Archive for category philosophy
The Enchanted Forest of Childhood
There was a wooded lot two houses down from my home in the neighborhood where I grew up. We called it “the woods.” At times, the lot became an enchanted forest. This was especially true when I invited a friend to play in the woods with me. One of my friends shared my enthusiasm for vintage horror films. We transformed into monsters and created our own scripts using the enchanted forest as our stage.
One afternoon, I remember playing Frankenstein to my friend’s Wolf Man. I can still clearly remember scenes from this “play” forty years later. When our time together had almost expired, an invisible alarm clock sounded inside me. We had to return to my house. My friend’s mother would be calling any minute to arrange a pickup. I stood at the border of the woods, one foot in the wilds and the other on the neatly mowed grass of an adjacent home. This is the thought that ran through my head:
Next year we’ll be in seventh grade and we won’t be able to do this anymore.
Another alarm clock had sounded, only the chimes of this one struck an infinitely more somber note. The chimes said the time had arrived to put this chapter of my life behind me. I was not in the least bit happy at the news.
The Paradox of Growing Up
Growing up is often associated with pain, and I am certainly no stranger to this experience. Growing up is scary. We have to separate from the umbilicus of parents, stand on our own two feet, compete for a niche in society, establish loving relationships, become parents, and face death at the end of our journey. Truth be told, I’ve never really wanted to grow up. To this day, I am not a big fan of “putting away childish things.” But it seems growing up is something a human being cannot avoid if he or she desires to lead a constructive, creative life.
Here’s a trick I’ve learned that makes the medicine of growing up a lot easier to take—ladle in generous doses of daily joy.
You may be thinking (or laughing to yourself and at me): How do I do that with the uncomfortable pressures and time crunch of work and family responsibilities? Relax. We’ll get to the answer, but first, we need a little more background.
I get stuck creatively and psychologically if I’m not experiencing joy on some kind of a regular basis.
The Power of Joy
Obviously, joy is a precious and elusive commodity. It takes effort and a multi-faceted strategy to experience it. Joy is the elixir of life in my universe. It is the oil that allows this machine called me to run smoothly. When I’m feeling joy, I’m more creative. My work reaches a higher level. I am more motivated. I want to expand my heart and mind. I want to do what it takes to reach my goals. I am more equipped to help others. When I’m feeling joy, work becomes play. I’m back in the enchanted forest with my sixth grade friend. Resistance evaporates in the presence of joy.
Where does this joy come from? It comes from within me. It comes from within you. The only way to find the joy that does not depend on something outside of ourselves is to establish daily practices that uncover this innate joy. Since we are all unique individuals, we have to find the way to tap into this joy, or source, that we resonate with, that works for us. The only generalization we can make is: JOY IS WITHIN YOU, waiting to be discovered, if you haven’t discovered it already.
I’ve had to go out of the mainstream to find my joy. It hasn’t been easy, because I’m a very conventional person. Yet, something inside me kept pushing me to find an undefinable something more. I was always attracted by the idea of finding God within me, but the Eastern inspired approach of dissolving the ego never remotely interested me. And it is obviously impractical and inappropriate for survival and success in our Western culture. I would add that it’s also a mentally unhealthy approach.
Thankfully, I’ve found that any ego destructive approach is totally unnecessary. Through my research and personal experience, I’ve learned that consciousness has evolved beyond the concept of ego dissolution. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy ego. We need one in our Western civilization to survive and enjoy our lives. I’ve found a path that honors both the individual self and the universal self. It’s a path of embodied consciousness. It embraces both transcendent and every-day awareness.
You Are More Than You Think You Are
The foundation of my practice is meditation. It is my gateway to a reservoir of inner peace, joy, and love.
What do you want? Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Anything is possible. Peace is possible. Love is possible. Joy is possible. Find it. It is waiting for you in the depths of your heart.
David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copywriting, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.
