Monday, 15 December 2014

Quieting the Consciousness with the Purple Ray of Peace

With the purple ray, you want to bring in peace to quiet your soul and consciousness. When in the midst of a karmic trial, your consciousness is going to be buzzing. Your head will be filled with all sorts of ideas about what is going on, and many of those ideas will be wrong. Quiet your mind and heart so you can hear what God is trying to say to you. When going through a trying time, you won't always know if it's karma but you know it's a difficult time. In your prayers say, "Whatever it is, God, here I am. I am ready to listen. I need the peace and need it strong."

Envision the deep purple ray of peace down-raying from the golden sun above your head. As it comes down, feel it enveloping like a blanket of peace and tranquility. Feel yourself letting go of all worries or concerns and relaxing in the still waters of peace. You are putting your life in God's loving hands. There is only peace - the peace of spirit. Take a few deep breaths to draw in this peace.

Then see this purple light of peace entering through the top of your head to the spiritual centre in the middle of your head. Your mind is filled with the purple ray of peace. You are letting go of your worries and letting God guide your life. Let your mind rest on the still waters of peace. Let this peace ray quiet mental chatter and tense and disturbing thoughts. Turn off the intellect and let your mind become a beautiful receiving station for the thoughts of God. Know that in the silence the soul is most ready to hear. Still your mind.

Ask that the purple ray touch your subconscious mind, quieting any disturbing memories from this or any other life that are causing distress. Let your subconscious mind come into harmony with your conscious mind and both come into harmony with the higher mind.

Then let this light down-ray into the centre in the middle of your throat to bring peace to the words you speak and that are spoken to you. Release words that have caused distress or harm either to you or to others.

Then envision this peaceful light entering your Hermetic Centre in the middle of your chest. Let it radiate throughout your personal affairs - your job, your relationship, your finances - bringing peace, peace, peace. Let your actions come from a place of peace and poise. Then let this light touch your soul levels to quiet the soul, releasing anxieties and restlessness. Let your soul rest on the still waters of peace so it can better tune in to the divine presence. Let this purple ray bring peace to your soul. May you feel at peace with your life and at peace with God. Stay in the silence while this light is doing its work.

Then see this energy down-raying to the spiritual centre in the solar plexus near the navel. Give permission for this purple ray to touch deeply your emotions, bringing you "The Silence of Peace and the Peace of Silence."Feel hyperactivity dropping away and your emotions resting on the still waters of peace.

Then envision this light out-ray through the mental and causal templates to establish divine peace throughout all levels of your consciousness so you are more receptive to what the divine has to say to you.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Building Good Career Karma with the Golden Ray of Wisdom Light

There are many dynamics to consider when it comes to career. One of the most important is the recognition that, through your chosen pursuit, you are contributing to the divine plan and fulfilling your life's purpose. Dynamic power is essential to help you work through those obstacles and make a career flourish. In the same way, if you have been ruthless in your career pursuits, it is essential to redeem and temper that aggressive attitude while at the same time continuing to put your best foot forward.

The golden ray of wisdom light is the strongest dynamic spiritual power there is. By working with this energy, you can strengthen and fortify your aura and consciousness. This power has a strong connection to the divine mind. When this energy is seen in the aura, it indicates that one has earned that wisdom through experience and application.

Envision the dynamic golden ray down-raying from the golden sun above your head. This power surrounds you in its dynamic power. All irritations and fears melt away in the presence of this holy light. You feel courageous and strong.

Then see this power gently entering through the top of your head, blessing the spiritual centre in the middle of your head. Feel your thoughts illuminated with wisdom and understanding. You feel decisive and confident, full of faith in God. All confusion drops away and you feel this golden light bringing forth clarity and insight. If you have been careless or ruthless in your career path, let this light redirect your thoughts along more compassionate and constructive lines.

Then let this golden light flow into the subconscious mind to strengthen past lives where your excelled in your career. Ask the power of this light to rekindle some of the knowledge and power to help you complete your life's task in this life. See this energy touching memories of a past life where you created karma and released negative karmic energy.

Then see the golden light down-raying into the spiritual centre in the middle of your throat. Ask that this light strengthen your spiritual tone so that you speak in the voice of spirit. Ask that through the words you speak, you accentuate your career potential and your spiritual purpose.

Then see this golden ray entering your Hermetic Centre in the middle of your chest, filling it with this dynamic power. Feel yourself full of confidence and self-assurance in your career. If your purpose in life is not clear yet, feel the inner recognition that you do have a definite part to play in the divine plan. If your purpose is already clear, ask that this golden light give you more power to complete the full breadth of your life's task.

Then see this energy entering your soul levels, redeeming weak areas in your karmic soul energy and building up good career karma to even greater heights. Ask that this light touch your soul images to strengthen the images of your career destiny and to brighten any difficult career karma that you need to resolve. Stay in the silence for a few moments while this work is being done.

Then see the golden light entering into the centre in the solar plexus near the navel. Feel your emotions strengthened in this light and giving you all the willpower you need to complete your career potential. If you feel discouraged or disillusioned, this power brings you hope and encouragement. If you feel lost or misdirected, this power gives you purpose and conviction. Ask that this vital power give you the strength to refuse the emotional energy of others who might be directing discouraging feelings toward you.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Balancing Nature Karma with the Emerald-Green Ray

The emerald-green ray is excellent for helping to balance karmic condition with nature. Karma with nature works a little differently from other types of karma, but you can most definitely create karma with nature when you misuse it. This meditation is designed to help redeem negative energy created from misusing nature.

Envision an emerald-green light down-raying from the golden sun above your head. See this energy encircling you, uplifting all levels of your consciousness. Ask that this vital energy balance your relationship with nature and all the kingdoms of nature. Feel that you are a part of nature - its crowning glory.

As this emerald-green light enters gently through the top of your head, it activates the centre in the middle of your head, filling your thoughts with this radiant energy. You feel at one with nature, in rhythm with the divine pulse beat that flows through every kingdom of nature. Any misconceived thoughts regarding the relationship between nature and yourself are released.

Then see the emerald-green light flow into the centre in the middle of your throat, activating your speech pattern with balance and harmony, releasing any discordant or abusive words related to nature.

Then see this energy entering into the Hermetic Centre in the middle of your chest. Let it fill all areas of your personal affairs with this divine power. If you have initiated any action that was harmful to nature, ask that this emerald-green light harmonise this discordant energy and bring your relationship with nature back into balance. Then see this light touching all your soul levels, building up the karmic soul energy and increasing your appreciation of nature. Stay in the silence for a moment as the light is doing its job.

Then see this emerald-green light down-raying into the centre in the solar plexus near the navel to harmonise your emotions. Ask to redeem any carelessness or insensitivity when it comes to nature. Feel the unconditional love between nature and yourself.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Harmonising Physical Karma with the Emerald-Green Ray

Physical karma can be trick. Illnesses and physical distress can be caused by physiological problems, by wrong thinking and feeling, and can be the result of physical karma. Regardless of the cause of your physical distress, it is strongly recommended that you use all means of healing at your disposal: medical, holistic, and spiritual. Working with the orange-red flame, the blue-white fire, and the white light is essential in helping to heal the body. In addition, a powerful energy that helps with physical karma is the emerald-green ray of balance and harmony.

