The need to look beneath

In the aftermath of Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s suicides I’m seeing a spate of articles and info pieces on suicide prevention.  The thing that always strikes me when I see analyses of not only suicide but also opiate abuse, addictions or other types of “dis-ease” of any sort, is that no one wants to talk about what I think is the heart of the matter.

In the “first world” we have cut ourselves off from nature, from our essential divinity and thereby from connection to our own souls. Spiritual types talk about it sometimes but the “experts” in these fields talk about these issues as problems with reasoned solutions, instead of ever acknowledging how broken we are by our basic culture.

Some 30 years ago, when I realized how much alcoholism there is on my family tree (not in my immediate family but at the level of aunts and uncles and great grands of various levels…  rampant) I attended a few al anon meetings to explore whether I might have been affected.

At the time, immersed in examining how we create reality, I was horrified at the constant repetition of negative affirmations throughout the 12-step programs.  “I am a drunk.” “I am a liar”.  “I am powerless…”  But even more, I was perturbed by the lack of acknowledging soul and our ability to tap into our own spirit and be transformed.

Over the years, as I have explored ever more deeply into spirit, I have also noted how wounded so many in our society seem to be because of being cut off from nature and its cycles and thus from their own connection to All That Is.  I’ve kept waiting for the “experts” to understand how central that disconnect is to so many of our so-called diseases.  I see the same issues deep within a lot of mental health problems.

So many solutions seem to just side-step the real issue; even to obscure the real issue by providing distractions from ever looking into the true heart of the matter.  Our hearts need healing.  Our souls need healing.  And they don’t heal without a long tough journey through the stuff we don’t want to see.

I’m not sure how we nudge that change into being.  But always I come back to knowing we all vibrate in the same web of being.  Every time one of us heals something in our own hearts we add to the healing of all.  Be the love.  Be the peace.  Heal your own heart.

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J2P: Moving toward a loving heart

I know, long time since you’ve seen a Journey 2 Peace post.  Peace, love and compassion have been on my mind lately — or always? — and I’m finally seeing more essays in which people are calling for the power of love as the force we need to change, so I felt moved to return to J2P.

To me there are two parts to creating a peaceful, loving heart:

  1. clear away any negatives, lower energies, issues from your being
  2. fill yourself with love, raise your energy vibration

I’ve been working at both the clearing and the filling/raising for years.  Recently I’ve been a bit more interested in the second part than the first, but last year after being introduced to Steve Nobel’s meditations, I fell in love and in part because they address both.

For nearly a year now I’ve been trying out various of his meditations, repeating some numerous times and always intrigued to try another new one.  One of the things I really love about them is that virtually every one starts with some amount of clearing old energies.  Some spend quite a bit of the meditation just on clearing.  Some clear first and then work on raising energy or filling with love, etc.  Some mainly balance chakras but do some negativity and lower energy clearing as part of working on each one.

All of them leave me feeling energized and elevated.  Some of them rock me for days as the clearing and filling work their way through.

The latest one I’ve fallen in love with is The Archangel Chamuel Transmission:  Becoming a Lighthouse of Love and Healing Light.  Everything I aim for all in one meditation.

 

Women and humans and all

In recent months I’ve read a lot of articles about White Privilege, schooling me in the many ways I automatically am privileged because of the color of my skin.  I kind of knew that, but it has been chilling to read whole collections detailing the experience of being a person of color in America.

One thing I kept noticing, though. in articles by women:  some of the incidents they described left me frowning and thinking, “that happens to me too.  It didn’t happen because you’re Black, it happened because you’re a woman.”  Which is not to say they didn’t also describe plenty of examples stemming entirely from racism, but something really struck me about the way issues that might really be about gender seemed to be categorized as issues of race.

While white men remain at the top of the heap in terms of privilege and white women fare better than women of color, when it comes to gender rather than race, men of every color seem to do better on pay scales and advancement than women of any color (it’s a little hard to calculate because most studies break it down by the women’s races but not, say, white women compared to black men).  Pondering that, I began wondering how much more power the women’s movement would have if ALL women banded together to demand gender equality as the biggest issue they endorse.

