Opening the present

Several weeks ago, I came into a new frame of mind, in which numerous profound insights have come, and I have seen doors open in my prayer life and elsewhere.  In particular, even though I frankly regard myself as spiritually advanced, one door has opened to a course offering far deeper spiritual growth that may make it possible for me to be happy practically all the time.  I copy pertinent diary entries here below, with commentary.

On reflection, I see that these diary entries assume the reader is well familiar with (1) “silence” and “presence,” which are technical terms referring to specific spiritual practices, and (2) those practices’ effects, especially the ability to choose and change one’s emotional feelings at will.  Accordingly, in the near future I will need to post explanations of meditation, contemplation, awakening the will, and how essential these are for anyone who would follow Jesus.

Until then, one would do well to consult three of Ambrose Worrall’s essays in the Library: “Essay on Prayer,” “Meditation and Contemplation,” and “Silentium Altum (Deep Silence).”

This may not be the best presentation.  But to have these thoughts available for later use, I need to record them now.  My frame of mind is sure to change, at which time, without this record, I am sure to forget these concepts indefinitely.

Bookmarks in this post:
Lock and key
Blessed to be a blessing
Seeing with new eyes
The open door

LOCK AND KEY

Monday 07/29/13 14:36. Last night I re-asserted ambition, desire to achieve, by sheer will. (All along, I have taken classmate M_____ W_____ as a role model; she always was ambitious. Voted, with me, by our senior class, “Most Likely to Succeed.”) To my surprise, it did not entail anything in particular about self-love or wanting things for myself. So I gather there are disparate independent factors, and to achieve what I want I need to get them all in line.

17:10. Don’t know why this has been so hard to write. During service Sunday I came into a state of believing in prayer and believing that my prayers will be answered. At the communion rail, I asked whether I’ve presented any obstacles to my prayers, and answer came that my doubt has been an obstacle. At this writing, it hasn’t returned yet. But I wonder what makes it come and go away.

At this writing, it hasn’t returned yet, either.  But I still don’t know what faith and doubt are, or what makes them come and go.

Qabala teaches that there are five levels to the soul, which I understand as follows (in ascending order, from lowest to highest):

nephesh psychomotor domain the life of the flesh body
ruach cognitive domain the mind, the body of thought
neshama affective domain the body of one’s emotions
chayah awareness of self as an expression of God
yechidah awareness of self as one with God

Chayah and yechidah are normally completely subconscious.  I suspect faith and doubt as normally understood reflect the posture of the chayah.

Thursday 08/01/13 13:40. In the shower last night I began thinking about the “formless God” Zvi and others say is predicated without question by Deuteronomy. I gather it must be wholly impersonal. I came to think of possibly God as What Is. The Jews also insist that, based on Numbers, God does not change. I came to some insight that Worrall may be right about God as Universal Mind who can know what names are on my prayer list. I’m not sure where farther to take this just now.

Oh, at the same time, I came to the conclusion: the way out of hell is simply to want better.

On the ride to church this morning I contemplated scatter-brained-ness as a factor in need, poverty and squalor; and my recent remarks about “independent factors” (See entry of Monday 07/29.). Maybe there are ten dimensions in the universe, each corresponding to one of these factors. Maybe these correspond to the sephirot. I recently came across a reference to spiritual growth as a quest to “unify” the sephirot, which could be taken to mean bringing them into congruence or into focus on a common goal. Still the image of a key in a lock comes to me, which I used to entertain relative the chakras: get the notches all lined up, and you channel healing. One problem is that if spiritual growth depends on understanding all that — I can’t buy that. Too complicated. But it might be good for a spiritual director to understand.

At the same time have recalled how I liked the reference to the sephirot as processes.

I will say more about What Is later in this post, and in later posts.  The notion of ten dimensions recalls an old cosmology:  I have supposed that what we observe in the material world of space and time are the projections onto four dimensions of events that actually occur in a ten-dimensional “spiritual” world, where time and space per se do not exist.

The actual image I used to use was not of a lock and key, but rather a combination lock, with each chakra corresponding to one of the disks inside the lock.  I found a couple good videos about this, here and here.

The Wikipedia articles aren’t very good. To learn about Qabala, I will rely on resources at http://www.chabad.org and http://www.inner.org.

SEEING WITH NEW EYES

Friday 08/02/13 11:56. Some reflection last night about serotonin, the “snowball” effect of following Jesus’ teachings, and the many disparate factors it affects.

Unusual silence this morning. (I’ve been thinking a lot about A_____, but from what I saw on the [discussion] board today this does not seem to be a teachable moment.) I recalled Gerald May’s teaching, and sought to keep myself in that state which precedes perception (let alone thought). I came out feeling astonishingly stable. “Let be with the circumstance.” This drastically increases one’s tolerance of uncertainty — something A_____ could really profit from.

The quotation is from Meister Eckhart. To embrace the mundane, concrete facts of one’s immediate circumstance — What Is — yields a sense of certainty, stability, and confidence, sufficient to tolerate just about any uncertainty the world may throw at us. The Uncertainty Principle is no longer a basis for anxiety. One who rejects What Is, on the other hand, winds up desperately flailing to find something to hold onto, some anchor. Thus folk come to emotional dependence on (zeal for) ideology or dogma — neither of which is What Is.