This is a guest blog from a Swedish man who writes under the pen name, Fomtriok. I find his writing to be profound and insightful, even more so than published books I’ve read on the human condition. I’ve included his short bio at the end of the post. Enjoy!
There is this disposition that some people have, but most people lack. If one does lack it, it is the simplest thing in the world getting it back. Because everyone had it once. It doesn’t really demand an outward action to get it back, but it rather demands the courage to step out of line and accept having it.
Let us get started.
Children – they live their lives from the inside out. They start focusing on one thing, then they start trying to understanding one thing; playing with, lifting up, measuring, biting, fumbling with – one thing. And then they move to the next. Part by part they get to know their own selves, their room, their house, their universe.
Most adults, however, live their lives from the outside in. They start out by simply acquiring some locale in which to live. Thus, they start with the shell. And they start with a schedule that is empty of activities. Then they ask themselves, ”What do I put in this shell of a house? In this shell of a schedule?” And one by one, they start filling the house with objects, and possibly even a family. Gradually, they start filling their schedule with activities, musts and obligations. From the outside in.
That is no way to live life. That life is unnatural. It is a mere imitation and parody of life. It is the life of a machine. People who live like that often find themselves unhappy and ask themselves, “Why am I unhappy?” The question is ironically a manifestation of the very problem. They ask themselves, “What do I lack? What is it that I have not yet put into my life, or schedule?” So they try to add even more things, or activities, to fill the void, and “fix” what they assume is the problem; that a certain thing, or event is lacking.
But they are doing it all wrong. It is not so much that they add things, but rather how and why they add things. The underlying problem – sickness even – is that they are living from the outside in: They add things only after careful consideration. That is not life. That is work. Life happens when you turn the whole thing upside down, and start from the inside. Then you won’t even notice whether you are adding or removing things, because all that consumes your attention is primal and unaltered curiosity.
Those souls who drive the world forward, in the small or the big sense, never abandon the way of the child. They never stop living their lives from the inside out. They never stop focusing childishly and joyfully on the small “toy” – on that singular point of interest. They could care less whether others perceive their curiosity as weird or normal. And only from that standpoint do they gradually work their way outwards into the unknown, constantly playing, constantly putting together and taking apart; disassembling and reassembling, over and over, in an infinite loop. Until the whole room has a role in the game. And then the child starts over. With a new room, or the same room from an entirely new perspective. From the inside out. And the game is on again.
That is a true life. It is the only life that is happy and free. It is simple – even when it is complex. It is irrelevant whether your point of curiosity might be pottery, or explaining a complex scientific phenomena. It is still an utterly simple life.
When you are a child, there is no arrogance. You do not drag others down with cynicism. Nor do you let cynics drag you down. You merely play. At the end of the day, that is all life is; a vast playground for us to fill with meaning.
My name is Oscar Herrgård. I am Swedish. I am interested in meeting fascinating and kind people, who think well, but also act and don’t just talk.
I want to share my story. This journal is simply one of my windows to the world. Already long ago I decided that the only life I want to live, is one where I wholeheartedly dedicate myself to solving some of the greatest challenges in our world (most importantly climate change and socioeconomic unfairness). Life is simply wasted if you don’t spend it doing what is most valuable to you. Don’t become; Rather be. Don’t want or plan; Rather be. Incorporate your ideals in the small detail here and now. That is how you move mountains.
Here is a vision of my future self and a vision for anyone else who desires to achieve something along these lines:
It is not just another day.
I swim in the ocean of bliss.
I merge with the beauty that I am and the beauty that we are. I sing the body ecstatic. I consciously raise my vibration out of the ordinary into the extraordinary.
I am alive with the wellness of Being.
I am no longer bound by the constraints of frustration and the boredom of routine. This is the new world I have been seeking. In this moment, amidst the peace and the flow, nothing else matters.
The problems of the world don’t exist. My perceived problems don’t exist because the wall of separation is breaking down—like the Berlin Wall.
The minor irritations don’t exist because everything is taken care of in this moment of sublime peace and bliss.