This brought me back to one of the notions I’ve pondered for years, relating to how splintered the movements for rights in general are.  From women to LGBT to Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, etc. the quest for rights is divided up into pockets of people agitating for the same rights but for specific groups.  And I keep thinking, “what if we all joined together to be FOR human rights?”

How much power could we wield, how much change could we bring if all these groups who seek justice and equality joined together and sought them for all?  Just thinkin’….  and wonderin’… and dreamin’

Waking up: time to change perception

With increasing certainty I’m seeing how deeply most of us are captured by a set of widely-held beliefs and how hard it is to step outside the frame to see any other world view as true.  I’m feeling strongly now is the time to open to other truths and to be willing to hold our ground while standing outside the normal thinking.

Our perceptions of how violent the world is, how high the chances of being a crime victim, our sense of terrorism in the world and more are shaped by the stories the media and our leaders have perpetuated.  It’s ingrained in us that the world operates according to these accepted stories but if you let yourself open to other stories you will see other truths exist and are ignored.

I’ve previously written about my personal experience with studying crime statistics in graduate school.  Details are in the previous post so for now let’s just say the statistics on probability of victimhood have remained the same for decades — stretching back to at least early 20th century USA; no more chance in the 60’s or 70’s or now of being the victim of any of the major crimes* than in the 30’s or 40’s.  You know, back when people didn’t lock their doors and weren’t afraid of crime.

I tell people about this often and I see them startle and then brush it off and return to the now-ingrained perception that crime is getting worse all the time.  Just a small shift from reporting probabilities to reporting gross numbers (which of course go up as the population grows) combined with the rise of a national media and a fascination for bad news changed our perception from one of safety to one of fear.  Perception of truth changed.  What was actually happening changed not at all.

I come back to this often since I know the data so well and it has been a touchstone for me in awareness of how our beliefs can be shaped by which facts those in power choose to present.  I’m not saying journalists are evil manipulators.  I think they’re immersed in the same belief system, so what they see is shaped by the same forces and then the folks they work for are encouraging the parade of horror stories because it sells better.  And law enforcement has every reason to encourage the mis-perception because it garners them bigger budgets.

Armed with that knowledge and greatly helped by the Internet I’ve been able to see the same thing happens on many fronts.  Take, for instance, the widespread hysteria over terrorism.  Check out the graph below and note the probability of being a victim of a terrorist attack.

Chance of Death Graph

Graphically displayed you can see the widespread fear of being a victim of terrorist violence is so far out of proportion to the likelihood as to be ludicrous.

People should be feeling terrified of heart disease and dieting and exercising to save themselves.  But the media doesn’t fan the flames of fear about heart disease, they prefer the giant drama of terrorist attacks.  [For more info on these probabilities, see this article.]  It’s time for us to stop being mesmerized by false perceptions fostered by the media and government and really see what merits our fears and what is unworthy of our awareness.

If you turn your attention in the other direction and actively look for stories of nonviolence, you will see there are groups and individuals creating nonviolent movements and performing nonviolent acts all around the world.  It just doesn’t make the mainstream news.

This video in which Julia Bacha discusses the price of focusing on violence instead of nonviolence is well worth the ten or so minutes it takes to watch.

 

When I started searching for positive news to share every day (see post) I started turning off the hypnotic suggestions winding constantly through my brain and stepping into a new sense of the world.  I don’t have to sit around envisioning an imaginary world full of good people doing good things in some mystical future.  I see a world full of good people doing good things right here, right now.

Many things came together for me at once.  The sorry result of the U.S. election led me to institute lovingkindness practice.  A sense in my personal journey that it was time to stop eradicating issues and start creating the next phase led to positive guided meditations, etc.  Distress over the negative views on FB led to searching every day for good news.  After some months I realized the persistent change of my focus awakened a new, deep-seated view of the propensity for goodness being enacted every day in all parts of the world.

As I pointed out in another post, the constant doom and gloom about the environment can be seen from an uplifting view — backed by a great deal of science — that changes are already happening which, if current progress continues, will reverse global warming.

