Wednesday, December 17, 2014

the Christmas Tree

There is no part of a Christmas Tree I do not like.: its pungent scent, its perpetual greenness, its spiraling shape pointing towards the heavens, its tenacious will for life even after being cut away from Mother Earth, and its wonderful compliment of colored garlands, ornaments, and lights.  What a wondrous site.!

The affinity I have for Christmas Trees goes back to the beginning of my memories, and
 all of those memories are associated with feelings of peace and joy.  I remember that on the first night of the day my family and I "put up" the Christmas Tree, I would get out of bed while every one was asleep and "plug in" the Tree's lights.  Then I would sit at the "feet" of the Tree absorbing its celestial radiance.  I was especially attracted to the lights on the Tree: the reds, golds, greens, whites, and the blues, as they spiraled the Tree from its top to its bottom, awakening the night with a dazzle of twinkles.  I felt such comfort, peace, and joy just sitting there next to the Christmas Tree. 

Even now so many years from my first memories, I still get those same feelings when ever I am near a Christmas Tree. Of course, as I got older I came to understand that my deep feelings associated with Christmas Trees were not unique.  Many people the world over are deeply affected by Christmas Trees.  An evergreen, decorated with lights is a powerful symbol in and of itself, but combining it with reference to part of the earth's cycle, the Winter Solstice, greatly enhances the power of the Christmas Tree to affect human's hearts and minds.

Trees have been powerful symbols used by human beings in all cultures, ancient and modern, to signify endurance, wisdom, transformation, and high aspiration.  There is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, who's fruit when ingested transformed humans from unconsciousness and amorality to the knowledge of good and evil igniting self-awareness and responsibility.  There is the World Tree, who's roots are growing from the heavens, and its limbs and leaves are attached to earth.  It symbolizes the universal connection between the spiritual and material sides of life, our dualistic natures.  The World Tree has been recorded in the ancient symbols of Hindu scriptures, in the symbols of ancient Maya, Inca, and Toltec civilizations, found also in the symbols of ancient Europe, and preserved to this day in the Scandinavian  Eddas.

Another powerful element ingredient with the Christmas Tree, is light.  Light is an essential part of our living experience.  The light brings renewal, clarity, and hope to our souls, and as such provides us with direction.  When this powerful symbol is related to the Winter Solstice and the Christmas Tree, we catch a quick glimpse at its quintessential, symbolic power.  The Winter Solstice is a part of the earth's yearly cycle, where the Sun's light is at its shortest exposure.  That is , the number of hours in a day that the Sun is exposed relative to night is its lowest.  This position of the Sun at its most southern point, represents the end of the earth's yearly cycle.  The old year, and all its trails and conquests have burnt out, and in great hope and anticipation the birth of a new year is ushered in with the beginning of the Sun's journey back north.  From the point of the Winter Solstice on, the Sun's light will slowly begin to over take the night, culminating at the Summer Solstice in June.

The Christmas Tree wraps those power symbols (Tree, Winter Solstice, light), together in an irresistible display of endurance, hope, and continuity.  Is there any wonder why, Jesus the Christ's birth was assigned to the period of the Winter Solstice?  Is there ant wonder why, the Christmas Tree fells me with such peace and joy?

Dear Reader, have a wonderful holiday season, and may the light of the new year fill your heart with inspirational dreams of joy.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How is it possible to change our mind-grooved behaviors?

The most effective, general practice to change our negative, mind-grooved behaviors is to begin meditating, (look into my blog archive for "meditation-a discipline of mind," published 12-8-11).  The practice of meditation works at the heart of change, by disciplining our wild mind, little by little, to   focus entirely on whatever we need our mind to attend to, and for however long.  Because most of us are rookie mediators, our mind endurance is very weak, giving little capacity to focus our mind for even a few seconds or minutes. For example, sitting in our meditation posture we commit our attention to following our breath, in and out, within less than ten seconds, our mind has shifted from our breath.  The discipline comes when we notice the shift of mind and consciously bring our mind back to our breath; each time our focus is returned to our breath a stepping stone is built that in time will carry us to our desired change.  There is a Zen koan which reads, "Before the archer releases  the arrow the target is hit."  This is the kind of mind control that is needed to change. The resources I used to learn how to meditate are two books: Suzuki's "Zen mind, beginner's mind," and Eknath Easwarn's, "Conquest of Mind."   I am certain that with little research you could find many helpful resources that would aid you in finding a suitable meditation practice.  Trying to change one's behavior by using our conscious mind to train our unconscious mind is not an easy task.  It takes many years of training, with many failed tries, just like attempting anything that is worthwhile.  Socrates admonishes us, ..."an unexamined life is not worth living."...

