God picks up the the reed-flute
world and blows.
Each note is a need coming
through one of us,
a longing pain.
Remember the lips
where the wind-breath
and let your note be clear.
Don’t try to end it.
Be your note.
I’ll show you how it’s enough.
Go up on the roof at night
in this city of soul.
Let everyone climb on their roofs
and sing their notes!
What is real? Our shadow or that which cast a shadow?
What we think we are is but a shadow cast by our past.
Yet what is real cast no shadow and lives in the present.
We are once again standing at the threshold of a new year. This is a time when most people make resolutions and set goals. More often than not these resolutions and goals are broken, and we tend to then tell ourselves how bad, or weak we are. Upon our life journey’s we will often stumble and break our resolutions. If we fail, all we need to do is to pick ourselves up and keep on trying until we do succeed. Especially in tough times persistence is the key to success. There is a wonderful tale told by Vladimir Slovyov in his book “War, Progress and the End of History” that illustrates this beautifully
“Two hermits had gone out into theNitrian Desertto save their souls. Their caves were not far distant from each other, but they themselves never talked together, except that they occasionally sang psalms, so that they could hear each other. In this way they spent many years, and their fame began to spread in Egypt and the surrounding countries. It came to pass that one day the Devil managed to put into both their minds simultaneously one and the same desire, and without saying a word to each other they collected their baskets and mats made of palm leaves and branches, and went off toAlexandria. They sold their work there and then for three days and three nights they sought pleasure in the company of drunkards and sinners, after which they went back to their desert.
And one of them cried out in bitterness and agony of the soul:” I am lost eternally! Cursed am I! No prayers and penance can atone for such madness, such abominations! All my years of fasting and prayer gone for nothing! I am ruined, body and soul!” The other man, however, was walking by his side, singing psalms in a cheerful voice. “Brother,” said the repentant one, “have you gone mad?” “Why do you ask that?” “But why aren’t you grieving?” “What should I grieve about?” “Listen to him! Have you forgotten Alexandria?” ‘What about Alexandria? Glory to God who preserves that famous and God-fearing City!” “But we, what did we do in Alexandria?” “You know well enough yourself what we did; we sold our baskets, worshipped St. Mark, visited other churches, called on the pious governor of the city, conversed with the good prioress Leonilla who is always kind to monks…” “But didn’t we spend the night in a house of ill fame?” “God save us! No! We spent the evening and the night in the patriarch’s court.” “Holy martyrs! He has lost his mind…
Where then did we treat ourselves to wine?” “We partook of wine and food at the patriarch’s table on the occasion of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin.” “Poor, miserable creature! And who was it whom we kissed, not to mention worse things? Are you making a fool of me? Or has the Devil himself entered your soul as punishment for yesterday’s abominations? They were wretched libertines, you blackguard, that you kissed!” “Well, I don’t know which of us the Devil has entered; Whether he has entered me, who am rejoicing in the gifts of God and in the benevolence of the godly priests, and am praising my Creator-or whether he has entered you, who are now raving like a lunatic and calling the house of our blessed father and pastor a house of ill fame.” “Oh, you heretic! You offspring of Arian! Accursed mouth of Apollinarius!” At this the hermit who had been grieving over his lapse from virtue fell upon his comrade and began beating him. When the outburst was over they returned silently to their caves.
All night long the repentant one wore himself out with grief, filling the desert with his groans and cries, tearing out his hair, throwing himself on the ground and dashing his head against it, while the other quietly and happily sang his psalms. Next morning the repentant one was struck by a sudden thought: “By my many years of self-denial I had been granted a special blessing of the Holy Spirit which had already begun to reveal itself in miracles and apparitions. And if after this I gave myself up to the abominations of the flesh, I must have committed a sin against the Holy Spirit, which, according to the word of God, is for all eternity unpardonable. If, however, I am irrevocably doomed, what can I do in the desert?” And so he went to Alexandria and gave himself up to a wanton life.
It so happened that soon afterward he badly needed money, and, in company with other dissolute fellows like himself, murdered and robbed a wealthy merchant. The crime was discovered; he was tried by the city court, sentenced to death, and died an unrepentant sinner. At the same time his old friend, continuing his life of devotion, attained to the highest degree of saintliness and became famous for his great miracles. When finally the day of his death arrived, his decrepit and withered body suddenly became resplendent with the beauty of youth. A wondrous light surrounded it; from it proceeded the perfume of sweet spices. The pilgrims both committed every other crime, but only one met his doom – the one who became despondent.”
