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livewithwonderHi everyone. You don’t need me to tell you it’s been a long time since my last post. As a matter of fact, I left half-way through a series of writings on the Enneagram, just flat out abandoning those poor little articles without their siblings.

I suppose I should start with an explanation of my sudden disappearance from the internet. It went like this: First, one of my articles was on the receiving end of some powerful criticism. Now, let me say this: Criticism I can take, but this particular criticism had a lot of truth to it, and that’s something different. I was stuck, and I remember at the same time thinking that if I continued with the rest of the series, that same criticism would just apply to all the other articles too, and I would have that glaring criticism just staring me in the face while I just blatantly ignored it and failed to address it and before you know it the whole project along with my reputation as a “honest” writer tanks. After all, if someone criticizes you, and you think they’re right, and you go on writing the articles just to finish the series, well what level of OCD is that?

At the same time that I was pondering what to do with this…view that had been handed to me, I began the sudden and unexpected process of moving my family out of my sister-in-law’s house. Also, I got a new job, took up an interest in voice acting for a while, my wife began homeschooling my son, and every other day was insane with busyness. Since then, I took up a different job, moved into my mother-in-law’s house (poverty, yeah!) and have been busy raising two kids who pretty much keep me preoccupied 24/7. In case you’re wondering, I’m not writing this because I want to make excuses for not writing anything before now.

It is time to wake up again

My point is, I fell asleep. I began drifting. I let society hypnotize me and more time has sifted through my fingers.

Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t all been a blur. I won second place in a pizza-eating contest and gave the absurdly large local pizza-eating trophy to my older son. I’ve trained my one year old to make an explosion sound when I say “Ziggy boogy doog,” and if you get that reference I applaud you.

I think another reason I drifted is that I’ve always felt counterfeit in the spiritual community. Here you have people who take up the lives of monks, or who travel around like Jordan has, and are thus able to transcend their roots and grow in many ways by experiencing countless different cultures around them. I know people on Skype who claim to be able to speak with spirits, or work tarot, or astral project…and me?

Well…not so much. I drink caffeine, work a 9-5 (actually 11-8 currently), never remember my dreams, and basically, if you saw me face-to-face, you wouldn’t pick me out as the “spiritual” type at all. Sometimes I get lucky though. To quote the Grateful Dead, “Sometimes the light’s all shining on me. Other times I can barely see.” Lately for me, I’ve been pretty blind. You see, for me, spirituality, and writing about spirituality comes at a cost. Specifically, it comes at the cost of me spending less time with my family, especially since I work.

Why am I saying all this? It’s not to garnish sympathy, or to explain why I never update. It’s to say to the people who are in the same boat as me, that I get it. Sometimes it feels like there’s drugs in the air vents. Sometimes it feels like you’re going through life asleep. Sometimes it all feels like a blur, or a bitter struggle to keep any money you can so you don’t live the rest of your life in debt. I get it. But here’s the thing: All the stuff you’re worried about is the future. It’s not the present.

The other day, I was freaked out about money, because that same old fear of mine creeped up its head: “I had better save every penny I can, or else my family will starve on the streets.” It’s hard for me, because I feel like a miser sometimes, but I feel like I have to be. But I was thinking about this, and I realized that my fear and worry for the future were choking away what I had in the now. I was so worried about the future of my family, that I wasn’t spending as much time enjoying their company, playing with them, and being with them now.

I’ve come to realize that one of the things that causes fear is a lack of acceptance. If you know something will happen, then why fear? My kids are going to get hurt sometimes. There will come a time when I will pass away and my family will be on their own. And you know what? When that time comes, they are going to be alright. They’ll live on. And there will even come a time when my kids pass on. So when you know all this is going to happen sooner or later, you’re really left with two choices:

1) Spend the rest of your life in dread of the inevitable.
2) Enjoy what you have to the full extent while it lasts.

If you’re like me, wandering like a half-zombie through most of the morning, kids banging on the door when you try to use the restroom, working a ton. Just remember that not all the moments are painful ones. To take a big, relaxing breath, and just enjoy it all. For me, my family has done just fine so far, and they’ll continue to be okay long after I’m gone.

Until next time, keep it real.

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successWelcome everyone to part three of my nine part series on the Enneagram. Click the links to see parts One and Two.

Today, I will be interviewing the Three, also known as the Motivator/ Achiever. Welcome.

Thanks, Livewithwonder. I’m really glad I was able to move my schedule around for this interview. At first, I didn’t think I would have time, but I told my secretary I’d just skip lunch again to do it.

Wow! Aren’t you hungry?

No. It’s alright. I always have a few health shakes handy for this very reason.

You sound like a very busy person.

Ha. You have no idea.

Okay, well since time is limited, let’s get down to it. What do you believe?

Ha! I like the way you think! In short, I believe in not being a loser. That probably sounds harsh but let me explain what I mean.

