Playful with Nut

I was given a gift, the other night, of a painting of the Egyptian Goddess Nut- that I had lusted after for some years. It belonged to a client of mine, who had it hanging in their living room, and said they had a duplicate, that they had brought back from a trip to Egypt.

Nut is a feminine presence that is difficult to describe, and as I drove home with the painting in my possession the other night, I could imagine I saw her, lovingly arching over the whole world in the sunset glow, a feminine presence that is all knowing and all protective- Rather a significant difference as a sky-mother than the harsh judgments of Jehovah, the sky father that so many of us have been taught to fear.

It is an estrangement of ourselves from ourselves. Sitting alone, in front of the computer screen, night after night, we seek that which we hoped would fulfill us- all the while not knowing that what we sought was already present, in a dimension we had not imagined until we were forced to become aware of it, by circumstances beyond our conscious control.

This is the endless lesson. To let go of who we think we are, and to embrace what we know not- in an almost romantic rapture that delivers us whole, upon the sandy beach of discovering who we might actually be. The question is rather beyond an ontological criteria- and into that of non-cognition and inhabituition. Where we are slowly becoming aware of who we are, from our life here.

In this place, that is all places, we begin to embrace ourselves, in the endless dancing of the Cosmos. But wait! you may say. What about me? Well, what about you? Where are you?  This is the unconscious mind. Walter Pidgeon in his role as Morpheus in one of the first Science Fiction classics “Forbidden Planet,” outed an obsolete malefic Freudian presence that had been given unlimited power by unimaginably advanced technology. He called them “Monsters from the Id…”

And if unacknowledged, as we have found with so many, when given power, the shadow nature of humankind can become monstrous. If we attend to these monsters when they are tiny, before they become inflated with fear, we can be playful and compassionate with them. It is a significant error to ignore them, for then they feed on the fearful energy of the ignorant. It is such a simple solution to be playful, with these energies in particular.

We continue to learn about the mind, and the unconscious forces that shape our every day decisions. Freud was consumed by his own sexuality, Jung actually liberated into the Cosmos by his willingness to fearlessly face the unknown, aided by Philemon.

And we have the opportunity, aided rather other than by technology (though technology certainly plays a role) to delve into what has been called the “collective unconscious,” in ways we are just becoming aware of.

Think about how in your own life, where you live, you happen to find yourself making certain decisions that you have become accustomed to think are yours. When we allow our awareness to shift levels, we may begin to see how the involvement at the individual level is rather a function of the collective awareness- though so many are unaware of this.

In all of it, there is a compassion for one another, who is ourself. In the USA I marvel and wonder at how people who I am certain are of good faith, so consistently act against their own interest-

Well, this is a long way from where I started, talking about Nut, and her over-arching loving presence at sunset that I felt a few nights ago. I’ve written in this blog about leaping, and screaming, and offering life- and now I’m suggesting we consider trust and play. Trusting our lives, and trusting others- in all the mis-takes we might make, yet continuing to trust, and be playful.

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
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Only what matters

I’ve just bitten into the fruit of an old plum tree. It doesn’t produce much anymore, but the few fruits it does produce are oh, so sweet; full of hope and wisdom. There really isn’t much expectation, anymore, about producing progeny. Flowering and fruiting is what it does- yet it has almost grown beyond any idea of what that might bring.

Trees have it easy in some senses, in that they don’t have to diaper and closely attend their offspring until a self-caring maturity takes hold. There is this sweet fruit, where the sweetness of the fruit holds all the promise of the seed. Compelled by the seed when more youthful, later we find that it is only the sweetness that really matters.

Each year, the old tree sprouts new growth. The few fruits either fall to the ground or are seized by raccoons. Yet the offering is not only reflexive, but gently enlivening to any who would notice. This old tree, whose limbs are less productive than those of more vigorous younger trees, teaches the sweetness of age, and the precious juices of embracing new life in the only way it knows.

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
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Waving at Topiary

Have you heard it? Or them? The wild voices in the woods, when the wind blows through the trees, or the sounds of the creeks flowing over well-washed stones from rainfall long ago.

