Friday, October 07, 2011

New Level of Understanding

This month, I picked up a book that has blown my mind. It talks about the assemblage point in clear, concise language that makes the idea accessible to the reader. However, it doesn't call it by name. Instead, it talks about the concept of how people are socialized to a master story of the culture. It explains how this story is so pervasive that we are unaware of it, and yet it drives our thoughts and behavior. The purpose of the book is to point out the master story of our time so people can see it and make conscious choices instead of being driven unaware along the socialization line.

In other words, this book says that there is an assemblage point and describes the current assemblage point of our western culture.

I'm profoundly moved as I read this book. At times, I read a page or more only to realize that the level of engagement is beyond my brain. My soul is reading the book, and the reactions are taking place at that level. I'm only vaguely aware of the reaction, feeling instead the intensity of it.

I reached the middle of the book only to realize that I needed to start over from the beginning. In this second attempt, I'm engaging consciously and deeply. It has profound content. My intention for this second reading is quite different, too. This time, I'm reading so I can really grasp the nuances of this master story, so that I can pick and choose which elements I will build into my new business work.

I want to show people how they can play the game to thrive during this economy, and at the same time, show them how (and where) to make choices that help them to separate from the master story so their souls are not crushed by the errors and shallowness of it. That's a big ambition.

During my first reading, I had a profound reaction, something that has never happened in my life before. I've always been curious about what's around the corner. I want to unravel the current threads to trace where they came from and project where they will go next. I'm always curious about the future. But as I read about part of this master story, I felt that if this is the way the world is going, I'm sure I don't want to be part of it. For the first time, I could imagine feeling weary of living and adapting. It passed, but it has left a mark on my soul.

I'm feeling quite light during this second reading. I'm able to read longer passages at a time, and I'm not feeling the weight of oppression from the shallowness of the ideas of this master story. Instead, I'm feeling inspired, seeing that I can use this information to help people both ride out the times and protect their soul at the same time. It can be done.

And this future isn't so bad. I see the markings of what some people dreamt of as the Age of Aquarius, the power of the individual to express an individual truth in the collective of people doing the same.

Some people believe that the new age actually starts in about a month on November 11, 2011. I know that my soul entered the new age decades back.

I wonder if the author of this book has any idea that his ideas resonate with the assemblage point and the teaching of Castanada? Is he a truth seeker in that vein who blended that sensibility into his more academic life work? Is the profound truth of this book on purpose? Or is this the work of an individual who choose a mundane path and through personal choices found his enlightenment in the midst of the mundane? I'd love to know the answer.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Shared Reality

In the last few years, I've struggled with the unfulfilled hunger for sharing my inner journey with people who understand me. Perhaps I've felt the same way my entire life. I remember being in college and feeling that I had to keep so much of my inner journey to myself, even with the people who seemed to believe as I believed. I was more intense, I felt more, and I understood my life events held the key to greater understanding than it seemed on the surface. I scared people. I didn't find anyone else who processed events the way I did, or who understood the nature of life and being human the way I did.

In the following years, through religion, then various philosophies, Eastern religions, and the wide range of New Age thought, I sought people who were running after life and truth with the same intensity without any luck. People came through my life like they were stuck in a revolving door. Over time, I came to expect this pattern, and so I changed my expectations for individuals. But I never got over the wound from the deep hunger caused by this pattern. Sometimes, the loss of a single person would trigger a grief that was out of proportion to the event, and I would know that I was grieving the wound.

I live a solitary life by nature and by choice. I only have time for reflection and introspection by having time for myself. My personality, my nature, my soul demand this and I'm happy to live a life that facilitates my growth. The lack of social interaction or loss of popular culture experiences seem like no sacrifice to me because they serve a greater good. At the same time, I chose to be alone at times when I could reach out to others because I am leery of the revolving door. I thought it was better to avoid the hurt than to embrace constant change. That is never a good decision, and that pattern caused me much pain, also. But this pain is caused by something I can change. And I am changing it.

