Who is this man?

Men (and women) who wake from the slumber of humanity, progress to a spiritual consciousness of all that is good. They traverse the hero's journey, deal with the dross of their character and personality, formulate a mission to serve their fellow travelers in this realm, and dedicate their lives to spiritual progress. They leave behind the baggage of hate, discontent, judgment, resentment, addiction, anger, depression, and fear. They lessen the hold of ego. They infuse their souls and their lives with love, acceptance, integrity, humility, positive values, and the spiritual virtues. They come to know who they are and why they are here. They awaken!




Friday, February 24, 2012

Opinion

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and even if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.  -- John Stuart Mill

Having lunch with a group of my “brothers” often opens my eyes to connection and wisdom.  By brothers, I mean men whom I know and trust deeply.  They often tell incredible stories of their lives or pose inscrutable questions, which I love.  They listen to mine. 

At lunch last Saturday, one of my brothers from The Mankind Project[1] asked this question: “Do you respect my right to my opinion, or do you respect my opinion even if it is opposed to your truth?  For example, let’s pose a hypothetical opinion: All <insert the name of a group of people> should be killed.  Do you respect that?”


The awakening man honors another person’s right to have an opinion.  He does not attack nor discount the person.  In our culture, we allow people to voice their opinions within the bounds of law.  For instance, our laws prescribe against speech designed to inflame violence against our democracy.

The awakening man listens with curiosity.  He asks questions respectfully so he may better understand the other person.  He knows that he may never fully comprehend the other’s way of thinking: he may never “get into the other’s head”.  However, he maintains his desire to connect with and to know the person on a deeper level.

The awakening man is open to changing his ideas and concepts.  To cement our current thinking into unyielding structures creates resistance, defeats transformation, and puts us back to sleep.  All revelation comes through change and all change comes through revelation.

The awakening man respects the absolute existence of an opinion.  He believes in the affirmation from the Desiderata[2], “…no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”  This leads him to understand that every opinion, every idea he is exposed to, is part of his own unfolding whether he agrees with it or not.  The unfolding of an opinion may be for a greater purpose, or it may exist simply to further the evolution of consciousness, bring a lesson, or guide one to deeper contemplation.  From this point of view, he honors and respects the existence of the opinion.  He uses his mind and heart to understand the meaning of it in his life.

Now comes the question of action.  The awakening man discerns what is “good”, and he welcomes the opportunity to allow good to flow through him into the world.  The awakening man uses his gifts of discernment, wisdom and intuition to decide on a course of action.  If he respects the content of another person’s opinion, he has the wonderful opportunity to choose to act on it.  In his path of learning, the awakening man may ask how he can promote the other person’s concepts, what type of support he can provide, or what action might be useful.

If he does not respect the idea, disagrees with it, or has a gut reaction against it, he can choose to act against it.  He may choose to quash it or campaign against it.  Of course, he also has the option of taking no action, allowing the idea to remain fallow until it germinates in his life and calls him to action.  However, he addresses any shadows of apathy or passivity in his life.  This is part of his awakening.

On the highest plane, the awakening man grows in consciousness to address the questions, “What if there is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’?  What if things just exist, and it is up to us to learn and grow from them without judgment?”  That is a topic for a future post!

In my theoretical discussion with my friend, it is clear to me that I respect his right to have his opinion.  I also respect the existential existence of his opinion.  It was useful to me because it allowed my mind to sort out what respect means.  I actually do not hold a firm opinion on the topic he brought up (ask me why).  Nevertheless, I know that one of my lessons from this dialogue is to become more aware of my passivity and “whatever” attitude!

How do you respond when someone voices an opinion you oppose?  Do you enter into preemptive judgment?  Do you browbeat the other person with your own ideas?  How do you open up to the dialogue, messages, and lessons from others?

