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.

Time & Existence: a quick manifesto

What is ‘time?’ Why do we perceive it linearly, when science tells us this is an illusion?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. For a couple of months, actually, it has been consuming my thoughts.

I watched the series ‘The Fabric of the Universe with Brian Greene’ (which is streaming free on Amazon Prime, by the way! Drop what you are doing and watch!). Like the studious nerd that I am, I took notes and paused the episode frequently. I ruminated on it quite a bit.

Then I saw the movie ‘Arrival’ a few weeks ago and the concept of time has been on my mind nearly every day constantly ever since. (HIGHLY recommended)

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So we experience time in a linear fashion, yet science tells us that time in its entirety is actually ALL being experienced in one moment simultaneously. Why don’t we experience time in this all-encompassing way? Why does it need to be linear for us?

This morning I read a theory/belief manifesto posted & written on Twitter (you can pop over to @amie_zor to get a glance) and this moved my theory needle quite a bit. Props to the original poster @PhilosopherK1ng!

This manifesto posited the stance that time as we know it is linear because we are moving more slowly. So slow, in fact, that this in turn allows us to perceive the linear-ness of the moments we are in – which if we were moving faster, or perhaps the better term is if we were existing faster, we would not be able to observe.

In order to perceive this “becoming-ness” and immerse ourselves in this 3D experience on this plane we need to move/exist more slowly in order to perceive the cycles. Better yet – we need to be a visceral part of the cycles. Hence – the human body.

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I was thinking along these same lines a few weeks ago as I was ruminating on the cycles of nature. In the grand scheme of things, time and our reality is really recycled; therefore existing in one long, extended moment. In terms of atoms and molecules, there is no “death” – they just keep recreating themselves within transformation. The particles that make up our bodies do not leave upon the concept of “death.” They just transform themselves again into something new.

I was thinking about time and how trees and plants might perceive it. Trees grow so slowly – their lifespans easily eclipse ours in many cases – and I wondered what it would be like to exist in that state. Humans and animals scurrying about, the seasons cycling through quite fast in comparison to our own human perception.

Then I wondered if there was life out there that was even slower – or even faster. Like the mayfly, for instance: their life span might be just 30 minutes to 2 days. To them, humans must seem like trees or part of the landscape, maybe.

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Then I was pondering the concept of sleep. Why is it that we need it so badly? That we need that recharge every night in order to operate so optimally in this world? It feels to me that we actually cannot sustain ourselves here without it – so it’s almost like the dream world is our real home. Our energy center, so to speak. Without it, we could not exist here. We need dreams and REM sleep in our lives, but we really cannot articulate why.

Perhaps the answer is that we cannot exist here without sleep because we cannot FULLY inhabit this waking plane of existence 24/7 because we are not preternaturally inclined to it? Perhaps we inclined to move/exist faster than is normal here, but we need to be ‘locked’ into our human bodies in order to live and perceive this experience. We need the ‘locking’ mechanism that is the human body and waking consciousness in order to see / hear / be here at all?

Without the human body, maybe we would perceive all of everything and inhabit all worlds and all times simultaneously – like we do when we sleep. Perhaps that is our true existence – but somehow it does not stick in our memory the same way as it does here in our plane of existence because it doesn’t adhere to the memory structure. Dream-time existence doesn’t move as slow as our waking consciousness, so our waking consciousness cannot hold onto these memories as well as it can when things are slower.

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All this considered – this makes me reconsider space travel. I read an article discussing space travel, the ongoing search for exoplanets, and how the nearest one would take us nearly 75,000 years to travel to using our current fastest technology. Needless to say, we move / exist too slowly to conceive of traveling that distance in any perceivable way without artificial intelligence.

But if we could somehow unlock ourselves from our current body-consciousness – this perceived reality that moves slowly enough to appreciate and participate in the unfolding cycles of this world – perhaps we can move faster, and therefore this distance would not be an issue. Maybe we could just manifest ourselves to said exoplanet without issue, since we are perceiving time as one moment?

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All theory, of course, but I love the puzzle pieces when they seem to fit – even if in fantasy. However, in my mind, fantasy is but the beginning of fact. We cannot go where we have not first imagined.

I will be reflecting much more on this subject and look forward to finding some additional reads that might catapult this further. If there are any readers out there with sources / books / podcasts / etc. that might add to this unwieldy thought-train, please share or add in the comments !

Happy Thursday friends ❤

“Go With the Flow”

Are thought waves or thought ‘states’ like an onion that you peel, one layer after the other?

Do we prefer one kind of thought wave over another?

I find much of my time unwilling or unwanting to “downshift” my conscious thought into the mired details. If a game or a task requires strategy or logistic-style thinking, or mapping out the opponent’s moves to best win the turn, then I am usually not up for it. I put up a fight and procrastinate. It’s like pulling teeth for me and I usually have to force it. Why though?