In the last year, there is a dramatic change in my life in this area. I can't really say why this pattern is broken. I could list the many life changes that I have experienced that laid a foundation for this. But in the end, what matters is that this has changed. In February, I started to invite strangers to participate in my life. In April, I reached out to another stranger who has become a good friend. In July, it happened again while in Santa Fe. Through my art blog, I'm connecting with wonderful women around the world who have similar life experience and outlooks. It's such a joy to start to find my people. At the same time, I've resumed my participation in various online communities, and through them, I'm also finding new people. I'm finding a group of creative, technical people in my own town with whom I banter. I'm free to be myself, and as I reach out more, I find common grounds for conversation and meaningful interaction with them.

One of the most amazing deep changes in my character over the last decade is my ability to completely share in the joy of other people's success. I love hearing about any success in someone's life. I can feel the energy of their joy and their success spilling over into my life, fueling my own success engine. I can jump up and down with them, laugh with them, and really stand in their shoes. It is such a joy for me. I do still have my moments when I seem to be staring into the face of my own unfulfilled dreams and desires, when I can't find the joy for someone else, or I find myself gulping at their success. Fortunately, these times are infrequent and pass quickly.

As an adjunct, I have also found the ability to stand and see the beauty in the the actions, thoughts, and feelings of almost everyone I meet. With some people, I can see right into their souls, see who they are and who they want to be, and know in that moment that all is right in their world. That's really amazing when it happens as someone is spilling their heart about some sadness they face. It's as if I have learned how to see everyone from a divine perspective. It's the most amazing thing to feel and experience in the moment. I've also found that people are hungry for appreciation and acknowledgment. It has become my pleasure to speak of the beauty and truth I see in them because they appreciate hearing it. It's such a simple thing, coming from a very deep place, and with a profound impact. It humbles me to participate in such a noble course of action.

Through all of these things, my former hunger for shared reality has diminished, and perhaps disappeared. It's not a linear kind of disappearance, it didn't get smaller and smaller until it was too small to notice any more. Rather, it is a shift in perspective. It's like I turned my head, and when I turned back, I had a different vista. Like the hunger exists in another plane of existence or a different dimension, and I've found myself separate from it.

I find myself surrounded with good friends, people who get what I'm about even if they don't completely agree or have harmony with my ideas or world view. They see me with divine eyes, and from that place, we find a common ground for our very different life experiences. I find myself aware of my individuality at the same time I feel myself as part of the ocean of humanity. A self-aware drop of sea water. It's a beautiful thing.

Occasionally, I find myself still feeling like an outsider, or an odd-ball participant. I let it happen. I am learning to embrace my particular geekiness in the spiritual world. I still have moments when I'm vulnerable, but I am able to process those feeling quickly, get to the heart of my pain, and resolve to move forward. I sometimes feel confused and overwhelmed with the amount of change in my life, and long to cling to some aspect of my life that I notice is falling away from me. But I've learned to really observe myself, which quickly leads to laughing at myself because I've caught myself in the act of doing it again. Of forgetting that I'm god having a human experience. Of forgetting that everything is right with the universe and things are unfolding exactly as they should be. Of forgetting that my life is more than my current situation and my visibility into the future.

It seems that I've found my sea legs for living life from my own perspective, and have gotten really good at restoring my assemblage point to where I want it. From this place, I can't wait to find out what more I can do, how I can grow further, and how I can use this as a jumping off place to explore reality even more.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Map is Not The Territory

Last fall, my brother came to visit and brought his GPS. We installed it in my truck and I used it the whole weekend. I was fascinated by the geographical information and its access. In fact, I could hardly keep my eyes off the screen as I drove.

We used it one night while coming back from the northwest valley. Dave wanted to get off the highway to stop and eat, and when we had finished, the GPS gave us a route home. But the route wasn't a return to the highway. It suggested a trip through the heart of some really tough neighborhoods in Phoenix late on a weekend night. I told him that I wasn't going to drive that way, that I was going to return to the highway even if it was longer. He argued with me. He wanted to see the guts of Phoenix and thought I was being ridiculous for not wanting to drive through any street at any hour of the day.