Envision a glowing emerald-green light down-raying from the golden sun above your head. As this light surrounds your aura, you immediately feel that all parts of your consciousness and being are coming into balance - mind, body, soul harmony.You feel that you are tuning into God's divine rhythm.

Then see this energy gently entering through the top of your head and entering the spiritual centre in the middle of your head, filling your mind with thoughts of balance and harmony. Ask that this light dissolve discordant thoughts, especially disturbing thoughts regarding your health. Feel that your mind is harmonising with the mind of God and giving you the pictures of perfect health.

Then let this light reach into your subconscious mind to harmonise all of the subconscious patterns. Ask that this light release memories of past lives of physical abuse to you or to others, to cut loose memories of illness and physical distress. Ask that the emerald-green light harmonise good physical karma from past lives of physical accomplishments to help give you strength in this life. Stay in the silence for a moment while this light is doing its work.

Then see the emerald-green ray touching the centre in the middle of your throat, harmonising every word you speak so that you speak words of health and well-being. Ask that this light release disharmonious and disturbing words spoken to you that reinforced any false images of ill health.

Then ask that the Divine Light of balance and harmony down-ray to the Hermetic Centre in the middle of your chest, filling it with the emerald-green ray. Let this light out-ray into every avenue of your life, bringing your personal activities into divine rhythm and serving God's plan for you. If you are facing physical distress that is affecting your life, feel this light balancing those conditions.

Then see this energy touching your soul levels and helping to build up more spiritual power in your karmic soul energy connected to physical well-being. If you know you have abused your body or the bodies of others, ask for God's forgiveness. Through this light, ask that God give you the power to take better care of your body and to use it for the purpose it was intended for - to act as a vehicle of physical expression for your soul. If you are enjoying good physical karma, ask that this light rarefy the physical form to become a more eloquent expression of your soul. Stay for a moment in the silence while this light is doing its work.

Then see this energy down-raying to the centre in the solar plexus near your navel. Feel the emerald-green ray balancing your emotional nature. If you have been feeding life to your ills through your emotions, feel this light derailing those negative emotions and redirecting your emotional nature so that the emotions are now reinforcing and nourishing the body with healthy vibrations.

Then see the emerald-green energy out-ray throughout the physical body to heal and restore perfect harmony to every aspect of the material form. Ask that this light touch any area of the body that is affected by physical karma. Feel this light releasing dark areas and bringing in more spiritual power to distressed areas. Ask that this emerald-green light strongly go into the spine, releasing stresses and impingements, opening up the spiritual currents that flow up and down the spine. Stay in the silence for a few moments while the light is doing its work.

Then ask that the emerald-green ray out-ray through the mental and causal templates and also what is called the astral body to bring perfect equilibrium to all levels of consciousness.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Strengthening Good Money Karma with the Turquoise Ray of Abundance

The turquoise ray is the spiritual energy of prosperity. This power brings you into the consciousness of wealth. It helps you to release limited thinking and to think in unlimited terms. As a child of God, you are part of God's kingdom and are meant to partake of infinite abundance that is part of the Kingdom of God. This energy is very helpful in working through money karma, as it helps you to learn the spiritual lessons that money presents.

Envision a brilliant turquoise light down-raying from the golden sun above your head. Feel it uplifting you as it encircles your aura and consciousness. Whatever financial troubles you may be having seem to vanish in the presence of this light. This spiritual energy surrounds you in a good luck halo of wealth and well-being.

Then see this energy gently entering through the top of your head and quickening the spiritual centring in the middle of your head. You feel this turquoise light filling your mind with thoughts of wealth and prosperity. Thoughts of poverty or lack disappear and you feel as one with God's infinite supply.

You feel that this light is giving you the right pictures of how to use money for God's divine purpose. If you feel you have misused money, ask this light to redeem you and teach you the right use of abundance. If you are enjoying good money karma, ask this light to expand your wealth consciousness and show you the right channels of expression your wealth is meant to take.

Then feel this energy touching your subconscious mind, filling the subconscious with thoughts of prosperity. It touches into past life memories where you were wealthy and used that wealth for the greater good of humanity. It also touches difficult lives where you mishandled money or suffered poverty, releasing negative energy connected to those experiences. Stay in silence for a few moments while the light is doing its work.

Then see this energy down-raying to the spiritual centre in the middle of your throat. See this light activating every word you speak in the Divine Light of prosperity, releasing any words of lack or limitation, purifying any speech patterns of worry, fear, distrust, deceit regarding money matters. Ask that your words become the spiritual tone of prosperity.

Then see this energy down-raying to the spiritual centre in the middle of your chest - your Hermetic Centre. See this centre filling up with the turquoise ray of abundance and supply. Let it out-ray into every avenue of your prosperity, increasing present avenues of abundance and generating new avenues of prosperity. Ask that you become a living witness of God's great riches.

Feel this energy healing any areas of your life that are hurting financially. Ask that this energy release areas where you are holding back your prosperity flow out of fear, worry, greed, possessiveness. As this energy quickens your heart centre, let your kindness and generosity flow freely. Be generous and giving with others as God is generous and giving with you.

Then feel this energy touch deep into your soul levels and your karmic soul energy, redeeming money karma you may have accrued and building good money karma to greater heights. Ask this light to quicken soul images connected to abundance, brightening them in the Divine Light. Feel your prosperity is boundless. Your cup is truly running over with God's great riches. Stay for a moment in the silence as the light is doing its work.

Then see this energy down-raying to the spiritual centre in the solar plexus area near the navel. Let this light touch deep into your emotional nature so that you are emotionally in agreement with this divine power. Feel wealthy. Feel like you are a mighty monarch. Let this light dissolve frustrations, fears, anxieties related to money matters. If you now you have done something wrong when it comes to money, ask God's forgiveness. If you have cheated, stolen or lied for monetary gain, ask for God's forgiveness. If you are stingy or possessive with your money, ask for God's forgiveness. If you have been reckless or careless or mismanaged money, ask for God's forgiveness. Feel that through this light, God is giving you a fresh opportunity to build and freely express your divine prosperity. Stay in the silence for a moment while the light is doing its work.

Then feel this light out-raying through your physical body so that you feel rich and abundantly healthy in body as well as mind and soul. See this energy out-raying through your mental and causal templates, filling them with the turquoise ray.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Healing Karmic Relationships with the Deep Rose-Pink Ray of Spiritual Love

The deep rose-pink ray is one of the most potent spiritual powers there is. It is the very embodiment of Divine Love. The energy is indispensable in any relationship and it is especially important when working through any karmic entanglements with others.

Envision a luminous deep rose-pink light down-raying from the golden sun above your head. You feel its warmth and tenderness as it encircles your aura, embracing you in the glow of the light. You feel at one with God. You sense that this light is saying that you are never alone; God is always with you.

Then see this light gently down-raying through the top of your head and enveloping the mental centre in the middle of your head. This deep rose-pink light infuses all your thoughts with love, releasing any unkind thoughts you have directed to others or any unkind thoughts directed at you.

Then see this light touching your subconscious mind to release and to heal any old hurts or wounds of the past, whether in this or a past life, connected with any person or situation. You feel yourself letting go of any old animosities into this loving light.

Then see this Divine Light touching the spiritual centre in the middle of your throat, healing any unkind verbal exchange with others whether initiated by you or someone else. Let the deep rose-pink light fill every word you speak with love.