The most important resolution you can make this year is to never give up on what is important to you.
The air is filled with squeals of joy, and the smell of braais as thousands descend on the beach today. December 26, known as Boxing Day, became the Day of Goodwill in South Africa in 1994; a day of giving in loving-kindness.
In the days of sailing ships a Christmas Box was placed on ships by a priest to bring good luck on the journey. Crewmen who wanted to ensure a safe journey would drop money in the box. It was the sealed and kept on board for the entire voyage. If the ship returned home safely the box was handed to the priest. The priest would keep the box sealed until Christmas and then share the contents with the less fortunate.
Is our life not a voyage of exploration and each year we return to the harbour safely after completing our yearly voyage? Each year we leave the safety of our harbours into uncharted waters, knowing we will face many dangers to reach our goals. Do we also keep a Christmas Box on our vessel? Giving in loving-kindness is a cause of abundant life and good fortune.
“Money is coined liberty.” Fyodor Dostoevsky House of the Dead
The VOC was a prime example of a company who had as much rights as a government. The VOC was founded in 1602 in Holland with seventeen directors known as the Here XVII. They received sole rights from the Dutch government to trade with the East. In their territories they could conclude treaties, build forts and keep garrisons.
The word manumit is a word we rarely hear today it means “to free from slavery, servitude, etc.; emancipate” and is derived from the Latin manūmittere – to release, from manū from one’s hand + ēmittere to send away.
In the Cape colony both male and female slaves could submit a request to the Council for manumission. In order to secure freedom however, slaves needed to be baptized, and be able to speak Nederduits. In addition, they needed to provide the VOC with a healthy capable male slave to take their place or pay the Company the amount equal to the value of a strong young male slave.
What has really changed since then?
Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal — that there is no human relation between master and slave.” – Leo Tolstoy
Mortgage: In the word mortgage, the mort- is from the Latin word mori (via old french mort) for death and -gage is from the sense of that word meaning a pledge to forfeit something of value if a debt is not repaid. So mortgage is literally a death pledge.
What do we have to give for our manumission?
“Since 1940, Washington has spent the unimaginable sum of $20 trillion ($20,000,000,000,000!) on the military–enough money to have provided for adequate nutrition, clean water, electrification, housing, literacy, and basic health care for the world’s entire population. In the next four years alone an additional $1.2 trillion will go down the military rathole. Today the U.S. military budget is bigger than that of the rest of the United Nations Security Council members combined. This bloated military establishment exists to protect and serve U.S. capital–not only to extend and maintain its domination in what used to be called the Third World, the oppressed countries, but also vis-a-vis its imperialist allies and rivals.” – Richard Becker
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of it laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children” — President Dwight D. Eisenhower
We howled when they came and took Al for a walk, and not us. Later we heard their car returning but Al was not back from his walk. They came to pat and stroke us, and we felt a great sadness in their stroke, which made us feel uncomfortable. I felt wet drops of rain on my coat even though there was no rain. Where was Al?
Later at supper time, as I eagerly awaited my bowl, and ate quickly in case Al made a charge for my food, I noticed that Al was still not back. That night I curled up with mum without having to fight for my place. During the night mum became restless and started to bark at every shadow. Al was always the one who would go and see if everything was alright. They kept coming out to stroke us with the same sadness in their stroke and their words. Where was Al?
We sniffed his trial of scent to find him but each time it led to the gate. We kept picking up his scent for many days as it grew fainter. As long as his scent remained, we wondered when he would return. Where was he? Any time now he will come storming and jumping in wild abandon. In time the last trails of his lingering scent disappeared too. All that remained of his scent were my memories. In the dark of the nights I often caught a familiar scent and I moved to make a space for him.
At this time of the year the word gift is prominently on people mind but have you ever given it any further thought? In the runic alphabet, the rune Gyfu has the meaning of gift. It is shaped like the Roman letter X and it was used to denote things dedicated to the gods. According to a rune poem Gyfu is “To people, giving is an ornament of value, and to every outsider without any order, it is substance and honour.”
Whether you believe in a divine being or not to give a gift always indicates a belief in something greater than yourself. For when you give a gift you are reaching out to something outside of yourself in recognition that something outside of yourself exists and the gift becomes the token of the desire to link yourself with that which you wish to honour in recognition.