I realized as he spoke that I was reacting to a conditioned fear, something I had been taught to fear rather than something involving my personal experience. I also realized that I was safe anywhere I traveled as long as I felt safe. I insisted on driving the highway, but it gave me some food for thought.

After I processed this revelation, I had another revelation about the nature of using a GPS. I started to wonder how many people blindly follow the instructions on the screen instead of thinking for themselves. I wondered how many people were driving the exact same routes, whether they were good routes or not, because they were being told to drive them. I suddenly saw the GPS as another tool for setting the assemblage point for a large number of people in terms of travel routes.

In the months that followed, I did purchase my own GPS that I use nearly every time I drive my truck. But I almost always take my own route after seeing the suggested route from the unit. Eventually, I had to turn the volume down because of the number of times the unit announces it is "recalculating" because I have taken a preferred street or made a detour for another reason. Even when I take my own route, the unit continues to provide me with an updated arrival time, a feature I find most useful when driving to appointments. I also appreciate that the unit remembers exact locations, where I tend to generalize locations near an intersection, but then forget which direction to turn. Overall, it has helped my driving and saved me time I previously spent turning around or backtracking.

Last night, I was out after dark vising new friends in a part of town with significant road construction. I got seriously lost because I followed the GPS directions. In fact, at one point, I was driving into the black, driving on streets that did not exist in the GPS database. Throughout this trip, even through the frustration, I observed myself using the GPS and felt a renewed zeal for the fact that the map is not the territory.

I know that if I am riding in the car with someone, I don't pay as much attention to the travel route as when I am driving. Even if I'm engaged in a serious conversation, as the driver I remember the travel route. There are times when I'm using the GPS that I feel like I'm a passenger, that I'm not paying attention to the travel route, only the instructions provided to me. I am not as engaged in the activity of driving, and I'm losing the experience of finding my way on a new route. It's a form of shutting down and handing control over to the little box attached to the windshield.

I know there are a class of driving zombies on the road now, people who are following a voice in the box telling them the route to take and when to turn. People who are willingly submitting to the perception of the geographic data and the travel algorithms rather than explore the territory. People who prefer the map to the territory, or even worse, people who don't realize that they have not yet engaged the territory.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tools, Craftsmanship, and Perspective

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to learn to use many different tools for self awareness. Some of them I have learned from teachers, some I have observed from a distance, and others I have stumbled across in the journey. With each tool, I've set out to master its use, and have done so with differing degrees of success.

When I use the word tool, I am referring to a wide range of items and practices. One physical tool may have many different uses or components, making it a tool set by itself. For example, two of the tools include yoga and meditation, which I link together because I often use them together. But they are both tool sets because there are many types of meditation I have used, and several yoga activities I've used (within the same school of yoga). Sometimes I practice them together, other times I practice them separately. The variation and combination create multiple tools, multiple ways to use these tool sets. Other tools include aromatherapy, dream interpretation, gardening, feng shui, homeopathy, and writing.

With each tool, I listen to what other practitioners have to say, I follow their guidance (especially when starting out), and I often do some research to get a perspective on how other people (including people in other places and at other times), have used the tool. The most important source of my information and the most helpful method for developing my craftsmanship with the tool, however, is to listen to what the practice teaches me. I trust my inner guidance when I get an idea to try something. I pay attention to how I feel while using the tool, especially when I feel more connected or when I feel that I'm done for a session. All of these things inform me along my journey, and with time and practice, I develop my craftsmanship with each tool. I begin to experiment with the tool, use it in new ways, and develop confidence about when and how and why to use it.

With this body of knowledge, and with my experience using the tool, I find that I connect with the tool in a deeper way. With several of the tools, I feel that I have connected with the essence of the tool as it has been used across the ages and that I have joined my experience into the collective wisdom of tool users. These are the tools that become mine, tools that become a regular and powerful presence in my toolbox for living.

There are plenty of other tools where my journey stops before I reach that point. I do not know if my journey ends because I stopped the practice or if the tool is not a natural fit for my soul or journey. I used to ask these types of questions, but I no longer ask them.