Go right ahead.

“Losers” are the kinds of people who don’t take any responsibility for their lives. They think because they had a terrible past or because mommy didn’t love them, that defines who they are. Losers are either lazy, stupid, or too caught up in little “moral dilemmas” to do what it takes to succeed. People can have all the toys they want, everything they could dream for, if they had the same work ethic, intelligence, and finesse as myself.

But somebody has to lose, right?

Of course. And they “lose” for the reasons I mentioned above. Look, it’s true that some people start off in those categories and then change for the better, but most of them don’t, and that’s the way of the world. Even if someone did get as good as me in all those things, they still wouldn’t knock me off my roost, because I’d find a way to be better. I don’t let myself lose.

What about morality and ethics?

What about them? Look, morality and ethics are all fine and good, but they are an invention of society. They have no place in the business world. Also, news flash: people like me tend to change the laws to what we see fit anyway. If you rely on the law to guide your morality, well let’s just say there’s so many “immoral” laws on the books, so many loopholes that it all sounds like a joke.

What about those who get their morality ideas outside the law?

Oh, you mean idealists? They’re on no higher ground. Say an idealist manages the impossible and gets a good, solid, “moral” law on the books. It means nothing. No matter how tightly written the law is, smart people will find a way around it or work it to  their advantage.

So all you care about is your own success?

I don’t think I’d go quite that far. I care about my own success first, then I help others. Doing the “right thing” is a trap if that’s all you aim for. Ideally I prefer win-win situations.

I mean, it’s not like I’m some selfish jerk hogging all the success at others’ expense. They chose their fate and I chose mine. I once read this book titled “Who Moved my Cheese?” It’s an allegory about these mice in a maze. The mice get used to finding their cheese in the exact same spot at the maze everyday. One day, the cheese moves. Some mice sit around lamenting, “Who moved my cheese? Wah! Boo-hoo!” The smart mice waste no time, turn around, and start looking elsewhere.

So you’re saying people who aren’t successful don’t use their time efficiently.

Or they don’t care, or they get distracted by their emotions, or they don’t network, etc. There are many reasons people don’t succeed in life, but people who do succeed in life do so because they do all the right things, and yes, some of that involves being a little selfish. It’s fine to care about others and even help others (Plus, it makes you look good. Reputation is vital to success,) as long as you follow two rules. 1) Be selective about who you help, lest that person drags you down. 2) Make sure you’ve taken care of yourself first.

Some would argue that you do more than just take care of yourself.

Why? Because of my nice car? Or my $100 hairdo? Or my sleek clothes? People who say that don’t get my reasons behind all those things. A huge part of being successful is constantly projecting the image of success. That’s why I spend top dollar on something like business cards, which may seem silly to some, but to me they are vital. My whitened teeth make me look more successful, which makes people more willing to listen to what I have to say. Dropping a couple hundred bucks in a fancy restaurant with some business associates is worth the investment. It’s not like I’m dropping random money on solid gold jacuzzis just to know what it feels like. That’s Seven’s department. For me, there’s a method to the madness.

What would you say to the people who say success isn’t everything?

I would call them deluded. How could success not be everything? Without some level of power and influence, you’re doomed to be miserable. I would hardly call living on the streets a happy existence. Life is like a game, and the object of games is to WIN.

Would you say you’re happy now?

Well…I’m better than the alternative, that’s for sure.

I sensed a little hesitation in your voice. What would you say are your flaws?

Well, I’m Three, so I don’t have any. That said, there are a few things that bother me.

Shoot.

Well, when you’re me, you have to be different things to different people. You have to wear masks, and your personality has to have a certain flexibility. I don’t even try to do it, I just sort of naturally do. It’s all part of playing the game. The thing is, when I’m alone, it’s like I don’t even know how to take the masks off anymore. I really don’t even know what it means to be me. I know that seems a strange thing to think about, but it’s like the only real personality I have is the personality people want me to have. It’s such a weird feeling…I mean, it’s not all bad. Like I said, better than the alternative. Better than being a loser, but still, it’s weird. It’d be nice not to worry about that all the time.

Are there any personalities that you don’t get along with?

Well, it’s not so much a matter of getting along, but Six just annoys the crap out of me.

Why is that?

You know all those little bullshit rules and policies I make to look good and keep my competitors busy? Six reads them and follows them all to the letter, ALL of them.

How is that bad for you?

It’s not just that he obeys them, it’s the extent to which he obeys them. Every meeting, if there’s the slightest contradiction between two policies, be sure that Six will bring it up, and then I’ll have to make up some bullshit policy ABOUT my bullshit policy just to settle the matter. The guy is taxing, and frankly, he wastes my time. If I go against my own rule in even the slightest way, Six acts like I’ve personally betrayed him.

