Moving Mountains

 

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“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
― Soren Kierkegaard

Come down from your lofty peak and walk a while amongst us simple humans. Try a little empathy, withhold your judgement for a while. I know that I am not perfect but I do try. One step forward and two steps back to-day. But perhaps tomorrow it will be two steps forward and one step back. Though I arrive at the same place as two days ago, the momentum is forward.

Don’t isolate yourself from people atop your mountain of certainty and vanity. You who know what is in everyone’s best interests. Over the years you have added layers of pride,smugness, sarcasm, gossip and built your mountain. It’s time to move that mountain. To remove all the layers you have so painstakingly built to defend your ego in this world.  Cast off your mask and let your true self come forward. Embrace it and show it to the world. No more hiding in the shadows. No more pronouncements from high on your mountain. Move that mountain.

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So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact.

And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)

Kid, you’ll move mountains.

Dr. Seuss

I sat down to write something completely different but this is what came out of my mind. I’m not sure but I think it could be in response to social media. Most social media types seem to have a view and be an expert on everything under the sun. So quick to condemn and judge other peoples opinions. The trial and persecution of people through social media is also a little disheartening.

Cannabis, weed, pot has become legal in Canada today. All of a sudden, the sky is bluer, the grass (no pun intended) is greener, the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, butterflies are drifting lazily along on the mild Autumn air and there’s a smile on everyone’s face.

The Promised Land

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“All my life they had made choices for me, and I had resented it. Now the choice was mine, and once it was made, I would have no right to blame anyone else for the consequences. Loss of that privilege, to blame others, unexpectedly stung.”
― Megan Whalen Turner, A Conspiracy of Kings

Growing up I hated my neighbourhood in London’s East End. Some Friday night’s after work, a friend and I would make our way to the main train terminal and review the destination board. We would randomly select a destination from the board and purchase our ticket. The train station we had selected would usually be in an isolated countryside, and upon arriving we would start to walk down the road enjoying the freedom of the open air. We usually slept in barns, or bus shelters in villages we passed, and made our way back home Sunday afternoon.

I emigrated from London, England when I was 21. My aunt was a “war bride”, she had met a Canadian soldier in London in 1945, they married and she returned with him to Montreal, Canada. She often came back to England to visit, and on one of these occasions I asked her if she was willing to sponsor me to Canada. She said she would be delighted and so off I went. Three years later I had married, moved from Quebec to Ontario and just got on with life the best I knew how,

In thinking of the Promised Land, I often wonder if our lives parallel the Israelites, living under the tyranny of the Egyptian pharos, until Moses set them free. After leaving Egypt, Moses led the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness for years, before they reached the Promised Land, As promised by God, Moses died before he entered the Promised Land.

We grow up living under the rules laid down by our parents and teachers, striving to be free and go our own way. When freedom finally comes at eighteen, we wander in the wilderness for years, trying to find our way. We worship new found idols while searching for a place that will bring us contentment and fulfilment. Many people do not reach their promised land. It’s not overly important, for the journey may have been as fruitful as Moses. After all , Moses set his people free and gave them laws to live by so they could enter the Promised Land.

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Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.

Martin Luther King

Perhaps the Promised Land is to be found in the spiritual rather than the material realm. Searching for the meaning of God, for purpose in our lives, to be a better person.

Perhaps we should search for the Promised Land elsewhere in the universe. To unite as a planet we may need to shift our focus towards the stars……..and as we learned to build greater seaworthy ships in order to conquer the seas and discover other lands, so we need to engineer better space crafts to travel space and inhabit the universe.

Perhaps we have always lived in the Promised Land and not been aware of it. Always searching for something when we already have what we need.  ‘ The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’.