As much as I have a commitment to develop my craftsmanship with each tool, I also have another commitment to set aside tools. When a tool is new, I am trying it on. In spite of my intention to learn it for myself, I am influenced by the tool source. When the source is one or more people who touch my life, I realize that using the tool creates a connection between me and them. In the beginning, I've always found that connection to be useful, but as I travel my journey, it becomes a limitation because at some level, it is me learning to use someone else's tool.

When I first discovered this fact, I realized that a person who no longer participated in my life was still influencing me because I continued to use a set of tools I learned from him. I sensed my connection to him still because I used these tools. I wasn't sure if I used them because they were truly mine or if they facilitated keeping that connection. The only way I saw to resolve this issue was to set aside the tools for a time. I was inspired in part by this truth: "If you love something, set it free. If it returns to you, it is yours. If it does not, it never was." I knew that allowing the tools to cool, to give myself some time to breathe without using them, would show me which tools were truly mine, and which ones had been sticking to me because of the energy attached to them. At that point, I couldn't know if I was the one who attached the energy, or if the source had attached the energy, or if it was simply the nature of tools that they create a connection. And in truth, I discovered that the answer didn't matter. What mattered was that I was being ruthless (in a good way) about removing things from my life that shifted my assemblage point without my awareness of the shift.

Before I continue my point, let me say that I do not naively believe that I can eliminate all things from my life that influence my assemblage point. Everything I share with my culture and the people around me influences me and thus my assemblage point. What was important to me about these tools is the nature of spiritual tools. These are the things that I trust most in my journey, and for that reason, I want these things to be as clean as possible. Setting aside my tools was a way for me to assess the cleanness of the tools and to decide if the tool would remain in my life. I do not want to use tools out of habit. I want to use my tools out of choice. I want to trust the power of the tools I use in the most intimate part of my life, in my actions I choose to take along my journey.

Over the years, I have picked up and set aside many, many tools. I have the ability to move forward and not cling to the past, so many times I truly forget about the tools I've set aside. It's always interesting when I remember a set aside tool, or when something along my path reminds me of a set aside tool. I've discovered that when I return to a tool, some of them feel like reuniting with an old friend. Some of them are friendships I'm happy to continue, and the tools returns to my toolbox. Others cause me to remember an earlier time in my journey, I reflect on the lessons learned during that time, and I return to the present moment without the tool.

My experience has shown me different results over time. A few times, a set aside tool has reappeared more than once in my journey. Sometimes, the outcome of the second appearance is that I pick up the tool again, but sometimes not. I can't see any patterns or larger reasons for any of these outcomes, but I trust my guidance in the moment to pick up a tool or leave it set aside for now. Other times, I have encountered a situation where I knew the tool I needed to use, and even when I had set it aside, I immediately picked it back up.

What is most important to me is the actions I take to take responsibility for my path. I would rather loose the use of a tool because I was unsure of its cleanness and influence than continue to trust a tool that sticks to me only because of my energy connection to its source.

As I am thinking about this entry, as I'm reflecting on what I've just written, I'm struck by a few things, a few points of self awareness. First, I see with real clarity the amount of intention along my path. I certainly don't think I have any control over my journey, but I do strive to take full responsibility for my actions and choices along the way. This makes me feel strong, and reminds me that even though I question myself at times and I doubt my mastery of things, I have made large strides to really be the person I want to me. At the same moment, I realize all over again why so many people leave my life after a short time with me. I've taken a fairly intense stand on things, and even though I don't share these thoughts with others, the effect of them radiates from my being. I think that most people are not nearly as intentional as I am, that they float more than swim, and they don't want to participate as actively in their journey. I realize that my life is about the inner journey in a way that most people would never choose for themselves. I find great satisfaction in my path, and I realize it isn't a well-traveled path of life.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Synthesis and Discovery

Recent events have encouraged me to return to this blog, review my work here, and look at my current life events from a different perspective. When I started this blog, the construct of the assemblage point was the most useful tool in my awareness. In the weeks and months since then, I have drifted into using other tools and as a result, my thoughts about the assemblage point have temporarily stopped.