The worst part is, it’s not like he even does this to get ahead or eek out some advantage. At least then, I could respect him. He’s like this little lost puppy that needs to be told everything to do. I mean, sure, One does his fair share of rules mongering as well, but at least he has values. Six just follows the rules without questioning them (or alternatively, questioning them nonstop to make sure he understands them perfectly,) because “That’s what he’s supposed to do.”

I could tell Six to walk off a cliff right now, and he’s look at me unsure. I would reassure him and then he’d walk right off! No questions asked. And then, if he somehow survived, he’d be bitter at me for “misleading” him so. Well, no duh, you idiot! What were you expecting?

It’s like Six is completely oblivious to the whole “game” aspect of life. When I inevitably mislead him, about something (because that’s what you have to do to get ahead), it just wrecks him completely, and well come on , I don’t need that on my conscience.

Tell me about your friends, Two and Four.

Two is very social and very warm. Her only real ulterior motive is for people to like her, so I like to visit her to get away from the usual “Pit of Vipers.”

“Pit of vipers.” Don’t you kind of create that for yourself with your philosophy?

Maybe, but I own up to that. Like I said, it’s all part of playing the game. Still, it’s nice to be able to take a break and let your guard down now and then.

And Two let’s you do that?

Yeah. I also like that she cares about her appearance and social standing. I really get that. She may not have a “winner” philosophy, but we both like to help and give back to the community. I just prefer to have a camera near me when I do it.

How about Four?

You know, Four is unlike me is so many ways, and I think that’s what I like about her. She takes all that stuff I say about competing, appearances, and masks, throws it all out the window and does her own thing. She acts how she wants, dresses how she wants, and doesn’t care who she offends. That’s got to be liberating, and I certainly respect her for it. Is it successful? Not always, but she fails beautifully and gracefully. When she succeeds, she wins big, but more often than not, she fails, because that’s what happens when you tread new ground and do controversial things. I’d almost be jealous of her if it wasn’t for that little fact.

Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?

Yes. Don’t let anyone talk you into thinking there’s something wrong with being successful. There isn’t. If you care as much as I do, and do what successful people do, there’s no reason you shouldn’t deserve to succeed in life.

Thank you for your time today Three.

My pleasure. Speaking of time, I think I have a meeting I need to get to. Goodbye.

Goodbye.

enneagram-logo-yellow-dark-no1Welcome everybody to the first of my nine part series where I interview each of the nine personalities of the Enneagram. If you recall from some of my past articles, the Enneagram explores nine common ego archetypes that tend to appear again and again throughout human history, and the relationship these types have with each other. While we all have traits that match some of the Enneagram types, most people tend to favor one type more than any of the others. Each has their own outlook and way of life, and hopefully, through these interviews, you can get a better understanding of these basic ego types and how the effect us and interact with us.

Today I am interviewing the One, also known as the Reformer / Perfectionist. Welcome.

Thank you, Livewithwonder, for the opportunity and forum to express my concerns.

Concerns? What kind of concerns?

My main concerns are the problems of society, and the sheer number of problems society has seem endless. It is a real spiritual battlefield out there, and somebody needs to bring the order.

Is that somebody you?

I try.

I suppose this is a good time to ask you what it is you believe?

Fantastic. I would be happy to answer it. (By the way, your tie is crooked). I believe we need to work toward a more orderly, perfect world. There are so many wicked people out there, so many willing to cut corners. If we are all going to build a better world for ourselves, one that is fair and orderly, then everyone needs to pitch in. Not even one person can afford to be selfish, because that little grain of selfishness is all it takes to ruin it for everybody. Selfishness has to be stamped out. If people aren’t willing to do the right thing, they have to be stopped. They have to be corrected, pure and simple.

Opponents of your philosophy might ask who you are or what makes you so special to tell others what they can or cannot do.

See I don’t get that. To me it seems the obvious thing to build a better world, but I guess most people are too short-sighted or selfish.

Do you feel like you are better than them because of that?

Look, I’m aware that I’m not perfect. Believe me, I’m dreadfully aware, more than you know. Sometimes, I can’t stop beating myself up when I screw up, but I care at least. Too many people don’t care. Too many are unscrupled. One does not need to be perfect, so long as you are actually working toward perfection. Perfection is divine. What is the old saying? Cleanliness is next to godliness. You could argue that cleanliness is a form of perfection.

You like things very clean?

Creating a better world starts with one’s immediate environment. You cannot help others do the right thing if you are constantly distracted by things like dirt or clutter. You have to push and make things right for yourself before you can move on and help others.

What would you say are your greatest flaws?

Well, I really don’t like the word “flaw”, and I’m really hesitant to admit this, but I care so much about what I believe that I tend to be a bit, um, abrasive. I’ll admit that I’ve gotten into a shouting match or two when others didn’t see eye to eye with me, but some attitudes are just destructive and they need to be extinguished. It’s hard to get others to see your point of view when it involves telling them they are wrong about something or that they need to improve themselves, but it’s often the truth and needed for the greater good.