One of my favourite poems, is ‘ Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost. The poets words have a sense of purpose, of going forward towards our goal without distraction. Whether he is keeping promises made to himself or promises made to another, these promises must be kept. Here is the last verse of the poem.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I had a weird dream last night. I dreamed of crowds of people walking down a sidewalk beside a very wide road filled with noisy traffic. The frantic crowd……. bustling down the sidewalk…..began to slow…… to eventually form into a single line joining hands. They turned to face the road and the heavy traffic and still clasping hands started to run across. The traffic immediately disappeared and the host of people kept on running to reach the other side far in the distance. Perhaps all trying to reach the Promised Land. Together. Hand in hand.

 

Me And My Shadow And Jung

 

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“Creativity connects me to my truest self and vulnerability. There is nothing more personally liberating, than reaching for my face and peeling off the social mask that hides my; shadow self, pain and weakness. When i produce from this place of truth, the results transform both creator and beholder.”
― Jaeda DeWalt

My pre-puberty years were formed in the East End of London in the fifties. These were the years following the second world war, when my play ground was mostly “the ruins” and boarded up bombed houses……… pieces of wood are no barrier when a child seeks adventure. It was also a rough area where children roamed the streets and were very territorial. I was waylaid at times, when I happened to stray into the wrong area. Reagan would clasp my arms behind my back while Tansley would commence with the body punches. I would cry, would not defend myself, and be thinking, why are they doing this, what possible satisfaction can they get from this. Soon after they would suddenly depart, probably bored with my lack of resistance. There was no shadow self that internally raged at the injustice of it all. Just crying acceptance.

I did have my share of one on one fights. Usually some one jumped me from behind. My first reaction would be bewilderment, then I would start to cry, and then I would go into berserker mode and lash and kick and bite. On one occasion I remember reaching for a sharp piece of slate, while we rolled on the grounds of the ruins, and wanting to kill the other boy. Some inner voice checked my desire. My shadow self slowly starting to emerge.

My older brother took pleasure in punching me on the shoulder, probably acting out some frustration. I remember sitting by the fire reading a book. I can’t remember if he had punched me or taunted me, but all of a sudden the book was flying towards his throat, like a guided missile, and exploded on impact. He screamed in rage, I quickly ran towards the bathroom and locked myself in. I had no conscious thought in launching the book, I only remember feeling a slight irritation towards him. It just happened. I needed to have a long discussion with my shadow self.

I moved to Montreal, Canada when I was twenty one. I found a job at an industrial brush manufacturer working at shipping and receiving. I was the only English person in the warehouse, the other employees speaking French. There was a co-worker who would speak to me in French in a taunting manner, calling me a particular word. I would just ignore him as if he wasn’t there. He persisted. One day he spoke to me, in this taunting tone, from a wooden platform about eight feet above the warehouse floor. My next memory was of me holding him over the platform and wanting to push him off to splatter on the floor below. I don’t remember reacting, I don’t remember climbing the ladder, I don’t remember grabbing him. I just remember holding him over the platform and the fear on his face. Nine years on from my childhood experiences in East London and I had still not integrated my shadow self into my persona.

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“I embrace my shadow self. Shadows give depth and dimension to my life. I believe in embracing my duality, in learning to let darkness and light, peacefully co-exist, as illumination.”
― Jaeda DeWalt

When my grandchildren were 3-5 years old we used to play a game of shadow tag. We would chase each other, but instead of tagging a body with your hand the idea was to put your foot on their shadow. Thereby capturing their shadow. We all need to capture our shadow self.

Our “Persona” is how we would like the world to see us. We create a character based on our experiences with the world. How we interact with the world.  We try to please our parents and live up to their image and expectations of us. As we go through the education system we strive to please our teachers/professors by getting good marks and so giving them what THEY expect from us. Somewhere in all these high expectations a part of us gets lost and buried deep.

The Shadow Self forms part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, impulses, desires and embarrassing fears. Our parents, teachers, religious leaders tell us from an early age what is good and what is bad. What is socially acceptable and what is not………. and we need this advice to learn how to cope in the world. But over the years we suppress what we consider bad and undesirable traits and bury it in our sub-conscious. We don’t really know ourselves. We are living a version of ourselves. To fully understand ourselves we have to get in contact with our shadow side. To understand and examine our hidden sexual desires, our propensity for violence and our innate animal instincts. We have to understand them, in order to except them as part of us and to exercise control over them, so they don’t leap out unexpectedly in backlashes of anger and uncontrollable moods.

