Archive for the 'reincarnation' Category

Reboot

April 5, 2015

I mentioned to Gita that I have been somewhat surprised and frustrated by the apparent fact that I can facilitate a healing successfully, and the improvement does occur, but the impact is not seen immediately.  It’s as if, to use an analogy, when the groundwork had been laid (such as calling to my attention the difference between what I was doing and the sound it produced and what others were doing and the sound that produced instead), so that I could pronounce certain consonants correctly and not with speech impediment I had as a child, I could not manifest that improvement and still spoke incorrectly.  I said to Gita that it seems as if a “reboot” is necessary after the update has been downloaded, and she said, yes, in the Vedic texts there is discussion of how, at least in some circumstances, according to some ways of thinking, the upgrade will not manifest until the next incarnation.

It’s reassuring to know that I am not alone in encountering this apparent phenomenon, but, of course, it’s also not what I wanted to hear.  That’s part of why I go to see Gita, she tells me what I don’t want to hear.

But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I do get a kick out of having, not reinvented but sort of re-conceptualized, the wheel.

It’s all inside us, just waiting for us to rediscover, just like they tell us.

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Backfill

November 6, 2014

When I read something that suggests that I am falling short in my attitude and behavior, I can sometimes see clearly that the frontal approach of trying to change my attitude and behavior directly (and conform to what is being suggested) is not going to produce what’s needed.

Instead, I need to address a broader issue, and if I do so, then more helpful attitude and behavior will follow.

“Fake it until you make it” has never seemed to me a preferable method, I prefer to put in backfill and arrive at the surface after having built a foundation one step at a time.

This approach is also helpful if my task is not to arrive at the final goal but to go back and fill a missing stage of development.  (I think if one believes in reincarnation, this concept makes more sense.)

So I check in with my guidance:  I bring only my willingness, I open up my heart, and I listen (and I don’t mean “people pleasing”).

I’ve heard other women lament having given away their power and needing to reclaim it.  That is a Scylla I am aware of, as I am also aware of the Charybdis of following my own ego-driven ideas.

What I am called to do may also not look like what others recognize as being helpful in and of itself.  I think that makes sense if what one is doing is filling in a missing piece that isn’t very pretty and is an intermediate (ugly duckling?) stage in something larger.  That missing piece may involve learning to hear, trust, and follow one’s own inner guidance, for example, and not privileging another human being’s teachings over one’s own understanding.  One can be not only too rich and too thin but also too deferential to human guides, it seems to me.  Of course, there is a difference between oppositional defiance and independence as a part of personal development.

Sometimes what I need to do is to strengthen my spiritual practice;  that will fill in what needs filling in and attitude and behavior will organically change as a consequence.

How much?

April 15, 2014

I suppose it is not necessary to believe we have through reincarnation multiple opportunities to develop spiritually to believe that it may be preferable for people to do what they can in terms of what Father Rohr’s tradition calls “dying to the self” instead of aiming to do more than they can safely accomplish.  In the reincarnation model, we can think of it in terms of laying a strong foundation (for future layers), but even without multiple opportunities, we could think of it in terms of progress made — how far we have come from where we started — and see “delta” (change) as what we are looking for.

I have concerns about everybody feeling they should be able to achieve it all, and hence not trying at all or trying in a way that actually results in harm, such as regression or implosion.  I’m in favor of taking solid steps, however small, towards becoming aware of what about us is flawed and ephemeral and what about us is timeless and stable.  Rome was not built in a day.  Every stage of development is important and having people at different stages of development is important.  I would rather see people moving slowly in a helpful direction than not moving at all or incurring too much damage from tumbling backwards after trying to take too large a step on difficult terrain.

Where I do see privileging one stage of development above others is in being able to see a bigger picture and being able to encourage others not to get stuck in limited thinking, in mistaking a part for the whole, or in clinging to a stage as if it were a permanent resting place.  Being able to suggest an overview can be helpful, but the actual nitty-gritty of coaching individuals, in terms of where they are and what may be helpful to their progress, I think is something else.

Isaac

February 1, 2014

I wrote somewhere in a comment to what I think was probably a piece in the “Opinionator” section of the NYTimes, that I can see the story of Abraham’s hearing a call to sacrifice his son Isaac as a story about surrender, about having a willingness to serve without reservation, no strings attached, not even a caveat of “Just don’t hurt my children.”  I don’t see it as a story about child sacrifice.

But even more than this, I can see the story as a misunderstanding, as a misperception by Abraham.

I think he was being asked to grow up himself, to “sacrifice” his inner twelve-year old in order to grow into the mature adult he could become if he could emerge from the orientation toward the self that children harbor.