The web now allows us (see links at bottom) to see every-day acts of kindness, movements to help the environment, to create peace, etc.**  Mainstream media choose to focus on 5% of what’s happening and we the people encourage them by buying the parade of horrors over the good news.

We can make the choice to put our attention on the 95% who are doing good or are at least benign.  We can stop supporting the parade of horrors.  It’s up to us to create the change.  It’s time to snap out of the hypnotic fascination with mainstream news and views and open our eyes to other truths.

The problem is I’m also reading about changing people’s minds and have read many research articles informing me it’s not so easy.  Once people have made up their minds about a belief — regardless of it’s truth — they really don’t want to change it.  Ra of Rarasaur put up the cutest and most fun version of this info, a cartoon/info post on The Oatmeal.  The upshot is I’m all fired up about changing perspective and stepping outside the currently accepted assumptions about the state of the world and I don’t know what to do to help.

I know most of my readers are already here on this.  I’m a little bit hoping for some help in spreading the word.  But even more I”m hoping for ideas of what we who are awake can do to help change enough peoples’ perception to create a new paradigm.  For supporting one another in stepping outside the depressing views so widely held and holding firm in the stance that other, more powerful, truths are out there and growing stronger.  If the majority actually paid attention to this alternate reality, the world would change.


*Unless you’re a black or brown male between the ages of 15 and 25 and living in an inner city.  Those chances of being murdered are way up.

**Three places to find good news:

J2P Turning to Peaceful Activism

 

The plan when you last heard from me was to write a J2P post exploring the current thrall of the media and healing and that’s still coming but I’ve been sidetracking into explorations of the many movements going on these days.  I’m paying a lot of attention to the trend in many groups and among democrats, to define themselves by what they’re against and to speak constantly in terms of battles, fights, resistance, etc.

Some of these groups even talk about nonviolence while throwing out these violent words and I always wonder if they know ANYTHING about the traditions from which the notion of nonviolence came.  Americans, in particular, seem to believe nonviolence refers only to actions.  But in Hinduism and Buddhism, nonviolence refers to every level, including speech and thoughts.

When I receive notifications from “peace” groups and groups working for change that are filled with battle language and nasty slurs against the opposition, I feel my muscles tighten and my energy dim.  Their words of violence are painful to me and I’m convinced, whether everyone feels it as acutely as I do or not, such words hurt everyone who hears them.

I’m not saying we need to be in denial about what’s happening, nor am I saying we can’t get angry.  But the anger is only useful if we then mindfully turn it to compassion and doing something constructive.  Something that furthers progress on what we’re FOR.

There are some brilliant ideas starting to float around out there for ways to address what’s happening without violence.  I would like to see a combo of my two favorites, which are:  (1) setting up a fundraiser wherever the alt-right/neonazis are planning to march and taking donations based on either the number who show up or the distance they march and giving the money to a group that works against neo nazis or to the NAACP or SPLC or ACLU, etc. and (2) send tons of people dressed as clowns and armed with white flour and white flowers to throw every time the nazis yell “white power”.

Why not do both???  Or think outside the box some more and think of something even more brilliant???  (BTW scroll on down from the two videos for some links to great info on nonviolent activism.

And some resources on sacred activism:

 

J2P: Finding the Peaceful Space

Ever since the troubling U.S. election results in November, I’ve been on a mission to find and hold the space of peace.  I’d been heading toward a directional shift in my personal journey, a shift from searching out issues and beliefs to release to affirming the life I wish to live, including a lot of practice directed to holding a loving heart space and being peace.  It’s taken me a while to realize how the external political events helped me to solidify my new direction.  And how the new direction has changed my reaction to the external events…

The first several months after the election I kept to a regular metta (lovingkindness) practice along with singing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti.  Suddenly all kinds of materials about self love and finding peace began coming my way.  Among several gifts I accepted was a free Louise Hay book which led me work through lessons involving her mirror work;  I originally encountered it 30 years or more ago but didn’t do it.

I actually felt this was probably the first time I was ready for the work and in a position to really feel its impacts.  Not a big fireworks kind of impact after 30+ years of seeking, releasing, transforming, etc., but a quiet shift into a more positive space and a warmer relationship with myself.   I got another book on mirror work and plan to do those practices too.