Symbolically, Gyfu describes the gift of one’s own ability or talent in service to another. Ability itself, or talent, was viewed as a gift to the individual from the gods. When anything is given, a relationship is established between the giver and the receiver. In this world when we give a gift it is a direct reflection of our talent or abilities, for even in choosing a shop bought gift we are using our abilities to choose through our personal vision what the other whom we wish to honour might like. In other words we are looking at the other through our personal vision and are recognizing their uniqueness through the symbol of the particular gift. In reflection upon ourselves the gift is a symbol of what we have to give, thus our abilities and talents that we are able to give to the world.
Gyfu also signifies the unifying effect that a gift makes between the donor and the recipient of the gift. The gift thus expresses the qualities of linking seemingly separate people in a common bond, or even human with the divine. If you look at the symbol of “X” it is two separate lines crossing each other to form a new symbol in unity, thus expressing exactly the implications of giving and receiving. Each one of us has unique talents and abilities when joined with other talents and abilities becomes something greater than the than the individual. It is indeed in sharing our talents and abilities that they grow and mature and become a gift to the world. Yet, we need courage to express and give our talents and abilities.
Esoterically Gyfu is the quality personified in the Norse goddess Gefn or Gefjon, the bountiful giver, the equivalent of the goddess Abundantia, formerly worshipped in central Europe. This further elucidates the meaning of the gift, for we can only give something when we feel that we have something to give. It is only when we are able to give that abundance will follow.
In modern usage, Gyfu is the sigil used to represent a kiss. This is perhaps the most intimate form of the gift, for when we kiss another we truly give our being in union with another. So the fire of a greater passion fills body and soul possessed by the deepest desire for full embrace and intimacy, union – the fire of love is set ablaze, actual, real, full and true. So it is with a gift given in the spirit of love; we take the best of our abilities, of what we symbolically are and gift it to another to honour what they represent to us in gratitude of what their being in this world have brought to us. By simply knowing the other, we have grown and was given a new vision of being, a gift more precious than any material token can symbolize.
I will like to use this opportunity to give my deepest gratitude to all whom have crossed my path to form the symbol of Gyfu to my being; a gift to my existence.
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act…it is an attitude”
Martin Luther King Jr.
When you begin the path of conscious living, forgiveness is one of the first aspects you have to deal with; forgiveness both for others and for yourself. Conscious living without forgiveness is not possible for it is forgiveness that first brings to us the awareness that there is another way of living life. Forgiveness is what activates within us true compassion.
In the beginning most of us think about forgiveness as something we do for someone else. We think that forgiveness is an altruistic act until we realize that our inability to forgive actually makes us double victims. Forgiveness sets us free on more levels than we initially may realize.
As with any emotional response, we do not realize in the beginning how multi layered our responses actually are. On a most basic level for example when we feel anger, our anger does not just stem from a present cause but is also tied with all our past hurts, right back to our first experience of pain. It has even been shown that already when we are in the womb our emotional life is shaped by what feelings our mother experienced during pregnancy. As much as we are nurtured and influenced by what the mother physically takes in her body at the time of our gestation, just the same, are we nurtured and influenced by what emotions our mother experiences. Within the womb we are developing in an ocean of amoebic fluids consisting not only of certain physical particles, but also the invisible emotional emanations of the mother.
When forgiveness becomes part of your living you begin to realize that tied with what you thought was your personal response to a present situation are also ancestral hurts, fears, and hopes as surely as the genetic ancestry that shaped your present form. We truly begin to realize that actually we can do nothing just for ourselves. Every thought we think and every feeling we feel is deeply intertwined with everything around us, spanning both the past and the future. When we realize the interconnectedness of everything within creation, it becomes impossible to seek our own self-interests separate and apart from the interests of others. However, we cannot merely seek to become selfless because of some religious creed or dogma imposed upon us from the outside. The awareness of our interdependence and interconnection must be realized and recognized within ourselves.
With conscious living forgiveness becomes an essential tool of purification to allow our vision to become clearer. Seeing the world through forgiving eyes gives you a completely different perspective as your vision is no longer filtered through personal hurts. We are liberated from the suffering of negativity when we forgive others, and we become a cause rather than an effect. In this sense forgiveness is simple wisdom well known to the heart.
