Posts Tagged life
with a human being
is so rare,
one should preserve it. – Anais Nin
I dreamed that I found myself upon a ship navigating the ocean. I found myself within a group, standing before a large window, the sun shinning brightly in through it. We had a guide with us. He asked us to cup our hands, and in our hands he poured, a small amount of sea water (marrah – the bitter water). We had to focus ourselves on what we felt were our essence and imbue the water with what we felt. On his command, we had to throw it against the window. Before our eyes; on the window developed, from each splash, an individual pattern, some big and bold, some small and bright, many patterns. Our guide continued, and told us that from these patterns the masseuses would know what deep massage to give each of us, and so bring our healing, and reveal our individual beauty.
So many people when in search of spiritual meaning for life want to withdraw from normal life, go to faraway places and seek enlightenment in isolated environments. Many years ago, I found myself at that point. I wanted go and live in complete isolation, with not even the convenience of electricity. But as I stood at the verge of waving civilization goodbye, I realized that it was the old way. To withdraw from active life would only simply be an escape. If you truly want to test your spiritual mettle, you have to live in the real world, walk your talk.
In the process of preparing I did at least learn a lot about lost crafts and what living without modern conveniences entails. One of the most enlightening aspects was being without communication; no TV, no news or any other direct form of communication. First thing that I observed was that all that really mattered was what happened in the here and now. If anything happened in the wide world that would affect me, the wave would reach me sooner or later. I realized during that time that what you need to know will come to you when you need to know it. Often it will come to you through the most unexpected sources or you will find it where you least expect it. What this in itself taught me was to live with greater awareness of what transpires around me. What does the sudden song of the bird evoke in me, what does the gentle breeze stir in me? It also taught me that no encounter with another human being, no matter how brief, is ever without meaning. Each person that you meet is a messenger of the divine.
Relationships are the basis of our existence. Relationships exist not just between two people but it is every interaction that happens between anything. In itself one can replace the word relationship with that of alchemical interaction. Every relationship that you experience changes you forever. The encounter with another always leaves an imprint on your soul and prepares you for your relationship with the divine.
Our primary relationship is with ourselves. This is the one relationship that you will have throughout your life. This relationship affects and colours every other relationship you have. If you have a stormy relationship with yourself so it will be reflected in your outer relationships as well, If you are judgmental of yourself you will be so with everyone else. Even our relationship with our environment is reflected in this.
I went up the mountains for a walk in the Fynbos Biosphere. I stood in a gorge looking at a picture that is immaculate in its serene beauty. Straight ahead is a waterfall that drops into a calm rock pool, reflecting the sheer cliffs surrounding it. Ferns, Restios, trees, clings to the rock face against all odds. Somewhere the renowned Disa Lilly will flower in its season. The rock pool, was begging me to jump in to, interact to feel the water, float and gaze at the clouds pass overhead. Sadly I saw a signboard that said no swimming. I know the rules are there to protect the pristine nature but I felt saddened by it. I had to turn down my invitation to interact. It was not always so. I have had many wonderful swims in such mountain pools but life has become a lot more complicated.
We are allowed to see but not to feel in the depth we can. Our relationships with others have become much so too. We observe but there is a mental fence around us. In general, we interact superficially with others in contrast of how deeply we can. I wonder to myself, I know what is like to fully interact with nature but how many children are there in the world today that has not had that opportunity? Is it the same with relationships; quick sound bites and flash thumbnails of impressions, categorized by previous conditions?
Every encounter that we have is meaningful. Every other human being holds a clue to my own existence. If you are open and aware you will be surprised how much insight every encounter you have with another human being can bring you.
Each encounter, no matter how brief leaves an impression on you and reflects a part of the puzzle of what you as an individual are. If I look back to the sea of faces in my memory certain faces stands out. Some I never even said a word to; just a brief silent communication that said so much, meant so much and then was gone but not from my heart.
