The Muse

Tuesday, November 30, 2021



Which do you choose, the front row or the third?

This picture tickles me, that's the reason I am posting in again.

Think of a man who wants to win the favors of his lady love. He attempts to improve his appearance. He builds up his body. He changes his behavior and practices techniques to charm the object of his intention. And so, it is with spirituality. It is not what you do that brings it to you. What matters is what you are and what you become.


Anthony De Mello tells us, “Those things within you that you struggle to fix just need to be understood. If you understood them, they would change.”


Easier said than done, my good man.


No wonder people ask the age-old question, “What’s the meaning of life?”


My daughter asked that question recently, and it made me wonder why people ask it. Wondering about the meaning of life infers that they see no purpose in it, and it prompts such books as “Man’s Search for Meaning,” which usually happens in the face of suffering. 


Frolicking people rarely stop laughing to ask that question. They are having too much fun. 


Back up a bit. We know too much. We know that life comes and goes. We know that happiness comes in spurts. We know that what brings us happiness one minute can be gone the next. People come into our lives and leave. Pets die. People die. Diseases come. Sickness happens. We know there is suffering.


And we know that there is joy.


Perhaps that is what we signed up for when we came here, all of it. Maybe we did come here for a reason. We joined the playground hoping to play and got hit in the head by a flying baseball.



Remember Grandma in the movie Parenthood? She told of a carnival ride that traveled up then down, and she was thrilled by it. “Oh, what fun,” she proclaimed, “we went up, we went down.” 


“Nice story Grandma,” said the Steve Martin character.


His wife got it. Grandma was talking about the roller coaster of life. 



What if?

What if our religion was each other?

If our practice was our life?

If prayer was our words?

What if the Temple was the Earth?

If holy water—the rivers, lakes and oceans?

What if meditation was our relationships?

If the Teacher was life?

If wisdom was self-knowledge.?

If love was the center of our being?

--Ganga White

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Stop Fixing Yourself, Wake Up, All is Well


"With the simple act of reaching out our hand to the Universe, we become partners with life." --Julia Cameron


Ah yes. As my years have become more, I see that time is our most cherished possession—if you can possess time, which you can't. It goes its merry way, and either we relish in it or fritter it away.


No more frittering.


However, that does not mean that we don't cloud gaze or watch the sunset- we had the most amazing one last night. It was like a tequila sunrise (sunset), layered, starting with a brilliant fuchsia and ending in gold. We wool-gather, we take in forest walks, sometimes called "Forest Bathing." I've read that three days in the forest will clear the pipes for a week. And river rifting? A week on the river can be life-changing. One soldier who had shrapnel in his head and would only say, "F-you," would, by the end of a week kayaking, speak complete sentences. And they were clean ones. 


I just dipped into Julia Cameron's latest book—you may remember her book out ten years ago, The Artist Way, where she introduced the idea of "Morning Pages." Writing Morning Pages allows you to write out the crap so the good stuff can come through. Morning Pages are where you can whine and complain, and no one can hear you. Only the page listens. 


Cameron also introduced the idea of the Artist's Date—where once a week, you take yourself to a place that inspires you. Your date could be a fabric store or a museum. Oh, I remember, as a kid, I had two favorite stores in town. One was the saddle shop, where I smelled the leather just walking past its open doors, and it raised my spirits. The other was the art supply store, where I salivated over the paints, brushes, and drawing paper. 


Cameron's new book is Walking in This World. In it, she adds a third to-do to her list. It is a once-a-week, 20- minute walk.


"We walk as we live, a step at a time, and there is something in gently walking that reminds me of how I must live if I am to savor this life that I have been given." –Julia Cameron.



Well, kiddos, here I am with my head in the clouds again and feel inspired again after spending a day writing another blog post that I discarded.


On that post, I was inspired by Brene's Brown, who said, "Vulnerability is not as hard, scary, or dangerous as reaching the end of our lives and asking ourselves, ‘What if I had shown up?’"


So, I wondered how to show up. How to tell one's truth—you know truth varies with the one telling it. I began writing about a couple of people who showed up and spoke their truth. However, it was dismal stuff. The stuff the media likes, the stuff that keeps us afraid. Do I want to spend the end of my life there?




I know people are worried, afraid, and disheartened. I do not mean to minimize their fear. We think Covid is here to stay, darn, but think of it this way, Diphtheria is here to stay too. Polio is here to stay and a pile of other diseases, yet we spend little time worrying about them. This Covid could enter into that realm, cropping up once in a while, unthought-of at other times.


I am sorry for all the ills that have happened on our planet. I am sorry we have injured each other. One quote by Dorothy Thompson, the columnist I was writing about, said that the rise of Nazis had nothing to do with class, race, or profession. Nazism, she insisted, had to do with something more innate. "Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi. But those driven by fear, resentment, insecurity, or self-loathing? They would always fall for fascism.*


I know we inherited most of our beliefs from our well-meaning parents, school, society, and who knows what all, probably from our DNA. We have been conditioned. And so, we seek out supporting evidence to support our beliefs. Yep, that is the human condition. 


But listen to Anthony De Mello, "Stop Fixing Yourself," Wake up, all is well. 


His point?


Wake up, Be aware, notice 


We are not a problem to be solved. We have not understood this, so we continue to be anxious, insecure, fearful, resentful, unforgiving, and aggressive. In short, we suffer.


Yet all around us is divinity within easy grasp. If we discover that divinity, the challenges we struggle to fix will fix themselves.


That is grace.


The codicil on DeMello's idea is, it requires being aware of what's going on inside us. Awareness wakes us to the truth—which awareness is guaranteed to do. 


Joe Dispenza says something similarly taken from a scientific point of view. He says that when we are aware when we notice what we are thinking and rethinking (he says 95% of the thought we think today we thought yesterday), but if we can change our thought patterns from survival to creative, the body heals itself. 


Could it be that we have a base of happiness—somewhere deep inside us? I don't know where it is located, but I believe it is there. When we are truly happy, we have a glimpse into that wellspring that lives inside us, but we are afraid it won't last, and we quickly cover it with debris.



"It's enough for you to be simply watchful and awake," wrote De Mello. Awareness, he said, releases reality to change you. By simply being aware, all that is false and neurotic within you will drop, and your eyes will open to the divinity surrounding you. You will suddenly see that all is well. That you are already happy, and always have been. You are at peace right now and always have been—you just didn't know it.


Isn't that what people who have had a near-death experience proclaim?


Isn't it fascinating how our minds will reject such thoughts? Yeah, right, that can't be true. That isn't in my experience. What's ya mean, I'm ok? That's BS. I've gone to therapy for 20 years. They have dug deep into my past, childhood, hurts, disappointments, and trauma. Oh yes, trauma is the worst. I've been traumatized. Happy? Snappy. Pfiff.


I saw the most beautiful baby at the grocery store yesterday. Her mom was selecting some fruit, and she was sitting in her stroller, smiling at me. Do you remember your babies or someone else's kicking their little feet and giggling? You might say they are innocent and don't know the world's problems or the ills that are out to get us. No, they don't. 


They are enjoying being alive.


 *What is fascism in simple terms?

Fascism is a system of government led by a dictator who typically rules by forcefully and often violently suppressing opposition and criticism, controlling all industry and commerce, and promoting nationalism and often racism.