Friday, February 24, 2012

fantastic voyage within

The Kingdom of God is ever present, for those that have eyes to see, and ears to hear. What did Jesus the Christ mean? I have eyes to see and ears to hear, yet I don't see or hear the Kingdom of God. Were do I look? Were do I turn my head to hear?

As I look and hear from eyes and ears of the flesh, I can only see and hear things from the visible. material world. The phenomenal world has beauty and uniqueness, and a certain vague, universality about it; like a snowflake, its pattern is distinctive in all cases, but its structure always has six points. How many different pattern, permutations, can nature create? Answer, How many grains of sand are there? However, regardless of the almost infinite possible patterns, it is that hint of unity that attracts us. We therefore, can occupy an entire life time searching for the one pattern that leads us to the essence of the snowflake. Take science for an example, they have been searching for the "missing link," that spices of ape-man that bridges the gap between ape and man. They have been searching since Darwin. Or, 'once we map the human Geno of the brain we will understand the human essence.' Or, 'once we find the "god particle" we will understand the mysteries of the Universe.' However, all science can really find is more paradox. Our rational mind is not capable of penetrating paradox to find satisfactory understanding. That which is beyond the phenomenal world cannot be known through the rational mind, but we need the self-awareness of the rational mind to take us to the threshold of the world within, the spiritual world. In order to know the world beyond the material world we must see and hear with spiritual eyes and ears. Rumi, a Sufi poet put it this way, "We rarely hear the inward music, but we are dancing to it nevertheless."

We humans have begun to search, what we call the "last frontier," outer space, not full well understanding its great risk and difficulties, but the idea of searching inner space is beyond, even our imagination. Even the most bright and courageous of our race would stop and hesitate at the paradox of using their consciousness as a light to explore the depths of their unconscious. Meister Eckhart, a philosopher, mystic of medieval Germany, explains "The soul has two eyes, one looking inwards and the other looking outwards. It is the inner eye of the soul that looks into essence and takes being directly from God." Who has the spiritual and moral courage to look God directly in the eyes? Turns out, that going back 5000 years or more there were ancient sages who had found a way into the inner circulations of the unconscious, traveled there at will, and came back to tell of their great adventure. Not only did they tell of their adventure, but also told of their method of entry into to the unconscious, and have passed down that method to generation after generation in an unbroken chain, to those who are prepared to walk the inner path. Pythagorus, an ancient Greek philosopher, and one of those later travelers into the inner world, used the letter Y to explain and distinguish the two paths. Maximinus, an ancient Romeman poet wrote a poem using the Pythagorean Y as the object of his poem:

The Pythgorean Letter two ways spread,
Shows the two paths in which Man's life is led.
The right hand track to sacred Virtue tends,
Though steep and rough at first, in rest it ends;
The other broad and smooth, but from its crown
On rocks the Traveller is tumbled down.
He who to Virtue by harsh toils aspires,
Subduing pains, worth and renown acquires.
But who seeks slothful luxury and flies,
The labor of great acts, dishonor'd dies.

What these brave, ancient voyagers of the inner world found is that the manifest Universe is issued from and sustained by the Infinite. Remember now, that this Infinite is called by many names, God, Vishnu, Jehovah, etc. but each name gives no meaning to It, because a name is finite. It is absurd to use the finite to describe the Infinite. If you try to objective the Infinite you will wind up within a paradox. If these ancient voyager's discovery wasn't sublime and fantastic enough, they also discovered that the Infinity, wonders of wonders, is within us. We in It; and It in us. St. Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians, Chapter 1, verses 25-27, centuries later echos the ancient voyagers findings: ..."It is the task of fully proclaiming his (God's) message, which is the secret he hid through all past ages from mankind but has now reveled to his people. God's plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God."... The Christ Principle, the Buddha Principle, the Infinite, the face of God is within you; you are It, you are That. There also is an echo of this profound thought practiced every day by way of a pose, usually practiced in India, but not strictly. It is also practiced in our country, as also in many other countries. The pose is taken when meeting another person: hands are placed together in prayer position and placed by the heart, there is a head bow at the same time saying a Sanskrit word, "namaste." Namaste means, 'the divine in me, recognizes and acknowledges the divine in you.'

It is because we are essentially a spark of the divine, that the Kingdom of God is ever present. It is the outward looking eye of the soul that captures our attention and builds a veil, dimming the vision of our inward looking eye of the soul. We must learn that the inward eye of the soul sees into essence, and is the vehicle that can unite us with the Divine. We will let Jakob Bohme, the Mystic Cobbler, have the last word, "For the Book in which all mysteries lie is man himself; he himself is the book of Being of all beings, seeing he is the likeness of the Divinity. The Great Arcanum lies in him; the reveling of it belongs only to the Divine Spirit."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

