Archive for the 'spiritual AAA' Category


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.


November 29, 2014

This is a reaction to Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for today.

The Meditation includes some instructions for how to have a spiritual experience.  One of the steps outlined involves crouching at one level of perception in order to produce another.

This assumes everybody (a) is going to understand how to implement the instruction, and (b) has adequate and sufficiently intact and undamaged “hardware” to do this safely.

Hello!  We can produce regression this way, a regression in which people get very stuck.  I’ve seen it in individuals, and I could argue that I see it reflected in Western culture more generally.

I wish people wouldn’t do this [that is, try to teach what this Meditation attempts to teach, especially from such a remove from those whom it is addressing].

I’m pretty sure I’ve expressed that before.

No one has to listen.

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.

Hawk’s gotta eat

October 3, 2013

So there was a smallish hawk in the tree above my compost heap this morning.  I think it was squawking, it might have been a juvenile, it didn’t have a very broadly developed tail.

There were small birds flying around near it, maybe trying to get it to leave or distract it from a nest?  Then I saw a small critter up in the tree, it looked black in the early morning light, and it seemed confused.  It tried climbing different ways in the tree.  I think its movement may have attracted the hawk’s attention, and the hawk went after it and, I think, got it.  I went inside, reminding myself that hawks have to eat.

I also found myself thinking about the Ralph McTell song “Heron Song,” in which he sings about wishing he had the heron’s wings, as a suggestion for how to rewrite the story I linked to in my post last night.  I think the girl needed to grow her own “spiritual wings” in order to get down safely from where she had inadvertently ended up in a spiritual quest gone awry.

Lighthouse, revisited

March 10, 2013

The song says, “I believe that the heart does go on.”  (That would be the theme from the Titanic movie, sung by Celine Dion, “The Heart Will Go On.”)  Well, it’s pretty clear to me that something goes on after we die.  Does it matter if we don’t believe that while we’re alive?

When my dad died, my mom didn’t realize he was dead until the person with her said so, took the pulse, etc.  She thought he was finally asleep comfortably.  I don’t think my dad knew he was dead either.

When my mother called me with the news of his death, I was already feeling inexplicable exhaustion.  I realized that going to bed was not an option, as I would need to help guide my mother through what came next.  But I lay down and asked Jordan to wake me if I didn’t hear the phone.  (It was about 9:00 at night.)  I got centered in myself, reached out for spiritual help, and to my surprise, the exhaustion increased.  And then I sensed my dad.  As if he were coming towards me, and I realized I must be a sort of bright light he could perceive because it was close by, and I communicated to him, “No, no, don’t come to me, turn yourself in that direction [indicating the direction towards which to rotate himself] and go with those nice folks, they will take you where you’re going,” and he did.  And he left and my severe exhaustion (which I had come to realize was his, and which was my first indicator that he needed redirection — I knew I could not have borne that exhaustion) lifted.

My dad had no belief in God, in an afterlife, in anything following death — I suspect he thought it would be oblivion.  I think he initially left his body to escape the pain he was in, but he died as he did that, there was no going back, and he needed to complete the journey.

So I think it’s important whether we believe that some part of us survives the death of our bodies.  We need to leave once we’re dead.  Too many souls of people who don’t realize they’re dead, or who don’t want to be dead (he’s not the first I’ve encountered), clutter the spiritual atmosphere on earth, and then we all have trouble hearing our guidance — hearing anything, for that matter, from beyond our world and space-time environment.  Ethereal pollution, maybe we could call it.  When our time on stage is up, we really do need to leave, go back stage and take off our costume and make-up, and go to that cast party that’s being held elsewhere, so that those of us still performing can hear.  A lack of belief (which overlaps with atheism) does have a downside to people other than the disbeliever, I think.

What I would submit as an idea is that people keep in mind the possibility that their consciousness will survive their death — just keep it in the back of the mind as a possibility.  So when you go, you have a set of directions in your back pocket, something already programmed into your GPS, so to speak, and you can really Go.

I wonder if Jesus was such a lighthouse, and if that role of his became confused with other narratives about his mission.

It has struck me that the apparently fairly common symptom of mental illness that the person believes they are Jesus can be resolved once we see that being a lighthouse is not a role unique to one person;  that would not make us Jesus, it would just make Jesus one of many (at least in that respect), a “many” that may include us (or not — I’ve met people who they were doing one thing spiritually, when it was pretty clear to me they were doing something else).  And it wouldn’t mean we share all of the attributes of other people, including Jesus, who are lighthouses.