I have to acknowledge that it is indeed easier to complete a task when you are not wasting brain power on trying to figure it out. It is much easier to get assigned a task that you know how to do or to have a plan or a “workbook” for life laid out before you. This spares you the extra effort of having to consciously figure it out. Using conscious thought requires exerting extra energy, and I believe this is a certain thought pattern – or wave – that we have to inhabit.

For a long time I thought I was just lazy in my brain power, or not as smart as my overly strategic and analytical peers, but maybe that’s not the whole picture.

After recently watching the episode ‘Who’s In Control?’ of The Brain with David Eagleman, where they discuss the unconscious processes of the brain, I think I might possibly be rejecting inhabiting my conscious thoughts in favor of a more unconscious ‘Flow State.’

The ‘Flow State’ that they reference is in regards to a space (or a thought wave) where you are not inhabiting your conscious thoughts, but instead defer to the unconscious. Like when you are driving home from work and suddenly you arrive home and are startled to realize that you don’t remember your entire drive. You lost time because you were doing it automatically – it didn’t require your conscious thoughts.

Is this what I’m experiencing? Perhaps. Part of me says ‘yes’ but a part of me says that’s presumptuous.

When I’m writing, or reading, or having certain conversations that are not bogged down in outrageous details, I effortlessly jump in. I do it with gusto. I do not have to force the thought waves – I just lean back.

When I’m assigned a detailed task to figure out, or to work out my personal budget, or play a game with friends where strategy – more so than chance – is involved, I drag my metaphoric feet and mind through the mud before I finally force myself into it. I have to literally push. It’s exhausting.

Not to say that I don’t enjoy the details and strategy once I’m there. But this leads to an ‘all or nothing’ approach. If I finally get around to organizing my room or a photo collection, or working out my budget or troubleshooting a detailed task, I usually desire to work on nothing else until that task is done. Nothing. No interruptions or I kiss my detailed, conscious thought waves good-bye. Once that happens, then it’s pulling teeth again. The cycle starts over.

Do I really prefer spending a majority of my time in the unconscious thought waves of flow? Is that what makes it so hard for me switch gears to the conscious thought waves? Is this normal for others?

Lately I have been feeling like I have to force my conscious attention to things around me more than usual. To tell myself to focus on the moment – and even to remind my eyes to not glaze over and look at what’s in front of me. Like I’m stuck floating just above the surface. But maybe I was always this way? Maybe my train of thought was always leaving the station behind, and now I’m just more aware of that fact? Certain things suggest to me that this is true. It’s a little disturbing, to be honest.

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I’ve always been a more or less ‘go with the flow’ type of person.

I try not to overthink things and trust my instinct. But perhaps these days I’m going with the flow too much. I’m letting it take me away.

Perhaps I am supposed to help direct the flow, rather than flow with it. Nudge it and imbue it with my intention.

Perhaps I need to recognize that I am not merely separate from the flow, flowing with it.
I AM the flow.

Upshift

I feel like I’ve been in an incubation period. Insular and isolated. Not by any specific day to day circumstance, but by my own inner need. Some form of metamorphosis.

This is, I realize, a very grand term to apply to my own personal growth, and rather presumptuous. But what else emerges after a period of incubation but some form of life, put together out of the immortal slime of potentialities?

I personally need these times of introspection greatly, not only because I’m an introvert and recharge in silence, but for the need to be alone, without distraction, just to make sense of things in general. To make sense of the entirety of life, in thought and in emotion.

When I read books I usually come to a point when I need to put them down and psychologically gnaw on the new ideas and let them percolate. Allow them space in my own psyche to simmer and assimilate. As such, sometimes I get halfway through a book, or even three-quarters, and I have to put it down to think. Then, unsurprisingly, I have a hard time picking it back up again as I let too much time elapse for mindful thought. It should be no surprise that given this predilection, I have seven books in progress right now, not counting three or so kindle books.

(This specifically applies to non-fiction; I tend to race through and lose myself in fiction books, to the detriment of all other pursuits. In this way I am very careful and cautious about introducing fiction titles to my life.)

This start and stop nature is frustrating, but as I was reading this evening and trying to revel in a large chunk of personal time in which to really sink my teeth into a book, I got fidgety. My mind’s own thoughts started to outweigh the words on the page. I had no choice but to put the book down. I could not concentrate on a single concept any longer.

I have to upshift my focus – yield to the unrelenting vastness that bubbles over and in.

When dealing with new concepts, ideas, histories, facts, spiritual themes, and even other more mundane areas of life – I absolutely lose my narrowed focus after a time, and can only gain it back and reign it in with great, great, great effort.

Introspection and rest are the only ways to gain this back without a fight. My conscious attention to details, to information gathering, becomes exhausted and I have no choice but to stop and open the aperture to bask in a larger picture of light.

