Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Red Guitar, Tornado Remains, Leadership, and the Ocean of Knowledge

Sunday I went to Kathy Oddenino’s latest Spiritual Philosophy seminar on The Joy of Health. Last week I clicked a Facebook link to a lecture called Solitude and Leadership posted by William Deresiewicz. The lecture was delivered at West Point last October. I had read it a few times before going to the seminar. As we talked about the Ethical Values, how we have to get used to change as human beings, what makes us resist change, how we are eventually compelled to ask ourselves what our mind is going to do with change – I was reminded of this lecture.  During our dialogue we asked ourselves about our character, our personality, and our intentions. How much integrity are we living as we live our life? What is our physical condition? How do we care for ourself? Do we find joy in life?

I love that Spiritual Philosophy teaches me to keep thinking and exploring the infinite levels of energy that create us. As we do this, as a mind, we learn to consciously use the energy that makes us who we are and therefore expand our energy and our creations. I want more!  As I think about my experiences to date, now I “run through them” like a flip-book, with new energizing wafts of images and thoughts and feelings each time. There is full joy in learning and changing. Babies already know this! In the seminar we were asked about our self-perception. How we do perceive ourselves, who do we perceive ourselves to be and why? We talked about the many challenges happening on Earth now, and whether or not we are using our energy to support our spiritual self or our physical self. Are we still attached to negative (toxic) energy? If so, why? We can always find the answers to these questions if we want to know.  Think about this: Energy is the most real thing on Earth.

If we cannot maintain our momentum, we slide backwards. Think about riding a bike up a hill. I remember well the determination required to keep those wheels turning, even when my thighs were burning. Eyes on the prize! Movement, growth, reaching that particular point of destination requires commitment, determination, persistence, patience, strength, courage, endurance, motivation, all Ethical Values. And, first, the plan! Earlier in my life I did not think much about my role as a human being. For a long while, I was more self-centered and treading water.  Now I’ve found that “love of my life,” the internal knowledge that becomes wisdom as we grow and change, I’m more interested in momentum and the joy of the breeze, the healing that comes with freedom of thought and change. I appreciate this maturing of my mind as I age, and I understand more clearly what it means for us to “choose our role” as a human being.  During the seminar, Kathy exclaimed, Negative energies are going backwards, not forward. We have to care, to love seeing the human species grow and change! If we do not know we are energetic beings, we will not know how to truly live as spiritual beings. This is about knowing that we are creative energetic beings. Spiritual Philosophy teaches us The Ethical Values, as it has throughout time in the minds of those who earnestly seek to Know themselves with the utmost humility of this gift of life as Thinkers (what we once mistook perhaps as “gods”).

I have been a lover of literature, of Art, of words, of many “things” and people in my life, beginning with my family. I have had to grow into “loving myself” as loving life itself.  This has inevitably and beautifully led me into growing my love of humanity – the care and feeding of us as humans, just as I am.  I am not a scientist, I am not educated specifically in medicine and its science. I am educated (“formally” ) in the “Humanities.” I understand the wisdom of that choice, for me.  As my mother lay dying, with her amazing internal strength and the grace of counsel and care she received, I received another education in the “humanities” and the “science of medicine.”  

Lately, as Kathy has done Energy work with a friend’s daughter who has a brain tumor, I’m reminded of the absolute compassion and powerful care that true healers feel and always live. Healing,  the joy of health in all expressions, is primary.  Learning to focus our energies as a spiritual being is a great gift, not only to us but to all we know. As we think, so we create, and so we attract.  The Earth which supports our life is erupting and expressing itself (herself) very strongly right now, and we must pay attention. 

My grandmother was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi. As I watched the news reports of the city’s damage, and heard the slow drawl of those who experienced the wonder of such wind power, I mentally saved the image of the red guitar and its strings being plucked by the Delta dweller whose house was a big pile of boards behind them. When I talked to my Aunt in Memphis about the weather, I also told her about Kathy’s energy work and the friend’s daughter’s brain tumor. I said, I don’t know about you, but if it were me, I’d love to know someone who knows healing and the energy of us this way. I’d rather share this healing of support than to have my head cut open by the most well-meaning and skilled of surgeons. To some this sounds crazy, I know. I can only express my own growing compassion for what we create as human beings, and the infinite healing power we have as we begin to use our own energetic potential and Ethical spiritual design. 