Tell me more about the people you argue with.

The evils of recklessness and deliberate deceit must be purged from our society. People like to act like it’s all about me as a way to villianize me, but nothing is further from the truth. It’s about us. It’s about society. It’s about what is best for everybody. The world is like a giant frat house where nobody wants to do the dishes. Well somebody’s got to, or guess what happens? Mold grows, ants crawl all over the kitchen, people eat everything out of paper plates or (groan) their hands. If we don’t discipline ourselves to be civilized, we become like animals. I’m not about to let that happen. If that comes off as disliking others or talking down to them, then so be it. I’m sorry, but it has to be said, doesn’t it?

Are there any personalities that you don’t get along well with?

Well, I’m not a gossip, but for the sake of getting things off my chest there is. Seven just drives me up the wall. You want to talk about selfish and reckless people? Seven is it. All he cares about is partying! Have you ever heard the fable of the ants and the cricket? It’s a story where the ants spend all of fall storing up food for the winter while the grasshopper just sings and plays his songs. Come winter, the ants have food and shelter and the cricket is just hopping around asking the ants to help him.

Seven is that cricket. He let’s others work hard, blows his money on pointless things, and then makes others help him when he inevitably gets himself in trouble. I don’t think seven can be serious about anything. It’s annoying. To continue with my metaphor, he would be the guy at the frat house who dirties all of his dishes and never goes back to clean them ever again, waiting for everyone else to clean up after him. If he would just care and stop wasting his life! Ugh.

Tell me about the two personalities you do get along well with, the nine and the two.

Nine is all about peace and unity, which I totally stand behind. Nine helps me relax. She’s just a great personality to talk to and be around and she values similar things as me. The only problem with her, respectfully, is that she has no backbone. I don’t even know what she really believes because she’s so wishy-washy. She’ll help me out, but I wish she stood up for her beliefs more often now and then. Still, she’s a wonderful friend, and I’m happy to know her.

Two cares about love, and will bend over backwards to help anybody. I really love that about her. Unlike nine, she’s willing to stand up for what she believes. She definitely cares, and she’s warm and friendly. Her biggest problem is that she’s a little needy at times. It’s like she expects people to do nice things for her because she does for them. I try to repay the favor, but it bothers me when others don’t. She takes it so personally and I feel bad for her.

The other thing about two is that she let’s her ideas about love confuse her and pull her away from doing the right thing from time to time. If people don’t return her love she freaks out (behind closed doors). I wish she would stop worrying so much about what people think of her and just do the right thing. That all said, she’s a fantastic friend, and everyone has their, erhm, flaws.

Is there anything else you’d like to share before we wrap this up?

I just want to encourage people to look to the vision, and focus on the overarching goal. We are building a better world, a world that is safer, where everyone can have their needs filled, but we need to work together.

Thank you for your time today one.

I should be the one thanking you for helping to tell my side of the story. Hopefully you understand it better.

I certainly do. Thank you.

You’re welcome. By the way, you have some spinach in your teeth.

livewithwonderBack when spirit science first started, there was a troll who came on the forums and acted as though he was a member of the Illuminati. After a while of his shenanigans, this troll revealed the truth. He explained that spirit science was too open-minded and that he wanted the members on the forum to have better discernment.

I half agreed with our troll friend. However, the half I do not agree with is a very important distinction to make. You see in my opinion there is no such thing as being too open minded. At first that may seem an extreme position to take on anything . However, if you look up the definition of skeptic in the dictionary, you’ll find that the definition is not too far away from the definition of open minded.

A true skeptic is a person who says “I may be wrong and I may be right,

but I do not know for sure. Let’s examine the facts.”

That is a far cry from your typical definition of a skeptic. If, for example, you read an article at random from the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, what you will find is that the general approach of the writers of that magazine is to say “x is bunk and here’s why”, and then give facts to support their already established doubts. I am not attacking the writers of that magazine, let me clarify that. However, this is what the common definition of skeptic has changed into in our society, one who doubts.

The world needs more true skeptics. The world needs people who say “I don’t know but I’m eager to find out,” with enthusiasm, and I’m not talking solely about the uneducated. Even a doctor with years of experience under his belt shouldn’t stop learning. Remember, only the intelligent say they don’t know.

"It's not what we don't know that will hurt us. It's what we do know that ain't so." ~Will Rogers~

“It’s not what we don’t know that will hurt us. It’s what we do know that ain’t so.” ~Will Rogers~

If everyone had that attitude of ope

n mindedness and skepticism then we would be a very fortunate , creative society, and we would discover truths about life more quickly.

in the same vein that there is false skepticism there is also such thing as a false open-mindedness. If you look closely at false open mindedness, you will find that it shares the same traits as false skepticism. it is false open-mindedness that our troll friend truly attacked.