- Pete


[1]                   For information on The Mankind Project, refer to http://www.mkp.org
[2]                   Desiderata was written around 1920 (although some say as early as 1906), and copyrighted in 1927, by lawyer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) based in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Murky Muck

This being human is a guest house, 
every morning a new arrival.
  A joy, a depression, a meanness,
 some momentary awareness comes 
as an unexpected visitor.
  Welcome and entertain them all!
  Even if they are a crowd of sorrows 
who violently sweep your house 
empty of its furniture,
 still treat each guest honorably.
  He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
  The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 
meet them at the door laughing,
 and invite them in.
  Be grateful for whoever comes,
 because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond. -- Rumi

It has been a while since I blogged.  I went through some murky muck of anger and sadness, and I didn’t have much to say during the past month, except to myself.  I did a lot of journaling, which often is how I do my work.


The awakening man sees clouds and welcomes them, whether they bring sadness, fear, anger, or the refreshing rain of spring.  They provide great opportunities for learning.  The question is not, “Why am I feeling so depressed?”  The awakening man instead asks, “What are the shadows in my psyche that I hide deep and never confront; the shadows that manifest as ennui, dark sadness, enervation, and a 'fuck you' attitude that lashes out in rage?  How can I find my lessons in those shadows?”

Sometimes weltschmerz overwhelms and we take it on as our needful mantle.  Seething fear and anger blast out, and we hurt those we love and the innocents around us.  Did I actually kick the dog last week? 

The awakening man welcomes these unwanted visitors with curiosity.  How did they come into my house?  What is their purpose?  What causes me to set aside for a time the depths of joy, kindness, peace, and compassion I worked so hard to feel, to live, to give to others?

Such times are fires of trial and consternation, burning away the dross of our psyches if we work through them.  We must come to understand them, accept their guidance, and then release them.  Our soul awakens further, and we become more alive as we learn and grow.  We walk through and work through the swampy muck of depression or anger or fear, learning what our soul needs in its journey.  
This takes time.  The soul’s journey will not be hurried.

In time, the clouds drift away.  We let them go, keeping close to our heart the lessons we learned.  We allow the darkness to recede, welcome the dawn of new revelations, and feed on the breaking light of realization.  Within the shadows of our soul lies much gold[1].



Our shadow work can bring revelation.  A misbehaving dog can bring up memories of past darkness and can trigger suppressed rage.  We may be dismayed to find how our anger and fury spills over onto our loved ones.  We may be surprised that shadows of judgment, anger, and depression still lurk within.  They can surface in terrible ways.  Did we actually kick the dog?


We have heavy work ahead of us to drain that lake of murky muck (or is it mucky murk?)  We must do the anger work, or sob, or shudder within and without to feel all of the import of our shadow.  Then we must slowly slowly release its energy.  Perhaps this takes the form of beating a pillow with a tennis racquet, journaling pages of muck, or just sitting and bawling.


As the clouds begin to clear, we must walk into the light of new activities, sometimes so different from what we have been doing.  The awakening man often must get back into greater physical activity, especially during the winter if he suffers from SAD[2].  Perhaps this all will lead to taking on a some sort of major physical challenge, or a new career path, or something as simple and as complex as a rededication to his core values.

He must study his codependence – living life for others instead of self.  This is a common shadow behavior needing continual work!  The journey entails balancing our ideals of compassion and service with the need to take care of our own needs and wants.  Tough assignment!

Sometimes a shift is in the wind, an unknown shift of attitude, belief, or behavior.  Perhaps it includes letting go of the material things we covet, activities that no longer serve us, or friends that drain us.  Perhaps it takes the form of a stretch to try something in apposition to our current path.  Sometimes it means just sitting patiently in a state of not knowing until the fog lifts of its own accord.

Then we can recognize that new life is on the horizon, coming with the sunshine of spring!



When murky muck shows up in your life, do you take the time to welcome those clouds and discern the lessons they hold for your soul?  Are you patient enough to do the work of draining the swamp?  What does spring sunshine look like?


[1]         Carl Jung proposed the concept of gold in the shadows of our psyche.  For a brief description, refer to the website:
http://aisling-ireland.suite101.com/the-shadow-archetype-and-shadow-gold-a213941

[2]         SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder.  I wrote a brief paper on this psychological phenomenon, which for some people results in depression when the daylight hours grow fewer in the fall and winter.  If you are interested, please contact me at petegf@att.net.