A Blog about Shadows, the unconscious patterns of belief and behavior that block access to my authentic, sacred masculine self

The very best use of life

...is to transform to the awakened state. Next best is to develop qualities. Next best and skillful use of life is gaining deep connection to capable mentor who promises to hold you and care for you even after your passing. The least useful is to say you are a Christian or a Buddhist and expect that to save you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Shadow of Obedience/Compliance

At a site I often visit and contribute answers to questions called Answerology.com, I read a question from a man who asked “As your child grows up at what age do you expect to be able to hold them accountable for their disobedience or wrongs.” Looking at the question as I believe most would do, I would have probably answered the question with something akin to “It depends on the child” until I realized that according to many schools of thought surrounding accountability, including my own, I cannot hold another person accountable, that I can only hold myself accountable. I further believe that accountability is, for the most part, an unteachable quality, like discipline or integrity, yet it is a quality that can be instilled in a person at an early age by providing a safe, non-judgmental space for the person to properly access the consequences of their own behavior. Unfortunately for most of us, the demands of living leave us with little time to make that kind of environment available for our progeny and we surely cannot expect that state-funded public education or even most private or charter schools to have the where-with-all to providing such a safe non-judgmental environment for instilling qualities like accountability to thrive, so that both our child-rearing and educational system are left with relying on obedience and compliance in order to have the time to teach knowledge and skills needed to survive along with providing a meager amount of life-enrichment through activities like music, art and, dare I say, sports. Can all we ever hope for in our children is that they become obedient and compliant to the expectations of the society into which we have chosen to birth them? Here in, I believe, lies my own shadow of obedience/compliance, for I have chosen, for the most part, obedience and compliance over standing for my own accountability and integrity.
I recently spoke about a shadow I called virtue. I raised the question of whether or not virtue is a quality to which it is necessary to aspire if we are present to the idea that we are not separate from each other or from our source that some may call God, for if we really are all one, would we not always be acting in alignment for the highest good even without being able to consciously know what that good is?  Are obedience and compliance virtuous and the only way to prevent lawlessness, unworkability and chaos?  I say no, for I not only believe that I can, but also I believe that I actually do live in a world where integrity is simply the state or condition of being whole and complete and where I am accountable by honoring my word.  What I mean by honoring my word is that if I am unable to keep my word I will communicate as soon as I know I am unable to keep my word to those who are counting on me and I will clean up any messes with those who counted on me that resulted from not keeping my word. From this state of wholeness, I believe that by honoring my word, I create  workability.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Shadow of Virtue

A friend of mine, let’s call him Charles because that is his real name, sent out a two and half page list of questions and as he said at the end of the list, any receiver of the list was free to answer any, all or none of them or even just throw the list into the trash and forget about them and even forget about Charles. This writing is in response to the questions:

What is virtue?
Is it important for a person to be virtuous?

In my own humble opinion, virtue, along with it’s opposite, vice, by their very nature as concepts of the human mind denote a dualistic way of looking at an issue that I believe is predicated on the lie that we all share as human beings, a lie that tells us that we are separated from each other and from the source of all there is and the source of who we are, which some may call the divine source or God. I believe that virtue carries with it the subjective idea of something good to do, have, or be and therefore subject to the judgment of human beings. In the Judeo-Christian world-view, the story of the casting out of humanity from the garden of Eden because of the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, I see metaphorically to mean that human suffering is the result of our mind seeing things dualistically, as in either/or, yes/no, heaven/hell, and of course good/bad. What it says to me that all suffering as human beings comes from seeing the world only from this dualistic view. Awakening to the realization that we are, in fact, all one and connected has made it possible for me to see and know myself as part of the connected whole and when I reawaken to this reality, to act in a “virtuous” manner becomes superfluous and meaningless because if we are all truly one, then what I do to another is what I do to myself and why would I do unto myself anything that was not aligned to the highest good of all?” In that level of reality, it would be impossible to do otherwise.
The major problem with this point of view is that our brain is hardwired to view the world in this dualistic way, for that is its primary function. That is also why it is often so hard for us to look outside of this box to see the world holistically rather than just the sum of its opposites. It is the reason why we must speak of such a thing as virtue as well as its opposite vice for we are left with being able to perceive the world of form only because of this mechanism of discernment we are given and while the mechanism serves well to ensure the survival of our piece, our body, personality and the mechanism itself, when we take a step outside of our identity with our piece, only then do we remember the fundamental truth about ourselves, that we are all connected and we are all one. In that level of realization even the two polar opposites of light and shadow do not exist, just as in the Biblical void before the creation of form.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Shadow of Hero Worship