Keep in mind that there are gradients of grooved-mind behaviors, from the Lilliputians, to the dragon, sized mind-grooved behaviors.  The  Lilliputian grooved behaviors attack us in rapid succession, it is like Lao-tse describes as 1000 voices speaking to us all at once.  These however, can be easily vanquished by simply making your mind aware of them.  The more aggressive of these kind of behaviors, can be dealt with by being conscious of them, plus by saying, out loud or silently, to our self, "out," "not this," "be gone" or something equivalent, each time they enter our mind.  Those grooved-mind behaviors that we have labored on for an extended time, must be brought to your consciousness, than use an opposing affirmation against it.  A helpful book of how to create and use affirmations is by, Louise L. Hay, called, "You Can Heal Your Life."   Keep in "mind" that your negative  grooved-mind comes from the same source as your positive grooved-mind behaviors: so it becomes a double edged sword.  The result comes from your desire of which edge of the sword is wheeled, the negative edge or the positive edge.   You now have a slight peek into the operation of your dual nature.  A apt example of using a positive to rub out a negative mind-grooved behavior 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;
             Where there is despair, hope;
             Where is darkness, light;
             Where there is sadness, joy;
          (I am sure you get the idea)

The tactics that are used to fight off the Lilliputian mind-grooved behaviors are only a preparation for the dragon sized mind-grooved behaviors.  These obsessive/elemental behaviors are monsters of the Id, monsters of the astral kind, that can infiltrate and affect your heart, mind, and soul.  You can begin to attack them on one level at a time, for example  at the heart level, but great difficulty soon arrives because they can operate on the mind and/or the soul level.  If that were not enough difficulty, after you slay one of them on a particular level, you must be continually alert for their reappearance, because the slayer, (which is yourself) is made from the same stuff as the slayed; you must "slay the slayer,"  (by renouncing, or another apt word, crucifying, (a hint at the esoteric meaning of Jesus the Christ's crucifixion),  and transforming the slayer.  You must take an extremely, long view and  dig in, deep for victory; this is not a skirmish but an all out war,  as the saying goes, "Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you."  However, in each advance there is a small victory; it is in the accumulation of motivation and effort.  Soon you will have built such a powerful force that even the sun and moon must range to it or be pulverized by the load.

In chapter three of the Bhagavad-Gita, Arjuna asks, Krishna, "By what is man propelled to commit offences; seemingly against his will and as if constrained by some secret force?"  Krishna answers, "It is lust which instigates him.  It is passion, sprung from the quality of "rajas," (one of the three great qualities; the driving power of nature; active and bad), insatiable and full of sin.  Know this to be the enemy of man on earth.   As the flame is surrounded by smoke, and as the womb envelops the foetus, so is the universe surrounded by this passion.  By this-the common enemy of the wised man, formed from desire which rageth like fire and is never to be appeased-is discriminative knowledge surrounded.  Its empire is over the senses and organs, the thinking principle, and the discriminating faculty also; by means of these it cloudeth discrimination and deludes the Lord of the body.  Therefore, at the very outset restraining thy senses, thou shouldst conquer this sin which is the destroyer of knowledge and spiritual discernment."...  Krishna is awaking Arjuna's innate spiritual knowledge so that he may perform his natural duty as a worrier.  In a metaphoric sense Arjuna is us, embarking on our quest for our true, natural Self, and becoming self initiated onto the path of the Mystic Worrier.  By choosing the mystic path you will have evoked a force in nature and set up a current and vibration which will go on no matter what you do. 

So, your challenge and task is to depose your imposed mind-grooved behaviors using the same mental energy/forces that were used to create our negative, mind-grooved behaviors, the irony of all ironies.  By rubbing positive, focused consciousness, spiritual discrimination and knowledge, meditation, verbal  statements, affirmations, and worrier's spirit, against our mind-grooved, negative behaviors, it becomes possible to wash our spirit clean.

I leave you with an inspiring quote from Katherine Tingley, a Theosophist, from her book, "The Path of the Mystic,"  "To reach the truth there must be in an aspiring mind a certain quality of resolution, determination, and yet the truth is all about us, sweeping as on invisible currents into the very atmosphere in which we live.  It is as though brooding over the world in its sorrow were a great urge, a great soulful power, standing between Deity and man's endeavor to rise and go unto his own.  It is the real intermediator, and one feels its presents when in one's highest mood."...