Then see the deep rose-pink light down-raying into your Hermetic Centre in the middle of your chest. Feel your heart warming and softening with this light. If you have been holding back your love for whatever reason, feel all of that dropping away. Let every exchange with others come from a place of love - the unconditional love of God. Surrender any sense of judgement or condemnation. Let your heart beat with every heart of spiritual love. Hold in the silence for a few moments to let the light of love do its work.

Then ask that the deep rose-pink light go to any person you owe karma or any person who owes karma to you to redeem your actions and bring everything into the light and love of God so that this karma can be resolved to the benefit of all concerned. Ask for strength, guidance and courage in any karmic relationship that feels difficult to bear. Once again hold in the silence for a few moments while the light is doing its work.

Then see this loving ray down-raying into the spiritual centre in the solar plexus area near the navel. Ask that every emotion be bathed in the light of love, healing any emotional hurts or resentments. Ask to be released from any false sympathies, energetic tie-ins or hook-ins so that you are in your own emotional centre. Let your emotions feel the joy of this love, how it nurtures you and makes you feel one with God.

Then see this light out-raying through the physical body, letting every aspect of the body drink in this love. then see this energy out-raying through the mental template to fill it with spiritual love. And then see this light out-rating through the causal template, uplifting it in the light of love.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Redeeming Soul Karma with the Pure White Light

The pure white light serves many spiritual functions. It brings in the purity and holiness of God. This energy is excellent to work with to help strengthen and redeem soul karma character blemishes that are carryovers from past lives. It is also an excellent energy to work with when you know you have done something wrong and are trying to correct it.

Envision a radiant beam of the pure white light of God down-raying from the golden sun above your head. You immediately feel uplifted by this light as it encircles your aura. Feel its purity and power of redemption. You feel strengthened by this light and more in tune with the divine. You feel that with God all is possible.

Then see this light gently entering through the top of your head, touching the mental centre. Here the white light uplifts all your thought, illuminating you with the mind of God. Let it touch any dark corners of the mind so that the light can redeem you and bring this part of you back into the light. Let go of any unhealthy or unproductive habits or character traits into the light. Feel yourself surrendering any bad habits into God's loving hands.

Then see this light illuminating your subconscious mind, again shedding light into any dark corner and releasing any subconscious patterns that are adversely affecting you. Feel it all going into the light.

Then feel this light touching the spiritual centre in your throat to redeem any words that you have spoken that were hurtful to another whether intentionally or unintentionally. Ask that the white light go into your speech pattern to release harsh sound and to bring forth the uplifting sonorities of spiritual tone. Ask that the light help you to use words that are constructive and filled with Divine Light.

Then see the pure white light touching your Hermetic Centre to equalise, centre and attune all aspects of your personal affairs and action in the Divine Light of God. Ask that every step you take be in the rhythm with your divine purpose. See that white light going into your soul levels to strengthen the soul images ad karmic soul energy, uplifting everything in the purity of God and redeeming any dark corners by bringing them into the light.

Here take a few deep breaths and stay in the silence for a few moments while the light is doing its work.

Then ask that the light touch any weaknesses in your soul, to first bring them to your attention so you can work on them and to bring more spiritual power to strengthen the in the Divine Light.

If you know you have done something wrong, as the white light to diffuse any negative karmic energy created and give you more spiritual power to redeem yourself and take actions needed to set things right. As that this white light be projected into the vibrated ethers to derail any negative energy that you have set in motion and to bring everything back into balance. Ask for illumination for the right course of action. Stay in the silence for a few moments while the light does its work.

Then see this energy going to the spiritual centre in the solar plexus near the navel. Ask that it uplift all your emotional nature, releasing any regrets, remorse, guilt, or frustrations. Also ask that the light release any resistance to the light touching the emotions. Feel your emotional nature coming into alignment and feel yourself coming into the knowing that there is no sin past redemption and that you are always given a second chance to set things right. Feel a strengthening of your emotional power and an even stronger desire to pursue your goals in life.

Then see this light out-raying through the physical body, working into every atom to rarefy the physical framework. Then see this energy out-raying through the mental and causal templates, uplifting them in the light.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Replenishing Your Aura With the Blue-White Fire

After any type of spiritual cleansing, it is important to replenish yourself. One of the most powerful spiritual energies to accomplish this is an energy called the blue-white fire. It looks like the sapphire blue flame on a stove top with radiant streaks of white light moving through it. In this reflective meditation, you will be asking the light to charge and recharge your aura with new life force and to heal any troubled areas.

Envision a powerful blue-white fire light down-raying from the golden sun above your head. This energy has an immediate uplifting and transforming quality. You feel strengthened and renewed in this vitalising power. See this energy encircling your aura, charging and recharging you in a clockwise motion. Whatever was released by the orange-red flame is now being replenished by the blue-white fire.

Then see this blue-white fire gently entering the top of your head, reaching that beautiful spiritual centre within your head. Ask that all your thoughts be charged and recharged in this life-giving light. You feel and sense this blue-white fire replenishing every corner of your mental self, bring forth new, fresh ideas and inspiration, a fresh outlook on life. Any tired or stressed areas are wonderfully uplifted in this holy light. Feel this light nourishing every brain cell to respond to the impulse of mind.

Then gently ask that this light be directed to your subconscious mind to charge and recharge it in a clockwise motion. Feel a new influx of spiritual power replenishing the subconscious mind. Ask that the blue-white fire cultivate fertile soil for new divine ideas to take root.

Then ask that the blue-white fire touch any past life experiences that were positive and uplifting and are relevant in your life at this time, Ask that this subconscious pattern be quickened and exhilarated in the light so that its beneficent attribute can come more to the fore in this life to help serve the divine purpose you are here to complete. Stay in silence a moment while this light is doing its work.

Then ask that the blue-white fire down-ray to your throat area and the powerful spiritual centre in the throat. Ask that the light charge and recharge every word you speak so that your words go out in spiritual tone.

Then ask that the light go to your Hermetic Centre in the middle of your chest. Here let it charge and recharge every avenue of your human Earth affairs, giving new life and vigour to all that you do. See this blue-white fire release any sadness or depression; you now feel hopeful and optimistic.

Then in deepest humility and reverence, see this light touching your soul levels to strengthen and brighten your karmic soul energy to the full degree of your need. Stay in silence for a few moments for the light to do its work.

Then see the blue-white fire touching the soul images surrounding the Hermetic Centre to give you more power to tune into and better accomplish all that is in your Tapestry of Life and to give you more power and insight to fully resolve all your karma you came to redeem.

Then see the blue-white fire light enveloping the beautiful centre in the solar plexus near the navel. Let this light charge and recharge all of your emotional nature, replenishing tired areas and healing any emotional distresses. Feel that your emotions are coming back into a strong centring and equilibrium and coordinating with all other levels of your consciousness.

Then see this light out-raying through your physical body, through every cell, charging and recharging this body in a clockwise motion. See this light healing any ill or disturbed areas, bringing forth perfect health and well-being.

Then see this light continuing to out-ray through your mental template to charge and recharge all of the mental activities going on and to accentuate all the positive, enlightened thought patterns. See this light out-ray through the causal template to uplift the soul and refresh it with the Holy Breath of God.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Karmic Cleansing and the Orange-Red Flame

Over the next few days I will be featuring a series of meditations I found in the book Karma and Reincarnation. I believe that if more people do them, charging and cleansing their energy, they will be affect to affect their immediate surroundings in a positive way, and as the lights join up, their countries and perhaps the world.