Each person is a window into a universe unknown to us. The thirteenth century, Persian mystic Aziz Nasafi wrote that the spiritual world, standing like a light behind the bodily world, shines as through a window through every creature that comes into being. According to the type and size of the window, more or less light enters the world. Each one of us is a window on the Universe, the whole of understanding. When you loose someone you love, it is indeed as if you die too, for a part of you existed only because of your relationship with that particular person. Just as each one us are unique in our identities, so each relationship we form is unique in what it reveal about ourselves. Through the loss of a loved one, a person with whom we shared intimate moments with, we lose a window into ourselves, and we feel a death in ourselves, because that part of us no longer exist in local reality. Yet it is not lost but has just been transformed. We now carry within us what that person has revealed to us.
As specie our strength lies in our ability to co-operate with each other, to pass our insights on to others. There are exoteric (outer) and esoteric ways of seeing the same thing, which is really just different perspectives of the same thing seen, felt and experienced from different angles, neither is wrong in what they see, only by looking at the whole perspective can you see the context of what you are seeing, feeling and experiencing. The eco-functioning of the whole will determine the true function of the aspect each one of us sees from our individual “window “ onto the view of the whole. (See;Elephant )It is through our ability to interact and co-operate that we evolve in consciousness, that we can make a leap in consciousness.
Rather than discrete things and independent events, there are but ripples upon ripples upon waves upon waves in this universe, propagating in a seamless sea. – Ervin Laszlo
I open my eyes
With your name upon my lips
With you I found
With you I shared
my most intimate depths
With you I entered sacred space
and found eternity
in a moment
You touched me
with a reality so clear
brought me beauty
I close my eyes
whispering your name
The average player sprints until the breath in him is gone, but a champion has the iron will that makes him carry on. For the rest, the average player begs when limp his muscles grow, but the champion runs on leaden legs; his spirit makes him go. The average player is complacent when he does his best to score, but a champion gives his very best and then gives a little more.” – Unknown
“Get real!” It is part of our growing up process, to discover the limitations of of our physical body. When we touch fire it burns, yet we also know that it is possible to walk on fire and not get burnt. So often in our lives we are told we must except our limitations in quiet submission. Often we find ourselves faced with what seems impossible odds that stands in our way to achieving our dreams. So easily we give up when we encounter blocks upon our path, and we tell ourselves that life just isn’t fair, just except that you haven’t been among the “chosen”. In bitterness we give up and live a life in blame and longing for what could have been. “If only …”
There are those that see limitations as impossible odds, and never dare to strive beyond it, just because no one has ever gone there before. However if we as human beings truly believed in limitations, we would never as a specie progressed beyond the stone age. If we did find ourselves born knowing that we have no limitations, what would you aspire to? It is the boundaries of physical limitations that allows us to experience life, allows us to find our hidden strengths.
“The rules of a game are limitations created so you can play the game … Creative limitations (the limitations we are born with or find on our way) allows us to improve our creative abilities by enforcing a focus on a certain range and interpretations of experience. Even in the limited game of chess, human minds have still not figured out all the possibilities.” Serge Kahili King
One of the many, many wonderful things about being South African, is that all around us there are abundant stories of people who, against all odds, despite severe limitations, went on to live remarkable lives of inspiration. One such person was Hamilton Naki, a Laboratory surgeon who defied the odds. The following is an obituary by Chris Barron as it was published in The Sunday Times June 5 2005.
Hamilton Naki, who has died in Cape Town at the age of 78, was a gardener who became a brilliant laboratory surgeon and helped Chris Barnard do the research that made his first heart transplant possible.
He also trained generations of surgeons; many of whom reached top academic positions at teaching hospitals around the world. At least a dozen of Naki’s former students became professors of surgery and heads of departments in places as far afield as Japan and the US.
Naki was born in the district of Centani in the Transkei on June 13 1926, and attended school up to Std 4 (So, he did not even complete his primary school education). In the mid ’40s, when he was about 18, he went to Cape Town and got a job rolling tennis courts and gardening at the University of Cape Town.
He had been there for several years when a professor of surgical research, Robert Goetz, beckoned him to his lab to help him hold a giraffe that he was dissecting (in order, as it happened, to discover why giraffes never faint when they bend down to drink).