I walked by the sea this weekend, and also walked in the County of Orange, where the lawns were as exquisitely manicured as the owners could afford, battling the offered and implied Obama label on the Bush deficit, and cursing the collective will for asking more of a tithe so the country could afford to prosper.

This is a time for us to deeply examine our individual and collective values, which begins with coming to know how we ourselves come to value what we do. Only when we understand ourselves can we then move this understanding into larger contexts. Otherwise we’re puppets. We feel pulled, but by whom? And those who pull upon us, do they know who pulls them?

We’re all capable of developing an awareness that can learn, and can develop loving links to all we know- and all we don’t know that we know. Part of coming out of the trance is to begin to question our habituated momentums, and begin, however slowly, to look into the nature of habits in general. Then we might come to understand how we now come to find ourselves where we are, each of us, in this life.

Confucius stated the double-negative Golden Rule about 500 years before Jesus: “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.” (The double-negative is a Chinese way to both be less direct, and more global at the same time.)

So many young people now are diving into their computers, the pachinko parlors, the virtual reality- watch the steel ball-bearings bouncing on the shiny pins form a Gaussian distribution, in a daze. After a while, perhaps some years, the glitz wears off, and we have the chance to take a walk in the woods. How is it that such a walk is so refreshing? (Unless one finds oneself continuing to yearn for fast-food.)

Wildness. Other than bonsai and topiary, no one told the trees how to grow except how they naturally express themselves. How would we express ourselves if we let go of our ideas of who we are and how we’re supposed to act? (That bonsai habit of rigid wire and root-clipping by some external gardener is hard to shake.)(How many people are willing to give away their power to anyone who says they will “take care of”  those who give away that power?)

Confucius developed rituals, in the spirit of surfing on the energy of the naturally unfolding world. (David Jones, 2009) Some have mis-interpreted these rituals, in having locked down the rules, so that people would get them right. But when locked down, rigidified, the rules become dead, and following them deadly.

The only rules that are of vitality are embedded in the wildness that we see- and have mistakenly fought against for hundreds of years.  Align with that wildness, and we are again vital. Even a little bit of alignment will bring an astonishing degree of energy. When we abandon ourselves to it, it is so intense that we die- and then become wave forms, moving along with all the other waves. (Alan Watts said it: See me? I’m waving to you! Hi!)

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
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Even a single breath

Where we live is like coming to know our intimate partners. There are lots of things we like about them, and as we live with them longer, some things we don’t. Though when we go traveling, and see other places and ways that other people do things, it’s so refreshing to get back to the one, the place that is known.

Context. It’s all a context, in which we find ourselves. Even to the point of applying the idea of context to context. The words begin to become meaningless. Though everyone knows the familiar. Where our family is.

Where ever we go is home to someone. The real challenge is to see beyond our internal unconscious preferences for the familiar to see what is healthful in what we have accepted as family and what is not.

Many of us know how people we love and value will cling to what is unhealthful, primarily because it is familiar, and therefore somehow, comfortable. Even though it may be the most uncomfortable process to endure- an abusive partner or situation or living space. The comfort of knowing what we can expect surprisingly overrides, much of the time, our own personal standards and what we are willing to tolerate under other circumstances.

So how to break out of the familiar cocoon? It is the willingness to take risks- to push the envelope, to become comfortable and mindful (rather than foolish!) in pushing the envelope- that which envelops us. Breaking out of the chrysalis. To unfold into what we know not.

There was a man, this weekend, that I watched unfold his whiz-bang show. All the participants were dazzled, and he was so earnest. I sat with him after the show and he would not tell me his real name. I could not see him inside the illusion he created. Another soul lost in technology and ambition, full of momentum of what he thought. Rather than finding the the truth of the heart (心), and feelings, at any expense. He had no idea who the master illusionist actually was or how to deal with that archetype that had, at that moment, seemed to have inhabited him, or so it seemed to me.

I read a book (by Bill Porter and Steven R. Johnson. 1993. Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese hermits. San Francisco: Mercury House.) not so long ago that talked about conversations a man who now lives in Washington State (Bill, who is fluent in Mandarin) had with hermits he found (both male and female) in his travels through the mountains of China.