Yes, it is possible to live in an ocean of tranquility; to drink divine nectar; to radiate joy to every person I meet; to live beyond prescribed norms.
The Heart of Life opens. I jump from my perch of uncertainty and the light opens its arms to me. It is a good light. It will not hurt me. I trust it will take me where my heart truly wants to go.
I am not alone. I fear no evil. I have faith. I have trust. I believe in myself and the essential goodness of my creator.
I am love. I am beauty. I am everything I want to be and beyond.
There is no end to the depths and heights of this glorious reality.
Something is prompting me to write this, even though I’m far from an expert on the subject. I’m writing about an inkling. This mysterious prompting tells me that the inkling is a precursor to the direct knowledge of the something prompting me. If I’m confusing you, I promise to be more clear in what follows.
What I’ve heard, read, and now feel strongly, is that each one of us carries a seed of the divine within us. And, believe it or not, the ultimate purpose of human life is to discover this seed, water it, and watch it bloom into a gorgeous individual expression of the divine. Please don’t be put off by the word “divine”. I have to use a word to describe this miracle. It can be described by many names, so I invite you to choose one that you feel comfortable with.
I’m going to go way out on a limb and try to describe what the divine means to me. First of all, it’s a feeling or combination of feelings rather than an idea. It is peace, joy and love. It is a sense of “all rightness.” It is the certain knowledge that the divine is benevolent. It wants what is good for me. It does not want to hurt me. I feel this very deeply, although my mind often tries to tell me not to trust it.
When we access the divine within, we find that it is a place of peace. It is a refuge from the troubled world outside. We can access this inner world through a daily practice of meditation. In the case of an awakened being, the divine can be accessed by the simple awareness of what’s happening in the present; an awareness of everything that is arising from within and the deeper sense of peace, joy and love underneath what is arising.
Accessing this place on a daily basis keeps me sane.
The divine is so much more than mere words can express. It is so much more than I’ve expressed here. That’s all I have to say for now.
Oh, wait. I promised to talk about the light streaming through my body that I described at the end of my last blog “Innate Goodness.” I’ll try to keep this brief, because I know I’ve already blabbed for too long.
Simply put, I can say that this experience was the dawn of the “Sun in my Heart Rising” as Saniel and Linda-Groves-Bonder say as facilitators of embodied awakening in their Waking Down in Mutuality™ courses.
This interview and a spicy excerpt from an early chapter appear at Fang-Tastic Books; a well-known book review site.
Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to write in this particular genre?
I believe it started with my struggle with the forces of darkness and light within myself. A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes. At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with the forces of good and evil within himself and the world around him. The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature. The supernatural powers and ramped-up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods. He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes.
I believe everyone has the potential to become a divinely human being. I’ve been a ‘spiritual seeker’ for most of my adult life. Awakening isn’t easy, but I’ve found it’s worth the effort. What happens for Devon is happening for me in a much subtler way without the super-human powers, but happily, minus the need to drink human blood.
What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?
I’m fascinated by the supernatural powers of my vampire characters. They are very powerful beings with the capacity to dramatically impact the world around them positively or negatively.
Please tell us about your most recent release.
My latest release is Scarlet Ambrosia. I’m working on a sequel because I love the characters. Scarlet Ambrosia is the second novel I’ve published. The first one is a humorous Science Fantasy thriller titled “Three Days to Darkness.”
Do you have a special formula for creating characters’ names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
In most cases, I try to make a character’s name show something about the character’s personality and traits. I try not to make it too obvious. At other times, a character’s name just comes to me and I trust that the name is the right one. It’s interesting that the name often corresponds to a character’s traits by coincidence.
