘evil’ outside of the experience of the Self.

When the Ego takes hold of your life, then you see that it is not unreasonable to judge Good and Evil for yourself. When you are living isolated in your mind, being dictated by the inner monologues of Self and how your experience is affecting YOU and only YOU, then you are drowning out the voice of God. The voice of the subconscious and the multitudes; you are choosing a life of Self over the Source.

We bit the apple of conscious Self and Ego.

The Fruit of Duality.

 

*

So now that I’ve laid out the main pieces of symbolism, let us re-define the previous points and unpack them.

 

That it’s Eve’s fault that they ate the apple and were forever exiled – separated – from the Garden of Eden, God, and the offering of effortless existence. This creates feelings of misogyny and hatred towards women. Why did Eve have to question God’s authority and not Adam? “Couldn’t she just be happy with obeying?” (And all the other antithetical statements you can think of that men have said to women, portraying them as the scapegoat for this mess we’ve gotten everyone into.)

I believe Eve was the symbol of the subconscious, very interconnected to subterranean concepts and ideas. She – or the subconscious – would be the more obvious target for gaining influence over our lives. The subconscious is the more powerful of the two brain states, so if you are able to get through to the subconscious, then you get results. The act of the snake – or the ‘creative / subterranean forces’ – in influencing Eve is no fault of Eve’s; she is the symbol of the subconscious being influenced, which in turn then influences the Conscious (Adam). All of our conscious lives are a result of subconscious influence. In this way, Adam could not protest to the act, as it was already decided. The Conscious mind can only deal with the subconscious actions after or as they happen.

Perhaps Adam and Eve were working as two pieces of the whole mind, and the way in which they influence each other is the story of how our subconscious affects our day to day lives.

 

That the snake is a literal representation of Satan; that he was sent to distract us from walking on our path with God. The snake was deliberate in this attempt to sway us from our path and that he intended to make us sin and succeeded. Therefore, we are all flawed in nature, as mankind has “fallen” from our path with the creator. We are all sinners and need to be redeemed.

After acknowledging that Adam and Eve are just the two parts of the mind that co-exist dependently, what the hell is the serpent? Well, I think he is a piece of God, if we are also acknowledge that good and evil do not exist. The snake is symbolic of a rogue idea, and most likely, in my mind at least, the result of the existence of the Self.

I know what you are thinking. If living in the Garden of Eden is living in sync with the Source, and living out of the Garden is a state of Ego and Self, then how did the snake – an agent of the Self – get within the Garden of blissful living?

I imagine that within our Garden of Eden, in a state of effortless sync with the Source, you are not without stray thoughts. Stray concepts. Stray ideas. If you are in sync with the Source, then you are in sync with everything that is, and that includes everything that we might classify as ‘bad’ or evil.

Like our lives today, we have stray thoughts all over the place. Some are conscious, some are subconscious. They come from everywhere and seemingly out of nowhere. If you are in your inner Garden of Eden, in sync with all that there is, I can’t imagine that we would be immune to stray thoughts, regardless of where they come from. Like someone who is playing “devil’s advocate,” stray thoughts are sometimes a pathway to a new perspective, or a new way of looking at things.

But the problem, and the warning, of the Adam and Eve story is how the mind made the decision – first the subconscious, then the conscious – to act on this stray thought. A thought that was presented rather ominously – through the snake – yet seemed to make reasoned, logical sense to the mind. A thought that was reasoned out logically and scientifically. Then the mind made the decision, not from a place of God, but from a place of Self. The Self wanted to taste Good and Evil. The Self wanted to know more. The Self was the decision maker in the end, ignoring all previous warnings from God. It was a Selfish act, not a selfless act.

In this way, I often feel that Satan is a stand-in for Ego, the Self, and other selfish actions.

 

That God created Adam and Eve, presumably out of love, yet also sentences them to die after they break the one rule. Doesn’t make sense to me. Oh wait – the Old Testament God didn’t know about mercy and loving kindness??

In acting from the Self, in a selfish manner, the mind then kicks God out as a result of the act. God does not do any punishing, as God is not a ‘being’ in the sense we believe Him to be. God, in my sense, is just the infinite Cosmic Field that we interact with through the subconscious. And in choosing acts of Self, or selfishness in Ego, we are choosing a path away from spirituality; away from the ultimate inner sanctuary of spirit and heart, a place of implacable love and effortlessness in existence –the Garden of Eden. In this way, the Self chooses a path towards suffering and pain. A path away from infinite love.

It is not God’s choice then that we are destined to die – it is our own. He only served the warning that to live outside the Garden was to implicitly walk towards a path of Self and Ego.

Here in this context, we see that the warning of God was ignored blatantly when we bit the fruit of Ego – in spite of the uneasiness of the spirit – because it seemed like a reasonable action. It seemed logical that giving more knowledge to the Self was beneficial to our lives. In our real world context this makes sense to us. But in the spiritual context, I surmise that it does not.

