On and off, joy and sorrow, alive and dead, heads and tails, all beginnings and endings, sides of the same coin. I am one alone and in reality a part of the whole of creation. I am perfectly comfortable being nothing and yet long to be someone’s everything and for them to be everything to me. What more could one desire? There is nothing so powerful as nothing.
“Strange that the individual is the only power that is left. Although his power is zero, zero has great power when one understands it and knows where to place it.” – from a letter to Henry Miller from Thomas Merton
This captured me, apprehended me if you will. I resemble that remark! Am I properly placed? Do you understand me? It matters little in the grand scheme. “What you think of me is none of my business.” I couldn’t find who said this first, I do however have experience of it’s mental health benefits.
I am inundated with the immeasurable immensity of emersion in everything I am capable of observing as I stumble along. There is an ache, a longing, an itch that needs scratching. All is well, yet far from it. People seem to be scrambling for relief, to be thrilled, excited, satisfied. I for one am not immune from the hunger for these, I am learning to recognize them as palliatives and not the wholesome soul food I need.
I am discovering though that I am only sated through generosity, which results from the perception of gratitude for the ultimate Grace offered me from God.
“God Loves us irrespective of our merits and whatever is good in us arises from His love, not from our own doing.” Thomas Merton
So there you have it I am everything to Him and and am nothing without Him
In humility which is not of me abiding in His Love
I contend that it is not that we can’t handle it, it is that we find value in something more soothing to our ego, whether the perception that our tribe is victorious or that our most recent post is well received.
Thomas Merton writes- “What we desire is not the truth, but rather that our lie should be proved “right” and our iniquity be vindicated as “just” This is what we have done to pervert our natural, instinctive appetite for truth.” He goes on. “No wonder we hate. No wonder we are violent.”
I really don’t believe this is true for all, but I have been curious, perhaps stupefied, at people’s lack of critical thinking and willingness to believe what is being fed to them from sources which time and time again have been caught perpetrating a concerted effort to influence instead of providing accurate information. A seeming comfort with outrage and discontent.
From my perspective and experience, the pain of staying the same must overcome the pain of change, I must perceive value in opening my mind to alternative, and I contend, time honored ways of being. “The best part of banging my head against the brick wall is that I can stop.”- Unknown
It is my radical hope and prayer that any who find themselves questioning, during this opportunity to reflect on the current state of society, will consider what they may find in their heart is that they have been wrong are following a path pleasing to their natural desires, which is merely and ultimately short lived. The results of which are completely unsatisfying.
I want and am grateful for what I have and that is all I need!
Change! It occurred to me that the header of my blog wasn’t quite right. I am changing things up to better reflect, what the primary focus is for my writing and, perhaps generate some interest.
Recovery is then possible!
This I believe, is, what it’s all about for me. In addition, I also think that all of us can benefit from the ideas and experience found in the recovering community. It is my contention that we’re all recovering from something, or should be. I have found that I concoct or have themes revealed to me in contemplation of what’s rattling around in my noggin. A reoccurring theme is an idea that from the beginning of my recovery to now, I have been enrolled in an intensive course in self-examination.
This however wasn’t possible while I was consumed with what I was chasing. Obsessed really. It wasn’t until I had exhausted every mechanism of self-preservation and driven to the point of suicide ideation that I was ready to be Done.
But wait there’s more, much more! There was, though I wasn’t capable of acknowledging it at the time, a divine intervention at play. As I have become more adept with honest self examination, I now realize that I was being led the whole time.
These are a few things present now as I contemplate how my perception has been altered, my “mind” had been changed, as the result of paying attention to what’s happening now.
The dazzling myriad of reflections of light reaching my eyes, exposing all that I can perceive with my natural vision. The noises that reach my ears, from the fan in my room, to the cars passing on the street below, and the bells from the church on the corner, summoning the faithful to services. The caw of the crow and the delightful song of the chickadee and sparrow. The aromas which reach my nose, the delicious meal being prepared in the unit adjacent to mine. The feel of the floor against my feet, the seat of the chair holding me up. Something else is present, that I can’t quite describe, a sense that hasn’t a name that I know, it’s not extrasensory. A spirit or soul sense, one that was calloused and could not be felt, due to my endeavor to have my more immediate cravings satisfied, or being consumed by crippling fear of things which have nothing to do with what’s happening now. It is at once a longing and supernatural peace.