With all the darkness and the sadness in the world, I think we sometimes believe that nothing would make a difference.

Practise these exercises (as an experiment) and see if you're right.

Before you do any of the following exercises, here is the setting up:

Begin your meditation by envisioning a golden bubble of protection all around you. Feel very safe and supported through this process. Recognise that God loves you and is helping you. Close your eyes and envision a golden sun about two feet above your head. This golden sun is radiating a beautiful golden-white light. It is your own Higher Self that is in direct connection with the divine realms. As you put your attention in this part of you, let go all worries or concerns. Simply feel the Divine Love and the holiness of this sacred level of consciousness.

Once you have established the golden sun above your head, you are ready to start working with spiritual energy.

The first exercise has to do with karmic cleansing the Orange-Red Flame:

The first step in releasing karmic energy is to do a spiritual cleansing. This cleansing can be general or specific to a particular karma or condition you are working through.

Envision a radiant orange-red flaming light down-raying from the golden sun above your head. Sense this energy surrounding you and releasing any negative, disturbing energies. Feel this negative energy being released from you and taken to the mineral kingdom and dissolved in the light. You feel a sense of freedom from anything that has been weighing heavily on you.

Then see this orange-red flaming light gently enter through the top of your head to a spiritual centre in the middle of your head. See this energy purifying all your thinking, releasing any disturbing, obsessive, and unhealthy thoughts. Release any thoughts that you have generated and any thoughts that others have projected onto you that are not of the divine. See that negative energy dissolved in the mineral kingdom in the light.

Then ask that this light be taken into the subconscious mind, releasing subconscious memories and patterns that are detrimental or are creating any disturbance in your life. Feel the light gently cleansing those areas, freeing you.

Then see this cleansing energy touching a spiritual centre in your throat, releasing words that you have spoken that were not in the Divine Light or words spoken to you that were not in the Divine Light that you accepted or reacted to. See all negative energy being dissolved in the mineral kingdom in the light.

Then see the orange-red flame touching your heart chakra - the Great Hermetic Centre. Give this energy permission to touch deep into this centre, releasing burdens or pressures. Let this light out-ray into every avenue of your human Earth affairs, purifying persons, places, things, conditions, and situations and the conditions that constitute the situations. Feel any obstructions or obstacles in your life dropping away.

Then ask that this divine light of purification touch the soul images around your Hermetic Centre, releasing any heavy karmic energy surrounding them. Hold in silence for a few moments while this light is doing its job. Ask that all negative energy be taken to the mineral kingdom and be dissolved in the light.

Then envision the orange-red flame light down-raying into your abdomen/solar plexus area and into a spiritual centre near the navel. Ask that this purifying light release negative emotional energies. Let the light purify confusions, irritations, frustrations, anxieties, fears, angers, and resentments. Let this light cut loose any emotional entanglements with other people. Ask those negative energies to be taken into the mineral kingdom and be dissolved in the light.

Then ask that the orange-red flaming light out-ray throughout your physical body, releasing all stresses, illness, fatigue, discomfort that you might be feeling. Ask that this light continue to out-ray through the mental template, purifying disturbing mental energies lodged in the mental template. Ask that all negative energies be taken into the mineral kingdom and dissolved in the light.

Ask that this energy continue to out-ray throughout your causal template, dissolving any negative energies connected to the soul levels. See any negative energy being dissolved in the mineral kingdoms in the light.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Iceland, again

I love the fact that after the financial collapse in Iceland, visionary peace builders organised conversation cafes that involved more than 20,000 people in discussions about values. People felt betrayed by aggressive get-rich-quick schemes, but they also acknowledged that they themselves had participated in these schemes in the fever to acquire more stuff. Conscious of the ruin that they had brought upon themselves, they scrutinised their leaders and saw that it was time to look for a new kind of leadership that displayed honesty, humility and integrity. They saw that at the root of dysfunctional leadership was a kind of hyperserious meanness and self-importance. They voted into office as mayor of Reyjkavik a brilliant comedian, who also turned out to be a brilliant politician. In the end, once they had explored their values more thoroughly, the people found that they were safer with leaders who could authentically be themselves and not always take themselves so seriously. It is promising when so many people can sit and talk with one another and then make breakthrough choices.

Excerpted from Cultivating Peace by James O'Dea

Saturday, 2 August 2014

To The Critics, Lest They Should Feel Ignored

By Bernard Shaw in his preface to St Joan (I am including it here because I find it hilarious)

To a professional critic (I have been one myself) theatre-going is the curse of Adam. The play is the evil he is paid to endure in the sweat of his brow; and the sooner it is over, the better. This would seem to place him in irreconcilable opposition to the paying playgoer, from whose point of view the longer the play, the more entertainment he gets for his money. It does in fact so place him, especially in the provinces, where the playgoer goes to the theatre for the sake of the play solely, and insists so effectively on a certain number of hours' entertainment that touring managers are sometimes seriously embarrassed by the brevity of the London plays they have to deal in.

For in London the critics are reinforced by a considerable body of persons who go to the theatre as many others go to church, to display their best clothes and compare them with other people's; to be in the fashion, and have something to talk about at dinner parties; to adore a pet performer; to pass the evening anywhere rather than at home: in short, for any or every reason except interest in dramatic art as such. In fashionable centres the number of irreligious people who go to church, of unmusical people who go to concerts and operas, and of undramatic people who go to the theatre, is so prodigious that sermons have been cut down to 10 minutes and plays to two hours; and, even at that, congregations sit longing for the benediction and audiences for the final curtain, so that they may get away to the lunch or supper they really crave for, after arriving as late as (or later than) the hour of beginning can possibly be made for them.

Thus from the stalls and in the Press an atmosphere if hypocrisy spreads. Nobody says straight out that genuine drama is a tedious nuisance, and that to ask people to endure more than two hours of it (with two long intervals of relief) is an intolerable imposition. Nobody says "I hate classical tragedy and comedy as I hate sermons and symphonies; but I like police news and divorce news and any kind of dancing or decoration that has an aphrodisiac effect on me or on my wife or husband. And whatever superior people may pretend, I cannot associate pleasure with any sort of intellectual activate; and I don't believe anyone else can either." Such things are not said; yet nine-tenths of what is offered as criticism of the drama in the metropolitan Press of Europe or America is nothing but a muddled paraphrase of it. If it does not mean that, it means nothing.

