Be truly whole

Wholeness is acquired from within. It cannot be attained through someone else. Neither can one remain whole when giving in an unhealthy way, as in obsessive love, in that too much of one’s self is surrendered.

As one cannot be made whole by another, so too can one not make another whole. In such attempts vital energy is lost, and even identity, or self, can be harmed.

Being whole can manifest itself in many forms. Spiritual peace or understanding. A true contentment, or satisfaction.

It is a common misunderstanding that contentment is a corollary of settling. Yet, settling by definition implies that some other outcome was desired, but relinquished because it was either too difficult or the settler was too lazy to pursue that outcome.

On the same token as settling is despair. It is a relinquishment of self through the inability to let go of a desired outcome. When in the midst of despair, no outcome seems satisfactory, except for the clung-to ideal that has slipped from grasp.

This has a sense of Buddhism to it, or Taoism. The quote that has guided my thoughts on this is, “Be truly whole and all things will come to you.” It is attributed to the Tao Te Ching, and I leave you with the thought:

“Nay, if you have really attained wholeness, everything will flock to you.”

-Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching, Passage 22 (John C.H. Wu Translation)

At the end of the day

“…you’re another day older.”

I love Les Mis. Have since I first got the symphonic recording back in 2009. Obviously I was late to the party on that particular musical.

But what I’m thinking about is aspirations. At the end of the day, we only have what we want to be tomorrow. Who we want to be. That thing that we’re aspiring to.

Sure, we may replay the day in our head, or the past events that have been nagging us for however long. And trust me when I say this, I am a keen accountant of nagging thoughts. It’s one of the primary reasons I decided to keep a blog in the first place. To muse a bit, as it were.

So as I lay here, at the end of the day, I’m working through the things that I want to see happen. I’m stretching my legs out, because my hips are a little sore from yoga this morning.

At the end of a yoga practice, the practitioner lays in savasana, or corpse pose. Death of the ego. The Buddhists would call this the principle of “no-self,” or the release of attachments. You’re allowing the ego to pass away, letting go, and coming back into the world a new creation.

All this dances through mind as I think, “What will tomorrow bring?”

So ask yourself:

What are your aspirations for the coming day?

On the reading bug

Started reading a book (the intro really, plus a few entries) that I had purchased a few weeks ago. Nick Hornby’s Ten Years in the Tub: A decade soaking in great books. First, I love books. The idea of what Hornby did for The Believer, where each month he would just talk about the books he read and ones he bought, was entirely captivating to me.

So, this being the first entry of the month, I’d like to take a cue from Nick Hornby:

June 2017

Books Bought:

  • The Republic – Plato
  • Atlantis: The Eighth Continent – Charles Berlitz
  • Designing Your Life – Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
  • Conversational Spanish in 20 Lessons – Cortina Method
  • Light on Yoga – B.K.S. Iyengar
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
  • Thinking: The New Art of Decision-Making  – Edited by John Brockman

Books Read:

  • Do the Work! – Steven Pressfield
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams
  • Outrageous Openness – Tosha Silver
  • The Perdition Score – Richard Kadrey
  • Sept. ’03 – Jan. ’04 of Ten Years in the Tub – Nick Hornby
  • Worth Dying For – Lee Child
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield (started)

What can I tell you about the books I’ve read? Or bought? Why do we do this? I found a beautiful passage in the intro to Ten Years in the Tub, written by Jess Walter:

“That the books we buy are almost as important as those  we read. From the beginning there were always two columns [referring to Hornby’s monthly article], Books Bought and Books Read. By my crude math, Nick spent somewhere around ten or fifteen grand on books he hasn’t even read. Besides showing that he did his part to support publishing during a tough economic period, this suggests something important about reading. Looking around my own obsessively crowded shelves, I see there are two categories of books I tend to keep: those I love and those I hope one day to read. If the books we read reflect the person we are, the books we hope to read might just be who we aspire to be. There is something profound in that.”

I checked out Do the Work! and Dirk Gently from the library. Both came precariously close to being returned unread, but something about each grabbed me and made me change course. The library and, by extension, book stores, are sort of a second home to me. And in this in-between period, where the old life I lived has fallen away and the new one is just breaking out of its cocoon, they function more as my first home than the place that houses my stuff.

Do the Work! walks us through the creative process, highlighting the role of resistance in creation. Now, I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. Have been since I first stumbled across The Icarus Deception, oh, three years ago. At that time I was creatively stifled, my professional and personal lives not working out the way that I had intended. He begged his readers to do the work, fight resistance, and ship! Yes! I can get on board with that.

Pressfield’s book does much the same, but not as effectively. I do feel inspired to do the work, yet I get stuck on syntax when he delves into his theory on the contradictory nature of the Universe’s role in Resistance/Assistance. I’ll likely come at this book again a year or two down the road, and see if I agree or disagree more with the sentiment. The War of Art has been on my reading list for a few years, so it was time to pull the trigger and buy it. I’m just starting it, and seeing the themes revisited from Do the Work!

Adams is always fun, and Dirk Gently’s was no exception. The thought and connectivity he puts into a book about interconnectivity gives enough laugh-out-loud moments that I found myself flying through it.

Atlantis and the course on Spanish weren’t bought, per se. Rather free books in a stack at the library. There’s a girl from Barcelona I wish I were better able to communicate with, though she speaks  English more fluidly than I do. Atlantis, eh. Always curious about the esoteric and metaphysical.

In The Perdition Score, I got to resist the character Sandman Slim, aka James Stark, as he moved up and down a supernatural Los Angeles, and back into Hell. I began reading Kadrey’s series last February, what is that, fourteen months ago? Since then, I’ve read eight and just committed to reading the ninth when I saw it in the bookstore. Perdition is probably the best of the series since Sandman Slim, but I’m a sucker for watching Stark get even when someone goes after his friends.