The real violence exerted by propaganda is this: by means of apparent truth and apparent reason, it induces us to surrender our freedom and self-possession. It predetermines us to certain conclusions, and does so in such a way that we imagine we are fully free in reaching them by our own judgment and our own thought. Propaganda makes up our mind for us, but not in such a way that it leaves us the sense of pride and satisfaction of a person that has made up their own minds. And, in the last analysis, propaganda achieves this effect because we want it to. This is one of the few pleasures left to the modern human: this illusion that we are thinking for ourselves when, in fact, someone else is doing the thinking for us. And this someone is not a personal authority, the great mind of a genial thinker, it is the mass mind, the general “they” the anonymous whole.” Thomas Merton
I have read that if one has a particular world-view, they search for and find evidence in support of that view, and are satisfied that they are right. In addition they will ignore, dismiss and outright condemn any evidence contrary to their supposition. This to me is incredibly unhealthy and is at the root of the great divide in the state of discourse today.
The reason I am pondering this at this time is that I have, lately, been inundated with all kinds of contradictory images and supposed accurate evidence of a particular view that isn’t supported by what I have seen with my own eyes. I am no longer interested in allowing my ego to have me believe that I am in the right and shouldn’t entertain opposing viewpoints.
I spent almost my entire adult life thinking that I knew what was best for me, which nearly led to my leaving this existence at an early age. Well lucky (or maybe not) for me and the rest of the world, I had to come to grips with the idea that I am probably and more times than not WRONG. I needed to open my mind and be willing and honest enough to consider that my beliefs and behaviors were self-defeating. It is my contention today that suffering is the result of resisting “what is”
Fall/Autumn has come to a sudden halt and winter has arrived a bit early is what is happening in my neck of the woods. I have developed a practice that includes relying multiple sources. Taking time everyday in devotion to God and Christ, reading praying and meditating. In addition I need to get outside. “Growth does not occur in my comfort zone.”
It has become something that I am very interested in, that being, we need to be able to talk to one another, beyond the shelter of our devices. Alas here we are separated from each other by a virus that from my perspective has practically eliminated the flu. What’s really going on? Do we really have all the facts? Are we being given accurate information? What is the actual objective? Divide and Conquer?
Is everyone welcome at your table? Even those with whom you disagree?
I am instructed to love my enemies. I have been giving this quite a bit of consideration lately. We of course find it easy to love those that we’re attracted to in one way or another. Shared values, interests, mindset, world view, etc. The list goes on. The challenge becomes how to love those who’s attributes are not aligned with my own. As a human with an ego my initial response is immediate and happens without much consideration.
I do know and admit that, often, what irritates me about others is a characteristic that I posses. It has been offered as insight to me that, one cannot identify in others what I do not have. So first I must understand myself. Thomas Merton describes this exquisitely.
“To live well myself means for me to know and appreciate something of the secret, the mystery in myself: that which incommunicable, which is at once myself and not myself, at once in me and above me. From this sanctuary I must seek humbly and patiently to ward off all the intrusions of violence and self-assertion. These intrusions cannot really penetrate the sanctuary, but they can draw me forth from it and slay me before the secret doorway.“
“If I can understand something of myself and something of others, I can begin to share with them the work of building the foundations for spiritual unity. But first we must work together at dissipating the more absurd fictions which make unity impossible.“
Clearly or maybe not, what Merton is doing here is considering carefully in solitude. This I believe is a bit of a stumbling block among those whom are not of my tribe. You know who you are.
Now comes the more difficult part. I must acknowledge, accept and even embrace the less palatable of my traits. This isn’t possible without knowing of God’s Love for me. Which I eventually discovered, after having my self-will crushed, by a series of experiments which were disastrous or maybe beautifully successful as they have led me, by Grace to what I know to be the Truth. So, God knows my heart and Loves me. There is my example.
How is it that I can overlook or not see the less appealing parts of the ones which I love easily? That, I believe, is the key. We tend to focus more on the parts of them that we like. It is afterall a choice isn’t it?
Extrapolate that out to ones whom I revile. Here’s the easy part, imho, God Loves them too. Now the not so easy, find in them something I admire as worthy of praise and acknowledgment. Focus on that and as I would for my more easily loved ones. I have to take an interest. I can now do my best to accept them as they are.
Now carry on, oh wait, one more thing. I must do this without want of reciprocation. MKay? Chew on that!
The high tech equivalent of book burning is happening today, well yesterday actually. The censoring of relevant information being disseminated on the two most popular social media platforms.
What are Jack and Mark so afraid of? I have an idea. It is that they are afraid that people can actually think for themselves, and don’t need to be spoon-fed exactly what they’re expected to do, think and feel about a myriad of subjects and ideas, If that were to happen, people might figure out how they’re being manipulated into a state of panic over the actions of their neighbors, friends and families. The result of this realization would offer the opportunity to see the common good inherent in all of us instead of the abhorrent, which is driving us apart.
The last thing it appears that Jack and Mark want is the free exchange of ideas and opinions. They seem to believe they know what is best. Could they be more arrogant? Me thinks not! Trying to figure out their motivation is, in my opinion, quite simply, money and influence. “Bless their hearts.”
