“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”
― Pema Chödrön
Joy gives way to grief which gives way to joy. Even in the hardest life the two seem to balance each other out. That’s not to say that all of our lives are equally hard. I have met very few people living in the roughest situations who didn’t find things to be joyful about. I have also met many living lives of relative ease who find ways of being miserable from time to time. There seems to be a strange balance of relativity there. Tho if we can see them both, our joys and misery as experience and the ability to experience life as joy, what then? Perhaps neither joy nor sorrow (or to use Pema Chödrön’s word wretchedness) need be fixed locations on our map. Perhaps in accepting them as equal spurs on our journey, we can reach new heights of understanding and compassion.
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Wind Currents Over Shadowed Beach by G A Rosenberg
“A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.
The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious: Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”
A friend of mine posted this story today in a FB page on Spiral Dynamics and asked people their perceptions about the levels of consciousness of the two people involved in the story. For the intents of this essay let’s translate his question as “What quality do you believe the woman contained that would allow her to freely give of the stone?”One of the people who commented on the thread gave a thorough tho somewhat tortuous analysis of the story to show that he did not believe the question was answerable. As proof of this he argued that there was nothing in the story that showed A) that the man knew the woman was wise and B)that the woman knew the stone had value. I find both points fairly easy to counter. It is obvious from the last sentence that the man perceived that the woman knew its value. Also wisdom is seldom an attribute we give ourselves. It is normally a quality that is perceived and bestowed by others. The woman is describe by this word twice in the story which to my reading means her wisdom was readily apparent. That is all besides the point.
I have noticed a tendency in academics and intellectuals to avoid questions that involve a certain amount of soul searching by intellectually picking the question apart and attempting to discredit the question rather than answering it. This is something that I struggle with myself. We dance very intricate dances of reason and critique, anything to avoid that plunge into self reflection. Is it fear of losing our objectivity? That seems rather an empty fear as none of us are truly objective. We all have past experiences and learned behaviours that colour our perceptions no matter how we try to distance ourselves. Is it a fear of exposing ourselves and being vulnerable to critique? That feels quite possible. I know there are times when I would rather distance myself from a question rather than appear foolish in my answer. Using our intellect and knowledge are pretty good armour against possible attack. Unfortunately they can be equally effective against insight and growth.
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Empty Chair People Reach a Meeting of the Minds by G A Rosenberg
“I think the only way to avoid going crazy is to get your story straight, and perhaps the only way you can get the story straight is to allow yourself in some sense to go mad. It is also true for mad men and mad women that everything is significant. Paranoids and schizophrenics and depressives deal with the world as if every falling leaf had – well, they take the world personally. That’s almost by definition a mad person. And I guess an artist has to do the same thing.”
— Russell Banks
I contain my world and my world contains me. It’s amazing how much I have to grow, become TARDIS like, bigger on the inside to be able to handle everything I’ve seen. Tho as I expand so does my world. New experiences, people and ideas come rushing in to fill me. I may not be responsible for everything that happens in it yet some response seems called for. Of course that doesn’t mean I have to respond. I can watch the show witness it…and then transform it through art and writing..yet still i participate and it changes me and my art as I change it… thus does my art and life co-create each other and at the intersection of art and life I remain.
“Between the world of men and make believe I can be found.”
— Dan Fogelberg
“It is the mark of the mind untrained to take its own processes as valid for all men, and its own judgements for absolute truth”
— Aleister Crowley
There is something comforting in believing that one has found the answer to ourselves and how we fit into the universe in which we liveWhen I was younger and just starting out on the voyage of spiritual (and self assuming they are two different things) discovery, I thought I had found the answers many times. At first, rejecting the religion in which I was raised, I became an atheist. I found all kinds of convincing arguments that there was nothing outside the realm of science and that anyone who believed otherwise was delusional. Then I started learning a bit about extrasensory perception and also meeting people who had faith in various things and I found it beautiful. I started questioning my lack of belief. This led directly to a series of experiences first with the Unification Church, then to Chrismatic Christianity then into various other schools of belief. Each time I found an answer, convinced myself that it was THE ONE AND ONLY ANSWER and that all others were mistaken. Eventually tho I would find some inconsistency, some flaw in the belief and I would if not reject it when the next ONE AND ONLY ANSWER came along, would bury it in the junk room of my subconscious along with the books I would someday write and old dreams I had about what I would do when I grew up (I am still waiting for this to happen).