Yes, they said, the Red Guards came and destroyed many of our sacred texts. The deeds to our temples. And then they went away, twenty years ago, and our lives have remained the same. We practice the way we have always practiced. Pilgrims come to talk to us, though we would rather they did not disturb our meditations of daily life.

Life goes on. How do we choose to come to the surface and breathe the fresh air, through the rather considerable turbulence of the context in which we find ourselves? But It Can Be Done.

I walked by the sea this weekend and saw dolphins playing in the waves. Simple as that.

The Cetaceans teach us, endlessly. Those Wise Ones who chose, eons ago, to return to the fluid environment- those who have chosen water rather than air and earth as their context- what can we learn from them?

Perhaps our lesson from them is to become aware that the context that we find ourselves in is actually a flowing context- and when we abandon ourselves to it, we may find, as do the dolphins, that we are rather less stressed, and can actually afford to be playful!-

Except when we blunder into the drift-nets of cognition- where we might just drown, in being caught in thought- and not be able to come up for even a single breath.

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
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To leap anyway

It’s so interesting how our transactions with one another shape our perceptions, not only of who the other is, but of ourselves. A sudden glance, a touch of fingertips, a mistaken perception of the other- all play to our perception of how we perceive our lives to be unfolding.

Much of our perception has been shown by neurologists to be a function of not only our conditioning, but of our unconscious preferences and biases. We jump to conclusions without sufficient data all the time, and construct meanings where there is no logical basis for such constructs to be supported- and even as they fall away, we make new ones to accommodate the falling away of the structures we so blithely thought were reality, until the next reality we have constructed presents itself finally to our limited conscious awareness.

Some of us, as I have said in an earlier posting, will attempt to cling with limbic ferocity, to those constructs we have made, sometimes in concert with others. Others will allow the constructs to gracefully fall away, until we stand naked, at the brink of wisdom and death in the next moment.

Then to plunge over the ever present cliff- which represented what we thought we knew- into the unknown, to be caught again and again, by what we know not, but have hopefully by now, come to trust that we will be caught and lovingly held- though it’s so difficult, sometimes, to look over the precipice,  and see the hard,  stony ground so far below,  and to leap anyway.

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
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Suddenly it opens

This last few weeks have been a really tough time for many of us. There was an astrological structure called a “Cardinal Grand Cross” that has left just about everyone I’ve talked to with a “boxed in” feeling- like there were these really significant tensions in life, that didn’t seem to have any resolution in the moment, and didn’t seem to have any resolution that would be possible in the near future. Just look at the congress and the debt ceiling.

The worst time was about two weeks ago, when an eclipse of the sun triggered an emotional cascade on top of the whole structure of feeling boxed in. The Fourth of July offered some relief, but not in the way we thought it would.

Now the pattern has opened, though some of us are hanging on for dear life to those structures that held us back because that’s all they knew, many of us are already moving forward, into the unknown, step by cautious step, wary of the cartoon-like yet somehow very real falling anvils or pianos that split the sidewalk as they land inches away from us, along with the circus music that accompanies such near-misses.

It’s like we’re trying to awaken from a disjoint dream, only to realize that what we have awakened to is less real and even more disjoint somehow than in our dreams.

Yet there is a theme of sanity underneath it all- like when we recognize friends from a distance, or hear something on the radio or see something on a video that is an example of clear thoughtfulness in the midst of what seems like so much craziness and polarization.

Lao Tzu and Confucius went through times like these- and found that there was little that was more important than a quality of genuine loving relating between human beings. That the cosmos would continue to do what it does, whether the humans who lived in it were sane or not-

It occurred to me this morning, on my morning walk, that so many people have forgotten that they are actually examples of what the cosmos is doing, rather than who they think that they are, and are attempting to do in the cosmos. These are both sort of the same thing- and yet its important to recognize that what you think you have accomplished today was actually something that the cosmos was doing. You couldn’t have done it if there hadn’t been a place for it. People talk about “making their own luck,” and I suppose some of that is true, in being attentive to certain momentums and people who hold those momentums that we can align with.