Yet, from a spiritual perspective, there is an even more subtle mystery behind this. Through our interactions with one another we create energetic links, positive and negative, and even when we are no longer in one another’s lives on a material level, these links remain active and at play on psychic and spiritual levels. Thus when we have interactions with other beings and other souls we form connections with them, whether positive or negative. Either way, just as feelings of attachment or aversion keeps us attached to the karmic matrix just so feelings of attachment or aversion attaches us to a person karmically. It is this inner mystery that is hinted at in the verse. John 20:23
John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
Or in another translation;
“Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
The Greek word for “remit” is “aphiemi” and means “to send away.” When you cannot forgive someone you form a karmic link with them and when you forgive them “you send them away.” Thus when you cannot forgive someone you are bound to link up with them until what is between you has been resolved.
Positive connections have a tendency to promote and facilitate enlightenment and liberation; but negative connections tend to hold the soul in bondage to ignorance, and all of the sorrow and suffering that follows – it weighs the soul down, as it were. Essentially, holding on to the trespasses others might inflict upon us, we are bound to incarnate again to play out the karmic connection. Likewise, generating negative connections with others by trespasses against them, and they hold on to them we are also bound to the karmic matrix with them. Thus, for the sake of a true enlightenment and liberation, forgiveness is essential to freedom from the karmic matrix. Forgiveness is one of the primary keys to liberate ourselves from bondage to the Law of Cause and Effect.
Accepting responsibility for our energy and our karma isn’t about blaming ourselves, any more than blaming anyone else, but rather it is our empowerment to learn and grow and change – it is our empowerment as a conscious co-creator and for conscious evolution. Since we are not a fixed or static entity, but rather we are a constantly changing phenomenon, naturally our growth and development in the Spirit is a process, a movement – our tikkune (healing) and our self-realization is an ongoing process, so there are many things we will seem to address again and again. In doing so, however, we do it not only for ourselves alone, but we do it for everyone, all our relations. With conscious evolution we realize that we are taking part in the karma of the world and we labor to uplift it. All of this is not quite so personal as it might first appear; it is a movement, a process that we are involved in.
Taking responsibility for our energy is called “confession and repentance” in Christian mysteries, and when the word is liberated from religious dogmatic doctrines we can see there is deep wisdom in this practice as a practice of purification. On a spiritual level, confession is bringing everything into the light, whether positive or negative, in a complete state of openness and honesty, and accepting full responsibility for our energy, our thoughts, words and deeds; and repentance is letting go of shades and shadows, negativity, and reintegrating ourselves with a truer vision of what we are.
Forgiveness allows us to cultivate the silent witness within and allows us to realize that our hurt feelings are a matter of our view and our thoughts, and the play of attachment and aversion. If want to liberate ourselves from the law of cause an effect then essentially our ideal must be that we might be the same in praise and blame alike. This capacity for the silent witness, is very important because as our souls awakens, and as our consciousness expands, we become more and more sensitive, more and more open, and to have such sensitivity and openness we need non-attachment and non-aversion, otherwise it can be quite painful on a psychic or mental-emotional level as our awareness and sensitivity increases.
Our path must be that of a peaceful warrior who puts an end to the violent inclination within ourselves – the violence must end with oneself, and be perpetuated no further. Forgiveness is what defines the boundaries between unconscious and conscious living. It is forgiveness that allows us to truly live love.
What I treasure most about humanity is the incredible diversity found among us aa it is reflected in the biodiversity nature. Life itself, in its essence, is diversity; it is only in the process of death that all becomes alike. Life as a vital energy generates diversity and love embraces the vitality of diversity. Yet, when I look around me into the prevailing culture, I smell the scent of death rather than the scent of life. The prevailing culture engenders death rather than life. Death of body, mind and soul.
In today’s world marketing is everything. At the basis of marketing lies the concept of finding a market for your product and then to apply proven strategies to capture the market so that they will buy your product and not another. Underlying this is the concept of dominion, or the winner takes all. Marketing is the final stage of the process of commercialization and is derived from the Latin word merx (commodity; merchandise, goods).
We can indeed say that the world is in the final stage of commercialization. Just as there is nothing left in this world today that isn’t polluted just so there is nothing left in this world that hasn’t been commercialized. Everything is seen through the filter of “How much is it worth?” Even the most sacred of all human qualities – love – has been tainted by commercialization.
In his essay “Love and Need: Is Love a Package or a Message?” Thomas Merton comments that we are taught within the framework of competitive consumer capitalism to see love as a business deal: “This concept of love assumes that the machinery of buying and selling of needs is what makes everything run. It regards life as a market and love as a variation on free enterprise.”