What is false open mindedness? It is the exact same thing as being gullible. Open mindedness and being gullible are not the same thing. In the former, you are open to the possibility of a given thing being true. in the latter, you accept an idea to be true without discernment. False open-mindedness is when you accept something as the truth and call it open-minded simply because it is a fringe or more “out there” belief.

In the example of our troll friend, the proper response to be truly open-minded would be to say “interesting claim, let’s see what the facts say.” If there are no facts to support the claim, then one doesn’t suddenly take the false skeptic position and say “What a bunch of buck. It is obvious you are lying.” Instead, one merely waits for more information, and eventually, the truth will present itself.

if you wanted to fail at being open-minded the first thing out of your mouth would have implied that you already accepted his claim to be a member of the Illuminati, for at that very point, you would cease to be open-minded as you would have made up your mind about his claim being true and would shut yourself out from other possibilities.

So you see the false skeptic and the false open minded person suffer from the same ailment. Both are in fact, closed-minded, and when you are closed-minded you shut yourself off from other

options, and it is always possible that those other options were just the thing you were looking for. Likewise, the true skeptic and true open-minded person are synonyms. Only through the open-minded path can you expect to find the truth of reality.

An interesting experience

Speaking of open-mindedness, I recently had an interesting experience at my job (yes I’m a slave to the man) and wanted to share it with you.

One topic I have either written about or wanted to was, synchronicity compared to Apophenia. The former is a New Age idea that means meaningful coincidence. The latter is a skeptic idea that means when a person perceives meaning when there is none, or it is merely two unrelated coincidental events.

From a philosophical standpoint, I always saw the idea of apophenia to be nonsensical because who determines

meaning can only come on an individual basis. What holds meaning to me may not hold meaning to you, and vice versa. Therefore, if a schizophrenic man for example, claims to find a meaningful pattern between lottery numbers, business names on his local street, and the current weather, then who am I to contradict him? At the same time, this is a slippery slope and this is exactly where my story is headed.

a customer walked into my place of work, and she was a very strong Christian wanting to convert as many people as she could. She believed a few “out there” ideas to say the least. She believed for example, that God personally spoke to her through the first name her parents had given her. She believed in hell, and while she spoke of many different people in danger of going there, for some reason she singled out drug users specifically.

This lady said that she could prove the biblical God existed. I asked her how. She told me through the meanings of people’s names and street names. She began to find all kinds of names of people that had to do with God. And so she believed God must exist because, if he didn’t people wouldn’t all be named after him right? She then went on to explain that whenever she saw new street names for the houses of places she moved into, those street names would always give her some sort of direction in her life.

What I realized at this point, was that this woman was experiencing synchronicity/apophenia, and in

this instance at least, this synchronicity was aiding her fear caused by her belief that people were going to hell if she didn’t do something to help save them.

Great job lady, way to miss the point entirely.

Great job lady, way to miss the point entirely.

In other words, what I learned was that synchronicity is not always a positive experience for everyone. More accurately, the experience itself was positive for her, but it also further solidified her fear for the souls of others, which, to me at least, doesn’t feel very positive at all. Likewise, what of the paranoid schizophrenic who experiences synchronicities that further fuel his or her paranoid beliefs?

So the question boils down to: Is there value in experiencing synchronicity when said synchronicity has the potential to lead people into damaging belief systems? The answer that I’ve come to regarding that question is that yes there is value and meaning if you choose there to be so, but we must treat synchronicities like they are little jokes of the universe. We can experience joy and wonder when they happen, and find meeting in that, but they don’t have to be interpreted as signs that we are supposed to believe this or do that. At that point, we are imposing beliefs upon our meaning, instead of meaning upon our beliefs, and that’s not a very skeptical thing to do. 😉

Until next time, question everything and accept nothing as the whole truth.

livewithwonder

“Totem animal” is one of those spiritual topics that I think some people are quick to dismiss. On the surface, it seems as though the concept is a little out there, at best a flight of fancy, at worst an ego trap.

After all, who wouldn’t like to imagine themselves as having the spirit of an animal? In a weird way, it’s empowering to think about. So are those who claim they’ve found their spirit totem or guide just indulging themselves, or is there something more to this?

I’ll be honest, for the longest time I thought it was the former, because I tend to have a different perspective on spirituality than most. My usual philosophy is “If it helps you grow as a person, it holds spiritual value, and if it helps you grow in power, or creates the illusion of it, then there’s a good chance what you are looking at is rotten apples.” Granted, this doesn’t always hold true, but it makes for a decent makeshift spiritual compass. If someone claims that they can help you speak with the deceased, (at the low, low price of $100 an hour) then it seems best to tread carefully. I had always just filed away the concept of “animal totems” away in the similar area in my mind, but lately I’ve been rethinking it.