In the “Solitude and Leadership” lecture is this quote: “That’s the first half of the lecture: the idea that true leadership means being able to think for yourself and act on your convictions. But how do you learn to do that? How do you learn to think? Let’s start with how you don’t learn to think….”  One way Deresiewicz defines thinking is: “concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself.” 

Recently someone asked me what I was reading. I told them a book about the Atlantic Ocean. They said, Oh, that’s too deep for me! Funny, yes – but not so funny that a book about the ocean is too much “work”! I’m reading a few pages at a time, and learning about the ocean’s life. The language is poetic, as is the ocean rhythm and change. Aren’t we excited to know about the “ocean of knowledge”? I’m fascinated with how we develop/ed our ideas and beliefs about “thinking.” Learning is fun, when a mind is fresh, eager, and not bogged down by the habits of feeling overwhelmed and used to “not thinking.” Spiritual Philosophy teaches the Joy of Health, because the joy of health is the essence of loving life.  Who doesn’t love love? What is love? This brings us back to our self-perception. Do we want to be leaders or slaves? Are these our only choices? In our world we’ve accepted, and we’re taught, that our power comes from our intellect. What part of us are we feeding?  Here is a quote from The Joy of Health: “What you do with your life, what you become in life, depends totally and completely upon the way that you relate to the self within. Graduating from Yale does not make you a good person. It does not make you a success in life. It does not make you happy. It makes you a graduate from Yale.” (74) I have an old friend who graduated from Princeton, and several other prestigious programs. He told me once that he was completely disillusioned as an undergraduate – he quickly realized that what he was being taught was not true to what he wanted to learn. He eventually changed programs, through much disagreement with one parent, and went on to jobs which didn’t fulfill much of his dreams of happiness either. As life continued, he chose changes that began to make him happier.

Spiritual Philosophy teaches that being a leader is being true to the “God self,” the Ethical Values which define us as spiritual energetic beings. One of my goals in life has been to gain wisdom. Somehow I knew deep inside that wisdom would lead me to happiness. I was right.  I knew that experience is our teacher, but I wasn’t always a willing student. I didn’t always appreciate the role of knowledge as it relates to experience. Knowledge about who we are as energetic beings is an eternal gift. Our crises of education, of our economy, of our personal, national, and international security, our health and our disease care system – all will benefit from a shift in our thinking to ask ourselves honestly, Do I want to be someone who helps Earth or destroys Earth? This is not a question of melodrama, though I know how tempting this dismissal is. 

It’s exciting to know we have a starring role in our own growth, that we are designed with infinite healing potential, and that knowledge truly can set us free.  The best leaders teach us to think. We must listen, support them, encourage them, learn from them, honor them. Accepting responsibility for our own growth is how we heal ourselves, and the most important way we begin and expand our role as human beings in saving ourselves and enjoying our world.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

They Call it Stormy Monday

I read David Byrne's Journal (blog) now and again, and lately I was reminded to visit by an NPR review of his latest musical (ad)venture with Fat Boy Slim - a conceptual creation of the theatrical potential in Imelda Marcos's "life as theater."  All the world's a stage?

Here Lies Love -“The story I am interested in is about asking what drives a powerful person—what makes them tick? How do they make and then remake themselves? I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if—as this piece would be principally composed of clubby dance music—one could experience it in a club setting? Could one bring a ‘story’ and a kind of theater to the disco? Was that possible? If so, wouldn’t that be amazing!”—DB, from the introduction

In the Journal I also read this: "In the most inexcusable behavior I saw a manifestation of a common human trait - that when all restraints are removed, we tend to lose our moral compasses. I think it could happen to any of us." Byrne talks about Abu Ghraib as an example - people put in a situation where they are handed absolute power; that the whistleblowers in this case were not the soldiers themselves but the leaked pictures. This brings a familiar saying to mind - absolute power corrupts. Why?