I do not complain of this, though it complains very unreasonably of me. But I can take no more notice of it than Einstein of the people who are incapable of mathematics. I write in the classical manner for those who pay for admission to a theatre because they like classical comedy or tragedy for its own sake, and like it so much when it is good of its kind and well done that they tear themselves away from it with reluctance to catch the very latest train or omnibus that will take them home. Far from arriving late from an eight or half-past eight o'clock dinner so as to escape at least the first half-hour of the performance, they stand in queues outside the theatre doors for hours beforehand in bitingly cold weather to secure a seat. In countries where a play lasts a week, they bring baskets of provisions and sit it out. These are the patrons on whom I depend for my bread. I do not give them performances 12 hours long, because circumstances do not at present make such entertainments feasible; though a performance beginning after breakfast and ending at sunset is as possible physically and artistically in Surrey or Middlesex as in Ober-Ammergau; and an all-night sitting in a theatre would be at least as enjoyable as an all-night sitting in the House of Commons, and much more useful. But in St Joan I have done my best by going to the well-established classical limit of three and a half hours practically continuous playing, barring the one interval imposed by considerations which have nothing to do with art. I know that this is hard on the pseudo-critics and on the fashionable people whose playgoing is a hypocrisy. I cannot help feeling some compassion for them when they assure me that my play, though a great play, must fail hopelessly because it does not begin at a quarter to nine and end at eleven. The facts are overwhelmingly against them. They forget that all men are not as they are. Still, I am sorry for them; and though I cannot for their sakes undo my work and help the people who hate the theatre to drive out the people who love it, yet I may point out to them that they have several remedies in their own hands. They can escape the first part of the play by their usual practice of arriving late. They can escape the epilogue by not waiting for it. And if the irreducible minimum thus attained is still too painful, they can stay away altogether. But I deprecate this extreme course, because it is good neither for my pocket, nor for their own souls. Already a few of them, noticing that what matters is not the absolute length of time occupied by a play, but the speed with which that time passes, are discovering that the theatre, though purgatorial in its Aristotelian moments, is not necessarily always the dull place they have so often found it. What do its discomforts matter when the play makes us forget them?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight

The Misconception: You celebrate diversity and respect others' point of view.

The Truth: You are drive to create and form groups and then believe other are wrong just because they are others.

In 1954, in eastern Oklahoma, two tribes of children nearly killed each other.

The neighbouring tribes were unaware of each others' existence. Separately, they lived among nature, played games, constructed shelters, prepared food - they knew peace. Each culture arrived at novel solutions to survival-critical problems. Each culture named the creeks and rocks and dangerous places, and those names were known to all. They helped each other and watched out for the well-being of the tribal members.

Scientists stood by, watchful, scribbling notes and whispering. Much nodding and squinting took place as the tribes granted to anthropology and psychology a wealth of data about how people build and maintain groups, how hierarchies are established and preserved. They wondered, the scientists, what would happen if these two groups were to meet.

These two tribes consisted of twenty-two boys, ages eleven and twelve, whom psychologist Muzafer Sherif had brought together at Oklahoma's Robbers Cave State Park. He and his team placed the two groups on separate buses and drove them to a Boy Scout camp inside the park - the sort with cabins and caves and thick wilderness. At the park, the scientists put the boys into separate sides of the camp about half a mile apart and kept secret from each group the existence and location of the other group. The boys didn't know one another beforehand, ad Sherif believed putting therm into a new environment away from their familiar cultures would encourage them to create a new culture from scratch.

He was right, but as those culture formed, something sinister presented itself. One of the behaviours that pushed and shoved its way to the top of the boys' mind is also something you are fending off at this very moment, something that is making your life harder than it ought to be. We'll get to that minute. First, let's get back to one of the most telling and frightening experiments in the history of psychology.

Sherif and his colleagues pretended to be staff members at the camp, similar to camp counsellors, so they could record, without interfering, the natural human drive form tribes. Right away social hierarchies began to emerge in which the boys established leaders and followers and special roles for everyone in between. Norms spontaneously generated. For instance, when one boy hurt his foot but didn't tell anyone until bedtime, it became expected among the group that Rattlers didn't complain. From then on, members waited until the day's work was finished to reveal injuries. When a boy cried, the others ignored him until he got over it. Regulations and rituals sprouted just as quickly. For instance, the high-status members, the natural leaders in both group, came up with guidelines for saying grace during meals and correct rotations for the ritual. Within a few days their initially arbitrary suggestions became the way things were done, and no one had to be prompted or reprimanded. They made up games and settled on rules of play. They embarked on projects to lean up certain areas and established chain of commands. Slackers were punished; overachievers were praised. Flags were created; signs erected.

Soon the two groups began to suspect they weren't alone. They would find evidence of others. They found cups and other signs of civilisation in places they didn't remember visiting. This strengthened their resolve and encouraged the two groups to hold tighter to their new norms, values, rituals, and all the other elements of the shared culture. At the end of the first week, the Rattlers discovered the others on the camps' baseball diamond. From this point forward both groups spent most of their time thinking about how to deal with their newfound adversaries. The group with no name asked about the outsiders. When told the other group called itself the Rattlers, the nameless group's members elected a baseball captain and asked the camp staff if they could face off in a game with the enemy. They named their baseball team the Eagles, after an animal they thought ate snakes.

Sherif and his colleagues had already planned on pitting the groups against each other in competitive sports. They weren't just researching how groups formed but also how they acted when in competition for resources. The fact that the boys were already itching to compete for dominance on the baseball field seemed to fall right in line with their research. So the scientists proceeded to stage two. The two tribes were overjoyed to learn they would not only play baseball but also compete in tug-of-war, touch football, treasure hunts, and other summer-camp-themed-rivalry. The scientists revealed a finite number of prizes. Winners would receive one of a handful of medals or knives. When the boys won the knives, some would kiss them before rushing to hide the weapons from the other group.

Sherif noted the two grouse spent a lot of time talking about how dumb and uncouth the other side was. they called them names, lots of names, and seemed preoccupied every night with defining the essence of their enemies. Sherif was fascinated by this display. The two groups needed the other side to be inferior once the competition for limited resources became a factor, so they began defining them as such. It strengthened their identity to assume that the identity of the enemy was a far cry from their own. Everything they learned about the other side became an example of how not to be, and any similarities tended to be ignored.

The researchers collected data and discussed findings while planning the next series of activities, but the boys made other plans. The experiment was about to spiral out of control, and it started with the Eagles.

One day, some of the Eagles discovered the Rattlers' flag standing unguarded on the baseball field. They discussed what to do and decided it should be ripped from the ground. Once they had it, they decided to burn it. They even put its scorched remains back in place and sang "Taps." Later, the Rattlers saw the atrocity and organised a raid in which they stole the Eagles' flag and burned it as payback. When the Eagles discovered the revenge burning, the leader issued a challenge - a face-off. The two leaders then met, prepared to fight each other in front of the two groups, but the scientists intervened. That night, the Rattlers dressed in war paint and raided the Eagles' cabins, turning over and tearing apart mosquito netting. The staff again intervened when the two groups stared circling and gathering rocks. The next day, the Rattlers painted with insulting graffiti a pair of blue jeans stolen from the Eagle and paraded it in front of the enemy's camp. The Eagles waited until the Rattlers were eating and conducted a retaliatory raid and then ran bad to their cabin to set up defences. They filled socks with rocks and waited. The camp staff, once again, intervened and convinced the Rattlers not to counterattack. The raids continued, and the interventions, too and eventually the Rattlers stole the Eagles' knives and medals. The Eagles, determined to retrieve them, formed an organised war party, with assigned roles and planned tactical manoeuvres. The two groups finally fought in open combat. The scientists broke up the fight. Fearing the two tribes might murder someone, they moved the groups' camps away from each other.

You probably suspected this was where the story was headed. You know it is possible in the right conditions that people, even children, might revert to savages. You know about the instant coffee version of cultures, too. You remember high school. You've watched Stephen King movies. People in new situations instinctively form groups. Those groups develop their own language quirks, in-jokes, norms, values, and so on. You've probably suspected that economic collapse would lead to a battle over who runs Bartertown. In this study, all they had to do was introduce competition for resources, and summer camp became Lord of the Flies.