What a lonely terrible feeling it must be, to have amassed such incredible wealth, and are so utterly bored with your life as it is that you believe it’s necessary to meddle in the affairs of us poor foolish peasants. With the objective being to, maintain your position of influence, thereby gaining opportunity to get more money.
Please do me a favor. GTFO and let me have all the relevant facts and information and decide for myself what is best for me.
The kind of freedom I’m referring to is the kind that is the result of my faith in something greater than my natural existence. It lives in me and I dwell there. This also allows me to let others be free. If I object to the way they are I am no longer free and am in bondage to the idea that I somehow know better.
I am at peace admitting that I know nothing of what anyone’s experience, conditioning or indoctrination are. We all behave from those influences. I have forgiven myself and can forgive others. I also do my best to see the parts of others that are to be loved about them.
At one time I subjected myself to the horrible prison of addiction. I was unable to be set free until I surrendered to the help which I resisted due to contempt prior to investigation. I wanted to be filled, to be satisfied, to be thrilled, to have all my desires fulfilled. I could not see the truth that if I could not have these things in the precise way I wanted them, I would destroy myself in pursuit of my satisfaction.
Today I will gladly submit to being hauled of to re-education if the tyrannical states deems it necessary. I will still be free no matter the conditions of my imprisonment. I will be a danger to the thought police and those who look askance at the faithful. I’m ready to leave this realm, but not until the work is done and the fruits of my labor are deemed ripe for harvest. I love you all.
Or is any attempt an exercise in futility? I for one have hope, it’s not going to be easy mind you, I just know from experience that reflecting on our error and finding redeeming qualities in our adversary is going to be uncomfortable. That is in my opinion and the reflections of others is a way forward.
I am at it again, reading from one from my favorite teachers. This time it is a book which contains a series of notes, opinions, experiences and reflections. Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander . I have found a piece here in the chapter called Truth and Violence: An Interesting Era.
“We are living under a tyranny of untruth which confirms itself in powerand establishes a more and more total control over men in proportion as they convince themselves they are resisting error.“
“Our submission to plausible and useful lies involves us in greater and more obvious contradictions, and to hide these from ourselves we need greater and ever less plausible lies. The basic falsehood is the lie that we are totally dedicated to truth and that we can remain dedicated to truth in a manner is at the same time honest and exclusive: that we have a monopoly of all truth, just as our adversary of the moment has the monopoly of all error.“
“We then convince ourselves that we cannot preserve our purity of vision and our inner sincerity if we enter into dialogue with the enemy, for he will corrupt us with his error. We believe, finally, that truth cannot be preserved except by destruction of the enemy–for, we have identified him with error, to destroy him is to destroy error. The adversary, of course, has exactly the same thoughts about us and exactly the same basic policy by which he defends the “truth”. He has identified us with dishonesty, insincerity and untruth. He believes that, if we are destroyed, nothing will be left but truth.“
This is what my perception is from my perspective. That we’re ignoring our own error, focusing on the error in our adversary and claiming to be virtuous in our position. Merton writes earlier on that we really don’t want the truth, we just want enough evidence to prove we’re right discounting all evidence to the contrary. He continues with a way to reconcile, however unlikely it seems to me that in today’s environment, this will even be given consideration.
“If we really sought truth we would begin slowly and laboriously to divest ourselves one by one of all our coverings of fictionand delusion: or at least we would desire to do so, for mere willing cannot enable us to effect it. On the contrary, the one who can best point out our error, and help us to see it, is the adversarywhomwe wish to destroy. This is perhaps why we wish to destroy him. So, too, we can help him to see his error and that is why he wants to destroy us.”
“In the long run, no one can show another the error that is within him, unless the other is convinced that his critic first sees and loves the good that is within him. So while we are perfectly willing to tell our adversary he is wrong, we will never be able to do so effectively until we ourselves can appreciate where he is right. And we can never accept his judgment on our errors until he gives evidence that he really appreciates our own peculiar truth. Love, love only, love of our deluded fellow man as he he actually is, in his delusion and in his sin: this alone can open the door to truth. As long as we do not have this love, as long as this love is not active and effective in our lives (for words and good wishes will never suffice) we have no real access to the truth. At least not to moral truth.”
I am astounded and thrilled at the same time how incredibly poignant Thomas Merton’s words are today. It saddens me though that the truth may be that demolition precedes renovation and that we’re indeed headed for even more tumultuous days ahead. I am at peace though because I abide in the ultimate Love.
I myself as I am naturally am not capable of such love. I have found though that such love is readily available to me and all who wish to be captivated by it can find if you have exhausted all your human will and are ready to surrender to the greatest news in history.
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