Growing up and into my early twenties I was an introvert, who always aimed to please others and not cause any commotion. I suppressed my emotions and tended to retreat from the world. At the age of twenty four I married and everything changed. For the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye Bye Twitter

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“Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.”
― Fulton J. Sheen,

Imagine an overly crowded room, with two hundred people packed tightly in that room, shouting and arguing with each other. Imagine this just goes on day after day. Finally your mind blanks out, there is just this incessant noise that keeps droning on and on. That is how I felt when I decided to leave twitter this month.

I had such high expectations when I decided to join Twitter in March of this year. I dreamed of it opening my mind to various experts in their field, analysing and discussing in 280 words, the important issues of the day. With this in mind I initially followed a number of ” commentators” on all sides of the political spectrum and religious beliefs. As the weeks past I discovered new people to follow based on replies and retweets by the initial people I followed. At its peak I followed around sixty people.

I then discovered “Trolls”. One Saturday night in replying to a tweet on Christianity, I received a confusing answer to my reply. This went on for a while, my confusion increasing, till the penny finally dropped. I asked point blank am I being “Trolled” and I received a like and a retweet. My final reply before I blocked them was ” Goodnight sweet children, hope tomorrow is a better day for you”. When I was very young, perhaps from six to nine years old, we played a game called ” knock down ginger”. We would knock on someone’s door and then run as fast as we could down the street in fear of being discovered. Trolls were a little like that, making noise and quickly moving on to the next victim. Of course these trolls were adults and not six to nine years old. Some people just never grow up.

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“A dozen more questions occurred to me. Not to mention twenty-two possible solutions to each one, sixteen resulting hypotheses and counter-theorems, eight abstract speculations, a quadrilateral equation, two axioms, and a limerick. That’s raw intelligence for you.”
― Jonathan Stroud, Ptolemy’s Gate

Disillusionment comes slowly. I followed some main street media columnists, as a way of getting instant Twitter feed to the columns they had written. These were media personalities, with about eighty thousand or more followers, that I found, personable, articulate and credible. It was a shock to me that their Twitter comments were in stark contrast to the persona they projected on the main media stage. Their comments were usually sarcastic, defensive and demeaning and rarely answered any critical question put to them. One such reply from a few of these columnists was,  ” If you’re so smart why do you only have forty followers on Twitter”. The pure arrogance of this. Intelligence equates to the number of followers you have on Twitter. The Kardashians, Justin Bieber and Donald Trump must be the greatest thinkers in the world.

Current numbers for Twitter are around 335 million users. After large annual increases in users over the last twelve years the numbers have stagnated in the last three years. When I told my teenage grandchildren that I had left Twitter because there was a lack of intelligent conversation to be had, they just laughed at me. “You don’t go to Twitter for intelligent conversation bro”. They’ve always called me bro since we did a family rap session.  As an example they showed me a tweet of a photo with dog poop on the bed with the caption ” my dog just pooped on the bed”. I forget how many hundreds of thousands of likes it received.

Perhaps my experience of negativity was because I followed so many political and religious commentators and people are very passionate about these subjects. It may also be because there is such a great divide these days in all spectrums of politics and religion. I find religion is becoming very political, political ideology is intruding more and more into the Christian church and dividing it’s members.

My cup tends to be always half full, so I may return to Twitter at some point, after rethinking who I should follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching For God

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Deep within, there is something profoundly known, not consciously, but subconsciously. A quiet truth, that is not a version of something, but an original knowing. What this, absolute, truth [identity] is may be none of our business…but it is there, guiding us along the path of greater becoming; a true awareness. It is so self-sustaining that our recognition of it is not required. We are offspring’s of such a powerfully divine force – Creator of all things known and unknown.”
― T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with “The Divine Presence”

When my grandchildren were younger I used to read them a story book about a child playing hide and seek with God. Is God in the toy chest? I would then open the flap on a picture of the toy chest which revealed a teddy bear. No. God’s not in the toy chest just a teddy bear. Where is God, let’s try to find God. Is God under the bed? I would again lift the insert on the picture of the bed and a pair of socks would be revealed. No. God’s not under the bed, just a pair of socks. Where is God, where can God be? And so the book would continue this game of hide and seek. On the last page was the portrait of a child and on opening the insert a heart would be revealed. So that’s where God is hiding, deep within you.