“Happy is the country which requires no heroes.” -Bertolt Brecht

“If you have a hero, look again; You have diminished yourself in some way.” -Sheldon Kopp (from If you Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him)

"A fixed idea ends in madness or heroism." -Victor Hugo

During the presidential campaign of 2008 last fall, I returned to a habit I had put away some years ago, which was to watch the nightly National news broadcast, although unlike the earlier time, I could record the broadcast to view at my own leisure. Like most everyone else in this country, it seems I was caught up in the fervor of the possibility of electing the first African-American President of the United States, a man whose rhetoric touched my soul, a man who spoke of “people who just didn’t get it” and promising to show us a new way of doing business in government. I continued this habit for many months after the election and inauguration to see how our new “hero” was going to get the job done. Then one day in June and for a week or so afterward, the news was devoted to the death and life of another hero for many, a hero not of production, like a President or leader of industry, but a hero of consumption, a musician and dancer. I was struck by the irony of how much I was drawn into the drama of his death as everyone else who had the time to stop their day to listen. Soon afterward, my new “old” habit became old once more. It seems that, once again, I was letting the news cloud my own sense of worthiness.
On my page “How I Stopped Waiting for my Prince to Come”, I speak of how we are waiting to see if our leaders will come to our rescue and “pull a proverbial rabbit out of the hat” with regard to the economy, healthcare and the myriad of other fearsome things that has taken over our sense of who we think we are. We seem to have moved beyond looking at our leaders as mere role models by making them into heroes and, in so doing, setting ourselves up for the eventual disappointment when our leaders don’t live up to the expectations we have put upon them by making them heroes? I have heard this already in the press and on untold internet sites about how much President Obama is no different that any other politician. I hear people upset because their once future President has yet to deliver on his campaign promises and has been co-opted by the powers that really are running the show. What I am hearing is that our “hero” has let us down, once again. This is the shadow of hero worship, where I abdicate my own power to happiness and self-determination by putting my life in the hands of heroes. It is where I am fixed on an idea or a person to the point of worshiping that idea or person as unfailing and infallible. When I am fixed on something outside of myself, where then, am I?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Shadow of “I’m Awake and You’re Not”

I remember way back when actor-comedian Chevy Chase was the original anchor for Saturday Night Live News and he would always begin his news with “Good evening, I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not.” It sounded then and still sounds funny today because I see a fundamental truth behind it that has to to with the shadow of “I’m Awake and You’re Not.” During interactions with people who seem to be responding to me like some preprogrammed automaton, its hard for me to notice that my reaction to their behavior might just be as automatic as they appear to me. My reaction is activated or reactivated, as the case might be, to think that the person to whom I’m reacting appears to be a barrier to getting what I want and therefore can’t or won’t listen to me and to the degree I am committed to getting what I want in the way I want to get it, the person across from me will appear to be exactly as committed to an equal degree to thwarting my intention. After an exasperated exchange between myself and the other, I tell myself that interacting with this person is like interacting with a brick wall and this person,(bless their heart, it’s really not their fault,) is simply acting like a mindless robot because they are not awake, like me.
The truth is that I have moments when I am simply not present to myself or present to others around me. In those moments I am as much the automaton that I accuse others of behaving as I try to reclaim myself by making others wrong. This is the essence of the slumber I am constantly lulled into by my own thoughts and feelings, when I forget that the truth is I can stop the world around me, if and when I choose, and simply notice that I am noticing that I am noticing. It may sound strange to describe this phenomenon in this way, and it is what is so about being awake and present to the moment. What about those times when I am in the throes of my automatic thinking and behavior and I am unable to even begin to become present to myself? Is it possible to simply stop myself in the middle of the whirlwind and become one with it, and in so doing, simply become present, to find myself awake? I can’t answer for anyone else, and for myself I can say that it is always possible, when I remember.