Naki made such an impression on Goetz that he invited him to help in the lab on a regular basis.
He learnt how to anaesthetise animals, including giraffes, and put intravenous lines into them. He assisted with experimental surgery and looked after the animals post-operatively.
Naki was one of very few people who could anaesthetise a pig and transplant its liver, virtually single-handed.
A former surgical professor remembers how he even managed to rock her crying baby’s pram while he was doing all this.
He became the lab’s assistant surgeon and soon there was very little senior surgeons could do that Naki couldn’t.
In the ’50s he worked with Barnard in the laboratory, establishing techniques of open- heart surgery on dogs. It was this research that Barnard took into the clinical setting at Groote Schuur Hospital.
Naki was intimately involved in heart, liver, kidney and other transplant research throughout this critically important pioneering period that led to the first heart transplant.
He did a lot of this work himself while Barnard was practising.
When he was asked once how he had acquired all his surgical skills without any formal training, Naki replied: “I stole with my eyes.”
In addition to his prodigious memory, he had excellent co-ordination and very good hands.
Not the least of Naki’s contributions to medical history was his ability to get on with Barnard, whom many people found impossibly highly strung and temperamental.
Naki’s temperament, one of infinite tolerance and patience, complemented the explosive heart surgeon’s perfectly and the two were able to work shoulder to shoulder for years.
The only serious altercation anyone remembers Naki having was with an appallingly difficult Belgian registrar in the university’s department of surgery.
He was the only person Naki ever decided he simply could not work with.
What made him a fine teacher was that, in addition to his patience, he had a strong personality and didn’t tolerate any slovenliness or laziness from student surgeons. He set very high standards and left students in no doubt that he expected these to be met.
Naki lived alone in appalling conditions, in a tiny room in quarters for migrant workers, in the black township of Langa on the Cape Flats. His family stayed in the Transkei.
He was the first person in the lab every morning, never arriving later than 6am. It was his responsibility to sterilise the instruments with boiling water.
He left at around 4.30pm.
During the politically inspired riots that characterised the history of Cape Town, he’d come to work at 3am to avoid rioters and roadblocks.
He always arrived and left in an impeccably pressed suit with a Homburg on his head and shoes you could see your reflection in. He carried an umbrella, a newspaper and a Bible.
He was deeply religious, and read his Bible whenever he could. At lunchtime he would gather the “bergies” (homeless people in the Cape, that got their name originally from living in the mountain ;berg-mountain) who spent their days in the cemetery behind the medical school, read the Bible to them and warn them about the evils of alcohol and dagga(Cannabis sativa).
Naki was paid as a lab technician soon after he began working in the lab, and eventually as a senior lab technician, which was as high as the university could take him under apartheid laws.
In 2003, UCT recognised his extraordinary achievement by awarding him an honorary master’s degree in medicine.
When he retired he arranged a mobile clinic — a converted bus — for his home district of Centani, which was 70km from a health service of any kind.
He also collected money for a rural school in the Eastern Cape from doctors he had trained. He would visit these doctors once a year and they knew when they saw him that there was no getting out of it.
A few weeks after Naki’s visit, they would each get a letter of thanks from the school principal.
Naki is survived by his wife, Joyce, and four children. — Chris Barron
“What nearly all successful people have in common is an extraordinary ability to bond with others, the ability to develop rapport with people from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. Deep down, everyone needs to form lasting bonds with others. Without that, any success, any excellence, is hollow indeed. The way we communicate with others and the way we communicate with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives. People who succeed in life are those who have learned how to take any challenge life gives them and communicate that experience to themselves in a way that causes them to successfully change things. People who fail take adversities of life and accept them as limitations. The people who shape our lives and our cultures are also masters of communication to others. What they have in common is an ability to communicate a vision or a quest or a joy or a mission.” Anthony Robbins
Whenever I find myself becoming despondent by the limitations that I face, I just have to lift my head up and look around me, and I will see that my limitations are creative limitations to spur me on beyond where I thought myself possible to go.