As I stand back in this space, and look through this lens at the recent years of my life, I'm almost giddy with anticipation because I feel the powerful presence of this tool. There is an excitement about my recent projects that exceeds the excitement they generate on their own. It's the thrill of gestalt, the feeling of the pieces coming together... of suddenly realizing that my life is even larger than I have been aware. As I stand in the edge of this feeling, I feel the pulse of an expansion that has already started and is already pulling me into a new and larger space with a great sense of awareness. I love my journey, all of the moments, but these moments of pure expansion are among the best moments because they stand out as milestones in the moment.

I cannot summarize my journey since my last entry, so I'll ramble a bit and capture the highlights I see now. I found myself eager to embrace my physical life and the physical environment in a new way. I began a walking route through my neighborhood in the foothills of North Mountain and began tracking my progress on a map as if I were walking to the Pacific Coast. I committed to establishing a healthy lifestyle, which also included a shifting of my priorities so walking and cooking and other personal care tasks were the most important ones in my daily schedule, and they became the greatest source of my feelings of abundance and wealth. I was truly creating a daily life that felt rich and rewarding. My increased focus in my physical form had other benefits as I found myself in better shape that I had been since high school.

After 20 months of profound changes, daily riches, and real happiness, I suddenly found myself sick and alone, and discovered the strength of my desire to live in the midst of pain, fear and denial. I was 12 hours from death when I arrived in the emergency room in the arms of an acquaintance. During the recovery period, I found myself questioning my beliefs and doubting decades of learning. It was a dark night of the soul. I've arrived on the other side with a deeper appreciation of my beliefs and what I've learned, and a new understanding of how they integrate with living of my physical life. I had reached the end of myself in a very real sense, and turned around to re-embrace my life and my journey to my center.

A seed was planted during this time, and like that seed, I also set roots. After nearly 25 years of gypsy living, I purchased a home and began the dual processes of feathering my nest and streamlining my life, processes that were often at odds. Doing them together provided a shifting perspective on my physical life much like the sun transversing the sky illuminates polar sides of objects. This process was interrupted by the sudden and extended illness and then death of my father. His care was more than the family could bear alone, and I spent weeks each month with him and giving my family time to rest. My issues with my father were long ago healed, and I was free to really offer him my love during this time. I consider this opportunity the greatest gift he ever gave me. I am so grateful to have the chance to show my parent some of the unconditional love I received as a child, even if I gave back the unconditional love he only wanted to give me. Afterward, I stayed with mom to help her adjust to her new single life, and my relationship with her and the rest of the family was changed forever.

When I finally returned to my home and its recent move-in disarray, I was overwhelmed with my loss grief and the unresolved grief from my illness. Since moving into this house four years ago, I virtually stopped walking and soon realized I was hiding in the shadows of the clutter of my physical world. I knew I had to find my way out of this desert. Searching for a tool that would heal my heart, I found solice in a song that became my anthem for self-healing. My grief rolled out of me and left my fallow heart and mind ploughed deeply and ready for new growth. I've written extensively about this song and the grief process in another blog.

A year ago, I spent an entire week sorting and resolving the one part of my clutter that caused me the most pain and shame, and established tools so I can maintain this new order. In the last week, I finished a second phase of this project, a phase that I could not have imagined a year ago, and one that makes me very proud of my willingness to face and strengthen my weakest character flaws. As I found myself willing to do this work, and as the success grew, it provided momentum for many of the smaller projects I was working on. I suddenly find that my clutter is almost removed, and I'm living in a beautiful home with new furnishings. I'm almost shocked that in the last weeks so many longstanding projects have finalized and I'm living my vision in this home. My best self is living in my vision for my life.

I have many things to explore through this lens of assemblage point, and will start that work in the next entry. I've laid this foundation of history so I can remember my journey and locate the true milestones, the ones that appear after time. I can see now the bones of how these discoveries will play out because I feel the strength of these truths in the time I've spent reflecting here. I can't wait to get started doing this work.