The Power of Symbols

flower of life

I hear this one’s pretty well known.

There is no denying the power of symbols. The longer a symbol exists, the more meanings it can take on to different people. There is a reason countries choose national flags, national flowers, and national animals. Likewise, there is a reason corporations spend millions of dollars on their brands and logos. In literature, symbols are excellent devices to tell stories, and they have potential to give characters further depths and personality. Symbols have the power to deeply impact our subconscious quickly and flawlessly. The ability of our minds to associate external symbols with internal suffering is remarkable.

In the more recent Batman films, for example, it is the symbol of Batman that strikes terror into his foes. Batman himself is just a person, but the “idea” of Batman makes him more threatening, larger than life even. The reason Batman’s symbol is so powerful is that it held personal meaning to him first. In fact, Bruce is terrified of bats, and usually when we’re afraid of something, it’s because that thing reminds us of a part of ourselves we don’t want to come to grips with, to accept as part of who we really are. In Bruce’s case, the part of himself he kept hidden away was the scared little boy, alone at the death of his parents. The bats were already scary, but the additional layer of trauma at the death of his family left him impressionable. Bruce associated the bats with everything else he had already gone through. Mastering a symbol like that? How could it not be a powerful weapon?

This of course, is just an example from a fictional movie series. However, this kind of thing happens to us in real life all the time. It’s where fiction writers get their ideas. It’s just that usually, in real life, the revelations are less linear. Where in a video game, for example, a character may go into the fire dungeon and fight the powerful fire monster and come out of it with a new found passion and inner strength (not to mention cool stuff), in real life a person may undergo countless exposures to a subtle stimulus that stretches throughout their life before they “get it” and rediscover that little piece of their soul. I think that may be how it worked for me.

How I Discovered my cutie mark Animal Totem

spaelotis-clandestina-713564For the longest time, I have been absolutely terrified of moths. Since I was a little kid, there was always something about them that unsettled me. I used to come to live with my parents during the summers in between college. At the time, I told them I wanted to be a writer, and that I was going to use the time there when I wasn’t working my part time job to get some writing done. Instead, I procrastinated heavily. As I slowly worked on one mediocre short story, I found myself switching to flash games and movies, literally surfing the net for any kind of video game related distraction I could. Whenever my mom would peek in to say hi, I treated it like a huge invasion of privacy. I would freeze up, minimize the window on my computer (there was absolutely nothing worth hiding on there, but I did anyway) and act like I was guilty of something when I wasn’t.

During this time, I saw a lot of moths. I’m not sure how, but they kept on getting into my room. It was almost as though they were drawn to me, and they always made this disgusting sound when they would hit the light bulb in my room over and over. It didn’t help if I turned out the lights, they’d just fly over to my computer. I’d go out of my way to try and get rid of them. After a while of this, I started thinking about it, so I came up with a list of reasons why I hated moths so much.

1. I didn’t like the awkward way they fluttered, as though they are always in a panic. A moth will fly right into your face and not even care, because of their panicked, alien way of moving.
2. I saw them almost as parody of butterflies. Like butterflies, they go through metamorphosis, but instead of turning into something beautiful like butterflies, they merely just change into something equally mundane and hideous.
3. It always bothered me the way they lived in darkness yet craved the light. A moth will immolate itself in fire just to be a part of the light, but it can never be so. When daylight comes, the moth hides. A moth will fly to the first artificial light it sees, even if it kills it.
4. Have you ever swatted a moth? When you do, dust comes out. I couldn’t honestly think of a better reminder of our mortality. It’s like a little Biblical reference. From dust he came…etc.

Fast forward years later and I overhear a conversation online about animal totems, and I ask out of curiosity how you go about finding one, and how you know it’s not just an ego trip. The very first piece of advice I’m given is to look at an animal that scares you the most, especially if it’s an irrational fear. Sure, it’s entirely possible that when a person is afraid of something external, it’s just because, and there is no underlying explanation, but how often is it the case that we project our own internal fears or the things that we dislike about ourselves on external things?

I’ve come to realize that I’ve always been afraid of moths, because they remind me of me, or at least of parts of me. It reminds me of parts of me I’m not always proud of. Like the moth, I too flutter awkwardly, and I too move as though I am in a panic. I hide my panic, but it’s still there. I too expected myself during that time to transform into something beautiful, but what actually happened is that I simply transformed into something different, something that I saw at the time as ugly and dysfunctional. I expected myself at the time to change the world, inspire people, write beautiful things. Instead, I found myself wasting both my time and society’s time, contributing literally nothing positive to the world.

I wanted to be a part of the light, but I always feared what that meant, and as much as I envied the light, I never trusted it. At the time, still confused and pseudo-Christian, I wasn’t even sure what I believed “the light” to be. In the dark, I at least felt at home.