This move coming up for me is not just a normal move. It also brings me to the end of a period of my life. I am moving from the known into the unknown. For many years now, I came to the end of the year and wondered to myself, “What did I know last year this time of what the new year will bring?” Each year has been full of unexpected surprises that opened my eyes to new ways of seeing.
Janus views, looking back, looking forward; the Sibyl speaks …
Throughout time, at the end of a cycle and at the beginning of a new; people have consulted various oracles to try and see what the new cycle will holds for them. No matter, what form of divination, the right question is of the greatest importance when facing the unknown. I have found 5 questions that will give the best perspective in facing the unknown. Five questions do I present to the oracle in facing the unknown.
- What I think I should do this coming year?
This question opens up the door of reason, the logic.
- What do I feel I should do this year?
This question opens the door to intuition, to body knowledge.
- What do I wish I would do this year?
This question opens the door to constructive intelligence.
- What would I do if it weren’t impossible?
This question locates and expands perceived limits and possibilities.
- What action plan can I make that encompasses all these possibilities?
I have reached the place where I know the facts about myself, and the world in which I live. I know my strengths, my weaknesses, and I know what brings me happiness. I also know my responsibilities, and physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. What can I do in this coming cycle to make the Phoenix of myself, rise out of the ashes of my old self?
As the futurists say: ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.” If you always do what you always did – you’ll always get what you always got. If you don’t actively set goals, your fears become your default goals.”
I watch the moon rise behind the purple mountains. At first, a sliver of a glowing eye, then bright and full. I greet the Bright Lady and let her light penetrate me, purify me. I hold my staff up high and let the reflected fire ignite my wand. In silence, her song erupts in my heart. My body responds to the desire to interpret the ancient song through a dance of the soul. Filled with creative abundance, timeless in origins, I dance in unity with the past and the future. I dance until the song fades and I stand in silent contemplation of nameless mysteries. I breathe in the night in gratitude and close my eyes in silent closure.
This week I will be mostly quiet, as I moving …
Your house is your larger body
It grows in the sun and sleep in the stillness of
Night;and it is not dreamless. Does not your house
Dream? And dreaming, leave the city for a grove or hilltop?
… And though og magnificence and slendour, your house shall not hold your secret not shelter your
For that which is boundless in you abides in the
Mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist,
And whose windows are songs and the silences of
Night. – Kahlil Gibran
if you move carefully
through the forest
like the ones
in the old stories
who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,
to a place
whose only task
is to trouble you
but frightening requests
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
to stop what you
while you do it,
that can make
that have patiently
waited for you,
that have no right
to go away.
~ David Whyte ~
(Everything is Waiting for You)
Posted Michael McKnight
The Holy Longing-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Tell a wise person or else keep silent
For the massman will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive
And what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm waters of the love nights
Where you were begotten,
Where you have begotten,
A strange feeling comes over you
When you see the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught in this obsession with darkness
And a desire for higher lovemaking sweeps you upward.
Distance does not make you falter.
And now, arriving in magic, flying
and finally, insane for the light
You are the butterfly.
And you are gone.
And so long as you haven’t experienced this,
To die and so to grow,
You are only a troubled guest on a dark earth.
Posted by Michael McKnight
“If we choose to act upon a desire we will set in motion a series of causes and effects that will guide us to our true destiny.”
One can truly see the Divine Trickster’s hand in our desires. It is through our choices that we have free will, and free will in turn is the agent through which consciousness is developed. When we were young children; we feel a desire and act upon it. We would then have seen certain effects swing in motion. Some of the effects would have pleased us, other effects would have been better to avoid. We desire to touch the flame and it burns us, so we learn to be careful about flames and fire. Yet we also learn what flames and fire is. We can appreciate its beauty from a distance or use its heat for practical purposes. Then depending on your individual inclinations, some youngsters might for example desire to experiment with fire. Some might use it to cook with, some might use it to create art with, and yet others might experiment with its destructive qualities. This will in turn lead to further educate the experimenter of both the inherent qualities of fire and the inherent desires within him or herself, thus revealing to us more about our true desire.