So maybe this little incubation period is a necessary thing that is leading me to wonderful places; maybe it is just a resting place, to gain back energy. Either way, writing is a way to structure some of the unfocused thoughts that stream around in my unconscious opened aperture. Much needed therapy and a welcome outlet.

My “hibernation” of mind, and slow down of blog posts, are both reflections of the busy-ness of the holiday season and the uptick in general of ideation that I have been subject to in the past month. Ideation that has forced me to put the book down and gnaw and percolate.

As much as incubation is necessary, I look forward to less information gathering and more information formulation in the coming year. The pendulum swinging back from its moment of rest.

I’ve said a few times in entries here that I sometimes feel like a conduit of thought – a mere single point of light emanating out of another, grander source. Just repeating and processing what I receive. This feeling has not subsided – it has only grown, and provided a substantial foundation for my personal philosophy and spirit.

Cheers to the 2016 New Year – to new thought, upshifted focus, and the general expansion of heart.

Essence

Erratic thoughts come from divine
Yet I do not think they’re mine.

Down the road I drive, and down,
Feeling something
Yet I drown.

Farther, farther yet – and still,
I cannot process thoughts that spill.

Out and around me, dripping drops
The descent is longer – then it stops.

Pulling, pushing, fates collide
Unsure of when to time the tide.

Relief, surmounting, through the fog
Rolling, rolling, clear the smog.

I want to see what we outgrew.
I think I see the truest You.

We Are Sailors

Does God consciously make decisions or pull the strings?

I think it’s more of an interaction. As we engage with God and life, this relationship produces actions and reactions, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Depends on the type of engagement.

An intelligent source that needs agents and directors to produce and create.

An intelligent source that flows, but needs winds to move it and hearts to guide it.

We are those sailors of the heart, but we are not just sailing with the wind – we are having a hand in its direction.

Helming the ships of destiny.

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Here is another short story I wrote regarding this same theme – sailing on the seas of the heart. Something I keep coming back to again and again.

Sipping the ‘God Soup’

Do we really create our own reality? Or is it really a ‘co-creation’ that we believe we have ultimate power over?

I wholeheartedly believe that we, as individual conscious agents, have a hand in creating – imprinting – our own realities and experiences. I think I always have. Like a small kernel of thought that lay dormant on the seabed of consciousness, waiting for me to float by and stir it from slumber.

And just so… I’ve jostled it free and now I can’t shake it! The framework follows me, haunts me, day in and day out. Hangs in my peripherals just so…prodding and poking.

Because I am ruminating on the subject so often, it seems to me that although we have some kind of power over our path, and some influence to direct our reality intentionally, we do not have true creation of it.

Say you want a new car. Even if you are very specific on the make and model of the car of in your vision, it will still come to you with the fingerprint of our current reality. It does not exist of nothing. It is manifested from the divine ether, or infinite cosmic background, and as such, contains an imprint upon it of the divine ether of which it came.

Call it physics, the tree of life, mathematics, or sacred geometry; this “existence” impresses into anything created in our reality and it cannot exist in isolation. In my own spiritual belief, this “existence” is the Cosmic Soup – the (infinite cosmic background) God Broth, as I’ve previously referred to it.

As an idea in our minds, the Soup has an archaic and primitive form. But when willed or pulled into reality, I imagine these ideas are born out of the divine rules of matter and spirit. They are pushed through this net, and have the guidance and form and function that the net provides. In essence…they are not truly original.

They are forms called forth from the Cosmic Soup, and as such,  imprinted with the divine existence, the work done by our free-willed creative minds, acting as agents & catalysts of the Cosmic Soup itself.

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This idea is clear to me when I look at nature. Think of a flower in your mind, something completely new that you have never seen before. It is probably wildly imaginative, or contains colors or shapes never seen before, and that is amazing! But I believe that no flower in the mind will be as creatively, symmetrically, intrinsically designed to co-exist within the ecosystem of this world as a flower you would find in your neighborhood right now.

We can hold on to this “original” flower in our minds, but the real miracle will be a flower that comes into fruition because of our creative intent interacting with the flow of the Cosmic Soup. In other words, of putting out a creative force, and then letting go of the final product or destination. Letting the Cosmic Soup imprint for you.

We might very well create a flower in our reality by ourselves, but it will be imbued with the laws of nature and mathematics – imprinted with “existence.”

It creates itself with the desire of our conscious intentions and creative catalyst from the river of flow within. Not from the Self or Ego – never the Ego. Never forced – just allowed and urged to Be.

This is what I see now when I look at flowers and leaves and trees and books and people and outcomes and things. We all belong to & are fingerprinted by this divinity. We might have a privilege to interact with it, but not to have power over it. We wear it like a thin veil… a mist, a fog. Steaming around in the Cosmic God Soup.

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((anyone craving soup as much as I am right now?!))