Each time I had the conviction that I had found the answer, I had an equal need to tell everyone else they were mistaken and would shoot down any arguments to the contrary. It was much later on during the time that I all but gave up on finding answers, convinced that there was one but it could never be found that I stepped down from being the personification of certainty.
When I once again started an awakening of awareness, so different from being a truth seeker but sharing certain of the same intellectual quest aspects, I came to realize that the best anyone can have is approximations. As Ken Wilber says, everyone is right but partial. If everyone is right to some degree, you can question their assertions but you cannot tell them outright that they are wrong or mistaken. These days I become greatly puzzled when I find people whom I respect, unwilling to challenge their beliefs. They become quite offended when someone suggests something outside their truth and when challenged, they tend to devolve from reason to intractability. They so identify with their beliefs that they see every question as a personal attack and react accordingly. I welcome challenges to my process as each question brings me greater understanding. I doubt that I will ever have more than rare glances into absolute truth (and those during peak experiences) and so any that I put into words will have some degree of inaccuracy. That’s Ok though. I have learned to enjoy the lack of certainty as much as I enjoy the quest.
“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Be not afraid of shadow stylings
or dark beliefs nurtured for self-knowledge
for tho I turn my face towards night
and Hecate hold me in sway
there is beauty in my darkness
and warmth in my shade
dreams shine bright when the sun is down
and love’s kisses beneath the moon so sweet
Your light embraces my darkness
as my heart takes yours
and together light in dark
we consummate the dawn.
— G A Rosenberg
“Every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way, and never again. That is why every man’s story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the will of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of consideration. In each individual the spirit has become flesh, in each man the creation suffers, within each one a redeemer is nailed to the cross.”
― Hermann Hesse, Demian
yet barely breaking through the surface
so much more to see
so much more to be
the journey takes a lifetime
and the wheel stays in spin
the king falls and rises
the queen nourishes
and sometimes yes sometimes the demon at the bottom
I’ve been him too
I ride the wheel
and turn it
while exploring the nature
and the nurture
the soul behind the curtain
watches, witnessing all
Curious as the spiral spins anew..
— G A Rosenberg
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Eagle Spirit Ascending by G A Rosenberg
Bubbles Encroaching on Infinite Space by G A Rosenberg
“Inspiration does exist but it must find you working.”
— Pablo Picasso
A few years ago I made a contract with myself. Every day I would create either art writing or both. Every night I would blog. I knew then and time has shown that by doing this not every piece I do will be my best but some will be. Not every word I write will inspire but there will be some that do. However if I only create when I am sure the piece will be great I would perhaps make one picture a week. If I wait for a great concept to write about this blog would probably be much emptier. Instead nightly with electronic brush in hand and with poet’s heart I seduce my muse. I woo her with honey and with silk and I flow out onto the screen. Sometimes I create only pretty patterns or colour splashes. Other times the magic comes but I am open to it all. At least for me Inspiration flows best when the channel is open. Besides the time that I spend in the zone creating is the best part of any day.
“Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.”
-Thomas J. Watson
Who owns ideas? When we conceptualize something new (to us) and we express it out in the wild through media or even tell it to a friend, can we maintain control of it? Can we say “Here is my concept. You can express it to others but you cannot take it further and you can not apply it in ways that I don’t like?” How realistic would that be? Characters, stories and songs can be copyrighted but ideas tend to take on a life of their own. They take root in our imaginations and branch off in all kinds of ways. We find new applications for these ideas far beyond anything that their originator could ever have imagined. Could Alexander Graham Bell foresee the iPhone? Could our ancestors who made the first wheels have imagined a Cobra Convertible or a Race Car or rocket ship? I would say probably not. It was a process of a long chain of originators each of whom took the ideas further. Yet it seems that on occasion, people want their ideas only developed in the ways that they can accept. Recently in a social media group that I belong to, a man who did much work in developing the concepts of Spiral Dynamics took issue to someone applying SD’s memes in a sexual context. He said that he believed that it was “unsavoury” to do so and that Spiral Dynamics was a protected trademark and could not be used in this way. Yet isn’t part of the SD concept a look at how we individuals interact within society? Does he feel that the ideas belong behind a fence? Can ideas survive locked in captivity or do they need to grow and expand in order to survive? I appreciate the response because of the questions it raised for me.