However, say some boy one day decided to burn some dry grass to see how it burns. What he was not aware of was that there was a wind blowing and a lot of other dry grass around. Innocently he lights the fire. The wind picks up some of the burning pieces of grass and ignites the dry grass in the surrounding area. The fire gets out of hand and causes destruction that he could not have imagined. Whatever the effect his innocent acting upon his desire had, it will effect his future life. How he reacts on the unfolding events will reveal his particular destiny.
As we grow older, our desires become more unique. We might all desire to appease our physical but each one of us will have unique preferences as to what particular type of food we hunger for, if we have a choice, which further reveals more about who we are as individuals. Each time we choose we set in motion both desired and undesired effects, because we cannot know everything. We can act only from what we know, which is always limited in vision. What we know is what we are aware of. Awareness is like the beam of a flashlight; It is a flow of illuminating light towards an object. What we think we are is only a small fraction of who we are. Jung described it as a small, bright spot on a large sphere. Our normal consciousness awareness represents the small bright spot, whereas what we are unaware of, our unconsciousness, the vast unexplored sphere of the universe, of the whole. We are aware of about 10 – 15 percent of our mind’s thoughts, experiences, feelings, memories and beliefs. Although we are unconscious of 85 – 90 percent of our thoughts, feelings, experiences, memories and beliefs, they do shape our lives.
Each time we feel a desire we must choose whether to act upon it or not. The effects of our choices are going to contain reactions stemming from both elements of what we are conscious of and what we are not conscious of. The Trickster uses effects of the elements we are not conscious of, to further educate our awareness and steer us towards our destiny.
Sometimes our choices may lead us to places where there seem to be no way out, and it appears as if we are left with only Selchie choices. Yet, those situations in itself will contain aspects that will help us to unfold our souls, as those situations would never be situations that we would willingly choose. Yet, in retrospect we can see no matter, how hard it was it was necessary for our evolvement as human beings. In those situations it may appear to us as if we are achieving nothing, that in fact we are regressing, but deep below the surface radical changes are being effected on our being in becoming.
It may appear unbearable to us, as every solution we can think of cannot bring satisfactory solutions. In those situations we find ourselves as conscious beings within the womb. All we really can do is learn to float in the womb’s ocean. We have to partly surrender in trust; that we can float and partly participate in staying afloat, until the process of our unfoldment is complete.
In those situations we reached the limits of our imaginations; all the answers seem to lie beyond the horizons of our imagination. We have reached the state where we must surrender to the processes of our enfoldment. That which we think we are needs to undergo a radical change in order to embody a new consciousness which will contain the answer to our dilemma. It will contain the capacity of an expanded imagination, well beyond our previous horizons.
How long can we expect to be in such a state of liminal floating? That depends upon divine grace, and we cannot tell the duration of time. It may not even occur within the present lifetime, or it may only provide answers to the next generation. Our very quandary however, will provide questions that will lead to answers for either ourselves or the next generation. There is a solution to every challenge, we must first however, develop the capacity of consciousness to receive the answer and to comprehend it.
Desire is the cause that impregnates the seed of our unfolding. Within the embryo of our unfoldment is contained possibilities generated by past generations’ desires which in our unfolding form might come in fruition, or develop further, so that in future generations it can come into fruitition.
Whether we choose to act upon a desire or not, it will have an inner or outer effect.
(Scientific studies found that genes can be turned on and off by environmental signals – including thoughts, feelings and emotions – from outside the cell. )
the smallness of a seed
the potential of the universe
Wthin the smallness of a seed
the spark of life awoke
forces of creation
Life often, present us with surprising twist and turns. Throughout the world you will find reference in Mythology to the Trickster. The Trickster has had a loads of fun with me, just when I become complacent, even smug in what I thought was personal achievements, the Trickster arrives, and forces me to laugh at myself, reduce me to humbleness. Although my laughter has been in bitterness at the time, it has always stopped me dead in my tracks, and shown me a perspective I would not have considered at the time.
Among the Sioux tribes, a select few members of the tribe volunteers to be-come a Heyhoka. It means one who has an obligation to do things differently from everyone else in order to break all patterns of habitual behaviour.