I certainly am aware of multiple aspects of myself.  Sometimes I’m in a situation, and I can discern that part of me is annoyed but another part of me really doesn’t take it personally and can just let the situation slide off of me.  In other people I can notice great wells of wisdom and perspective while the person is acting in a limited way nonetheless is other regards.  It’s kind of like different flowers in our garden and we don’t always tend every species all the time.  We really like to grow those sunflowers but we don’t always bother watering and weeding those bee balm plants, or we let those black-eyed Susans run rampant and spread throughout the garden.

Some traditions tell us that we all have the wisdom inside us anyway, we just need to improve our access to it.  I think, as well, that some people have already done that in previous lifetimes in some regards (or in most regards) but have lost the knack for accessing parts of themselves since then and are working on that in their current lives.

The idea of sacrificing Isaac might be a story to flag one of those situations, where there is a need to grow out of a childish stage in some way.

Et tu, Brute?

October 19, 2013

It occurred to me that I should follow up my previous post with a note that, just prior to my moment of catching the spark of faith while watching a concert on TV, I had experienced one of those “Et tu” moments, when someone you didn’t expect to do something that feels like betrayal, does something that feels like betrayal, and also feels like the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  I suspect this prior experience is relevant to what happened next, perhaps like the drawing back of the slingshot before it releases its projectile.

And as a footnote to this note, I would mention that the particular incident that produced this feeling of betrayal did not at the time really seem to me intellectually to be the big deal it felt like to me emotionally — I wasn’t entirely sure at the time why it bothered me as much as it did.  In retrospect, I can understand better why it had the impact on me it did, especially if I see it in terms of its being the repetition or reenactment of an old pattern of events for someone who struggled to find faith and whom I was helping.  I think they had experienced the same sequence of events without achieving faith, and I kind of did it for them, like the narrator in the A.A. Milne poem about Binker.

One last note.  As I was proofreading the last paragraph, I discovered I had typed “achieving space” for what I intended to type as “achieving faith.”  As I said in my last post, I seem to talk to myself.

Regeneration

September 24, 2013

I have encountered a version of what Richard Rohr talks about in today’s Daily Meditation, this “incurable wound at the heart of everything.”

I conceptualized it, when it came to me, as a very limited child who could not get back to godhead, or be easily guided back there by others on the outside.  We had to communicate to her from within and then give her a way of understanding how to fling herself into the arms of the Lord, the universe, however that concept is translated, so she could complete the cycle of death and rebirth.  Her remaining outside of that cycle, sort of marooned on the shoulder of the road, was a sinkhole for humanity generally, however small the hole actually was.  Like a small glitch in some hardware that crashes a computer.  That’s what I “got” when I peeled away all the layers of the onion.

Somehow we communicated to her to fling herself into the arms of a father — it was an emotional concept she did get, and her soul fluttered into the embrace she was able to expect would be there to receive her in a loving way.

What did I uncover?  Father Rohr teaches me that it is a universal issue that we contemplate and then accept as is, we don’t try to fix it.  So what was this disabled child version of mine all about?  Maybe it was a projection of “me” that I didn’t recognize.

But there’s more to it than that, I think.

I don’t think I’m the first to see what I saw or to come up with the kluge to get the child to crossover by conceptualizing God as a/the father.  I think it has been done before, and what was thought to be a helpful metaphor took on an unhelpful life of its own, to wit, some of the beliefs in our religions — God as a cranky old parent, for instance.

Is the wound incurable?  Can a sinkhole be filled?  How do we relate to black holes?

Father Rohr’s teaching makes me think that we need to accept that incurable wound as the entrance to the next phase, a version of “creative destruction” we must tolerate if not embrace.  We need to accept our fall during our physical lives, in order to open our hearts, and we need to accept our death when we move on from this world, we need to recycle — whether we conceptualize it as including reincarnation or just going back to source after a single lifetime.

But maybe Rohr is getting at something else, something that is just wound and not part of a cycle of death and resurrection (resurrection that, if not on earth, then puts us into eternity through reunion with God).  I don’t know.  But I will think about it — I am certainly willing to explore whether a prior conceptualization of mine was a step towards a further understanding.

But sometimes I think we’re just feeling different parts of the elephant, and that what I’ve felt has its own role in our clarifying our collective understanding, too.

Potential

September 10, 2013

I was reading about how every incarnation is related to God in the same way, and while that is true, we don’t call it enlightenment for nothing; a person’s awareness of their relationship with God is not the same in every incarnation.