I've thought a lot about this, as lately our philosophical hot topic has been "what does it mean to live the Ethical Values"? To live as an Ethical Being? "Trust is the behavior of truth" is one pearl we have been thinking about in our dialogues.What is our "moral compass"? Where does it come from? What makes us aware of it? We've talked about conflict and confrontation. I used to believe that confrontation was a negative behavior. Confrontation meant challenge, challenge = provocation, and provocation led to argument, or ultimately, to war. Still, I used to argue a lot (habit!) What I thought I believed was not how I behaved. A thinking friend told me she realized an old belief she had that to speak her truth meant she would be treated badly. When we begin to accept truth as the ethical energy of our spiritual being, these perceptions fall away as we live.  It is only one step to recognize and acknowledge that "my truth" may be different, is different, from "your truth." Beyond that awareness begins the awareness of an absolute value of truth - as love, and the equality of being, as energy. Ah, details, details, details...

In the May issue of Food & Wine magazine I read another great example of this awareness in an article by Ray Isle called "Red Wine & Vegetables: Friends of Foes?" He wrote about Randall Grahm (California's Bonny Doon Vineyard) and winery chef Charlie Parker and their collaboration. Grahm, known to some as the Willy Wonka of wine enthusiasts, has made a lot of changes recently due not to the economy but, as Isle notes, a "philosophical crisis." A short description of Grahm's growing the Bonny Doon "public image" through the 2000s then leading to the net "reinvention." Here's how Grahm describes it: "I was giving speeches and writing articles about biodynamics and terroir, saying terroir was the only interesting thing about the wine business ... But there was nothing congruent between what I was saying and what I was doing. So it was clear I needed to make a big change." 

 Last week I got angry at having to respond to DMV bureaucratic rules (long story) - a remedy seemed simple, yet the steps to get to the solution seemed too many and too slow, an exercise without true purpose except the procedure itself. I felt the energy funnel of my anger as I waited, telephone in hand (again), remembering all of the time taken, the energy expended. The energy of our memories moves us, motivates us. Our emotions move and change within us with all the character of clouds. It is silly to get so frustrated at such a "thing," yet a casual patience sometimes simply reinforces that not only is the frustration (and I know I'm not alone!) understandable but that simply commiserating adds to the sense of conflict too, more than the resolution. Our thoughts are absolutely powerful! There's an old saying, Rules are made to be broken. They remind us, if we're open to "seeing," that we made them - they did not one day appear from thin air, cast in stone.

Courage is an inherent characteristic of our human spiritual design, and communicating with the conscious sense of change in motion adds momentum and excitement to experience. Change invites that golden laughter that rings like music to almost any ear.

While going through files I came across an old letter from when I was working at the Library of Congress. The letter was one sent to a handful of us re: "Meritorious Service." Here's the quote - "demonstrates your concern" for the nation's patrimony. In this regard, your work serves as a model..."  I've been thinking about courage, and about the language in this letter. Such awards acknowledge appreciation on behalf of several levels of "community." In our culture and in our world, we've created ways to honor "meritorious service" as we determine its value to us. Humanitarian awards acknowledge the level of our global community.

To act in concert with the Ethical Values of our human design means to honor the best in us at all times. In the LOC, I did what I was asked to do. As the events unfolded, I learned about the world of thievery, and my "insight" and awareness expanded as I watched, listened and talked with others. I haven't thought about this event for many years. I'm glad I kept the letter. I read the words in a different context now. I recognize a layered pattern of "honor code," as the Ethical Values which make up our design, and the strength and joy that come from honoring and respecting them as a way of life.

Think of these phrases: "just for the sake of argument"; "devil's advocate"; "facts"

Every thought counts. The energy of every word becomes a playground, an arena, an ocean to an open mind. What motivates the thought, action? Honor? Respect? Truth? Value? Appreciation?  "I need proof." What do I accept as proof? Change? Conflict or resolution? Peace or war? Who do we want to be? Trust is the behavior of truth.

Monday, April 05, 2010