A Patricia Cota-Robles video called to me and for something like 7 months I’ve played it as I go to sleep.  The message feels powerful to me and expresses exactly the affirmations for our times that I want to live and propagate.  Falling asleep to such a powerful message has been influencing my thinking and my reactions.  I also was fortunate to have a chance to see Patricia at an appearance here in Kentucky; the power of a whole group gathered in the name of love and peace felt amazing.

A Steve Nobel meditation on YouTube tapped me on the shoulder a number of times this summer and I’ve been slotting it into my various  practices at least once a week since.  Energetically I always feel a huge impact; one of the many things for which I can’t name a “real world” effect with a direct link but it feels amazing and as if it’s shifting me on an energetic level.

I first ran into the Solfeggio frequencies a couple of years ago but only recently looked more deeply into the story of these ancient tones that were trimmed from the annals of organized religion.  Lots of recordings are available on Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube (I’m sure elsewhere, but those are the three I use) and I’ve been playing the tones for several hours a day for a while now.  It’s another place where I can feel an energetic impact and can’t tell you if or what the precise effect on everyday life may be.

Perhaps the most important piece for me came from Facebook and my distress at the barrage of negative and mean-spirited posts flooding my “wall” for the first few months after the election.  Initially I passed along some informational pieces as well, but as I grew more calm I felt I wanted a different tone altogether.

I began searching among the daily posts and then searching elsewhere on the web for positive news every day and passing along evidence of the many great things that are happening in the world if only we choose to look at them instead of being mesmerized by the negative.

Slowly I’ve been realizing this collection of peaceful and peace-loving activities has been moving me into a space where I can look at something outrageous #45 has done or at a piece bemoaning the probable end of the world and feel… nothing.  Not numb.  Not in denial.  Just no longer moved by it.

When a friend thanked me for the positive tone I’ve been keeping on FB, I suddenly realized how happy it has been making me to seek out and pass along the news that speaks of a world full of amazing people doing amazing things every day.  The total impact of all the ways in which I’ve been holding my focus on lovingkindness, peace and positive news has been to shift me.  I now live in a place where I believe we are moving to the good and you can’t sway me from it.

No way to tell which of the many things I’ve been up to has had an impact but I like to thing the whole collection of practices and focusing on good news have combined to move me into this new place of calm certainty.

I believe much of what is happening is just part of the shift into a new world of compassion and peace.  I believe in the essential goodness of humanity and in holding a vibrational space that helps to lift everyone into love and compassion.  Where are you choosing to look?  What space are you choosing to hold?

Next J2P post will explore healing whatever parts of us are held in thrall by negativity.

 

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Start the Revolution Without Me?

 

This is one of those posts I’ve debated about for a while — which blog?  which blog?  I’ve been doing some occasional political pieces on the Scribblings blog, but ultimately I decided this one has messages that suit both.  So I’m posting on both– not even a reblog just the same post in two places…

Lately I’ve been slowly realizing how everything I’ve done since college has been adding up to something forming in the now; a purpose and direction born long before this spiritual journey began as a conscious process.

I got to Northwestern University in 1970 and by the end of my freshman year I was radicalized.  A lot of revolution talk floated in the air around the anti-war movement and I felt both excited and unnerved by it. Puzzled by the enthusiasm being expressed by “peaceniks” for a process usually containing violence and horror — however great the outcome might be. (Though really, historically speaking, I’d have to say an awful lot of revolutions made things worse instead of better….)

It fascinated me, so I began to study.  Technically I majored in history and had an English minor, but I put together my own course of study.  An instructor with a forthcoming book on the “Power Elite” (the people of money who, behind the scenes, ran/run much of what happened/happens) ignited more fascination and I started taking classes on 20th century history, political systems, economic systems, political philosophy, political sociology, etc.  I wanted to know what the plan should/would be for a replacement if we wanted to tear the current structure down.  I wanted to find out if there was a path to change without violence.  I never lost sight of the deep questions about whether those who were shouting about revolution really understood the ramifications.  They also shouted about peace and the contradiction troubled me.