His comment gives an insight into why it is virtually impossible to find unconditional love in this world. Commercialization makes everything conditional. It breeds insincerity and mistrust. Commercialization is the framework within which we are raised and is thus so deeply imbedded into our way of thinking that it will take a lot of digging to uproot its enmeshment within our psyche.
Dana Gioia laments the state of the prevailing culture; “When virtually all of a culture’s celebrated figures are in sports or entertainment, how few possible role models we offer the young. There are so many other ways to lead a successful and meaningful life that are not denominated by money or fame. Adult life begins in a child’s imagination, and we’ve relinquished that imagination to the marketplace. But we must remember that the marketplace does only one thing — it puts a price on everything.” In a recent survey done in England vitually all the children responded to the question of what they wanted to be one day, that they wanted to be famous.
The way commercialization impoverishes our lives is that it reduces everything to what will sell best. This of course directly affects biodiversity but it also affects creative expression. A reflection of this is seen in the wine market where the wine critic Robert Parker’s particular likes in wines have global effects. “As wines rise and fall on the basis of Parker’s judgments, and as producers respond to his presence, the industry worldwide is moving in an unexpected direction, toward denser, darker, and more dramatic wines.” (Ref) The production of wines now is geared towards what will be best received by the critic.
Creative output is tailored to suit the market, not the artist’s particular vision. With the result we are seeing less and less creative work that comes from the heart and more and more creative work that comes from a marketing campaign. Creative work that comes from the heart is still out there but we are less likely to encounter it because we are less likely to pick it up in the search engines which operate in a hierarchical way. Even in the blog world that once encouraged individual creative expression we are now seeing more and more work that are produced with the specific aim to get as many hits as possible, using specific recommended marketing formulas, rather than coming from the heart. Even spirituality has become a huge marketing campaign.
Commercialization has been around in some form since ancient days of trading. The big change today is globalization. Now commercialization is tailored for the global market or more specifically for tastes the biggest market. Before globalization more diversity was allowed to flourish because brand consciousness was more localized. Now everything is tailored to reflect what is most successful on a global level. “If you sing, then you must be able to sing like the best in the world or give it up.”
On a pure economic level there are of course countless examples of the devastation that global commercialization has had on smaller economies, of which Somalia is a classic example. Michel Chossudovsky summarizes in “Somalia: the Real Causes of Famine”
“While “external” climatic variables play a role in triggering off a famine and heightening the social impact of drought, famines in the age of globalization are man-made. They are not the consequence of a scarcity of food but of a structure of global oversupply which undermines food security and destroys national food agriculture. Tightly regulated and controlled by international agri-business, this oversupply is ultimately conducive to the stagnation of both production and consumption of essential food staples and the impoverishment of farmers throughout the world. Moreover, in the era of globalization, the IMF-World Bank structural adjustment program bears a direct relationship to the process of famine formation because it systematically undermines all categories of economic activity, whether urban or rural, which do not directly serve the interests of the global market system.”
Commercialization is of course rooted in our need for survival on the most basic of levels – survival of the fittest. Yet, if humanity is to advance in consciousness we must find another strategy for survival. Up till now we have even used the same strategy of dominion to bring about change in our social environment against “hierarchical domination.”
In her essay “Love as the Practice of Freedom” Bell Hooks concludes “that many of us are motivated to move against domination solely when we feel our self-interest directly threatened. Often, then, the longing is not for a collective transformation of society, an end to politics of dominations, but rather simply for an end to what we feel is hurting us. This is why we desperately need an ethic of love to intervene in our self-centered longing for change. Fundamentally, if we are only committed to an improvement in that politic of domination that we feel leads directly to our individual exploitation or oppression, we not only remain attached to the status quo but act in complicity with it, nurturing and maintaining those very systems of domination. Until we are all able to accept the interlocking, interdependent nature of systems of domination and recognize specific ways each system is maintained, we will continue to act in ways that undermine our individual quest for freedom and collective liberation struggle.”
A strategy that is based in the ethics of love rather than that of dominion is a strategy that is inclusive rather than exclusive, allows for us to live and let live. The reason humanity has not made much advancement in consciousness since the dawn of modern humanity is that we still apply the same strategy for survival as we did so many thousands of years ago. To evolve, to develop, we must first want to be different from what we are now. This is the first requirement of evolution.
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved with the same level
of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
This way of survival is simply not sustainable. We have reached the zenith of this strategy. From this point on it will further impoverish us on every level, and rob us of all that we once held dear.