One of the things I learned about the moth recently is that it actually uses moonlight as a guide. It’s just that when it sees a campfire, or a bug zapper, it gets confused and cannot tell which light is from the moon and which light is the “false” light.

I knew that by not hoping in things, I wasn’t setting myself up for failure. How I ever wanted to step into it though. The sun was just too big, too proud, and I wasn’t deserving enough. I didn’t realize at the time all the false light out there, and I found myself burning again and again, just so long as it was light.

Finally, the dust metaphor. I found myself wrestling with existential issues at this age, constantly wondering what the meaning of life was if we were just going to die anyway. Life seemed short and pointless and I couldn’t find a way out.

Is it any wonder then, that moths kept appearing to me to remind my mind of the things I was hiding to myself? And is it any wonder that their presence filled me with an irrational fear and rage, to the point that I would spend 15 minutes trying to hunt one down when I heard it, only to not find it, sit back down, and be interrupted by the flutter again?

The moth has taught me many important lessons. It taught me how to discern true light from false. It taught me that just because the person I am now isn’t who I thought I’d be it doesn’t make me awful. It taught me of my own mortality, but not to live in a panic. The moth is really a beautiful creature actually, at least I think that’s what the most peaceful man in the universe would say. I think the most powerful lesson it has taught me is that it takes a beautiful, whole soul to recognize beauty for what it is, and this world, it’s filled with it. For that, I’m proud to call the moth my totem.

Until next time, may the sides of you hidden away be exposed to the light.

livewithwonderIf you’ve recently read my article “Words from the Avatar of Truth,” you know that by now his words have come true. No immediate, magical type ascension has occurred, and the world has not come to an end. Truly, his Holiness, the Avatar of Truth is wise indeed.

I’m just joshing ya. There is no monk with a chip. The whole thing was a bunch of bull.Why would I deliberately deceive like that? Before I answer that question let me quote one of the comments in the last article.

“We did not expect any daddy to come and rescue us from ourselves anyway. most people have learned to live without expectations and perceive the world as it desires to (so to speak). Giving up because something did not happen is false spirituality anyway. Real spiritual people are not such because of the date that something is going to happen – but because of the way they evolved, seeing things, understanding, enlightenment. You message is full of negativity as it is not just the message by itself, but the first half is justifying that one mus believe in this message because the monk and the chip etc. The guys here are enough smart and sensitive to pick or not without any forced proofs.

Love to you all
Namaste”

Kudos to Antoni for telling it exactly like it is. I honestly could not agree more, or put it better myself. The only part that I didn’t agree with was the idea that my message was full of negativity. Honestly, I thought my message was chock full of encouragement, but I guess that depends on your outlook. Perhaps it was the monk part that seemed negative, perhaps even condescending. I was pleasantly surprised with most of the comments on the article. Most of them pertained to how the message was good, but the “monk with a chip” part stunk to high heaven, but you can even then gain wisdom from the most unlikely of places. This is exactly how I intended the message to be.

In short, the reason I used that little deception was to set the house on fire to save it from the plague, so to speak. What is the plague?

The plague

Alright, I got my crystal, now where's my Porsche?

Alright, I got my crystal, now where’s my Porsche?

The ultimate plague of spirit science (or any group that provides spiritual leadership) is the mindset of complete and utter trust in your spiritual tutors. Don’t get me wrong, trust in of itself is a good thing, but when one fails to listen to their own inner discernment out of a desire to be faithful to the teachings of others, well that tends to not turn out so well. A mindset like that is the reason the Spanish Inquisition existed. It is the reason that people were burned as witches in Salem. We all have an inner voice, I think, that knows when something is not right. To ignore that inner voice because a leader you hold in high regard says differently, tends to spell disaster. There is an old Buddhist proverb. It goes like this:

“If you meet the Buddha on the street, kill him.”

That is to say, trust your inner voice. Learn and reason, and find out for yourself what the truth is. Don’t accept someone else’s version of the truth over your own just because they have a title, or seem knowledgeable.

The whole reason I wrote these two articles, is that I started seeing threads on spirit science that worried me. Threads that said things like, “I stopped studying school because I’m going to ascend anyway.” or “I’m going to kill myself is ascension doesn’t happen.” or “What’s it going to be like when I ascend?” (Not if, when). I knew these people were setting themselves up for disappointment. Myself, I did nothing different to prepare for ascension then I already did, one, because I really didn’t expect a literal ascension, and two, because I figured that if it’s to happen, it’s going to happen by me doing what I’m already doing, what I already love, by “living with wonder.” As I stated in my simple spirituality article, spirituality is not complicated unless we make it that way.