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
The antagonist of the story, Egon Schiller, was the hardest for me to write. This is often the case in the stories I write. There is always a tendency to make the villain two-dimensional rather than a three-dimensional person with some good traits and intentions. I feel that the most believable villains are people who have, for one reason or another, given in to their dark side. A good example of this is Darth Vader.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
Of all the characters in the story, I most enjoyed writing the female love interest, Mathilde de Roche. Her strength, heroism, and magnetism came naturally as I created her and as I wrote her throughout the story. That came as a surprise. I am, after all, a guy. Like most men, I find women unfathomable in the real world.
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
I participated in several online screen writing and novel-writing courses offered through the writers program at UCLA. Professional writers taught these courses. The teachers stressed that the most successful stories have memorable characters in them. I learned to create my characters before writing the story using a detailed character template. I’ve found that knowing what makes my characters “tick” helps make them more interesting and believable.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
I spent a week in Sedona, Arizona exploring the town’s art galleries, architecture and the energy vortexes.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
When I stumbled into my career in marketing communications, I found writing was the most enjoyable part of the job.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Here’s a spicy excerpt from Chapter Two:
This woman was beyond beautiful. She was exquisite—no signs of breast implants or a nose job and no tattoos or piercings marred the natural beauty of her face and body. Her creamy skin felt like the finest silk to Devon’s probing hands. He unclasped her bra. His loins tingled at the sight of her full breasts. He caressed her erect nipples. She moaned.
The foreplay had started slowly with exploratory kisses and caresses. Now he could barely wait to enter her. Devon removed the last fragments of clothing from their bodies. The smell of her perfume, the feel of her body, and the sensation of her soft hands on his buttocks almost made him explode prematurely.
Being inside this woman was like nothing he had experienced before. Devon lost all sense of physical boundaries. The sensual pleasure of joining with Mathilde seemed to fill every cell in his body. He was only vaguely aware of moving inside her. Their rising passion consumed him. She kept repeating something in French. His back arched. He climaxed. The pleasure was too intense for his senses to bear. He lost consciousness.
He woke up next to her on the bed. She stroked his hair with one hand, propping up her head on one elbow.
Feeling embarrassed, Devon shook his head, unable to comprehend the reason for his lapse of consciousness.
“I’m sorry if I scared you. It’s the first time I’ve ever passed out during sex.”
“You didn’t scare me, ma chère. It only confirms what I was afraid of.”
“If we go on having sex, it will kill you.”
He laughed nervously. Had the sex been good enough to cause a blackout?
“I can think of worse ways to die,” he said, covering up for his discomfort.
She kept looking at him studiously.
“You kept whispering something to me in French. It sounded like: ‘Vous êtez celui que j’ai choisi.’ I think that means: ‘You are the one I chose’”
A whisper of red colored her cheeks.
“Your French is better than you admit.”
“I don’t understand. We’ve just met, Mathilde.”
“Don’t worry. It’s just a game I play with myself. You remind me of someone I once knew: a handsome, high-minded young man with a sensitive heart.”
“I’m flattered, but it sounds a little more like a fixation than an innocent game to me.”
“Please don’t play the amateur psychologist.”
She pushed him off the bed with a movement almost too fast to see. One second he lay facing her. The next thing he knew, he lay on his back on the floor. Her sudden display of uncanny strength and speed frightened him. Clambering to a sitting position, he began to collect his clothes from the bed.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to alarm you. Are you injured?”
“I’m still in one piece.”
“I actually do study martial arts, in answer to your earlier question. Sometimes I forget my own strength. Let me help you with your things. Are you sure I haven’t hurt you?”
He had the impression she was lying.
“I’m fine. I just think it might be better to leave now. Who knows what could happen if you toss and turn in your sleep?”
“I apologize for leading you on,” Mathilde said. “I only intended to meet you in the bar and talk with you. I thought of it as a minor indulgence, to take my mind off things for a while. I let my curiosity about you cloud my judgment. Then, meeting you face to face, you had much more of an effect on me than I anticipated. I lost control of myself.”
“Is that something that happens often?”
“No,” she answered curtly. “I’m not that shallow.”