I know plenty of people who “get ghosts,” and in many circles what I’ve just written would not raise any eyebrows.  I am also aware that to people who don’t “get ghosts,” what I wrote may seem a little far-fetched, unbelievable, the product of a “fevered” (or worse) mind.  I don’t think it is, and I put this post up in the hopes that it will help people who are rationalists and unbelievers have a rational, if still as yet unbelievable, road map whose directions they can follow at some future time, if they should find themselves in need of one.

I told this story to Gita some weeks ago, and she told me that providing this kind of redirection to a confused soul is some kind of recognized good deed in some belief systems.  That’s where I live, I guess, somewhere between the rationalist world around me, in which I am an outlier in these respects, and religious belief systems elsewhere, in which I would fit right in about this but probably not about plenty of other things.


February 16, 2013

President Obama was reelected, a Pope has resigned, and a meteor broke up above the earth, shattering glass, injuring people, but not destroying us like the dinosaurs.

I want to say, “The worm has turned,” but apparently that means that the worm rises up against its previous tormenters.  What I really mean is that something fundamentally has shifted, but more like as if the piece of clothing in the suitcase that was not only getting wrinkled but was also preventing the suitcase from being closed has been refolded and repacked.

To me it has actually seemed to be about the unclogging of a drain or the passing of a kidney stone or the coughing up of a foreign object or a way to provide aerodynamic lift to a very heavy object — or the search for the piece that doesn’t belong to a puzzle and getting it back to its appropriate box, kind of like helping E.T. to return home.  Actually all of them combined.

If I had any sense I would try to write this within a poem or cloak it as a spiritual story or otherwise disguise its origins and dress it up as art to make it more socially accessible and acceptable.  Maybe I will later.

And it’s not that I think President Obama’s presidency is some sort of apex in history or that there won’t be a new pope or that we won’t have more meteors or even asteroid impacts, but my sense is that something important has healed, some energy that needed to be released has been released, that something has been put into a more helpful posture.  It’s only a step, and it doesn’t impact me personally any more than it impacts anyone else personally, but I do have a positive reaction to all of these events.

Pathologizing different takes on reality

January 30, 2013

I wrote a draft of a letter for this week’s “Invitation to Dialogue” feature in the NYTimes, but decided it wasn’t really on point, so I am putting it here instead:

There’s a line in a Tom Lehrer song that goes, “When correctly viewed, Everything is lewd,” and I submit that when viewed from some perspectives, our consensus reality doesn’t make a whole lot more sense than other realities we might agree on.  So to me, it’s the level of distress, coupled with a detachment from most people’s sense of reality, that raises my concern about an individual’s mental health.  I would hate to see a psychopharmacological equivalent to religious persecution develop in the name of public health and safety concerns.

My first reaction was actually just to send the citation to John Nelson’s Healing the Split, which treats the subject better than I can.


December 16, 2012

It has been clear to me for a long time that a person’s perception of something like an insult depends on many factors besides the details of the actual episode.  Different people are, or have come to be, calibrated differently, not only for insults but for things like unmet expectations, deprivation, etc.  Some people shrug those things off, others are somewhat bothered, others take the event quite personally and spin stories about what happened (including morality tales) in order to soothe themselves about the event and the way the world (allegedly) works more generally.  Some seek not only to right the situation according their own sense of what should be and what “should have” happened, but to punish those who seem responsible for what happened that they didn’t like.

For many years I worked on resolving a situation that turned out to involve this issue.  Someone had been claiming that their consent to something (a something that had become problematic) had been coerced.  I duly investigated how to help them heal and get back on track from what had happened.  I came to see that while they may have felt coerced, in fact they actively chose to engage in a behavior that was necessary for the transaction to occur.  The “coercion” turned out to be more like a combination of manipulation and withholding material information, not what we would usually mean by coercion.

The targeted person in this transaction was unable to perceive this nuance or communicate the true details of what had happened.  Their sense of self was too fragile to acknowledge their contribution to what happened.  They couldn’t see that their being vulnerable to the manipulation, etc. was also a contributing factor — that which had damaged them enough to make them vulnerable to this means of obtaining consent was relevant, too.  But they had a need to not recognize their damage.

What had happened, apparently, was that a situation had come up in which they were offered something tempting but something they knew they should have refused.  It was offered (first) in a guise that seemed to relieve them of responsibility for going along with accepting.  Then, it was temporarily withdrawn, and then re-offered, only this time when it was offered, they had to take an action at their end to make the transaction occur.  At that point, they had become emotionally invested in having the thing that had been offered.  So taking the action affirmatively to obtain it was glossed over by them, and they reported the whole mechanism as “coercion.”  Throughout all this, they really didn’t know the details of what this transaction would entail.

