Saturday, October 5, 2013

Despair: Standing at the Edge of the Abyss

"Despair...particularly pervaded my early years as a child."
Despair has played an important role in my life, from the limiting beliefs I hold that have kept me tied to a less than satisfying life, to enmeshing myself in difficult, complex, otherwise-known-as dysfunctional relationships where I have trouble letting go. In so many ways, despair defines my entire life—most of it, anyway—and even what little parts may not tie directly into despair, it was never far away. 

Despair is something that particularly pervaded my early years as a child. You can see it even in my first memory--my third birthday as I focused on playing with a Tonka truck I'd gotten as a gift to avoid the unfriendly and hostile environment of my dysfunctional extended family, wanting to be left alone, but afraid and despairing at the same time. 

"It hangs there so strongly that I haven't found
the resources inside myself to ignore it. "

Despair also forms the foundation of my inability to let go of broken relationships. It hangs there so strongly that I haven't found the resources inside myself to ignore it. I guess that’s part of the whole thing is how you ignore the despair, or if you feel it, you imagine it comes from outside yourself and you wish that something would save you from it. In all of my relationships throughout my life, I’ve been easily manipulated because of my fear of the Abyss--that depth of despair that sits at the edge of our knowledge of the world, that to the ego means death, prompting feelings of dread and intense fear--because of the feelings of vulnerability I had toward the Abyss, I could feel it there under everything. 

As I think about it, is seems that despair is the theme of my life narrative, this collection of stories I tell myself and others about my life. I can see despair pervading everything that I’ve done my entire life, including the past year as I’ve gone all over the country trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do with my life. 

"...because of the feelings of vulnerability I had toward
the Abyss, I could feel [despair] there under everything."
It’s seems the story, if there is one, is about my coming to terms with despair, which doesn’t mean obliterating it, but embracing it and accepting it as a central aspect of being human. While it seems a tad grim to focus on despair, it really means that the story is about finding love in the face of this underlying darkness and loneliness. Beyond the Abyss, inside the Abyss is a connection to everything, where the ego dissolves--the reason it feels such fear--and despair becomes laughable as I realize that all I feared was that which I could not comprehend. Life is good, full, and lovely. This is what we find inside the Abyss, not despair.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Authentic Self, Part 1 - Individualism in a Conformist Society (+pla...

The idea of an authentic self is not particularly new, but it's insightful to consider its relationship to those of us who find ourselves in an industrialized society, where conformity, fitting in, and doing so peacefully and quietly, or at least with the help of the stupefying effects of alcohol and other legal drugs, is encoded within us beginning from birth or even before in many ways. In this video blog, I explore the idea conformity and commodification of self and the implications these have for living a fulfilling life.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Authentic Self, Part 2 -- The Reality of the Machine

Our society not only uses machines, but sees itself as a machine, the world as a machine, and even we humans as naturally occurring machines in a mechanistic, materialistic universe, i.e., a giant machine. Mark explores the implications for living in this culture of machines--and its religion of Science--for anyone who would embark upon a journey of personal discovery.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Guitar Heroes Give Spiritual Advice (in a dream)

In a dream...
Jack Black
I was in an auditorium, up on the stage and there was a lot of equipment and instruments crowded there. I was walking along the stage and noticed a wah-wah pedal on the floor next to some guitars. Just at that moment, Jack Black was there. He was in character, like one of the characters in his films. He was saying he couldn’t understand why people thought using a wah-wah was so hard. Modulating his mouth to emulate the sounds, he mimicked a wah pedal while playing air guitar. But then he stepped over to what appeared to be a very long necked steel guitar hanging sideways on a kind of partition. It almost looked like a harp. Black plucked a string and used the wah-wah to modulate the sound, making a convincing demonstration of how easy it is.

Wah-wah Pedal (gives the guitar a funky "wah-wah" sound.)
I agreed with him in my mind, but didn’t express it. I thought that knowing such things is likely an intuitive thing and while it seems easy to him, I could imagine someone with little or no imagination having trouble learning how to use a wah-wah pedal. I stepped over to some guitars sitting on stands to look directly at a wah-wah pedal on the floor of the stage.  I spoke to Jack Black saying something to the effect that I wanted to get one some day.

Legendary guitarist, Duane Allman
Then, Duane Allman steps up and tells me that when I order one, it’s best not to try to explain what it is I’m looking for because the woman you order from won’t understand. Just get the serial and SKU numbers and give those to her and tell her to order them. Now, he didn’t explain it this way, he said something like, “When you order it, don’t try to explain what it is, just tell her to get a Jimenez E834R19 and blah, blah...” Jack Black comes up and I’m standing there with Jack Black and Duane Allman.

Possible Interpretation – The thing that stands out is the talk about guitars and there being two celebrity guitarists there. Black was understandable, straightforward. Allman not only spoke cryptically, but suggested speaking cryptically. In a way, his information was more straightforward in saying exactly what he wanted, but not in a way that anyone but he and the shipping clerk at the guitar warehouse would understand. This tickles my brain a bit. There’s the possibility that Allman is saying that in some ways, it’s better to say things that no one but the exact right people will get, and you make it clear to the exact people who matter, no matter what other people think, whether they understand or not.

Black seemed to indicate that skills are somewhat innate or at the least relegated to people who have a framework for understanding them. On the level of developing spiritual and psychic skills, I could draw two important messages from this dream: 1) I have what it takes to do “magic,” I just have to step up to the plate and do it, and 2) do what works, don’t worry whether the people uninvolved with what I’m doing comprehend what I’m saying.