Another series that I just began last year but have managed to put a considerable dent in is the Jack Reacher collection, by Lee Child. Worth Dying For is well-plotted mystery, and I had trouble putting it down as well. I spent the better part of two days catching up with Mr. Reacher in a little Nebraska town run by some no-goods that were, par for the course, up to no good. It’s a satisfying read, and moves the story towards him heading back to Virginia, which they adapted for film in last year’s Never Go Back.

Tosha Silver and Iyengar’s books are part of my required reading for the yoga practice. I bought Light on Yoga from a Los Angeles Goodwill on Amazon, so it’ll arrive soon. It was like five bucks. Outrageous Openness we discussed at the yoga studio, and it seems to be of big help to those of us who have trouble letting go and trusting that Divine help will be coming.

My first experience with that concept was back in November, 2015, when I started Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I know some crazy things can happen, once you say okay and let the Universe/Divine/God/Source start working on you.

I made it though five whole books this month, with two solid starts, and a few dips into other assorted writings. I can’t guarantee that many, but there is that new Sandman Slim out there, as well as a Reacher novel someone loaned me. Plus, there’s a stack of library books on philosophy that need to be returned this month, so it may be more likely that I get a sit down with Spinoza and Kierkegaard.

9P(R)

My shorthand for tarot readings, Nine of Pentacles Reversed. I had a rough day at work, and decided it was time to move on; time to leave there and find a new job. I wanted to ask the Universe what today taught me. This was the card I drew.

“This card in reverse may be telling you that something you are spending a lot of time on will not yield financial or personal gain. You may be wasting effort. Consider if it’s time to throw in the towel on something that is not giving you the results you had hoped for.”

Thank you Universe.

I’m listening to Dvorak’s New World Symphony right now, to relax. I picked up a used album at a library sale a few weeks back. I’ve been wearing that vinyl down. There’s something supremely reassuring about the notes of No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95.

I had listened to a Chamber Ensemble in Prague, and the Second Movement of this symphony was played. It’s one of my all time favorites.

The title of this blog post comes courtesy of watching Shut Eye, on Hulu. I just got around to seeing it, and really enjoyed. Each episode was titled after a Tarot card, and was relevant to the plot.

The overall thoughts on my mind are new beginnings. Learning that life has a path, a plan. To quote Tosha Silver, “Let what wants to come, come. Let what wants to go, go.”

Amen!

Find your true North

Most of my life now is lived in the phrase,”Recently I’ve…” As in, “Recently I’ve been reading…”; or, “Recently I’ve started a practice of…” Very little in my life as it is can date back to before a year and a half ago. I’d say it would be a positive thing (living in the moment, and all that) but recently I’ve noticed that much of what made me who I was has been lost in the shuffle as well.

Like most things, I sat down thinking I’d be writing about the book that recently I’ve started reading, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. I had heard an interview with them on NPR last year and made a mental note to read the book at some point. 

Thinking of the design problems of life (my life in particular) led me to think of another book that recently I’ve started reading: Wanderlust, by Jeff Krasno. This was a companion piece to the fact that recently I’ve started a practice of yoga. Which, in the full circle way my mind works, brought me back to the fact that the past eighteen months has been a whirlwind and I still have no clue what I’m doing. 

Then I thought, that may not be a bad thing. We got lost sometimes. Lose our way. Think we’re following a path only to look down and see that we’re the only set of footprints to be found. But every path had to be discovered that first time. Not every mistake leads to innovation, but every innovation began with a mistake. 

The cover of Wanderlust invites the reader to “find your true north”. I set the picture of my first tattoo as header because I’ve been searching for true North for longer than eighteen months. Maybe that’s the one constant throughout my whole weird and wonderful existence. Who knows if we ever reach it? But I believe that we can keep moving the needle in that direction.

Namaste.  

Turn on, tune in, drop out

Per Timothy Leary: “Like every great religion of the past we seek to find the divinity within and to express this revelation in a life of glorification and the worship of God. These ancient goals we define in the metaphor of the present — turn on, tune in, drop out.”

Now we face an era of turning on the tv, the device, the screen; tuning in to what’s happening there; dropping out of the reality that is around us – family, friends, life as it was. 

I want to take this space and talk of escapism, the exit we experience when we retreat into our screens (phones, televisions, etc). We’re avoiding something, whatever our deficit is in our life, when all we do is escape. Sure, you can hear the talking heads deriding a generation spent staring into their phones, but they’ve been conditioned that way. There needs to be a conscientious return to old practices (such as spontaneous conversation or disconnected, i.e. no phone, meals) otherwise it will not happen. No one is going to fix the problems for us, other than ourselves.

For Leary, “Turn on meant go within to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them. Drugs were one way to accomplish this end. 

“Tune in” meant interact harmoniously with the world around you – externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives. 

“Drop out” suggested an active, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. “Drop Out” meant self-reliance, a discovery of one’s singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change. Unhappily my explanations of this sequence of personal development were often misinterpreted to mean “Get stoned and abandon all constructive activity”.

On Heavenly Spheres

Where are we going?

This great spinning rock carrying us along?

Could it have a destination?

Does this globe know its course?

This dance with its sisters, and with the sun; an endless, graceful performance piece with music from the stars.

What are we, then, both onlookers and passengers?

Looking up, we know that beyond the veil there is something more.

A choreographer, who created these steps long ago. Also, as architect, built the floor for our waltz through the sky; set these heavenly spheres on their course, and insisted we hang on for the ride.

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