Devon’s thoughts and emotions spun like pinwheels. Part of him wanted to bolt out the door and finish dressing in the hallway. Another part, the accountant, needed explanations; wanted to analyze and quantify Mathilde de Roche. In the end, his own curiosity coupled with her charisma kept him rooted by the bedside.
“I’ve studied martial arts myself. I’ve never seen anyone move as quickly as you just did.”
She continued to regard him with a serious expression for a full minute before responding.
“You should leave now, Devon. I won’t be offended.”
The transmission of an awakened human being can be life transforming and life enhancing. It is like cosmic orange juice–a vitamin for the soul, water for the seed, nectar for a heart thirsty for joy, wholeness, well-being and fulfillment.
In his book, Healing the Spirit/Matter Split, spiritual awakener Saniel Bonder writes:
“As [students] lose more conceptual, belief-based faith in their old pursuits, the pilot light of their intrinsic being becomes more accessible to the catalytic heat of our transmission. With a sufficient exposure to that energy, Being itself is then able to initiate the awakening and trans-formative process within the individual. The results are no less profound than that of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.”
One of the major obstacles to personal and spiritual growth is an inability to admit that we need something outside of ourselves to truly activate and accelerate the process of self-realization. That something is hard to define and harder still to find. We can admit that we need family, friends, a spouse or boy/girlfriend. We can accept the help of a trained mental health counselor when our limited internal and external resources are not enough to meet the difficulties life hurls at us. Yet it usually takes a rare form of desperation to seek the help and wisdom of a spiritual teacher.
It is only when everything else fails to satisfy that we are ready to go beyond the boundaries of convention and delve into the realm of the Spirit.
This point of extreme desperation is the beginning. It may require a change from one teacher to another. The deep need for spiritual nourishment may begin with curiosity and deepen with time, perhaps lifetimes, until the time is right to dive deeply. You may audition innumerable teachers and philosophies until you walk into the right room. Once you walk through that door, however, it soon becomes clear that what you hear and feel are what you are looking for. The transmission and the words fit like a glove—perfect for your needs. In time, you won’t hear everything that you want to hear, but that is another stage of the process.
I am grateful to have found in bountiful measure the cosmic orange juice that my heart craves. May it be so for you.
Blessings on your journey.
I’m on a Jet Blue flight to San Francisco. The purpose of my journey is a two-day “personal retreat” in Sonoma with my teachers, Saniel and Linda-Groves Bonder. The retreat is part of an intensive ten-month course entitled “The White-Hot Yoga of the Heart.”
I’m concerned about filling the two days with Saniel and Linda with enough meaningful material to discuss. It will be just the three of us. No other students will be present, which is usually the case with the other “in person” retreats and the tele-course seminars. I won’t be able to snooze or go off into my own little world. There will be no opportunities to take “time off” during our sessions. Gulp.
We’ll spend some time working on marketing projects that I’ve initiated and we’ll take a trip to the beach or the mountains. We’ll do some meditation. This still leaves a lot of time to fill in two days, including lunch and dinner.
We’ll talk about “my stuff,” or in more dignified terms, “my process.” As I’ve grown on this path, I’ve become less inclined to talk about myself, yet some self-talk is necessary. It’s a challenge to decide what is worth talking about and what isn’t. I suppose it’s hard to know in advance what to talk about, but it makes sense to come ready with a few notes. When push comes to shove, I think the shotgun approach is the best way to go: just blurt out whatever comes up on the topics I’ve come prepared to discuss. The golden nuggets will spew forth in the midst of the dross.
I’ve learned to try to listen to feedback and not sit there thinking about what to say next. For me, that’s easier said than done.
Lately, I’ve developed the habit of saying succinctly what little I have to say. This new habit only exacerbates the problem of how to fill the time. My teachers are experts in filling the awkward gaps in conversation. Still, I feel responsible for coming to the retreat with enough material to fill the space. I’m not exactly brimming over with material.
I’ll just have to be cool and see what happens. I’ll fill you in on the flight home.