What you may not have noticed, though, is how much of this behaviour is gurgling right below the surface of your consciousness form day to day. You aren't sharpening spears, but at some level you are contemplating your place in society, contemplating your allegiances and your opponents. You see yourself as part of some groups and not others, and like those boys, you spend a lot of time defining outsiders. The way you see others is deeply affected by something psychologists call the illusion of asymmetric insight, but to understand it, let's first consider how groups, like people, have identities. And with both individuals and groups, those identities aren't exactly real.

Hopefully by now you've had one of those late-night conversations fuelled by exhaustion, elation, fear, or drugs in which you and your friends finally admitted you were all bullshitting each other. If you haven't, go watch The Breakfast Club and come back. The idea is this: You put on a mask and a uniform before leaving for work. You put on another set for school. You have a costume for friends of different persuasions and one just for family. Who you are alone is not who you are with a lover or a friend. You quick change like Superman in a phone booth when you bump into old friends from high school at the grocery store, or the ex in line for a movie. When you part from that person, you quick-change back. The person on your arm forgives you. He or she understands, after all, he or she is also in disguise. It's not a new or novel concept, the idea of multiple identities for multiple occasions, but it's also to something you talk about often. The idea is old enough that the word person derives from persona, a Latin word for the mask a Greek actor sometimes worse so people could see who he was onstage. This concept - actors and performance, persona and masks - has been intertwined and adopted throughout history. Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." William James said a person "has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognise him." Carl Jung was particularly fond of the concept of the persona, saying it was "that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is."It's an old idea, but you and everyone else seems to stumble onto it in adolescence, forget about it for a while, and suddenly, remember again from time to time when you feel like an impostor or a fraud. It's okay; that's a natural feeling, and if you don't step back occasionally and feel funky about how you are wearing a socially constructed mask and uniform you are probably a psychopath.

Social media confound the issue. You are a public relations masterpiece. Not only are you free to create alternate selves for forums, websites, and other digital watering holes, but from one social media service to the next, you control the output of your persona. The clever tweets, the Instagrams of your delectable triumphs with the oven and mixing bowl, the funny meme you send out into the firmament that you check back on for comments, the new thing you own, the new place you visited - they tell a story of who you want to be. They satisfy something. Is anyone clicking on all these links? Is anyone smirking at this video?

The recent fuss over our oversharing culture and over the possible loss of privacy is just noisy ignorance. As a citizen of the Internet, you obfuscate the truth of your character. You hide your fears and transgressions and vulnerable yearnings for meaning, for purpose, for connection. In a world where you can control everything presented to an audience, domestic or imaginary, what is laid bare depends on who you believe is on the other side of the screen. You fret over your father or your aunt asking to be your Facebook friend. What will they think of that version of you? In flash or photos, it seems built-in, this desire to conceal some aspects of yourself in one group while exposing them in others. You can be vulnerable in many different ways but not all at once, it seems.

So you don social masks just like every human going back to the first campfire. You seem rather confident in those masks, in their ability to communicate and conceal that which you want on display and that which you wish were not. Groups, too, don such masks. Political parties establish platforms, companies give employees handbooks, countries write out constitutions, tree houses post club rules - every human gathering and institution, from a fashion show to the NRA, works to remain connected by developing a set of norms and values that signal when they are dealing with members of the in-group and identifies others as part of the out-group. The peculiar thing, though, is that once you feel included in a human institution or ideology, you can't help but see outsiders through a warped lens called the illusion of asymmetric insight.

How well do you know your friends? Pick one out of the bunch, someone you interact with often. Do you see the little ways he lies to himself and others? Do you secretly know what is holding her back, but also recognise the beautiful talents she doesn't appreciate? Do you know what he wants, what he is likely to do in most situations, what he will argue about and what let slide? Do you notice when she is posturing and when she is vulnerable? Do you know the perfect gift for him? Do you wish she had never gone out with so-and-so? Do you sometimes say with confidence, "You should have been there. You would have loved it," about things you enjoyed for him by proxy? Research shows you probably feel all these things and more. You see your friends, your family, your coworkers and peers, as semipermeable beings. You label them with ease. You see them as the artist, the grouch, the slacker, and the overachiever. "They did what? On, that's no surprise," you stay about them. You know who will watch the meteor shower with you and who will pass. You know whom to ask about spark plugs and whom to ask about planting a vegetable garden. You can, you believe, put yourself in their shoes and predict their behaviour in just about any situation. You believe every person except you is an open book. Of course, the research shows they believe the same thing about you.

In 2001, Emily Pronin and Lee Ross, along with Justin Kruger and Kenneth Savitsky, conducted a series of experiments exploring why you see people in this way. In the first experiment, they had people fill out a questionnaire asking them to think of a best friend and rate how well they believed they knew him or her. They showed the subjects a series of photos of an iceberg submerged in varying levels of water and asked them to circle the one that corresponded to how much of the "essential nature" they felt they could see of their friends. How much, of their own iceberg did they think their friend could see? Most people rated their insight into their best friend as keen. They saw more of the iceberg floating above the water line. In the other direction, they felt the insight their friends possessed of them was lacking; most of their own self was submerged and invisible to their friends. You believe you see more of other people's icebergs than they see of yours; meanwhile, they think the same thing about you.

The same researchers also asked people to describe a time when they felt most like themselves. Most subjects (78%) described something internal and unobservable, such as the feeling of seeing their child excel or the rush of applause after playing for an audience. When asked to describe when they believed friends or relatives were most illustrative of their personalities, they described internal feelings only 28% of the time. Instead, they tended to describe actions: Tom is most like Tom when he is telling a dirty joke, or Jill is most like Jill when she is rock climbing. You can't see internal states of others, so you generally don't use those states to describe their personalities.

When they had subjects complete words with some letters missing (such as g_l, which could be goal, girl, gall, gill, etc.) and then ask how much the subjects believed those word-completion tasks revealed about their true selves, most people said they revealed nothing at all. When the same people looked at other people's word completions, they said things such as "I get the feeling that whoever did this is pretty vain, but basically a nice guy." They looked at the words and said the people who filled them in were nature lovers, or having their periods, or were positive thinkers, or needed more sleep. When the words were their own, they meant nothing. When they were others', they pulled back a curtain.

When Pronin, Ross, Kruger and Savitsky moved from individuals to groups, they found an even more troubling version of he illusion of asymmetric insight. They had subjects identify themselves as either liberals or conservatives and, in a separate run of the experiment, as either pro-abortion or anti-abortion. The groups filled out questionnaires about their own beliefs and how they interpreted the beliefs of their opposition. They then rated how much insight their opponents possessed. The results showed liberals believed they knew more about conservatives than conservatives knew about liberals. The conservatives believed they knew more about liberals than liberals knew about conservatives. Both groups thought they knew more about their opponents than their opponents knew about themselves. The same was true of the pro-abortion and anti-abortion groups.

The illusion of asymmetric insight makes it seem that you know everyone else far better than they know you, and not only that, you know them better than they know themselves. You believe the same thing about groups of which you are a member. As a whole, your group understands outsiders better than outsiders understand your group, and you understand the group better than its members know the group to which they belong.