Yet I have found, again and again, that if something is possible and one attends to it, the probability of it happening is higher than if one didn’t attend to it. And if it wasn’t possible, no amount of effort or attention would make it happen.

The twelve step people have a saying about this; yet there is always a next step, that one can choose to expand one’s awareness to take in the harmonies and dis-harmonies that paradoxically occur simultaneously.

There is an old poem by the Sufi poet Rumi that is something like: “For years I pounded on the door- suddenly it opens- I’ve been knocking from inside!”

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
www.theonaut.com

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The only cost is your life.

Friendships are so precious. People we can talk to, unreservedly, and be openly accepted, even in disagreement. With such people, we are ourselves, completely. All of the pretenses and even hopes and fears fall away, for genuine connection with a kindred friend. We talked of intimacy today, and such intimacy is beyond conditioned or unconditioned loving- it is perhaps the most deeply respectful and simultaneously open interrelating with another person.

Nothing to hide, nowhere to hide, only a celebration and playful exploration of the deeps. Wondering about a mutual identity, wondering about how we find ourselves were we happen to show up in the moment, in our respective communities. Wondering of our purpose, yet somehow certain, in all of the space we have been allowed, we learn to make the most compassionate space for those we know and for strangers.

How did we show up, other than as strangers, on the doorstep of the divine, only to be taken in as family, as are those we hold most dear? Who are these people who wander the streets of cognition, hanging out on street corners, begging for change? Do we all not know the hells of stagnation? And the blessings and sometimes seemingly unwelcome shattering of the old and familiar?

What remains? Or rather Who remains?

I talked at length this afternoon with a new friend of what it was like to die to the larger pattern. All my aspirations as a conceptually involved person were lost in a moment. And I was torn open, and died. Yet the human envelope continued, for the time being. What is it that continues? When we let go of everything, including our image and concept of ourselves-

That which endures beyond our capability to conceive it brings joy.

I talked with my friend this morning about trouble-making and active struggle to know the truth. Transparency was mentioned, though not by that word. To probe and probe and probe, endlessly seeking. Or so it seems. We can endlessly seek, for that is the nature of our being.

Yet what is it like to release any reified idea, and suddenly find ourselves embracing and embraced by the whole? Whose eyes are we actually looking out of?

So, I said to my friend, just give a knowing glance to the one you know has been aware all along, that their humility doesn’t completely cover the divinity that is peeking through. Not to say that any hubris would be welcomed. The idea is to be playful.

You have invited me into your heart, your most intimate space. How do I tell you that I love you in this intimate dance and keep (embrace) the space between us (all) that connects us, without frightening anyone? I suppose it is to disclaim the notion of “I.” Again and again I find that I am other than who I thought. Yes the power of thought is significant. Yet there is this other understanding that I also talked about today.

That all the enlightened teachers became skillful with language. They enfolded, to an infinite degree, deep meanings that transcend language, knowing full well that people might get trapped by surface meanings, and all the suffering that would cause. Yet in each verse, when we look for it, the experience of transcendence is there, unfailingly. We cannot miss it, when we have the proper orientation to inhabit the requisite presuppositions.

The words fall apart like a clam shell, tapped in just the right way.

And what are these presuppositions of transcendence?

Bit by bit we collect them. Some are hard-won, by combat or grief. Some come so easily, it is easy to undervalue them. And all of them are freely given. The only cost is your life.

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
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Gull Screams

I’m thinking about the pattern that you and I are finding that we are in, in our individual lives- and that it’s a vital pattern, even if we get into fights with our friends or cohorts. Some strange twists come through that no one expected, and that always, always teach us about ourselves. And what I’m thinking about tonight, is that in this pattern that I am living and being lived by, sort of both at the same time, that there is not exactly a comfort, yet in knowing the depth and robustness of it, even though some of the events that may happen are beyond any kind of thought that I might have…

I do have a sense that containing it all, and the containment I mean as an embrace rather than any kind of constriction, though at times it may seem like a constriction- that through it all, there is this sense of constancy, alertness, a vitality that is beyond a human kind of awareness, and accompanying this deep love is a sort of ironic humor. Some have called it antinomy, and some have called it other things. In the midst of our tantrums is a kind and compassionate awareness, that is fully privy to the horrors that humans can experience if they choose to- if they place themselves in the path of a tsunami or earthquake or even death.