I tried to continue this work as a graduate student in sociology, but fellowship money wound up side-tracking me into the Center for Urban Affairs.  I learned more stuff that influences me still, not the least of which was a massive review of literature on crime statistics and the startling revelation that the probabilities of being a victim of most of the major felonies (robbery, burglary, assault, murder, rape, etc.) had not changed since at least the 1940’s.  (see previous post for more info)

I’ve continued to periodically check for updated studies and it has remained true to this day–and I now know the unchanged probabilities actually extend far back beyond the 1940’s.  It’s remained a central point for me, the realization that fear and perception of what’s real can be manipulated by how the facts are presented and what the media and people in power choose to bring to our attention.  And in these days, when positive news is available in a few seconds of internet searching, it’s also about what we choose to focus upon.

My law career was spent mainly on cases fighting nuclear power plants one way or another and I learned a lot about the real story there and how the utility companies, in collusion with the government, have tried to create a benign view of the nuclear industry that’s out of alignment with the facts.

I used to count all of those earlier studies and jobs out of my thoughts about how various elements of “my path” have added up to where I am now and what I am meant to do.  But as these wild times have ignited me to renewed interest in these big questions about politics and economics, I’m seeing how the Universe has guided me to gather what I need for my whole adult life, not just from the point when I began to explore myself as a spiritual being.  I still don’t see exactly where it leads, though that book I decided to write months ago on peaceful activism remains in the forefront of my thoughts.

Going back to the undergraduate studies, Oskar Lange‘s book, On the Economic Theory of Socialism, moved me, convinced me and provided the basic framework for what I would like to see that has guided my political thinking ever since.  While I love Social Democratic philosophy and especially how it has played out in Denmark, I remain aware that the U.S. has reached a point where powerful money forces have entrenched themselves so deeply in the political fabric that it may well require a revolution to make a change.

Through all the years I’ve watched the left leaning side of the Democratic party (and those who, like me, are somewhere left of the party but vote for it out of expediency), I’ve been amused and bemused by the unending chatter about changing this deeply rooted political principle or that deeply entrenched lobby group.  They speak of it as though just electing a few of the right people and/or passing the right laws will be all it takes to turn everything around.

My personal feeling has long been that it will take something far more earth shattering than electing “the right” people to revamp our system into a Social Democracy.   In an ironic sense I have a feeling the election of #45 may be the catalyst that does it, but that’s another rambling for another day…

My perspective now includes years of spiritual seeking, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, chanting, etc. and my beliefs have shifted to encompass a more spiritual and less political view.  I believe in peace.  I believe in compassion.  I believe in lovingkindness.  And I’m still striving to find a way to change the world without a revolution–or at least by fomenting a peaceful and compassionate one.

I’m unhappy about the anger and vitriol on display from both sides while at the same time understanding we probably need this time of erupting anger to clear a lot of buried stuff.  I’m unenthusiastic about “resistance” being the main banner of the movement for social democracy.

I am very clear it is more powerful to be “for” something than it is to be against something and I believe it is time for a platform of social change in which we are FOR equality, FOR universal health care, FOR equal rights for all humans of every race, nationality, gender and sexual orientation, FOR a basic decent quality of life for all humans–maybe FOR a new Social Democratic party?…  Time to stop speaking of our striving in battle terms and instead to be positive about what we’re doing to create what we believe in.

I am also clear that much of humanity discounts the role many of us have been playing as we have cleared old issues, struggled to become more loving, more kind, more compassionate…  Much of humanity doesn’t believe in peaceful means.  I understand that most people don’t get the web of all life or comprehend we are energy beings first and foremost; energy beings who are interconnected and whose thoughts and feelings as well as actions impact all of life.

I believe the biggest revolution may be the one that can and must happen in our hearts.  Which is not to say peaceful activism doesn’t also have a role.  But more than anything I believe now is the moment to clear any vestiges of fear and anger IN YOU, raise your energy vibration toward love, toward compassion, toward higher consciousness.  You can’t make anybody else change their thoughts or learn to meditate or choose peace.  Only you can do it. Only I can do it.  Peace begins with me.  Peace begins with you.

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