Giving more power to the Self reasoning and Ego just takes us further away from the selfless, infinite love of the Source. The Ego and Self are present whether we want them to be or not, in stray thoughts that infiltrate our lives and minds constantly. But our choice of whether or not to listen to them, and to heed the warning, determines our fate of whether or not we live in the Garden or not.

 

That the pursuit of knowledge is a sentence to “death.” That knowing Good and Evil is a bad thing. That our creator would prohibit us from wanting/attaining or striving for additional knowledge.

After much reflection, I don’t believe the Tree of Good and Evil was ever an attainment of knowledge. It was the illusion of the attainment of knowledge. And by biting the fruit from the tree, we gave credence to the illusion, making it real – acting as if there are different types of knowledge in the world, some more worthy than others.

Something I have recently come to terms with in my own spirituality is the idea that all knowledge that there is to know exists within the Cosmic Field, and to access it we only need to desire it, and act from a true place of humility, gratitude and selfless, no-strings-attached love in order to receive it and understand it.

In this way, if you are living in the Garden, in sync with the Source, then you already have access to the knowledge of Good and Evil in the first place.

The erroneous thought that this knowledge exists outside of the Source is the true “fall” of the story. If you trust and accept this knowledge through the Source, and not seek it through the Self, then you would know this knowledge anyway.

The existence of the Self serves to push us to our biological imperatives, provide a unique experience of our life, and adds a lens of personification on reality. It does not, however, serve to be our guide in our knowledge. Our knowledge must first come through the fingerprint of the Source that surrounds us.

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Adam & Eve is a beautiful story that, to me, illustrates the beauty of the Source, and being connected to All there is. It perhaps also serves as a reminder of the hard life that exists before you when you stumble and erroneously fall prey to the illusory thought that true knowledge exists outside of yourself, and that there is a black and white Evil and Good to be seen, weighed and determined in our world.

I lean towards the belief that all separation is an illusion, and to draw lines in your life of good and evil, us and them, you are inevitably pushing yourself away from recognizing your universal Self – that part of you that is intertwined with all of life and all that exists. Our integral nature – that of non-duality. Eden.

The moment that you give the reins over to the Ego and believe that there is Good and Evil to be found in the fruit, then your life will be dictated by your own microcosm of influence, your own affectations. Yet if you experience the Ego for what it is – only a lens of a voice on our reality – and move your intention on to more selfless, infinite love, then you will find your way to Eden.

Ignore the thoughts that conflict with your heart, and you will find your way home.

All of our minds have the potential of acting from the Self erroneously and “sinning” in the way described in the parable, but we should always listen to the internal, small voice within that carries the warnings of the spirit.

We are not fallen; we only have the potentiality of falling away from our true home – the heart, and the Garden within. We can always fall back – it is inevitable once we invite the Source in and usher the saboteur Self out.

Tending to the Gardens of Mind

Do we need an “evil” figure in our lives in order to recognize the good?

Do we need to unite against an “enemy” in order to rally to peace?

I’m feeling these questions acutely right now, especially given current events in the ongoing election. What is happening to us?

Is this some sick social experiment that is testing our collective consciousness? Poking and prodding our conceptual knowledge of what is good, moral, and right while trouncing it with maggot-ridden bait?

((Apologies for the melodramatic statements.))

In time after time, we are taught – and drilled – to know evil exists on the other side of goodness and purity. But to draw lines in the sand is to make them manifest in the first place. To create ‘Us vs. Them’ is to say “Us vs. Them” in the first place. It really takes no other act. Just a simple statement of this duality plants the seed in the minds of those who hear it. But where this seed grows and gains traction is up to the individual.

Are you tending to your thought garden thusly? Maintaining and nurturing and giving it life? Or are you letting it run wild – untamed, overgrown, dying in parts, but robust in others? Flowers choked out by the weeds?

The seed is itself harmless. But what it becomes in us is what really matters, for we are the soil from which the world springs forth.

If you grow and nurture the seeds of division – or ignore them – they will be what you sow in the end. If we need some kind of perceived evil in order to see good – if we need the weeds in order to appreciate the flowers – then perhaps a perspective tilt is in order.

Maybe we need to draw less lines and more circles…

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I pray and wish for a day when we recognize that darkness is but the shadow of the light – nothing more, nothing less. We need to stop giving it the power it does not deserve. In the reality of the heart, it is ephemeral, changing, and it exists where we let it. This “evil” – this “enemy” we are constantly working to identify – exists only as a part of the whole, and does not define us. It is just a mere seed that moves through us and onto the field beyond.

We are the ones who invite these seeds to stay. We are the ones who plant them.

These seeds have always existed, and always will. What will we do with them? Plant them and watch them grow and take root? Or watch them float by, adrift on the wind?