Note the various times I’ve used the word “factors” in this post.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, like a hormone; people with low levels of it in their blood are prone to be short-tempered, impulsive, depressed and promiscuous, among other things.  Note the social effects of such traits, as for example on crime and in “depressed neighborhoods.”  Following Jesus’ teachings actually raises the level of serotonin in one’s blood, so that one becomes, respectively, more patient, focused, hopeful and faithful, among other things.  These results, in turn, make Jesus’ teachings easier to follow.  So there is a “snowball” effect, as I see described in the Parable of the Yeast.

The Practice of the Presence of God records conversations with Brother Lawrence, a late medieval monk who trained himself to attend to a sense of God’s presence to him moment by moment throughout the day.  This effected a continuous attention to the mundane here and now, accompanied by a quietness of mind — no matter how hectic the circumstances in which he found himself — that made it easy for him to, as he said, continuously “keep watch of my affections,” that is, of his emotions.

In presence, as in silence, distractions generally don’t come from external stimuli, but rather from within oneself. They don’t come as thoughts, ideas or memories, but rather as untoward feelings. If one were to engage them, soon enough some corresponding thought, idea or memory would come; and one could get wrapped up in that; and then one really would be distracted. As it is, before any thought occurs, it is easy enough to either sublimate the untoward affect, changing it directly into something better; or release it, merely letting it pass out of one’s experience. Either way, one restores the placid affective state that prevailed before the — spiritual flatulence — arrived.

15:15. Lost thought. This cute girl out front just now is covered with tattoos. For first time, came across job listing today that specified you can’t have tattoos.

Recovered thought: next step is to see what silence like this morning’s has to say about self-love and ambition.

18:40. A whole slew of presumed insights came beginning on walk [“home”]. First, I need to rein in my compassion. There has been an imbalance. I have used too much energy I need for myself in presumptive efforts to help others. I need to use surplus energies channeled from God instead, but I don’t know where the boundaries are.

Second, the way to liberate the poor is to evoke by resonance a brightening of the nitzotz. As with healing, that normally merely removes blocks so that the person’s own energies can restore health; this doesn’t require overwhelming amounts of energy. As my former therapist S_____ S_____ said of my effect on TLM, it’s a matter of “bringing out the best in” each person.

Not everyone will respond.

Third, to establish that resonance, I need to first see the nitzotz in each person. This can be a challenge.

Much of this may not be new.

As to “imbalance,” I envision the disk of Yin-Yang, which rotates happily if the center of rotation is the center of the disk. If the center of rotation is eccentric or off-balance, the disk is subject to wild gyrations.

TLM was a domestic partner, a crack addict. For some time with me, however, she did exceptionally well. I gather I may have been the first real man she’d ever dealt with; the first who ever gave her respect.

Nitzotz is Hebrew for “spark.” In question is the “divine spark” at the core of each and every human soul. It may be the soul; it may be the life force. It bears the image of God in teach person, and manifests how each one is indeed God’s child.

On 08/20/13 I experimented with seeking to see God’s image in each person, especially those whom I don’t like. It really does profoundly change what I see and how I feel.

BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING

Sunday 08/04/13 19:43. In meditation before supper I got what I take for my first vision of my new job. I was in a large room with a lot of people walking around.

Gives me hope. Maybe it’ll come soon.

Monday 08/05/13 8:08. A real ennui has set in re: the posts I meant to write for A_____. The next rung on “Jacob’s ladder” is to “cut loose the losers,” and he is a real leech on my attention. The more I focus on my mundane goals, the less I’ll notice him. We’re at a point in our exchanges where I can merely say, “You project onto me your own intentions,” and that can be my refrain to him forever after.

12:27. Ultimately went to MT this morning wanting controversy, and didn’t find it.

Wednesday 08/07/13 13:07. Somehow with all that turmoil gone, now I don’t know what to do with myself. This post may reflect conflicting, changing points of view.

Ironically, it seems the ennui of a few days ago was a step forward, and it would be well to return to that state now.

Thursday 08/08/13 19:00. There is also the issue of how MT meets my social needs. G_____ has some strange ideas, and some discussions on other threads are really confused, so this might be a good time for me to cut loose from all those losers, and leave them to their own confusion. But where will I go?

This led to reflection on my goals and what I want. In the shower I entered an intense, extremely pleasant fantasy of simply being in a world of harmony and beauty. I came to freely, intensely want a job in one of those tall office buildings near McD. With hours of 8-4 I could work full time and still stay at HUM. It was great fun.

Friday 08/09/13 12:12. Interesting silence this morning: except for some flat-out desiring that I find a job in one of those tall office buildings, as mentioned; I spent the whole time seeking that I obtain my own healing in channeling healing for others.

God as What Is reinvigorates new persona. I can see myself steering my own course.

This morning’s silence changed the way I look at the men. I came in tonight meaning to accept each one just as he is. In shower I wanted to think about MT, but something told me to keep attention here and now, and if nothing of interest were happening, be silent.