“Sometimes the Heyhoka’s actions are very humorous, because this is part of the technique for shattering a person’s perceptions of, and participation in, the everyday routines of life. To break through the habitual enables one to take some distance from oneself – to see things a little bit more objectively, and thereby on a higher level.” – Epes Brown – Biographer of Black Elk (Himself a Heyhoka)
One of the chief causes of psychological aging is habituation. Psychologist Dr. Robert Kastenbaum has the theory that as we grow older we develop a gradual decrease of response to persistent stimulation – habituation – ‘a mental reducing valve’. “It is a reduction of our consciousness as well as our senses, a process in which ordinary stimuli of life, the simple pleasures and small joys, lose their flavour over time by sheer repetition.”
“Habituation is assuming without understanding, judging without weighing, reacting from bias rather than evident fact. It is a reduction of our awareness rather than an expansion of our consciousness.” Harry Moody
So the world becomes stale and stagnates under limited perception and ages. Here is where the Heyhoka, the trickster comes in., to turn your world upside down, so that you can see a with fresh eyes, and grow. It is a vital part of Longevity. All Centanariums have one thing in common, open minds and a positive out look on life.
In story of Demeter and Persephone (Kore) Arnobius relates: “ Baubo… received Ceres, wearied with complicated evils, as her guest, and endeavoured to soothe her sorrows … she entreated her to pay attention to the refreshment of her body, and placed before her (kykeon) to assuage the vehemence of her thirst…” Being unable to divert Demeter, Baubo then uncovered her vagina: “ upon which the goddess fixed her eyes, and was delighted with the novel method of mitigating anguish of sorrow; and afterwards became cheerful through laughter …” Demetra George
Like Heyhoka, Baubo uses the gift of humour to lift the spirits, giving Demeter the reminder of renewal and regeneration. In the same way The trickster comes to show us that there is always more to learn in life, deeper to go. We can become complacent in our sorrow, in our achievements, or in our cynicism.
My favourite interpretation of the ultimate meaning behind the Tarot card The Magus comes from The Fool or the Trickster;
There was once a magician of great standing and reverence, who called his apprentice, who had completed his apprenticeship.
“My son, you are now schooled in the High Art. I welcome you into our fellowship.”
The apprentice glowed with pride.
“You now think you know everything and have learn t all you can … But you will know, in time, that you had to learn everything to know that it is all of no use. The Divine joke is that many years of magical training are finally discovered to be quite irrelevant. But this truth is only gained by experience, and not through discussion or mere play of words.
Heyhoka, gives us the opportunity to again experience the world anew, “With windows of perception cleansed.”
In our everyday lives, it is focused attention that helps us from becoming habitual. The Kahunas use a form of meditation or rather contemplation called Nalu, to strengthen awareness. The word means “to form waves.” The essence of the technique is a gentle, effortless resting of attention and awareness. You just look, listen and feel, with an attitude of positive expectation … without judgment while maintaining your focus on a subject. With this technique new insights can received on ordinary experiences of living.
“Be aware, be free, be focused, be here, be loved, be strong, be healed.”
Michael McKnight made a really thought provoking post on Facebook.
If we could reduce the world’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, the demographics would look something like this:
The village would have 60 Asians, 14 Africans, 12 Europeans, 8 Latin Americans, 5 from the USA and Canada, and 1 …from the South Pacific
51 would be male, 49 would be female
82 would be non-white;
67 would be non-Christian;
33 would be Christian
80 would live in substandard housing
67 would be unable to read
50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation
33 would be without access to a safe water supply
39 would lack access to improved sanitation
24 would not have any electricity
(And of the 76 that do have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)
7 people would have access to the Internet
1 would have a college education
1 would have HIV
2 would be near birth; 1 near death
5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth;
all 5 would be US citizens
33 would be receiving –and attempting to live on–
only 3% of the income of “the village”
Do you see what I see?
Do you see the patterns
scribled in thoughts
written in history
designed in primordial awakening?
Do you see the patterns
in our massing needs
in our reaching desires?
Do you see the unfurling future
driven by the swirling breaths of thoughts
pelting down upon unsuspecting dreams?