It turned out to be a disaster from which they could not extricate themselves without asking for help.  Which they wouldn’t do for all kinds of reasons, including that they liked some aspects of the situation and had managed to shift some of its costs to others and to blind themselves to the damage to themselves and others. They also felt somewhat paralyzed to act differently, as if they were under hypnosis, in a way.

Eventually they and/or others realized the situation needed to be ended.  I discovered that resolution of this situation was made difficult by the fact that the help tailored to the situation as they described it did not help end the actual situation that had occurred; they did not mention, could not admit to, their own contribution, and that was relevant to what needed to be done to resolve the situation.

My reaction to having finally unearthed this wrinkle, to having discovered why we were having so much trouble resolving this issue, was relief and tiredness.  I had worked through the “treatment” multiple times, each time on the basis of the information I had, and some of those work-throughs were quite taxing.  I was glad I stuck with it long enough to understand what really had transpired that had lead to the problem.  I could see with compassion why the person was unable to share the details more accurately.  And I could pause long enough not to fall into venting any frustration I might have had in their direction.  I admit I was glad when we had accomplished what was needed and were done.

For me, part of the lesson all along was that this case did not actually involve anything unique or esoteric or special, despite the sense of the person involved that it and they were special and unique.  Seeing the problem more accurately was important — its power could be reduced once it was seen differently — it was kind of like the story of the moth fluttering in a headlight that looks like a signal that it’s not, looks like something more exciting than it is.

Of course, even with seeing the issue as it was and applying an appropriate treatment, we still had to clean up the damage and to dismantle what we could and to dispose of what we couldn’t, as safely as possible.  One of the tools we used is a tool I have been advocating in the wake of the shooting incident in Connecticut on Friday:  people less affected by a difficult situation bringing in as much positive energy as possible, in the form of love and caring, for example, to buoy those who are most directly impacted.  It’s like when people say, in the context of fashion, that a smile is the finishing touch on an outfit — bringing in positive energy is a help.  I sometimes think of it as bringing in an air freshener, or opening the windows, in a stuffy and sour-smelling space.  Sometimes the whole world seems to me to be such a place.

Freeing souls

December 9, 2012

I was reading Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for today, which begins with a passage from Isaiah:  “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me . . . he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”  Isaiah 61:1

Father Rohr connects this to Jesus’ ministry in a sort of metaphorical way, but sometimes I think what Jesus was really trying to do was to get unstuck some people’s souls that were more literally trapped, that his mission was similar to that of a traditional shaman but he used other methods.

I think Jesus’ teachings were in a sense secondary to a more targeted mission of figuring out why all these souls were getting stuck in their development.  I also think his strategies for helping people get unstuck have been in part misunderstood, that accommodations and study aids, as it were, have been mistaken for the real deal, but for me, his mission was hugely important, even if I don’t see it as Christians do.  I think people were having trouble connecting viscerally to “God” and I think thinking of “God” in the terms provided by Judaism and Christianity have been ways for helping people to try to connect to the universe more effectively and successfully.

The problem now, I think, is that people have gotten too wrapped up in literal interpretations of devices meant only for opening up the heart.  Once the heart has been opened, I think more abstract conceptualizations are then available and that we should be open to them.

The following really has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but I’ve been wanting to link to this song for awhile.  It’s “Jesus” by Amos Lee.

Requesting help

November 18, 2012

I had a little encounter this morning with a fraudulent email purporting to be from PayPal, and in trying to forward it as such to the real PayPal, I inadvertently opened a link in it.  Which I then quickly closed and did not supply information through, so I am told no harm was done.  But it gave me some insight into why our world seems to be set up in such a way that we (usually?) need to request help from God, the universe, etc. instead of just receiving it unbidden.

(Sometimes I do think we get help unbidden, but I suspect that’s the result of something else, that we’re something like a third-party beneficiary of some other transaction we are unaware of.  In any case, there are plenty of cases in which we want help and don’t get it.  And plenty in which we ask and still don’t get it, which I believe happens when the help we want doesn’t serve our greater good or a larger greater good.)

In a system in which benign or benevolent forces connect with us automatically, so, too, can forces we experience as difficult (in common parlance, “evil”).  There needs to be a pause in the system so that we have choice about whether we wish to invite a force, spirit, or “demon” into our selves — that allows us to say “No” to an overture without that transaction of saying “No” itself allowing that force in.  If the pause is built into the system to protect us in that way, then it’s also going to be there as part of the structure in our relations with other forces, forces we do want to invite into our selves.  We will need to make an active choice to invite a benign force in.  Otherwise, any force can come in at any time.  And it’s clear to me that some forces are an unfortunate match for human beings.  While this system of needing to ask is cumbersome and frustrating and even difficult to use, the alternative proved to be worse.