The Beatles, in the sixties, searched for God through transcendental meditation, as practiced by Maharishi Mahesh. Richard Gere, the actor, is searching for God through the Dalai Lama and practice of Buddhism. My searching for God was within the parameters of the Roman Catholic Church. Then, ten years ago, the sexual abuse of priests and the subsequent cover up by bishops hit the news and I left the institutional church in disgust. But I have never lost my belief in God, and since that time have been trying to puzzle out what loyalty I owe as a Christian believer to the institutional Catholic Church. I have been trying to separate the moral teachings of the church from the institutional, administrative and human oversight function of the Catholic church.

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“If I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it – keep going, keep going come what may.”
― Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

We are all searching for God in different ways.

Some seek God in ancient books, Tao Te Ching, Vedas, Buddhist Sutras, Torah, Bible, and the Quran.

Others seek God through prayer and meditation.

Some people find God in nature.

Some people find God in beautiful works of art.

I find God in people.

The Bible states that we are made in the image of God. In my simplistic way, I see this as meaning that God gifted to us the power of creation. This power gifted to us has to be nurtured and worked on over time, for even God took six days in the creation process.  I am absolutely left amazed at the great works of science, architecture, art, music, literature and poetry that have been created by us humans, both in the past and the present. We all have these creative gifts, to a lesser and greater degree. We humans should constantly try to create for the greater good, rather than aim to destroy. It’s an evolutionary and transformative process we have to learn for our survival.

 

 

We Are All Connected.

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“This world isn’t a battlefield. Someday you will realise how your success depends on a bunch of other people and that day you will be wiser. You will know how connected we all are.
Either we all make it or none of us does.”
― Jasleen Kaur Gumber

I stare at my computer in despair, my mind is empty, I want to type words that come straight from my soul, but there is only emptiness. I feel nothing. I stare into space ,concentrating, slap the side of my head with the heel of my palm trying to stir some thought. All in vain. I give up and decide to read some blogs that I follow on WordPress. I become absorbed in other peoples thoughts and feelings and my soul begins to stir. The emptiness of my soul is filled with new patterns , a new way of looking at things and I am suddenly inspired. I go back to my blog and begin to type, the words flowing freely again, inspiration flowing through my brain. I am not an island entire of myself, I am a part of the main and I am involved in mankind. We are all connected and  need to learn from each other, inspire each other and reach out to each other.

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“Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor by product of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here.”     Paul Davies

At some point in the evolutionary process, the creator decided to add awareness to the universe. On our planet the creator chose a two legged primate and breathed awareness into it, transferring it into a self aware being. This self awareness was not part of the material substance of this transformed being but existed in unsubstantiated form within the being. This self awareness is known as mind, consciousness or soul. Ever since self awareness entered the body the soul has been trying to calm the evolutionary survival instincts of the body.

The soul feels the inner workings of its body, knows its limitations and evolutionary desires and tries to guide it towards transformation. The body only knows it wants to feed its senses and ready itself to respond to perceived dangers. The soul in turn wants to guide its body, to be its instrument in helping other souls to become more mindful, so that all the souls on this planet can live in harmony with each other and their creator. For a soul is never happy until it finds rest in its creator.

When you meet another person don’t judge them by their body for it is only the vessel that carries their soul. Rather look into the other persons soul and rejoice in its existence for we are all created in Gods image.

Oh, living flame of love
That tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest centre,
Since thou art no longer oppressive, perfect me now if it be thy will,
Break the web of this sweet encounter.

St. John of the Cross