Producing conservatives

August 20, 2013

I read Richard Rohr’s meditation this morning and thought, “Oh dear, it’s that preoccupation with the 1960s.”  I have read elsewhere a different version of this preoccupation, that the ’60s are somehow responsible for sex scandals in the Church.  I don’t think free love in the ’60s had anything to do with pedophilia.  I also really don’t believe that there were no conservatives, or people with the emotional profile Father Rohr is describing, before the impact of the 1960s.  But the dynamic he identifies may be true for some people, that I could see.  And while I’m at it, I’m going to make the point that Father Rohr’s concern, in another meditation, about our having to start from scratch in this life, melts away if we bring in the concept of reincarnation.  I know that I didn’t learn everything I know now through a process of consciously studying it in this lifetime.

Heartbreak

August 7, 2013

One of the puzzles I wonder about is whether deep faith comes out of having had one’s heart broken open by despair, or something similar, and then crying out to be heard.  Maybe faith can also come through positive experiences.  But I am not sure.

When I read a post like Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for today, I think, “He just doesn’t remember his lifetime in which his heart broke open, and in this lifetime he doesn’t believe in reincarnation.”  Which may be factually wrong, his heart may have broken open this time around in this world, I wouldn’t know and I’m not asking.

I admire Fr. Rohr for trying to teach faith with what Christianity offers, but I do worry about whether one really can get there from there.

On the other hand, Ramakrishna thought one could, said he had tried it out and it worked.  That’s some comfort to me.

Thinking you remember

December 23, 2012

I wrote a post here some time ago in which I referred to computer programming in Basic, to “if … then …” structure, and as I wrote it, I could feel myself not really remembering the details, in terms of the programming, of what I was writing about.  I’m not sure it mattered in that post, the concept I think I got right.

But that experience gave me a window into what some people apparently do when they continue to act as sources of wisdom after they’ve lost the knack of discerning in a way that gives access to profound understanding.

This is easier to see within a belief system that includes reincarnation, although maybe after I explain it that way, I will be able to see how to translate it into a system that doesn’t.

Somebody attains in a particular lifetime the ability to see beyond dualism, to no longer see things in opposition to each other but to see unity, to harmonize seemingly conflicting strands organically merging and to see unity without intellectual rationalizing.  I think what I’m referring to is what Richard Rohr describes much better in his book The Naked Now.

But they are missing something in their spiritual development and are reborn to explore that.  (I don’t think everybody develops themselves in exactly the same sequence.)  They grow up and they have a vague sense they should be offering wise counsel and they have a vague sense of how to do that.  And they have a fleeting thought that even if they don’t do it exactly right, it won’t matter in terms of whether their audience notices.

I think they don’t want to do what it would take to regain the ability to see in unity (again).  It may be that what they are looking to explore in this lifetime of theirs is the humility to relearn alongside of people learning how to discern in stereo for the first time.

That learning requires, I think, a huge amount of openness, and coming to that state of openness can be quite painful.  I suspect that for some reason the person in question just really doesn’t want to go through that, perhaps because they have a vague sense of what it would entail from having done it before, and they don’t have the vague sense that that’s just the point — to go back and do it again.

I’ve struggled with the explanation that maybe they have a good reason for not going through the learning process again, for not becoming more open.  In the end I think I made no determination on whether they could have done it successfully, because it became clear that, regardless, they weren’t agreeable with trying.  So somebody else took their place, in terms developing this particular talent.  And the original person tried to continue to offer wise advice, although now, in this lifetime, they were doing it while relying on their imperfect recollection of how to discern it.  And they did not pursue the lesson they had come to learn.

If I try to explain this without reference to past lives, I guess I would say it’s someone faking it, maybe after reading a description of how it’s done but not actually going through the process described.

For my own part, I’ve come to see that my lesson may be to learn that people don’t have to follow through on what they set out to do, that I have to stop believing their self-reporting that they will, and that eventually some other way of serving the greater good needs to be used.  Eventually, the “This is so stupid” aspect of the situation comes to trump any concern about whether finding another way to resolve it is “fair;”  who cares about who spilled the milk?  We can clean up a spill, regardless of who or what contributed to its occurrence, if cleaning it up is the important thing.

I’ve also learned not to wait around for the other person to perceive the situation as I do.  Jewel may sing about not being “made useless with despair,” I’m more worried about being made useless by waiting for something to happen that won’t.

Which brings me back to the issue of belief, or not, in reincarnation.  Because some of these people take the attitude that I should wait, that they really will get to it [in this lifetime].  What I see is that maybe they will get to it, but it will be during another lifetime.  That explains their sincerity and my disbelief.