air jordan's

My local T.V. news station reported about the frenzy, holiday shoppers displayed over the purchase of particular items. The report I want to focus in on was the new Air Jordan gym shoes. I am not certain of what city or the name of the store of the report, but it showed young males lined up, waiting for hours, to be able to buy a $180 plus, pair of gym shoes. The report showed the doors of the store being opened early in the morning as the young males pushed and shoved their way in, and sprinted to the place of purchase. I had witnessed other T.V. reports about the "Black Friday" crazed consumers, but none reached the ferocity of the gym shoe group. Of course these were young, aggressive males playing a game of who can buy the shoes first, but as I was witnessing the frenzy, it seemed there was something more going on. Part of the frenzy could be easily placed on the use of marketing strategies, the implication that there was a limited supply of shoes for sale, and the opportunity for very enthusiastic consumers to get first crack at the scarce items by a 6:00am openings. These strategies amped up the frenzy by many degrees, but there seemed to me to be a deeper cause, a primary cause for the greater ferocity.

I had to ask myself the question, "What was the motivation for these young men to stand out side for hours, in front of a store to purchase a pair of $180 gym shoes?" On a deep psychological, level these young men where motivated by a desire to bolster and ease the pressure on their low self-esteem. The "sporting" of the "Air Jordan's" would bolster their self-esteem on several levels: it would express their "with it" fashion sense, it would express their savvy decision to affiliate with the greatest, basketball super star, Michael Jordan, and would express and enhance their male prowess.

As I contemplated this process of compulsive behavior, I remembered I have witnessed it many times, under many different guises. For instance, two people arguing over politics, one a progressive the other a conservative, and inevitably the argument erupts into an exchange of anger. How about, co-workers on the same level, where one makes a remark about the other's job competency. The co-worker whose competency came under question is seething to the point of revenge. These examples are quick scenarios that compulsive behaviors are played out with great frequency in our every day lives. Compulsive behaviors are ubiquitous through out human interactions because their origination lays deep within the human psyche and once developed, cannot be willfully contained.

There is a Sanskrit word, samskara, which describes this condition of deep compulsion: deep conditioned tendencies to particular ways of thinking and acting, usually negative or self-willed, which have been dug in the mind through many years of repeating the same thoughts over and over. I should add, that these mind-molds are so acute and ripe that when they are triggered, can manifest unconsciously. This unconscious manifestation of deep seeded mind-molds reminds me of a old, 1956 science fiction film called, "Forbidden Planet." The plot, with out getting too detailed was, an earth scientist, Morbius was sent to a planet to study the race of beings that resided there and seemingly, with out a known cause, vanished. He was to find the cause of their mysterious disappearance. It turns out that the race of beings were the Krell. A highly advanced race that had created a massive energy depot that supported their own mental capacity. They were able to materialize any desire they might have thought. The unintended consequence, however was that not only did they create their desires, but also unconsciously created "Monsters of the Id." These monsters of the id were created from deep seeded, self-willed mind-molds, and manifested unconsciously as destroyers of any force or resistance that stood in the way of fulfilling the primary desire. Eventually the Krell's entire civilization was destroyed by their unconscious creation of these Monsters of the Id.

Above we have discussed the definition of mind-molds, using the Sanskrit word "samskara." More interesting and enlightening is an inquiry into the process of development of mind-molds. Here it should be no surprise we use another Sanskrit word, "asava" to aid in our quest for understanding. Asava means, an intoxicant distilled from fruits, flowers or trees, and is used in the Dhammapada, (a Buddhist book of the teachings of Buddha) as a reference to the process involved with human sensations.

The Buddha would say that for cognition to happen three elements must come together: the eyes, the object, and the act of attention. When all three come together there is sensation The initial times you indulge your senses in a particular way there is only a sensation. It has no emotive energy behind it. When however, you start thinking about the pleasantness or pain of the sensation over and over the process of asava begins. The fermentation of that sensation begins and the craving is brewing until intoxication appears. Then it cannot be classified as a sensation, but as an obsession. At that point you cannot help thinking about it; it cannot help thinking about itself.

If the Buddha said that now that I have exposed and brought your awareness to the process of mind-molds my job is over, I turn the work of dissolving them to you. That would be like giving a lighted candle to some one who is ankle deep in gasoline, and say ' now that you can see where you are try not to burn yourself.' The Buddha being a master psychologist and the Compassionate One would not leave us in the lurch, but would reach back his hand and teach us tried and true practices that would assist us in changing negative mind-molds into positive mind molds. He would remind us however that success rests in our hands.

One of the most effective practices for change is meditation, for it is a practice that gets to the heart of behavior, the mind. The practice of meditation trains and disciplines the mind, (read my blog on "meditation-a discipline of mind). Another practice is changing one thought for another; changing a negative thought with a positive thought. A perfect example of this is The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy Peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;...

There are other practices and strategies, but the above two are powerful. You could gain a synergistic effect by combining the two; using St. Francis's prayer as a point of focus with your meditation. Memorizing the prayer and saying it silently to yourself at a pace where you can give one pointed attention to the meaning of each word.

So! Are you, an ordinary person, ready to open and enter the door to the "fantastic voyage within;" where you search with the light of consciousness into the depths of the unconscious, and come back whole to tell the tale.