The researchers explained that this could be how you arrive at believing your thoughts and perceptions are true, accurate, and correct, therefore if someone sees things differently, from you or disagrees with you in some way, it is the result of a bias or an influence or a shortcoming. You often feel the other person must have been tainted in some way, otherwise he would see the world the way you do - the right way. The illusion of asymmetrical insight clouds your ability to see the people you disagree with as nuanced and complex. You tend to see yourself and the groups you belong to in shades of gray, but others and their groups as solid and defined primary colours lacking nuance or complexity.

The two tribes of children in Oklahoma formed because groups are how human beings escaped the Serengeti and built pyramids and invented Laffy Taffy. All primates depend on groups to survive and thrive, and human groups thrive most of all. It is in your nature to form them. Sherif's experiment with the boys at Robbers Cave State Park showed how quickly and easily you do so and how your innate drive to develop and observe norms and rituals will express itself even in a cultural vacuum. But there is a dark side to this behaviour. As psychologist Jonathan Haidt says, our minds "unite us into teams, divide us against other teams, and blind us to the truth." It's that last part that keeps getting you into trouble. Just as you don a self, a persona, and believe it to be thicker and harder to see through than those of your friends, family, and peers, you, too, believe that the groups to which you belong are more complex, more diverse, and more granular than are groups of which you could never imagine yourself a member. When you feel the warm comfort of belonging to a team, a tribe, a group -- you instinctively turn others into members of out-groups, into outsiders. Just as soldiers come up with derogatory names for enemies, every culture and subculture has a collection of terms for outsiders so as to better see them as a single-minded collective. You are prone to forming and joining groups and then believing your group is more diverse than outside groups.

In a political debate, you feel that the other side just doesn't get your point of view, and if they could only see things with your clarity, they would understand and fall naturally in line with what you believe. They must not understand, because if they did, they wouldn't think the things they think. By contrast, you believe you totally get their point of view and you reject it. You don't need to hear them elaborate on it because you already know it better than they do. So each side believes it understands the other side better than the other side understands both its opponents and itself.

The research suggests that you and the rest of humanity will continue to churn into groups, banding and disbanding, and the beautiful collective species-wide macro monoculture imagined by the most utopian of dreams might just be impossible unless alient warships lay siege to our cities. In Sherif's study, he was able to reintegrate the boys of the Robbers Cave experiment somewhat by telling them the water supply had been sabotaged by vandals. The two groups were able to come together and repair it as one. Later he staged a problem with one of the camp trucks and was able to get the boys to work together to pull it with a rope until it started. They never fully joined into one group, but the hostilities eased enough for both groups to ride the same bus together back home. Had the study continued, they might have dissolved back into one unit. It seems that peace is possible when we face shared problems, but for now we need to be in our tribes. It just feels right.

You pick a team, and like the boys at Robbers Cave, you spend a lot of time talking about how dumb and uncouth the other side is. You too, can become preoccupied with defining the essence of your enemy. You, too, need the other side to be inferior, so you define it as such. You start to believe your persona is actually your identity, and the identity of your enemy is actually his persona. You see yourself in a game of self-deluded poker and assume you are impossible to read while everyone else has obvious tells.

You are succumbing to the illusion of asymmetric insight, and as part of a flatter, more connected, always-on world, you will be tasked with seeing through this illusion more and more often as you are presented with more opportunities than ever to confront and define those who you feel are not in your tribe. Your ancestors rarely made any contact with people of opposing views with anything other than the end of a weapon, so your natural instinct is to assume anyone not in your group is wrong just because he is not in your group. Just a small amount of exposure to the opposition, especially if you are forced to cooperate with it, can allay those feelings.

Research by psychologist Steven Sloman and marketing expert Phil Fernbach shows that people who claim to understand complicated political topics such as cap and trade and flat taxes tend to reveal their ignorance when asked to provide a detailed explanation without the aid of Google. Though people on either side of an issue may believe they know their opponents' positions, when put to the task of breaking it down they soon learn that they have only a basic understanding of the topic being argued. Stranger still, once subjects in such studies recognise this, they reliably become more moderate in their beliefs. Zealotry wanes; fanatical opposition is dampened. The research suggests simply working to better explain your own opinion saps your fervour. Yet the same research shows the opposite effect when subjects are asked to justify their positions on a contentious issue. Justification strengthens a worldview, but exploration weakens it.

(From You Are Now Less Dumb, by David McRaney)

Monday, 14 April 2014

Let Us Commence

I posted an excerpt from this speech in this blog once upon a time. And then I read the whole speech and think that it all deserves a posting. From one of my favourite authors ever - Anne Lamott - she'll tell you what's what.

I am honored and surprised that you asked me to speak today.

This must be a magical day for you. I wouldn’t know. I accidentally forgot to graduate from college. I meant to, 30 years ago, but things got away from me. I did graduate from high school, though — do I get a partial credit for that? Although, unfortunately, my father had forgotten to pay the book bill, so at the graduation ceremony, when I opened the case to see my diploma, it was empty. Except for a ransom note that said, see Mrs. Foley, the bookkeeper, if you ever want to see your diploma alive again.

I went to Goucher College in Maryland for the best possible reasons — to learn — but then I dropped out at 19 for the best possible reasons — to become a writer. Those of you who have read my work know that instead, I accidentally became a Kelly girl for a while. Then, In a dazzling career move, I got hired as a clerk typist in the Nuclear Quality Assurance Department at Bechtel, where I worked typing and sorting triplicate forms. I hate to complain, but it was not very stimulating work. But it paid the bills, so I could write my stories every night when I got home. I worked at Bechtel for six months — but I had nothing to do with the current administration’s shameless war profiteering. I just sorted triplicate forms. You’ve got to believe me.

It was a terrible job, at which I did a terrible job, but it paid $600 a month, which was enough to pay my rent and bills. This is the real fly in the ointment if you are crazy enough to want to be an artist — you have to give up your dreams of swimming pools and fish forks, and take any old job. At 20, I got hired at a magazine as an assistant editor, and I think that was the last real job I’ve ever had.

I bet I’m beginning to make your parents really nervous — here I am sort of bragging about being a dropout, and unemployable, and secretly making a pitch for you to follow your creative dreams, when what they want is for you to do well in your field, make them look good, and maybe also make a tiny fortune.

But that is not your problem. Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.

At some point I finally started getting published, and experiencing a meager knock-kneed standing in the literary world, and I started to get almost everything that many of you graduates are hoping for — except for the money.

I got a lot of things that society had promised would make me whole and fulfilled — all the things that the culture tells you from preschool on will quiet the throbbing anxiety inside you — stature, the respect of colleagues, maybe even a kind of low-grade fame. The culture says these things will save you, as long as you also manage to keep your weight down. But the culture lies.

Slowly, after dozens of rejection slips and failures and false starts and postponed dreams — what Langston Hughes called dreams deferred — I stepped onto the hallowed ground of being a published novelist, and then 15 years later, I even started to make real money.

I’d been wanting to be a successful author my whole life. But when I finally did it, I was like a greyhound catching the mechanical rabbit she’d been chasing all her life — metal, wrapped up in cloth. It wasn’t alive; it had no spirit. It was fake. Fake doesn’t feed anything. Only spirit feeds spirit, in the same way only your own blood type can sustain you. It had nothing that could slake the lifelong thirst I had for a little immediacy, and connection.