Sometimes, in the difficult times, the contacts with our friends who understand us mean so much. Yes, it has been a difficult day, and yes wasn’t the expression of so many inexplicable- and yes, I’m here to talk with you and let you know as you let me know, that we aren’t crazy. And that it was a pissy day, with everyone on their horse. (Whether it was high or not is other than for us to say.) We, all of us, watched amazed, as these horses go by, one by one. And it isn’t the horse’s fault, by any means. At least I wasn’t riding one of those horses, was I?

You can look into a horse’s eyes and see the extraordinary equine forbearance towards humans, most of the time. And sometimes they have had enough.

When I go to the beach, I sometimes see gulls who just start screaming out of nowhere. There is such permission in that, in a gull scream, ’cause that’s what they do- they don’t wonder if anyone is going to criticize them for vocalizing. So I’ll join in, sometimes, and remember that when my emotions get to a certain point, I can release them through a gull scream.

And the beach is still there, and the waves roll in endlessly. My friends are done tantruming for the night, as am I. How have I contributed to the general field of pissyness, I wonder? Such a curious thing, a pissy dance. And the dance floor didn’t go away, and we aren’t dead yet. I’d rather waltz, or West Coast Swing. Sometimes the pissy dance is all we know, ’cause that’s the expression of the gull scream, waiting to come out all day long.

And then, the gulls stop screaming and look at you curiously, and it is as if they had never screamed in that next moment, but were always walking nonchelantly, pigeon or gull-toed along the beach, looking for the next morsel.

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
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Have patience with it.

Expand your awareness beyond yourself as an individual. Attend to how the Self fits in to the Whole Pattern so that the perceived disharmony at the level of the self is really only an expression of the pattern.

So that when you engage with the pattern and allow the pattern to healthfully emerge in the moment, the self is carried along as if surfing in a flow- So that the dis-harmonies that were initially perceived as difficulties, resolve themselves. And the self is yet only a modality for attending to other points of Self in the most loving way. Things that come up (in daily life) you deal with from the larger perspective- in kindness, patience, and compassion.

And wait for the openings to occur that allow a real communication to happen (between elements of the Self). And when that happens, the whole Pattern relents and resolves…

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
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Mercury Retrograde

A couple of times a year, the planet Mercury goes retrograde. This means, as seen from Earth, Mercury seems to go backwards in the sky, relative to the stars. Many times people are less than pleased when Mercury goes retrograde, and become frustrated with how others don’t seem to understand them. Communication seems to somehow become inside-out and backwards.

Its a time when we can become more introspective, to do art, poetry and music. However, as Mercury is in Aries and going retrograde, it’s important that when we choose to become introspective, that we do so without frustration over how our efforts at communication may be seeming not to connect. The Aries drive to explore and innovate that we feel can be utilized by going deeper into ourselves; so we really know that we understand, perhaps outside of a cognitive and linear kind of understanding.

And along with this, Mercury will be again conjuncting Jupiter, and opposing Saturn. So there is a feeling of wanting to move ahead with hope and joy, and simultaneously being somehow held back- to try to bring things into balance. Sounds like the budget fights in Washington, doesn’t it?

The release of this retrograde energy, of which Trickster Astrologer Caroline Casey says is like “drawing back a bow-string,” is to practice fierce art. To delve deeply inside to find how we might more effectively communicate with one another without being attached to the way we communicate. If one way doesn’t seem to be working, to try something else, and to decline to fall into the trap of having to be “right.”

Again, patience is a watchword here, in the midst of all this intensity. Patience while we attend to how the process is unfolding, which it finally will, around April 23rd, which is when Mercury goes direct again.

©2011 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
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