What happened after December 21st, is that all the skeptics banded together to shout the proverbial, “Ha! I told you so!” and all the people who believed with all their heart in a literal, immediate ascension were let down, and either, 1) left spirit science altogether, 2) did something rash and awful, or 3) posted something on the forums. Jordan already posted his response, so I won’t get into that, but needless to say, simplicity really is the key. I actually agree with much of what Jordan has to say. Do I believe his claim that we’re entering an existence where manifesting things will become easier and quicker? Probably not, but we shall see. I’ve seen more absurd things from the world.

The Plan

Anyway, to cut that whole thing off at the heel, I posted a simple and obvious prediction and attributed it to some mysterious spiritual leader. Given some of the posts on the forums, on Facebook, and on Youtube, I figured I would mainly get answers of two kinds, either people posting about how utterly wrong I was and how there WAS going to be an ascension, or posts from people on December 22nd about how the Avatar of Truth was correct and how we should follow his ways. Then, I would use the deception as a means to encourage people to follow their own path, to show there never was a guru, it always has been and always will be you. Instead what I got was mature comments on spirituality from people who “get it.”

To those of you who took the time to comment on that last post, thank you for your words, and I’m sorry if it appeared I was talking down to you. The post was less intended for you and more intended for those who really needed the lesson, the people posting hate and disappointment on the internet when what is true is different from what they expected. To those people, I cannot stress this enough: Listen to your own voice. Use your discernment and discover the truth for yourself. Likewise, for those who consider themselves skeptics, perhaps instead of trying to prove spirit science wrong you could look for the truth inside what you perceive to be falsity? I learn from everything, even people I disagree with. Even if you don’t agree with spirit science, you can still learn from it. Take what helps and leave the rest.

Until next time, sharpen your discernment in tune with your love.

I have been thinking lately about those who criticize spirit science. I’m not talking about the critics who are skeptical of certain ideas we have. To be fair, some of the ideas we offer do seem to be pretty “out there”, and each person is entitled to their own opinion. Those aren’t the brand of critics I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the group of people who come from a place of deep pain. People who have experienced traumatic experiences in their youth and who snort at the idea of these happy-go-lucky so called “spirit people”. I’m talking about the people who see us as naive because our bright and sunny outlook doesn’t match the horrible experiences that they have witnessed in their lives, who cynically laugh at the idea of “All our pain is an illusion.”

I’m not going to lie. Life is painful. Anyone who says otherwise is either trying to delude you or is deluded. The mere act of being born brings pain to the mother. Pain is an honest fact of life. You are not responsible for your pain. It often comes to us whether we want it or not.

However: you are responsible for your suffering.

Perhaps you’re thinking “hold the fort, what’s the difference?”

To answer the question, I’m going to once again rely of the words of my Buddhist friend Barking Unicorn. “To see the difference between pain and suffering, bring a puppy to a cancer ward. You will see many people in pain, but no suffering.”

The story of Viktor Frankl

Stephen Covey in His Bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” writes about the story of Viktor Frankl, a man who spent three years in various concentration camps including Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Dachau.

According to Wikipedia Frankl’s  “best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning (published under a different title in 1959: From Death-Camp to Existentialism, and originally published in 1946 as Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager), chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate based on his psychotherapeutic method of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living. Frankl was one of the key figures in existential therapy and a prominent source of inspiration for humanistic psychologists

In other words, the guy was both a badass and an inspiration. It’s not often you get both in one person. Here’s a quote from Frankl about his time in the Nazi prison camps.

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked throughout the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Even when every thing else in your life is out of your control, even if you become a slave, you still have the right to choose your outlook.

We are not Pavlov’s dogs

The human mind is a powerful thing, and a key to achieving that power is awareness. There is a chain that is frequently mentioned in the psychology of behavior. That chain is:

stimulus – thought – result.

The stimuli is the initial thing that happens, the “cause” if you will. Thought is how you individually process the stimuli. Result is what happens because of the chain. Sometimes, we have control of all three, but we always have control of “thought”, provided we are aware and stubborn enough, and humans are good at being stubborn. 🙂

Most of the time, we get caught up in these stimulus – result chains without even giving thought to what control systems are in place that make us live the way we do. That’s where awareness comes in. If you are aware that someone’s putting you into a Skinner box, so to speak, then you become empowered to resist it.

Take Ghandi for example. Here is a man that willingly starved himself to fight for a higher cause he believed in. If he had the mere awareness of a rat, he would never have been able to accomplish what he did. He would have begun to search for food in a panicked state. But Ghandi used the ability that all humans have, or at least have the potential to have. He used his thought (and stubbornness) to ignore the stimulus of hunger, to ignore the stimulus that he was starving to death.

At the end of the day, suffering comes from what you think of the pain. Suffering is related to thought, and thus can be controlled. With meditation and focus, you can transmute the pain in your life to something different, something beautiful.

Until next time, hang in there, and know that I’m right there with you.