So from the wise old pinnacle of my 49 years, I want to tell you that what you’re looking for is already inside you. You’ve heard this before, but the holy thing inside you really is that which causes you to seek it. You can’t buy it, lease it, rent it, date it or apply for it. The best job in the world can’t give it to you. Neither can success, or fame, or financial security — besides which, there ain’t no such thing. J.D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money is enough?” and he said, “Just a little bit more.”

So it can be confusing — most of your parents want you to do well, to be successful. They want you to be happy — or at least happy-ish. And they want you to be nicer to them; just a little nicer — is that so much to ask?

They want you to love, and be loved, and to find peace, and to laugh and find meaningful work. But they also — some of them — a few of them — not yours — yours are fine — they also want you to chase the bunny for a while. To get ahead, sock some away, and then find a balance between the greyhound bunny-chase, and savoring your life.

But the thing is that you don’t know if you’re going to live long enough to slow down, relax, and have fun, and discover the truth of your spiritual identity. You may not be destined to live a long life; you may not have 60 more years to discover and claim your own deepest truth — like Breaker Morant said, you have to live every day as if it’s your last, because one of these days, you’re bound to be right.

So I thought it might help if I just went ahead and told you what I think is the truth of your spiritual identity …

Actually, I don’t have a clue.

I do know you are not what you look like, or how much you weigh, or how you did in school, and whether you get to start a job next Monday or not. Spirit isn’t what you do, it’s … well, again, I don’t actually know. They probably taught this junior year at Goucher. But I know that you feel it best when you’re not doing much — when you’re in nature, when you’ve very quiet, or, paradoxically, listening to music.

I know you can feel it and hear it in the music you love, in the bass line, in the harmonies, in the silence between notes; in Chopin and Eminem, Emmylou Harris, Bach, whoever. You can close your eyes and feel the divine spark, concentrated in you, like a little Dr. Seuss firefly. It flickers with aliveness and relief, like an American in a foreign country who suddenly hears someone speaking in English. In the Christian tradition, they say that the soul rejoices in hearing what it already knows. And so you pay attention when that Dr. Seuss creature inside you sits up and says, “Yo!”

We can see spirit made visible in people being kind to each other, especially when it’s a really busy person, taking care of a needy annoying person. Or even if it’s terribly important you, stopping to take care of pitiful, pathetic you. In fact, that’s often when we see spirit most brightly.

It’s magic to see spirit largely because it’s so rare. Mostly you see the masks and the holograms that the culture presents as real. You see how you’re doing in the world’s eyes, or your family’s, or — worst of all — yours, or in the eyes of people who are doing better than you — much better than you — or worse. But you are not your bank account, or your ambitiousness. You’re not the cold clay lump with a big belly you leave behind when you die. You’re not your collection of walking personality disorders. You are spirit, you are love, and, while it is increasingly hard to believe during this presidency, you are free. You’re here to love, and be loved, freely. If you find out next week that you are terminally ill — and we’re all terminally ill on this bus — all that will matter is memories of beauty, that people loved you, and you loved them, and that you tried to help the poor and innocent.

So how do we feed and nourish our spirit, and the spirit of others?

First, find a path, and a little light to see by. Every single spiritual tradition says the same three things: 1) Live in the now, as often as you can, a breath here, a moment there. 2) You reap exactly what you sow. 3) You must take care of the poor, or you are so doomed that we can’t help you.

You don’t have to go overseas. There are people right here who are poor in spirit; worried, depressed, dancing as fast as they can, whose kids are sick, or whose retirement savings are gone. There is great loneliness among us, life-threatening loneliness. People have given up on peace, on equality. They’ve even given up on the Democratic Party, which I haven’t, not by a long shot. You do what you can, what good people have always done: You bring thirsty people water; you share your food, you try to help the homeless find shelter, you stand up for the underdog.

Anything that can help you get your sense of humor back feeds the spirit, too. In the Bill Murray army movie “Stripes,” a very tense recruit announces during his platoon’s introductions, “My name is Francis. No one calls me Francis. Anyone calls me Francis, I’ll kill them. And I don’t like to be touched — anyone tries to touch me, I’ll kill them.” And the sergeant responds, “Oh, lighten up, Francis.” So you may need to upgrade your friends. You need to find people who laugh gently at themselves, who remind you gently to lighten up.

Rest and laughter are the most spiritual and subversive acts of all. Laugh, rest, slow down. Some of you start jobs Monday; some of you desperately wish you did — some of your parents are asthmatic with anxiety that you don’t. They shared this with me before the ceremony began.

But again, this is not your problem. If your family is hell-bent on you making a name for yourself in the field of, say, molecular cell biology, then maybe when you’re giving them a final tour of campus, you can show them to the admissions office. I doubt very seriously that they could even get into U.C. Berkeley — I talked to a professor who said there is not a chance he could get in these days.

So I would recommend that you all just take a long deep breath, and stop. Just be where your butts are, and breathe. Take some time. You are graduating today. Refuse to cooperate with anyone who is trying to shame you into hopping right back up onto the rat exercise wheel.

Rest, but pay attention. Refuse to cooperate with anyone who is stealing your freedom, your personal and civil liberties, and then smirking about it. I’m not going to name names. Just send money to the ACLU whenever you can.

But slow down if you can. Better yet, lie down.

In my 20s I devised a school of relaxation that has unfortunately fallen out of favor in the ensuing years — it was called Prone Yoga. You just lie around as much as possible. You could read, listen to music, you could space out, or sleep. But you had to be lying down. Maintaining the prone.

You’ve graduated. You have nothing left to prove, and besides, it’s a fool’s game. If you agree to play, you’ve already lost. It’s Charlie Brown and Lucy, with the football. If you keep getting back on the field, they win. There are so many great things to do right now. Write. Sing. Rest. Eat cherries. Register voters. And — oh my God — I nearly forgot the most important thing: refuse to wear uncomfortable pants, even if they make you look really thin. Promise me you’ll never wear pants that bind or tug or hurt, pants that have an opinion about how much you’ve just eaten. The pants may be lying! There is way too much lying and scolding going on politically right now without your pants getting in on the act, too.

So bless you. You’ve done an amazing thing. And you are loved; you are capable of lives of great joy and meaning. It’s what you are made of. And it’s what you’re for. So take care of yourselves; take care of each other. Thank you.

Monday, 24 March 2014

God's Cricket Chorus

I haven't updated this blog in a while and if you have come here seeking inspiration or just comfort, I apologise for that. Life got in the way over and over, but really, there's no excuse for not updating a happy blog, is there?

I am writing this on my new MacBook Pro that I bought a few weeks ago but have been so frightened to use because...well, because I thought I was too dumb to do it. And then I opened it up today, waiting for a friend to Skype me, and c'est voila.

I decided to update this blog because while searching for his Skype address (no, I still haven't found it) I found an old message of his that led me to this blog and one of the posts - Love Letters to Strangers. I watched it and felt myself tear up.

Seriously, isn't this a wonderful blog? Although I compiled it myself I can come here after a break of so long and be surprised and touched anew.

Anyway, one of my friends posted this on Facebook last year and I simply loved it - the sound of crickets slowed down until their brief lives seem as long as human lives. And this heavenly chorus that resulted was...well, it blew my mind. I had intended to put this up on Jan 1. Instead, it's March 24, quarter way (or is it a third of the way) through Lent. Well, March 24 is as good as Jan 1.

So listen and enjoy.