“New persona” names a POV I came to in August 2011. It emphasizes that each of us, as an expression of God’s own being, is most literally a “child of God” and tantamount to a God oneself — with free will, power, freedom, creativity, autonomy, and most importantly, authority to make wholly arbitrary decisions.

An intercessor, one who channels healing, inevitably profits from that activity oneself. For, as with the metaphorical combination lock, in order for the Spirit to pass through the lock or channel, it must of necessity first correct all deficiencies in the lock or channel. Thus one who channels healing, obtains it as well.

THE OPEN DOOR

Saturday 08/10/13 16:00. Notes:
– redirecting thought

19:00. Notes:
– B_____ D_____
– untoward feelings
– worrying about the world’s problems

Sunday 08/11/13 12:42. Notes:
– itch

15:00. I have doubted the new approach to silence (presence): will it make me a better healer? Whereas I don’t know of reports of healing from Buddhism. [Silence and presence as I mean to practice them are tantamount to the effects of Zen.] In smoke pit Friday or Saturday afternoon I was thinking about someone who needs prayer, and idly imagined laying hands on this person, and at once felt the energy in my hands. So I guess the answer is yes, this will enhance my healing gift. (“Gift” a word I’ve never used this way before.)

Tuesday 08/13/13 14:22. Discussed with [my therapist] this morning: prospect of, prospect that, given current frame of mind of focusing continuously on the here and now (present), if I master the skills or opportunities that have become available, I may learn in effect to basically be happy all the time. It’s hard to believe that that’s possible, but so it appears to be.

19:10. There are no commandments. There are only principles.

As to “imbalances,” see the note of 18:40 08/02/13.

Until the events of 07/03/13 and 08/09/13, it had been a couple years since I last really thought about intentional presence.

In “Your Heart’s Desire,” Emmet Fox writes as if one can choose one’s feelings from moment to moment, at any time. In my8 practice of presence in recent days, I see that this is possible. By implication, Fox is saying I can be happy practically all the time; and that I can choose to do so.

I see before me here an open door. Should I enter? It seems good to do so, though at this writing I have not done so yet.

A life of presence would stop the hemorrhaging of my personal energies.  In the notes of 08/10/13 and 08/11/13, I have identified some of the leaks that need to be stopped, and bumps in the road of living presence:

  • I trained myself from childhood on, to not think about how good I’ll feel when I get what I want, but instead how bad I’ll feel if I don’t get it.  This has been backwards, and a hindrance to my learning to want any thing.  See “When you can’t get what you want.”
  • In this life and previous lives, I have spent countless hours wringing my hands in grief, anxiously seeking solutions to worldwide problems — violence, strife, crime, and the plight of outcasts of all kinds.
NOTE: All my life, North Americans have been subject to relentless accusations that we have a duty to the world unilaterally to solve its problems. Two of note for now: global warming and overpopulation (ZPG). However, even if we had the power, we would still not have the right, to impose our will upon the rest of humanity. Last I knew, hundreds of square miles of Amazon rain forest were being cleared and burned each day by Brazilians who see no need to please us. And parents in the slums of Pakistan have more pressing concerns than to listen to Planned Parenthood.
  • I have thus far not been as successful as I’d like in redirecting my attention from irritants like A_____ and my haters, to the mundane present and my goals.
  • I have already mentioned spiritual flatulence, or “soul farts.”  Unaccountable times of untoward emotions are sure to come:  fear, sadness, resentment, guilt, anger, despair, irritability, and so on.  They are distractions, but I need not be alarmed that they occur.
  • “The itch” is how I normally refer to a particularly troublesome untoward emotion, namely, the desire for irritability.  This is especially an issue among squalid people.  It can also refer to the itching that may be part of the healing process for a physical or emotional wound.  In that case, caring for the wound entails sublimating the energy of the irritation itself directly into a loving salve to apply to, and heal, the wound.
  • For the last few years of my work at the dollar store, I had an abusive boss.  B____ D____’s management style required that there always be an outcast, and most of the time that person was me.  I KNEW BETTER than to respond as I did. Prudence, self-love and ambition would have had me devote my free time (which was plenty, as she curtailed my hours) to finding a different job with more hours, a better wage, and maybe even a competent boss. Instead, I gave in to my acute, karmic sensitivity to abuses of power, and spent all my free time seeking “justice.” This resulted in her forced resignation. But work habits I had established in my resentment led to my being fired a few months later. That was June 2009, and I’ve not had a regular job since.

Unknown:  will plugging all those drains of my emotional energy give me resources to want things for myself, and to work for them?
 

Wednesday  08/21/13  18:50.  In shower last night I recalled that the adept, one who has learned to choose one’s emotions perfectly, will choose altruism as the only approach to life that makes sense.  This implies that a life of presence will automatically correct the imbalances I have known.  The same sense came to me strongly this morning while watching the video(s) about combination locks.
 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Opening the present

  1. Pingback: How I became homeless | The Homeless Blogger

  2. Pingback: The power of presence | The Homeless Blogger

  3. Pingback: The path of presence | The Homeless Blogger

  4. Pingback: Becoming William Tell | The Homeless Blogger

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s